In this world and time we go to conferences of whatever type without a second thought. Whether it's business, leisure, personal, or a combination of all three, we fly or drive across the nation to an unfamiliar place to meet with people we may or may not know. And we have a blast.
But I want you to take six small things into consideration the next time you go to a conference. These are things I did, wish I did, or saw to do while I was at Declare. They do not encompass everything you can do to stay safe. And please let me say, the Dallas Marriott where we stayed was a lovely hotel in a nice upscale area. These thoughts do not depend on being in an "unsafe" area, nor do they need fear to do them, but they are simply tips to keep yourself a little safer.
1. Before you get to the hotel find someone who will agree to be available for a daily check-in. This will remind you there is life outside the conference, and allow those outside the conference to know you are okay. If that phone call doesn't come or isn't answered they will know to call the front desk because you let them know where you were staying and what the number of the hotel is.
2. Have someone you know at the conference you can check in with. I realized if I didn't show up for a meal no one would notice because there were so many people at the conference. Everyone would assume I was eating with someone else. It doesn't have to be a big deal, but especially if you are going to network and meet new people have one person you see each meal, or ever few hours just to say, "HI! I'm alive and learning so much. You?"
3. When you are walking around the rest of the hotel take your name tag off or turn it around. Declare gave us great name tags to wear while we were at the conference. I had hoped they would because my memory isn't what it used to be. However, the guy two doors down from you who you cross in the hall does not need to know your name.
4. Have a regular path between your room and the conference others know about. I failed at this big time. I took the stairs but no one knew until the end of the last day. Every time I stepped into the stairwell it crossed my mind to let someone know but I never did. Thankfully I didn't regret that decision. I should have just stayed with the elevator. Not because it's safer, but because that was the regular mode of transportation.
5. If you are in an elevator and the person who gets in sets alarms off in your head, step out. Do not worry about being polite, do not excuse yourself, do not say a thing. It is better for you to wait for the next elevator than stay in a small box with someone you feel uncomfortable with, no matter how many floors you are traveling.
6. Become familiar with the location around the hotel before you arrive. The majority of the conference will be within the hotel, but you do have to get there and you may need to go out in the area for a meal or two. Google maps allows you to see the street view and know exactly what things look like. You don't want to get lost or look confused and ask the wrong person for help. Gain as much information as you can so you don't have to ask where a restaurant or gas station is located.
Each conference will have their own agendas, people, and safety precautions. These six are simply a few things you can think about to be smart about where you are. The odds are no one will come to harm, and everything will be fine regardless of what you do. But these six tips require very little work, time or thought in order to make sure you go home safely.