So you’ve registered for Connections 2012, made your hotel reservations and booked your travel. You’re amped up to join 4,000 other marketers in Indianapolis to find out what’s working for other people, hear Michael J. Fox’s keynote address, catch The Fray in concert, and see what David Blaine is going to make vanish.
That’s quite a bit of stuff to cram into a few days, and we haven’t even talked about the other keynotes, the hundreds of break out sessions, the Hub Crawl, or the multitude of one-off connections you’ll make in the hallways, bars, and late-night after parties.
At this point, in fact, you may be looking at the schedule and wondering how you’ll be able to absorb any new information after leaving Steak-n-Shake at 4am.
Fear not, this Connections 2012 Survival Guide is here to help!
First Rule of Connections: Sleep Often
No matter how comfortable your bed is at the J.W. Marriott, just know that you won’t be spending much time in it. This conference is very nearly a 24-hour-a-day event, so you’ll need to bank some sleep before you get here. It’s probably best to sleep a lot between now and then. A nap is probably in order right now.
Mastering the Schedule
If you’ve spent any time at all perusing the agenda, you’ve likely experienced some level of panic. Relax. Breath deeply. No one expects you to attend everything, and it’s impossible anyway. The key here is to cherry pick: Find the top ten things you feel you must attend each day, get them on your schedule, and be as faithful as possible. And then know that there’s a good chance at least four of them will be pre-empted by something else. Acceptance and flexibility is key.
Don’t Miss a Keynote
Trust me on this one. You’ll regret it if you do.
Spend Some Time in the Hub
There are some really cool things happening around the platform, and the Hub is where they’re showcased. Walk through a few times, pick up some tchotchkes, have a few enlightening conversations. Don’t spend all day in there, and don’t worry too much about getting your ‘passport’ stamped. If you do, you’re sure to miss something else more important.
Go ‘Celebrity’ Spotting
You’re expecting coffee with Michael J. Fox, cocktails with David Blaine, and a personal jam session with The Fray. Truth is, stranger things have happened.
In the meantime, be on the lookout for Scott Dorsey, Scott McCorkle, and Chris Baggott. And don’t forget that Joel Book will be there. Here’s the key: Try not to get misty-eyed and nervous. A casual nod, maybe a quick handshake, or even a “I like your work” are perfectly acceptable. Keep in mind that though they might seem like rock stars, they still put their pants on one leg at a time. (Except for Dorsey, who has been known to change into a caped outfit in phone booths.)
Prepare to be Caffeinated
Repeat after me: “Starbucks is my friend”. That’s why why there’s one in the lobby and the most popular perks are Starbucks Gift Cards. Red Bull works too. If you’re still having trouble, try a quick nap in the Social Media Lounge.
Last Rule of Connections: Talk About Connections
Ultimately, this isn’t *Fight Club*. Everyone expects you to talk about it, so be ready to multitask: You’ll have to take notes, make pithy comments on Twitter, and blog about your experience while still paying attention. If this sounds like too much, then do the last thing first: pay attention. There are nuggets to be mined here, so be prepared to find them and go back to work and put them to use.