Y’all know that I’m a systems gal and one of the things that really tests my application of systems in my own life and business is going out of town. Because it’s really easy to have everything running smoothly when you have an entire office at your disposal but on the road it’s much harder.
So today I want to share how you can prepare for you next conference both physically and mentally.
Are You Physically Prepared?
For me this is the paramount question because once I know that the “things” are ready I can fully focus on engagement. I start with a specific packing list, whether for vacation, a conference, a workshop, wherever this trip is taking me. It’s pretty simple to start, just write down all the things you think you’ll need at this conference and when you get home review the list and add or subtract items.
A physical packing list will help you ensure you don’t show up without business cards, your cell phone charger or no dress shoes but just as important is making sure you show up ready.
Let’s face it, a conference is a germophobe’s nightmare. Lots of people from all around the country crammed into one space sharing the same creamer and bathrooms. The last thing you want is to be stuck in a hotel room sick or in such a daze that you don’t engage with the conference teaching or networking opportunities.
Take Care of Yourself
In the weeks before the conference focus on self care. Wash your hands thoroughly (especially when traveling), take your vitamins and eat well, exercise in the days leading up to an event and stay hydrated with lots of water. It’s temping to pile on the stress before leaving for an event, thinking that you have to prove something or complete all open projects. But staying up to all hours of the night using coffee to stay awake while you push to finish another project will leave you drained and exhausted when it’s conference time.
Rest plays a huge part in both your physical and mental preparedness so make sure you’re sleeping well and taking time to adjust to a new time zone if you’re traveling far.
While most people appreciate the physical prep for an event or conference, most will neglect the emotional and mental preparation. It’s easy to do because the external is what we show to the world but the internal work, that’s what will transform our lives and businesses.
Set Intentions, Not Expectations
It’s easy to say “I’m going to get 3 new clients” or “I’ll pass out 1,000 business cards!” when it comes to setting goals but it’s also very tempting to get overly enthusiastic and then discouraged when reality happens. Instead of making expectations of yourself or the event, set intentions. Here’s the difference:
Expectation: I’m going to get 3 new clients this weekend who’ll pay me $10,000 each and then refer me to 5 new clients!
Intention: I will remain present and engaged with the people I meet to discover if they’re my ideal client and if I’m their ideal coach.
Expectation: I’ll have a huge breakthrough and cry at the microphone and get sudden clarity on my business vision.
Intention: By taking in the content, staying open to the wisdom of other attendees and engaging in the work I will discover new clarity.
I prefer intentions because it looks inward, what will I do, instead of focusing outward with expectations.
Once you set your goals, the hard part begins. There are typically so many distractions between the travel, sponsors, the content, meals, friends, colleagues, networking, partying, hotels and more that it’s easy to let an event go past without engaging in the actual work.
So here are a few additional tips on staying present and accounting for your focus during an event.
It’s okay to break the rules and not do every assignment if you’re exhausted and need rest. Or go to lunch with friends who know your business instead of strangers who can’t remember your name. It’s okay to network in the hot tub or spend the evening watching television alone. The conference coordinators are giving their suggestions that will work for most people so reflect on what you need in the moment and accept if it derives from the advice given.
If you’re at an event where you know few people set a small goal to meet 5-10 new people each day to share something you’re learning. By focusing on what the event is teaching you, you’ll have relevant and fresh topics of conversation.
However, if you’re attending a conference surrounded by familiar friends and colleagues be sure to guard your energy. Instead of checking in with everyone to find out what they’re learning, what support they need, if they’re filling out their workbooks, give all your attention to your business and personal development. Remember that you’re not attending as conference support, you’ve paid and traveled for your own edification.
It’s okay to let people know that you can’t coach them, or support them throughout a multi-day event because you’re focusing on your own transformation and education because the purpose of such attention and focus is so you can become a better professional and that ensures long term support for your clients.
Finally, a mix of strategic planning and mental preparation in this final tip: Set aside at least one entire day when you return to sort through your notes, reach out to new contacts and reflect on what you’ll be implementing in your business from the conference. It’s very easy to jump right back into your day to day business but setting this time aside will help you solidify the intention to grow during the event. You’ll be looking for the things you want to explore in detail or implement so star or highlight them so when you review they’ll stand out to you.