Coming up in less than two weeks, I’ll be teaching a workshop at the Altitude Design Summit in Salt Lake City, UT (our topic is authenticity in blogging…I hope you’ll be there). Since this will be my third year as an attendee and speaker, it occurred to me that I might have a few helpful tidbits that I could share for those of you who are new to Alt (or just a useful reminder to other Alt veterans). I hardly consider myself an “expert” but hopefully my past experience will give you a better sense of what to expect and a few ideas on ways to “survive” and thrive at Alt. Here we go!
Things to bring when attending sessions (Thurs-Fri) and workshops (Saturday):
- Lip Balm – All that talking and smiling takes a toll on your lips (the first year I attended Alt I even got a chapped crease above my lip from smiling so much, ouch), and the elevation doesn’t help either. So come prepared with your favorite lip soothing balm.
- Water – Speaking of elevation, if you are not accustomed to high elevations you can begin feeling the effects of it (altitude sickness) within hours of arriving. If you don’t have water with you on your flight, be sure to grab one as soon as you land and start hydrating right away. When other attendees are crawling into their rooms with flu-like symptoms (a sign of altitude sickness) you’ll be glad you did.
- Business Cards – One of the highlights of Alt is meeting so many amazing and inspiring bloggers. Business cards are passed around like candy, so be sure to bring a large stack of your own to share (the more creative the better).
- Business Card Case (optional) – You’ll thank your lucky stars if you plan ahead and bring some sort of a case (I like to use a small zippered cosmetic-style case) to store all the biz cards you receive. Otherwise you can look forward to a confetti of cards filling the bottom of your bag by the end of each day.
- Notebook + Pen – You’re going to want to write so much down in the sessions you attend (that’s a huge part of why you’re going to Alt, right), so come prepared.
- Snacks (optional) – I tend to get a little peckish between sessions, and while Alt sponsors usually provide tasty snacks during breaks, if you have specific health needs (I can’t eat gluten for example) it is wise to stash a healthy nibble or two in your bag just in case. I recommend, energy/health bars or trail mix.
- Mints and/or hard candies (optional) – Just a little something to keep your mouth feeling fresh and your breath smelling sweet.
- Large purse or tote – Speaking of bags…definitely plan to bring a cute clutch or two for evening parties, but during the day you’re going to want something with a bit more holding capacity. Besides all the business cards you’ll be collecting, you will likely pick up goodies from Alt sponsors, packets from some of the sessions you attend, and of course, your water and all the other supplies I recommended above.
- A Warm Outer Layer (optional) – I’m almost always cold, so this is a must for me…and maybe you too. It’s better to be prepared than distracted by goose bumps the whole time.
- Schedule (optional) – Other than Saturday workshops and tours, you won’t be registering for specific sessions (just show up for the ones that interest you most). However it’s a great idea to familiarize yourself with the topics offered so you have a plan for your days. I like to write down my plan in my notebook so that it’s with me all day long. Also, this year Alt introduced “tracks” that cater to different levels of blogging expertise (so smart). You can find more about how that works and the session topics offered on the Alt site here.
- Cute Shoes / Comfortable Shoes – Cute shoes are kind of a big thing at Alt (the first year I was not prepared and wore hideously old flats almost the whole time). Ideally I recommend wearing shoes that are stylish but comfortable during the day, so that you can rock something super glamorous for the evening parties. But if you don’t mind a little suffering in the name of fashion, then by all means wear those gorgeous (if a little painful) shoes during the day too!
- Warm Outerwear (optional) – If you’ll be attending one of the offsite activities on Saturday you will want to be sure to bring a warm jacket, boots, and maybe a hat, scarf and gloves too. It gets cold in UT.
- Smart phone / web-enabled device – You’re going to want to share and stay on top of all things Alt via Twitter and Instagram, so come prepared. Just be sure to set the ringer on vibrate during sessions.
- Camera (optional) – if you love taking photos, you may want to bring a camera along each day. You can also snap photos with your phone if you’d prefer.
