So you’ve done it.
You bought a ticket, booked your hotel and maybe even found a random roommate (or three) and you’re inching closer to attending a social media conference.
But, what to wear? What to pack? What to bring to the conference each day? Among about a zillion other things that are running through your brain right about now, these are just a few. I know. I’ve been there.
BlissDom Canada 2014 marks my fourth social media conference, and I remember when attending my first that my biggest concern was packing. Packing enough. Packing right.
The good news is that all of the other newbies are feeling exactly the same way (promise), and none of the veterans will judge you. Seriously.
OK, here’s what you need to pack for your next social media conference:
1. An awesome dress in which you feel like the hot mama you are.
Chances are there’ll be at least one evening function that will require a bit of a dressier look that what you’ve got going during the day. And although most of these social media conferences are very much come-as-you-are, it feels good to get all womanly and dress up. After all, for some of you, this is the first time you’ve been away from your kids for a whole day and/or night (and/or weekend!). And, dammit! You deserve to look pretty. Feel pretty. Act pretty. Be pretty. Just DO pretty. You want something that feels good on. If it don’t fit, don’t wear it. This isn’t the time to stuff yourself into a dress like a sausage. Remember: there’s lots of food to consume at these things.
I feel so blessed to have been given a custom-made dress experience from Dress Mavens for BlissDom. After I finished looking at all of the different dress styles, I picked four that I thought would do my shapely shape justice. Then, I posted this image on my personal Facebook page, asking my friends to help me choose:
With overwhelming popularity, Nancy won. And many suggested I go for the bold red the model’s wearing, too. So I did. The measurement process was fairly straightforward, but if you’ve never measured yourself before, you’ll probably be as concerned as I was that you weren’t measuring the right spots. The good news is (a) my dress arrived and fit almost perfectly, and (b) the smart cookies over at Dress Mavens will soon be posting how-to-measure videos.
So why only almost perfect? Well, it seems my inner vixen wanted to make a rather daring appearance and measured the dip in the V-neck on that there Nancy dress just a wee bit too low. As in, you-can-basically-see-my-nipple low. (Don’t look THAT hard when you see me in it, OK?) Thanks to Dress Mavens’ “Delight Guarantee,” I get a $35 credit to use with my local tailor who will fix it all up so I’m not Elaine in that episode of Seinfeld when she sends out all those Hannukah cards with her nip out. No one needs to see that. I breastfed for 44 cumulative months; it ain’t pretty down there these days.
Other than that, the fit is spectacular. It hugs me in all the right places and it’s so nice to have a dress that isn’t too long in the torso. I have one of those awkard bodies that is all out of proportion. I’m only about 5’7″, but I have a 34-inch inseam! If my body was as long as my legs, I’d basically be a supermodel. Alas, I go from boobs to waist without so much as an inch or so between them. With a bespoke dress, it doesn’t matter. My freaky bits are all worked out.
So, how did the dress turn out? You be the judge!
If you’re coming to BlissDom this year, you’ll get to meet the team behind Dress Mavens and check out all of the stunning styles and fabrics available for your own bespoke number. Dress Mavens is a first-time BlissDom Canada sponsor and you’re gonna fall in love with them. And their dresses that fit you no matter what size or shape you are. Be sure to visit the booth and chat about the kind of frock that YOUR body would rock. Because feeling beautiful is important! Already have a Dress Mavens piece? Share it on Instagram with the #dressmavensgiveback hashtag, and a $1 donation (per photo) will go to the Quang Nam Orphans and Handicapped Children Center in Vietnam. Beautiful dresses really can do beautiful things.
2. A smartphone that you know inside and out.
I made the mistake last year of taking a brand new Moto X to BlissDom that I had never operated. But I was no smartphone newb, so I figured I’d be fine. But I had also never used Android until then, and — boy — was it a mistake to take a foreign device with me when there was so much Tweeting, Facebooking and online networking to be done. The conference sessions move fast on Twitter and if you want your take on the content heard (and shared) you need to be really comfortable with your device. Now is not the time for a tester! I’m taking a Moto X again this year, but I know the phone well and I’m all over Android these days. Especially since my kids have (again) put my iPhone somewhere “safe.”
3. External smartphone batteries.
These are a God-send and a must-have when you need your phone to last from breakfast until well after dark. If you don’t want to fork out upwards of $80 for the Mophie-style battery packs that attach right to your smartphone, you can spend a fraction of that and get something like the RAVpower Luster external battery. I love these little things. Yeah, they’re a bit cumbersome if you’re trying to carry a discreet purse to go with your LBD, but to be able to recharge your phone on-the-go is crucial during these conferences. You very well might find yourself near a plug or a sponsor charging station, but I can pretty much guarantee that it won’t be enough to make it from day to night.
