I have a confession to make: I have never been to a conference. Not ever. This weekend's 99% Conference will be my first one. And the only reason that I'm going to that is because Gwen and Kelly pledged to be my roomies. And while I'm making confessions, I might as well admit that I've never been to NYC. My friend Fern says I just have to know what I'm doing, which is next to impossible if you've ever met me (I'm the girl that smiles at everyone at Target, in the parking lot, in the movie theatre. Everyone.) I try to be cool, but it just isn't possible. I am genuinely...smiley.
While I was staring at the giant letters on my to-do list that said "START PACKING", I became quite overwhelmed. So I did what any analytical nerdy web worker would do: I
procrastinated did my research. I read blog posts far and wide to try and figure out what I'm getting myself into and how to make the most of it. In doing so, I discovered some pretty interesting perspectives on conference-going, which I've boiled down into 14 possible truths (I'll have to rely on you experienced conference-goers to tell me if they're actually true).
Things that are possibly true about conferences
- Conferences are great for burned-out pastors who have no friends
- For maximum enjoyment, do more friend-making and less session-watching (I hear this one a lot, so it must be true)
- Conferences might not be for those who like things quiet and simple (uh-oh)
- Staying with a group of friends is a good idea (yay)
- No other conference will have a badge as cool as these
- The idea-generation conferences produce is like drinking from a fire hose
- People have different ideas about whether or not it's polite to tweet during a session
- The best conferences are anti-conferences
- On the other hand, you can give yourself permission to handle any conference however you want
- Never ask people what they do
- Self-promo can kill a panel (among other things)
- Conferences aren't for creative indulgence; they're ultimately for taking action
- The conversations are everything
- You can't do everything; focus on the best ideas and table the rest
Lots of good stuff there. Questions that I did not find the answer to:
- What happens if the cab driver takes me the loooong way?
- What if I clam up and can't think of anything interesting to say?
- How am I going to possibly stand being away from my 8 week old for 2.5 days?
- Do I need to plan meetups with people ahead of time? Or is that lame and un-spontaneous?
- What kind of tweeting/sharing will be useful, fun and not extremely annoying during this thing?
- OH MY GOSH I HAVE NO ELEVATOR PITCH
I am not at all anxious about this. Umm.