Yesterday, I went to a conference in the city. I went dragging my feet and with a bit of whimpering. Why? Well, when you work from home and do not have to do your hair, get dressed up, or drive anywhere, it becomes a pain when you do. But I got up early, left 2 hours before the conference started, and drove into the city. I had calculated what it would cost me in gas, babysitting fees, lunch, parking, and the price of the conference. I was convinced it was not worth it, and was kicking myself for ever agreeing to go to this thing.
I arrived in the city in less than an hour. Found a parking garage that had early-bird parking for $12 all day. I made it to the conference just in time and found that we had an endless supply of bottled water, coffee, pastries and juices. Things were starting to look up and I was ready to finally relax.
The conference started on-time and was on the topic of e-mail marketing and social media. The presenter was fun, engaging and told us right off the bat what we would be learning. He had my attention the entire time. I have been using my e-mail program for several years, and while I knew the basics, there was so much more that I wasn’t doing. It turned out to be a really great conference. I left feeling motivated and confident that I could do my job just a little bit better. Here are a few reasons why this conference was a success and why I would sign up with this organization again:
Great Presenter: The presenter started on time. He was engaging, enthusiastic, articulate, and funny. He had us go around the room and introduce ourselves. This helped the audience get involved right away. he was knowledgeable and confident, and had very interesting information to share.
Appropriate Breaks: We had appropriate breaks through out the day. Just when I thought I couldn’t take anymore we would take a 10 minute break. The facility had free coffee, pastries, water, and soft drinks. They even had toasters to toast bagels. They had free Wi-Fi and comfortable seating through out the building.
Audience Involvement: Our presenters often asked the audience for their opinions, feedback, experiences, or just something simple like their favorite kind of cookie (that got a few chuckles). Keeping the audience involved was key in keeping the attention of the room–especially when everyone has iPhones, iPads, and every other kind of contraption sitting near them. It is good to keep people focused. He would also often say “eyes up here” or “you don’t want to miss this.” Seems a bit elementary, but it sure worked.
Hands-on Learning: Everyone in the audience had a small computer in front of them. We were able to work on our own projects and tailor them to the needs and goals of our own organizations. Having the ability to do, and not just watch, was huge.
Networking: Network. Network. Network. I soon learned that the entire room was a potential client. It was a fantastic way for me to meet other people, tell them about my business, and learn about theirs. Conferences are some of the best places to meet other professionals and to network.
So, was it worth it? Absolutely. Would I do it again? Yes. Will I kick and scream the whole way there? Most likely. But any time you can get out of your comfort zone and get in front of people, you are going to win. So, get out there. Sign up for that conference or webinar. Learn something new and make a connection, or two!
BusyConf is really excited to officially announce our partnership with
“As a conference attendee, I’ve always enjoyed the BusyConf experience. When
planning began for #ChefConf 2013, BusyConf was the clear choice for
managing the CFP, attendee registration, and conference scheduling. We
needed a badge printing and lead retrieval system that provided a similarly
enjoyable experience,” said Nathen Harvey, Technical Community Manager of
Opscode and #ChefConf 2013 Program Chair.
“We’re really excited to have Qrious as our first partner to integrate with
our real-time API,” said Ryan McGeary, CEO and Founder of BusyConf. “Keeping
data in sync across services is something that really matters to conference
organizers and the integration provides instant synchronization between our
If you’re interested in the automated integration between our two platforms, contact support today.
Going to a conference? Be sure to have these necessary items in your briefcase, laptop bag, or purse. Most conferences are quick and fast-paced and leave little time to run to the drugstore or back to your room. Make sure you are prepared and ready to go!
Business Cards: This is one time when less is definitely not more. Make sure you have plenty of business cards with you. The worst scenario is when you meet a new contact, they are truly interested in your services, but you have nothing to give them. We recommend keeping business cards in all pockets of all bags. Just in case you change bags at the last minute.
