Once I heard I was accepted to Seth’s seminar, I didn’t freak out. That’s something I would have done in the past. (Okay, maybe a little.)
Instead, I reached out. I reached out to my newsletter, friends, and peers.
I explained my situation and asked for advice because I was stepping into one of the rarest opportunities of my life; it’s amazing what asking can get you.
In this post, I will encompass all the insights I received so that you, too, can prepare for your next big event — whatever it may be. Just remember, all the preparation in the world won’t save you. You will make a few mistakes, fall short, or forget something. That’s going to happen often. Besides, I was an hour late on the last day of the seminar (and yes, I have a post on punctuality and still failed. Happens.)
Reach out, get familiar
Whether you attend something similar to what I did, or if you’re attending something like BlogWorld Expo or World Domination Summit, there will always be ways to reach out to other attendees. You may find them through a hashtag like #WDS or #BWE2012 or one that the group makes up. Click on it. See what people are saying. I guarantee that in a few clicks away you can find contact information, and in turn, introduce yourself, let them know you’re attending, share your story, and connect.
The students and I used a dispatch website. You should check that out. (All of us still use it to contact each other.)
Below, I will list all of the advice that I received, as well my own thoughts. (Thank you Julien Smith, Chris Brogan, Jeff Goins, Sarah Clarke, and Ryan Holiday for providing insight that helped me prepare and create an unforgettable experience.)
- Make plans with other attendees. Check out Google Maps for the area you’re visiting. Check for local coffee shops or restaurants. This is your time to be an impresario. You can gather a bunch of people together so everyone can feel a little bit more comfortable walking into unknown territory.
- Do you honestly think you’re the only person who’s experiencing the event for the first time? Find allies.
- Make a lot of relationships. That should be your mission. There is a reason why you’re attending this event. A fisherman can spot another fisherman from afar. Find another fisherman (or woman) and connect. Communicate clearly and be vulnerable. Share your ideas, stories, and passion.
- Act as if you belong.
- No need to show off.
- Whoever it is, their time and attention is limited. I had to be in between “super attention demanding” and “not noticed at all.”
- Ask plenty of questions. Have them written down ahead of time.
- Don’t underdress; don’t overdress.
- Step out. Don’t wait for permission. If you need to speak up, then do it.
- Demonstrate you’re there to learn. Show your enthusiasm.
- Don’t act subservient; no one likes that.
- Look for patterns and not specifics, so that you can build on it.
- Whoever is running the event or the speakers involved, chances are you might be in awe. That’s fine, but don’t go overboard. Treat them as a person.
- Show up ahead of time. That means 15-30 minutes early if that’s what it takes.
- Be as visible as you can.
- Listen and pay attention to every small detail.
- Exchange numbers and emails. Don’t lose touch. A simple way is to hold the other person (or yourself) accountable for launching your projects, ideas, etc. Touch base with them. Push them.
- Write a letter to the host, a speaker, etc. Not an email. Not a tweet. A hand-written letter.
- I went to the city two days early just to get familiar with my surroundings. I became familiar with the area, the cabs, train, subway, etc. This definitely saved my ass from getting lost. Also remember that the other attendees or students are probably in the same boat as you, so travel together. Thanks to Seth’s assistant, Michelle, who was a major linchpin in this whole event, organized a place and time for everyone to meet. It was a great way to start the day. I’ll never forget it.
- Get plenty of rest. The first day I woke up two hours early just to mentally prepare. Maybe I over did it, but it was necessary for me.
- If you’re attending a big conference, do some research on the speakers. What is their cause? What drives them? And how can you connect your ideas and passion with theirs? How can you do so with the other attendees? (Think like an impresario.)
- Practice vulnerability. Be open with whomever you meet. Be yourself. You can be the best at being you, or second best at being someone else. Your choice.
When you walk away from the event, I’m sure there will be things you wish you had done; I could name plenty. Don’t beat yourself up. You went and you learned. There will be more events in the future. Keep doing it over and over again.
What are ways you prepared for an event? Share your own insight, I’m sure someone can use it.