4. Comfortable shoes.
I don’t care how superbly you walk in heels. I don’t care if you’re Tyra-freaking-Banks, all runway-style. If you can last in heels from 8 a.m. until midnight, you’re either a liar or a shoe goddess with magical feet. You may even be a unicorn. I don’t know. What I do know is that if you’re human, you need a pair of flats for some portion of your conference day. My go-to flats are ALWAYS Tieks. Stylish, comfortable and convenient. I have three pairs (fuchsia, lemon and sandsnake) and they’re unmatched in terms of fit and comfort by any other flat I’ve ever worn. They’re the perfect shoes for conferences because they fold up into a teeny-tiny little bag that can fit into any-sized day bag if you do want to wear heels during certain parts of the conference (like meeting with sponsors).
5. Business cards.
Don’t leave home without them! You don’t need to spend a lot of money on business cards, but they shouldn’t be the kind you print at home unless you have a STELLAR printer and really high-quality cardstock. Be sure to include the most basic information (first name, website address, email address) and add the bonus information if you’re comfortable (surname, phone number, social channels, criminal record…I’m joking…don’t include that). I personally didn’t want my surname or phone number on my cards because sometimes I hand out cards to random parents when I’m out and about, and I prefer to communicate via email when it comes to my blog. If you can afford the added touch of hiring a graphic designer to create a nice layout for your business cards, go for it. And definitely steal Sheri’s “conference hack” of putting your cards and the ones you receive in your conference lanyard!
6. Comforts of home.
It’s not easy leaving home (even though an hour after arriving you’ll be doing your Happy Dance), so bring a little bit of home with you. A favourite family photo you can place on your bedside table; the juicer you just can’t live without; your blankie. It’ll put you at ease, and hopefully that’s enough to help you walk into a room filled with 4oo strangers and mingle. I made a video about my kids as part of a BlissDom project called #ThisIsBliss, and when I’m missing my little ones, I’m going to watch it.
7. Easy-to-wear but stylish clothes for day time.
You probably don’t want to wear yoga pants to a conference, but you do want clothes that feel just as comfy. Just remember that at the end of the day, although conferences like BlissDom feel like a weekend away with the girls, they’re business trips. You should be there with a business agenda. And for that, you need to look the part. Business suit not required, but a nice pair of pants (that will allow you to gain a few pounds in a few days thanks to all of the amazing parties) and a top that says “You want to work with me!” are perfect. And pack at least one extra outfit, just in case you hate half of what you brought by the time you unpack. Oh, and if your hotel has a pool (like the one at the Delta Meadowvale where BlissDom is held), don’t forget your swimsuit!
8. A fake-it-’til-you-make-it smile.
Your brain is a pretty amazing thing. If you smile for 15 seconds straight, you trick your brain into believing you’re happy. So if you’re not usually a happy-go-lucky person, spend 15 seconds forcing yourself to smile before you enter a room. I’m not suggesting that you keep a faux smile plastered on your face all night, especially if that’s not your natural state of being; but I am suggesting that it’s easier to seem approachable and have the confidence to meet new people when you’re in your happy place.
9. Anything that boosts your confidence.
What gives you that special ooomph you need when you walk into a room? Is it bold lipstick, a quick pep talk with a friend, those killer heels that make you stand out above the crowd? (Or you know, a made-to-measure dress…cough…see point No. 1.) Figure out what makes you feel really good about yourself and WORK IT. If belting out Les Mis tunes in a hot shower’s your thing, and you come out feeling alive and ready to take on the world, do it. Do whatever you need to do to be your bravest YOU. Sure, some people don’t have any trouble making new friends, talking up brands or being the life of the party. But if that’s not you, figure out what’s going to make you the most comfortable in these kinds of situations you’ll face during a social media conference, because comfortable often equals confidence.
Yeah, yeah…you can’t exactly “pack” Twitter, but semantics aside… I was recently at a Main St. Creative event for bloggers and met someone who isn’t on Twitter. Look, do I love it as much as Facebook or Instagram? I do not. But when you have a business, especially a business that’s a blog, you really need to be on Twitter. And a lot of these social media conferences happen as much on Twitter as they do in real life, so being part of the conversation that’s happening online is really just as important as the ones happening offline. You don’t need to be a Twitter expert, or understand what the hell a hashtag is or does, but you should snap up the handle that makes sense for your brand and just start engaging.
That’s it. Now you’re ready to take on any conference. Go have fun out there. (Just don’t forget the perfect dress. Wink, wink.)
DISCLAIMER: Dress Mavens compensated me for this post, but all of the love I’ve thrown their way is genuine. I really had a wonderful experience ordering a custom-made dress from this company and can’t wait to show it off at BlissDom! Motorola Canada is a client of the firm for whom I work; I write about products we represent of my own free will.