Mints: Conferences start early, and most likely, you will be drinking coffee. Make sure you have mints with you so that you can talk to that person next to you with confidence. You never know what they will be serving for lunch too. Garlic shrimp?
More Than One Pen: We have all had that incident where we are trying to take notes or write down a number and our pen won’t work. Be prepared and have a couple of extra pens just incase. You never know when the person next to you will need a pen. Great conversation starter and you look prepared.
Notebook: Sometimes the good old fashioned note taking is the only way to go. Want to save your notes digitally? Try the new Evernote Smart Notebook. It allows you to take pictures of your notes and then stores it in Evernote. Genius.
Phone Charger: Work doesn’t stop because you are at a conference. Make sure your phone has plenty of juice so you can answer those incoming calls from the office or from your clients. You may also want to be tweeting or posting about the conference. Having your phone charger with you will make certain your phone is alive and well.
Do you have any other suggestions for what to bring to a conference? We would love to hear from you. Tweet us at @busyconf or visit our Facebook page.
Look forward to hearing from you!
Hello, my name is Daniel Ackerman.
I just graduated from Loudoun Valley High School and will attend Christopher
Newport University next year to study computer science. Before I could even
read, I showed a great interest in computers when I got a Nintendo 64 at age
four. When I was nine, I decided to build my own desktop computer. Then, when
I turned 13, I got a PSP and proceeded to hack it. The following year I became
a well-known iTouch and iPhone jail breaker at my intermediate school. But it
was not until I took a basic computer science course my junior year in high
school that I had any programming experience. The first quarter was very hard
for me; and, while normally I was not the academic student who persevered, I
suddenly found myself spending every night at home hacking away on different
pieces of code. Not only did this new found aspiration for computer science
cause my grades in that class to improve, but it also helped to improve my
grades in all of my other classes as well. I was definitely going to sign up
for AP computer science the next year.
My senior year was very exciting for me. The preceding summer I spent hours
each day programming, and I solved many mathematical problems with computer
science on Project Euler. I also had a mentor in the computer science field
that helped me when I needed it. As most of my fellow classmates lost interest
in their classes and turned towards college, I finally focused on
school. Realizing that calculus could help me further my computer science
endeavors, I began teaching it to myself. For once, all of my math classes
became a breeze. I began to make nearly straight A’s, something I had not
achieved for years. I helped out the first year computer science students,
serving as a teacher assistant for a teacher I will never forget. That
Christmas, instead of asking for some gadget or game, I asked for computer
science and math textbooks: scala, calculus, game physics, functional
programming. In the last few months I wrote a derivative, integration, and
graphing program for a physics project and learned dynamic programming. But as
my year began to come to a close, I was told of an internship opportunity at a
company called BusyConf.
While I had recently acquired a job to save some money for college, the
interview and pre-interview email processes for BusyConf were very
nerve-wracking for me. Even being a coached varsity debater, I was really
nervous speaking in front of Ryan. I knew from the moment I googled his name
that I had found someone who not only knew programming and business inside and
out, but someone who could actually teach me and help me turn my passion and
still beginner’s knowledge of computer science into a real craft. Over the
course of a month, Ryan and I emailed each other back and forth as a sort of
pre-interview. I remember quite a few days where I kept my phone close,
waiting for some response, only to jump back into learning the new language
Ruby I heard about from Ryan. At the interview I was extremely nervous–I was
actually meeting Ryan in person!
Getting picked for the internship was simply amazing. The night I got the
email I was ecstatic. However, my first day was very different from my
expectations. Ryan introduced me to the challenging process of picking out the
stickers for the cover of a MacBook. When he took me and his friend (Chris Mar) out to
lunch, we had a funny conversation about the crazy interview questions
software companies can ask applicants. Later that day I was shown how
to run a live version of the BusyConf server on the MacBook and how to use
git & hub to pull repositories from GitHub. Lastly, I was given a rundown of
the Mac operating system. But it was the smaller personal gestures that made
me feel truly welcome.
