The day is fast approaching when the hospitality training community will descend upon Seattle for CHART.
Trainers often feel stuck in a thankless task of checking the box when really they hope their content is making an impact on their learners’ careers. So you’re probably excited to be in a room with 200 other people who think about the same things you do.
But sometimes being excited isn’t enough to get the most out of an experience. Since the Mimeo team has been to dozens of tradeshows, forums, summits, and conferences, I’ve gathered up some advice for how to make the most of this semi-annual conference.
1. Bring the Right Attitude
Yes, you’re there to learn, but you’re also there to make new connections. That means you should arrive with a smile on your face, a question on your mind, and an attitude ready for anything. You’ll be making lots of first impressions over the course of several days, so make sure you’re not the guy everyone remembers as a sourpuss.
2. Bring Your Business Cards
Make sure to have business cards on hand to give to people you meet. Bring them with you to the post-session dinners, drinks, or other activities, too.
3. Bring a Notebook
At some point during the conference, you are going to want to write something down. It may be what the keynote speaker says, it may be a brilliant thought you have during a boring session, it may be the major selling points of a vendor you’ve never heard of before. Whatever it is, don’t rely on the “I’ll remember to write this down when I get to my hotel room” technique. Instead, have a notebook, stylus, or whatever notetaking device you prefer at hand.
4. Bring Your Phone Charger and A Backup Power Bank
This conference is going to drain your phone of energy faster than it you can say CHART. Make sure you have back-up power at hand so that you won’t miss out on any digital opportunities due to a red blinking light.
5. Bring Some Conversation Starters
With upwards of 200 people attending CHART, you are going to talk to someone you don’t know. If that is a little daunting, get some conversation starters ready. You can find some great ones around the internet, such as The Muse’s list of 30 conversation starters.
6. Bring Some Conversation Enders
By that same token, you’ll probably find yourself in a conversation or two that need to end. This doesn’t even mean that the connection isn’t a good one; sometimes small talk goes on too long simply because no one knows how to end the conversation. Again, the Muse has some suggestions (and so does The Art of Manliness).
7. Use the Buddy System
Find someone to be your conference buddy, whether it is someone you knew before the conference or another lonely soul you meet at the First Time Attendee Meeting. Not only is it someone to help break the ice throughout the networking breaks, but you can also compare notes on the panels (or split the difference when there are concurrent sessions) to get more knowledge out of CHART.
8. Ask Questions
One of the amazing things about CHART is how friendly the crowd is, and it’s manageable enough that if you have a question of a speaker, you’ll be able to get it answered. Take advantage of that Q&A time to actually ask what you’re wondering. You’ll connect with the speaker and be able to carry on the conversation outside of the session room.
9. Go with a Problem to Solve
The conference has dozens of sessions planned to give you food for thought, but you’ll come away much more satisfied if you enter with one or two problems in mind. Talk to your fellow attendees about how they have tackled similar situations, and source out vendors who might be able to help solve your problem. Your conversations will be richer, and you just might walk away with a load off your shoulders.
10. Visit the Mimeo Booth!
CHART is about three things: learning, connections, and fun. At the Mimeo booth, you’ll get all three! This year we’re giving away a membership to the Wine of the Month Club and you can enter to win just by saying hi to Elsa.
See you soon!
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