Lucky! I attended 12 nationals and they were always a ton of fun. Here are some tips I've posted in the past:
You're going to be racing from room to room from about 8 a.m. to sometimes 11 p.m, sometimes sitting on the floor, and the rooms and outside will be chilly. Wear comfortable clothes--layers--and comfortable shoes. No one cares what you're wearing. If you're presenting, a blazer on top looks fine and professional enough.
As soon as you get your catalog, sit down with a pad of paper and some highlighters and a glass of wine or a good cup of coffee if it's still early. Highlight all your prepaid sessions and workshops and mark out sessions at the same times so you don't overbook yourself. Then start marking all the interesting sessions in each time slot, each day. Next, make a schedule of each day on your pad. Write down the time, the title of your first choice, the room, and the floor it's on (that's important so you can find it quickly). Remember to schedule time to eat! I used to forget to eat until I started writing it down! Write down your paid sessions and workshops. Do this for each day.
Try to arrive early to the sessions and sit up front. Offer to help pass out materials.
If you're presenting and you're expecting a crowd, designate someone to hand out numbers to people as they arrive. That way the early arrivals will get a handout. If you run out, save one copy and tell those who want one that you will leave it at the business center; they can then pay for a copy. Don't offer to mail or even e-mail copies; it's a lot more work than you might think.
If you're presenting a hands-on workshop, definitely designate a "bouncer" to stand at the door to take tickets from those who paid. Don't allow people who haven't paid to come in; they've been known to steal supplies and walk out or sit down and pretend to be paid participants.
When you go to the exhibit hall, please don't take a rolling suitcase. Those things are such a nuisance; they're always in the way and people trip over them. Also, please be super nice to the exhibitors. I've seen people just sweeping freebies into their bags and moving on to the next booth. Take the time to talk to the exhibitors, tell them what you like about their products, ask what's new, in general show some real interest. I've gotten some amazing samples and free things that weren't made available to the general public.
Don't pick up every catalog you see. Trust me, you won't want to lug 'em all back. If you do purchase a lot more things than you expected, ship the lightweight stuff (like dirty clothes) from the business center.
Some useful items to take: a sturdy poster tube; binder clips; note pad; small flash light (sometimes the rooms are darkened so it's hard to take notes); Swiss Army knife; moist towlettes; highlighters.
If blue crab is in season, eat at Obrycki's. Order the crab cakes.
---- Cheryl Lloyd <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> Hi all,
> Just doing some planning for Baltimore. I know we have discussed this in the past, but I wanted to start another thread about tricks and tips for the national conference.
> Any pointers you would like to share?