Every year there are a few blog posts about which sessions to attend at the Blackbaud Conference for the Philanthropic Community. My totally biased favorite this year can be found here on Omatic Software’s blog. However I usually don’t see much regarding how to make the most of BBCon overall, so here are a few suggestions.
- Have fun – Sure it’s technically work and your organization is probably paying (a lot) for you to be there, but have fun anyway. It’s an amazing event and the atmosphere is electric so soak it in and enjoy every second.
- Talk to everyone – Get to sessions a bit early and talk to the person sitting on your left. Then talk to the person sitting on your right. During meals sit at a table that is almost full, appoint yourself the mealtime moderator and get the conversation going. It’s so easy to get a conversation started at BBCon, just ask their name and what organization they are with.
- Take a long walk – around the exhibit hall. Talk to everyone there also, even if you think have no use for their services. You never know what you’ll hear or learn and the worst that could happen is you walk away with their business card and a small tin of breath mints. Be sure to stop by the nice folks at Omatic Software, JCA and Zeidman Development.
- Party! – This will help achieve the first point of having fun. In addition to the opening network reception Monday night and celebration reception Tuesday night there are a few other sponsor-hosted “receptions” happening (and probably a few more that I haven’t been invited to…yet). Here’s one hosted by RaiseMore: http://rsvp.raisemore.com
- Plan your day – The night before plan out which sessions you want to attend the next day. There will probably be multiple sessions per time slot that you want to attend so also make a backup plan. Don’t hesitate to leave a session, the speaker won’t take it personally. As a speaker I expect a few (hopefully only a few) attendees to leave and head over to a different session if they realize my session isn’t what they expected it to be.
- Make Blackbaud friends – Say “hi” to every Blackbaud employee you see. Then say “thank you” for everything they do to organize and run BBCon. By the time BBCon starts I’m sure they are already exhausted and stressed out, but you would never know it. With everything going on and all the hard work that has been put into planning BBCon they are still the nicest people there and always smiling. Plus it’s always great to meet them in person after emailing and talking on the phone for the past year.
- Bacon – Yes, we know, we know, your auto-correct wants to change #BBCon to #Bacon.
I have some more but my blog-mentor says to keep my posts to around 500 words, so now it’s your turn. What advice do you have for squeezing every last drop out of the fruit that is BBCon? Anything specifically for first timers?