ALA Staying Sane: New Orleans 2011 Edition

Now is as good time as any to dust off my personal blog and put something out there in preparation for the ALA/CIL/insert awesome conference here stuff as an example of how I keep my cool and connected self together.

This year ALA annual is in New Orleans.  You may have heard that this is a very warm place.  And sticky.  So, first thing is:

Take it easy — As I write this on the Monday before ALA, it feels like 114 degrees.  So, taking it easy is both smart and feels good.

Bring contact info — Notice I did not say business cards.   Yes, I have business cards, but I also have:
1)  A “contxts” account where people can get my contact info via text message.  In my case just text “baldgeekinmd” to 50500 for my info.  It is wonderful.  (thanks Chester!)
2) A twitter handle that is also my gmail address @baldgeekinmd and a conference notes handle @confbaldgeek
3) a “billboard” using an old conference badge with all this written out in big letters for ez reading!
4) a Google voice number (in my case a local NO exchange.)

Dress Accordingly –  We are all information professionals.  But it is hot.  Really hot and humid, so I will be leaving the two piece summer suit at home.  It does no good to my professional appearance to pass out wearing a light wool cloak in the convention center.   So, business casual polo shirts and jeans and appropriate cool yet comfortable footwear are the ticket here.  I will also be featuring an extra shirt at all times, just in case.

Drink water. Lots of water.  – Yep, Caribbean rules in effect for this trip.  Drink before you feel thirsty.  I plan to bring my own water bottle, but you could also take advantage of any vendor providing a water bottle in exchange for a sales pitch.

Visit the vendors and listen to their some of their sales pitches – Even if it is just for the Opening Reception, visit your favorite vendors just to say “Hi, I love your product” or ” I like what you do but I would like it to do this.”  or ” I want to buy your product, but this is what it cannot do that I need it to do.”     Vendors help ALL conferences, so pay them a visit.

All vendors are not the enemy.  Good vendors deliver what they promise in a timely manner for a fair price and listen to your suggestions.  Bad vendors are the enemy.  They lie, take your money and promise you product and you get vaporware.

Listen to a couple of sales pitches —  For a trainer/presenter a good sales pitch has many of the elements of a good presentation:  story, flow, excitement and memorable message delivery.  All in a fixed amount of time with a smile on their face even if it is the last of 10 demos that day.   There are some great presenters doing sales shows on the exhibit floor.

If you are not a trainer/presenter, look at how the vendors market their services.  What brought you to THAT booth?  Did you like the display? Pitch? Look or voice of the sales person?

Vote with your feet —  There are thousands of programs at ALA each year.  Which means there are some that will not exactly appeal to you.  If that is the case — leave.   Well every program except the Sunday Morning program I am doing with Buffy Hamilton and Paul Signorelli sponsored by the Learning Round Table.  You need to stay for that entire program.

Go to a program completely outside of your area.  —  See what other divisions of ALA are doing at annual.  Treat Annual as an information buffet.  You can pick and choose some sessions and let serendipitous discovery lead you to others.

Escape Your Introvert Shell.  It IS NEW ORLEANS.  Go out, meet people, have some fun damn it!   Meet someone you did not know before ALA. Meet two more.  Introduce them to each other.  Repeat over drinks, etc.

If you can’t have some fun in New Orleans…

About (almost) Bald Trainer

A trainer in Maryland
This entry was posted in Chronicles of the (almost) Bald Technical Trainer and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to ALA Staying Sane: New Orleans 2011 Edition

  1. Excellent suggestions, I signed up for the contxts account just in case I run out of business cards.

    Also, WHEN ARE WE MEETING? I’ve been a bad usual suspect of late (work will do that to you).

  2. Suzie says:

    Fantastic tip about about “contxts”! Thanks for the heads up…this is my first ALA and I’m expecting to be overwhelmed.

  3. And remember if someone comes up to you on the street, claiming to be able to tell you where “you got dem shoes”, tell them you know exactly where you got ’em–on your FEET!

    And I can’t stress the importance of drinking water, not just if you’re out walking, but especially if you’re drinking alcohol. It’s easy to get dehydrated, which will make you feel hungover even if you didn’t drink that much.

    Also, it ain’t Disneyland. Stay in groups and be aware of your surroundings. Just play it safe and you’ll have a good time.

    Have fun, y’all!

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