Are you attending the annual ACCE Conference in Long Beach, California? If so, get ready for a treat!
This is one of the top educational experiences for chamber professionals in the world.
It offers amazing sessions and tons of talented people exchanging ideas. But because there are so many opportunities it can be overwhelming.
Plus, with only a handful of days, it’s incredibly important to make the most of your experience and time there.
As someone who’s been to many ACCE conferences as a chamber professional and ACCE speaker, I’ve seen both sides and there’s much to be learned and enjoyed in both roles. I’ve also given a lot of thought to how you can make this the best experience possible by building on the networking and education components while having a lot of fun.
I’ve compiled ten tips for chamber professionals attending ACCE based on years of experience and conversations with others about what profoundly impacted their time at
Are you ready? There’s no time to waste.
Top 10 Tips for Surviving and Thriving at the ACCE Conference
Whether this is your first time or your twenty-first time, ACCE always offers a stellar experience and creates an atmosphere dedicated to innovation, growth, and exchange.
Here’s how you can best enjoy it:
Review the materials, the agenda, the bonus activities, and the exhibitor invites.
Decide on a course of action and your goals for the convention. Is there someone you really want to connect with? Reach out to them ahead of time to set up some time to visit. If you have any technology needs or questions of a current vendor, see if they’ll be there.
Sure, serendipitous meetings are fantastic but when your time is limited, you’ll help yourself a lot by making arrangement ahead of time.
#2. Go Social
There are several things you want to do on social media that will make your conference experience more enjoyable. The first one is to switch out all profile pictures to a recent image that will help people recognize you. You’ll be meeting a lot of people at ACCE. If any of them want to connect with you afterward, they may turn to social media. Don’t leave them with doubt. Use an image that will help them recognize you.
Consider using social media profiles you might have allowed
That is likely not the case with your Facebook audience.
Using Twitter to retweet learning points will also make it easier to gather them when you get back and create image quotes out of them. For you overachievers, you can use Canva to do it directly from your phone while you’re in session. Tip: Pixart is easier and quicker to use than Canva from your mobile device.
Also, update any social media bios to include important information that you want other chamber pros or ACCE attendees to know. This is valuable space and you can use it to your benefit. Remember, you’ll be meeting a lot of people and they’ll likely reach out to you on social later. You may also have people reading social streams. If they see something you shared that they like, they may click over to your profile. Don’t waste this connection opportunity.
Also, don’t forget to use the convention hashtag: #ACCE19.
#3. Hang Out in Public Spots
It’s sometimes tempting to go back to the room when you have time but I urge you not to. Find a public spot and check email there or linger with your morning beverage. You’ll be amazed at what you can learn during those serendipitous meetings.
Event planners often refer to this type of exchange as the “hallway track.” Learning from other chamber pros can be as valuable as the sessions.
#4. Go on the Outings
Some chamber pros skip the social outings because they use that time to check in with things at their chamber. That’s tempting but try to avoid it.
While the chamber is your job, your job has brought you to a Mecca of professional chamber learning and exchange. Ignoring this opportunity is a mistake.
You’ll develop a much deeper relationship with chamber pros and vendors across the country at the social outings. Plus, you’ll have an enormous amount of fun and get to enjoy an amazing part
Remember, the ACCE conference is an opportunity for you and your chamber. Don’t let it slip by because you feel like you need to deal with a grumpy ambassador or some other issue.
#5. Learn from the Award Winners
Every year at ACCE, chambers are recognized for their innovation and amazing work in the community. Unlike the Oscars, these award winners (and nominees) are usually there at the conference. You can spend a lot of time learning from them informally and connecting. You may inspire one another to try new things in your community.
Take the time to connect with these people. Chamber pros are some of the most gracious and generous folks out there and are always willing to share their experiences and knowledge. Getting to know them will give you a better appreciation for how they became chambers of the year.
#6. Go to the Newbie Events
If you are a first-timer at the ACCE conference, take advantage of the meet and greet newbie events. The First-Time Attendee Networking Reception held on Sunday is the best way to get to know other chamber pros, exhibitors, and sponsors.
Right afterward, don’t miss the First-Time Attendee Orientation. Just like this blog post, they will walk you through how to make the most of your conference attendance.
Not an event only for newbies, but the WACE Political Action Bootcamp can help you get the basics down on how to become more politically active in your chamber. If you’ve been curious about that or you see a need in your community for more political activism, it’s a good place to learn from the examples provided and understand where to start.
#7. Master the Expo
Don’t skip the expo. Even if you’re not “in the market” for something like software, the expo offers a lot of extremely helpful resources as well as products and services. You may even uncover some non-dues revenue sources for your chamber.
If you’re not looking to buy anything, still go to the expo with the attitude of “What am I going to learn here?” You might surprise yourself with the many learning opportunities that are available at every booth.
Plus lunch and coffee breaks are set up in the expo area and you don’t want to miss those!
#8. Plan Your Breakouts
Planning your br
How do you choose which to attend?
Try to look at them as a way to round out coursework. You needn’t stick to one track or type of breakout. You can learn
However, if you’re coming to the ACCE Convention with a particular need in mind, like becoming more skilled in using digital media, than you can explore all of the different coursework in the area.
If you have a couple of close peers attending the conference, consider going to different sessions and exchanging notes afterward so you can all benefit from the learning provided at each session.
If you can’t make it to all of the breakouts you wish you could, take a look at who’s leading them and reach out to them at the conference or on social media. You could even ask them for a copy of their slides or presentation notes.
If you find yourself in a session that wasn’t quite what you thought, don’t feel bad about leaving and going to another breakout. If the learning doesn’t fit what you need, find something that does.
#9. Put the Phone Away or Use It in a Smart Way
There are a lot of people who will tell
If you are using your phone to sit there on Facebook looking through your friends’ posts of summer vacation pics and not connecting with people around you, you’re wasting your conference time.
But I’m not going to tell you to put away the phone altogether.
Smartphones can provide an excellent way to connect through sharing session gems or complimenting others on social media. You can connect with vendors, follow blogs, and use it as an aid in sessions to look up things people are referencing. Smartphones can be very comforting to introverts because it allows them to get into the heart of the subject matter without all the small talk.
Like most tools, its value is in how you use it.
#10. Make the Most of Your Time in Between Sessions
There are a lot of things you can do in-between sessions such as:
- follow-up with someone who said something that interested you in your previous session
- share some of your favorite moments of the ACCE Conference so far on social media
- review your conference goals and see how many you’ve checked off and are still working on
- take a look at the next item on the agenda and think about what it is you wanted to get out of that activity or session
- reach out to someone in person or over social media
Whether this is your first ACCE Conference or your seventh, make the most of your time there in learning and networking. The sessions provide you with applicable takeaways that can help you improve activities and offerings at your chamber, while the people you meet can have a profound effect on your personal and professional lives. Take it all in and enjoy. There are few experiences like it.
#11. Bonus Tips
- Wear comfortable shoes. Bring an extra pair so you can switch between them.
- Bring an extra battery for your phone.
- Attend my session: Go Digital and Get Results Monday at 9:45am in Promenade 104A.
- Connect with me on social media. Google Frank J. Kenny.