By now, I’m sure you’ve been hearing all about Alt Summit – the outfits, the sparkles, the business cards, photo booths, etc.etc.etc. But what about the rest? What about the blogger’s insight?
In this post you will learn how to be successful at your next big event – or in this case – Alt Summit. Sort of a “survival guide from a guy’s perspective”.
So, is Alt like giant fashion show with bloggers and great speakers? Yes. Is that all? No. It’s so much more. Like I said, I am not going to talk about the fashion, style and business card designs. I am going to talk to you – from my own personal experience – about some of the best things that happen before, during and after. The tears and the joy. Let’s get to it!
THE BEST CONNECTIONS HAPPEN AFTER MIDNIGHT: Like cinderella – but instead of turning into a pumpkin, you turn into a friendship-driven owl that all of the sudden loves drinking Moscow Mules. Midnight is the best time to strengthen partnerships. Why? Because you’re drunk! Ha, just kidding (kinda). No but seriously, after midnight everyone is more relaxed; the panels are over and you don’t need to take any notes – you just chill and talk. That’s it. Simple, right? You talk about how freaking uncomfortable your polka-dot shoes are, or how you’re boiling under that sparkly coat, or even how you started stuttering when you were pitching an idea to your dream sponsor. You let your “guard” down and you get to know the real deal. Plus, having a few – many – cocktails totally helps.
At your next big conference, join the late party. Have a cocktail! If you’re an early-in-bed person, just nap like a pro – take it from a Mexican that endured years of partying without skipping school.
ALT IS LIKE AN INCUBATOR: Did you know that several companies and small businesses have gone shazam! after attending Alt? Just ask Ben Silverman of Pinterest. Or what about the amazing filmmaking duo Tiger in a Jar? Big or small, your business can benefit.
If you own a shop of sorts, I suggest you get yo shiz together for next year. You create a killer pitch and you send it to Alt or any other important event in your area. If you don’t make it to the cut, still, bring it! Go and connect with dozens of design-and-lifestyle-hungry humans. Dude, these peeps sprinkle glitter on their morning cereal and use striped straws to drink pop. They (we) love this stuff.
Don’t just pass swag around – engage and create conversations. In this cyber world it’s either evolve or get left behind.
YOU MAY BE REJECTED AND IT WILL SUCK: Yes, there are lots and lots of speakers and sponsors – but not all of them will want to collaborate with you. Maybe not even one! And that’s ok. It will really suck, you will feel like you just wasted your time, you’ll want to scream. And that’s ok! Just let it all out in your pillow and move on.
I learned this the hard way and it helped me so much! It hurts, but it makes you stronger. Why? Because now you know what works and what doesn’t, which companies to focus on and what ideas you can potentially grow. Without this experience you may be knocking at the same – wrong door – for months to come. By moving on, you allow yourself to be open to new experiences – and guess what – some of the best deals bloggers score come as a total surprise! What matters is that you’re putting yourself (and your ideas) out there.
At your next big event, bring plan B. What if your dream sponsor doesn’t want to work with you? Or what if they don’t like your idea? Do you have other projects as backup? Are they the only ones in that area? Do your research, and bring some Tiger Balm for your pride.
YOU ARE NOT GOING TO BE FRIENDS WITH EVERYONE, SO CHILL: Yes. Slow down. Don’t act like a butterfly in a flowery brothel. You may want to meet everyone, literally. You could even go as far as striking up conversation with the person doing his/her business in the stall next to you. Eeek! Stop. I am not saying you should be a snobby prick – ’cause that will definitely take you nowhere – but rather, be friendly-selective. Say hello to everybody as you should, congratulate a fellow blogger, compliment those shoes…and stop. Now, who do you really want to connect with?
Focus your energy on building 3-5 strong relationships and the rest will follow. Don’t spread too thin trying to please everyone, running to take as many business cards as you can – it doesn’t work! You’ll get home and you might as well use them as coasters. By planting a “seed” on these 3-5 people, you ensure the friendship will grow. A true, lasting connection is worth more than a 100 weak ones that fade with time.
IT IS DAMN EXPENSIVE! GET READY TO MORTGAGE YOUR DOG: Not gonna lie. You will break the bank a little bit – or a lot. You’ll have to drop your dimes for a hotel room, an airplane ticket, food, outfits, business cards..aaaah! Your credit card will get man-handled. More so than Snooki’s chichis at a Red Bull convention in Las Vegas. BUT, the difference is – you are actually making an investment (and you are not Snooki, phew). You are not just traveling to hang out with friends. You are actually traveling to do business, and that makes it a very precious investment. Everything else (the food, the parties, the fun) is icing on the cake.
No tweet, pin or feed will ever match the fruitful results of a face-to-face interaction. Save up. Make sacrifices. Plan in advance. Look for loose change under the couch. It’s worth it! Right about this time last year I started budgeting for Alt. Yes, 12 months in advance. I am not a CEO so I do have to pull the strings on my murse a little bit (man purse, yes, broke but fabulous).
Maybe Alt is not for you, maybe you’re more of a Social Media Week or Interior Design Show person – doesn’t matter – the advice can be applied to all of those too.
Bottom line: Events like this help you become a better blogger or entrepreneur, and the rewards will last for months or even years. Take the leap. Invest in your future and get out there!