Friday, 15 January 2016

Six #Essential Tools to Pack For a #Conference #what2pack #tech

Six Tools To Help You to Rock Your Next Conference or Networking Event:

Attending a conference is both a time and financial investment, so getting the best return on that investment just makes good sense. Key to getting the most out of your conference experience is having the right tools. With five conferences under my belt, these are my six must have items for a conference. 

Business Cards (lots of them):
Your business card says you mean business without saying a word. The design reflects on you and your brand, so what do you want yours to say about you? It's important to take some time to consider: design, colour, font, whether to include a photo and/or Logo, a QR Code (Quick Response Code), and what Contact Information and Social Media links to add.
Need some inspiration? The links below will get you started:

Smartphone or Cellphone:
Samsung Galaxy Note 4
Conferences are very social both IRL (in real life) and on social media, and throughout attendees will be busy snapping pictures and sharing insights. A smartphone makes it easy to share, text and connect with other attendees, whether to make plans to meetup for meals, or staying in touch pre-and-post conference. It's a personal choice which phone is best for you, but having one is essential for a conference or networking event.
My current phone is a Samsung Note 4. I like it's ease of use, large screen and built-in stylus. A micro-SD card allows me to expand the memory and store 1000's of pictures for my blog.
* Tip: Bring your phone's charging cord & wall wart with you to events in case if you need a mid-day charge. Sometimes there are charging stations available, but if not you're all set to find an outlet to charge during a break. 

Tablet with Keyboard:
Dell Venue Pro 8, Bluetooth Keyboard & Stylus
In my opinion the size, weight and mobility of a tablet makes it an essential conference tool and great alternative to a laptop. If paired with a bluetooth keyboard it easily becomes command central for your conference experience, is perfect for note-taking, and avoids the need to switch back and forth between functions on your phone. Having both a phone and a tablet is much easier. 
Conferences are generally made up of speakers, panels and workshops in a variety of rooms. You'll be up, down and all around, and most laptops are too bulky and heavy to lug around from room to room, and don't leave you hands-free to hold your coffee, plate or shake hands while you network. 
Currently I'm using a Dell Venue Pro 8, which I've paired with a Dell bluetooth keyboard and stylus. In my experience when it comes to a keyboard or stylus you get what you pay for. One thing I like about the Dell Venue is that it runs a full version of Windows. 

Portable Battery Charger:
NexTek Pocket Booster
With all the photos and social media sharing my phone battery doesn't last long so I always bring a variety of portable chargers. I like to have a smaller one I can stick in my pocket allowing me to walk around and charge my phone while still using it. The larger one I have allows for multiple charges and charging of more than one device at a time. I use the Nextek Pocket Booster, and TheLifeSaverIII, but you can find lots of portable battery packs/charger brands, options and price points.
*Tip: Some charge faster, or more than one device at a time, so be sure to read specs before you buy.

Multi-Port USB Charger:
Belkin SurgePlus USB Swivel Charger
A multi-port charger is a lifesaver when trying to charge and plug in all your devices and laptop while staying in a hotel. Rarely do hotel rooms have enough or easily accessible outlets or USB ports required. I never travel without taking at least one of these with me. I use the Belkin SurgePlus USB Swivel Charger which I really like, but there are lots of chargers available at differing price points.

Notebooks, Pens and Highlighters:
I'm still largely old school and take copious notes while at a conferences. Unless I'm actually sitting at a table note-taking with a tablet/keyboard can be challenging, and I'd be lost without a generous supply of notebooks, pens and highlighters. And notebooks are perfect for me to doodle in.

Other Items to Consider:
  • Live Scribe (Smart Pen & Notebooks)
  • Camera: I use my phone, and the Samsung NX1000.
  • Kingston Technology Mobilelite Wireless G2 
  • For Introverts: Muse Headband for a bit of a-u-m.
  • Reusable water bottle (important to stay hydrated).
  • Data (if no wi-fi is available at the venue).
  • Consider creating or updating your Media Kit and/or Resume (and print a few hard copies to have with you).

Yep, just me Cathy thinking out loud about my top 6 essential tools for a conference. 

Note: I have not been compensated for this post. The purpose of this post was merely to share with my readers. All opinions are my own, and reflect my personal experience with the brands or products mentioned. 

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