Every year, I look forward to attending LMA’s National Conference. The excitement starts about 6 months in advance, seeing which one of my LMA besties are going, who wants to stick around for an extra day of bonding…It reminds me of how lucky I’ve been to (1) attend these past few years and (2) to meet such great people I’ve kept in touch with for more than 5 years.
It also reminds me of my first time. I’m naturally an outgoing and while it was a bit daunting at first, I didn’t have much trouble finding people to talk to and persuade to make my friends. But it’s not easy for everyone. So here are some things to keep in mind (even for those of you who are veterans):
- Meet new people. Hanging out with your chapter members is great! But if you live nearby and can see them anytime, venture out. This is perhaps your one chance during the year to make connections all over the country. Who knows, maybe you’ll find new best friends (I found a few!).
- Participate! This is your chance to be outgoing. No one there knows you’re shy unless you show it. And guess what, you’re not the only one feeling that way. So step out of your comfort zone. And think of it this way – if you really embarrass yourself, you may never see them again! At least introduce yourself. Put on a smile – I swear, it works wonders.
- Get the most bang for your buck. Attend as many of the events, sessions and dinners as possible. It’s networking. And as most of us LMAers say, you get the most benefit out of your membership from talking with other members. So go do it. This isn’t necessarily a vacation for you, as cold as it may be at home.
- Plan ahead. Be strategic on what sessions you attend. Especially if this is your first time. Wow your boss and attorneys with new ideas and strategies. Take some solid takeaways with you. This is easy to plan ahead for – you’ve got the conference brochure. Even identify speakers and vendors you want to meet. Even ask others for an introduction.
- Wear comfy shoes. (Some generally practical advice for you.) This is a given. But hey, if you want to wear those high heels just make sure you’re used to them (I’m sure Rebecca can elaborate on this, that fashion diva!)
- Curb your drinking. It’s easy to make a fool of yourself when drunk. Avoid it as much as possible to prevent others from getting a bad impression.
- Join the conversation, if you’re so inclined. Hop on Twitter and follow #LMA14.
- Re-energize. Invigorate your love of legal marketing. It’s hard to pinpoint how this happens, but I think it comes from chatting with colleagues. Sure, we’re all competitors on some level, but what works at one firm won’t work in the same way as another. So chat away! Ask question, give your opinion.
- Don’t forget to have fun. That’s just a given, right?
Hopefully, I will see/meet you in Orlando! (Seriously. Follow Rebecca and me on Twitter or LinkedIn – we’d love to meet you!)
What are your conference tips?