Getting the Most Out of #Engage13

Monday, December 02, 2013

Engage!13, the conference for the luxury wedding market, begins next Monday and I've been getting a ton of questions from people who haven't attended before on how to get the most out of it. If you're new or haven't been in a while here are some handy things to know:

Don't stress out about clothes. 
Seriously, don't. Dress professionally and in something you feel confident in and you'll be fine. I personally recommend business chic for the educational sessions (a step up from business casual, but not boardroom suits). Some people like to change for the evening events, but I usually don't. I typically wear a dress during the day and might wear dressier jewelry for the evening, but usually just wear the same thing.

Some people like to coordinate with the color palette, but you don't have to and you won't stick out if you don't. I won't be coordinating this time around because I look wretched in yellow.

For the gala, think fun cocktail attire like you would wear to a dressy holiday party. No need for a full-length Oscars-worthy gown and no need to worry about a theme. Julie Sabatino will be hosting The Styling Suite where you can borrow jewelry and accessories for the gala at no charge. Last time the goods went fast, so I'd recommend getting there right when it opens on Wednesday afternoon if you're interested.

Here's a handy packing spreadsheet (with the various Engage! events listed) created by Lindsay of Toast Events if you want to make sure you don't over- or under- pack. Click 'File' and then 'Download As' to save as an Excel spreadsheet. You'll also have the option to save as a Google Doc.

Have some business cards with you, but only hand them out if asked. You'll get all the attendee info in a handy book as well as on a USB drive. Everyone hates networking events where cards are shoved in your face the whole time, so Engage! is purposefully set up so people can focus on real conversations without worrying about missing out on getting someone's info.

Stay up and hang out. The best conversations happen during these times. The people in the room are just as talented, if not more so, than the people on stage. A lot of under the radar heavy-hitting talented people attend Engage!, and the majority are generous with their hard-earned wisdom and insights, which is why staying up and hanging out is so important.

It's the 12th Engage! and more than a third of the attendees have been before. At this point, Engage! is kind of like a semi-annual family reunion, so don't allow yourself to be intimidated if people seem to be really close -- just go and join them. If you're an introvert like me, check out the Engage! Guide for Introverts that I wrote a few years back. It still proves true.

Engage! is not a how-to conference. If you come in with an open mind you'll be able to connect the dots. The swag bags do not include magic wands or silver bullets and very little will be spelled out -- connecting the dots that pertain to their own businesses and lives is the job of the attendees. Everyone takes different things away from it because everyone is in different places in life and business.

Some people take notes on laptops, many are on iPads and others use plain old-fashioned pen and paper. Bring what works best for you.

Check your ego
Even if you don't think you have one, check your ego at the door. No one will know who you are. And they wouldn't even if you were famous so please don't take it personally. For the most part everyone is in their own little bubble in their own city working hard, and while they pay attention to the larger industry, they don't pay attention.

A bonus
I'll be speaking on the consumer psychology of the millennial generation and I had to cut this video from my talk due to time. If the seemingly unearned high confidence of Generation Y has ever annoyed you, you'll enjoy this.

If you want to follow Engage! on Twitter or Instagram, the official hashtag is #engage13.

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