The annual AFP International Fundraising Conference is coming up in less than two weeks, and we are so excited to be jetting off to Boston to exhibit again this year! When it comes to attending conferences, we fancy ourselves to be pretty much experts. And since we are AFP International Fundraising Conference veterans, we have compiled a list of tips and tricks to make sure you’re getting the most out of your conference experience.
- Pack your walking shoes. There are more than 150 exhibitors who will be demonstrating their products, giving out tchotchkes and providing information at the Marketplace, and that means a lot of walking for you! With so much to see at the Expo, as well as walking to sessions all day, it’s important that you wear comfortable shoes. This is even more important if you’re planning on going out and exploring the Boston area when you’re not at the conference. There’s nothing worse than painful blisters at the end of your first day!
- Bring extra note-taking materials. If you’re going to the conference to attend sessions, it’s likely that you’ll want to take some of that important information home with you. And, even if you don’t want it, your boss may want to see what you learned while you were there. Take down important points, contact information and other pertinent details from educational sessions. You can use a laptop, tablet, or old-fashioned pen and paper. Forgot your note-taking things? We’re willing to bet that you’ll easily be able to find notebooks and pens at the Expo!
- Explore the area. Boston is an amazing city, and whether it’s your first visit or your tenth, we strongly encourage you to take the time to explore it. From the history buff to the foodie, there’s something for everyone in Boston. Walk the Freedom Trail, visit Boston Common, check out Paul Revere’s house and grab a delicious seafood dinner on the harbor.
- Pack extra business cards. If you’re anything like us, you often leave conferences with very few of your own business cards left, and a large stack of other peoples’. Make sure you have enough of your own cards to make it through the week. Another expert tip: Write notes about people you meet and the conversations you had with them on the back of their business cards. That way you’re not returning home trying to figure out who is who and what you wanted to follow up about.
- Talk with vendors. The Marketplace is going to be filled to the brim with vendors wanting to showcase their products and services, and some of these products and services may be things you didn’t even know you needed! Exhibitors want to do more than give you free candy and imprinted hand sanitizer, they want to help make your nonprofit more successful. So, we recommend that you take some time to talk to vendors about what they’re offering. Ask for demos, ask questions and get to know their business a little. Then grab some free candy.
- Engage on social media. You don’t have to wait until you’re in Boston to start networking, there is already a ton of conversation happening on social media. Check out the AFP International Fundraising Conference Facebook page, follow the chit-chat on Twitter with the hashtag #AFPFC, and download the app when it comes available. We also hope that you’ll engage with us and others during the conference.
We hope you’re getting as excited as we are for AFPFC 2016 and that you get the most out of your time in Boston! If you’ll be there, make sure to stop by and see us at Booth 1022.