Conference First-Timer? Andrea shares her advice.
Heading to the JWI Young Women’s Leadership conference for the first time? We’re super excited to meet you! Here’s some tips and tricks I’ve picked up:
By Andrea Deck
Be ready to meet a million people. What does that mean? For me it means a healthy dose of caffeine beforehand, and bringing business cards. I also brush up on my elevator pitch the week beforehand so I can be ready with an up-to-date three sentence “who I am, and why you should care”. It also means the conference is set up for you to meet people- there is ‘speed networking,’ tables with hosts in the beginning, and coffee catch ups. I’m ALWAYS surprised how excited everyone is to connect- from the speakers, to the committee, to boards across the country, to whoever is sitting next to me- it’s a really friendly, welcoming crowd.
Wear comfortable shoes. It’s a conference. The bathrooms are down the hall and the snacks always seem to be the farthest from the room my session is in. This is also a statement about what I’m wearing in general- it is a room full of women that is way more interested in who you are than what you’re wearing. I usually wear comfortable business professional clothing in layers for the cold December day, but everyone seems much more likely to ask about which session I was in than where I bought my shirt.
Follow up! Last year I set a goal to follow up with everyone who gave me their business card during the conference. Every single one of them emailed me back! A year later- I still have coffee with three of them, and recently featured someone I met at the conference with my organization.
Not sure what’s going on? Feeling a little intimidated by going alone? Sign up for a buddy when you register (say you’re a first time attendee!), or feel free to reach out to me ([email protected])! We also have a Pre-Conference Fall Gathering happening on November 12th, where you can meet other women planning to attend the conference in December.