Friday, January 13, 2017

Top Ten Tips (+1) for a Fantastic FETC

FETC is only two weeks away and although I’ve been to many FETCs, I still get very excited about each one. I know I will meet up with longtime friends, who I only ever get to see when I go to these conferences, and I look forward to meeting interesting new people as well.

A conference as large at FETC can be overwhelming, even for a seasoned conference goer like myself. If this is your first FETC, here are a few tips for you:

  1. On your first day, arrive early to register and look through the materials. Grab a coffee, and plan your day. Use the web-based event app à
  2. It’s all about the shoes! Wear comfortable shoes/sneakers and dress in light layers. There is a lot of walking, even if just from the shuttle to the nearest breakout session or keynote.
  3. Bring your technology, but be courteous. Turn off the WiFi on devices you aren’t using to reduce bandwidth gridlock. Each conference attendee could potentially have three devices hitting the wireless access points at one time. Think about it, most attendees have a smart phone, tablet, and laptop. Bring what you need, and remember these items start to get heavy after walking around all day. For me, I am good with my smart phone. With access to cloud services such as Google Drive, Office365, and iCloud, all of my photos and notes are with me wherever I go.
  4. Bring an extra battery pack for your phone and a charging cable.
  5. Dress comfortably, but professionally.

    Nothing says, “I’m only here for the day off? more than wearing shorts, flipflops, and tank tops to an education conference.

    Wear comfortable pants or a skirt, and save the t- shirts with political (or potentially controversial statements) for the beach.
  6. Always carry a bottle of water. They are easy to fill at nearby stations and you WILL get dehydrated because you’ll be walking a lot and talking a lot.
  7. Meet new people and take photos of them holding their name badges near their faces. This is
    the best way to remember all your new friends. I don’t even carry business cards. If someone wants my information, I suggest they take my photo with my name badge near my face. They can then look me up later on. (Hint: Write your Twitter name on your badge in black marker.)
  8. Speaking of Twitter, get with it. If you’re a lurker on Twitter, that’s ok. Follow the stream by searching for #FETC. Tweet what you’re doing and don’t forget to add the tag #FETC or #FETC17. I remember a great impromptu conversation that formed one year when someone Tweeted “Anyone interested in discussing FERPA and social media? Meet at 2:00 near the north end coffee kiosk.? Tweet it and people will come. Plus, join your fellow Tweeters for the 2017 #FETC Tweetup on Wednesday, Jan. 25 from 5 - 6 p.m. at LRP Booth 110 in the Expo Hall.
  9. If you are overwhelmed with what sessions to go to, and you want to be sure to learn a lot AND be highly entertained, go to anything that the following people are presenting. Seriously, anything! You will not be disappointed. Kathy Schrock, Steve Dembo, Adam Bellow, Hall Davidson, or Rushton Hurley. You will not be disappointed.
  10. If you are with a group, make a plan to each focus on a specific strand or theme. Each of you should then try to attend as many sessions focusing on that theme, so then when you reconvene as a group, you will have covered much more conference territory.

BONUS TIP: Cozy up to your favorite vendors in the Exhibit Hall and find out about evening or midday events they are hosting. Many large companies have fantastic presentations and have catered food in their corporate rooms. Pop in for a midday presentation and enjoy a free lunch or snack. Check out my personal favorites: Discovery Education, Microsoft, and Audio Enhancement.

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