- Smart Devices. Each and every conference-goer needs a smartphone and/or a tablet. They will be your lifeline back to your office and your clients. One of my favorite things to do is add new contacts using an app like SamCard, which allows you to scan a business card and import them right into your contact list without wasting any time typing. I never forget a name or a face by taking a picture of my new friends from the conference as they hold their nametag next to their face. If you have an iPhone, you can tag your new contacts with “QB Connect” in the “Notes” section (not the Notes app, but the notes field in their contact page). Then after the show simply search “QB Connect” in your contacts to find all the new connections you’ve made. Another way to add new connections is by using the LinkedIn App and skip the typing and business cards altogether. Even though LinkedIn has lost a little of its “charm” in the last few years, most people still use it to keep their contact info current and correct. BONUS: with LinkedIn, you can add Tony Hawke and Eva Longoria as contacts. Who wouldn’t want to add to add them to their network?!
- Transportation Apps. If you haven’t already, try Uber or Lyft as transportation to and from the show can be tricky. If you weren’t lucky enough to book a hotel at or very near San Jose Convention Center, taxis will cost you a fortune. Instead, download Uber or Lyft and set up an account today. These services are cheaper than taxis and can get you from your hotel to the venue without ever having to hail a cab or calling ahead for ride reservations. They really take the stress of getting somewhere in an unknown city out of the equation.
- Swag Bag. Be sure to bring a collapsible swag bag to take all your super cool new swag home. It’s difficult (and expensive) for vendors to plan for swag, so be mindful of this as you peruse the conference. Don’t visit a booth and wipe out all of their super-cool pens. If you do want a second piece of swag from a vendor, ask first, but in return offer to post a picture of it on social media with their branded hashtag.
Collect swag as you go, but be selective! Don’t grab every t-shirt you see. Try to pay attention to the brands and contacts that you want to remember, and associate the swag with that brand. Take pictures of exhibitors with their swag, and make a note of what you liked about their booth or brand on social media. They will appreciate it for sure.
- Business Cards. You can NEVER have too many business cards at a conference. Don’t be the one who runs out at the end of the first day or forgot them at home! I’m making a mental note to not be that girl *right now*. You don’t want to look unprepared to those new friends you will make at the conference. Make sure that your business cards are interesting and memorable and that you’re using paper that allows you to write on it. How many should you bring to QB Connect? As many as you can carry.
- Chargers. Cell phone and tablet chargers are a MUST. You’re sure to use your device enough to make a dent in your battery life, but the minute your device dies, you lose all of the value they can bring you. QB Connect will have charging stations but better yet, bring a portable battery pack that you can plug into your phone while you continue exploring the conference. Even better? Bring an extra for that new friend who didn’t read this article. I can promise you, saving someone from a dead smartphone will make you a friend and referral partner for life.
- Mints. Unfortunately, meeting people all day and eating food on-the-go during a show is a recipe for bad-breath. Somebody has to say it…don’t be “that guy.” Arm yourself with an excellent conversation starter: offer up mints and gum. Give everyone you meet a breath of fresh air (literally) with some mints.
- Personal Essentials. While you’re walking around the conference, you should keep some things handy while you’re walking around: band-aids, hand sanitizer, chapstick, *accessible* business cards (don’t bury them in your purse or in a backpack pocket that you can’t remember), water, snacks, a pen and a notepad. Pay attention to what bag or purse you bring, too. Something heavy or bulky will get on your nerves quickly, so think light, and think ergonomically. Don’t kill your back because you love the cute messenger bag.
- Comfy Shoes. Ladies, as much as you love them, leave the heels at home. Guys, think about skipping the brand new leather dress shoes. Your feet will thank you. Bring incredibly comfortable shoes to the conference – you will be walking a ton. If you do plan on bringing new dress shoes, break them in before you get there. Even better? Pick up some gel insoles before the conference. You won’t regret it. One more thought, if you plan on dancing at Connectfest, bring your dancing shoes!
- A Great Attitude. QuickBooks Connect will give you the opportunity to make a fantastic impression on with your peers, other industry professionals, potential clients and great new software partners. Leave the nerves and the grumpy face at home. Arm yourself with some coffee (I’ll take a double mocha please!), business cards and a willingness to blow your connections away! Prepare a 30-second elevator pitch explaining yourself, your niche and your passion. “Bookkeeping” isn’t a great elevator pitch at a show like this. Make it memorable, about your practice, and make sure you’re not scripting it to-a-T. Smile at everyone you meet and shake hands firmly – no one likes a limp handshake. Practice a bit if you need to.