How to Make the Most of Alt

By guest contributor Erin Loechner. Photography by Geoff Mcfetridge.

Now that you've purchased your ticket to Alt, I'm sure you are busy prepping packing lists and printing business cards. Right? Listen, conferences can be a serious investment for entrepreneurs and bloggers. Here's how to make sure you get the most out of your Alt experience:

1) Plan in advance
Is your dream advertiser a sponsor at Alt? Is your favorite blogger speaking? Pen a thoughtful note prior to the conference, asking for five minutes of their time. Meeting face-to-face can solidify any relationship, and is a great way to guarantee you'll get a purposeful chat with them.

Extra Credit: If you ask for five minutes, be respectful of that time, Avoid pitching, be complimentary, and send a follow up thank you note when the conference is over.

2) Schedule accordingly
Watch for schedule updates and peruse the various panel topics in advance. Choose ideas and lessons that you'll find helpful at this stage of your blogging career. If you have trouble deciding which panels to attend, ask a friend to attend a different panel than you. You can compare notes with them over lunch.

Extra Credit: There are plenty of breaks between panels, so be sure to stop by each sponsored suite and get to know a few of your favorite companies. You just might plant the seed for a budding partnership!

3) Connect, connect, connect
Although the information you'll be gaining is invaluable, it's the people that are the true gems of any blogging conference. Make an effort to foster new relationships while re-connecting with a few older ones. Blogging can be a fairly isolating gig, so look for friendships you can maintain long after the conference has ended.

Extra Credit: It's tempting to reunite with the same friends and colleagues each day, or stick with the gal pal you arrived at the conference with. Branch out and introduce yourself to a few friendly faces. You never know when you'll meet your future best friend!

4) Ask questions
Were you intrigued by a panelist's perspective? Interested in hearing more from a keynote speaker? Stick around after their presentation and introduce yourself (be patient, many attendees will be doing the same). Don't be shy about asking your question, but do respect their time.

Extra Credit: If your question is more than a simple 60-second response, offer to email it to the presenter at a later date. Hand them their business card so they can anticipate your note.

5) Prep your site
If you're a networking fiend or a social butterfly, buff up your site prior to the conference. You'll likely be getting a few more hits than usual after your fellow attendees discover your dazzling wit and charm!

Extra Credit: Make sure you have your server contact on hand, just in case. No one wants a site error/crash during a blogging conference to prevent new visitors from seeing their work.