(Originally published by Sherra Scott, IVAACast December 2010.)
Are you packed for Summit yet? Why not!?! Those who have attended an IVAA Live Summit previously will probably agree that right about now you can’t wait to start packing and are probably at least starting your packing list. Packing means you are one day closer to hanging out with your Virtual Assistant buddies. You probably have some sort of packing routine already and you know to include the basics like toiletries and something to wear. But, what specifically do you bring? Since this will be my third year attending the IVAA Live Summit, I have some packing and other pre-Summit tips I hope you find helpful.
For planning your Summit wardrobe, one attendee recommends "Dress is business casual and people wear anything from nice khakis to suits, so whatever you’re comfortable in. Keep in mind – you’ll be sitting A LOT. Tuesday night is the Welcome Reception, so if you want to dress up a little bit – that’s absolutely fine!" Portland in early May has average temperatures of 46°F for lows and 64°F for highs (8°C/18°C), so if you’re coming from a climate where you’re in full on shorts and t-shirt weather by early May, you’ll need to do a little pre-planning and make sure you don’t pack away all your cooler weather clothes.
Here are some of my "don’t forget" items:
- Laptop/Netbook – If you have one, bring it! Even if you don’t plan on doing any client work, it’s great to have for taking notes during sessions and posting quick status updates. Don’t forget your smart phone or iPod Touch for checking in on social networks & location apps during sessions & at all the unofficial after-hours events.
- Power strip/surge protector – Strips should be available during the sessions, but demand for the available outlets can be high during certain times and it’s great to have a surge protector in your hotel room. Plus, if you’re sharing a room, having the extra surge protected outlets is great when the two (or three) of you need to have all your electronics plugged in.
- Travel mouse – If you’re not used to using your touchpad on the laptop.
- Web cam – This is especially great if you have family/children you will be communicating with back home.
- Business cards (at least 100)
- Camera – You might only use the camera on the last day of Summit, but you’ll probably want to get pictures of the new friends you’ve made. Right after the wrap-up session is like one big camera-fest, plus, the after-hours activities, like the hugely popular Dinner With Strangers, are great times to capture those memorable moments with your new friends. By the way, you won’t be strangers after that dinner – my fantasy football league almost doubled after my Dinner With Strangers in Phoenix.
- Video camera/Flip camera
- USB stick drive – Bring one even if you aren’t bringing a laptop. As you know, we VAs are quick to share files and the speakers and presenters often provide additional information files during or after the sessions. If you’ve got your USB drive with you then you can get the files right then without having to wait until you get home and hope they remembered to email the files to you in all THEIR excitement. And it’s nice to be able to get copies of all the pictures your new friends have taken. There will always be SOMEONE who’s willing to copy a file onto your drive for you.
If you’ve got "burning questions" about something, be sure to write them down so you don’t forget to ask in all the excitement! Your time at Summit will pass so quickly that you’ll wonder where the time went, and on your way home you’ll remember a hundred things you wanted to talk about or ask, so keep a list of questions.
When you’re at the Summit if you don’t know the person sitting next to you, why not?! You probably will NOT remember everyone you meet, so don’t be super hard on yourself. TRY to take notes if you can during the introduction session when we all tell a little about ourselves.
Have a short 30-second intro ready with who you are and about your virtual assistant business. It’s much easier to have a little something prepared ahead of time than to come up with it on the fly in front of a group of people.
Don’t assume you "know" someone’s personality just from the postings on-line or voice chats. Their true personalities only come through when you’ve met in person.
Most importantly BE YOURSELF and HAVE FUN! Don’t get me wrong, we will be doing a lot of networking and learning, but the in person aspect magnifies all that exponentially. Although I can almost guarantee you will learn a lot and come away with a list of ideas for your business, the best thing you bring back will be the relationships you form while you’re there.
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