The Zen of Attending the International AIDS Conference
Partners in Conference-Crime @miriamyvega & @aspield
As a tribute to the late Mr. Covey, a visionary who realized that managers never read more than seven bullet points, allow me to present to you, “The seven habits of highly effective International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) attendees”.
1. Identify the best places to consume a tasty adult beverage. You will be spending countless hours on your feet, talking endlessly, and answering and asking the same questions over and over again. Therefore, it helps to embrace better living through chemistry. As Mark Twain once said, “Sometimes too much drink is barely enough”. Ladies, I know you say, “I would love a Pina Colada, but those coconut milk calories will have me in the gym for hours”, so I recommend the Skinny Girl drinks – brilliant marketing and reasonably tasty. Also, it is a well-known conference attending fact that the majority of important business, contacts, and meetings take place in the hotel bar.
2. Make sure everybody knows your name. Not a thinly veiled reference to Number 1 via Cheers, rather an exhortation to use conferences for the major purpose they serve i.e. networking. Pass out your business cards like they’re Halloween candy. Take your resume. You never know who you will meet. Talk about what you do, what you can do, and what you want to do in the future. Serendipity is a wonderful thing, but it doesn’t hurt to follow the Boy Scout motto of “be prepared”. And follow your mother’s advice. Be polite. Even when they annoy you.
3. Eat well. I didn’t say nutritiously. I said well. The joy of a different restaurant in a new city is under-rated. And you need the fuel. It is an excellent excuse to indulge.
4. Exercise. A little physical exertion, especially early in the morning is not only healthy, but will work off angst or the homicidal desire to strangle your fellow conference goers. Felony murder really puts an end to effective networking and is generally considered a bad career move, unless you work for the mafia. So burn it off in the gym.
5. Maintain a sense of humor. People are funny. Often hilarious. Sometimes they don’t know it, but that makes it all more amusing. Treat conferences as if you’re an anthropologist dropped on a remote island – study the tribe. Appreciate the humor of the countless misunderstandings that will occur, and the cultural uniqueness of your chosen field of work (by the way, did you know that good hotels understand the kinds of professional conferences that are being held, and know the cultural norms of those professions, adjusting their stock of alcohol based on the drinking tendencies of a particular professional field).
6. Avoid your boss. See item #1, #2, and #5. Bosses can be good people and bosses can be bad people. One thing is for sure, they tend to take up a lot of air. You need your air. Stay away from your boss. Enough said.
7. Show people your blog. More hits are good. Maybe one day you can retire on the wealth you accumulate from advertisers flocking to your wildly popular blog.