At BusyConf this summer, I expect to be greatly challenged. I have already
been challenged: I had this quirk where I press the caps lock key instead of
the shift key to capitalize, and Ryan has “helped me” by taking it away on the
Mac…but I know this is for good. I expect that if I put in 100%, I can achieve
a level of computer science that I am only now beginning to see as
possible. Last summer I grew tremendously, simply by pushing myself. But I
lacked a dedicated teacher, formal instruction, and clear goals. This summer,
I have all of those, in addition to a mindset on becoming an amazing
We all want to do our part and help to protect the environment. One way you
can do that is by eliminating waste at your next big event. Here are 8 tips on
how you can host a “green” conference. This will not only help the planet, but
it will also help your wallet!
Digital Goody Bag: Instead of handing your attendees a bag full of paper that
they may or may not read, think about sending everything to them prior to the
conference in an e-mail. This will give attendees the opportunity to print what
they are interested in–saving you time and money. It might also save a tree or
China Over Styrofoam: Instead of styrofoam coffee cups, bring out the old
china. Using china cups and saucers may seem a bit old-school, but it will save
you money on purchasing hundreds of cups. It will also reduce waste.
Skip the Bottled Water: Offer large water jugs everywhere, and consider
sponsored reusable water bottles that attendees can take with them. Water
pitchers and glasses at each table also helps.
Thumb Drives with Presentations: Much like the digital goody bag, offer to put
all of the presentations they are going to see today on a thumbdrive. This
can be purchased at the end of the event or given out as a souvenir. This
eliminates unwanted paper that usualy gets thrown away.
Recycling Bins Next to Garbage Cans: Make recycling easy for your
attendees. Ask your venue to help by supplying recycling bins next to every
Publish a Digital Agenda: Most attendees carry smartphones or tablets, and
they love using them. By publishing a mobile-enabled online schedule of your
event, your attendees not only get a richer experience but you also save a ton
of paper. BusyConf can help you publish a modern
online schedule easily.
Ask Your Attendees to Do Their Part: Let attendees know this is an energy
concious event, and ask them to pitch in. Recycle that soda can. If printing
out slides, ask them to print front and back and multiple slides per page.
Reuse the Name Badge Sleeves: Much like runners returning their time chip
at the end of a race, attendees can return their plastic name badge sleeves
and lanyards at the end of your event. With a conference of 1300 or more
people, saving a name badge can save over $1,000!
These are just a few ideas on how to have less waste at your next big
event. Not everyone will be on board, and you are sure to get some
push-back. There will be complaints about not having bottled water or a
printed slides. Simply smile, and thank them for their suggestions. There is
no way to make everyone happy, but you know that you took a few simple steps
to not only save some money but also help protect our environment.
Finding the right speakers for your conference can be a big
challenge. Speakers can make or break a conference. Big names will attract
people to your conference but so will titles, resumes and publications. When
looking for speakers make sure you stay on topic and find people who are
well-versed in the industry. It is important to find speakers that have
experience presenting to large groups. You want someone who is dynamic,
entertaining and educational. Here are a few tips on how to find the right
speaker for your next conference:
Attend Conferences in Your Area: Look at events in your industry both past and
present. Who were the speakers? What was the attendance like? What was the
feedback on the speaker? Did any of the speakers strike a chord with you?
Ask Your Audience: If you already have a following ask them who they would
like to hear speak. You can tweet them, poll them on Facebook or ask them via
Google+. You may be surprised at the responses. Try giving them a few options
and let them vote.
Ask Your Sponsors: Asking your sponsors also shows that you respect their
opinion and want their input. However, do not put them in charge of finding
the speaker. Simply ask them for a few names they would recommend. This way
you are still in control. You can do your homework from afar and see if these
names would be a good fit for the conference with little commitment.
