8 Things to Consider Before You Go to Your First Convention
- Know the time, dates and parking arrangements before you leave. Nothing is worse than showing up an hour late – or early – to the start times of a convention. Mass pandemonium has likely set in and squeezing past everyone else will eat up time and opportunities to get to your intended booths. Timing is key. You don’t want that long pined-over item or artist to be gone before you get there!
- Bring Cash. Most vendors and booth handlers don’t have credit card readers and cash is a quick and easy transaction. Bring only the amount of money you’re willing to spend and nothing more (for budget and safety reasons). Some events may have ATMs available but they’re much more expensive to take cash out than if you visited your own bank and take time away from the fun!
- Don’t miss the opportunity to dress up! Cosplay has become more of an art form as of late and has really grown into a warm and welcoming community of professionals and amateurs alike celebrating their favorite characters from comics, movies and shows. Sometimes having a really great costume will get you noticed and you’ll have so much more fun taking pictures and meeting new people. It really heightens the Convention experience. With all that being said make sure you also wear comfortable shoes.
- Sit in on the panels and tutorials. This is a great way to meet people in the business if you’re interested in becoming a professional in the line of work the convention or festival is centered around. The wealth of information you can learn in the panels will surprise you and you may indeed gain a new interest in something you hadn’t even known about before. It’s also a great way to meet new people.
- Bring business cards. A good rule of thumb is to only pass out your business card to people you really want to reconnect with after the convention or festival. Keep a handful in your pocket and carefully pick out the individuals or groups of people that you want to stay in touch with for personal or business reasons. Even if it’s just a handwritten name and number, it will save a lot of time fumbling around for a pen and paper. Networking can be daunting and limited on some days of the convention so preparation will go a long with future partners or clients. Time is certainly money for vendors and artists at conventions and your consideration will not go unnoticed.
- Bring your own swag bag and pens. Swag bags (bags or totes used to carry around your literature and items bought or obtained throughout the convention or festival) are usually provided as thin, medium sized vinyl tote bags at the start of a convention. These can only hold so many items and can become hard to carry and hinder your ability to effectively browse. A book bag, messenger bag or over sized tote bag would be a great idea to hold more things and keep your hands free to browse, dance, wave to friends and applaud if need be. It keeps your “swag” cleaner and better protected and it’ll also be less apparent to everyone that you’ve got tons of swag – for safety reasons.
- Limit your expectations. You may have your own itinerary and battle plan for how you will sweep the convention and see everything there is, but this is sometimes simply unfeasible. Many times there will be unexpected cancellations or add-ons that will throw a wrench in your strategy to cover everything. A few surprises may pop up as well with special guests and cool booths you weren’t expecting as well. Go with the expectation that you will see everything that you can and that you’ll have a good time and you will definitely do just that. Anything extra will be a plus!
- Bring a stroller or carrier for the little ones. This might go without saying, but it is imperative for you and your little tike. A few toys or games would be a great idea as well since they’re probably there for the sole purpose of seeing only a few attractions. Water and snacks is also a good idea since the food provided may be a little pricey.
Cons and festivals are excellent ways to meet new people, network, have a good time and escape into a sphere of acceptance and inscrutability. Even the most socially awkward people can be found getting down to the music during the costume contest! Put aside all your worries and take this advice and you’re sure to have a fantastic experience!
© 2013 Nikki Hunter