Conference Etiquette

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I’m off to a conference next week, and while as I rule I prefer to remain relatively calm, my colleagues’ stress has spilled over, slightly. I’m beating it back with the proverbial stick. I’ve put together a few rules about the conference that I feel will prove useful in helping me withstand the event and not come down with a cold afterward.

I will keep to my schedule. I set my own appointments knowing that everyone will want to share how truly wonderful their products and services are. They will want more time than was planned. They will not get it. I will smile handily and remove myself with expressions of dismay at having to cut their fabulous tales short while doling out promises to e-mail next week as I accept their business cards.

I will take breaks to visit the loo. If you’ve ever tried to hold it and listen to someone sell you something, you know why this is important. Oftentimes when you’re representing the company at an event you’re on the entire time, if that makes sense. There’s never a moment when you should not be professionally aware. This can be taxing, especially when you don’t deal with this kind of face-to-face interaction on a daily basis. Many IT people don’t. Neither do writers and editors. Therefore, I will dip off to the ladies to blow my nose, sigh dramatically and whatever else comes to mind. I will also eat lunch and drink lots of water. This will necessitate more trips to the loo. It happens.

I will be perfectly dressed. This doesn’t mean that my outfit will be perfect. Although it may well be. What it means is that I will be comfortably and appropriately dressed. I’ll tone down my day-to-day jewelry and don a suit jacket, and my shoes and socks will be very comfortable for walking. There’s nothing like rushing to an appointment with one sock falling down to aid your feelings of professionalism.

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