8 must-have items to bring to conferences

As the weather begins to warm up (my apologies if there’s still snow on the ground in your hometown), conference season begins to rev up in the United States. For many, that means airplane flights, hotel stays, plenty of coffee, after-hours socializing, and numerous hours sitting in cold meeting rooms or walking the expo floor.

Our colleague Joe Overby, editor of Auto Remarketing, feels your pain. Joe attends many automobile conferences both as a journalist and moderator of panel discussions.

While the contacts made and information gleaned at conferences can be invaluable, the experiences can also overwhelm you and wear you down. To help you survive and thrive during conference season, Joe recommends bringing the following items he always includes on his personal packing list.

  1. Business cards

This would seem like a no-brainer but many businesspeople leave their business cards at the office and forget to bring enough. Conferences present great opportunities to network and meet new contacts and friends. Having a business card to take home is a physical reminder to follow up and take the next step in building a business relationship.

  1. Apps

Nick Zulovich, senior editor of SubPrime Auto Finance News, introduced Joe to Cam Card, an app that digitally uploads those business cards you pick up at conferences. Joe also recommends downloading the official conference app, if there is one, and apps that serve as local guides to the host city.

  1. Handkerchief or stain wipes

These can be indispensable if you accidentally spill food or drink on your clothing. Joe likes to pack Shout portable wipes to help clean coffee or poutine gravy off of his clothes (don’t judge).

  1. Just enough clothing

Pack as light as you can, since you’ll probably bring back more than you left with. Joe learned from Auto Remarketing Publisher Emeritus Ron Smith to pack clothes that you can mix and match. For example, he packs a dark suit jacket that he can wear with dark or light pants.

  1. Comfortable shoes and nice jeans

As part of his flexible wardrobe, Joe packs a pair of nice jeans and casual, comfortable shoes. This comes in handy when socializing with coworkers and business colleagues at the end of the day. His MO is to swap out slacks for jeans and dress shoes for loafers, and head out for the evening in a button-up shirt and blue blazer.

  1. Neck pillow

Joe claims that a neck pillow is the best $22 investment he ever made at an airport. If you don’t have a window seat, a neck pillow can help you grab some shuteye while keeping your neck from straining.

  1. Vitamin C

Build up your cold-fighting immune system before and during the conference. You can either purchase some in pill form or drink juice with a high vitamin C content. You may have also read recent reports that window seats on airplanes are the best place to avoid germs from your fellow passengers.

  1. An appetite

Not just for the local cuisine but also for information. Besides workshops and general sessions, there are usually plenty of side conversations, breakout sessions, meetings of smaller affinity groups, exhibitor booths, demonstrations and other opportunities to learn.

What’s missing? What would you add to this list?

Author: Glenn Gillen, APR
Glenn Gillen is our Senior Account Manager.

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