So your boss insists that you take a free trip to Phoenix to get caught up on the latest marketing trends. And you hate hobnobbing. With a passion. This is your foolproof guide to getting out of that convention center or hotel ballroom with your sanity intact.
Engage on a limited basis
Sharing ideas with other people in your industry is very smart. And even in this interconnected digital world, you need face time to really get to know people. Even if you think this whole thing is a boondoggle designed to line the pockets of hoteliers and event organizers, there has to be real actionable intelligence somewhere. Know what you want to find out before you go. Google attendees. Make a plan for engaging with those people and stick to that plan.
If you don’t have it, get it. If the hotel is too cheap to provide you with free network access, get Googling on your phone and figure out how to tether (use your phone as a mobile hotspot). And put your laptop to work. Check your work email. Finish that freelance project you were coasting on. Work conferences are embiggened with so much filler, so much droning from knowledge-less people that you need to utilize that time better. So what if you are stuck in windowless room with other corporate cogs? Take that as an opportunity for growth.
Alcohol (responsible consumption only)
Unwinding with a nice glass of wine is sometimes a necessary reward at the end of a tough day. It is even more necessary when your day is filled with nametags on lanyards, large, temperature-inconsistent meeting rooms and Gary, the sales rep from Houston that won’t stop verbally punching you with hot takes on his fantasy football prowess. Finding a bar, away from the typical conference-goers can refresh your spirit, with the power of distilled spirits.
Make a conference buddy
Find one that seems like they understand boundaries. And might be up for playing hooky for the afternoon session. Be wary of the clingy. They can sometimes be hard to spot. If you are hesitant of making friends with strangers, while in your 30s, at an industry gathering, as most rational humans are, finagle a way to bring your significant other with you. Spring for the flight and you have a free hotel room to share. And they get a cheap vacation.
Create your own downtime
Pull out your phone to say you need to … whatever. Come up with good excuse and move away from the crowd. Networking and socializing can be a an invaluable part of conference-going, but it needs to minimized. Group dinner at the latest Chinese hot spot downtown? Play up your easily upset stomach. It may be slightly embarrassing, but it will get you back in your hotel and watching Netflix in no time.
This post is by Blake Edwards.