Create an Advisory Board: This board can consist of employees, friends with a
deep interest of your particular topic or industry, and perhaps past speakers
of your event. If this is your first time holding an event ask people who are
knowledgeable on the topic. Several heads are always better than one. Discuss
trending topics related to the industry at hand and what each person would
like to learn more about.
Request for Proposal: Set up a Request for Proposal (aka Call for
Proposal, aka CFP) form on your website. BusyConf has
a very intuitive and easy to use form that is available to use when integrated
with our seamless conference platform. CFP’s allow the speakers to come to
you. You will get a good sense of their commitment and level of enthusiasm.
Listen to you Audience: We spend so much time looking at the podium we may
overlook the very talented and dynamic speaker and leader who is sitting right
next to you. Talk to your fellow attendees. Find out what they do. You may
just find the next presenter for your event.
Read: Immerse yourself in books, articles, and blogs on the topic. You may
be surprised at what you learn and who you “meet.”
Find New Blood: We tend to ask the same industry leaders to speak. The
trouble with that is their speech is often the same. Instead of asking these
leaders to speak at yet another conference ask them who they would
recommend. Perhaps they have been to a conference and heard someone who is
less known but still has great content to share.
Finding good public speakers is no easy task–especially ones that are
knowledgeable, interesting and well versed. Do your homework and ask others to
help you. Have you hosted a conference? If so, how did you find your speakers?
When you’re starting a new company, it’s critical to be able to convey the
business’s message and value proposition quickly. It’s important to practice,
memorize, and test this message frequently, because the next person you meet
might be the perfect customer, investor, or partner.
Here’s the BusyConf Elevator Pitch that I’ve been practicing recently.
Whether you’re a novice or an experienced event planning professional,
conference and convention planning is an utter nightmare. BusyConf is the
only platform with its unique set of conference workflows that makes
conference planning easy.
Let’s imagine that you need to organize a speaker conference. You have a lot
on your plate. You need to manage the speakers. You need to coordinate and
cooperate amongst your review committee. You need to publish a schedule that
your attendees can view while they’re at the event. And you need to handle all
the finances. You need to handle the ticket purchases with credit card
payments, and discount codes, and refunds. All of this makes up just part of a
typical conference event.
Normally, this is handled with disjunct emails and offline
spreadsheets. Almost none of it is in one location. To top it off, the
responsible parties are usually made up of volunteers with little expertise,
but more importantly little time.
BusyConf gives you the tools to publish a call for proposals. We automatically
publish your accepted activities to an online mobile schedule. We also handle
all the ticket registration, sponsor payments, and finances for you. It’s all
under the BusyConf roof, AND at the end of the day, we cut you a check.
BusyConf makes your event a success. It makes conference planning easy.
BusyConf is proud to sponsor and mentor the largest high school hackathon in history. The Leesburg Today and Ashburn Patch picked up the story.
“I am looking for someone who has already shown a talent for programming, but wants to learn more,” McGeary said. “I am testing a new hypothesis. I believe that someone who starts with a strong passion for programming at a young age and on their own initiative will be a better job candidate in the long run than someone who chose a college major because there is a potential job market for that skill.”
Karen E. Klein from Bloomberg Businessweek interviewed me about Mike Moyer’s new book, Slicing Pie. I got to talk about BusyConf, my past business experiences, and how a dynamic equity split model might have helped.
“There’s got to be a better way” to handle equity stakes, McGeary says.
Jim Barnes from The Washington Post interviewed me during a local gathering of entrepreneurs. I got to talk about BusyConf and how important networking can be for entrepreneurs.
“A lot of the best connections you have, or the best business generators, are sometimes the weak connections, not necessarily your best friend,” McGeary said. “It’s more along the lines of the person you met at the one particular gathering knows somebody who knows somebody.”
“Basically, we talk about our ideas; we talk about our business plans; we talk about challenges we’re having, and just bounce ideas around,” McGeary said.
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