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What You Need to Know for the ALM National Conference. Or ANY Conference!

March 11, 2012

Since I sit here at SXSW as I write this, music is on my brain. So I’ll answer with a bit of music interlude.
1) You can’t always get what you want. (Mick Jagger). Have a goal as to who you want to meet. Either “Jonathan Deaux” or “the senior partner at that big firm in L.A.” – you won’t get what you want if you don’t KNOW what you want – out of the conference, I mean.
2) Don’t be “Dancing in the Dark” (Bruce Springsteen) Think up small talk in advance. I had the thrilling experience of meeting Bruce Springsteen once. A friend knew I was a huge fan, and she said “practice the first 4 sentences of what you’re going to say, or you’ll be so tongue-tied you will look like an idiot!” so, I did. “Thank you so much for your donation to our foodbank, Bruce. You gift is way larger than our standard donation, and the impact on our ability to feed the hungry in our community is huge! Thank you!” – that got us talking about something we were both passionate about (ending hunger) and then I was able to entertain him with stories of jumping around in college to “Rosalita” – or at least, I THINK I entertained him with those stories…. The big topics in Fort Worth could be – “wow, I was expecting cowboys to be walking down the street, not a 5 star hotel!” or “I hope you enjoy talking to total strangers, because I don’t – and I’m counting on you to keep this conversation going!” or something that will move the conversation, forwardl
3) “Please release me, let me go” (Englebert Humperdinck) – don’t dominate one person’s time and don’t let one person dominate yours. If you meet someone who is perfect – someone you can learn from, someone you can help out, someone who can help you – get their contact info and move on. A conference like this is a great place to make many contacts; you can cultivate the relationship more at the next coffee break, or when you get back to your home office.
4) “I’m starting with the man in the mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways” (Michael Jackson) You may be telling yourself “I’m not charismatic! I don’t meet new people easily! I hate conferences like this that I’m required to go to!” Well, too bad. We’re grown-ups, here. Networking is a part of a successful career path, and that’s what you want, right? A successful career path? So, change starts now – change starts in Fort Worth.
5) “I’ll be there, I’ll be there, whenever you need me, I’ll be there (Michael Jackson – again). I help lawyers navigate the big world of conferences. Call me (or better yet, text me 512-789-3678) and I’ll be there to help you break the ice and meet new people. I AM that charismatic person who can talk to anyone that you watch from afar and say “how do they DO that?!” – so grab me at the conference, and I’ll show you how it’s done.
6) “In my younger days I was so bad, laughing about all the fun we had!” (Jimmy Buffet – One Particular Harbor) – There’s nothing wrong with having fun. You may have left the kiddos behind and it’s the first time you’ve slept in the peace and quiet of a hotel room alone in years; you may have a ton of stress at work and that third martini at the meet-up cocktail party looks oh-so-inviting (it can’t be THAT strong, can it?); you may drink Micholobe Ultra at home and try the scotch your senior partner offers you so you look mature and experienced. Whatever the reason, don’t have TOO MUCH fun! Drinking too much at a business function never leads to good experiences. Be careful – you’re making an impression every waking moment – don’t screw it up, people!

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From → Public Speaking

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