If you’re like me, you are getting excited for the Social Media Marketing World 2016 Conference happening in San Diego in a few weeks! And not just because the weather is predicted to be sunny and high 60’s, there is going to be live-band social karaoke, craft beer, or even the fact that we will set sail aboard the largest charter yacht in Southern California for the “exclusive San Diego Bay Networking Cruise”, but more so because of the vast amount of knowledge and expertise that will fill the conference area. This event happens once a year and is put on by the outstanding people over at Social Media Examiner.

This next-level event is happening from April 17th-19th, if you have yet to check it out, take a look here and see what you need to do to join us (it’s worth it). With the event date keenly sneaking up on all of us like a determined kitten after a field mouse (great visual – i know) i decided to make a list of the “must-haves” when it comes to #SMMW16.

SMMW Social post_Artboard 6

Here are some items you might want to should absolutely add to your suitcase before heading out to the conference.

1) Business Cards

I can’t emphasize how helpful this can be! From sales teams trying to score some leads, to local conference goers connecting with like minded peers, it is an extremely good idea to have a networking tool such as business cards to help you grasp the full benefit from rubbing shoulders with some of the best and biggest names and brands in social media.

As a side note, it is also a great idea to have a pen handy. When you meet people, jot a few notes down and really try to keep your new connections memorable and relevant when you are ready to follow up. Try to keep all your contacts together to help avoid misplacement. You put in all the work of gathering them, you wouldn’t want to lose all those conversations.

Social Media Marketing World

Social Media Marketing World

2) Chargers

As obvious as this one may seem, it is a great reminder. I think we have all been there, nothing is worse than realizing you now have to get 8 hours worth of work done with whatever juice is left on your battery. Or starting a conversation with 6% on your phone. Nobody likes that. Be sure to grab your charger, or maybe even a portable one. From computer, to phone, to tablet, to camera, you should bring your chargers for all of the things that you plan on using, and if you have any extras, don’t be afraid to bring those too. You never know who you might meet and you always want to be prepared.

Don’t forget, these conferences can be physically draining, no matter how much fun they are. So pack whatever charges you back up as well.

3) Social Apps

This should be a no-brainer (DUH!!!!!), but this is a social media marketing conference after all, so think about who you have been connecting with on social media and continue to do so throughout the conference. If you are representing a brand or a company, make sure you have all the social logins, and the access that will be needed for them. From Live-Tweeting, to Periscoping, to Snapchatting, to Facebook live there will be a number of “real time” opportunities that you may want to take advantage of. Before you get to the event, think about your own personal brand or the brand you represent and decide what social media opportunities you may want to leverage while attending. Take advantage of the environment! Take lots of pictures, reach out to the speakers, and connect on social with the same people you are networking with in person.

Social Media Marketing World

Also apps like Uber and Lyft can be really beneficial in helping you get around with transportation. Google maps can also be great for anyone who is new to the area and yet still wants to get around.

4) Bag

Let’s not forget, the show floor is always a hotspot for swag at any conference. Companies will be handing out T-shirts, pens, stress-balls, bottle openers, thumb drives, you name it!— anything you can put a company logo on. So don’t forget to bring a re-usable bag to carry any swag or fliers from any brands or people you may meet.

5) Comfy Shoes

Nobody should forget the importance of a comfortable pair of shoes. You will be doing a lot of walking around at Social Media Marketing World and it is extremely important to ensure your comfort while also enjoying this outstanding event.

6) BOOKS!

Some people may not always think of this, but many of the speakers at the event are also authors and many of the speakers/authors make time specifically for book signing and for meeting people. Are you looking forward to meeting anyone? Are they looking forward to meeting you? (Don’t worry, i am) Bring any books that you may want to have signed. Don’t worry, there will also be a book stall to pick up a few extras in case you didn’t get a chance to bring yours.

7) Hit list

Make a hit list! There are a number of sessions to join in on and a TON of people to connect with. If you haven’t been already, start reaching out to some of the attendees pre-conference and make some plans to meet up. Make a schedule for what events you would like to see if you haven’t already. Take a look at the detailed agenda calendar, and plan your time out based on what you want to get from Social Media Marketing World.

8) Goals

There is so much to gather from this conference. Whether you plan to spread the word about your company, meet like-minded marketers who work as hard as you, or enjoy the plethora of information from the experts in social media. Decide what you plan to get out of the conference and write it down. Take some time to really think about the best use of your time and how you can leverage the opportunities available, this will help you to enjoy conference more and also give you the best ROI.

9) Notebook

Even if you take notes on your computer, phone or tablet, sometimes good ole fashion pen and paper is more beneficial than some may think. Jotting notes about a keynote, writing down some emails of people you have connected with, or maybe even a place to doodle if you need a few moments to relax and escape. A notebook will be extremely helpful. Not to mention, if after all of that you decide that you want to combine analog and digital when it comes to notebooks, you can still go and pick yourself up one of these.

10) Camera

Whether you use your phone, tablet, or an actual camera, there will be moments at the conference that you will want to have memories of. Not to mention, sometimes its nice to take some photos with authors and speakers from the event. They make for great social posts or images for a blog later on down the line.

Last Minute Tips for Social Media Marketing World:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask: If you have questions about the event, check out the group facebook page, the linkedin group, or the slack channel as these are great places to answer any questions you may have.
  • Set your out-of-office autoreply message, and enjoy yourself!

I look forward to seeing you all at #SMMW16. I would love to connect with people as well. Feel free to follow me on:

Twitter: @AlexRatynski
LinkedIn: alexratynski

Feel free to @ me on twitter, or even send me an email at alexr@roadsidemultimedia.com if you want to connect. Looking forward to meeting you all!