Good to Know:
- Introductions – When introducing yourself to Alt attendees, be sure to say not only your first name but the name of your blog as well (i.e. “Hi, I’m Ez from Creature Comforts”). People are more likely to recognize you because of your site name, and it makes things flow much more smoothly.
- Social Media – If you don’t already, you should seriously consider setting up a twitter and instagram account before leaving for Alt. Tweeting and ‘Gramming go hand-in-hand with the conference, and you don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to further engagement with your blog community and the people you meet at Alt.
- Share the Love – Speaking of tweeting / instagramming…it’s awesome (and much appreciated) to spread love for the sponsors and speakers of Alt via your social media accounts (they’ll be giving out the twitter names of sponsors and speakers at the conference – keep a lookout for those).
- Dive In – It’s natural to be nervous about meeting so many people, and even more so if you admire those people and their blogs. But don’t let that keep you from walking up and talking to someone you’ve been wanting to meet. I’d say that 99% of people at Alt are friendly and warm (that other 1% is probably just incredibly nervous and not coming off well). Because seriously, who wouldn’t want to get to know someone who is a part of their blog’s community?! I hope that I get to meet all of you at Alt!
A note for fellow introverts: Alt Summit is a whirlwind of meeting and making new friends, hearing about and absorbing a massive amount of new information…and if you’re introverted like me it can be a little bit (or a lot) terrifying. Wonderful yet terrifying. So I wanted to include a special note with this “survival guide” so that if you find yourself clinging to the back walls or sitting in the swanky ladies room too overwhelmed to exit, you can rest assured that you are not alone. Hang in there. Here’s how I get through it:
- Listen to yourself / be kind to yourself – There is no need to berate yourself or feel that there is something wrong with you if introducing yourself to a room full of strangers doesn’t thrill you. I personally try to make my focus more about connecting with the people that I do meet, over pushing myself to shake the hand of every single Alt attendee. Keeping this goal in mind helps to eliminate some of the stress that can otherwise begin to feel overwhelming.
- Just breathe – Every year I’ve attended Alt, I’ve needed to slip away to my room at least once for a little solitude…to just breath and process before returning to the day’s events. And if I’m being honest, I have to say that sometimes I cry a little bit too…not because I’m unhappy, but because I just get so easily overwhelmed. It might not feel ideal in the moment, but allowing myself the time to just breathe and let those feelings out gives me the jumpstart that I need to be fully engaged during the rest of the day. Bottom line – do what you need to do to care for yourself.
- Beware the comparison trap – This might apply to every Alt attendee, but even more so if you are prone to over-analyzation (like me). Because the thing is…you are going to meet amazingly talented, stylish, witty and charismatic bloggers at Alt. Some of them may appear to have it more “together” than you feel you do, or may seem as though every move they make is rewarded with wealth and success. Because of this, sometime during Alt you might find yourself wondering why “they have it all,” what you’re “doing wrong,” or how it is that they seem to “have it all together” when you feel as though you are just scraping by. You may even start to wonder if you fit-in at all…and that’s why I want to assure you that every one of us deserve to be at Alt (that means you). Don’t allow the comparison trap to suck you into believing anything different! We are all on our own path, and it is impossible to know what sacrifices or struggles that “perfect” blogger may have been through to get where they are today. Every one of has started in the same place (with a new blog and zero readers). So hold your head high and be proud of where you are, how far you’ve come, and set your sights on where you want to go. Good things are sure to follow!
And now…Packing for Alt! I rarely ever shop for myself unless it serves a specific purpose, so every time Alt comes around I panic just a little bit when confronted by the sparseness of my closet. After a few shopping trips I’m still not sure that I have every outfit figured out, but I’m close. To help myself out I decided to create an Alt Summit Packing List. You are welcome to download it for yourself too! I hope it will come in handy for you.
Do you have any questions about Alt that I didn’t cover in this post. Is there anything you are nervous/worried about as a new attendee? I’d love to help if I’m able. xo Ez
P.S. I am not affiliated with Altitude Design Summit. This post is based purely off of my experience and opinion.