I'm A CRASHer, Now What?
You’ve been sele
ted to CRASH a convention – first off, CONGRATULATIONS! Enjoy the moment of excitement from being selected! If you are anything like me and a planner, my mind immediately went to what do I pack, what do I need to bring, will everything survive without me while I’m gone?? While I’m not a professional CRASHer (I wish), I have CRASHed one and been to a few other conferences as an attendee so here are my suggestions!
First things first, let your boss and family know and make sure the time schedule will work. Now, you should have done it with work before you applied, but family obligations make it a whole new ball game, especially if it’s in the middle of a planned family vacation J You may need to have family come to town to help with kids, or set up a friend to take the kids for the night – but if you can make it work so you can CRASH, you do it!
Before you worry about anything, interact with the other CRASHer’s. Look them up on LinkedIn, if it’s not created for you – create a GroupMe chat so you can post questions back and forth. We used it a ton to know when each other were landing and got together before our first official event to get to know each other and have fun. Those groups also never go away, my CRASHing group will still send messages and check in every once in a while – CRASHed over a year ago.
In terms of what clothes to pack, each conference is different – but most have a business casual dress code. Some have gone to business smart (don’t worry, I googled it too!) it’s basically business dress with professional looking jeans. You can usually find out the dress code by looking at the conference webpage, looking up photos from the past years, or just reaching out to your crash leader. As a CRASHer, there will be one day you get to wear jeans and have a specifically designated CRASHer T-shirt. So don’t forget the jeans! As mentioned before, I’m a planner, so I always plan out my outfits and add an extra just in case you are clumsy and spill on yourself like I do, or just want a few options! Pack comfortable shoes, you will be on your feet and on the move a lot. The majority of these venues aren’t small, and just the walk from your room to where the conference is being held is a hike, let alone walking all over the conference itself from session to session!
Other items to ensure you bring along would be a notebook, pen, and computer if you prefer to take notes that way, a bag to carry it all in each day and business cards – and make sure you always have them on you! If you don’t have business cards through your Credit Union – ask the Marketing team if they will create you one and if that’s not an option, consider making one of your own. I made my own and didn’t list my company on it, because you don’t want to make the marketing folks mad, but I listed my name, email, phone number and LinkedIn Profile. I can tell you at most conferences I’ve been to, the swag you get at registration included a bag, but you don’t want to depend on that and be left without and juggling all your items in between sessions.
Keep your phone with you at all times, but don’t let it to be a distraction! Post your experience on social media (keep it professional) because past CRASHer’s love to interact with you! I would take a bunch of pictures during the day, and then post them when I got back to my room at night or during a break in between sessions!
What if I’m shy and networking isn’t really my thing? It wasn’t mine either! CRASHing has become such a status that people will want to come talk to you – so you don’t have to approach them! If all else fails, make your way around the exhibition booth and talk to the vendors, the will remember you and say “Hey” every time they pass you!
Will you really be up all night long? If you have a great group of fun CRASHer’s with you, of course! I am someone who is usually early to bed, but I was having so much fun – I didn’t even know what time it was and didn’t make it back to my room before midnight each night. Be sure to take it easy, because normally you will have an early starting time the next day! Keep in mind, a few days of little sleep won’t hurt you – so enjoy the time as it will fly by and you don’t want to have a case of FOMO. J
Lastly, just have a blast. Take it all in. Enjoy the people. Make a ton of connections. Drink lots of coffee, or pop, or whatever you need to keep going – It will all be worth it once it’s over!