Surviving and Enjoying a Business Conference, Spotlight PRSA 2011 International Conference

As we busily gear up and checklist and pack and prepare for this year's PRSA 2011 International Conference in Orlando, we thought some of you may be doing the same and would enjoy some tips that we are relying on ourselves to jump into all that PRSA is offering us this year in Orlando.


Networking opportunities Orlando-style.

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GOALS

1. Create a "mission statement" for your conference experience.

Having clear goals and objectives in mind will help you best utilize these subsequent tips and further align your conference activities. For example, my goals are: "1. To take away the most professional PR knowledge possible and share it with colleagues and clients; 2. Establish contacts with potential PR job candidates and executive search clients who would greatly benefit from our services."

While this is obviously not intended to exclude contact with any particular attendee or workshop opportunity, it allows me to FOCUS on why I'm at the conference, instead of purposelessly wandering around a beautiful, large hotel.

2. Plan your workshop and networking schedule in advance.

You can download and review the conference program from PRSA's website here. A schedule is also available from the same site. Review the program for networking events and workshops that you are most interested in and make the most sense to attend based on your overall conference goals. Plug these events into your calendar or even a simple, listed itinerary to keep you on track.

3. Be flexible.

It's important to be organized so you don't get overwhelmed with new sights and places. But even though you have your conference battle plan all mapped out, don't be afraid to change it when you learn the lay of the land. A workshop you thought would be perfect might end up being something other than what was expected. So go ahead and check out something different. An unplanned networking opportunity might come up that pushes something to the wayside. That's okay. Go with the flow when it makes sense.


TECHNOLOGY, BABY

1. Pack and charge.

This means your laptop, phone, spare phone, batteries, camera, iPod, iPad, tablet, recorder, video camera, Flip or anything else with batteries and buttons you own and care to bring. Industry conferences provide countless opportunities for impromptu interviews and meetings, not to mention planned workshops and networking meetups. At the very least, these digital tools provide an easy way to take notes. If you blog, these tools provide a huge explosion of content that will keep you busy for weeks and months to come.

2. Download the PRSA app.

With versions for iPhone, BlackBerry, Droid and Windows Mobile, you have no excuse not to take advantage of this handy little app that will keep you connected with social media, schedules, contacts and more.

3. Stay connected via social media.

On Twitter, follow @PRSAICon and use the #PRSAICon for the most direct connection to conference activities. Use the Facebook event page titled PRSA 2011 International Conference created by Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). On LinkedIn, you'll find us at the PRSA 2011 International Conference group. And for AV footage, visit the PR Society of America (PRSA) on YouTube.

IT'S ALL ABOUT YOU

1. Wear comfortable clothes (shoes!)

Visual presentation is no less important when it comes to your personal attire. Dress to impress, but keep in mind that conference days are long. Make sure you are wearing something that is going to feel comfortable ALL DAY. Keep in mind that Florida is hot and hotels are usually freezing. Layer to prepare for highs in the upper 80s and air conditioned spaces in the mid 60s.

But the key element here is what you put on your feet. Shoes with good support or some Dr. Scholl's inserts are essential. Women: a good wedge is a great way to be fashionable but also get much more support than a stiletto.

2. Eat well and hydrate.

No one wants a cranky workshop partner or someone who gets a little too loose at the networking cocktail hours. Protein bars, fruit and water are key.

3. Relax

Traveling hundreds or thousands of miles to interact with strangers is definitely out of your day-to-day comfort zone. But remember that most other attendees are in the same boat. Take advantage of the fact that you are doing something different and that you are doing it with people who are just as interested in PR as you are.

If you feel overwhelmed or need a break, ask the concierge for nearby parks or attractions that will give you the space you need to return to the conference energized and refreshed.

We hope these tips will help you with your PRSA 2011 International Conference experience.

See you there!

- Britt

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