- Follow the back channel (#ASAE11) - it really will help you keep up on what's going on, both the published stuff and the unpublished/spontaneous stuff.
- Come to the YAP party - Monday night August 8, 9 pm, Jive-n-Wail. Do NOT miss. Details should show up on the YAP site shortly. Or just come.
- Don't overschedule yourself - there's a lot going on. You are going to miss some stuff. Make peace with that in advance.
- Do your prep work - check out the preliminary program before you arrive (on the plane is OK) and set a draft game plan for week
- Have a second option - you might find yourself in a session that's not that great. Make sure you've already thought about what else you might want to do so you don't feel stuck.
- Don't be afraid to approach people - it's really hard to come to one of these things for the first time alone. You literally feel like the only person with no friends. But (a) I guarantee there are others in the same situation who would appreciate some outreach and (b) we're association people. We are professional networkers who generally speaking like other people. It's totally cool to walk up to a group you don't know and join their conversation. Nervous? Look for me - that's why my photo's attached to this post.
- Have a good time, but not TOO good a time - nothing sucks harder than a hangover at a conference. I know from experience, and it's a mistake we all make, but hopefully we only make it once.
- Feel free to tag along - there are a lot of events you might not have been invited to, just because people don't know you yet. I'm specifically thinking of the vendor events on Sunday night. It is totally OK to tag along with a group you just met that's going to XX or YY vendor's party. They WANT to meet you and they WANT you to have a good time.
Edited July 13 to add: even MORE great tips from Shannon Otto at MemberClicks. I particularly like her "bring snacks" tip, since I at least seem to get hungry at the wrong (non-meal or reception) times.