I remember how it all went down so well. I was sitting in my cube and my boss, Tim Parry, came up to me and was like “Hey, you’re coming with us to the show. Let’s meet later today to finalize travel plans.”
I tried to play it cool but on the inside I was like:
When I got home I immediately told all my friends how amazing my job was and how I was about to embark on an all expenses paid trip to conferenceville. We were elated.
The night before my flight, I start to pack and even though my flight was at 6 a.m. I found myself wide awake, staring at the ceiling, wondering what was about to happen. Then the alarm went off.
I get to the airport, hop on a plane, and the next thing I know I am in the hotel. I take a hot shower, jump into bed, and turn on the TV, only to realize I have no idea what channels are what in this unknown city, and get stuck watching local news.
Since my alarm went off at 5:30 a.m., followed by the hotel wake up call at 5:45 a.m., due to my intense fear of oversleeping at my first conference, I have already had three cups of coffee before 7:30 a.m. By the time I register I am too loaded up on caffeine to even want anything to eat, so I head to the keynote speaker, not realizing so is everyone else in the conference. Which means finding a seat would be close to impossible.
Without eating a proper breakfast, by the time I get to the last session just before lunch I can’t concentrate on the speaker.
Going to a conference for the first time is a lot like being the new kid in school. When it comes down to lunch, you have no idea where to sit in a sea of people who apparently have known each other for years.
Once I am finally at the table, all I want to do is pig out.
But I am here on business and I need to network as much as I can. So, I eat about five bites of food, while I talk to everyone around me looking to gain a new contact and, hopefully a new conference buddy.
After going to what felt like a million sessions and talking to a million more people, by the time the day is over I am beat, but I have to run back to the hotel room and write up an article or two about the days events. So when my new friend ask me to hit the town with them, I am like:
After writing a few articles, in my pajamas, I am in bed by 2 a.m., completely exhausted.
After the last session of the day I hit the exhibit hall and am in awe over all the free stuff that is up for grabs. I take a deep breath, business cards in hand, and seek out new contacts while simultaneously getting free swag. By the time I leave the exhibit hall, I have about 15 new contacts and two tote bags full of t-shirts, water bottles, pens, notepads, and coffee mugs. This is great.
After being on my feet all day, and an early flight to catch in the morning, all I want to do is go back to the hotel, take another hot shower, put me I feet up, and enjoy room service, with the goal of falling asleep before 10 p.m.
When I fly back home the next day all my friends basically think my week was a non stop, party filled vacation and checking out the sights of a new city.
But when I tell them what really happens at conferences, they just don’t understand.
Which is exactly why now, I look forward to going to the next conference so I can be with my fellow ecommerce people, who get me.