Tips and Resources for First-time Attendees
Need help preparing for the conference? You've come to the right place!
What to Pack
- Business cards
- Money: Visa or MasterCard are the two most widely used credit cards.
- Comfortable shoes: you'll be walking a lot and may be on your feet for hours at a time.
- Appropriate clothing: some attendees dress casually in jeans, others are in suits. The best recommendation is to dress according to your conference goals. If you plan business meetings, you'll need business attire. Please note the rooms in the convention center tend to be air conditioned. It's a good idea to bring a sweater or something similar you can throw on when you get cold.
- Umbrella or other rain-protective gear.
- Check with your cell phone provider to determine if they provide coverage in Washington, D.C. and what rates will apply for phone and data plans.
- Setting up specific meeting places at the conference is important given the large number of conference attendees. It is easy to stand in a lobby and not find the individual you are trying to meet.
- Good places to meet include a particular exhibit booth number, at a specific Networking Center, or in front of the reception desk of a hotel. While waiting, you can network with others.
- If you are meeting someone at a particular session, reserve your seat first, then meet outside the room. This will ensure that you get into the session and get a seat.
- Receptions are also a good place to mingle and meet, but without setting a very specific meeting place, it is generally difficult to find someone at a reception.
- Get a cell phone number for individuals you plan to meet and addit into your contacts list so that you don't have to spend time searching for the number on site.
During the Conference
- The NAFSA conference will feel comfortable, but big! Relax, don't be shy. Speak with conference attendees at sessions, networking events, and receptions. The NAFSA culture is such that it is acceptable to talk to everyone.
- Put your special event tickets in a safe place so you will not lose them. A good place is in the back of your badge holder. This is also a good place for business cards.
- If you want to sign up for a special event on site and it is already full, visit the Hospitality Desk at registration. An informal ticket exchange takes place there.
- When you get a business card, make a note on the back of how you met the person or what you discussed in case you want to follow up with that individual later.
- Take your badge off when you are walking around the city. It will mark you as a tourist instantly and could make you a target for pickpockets.
- Use the online program and NAFSA 2019 mobile app (available in early May) to get a head start on planning your conference schedule and contacting attendees with similar interests and needs.
- Get social! Follow #NAFSA2019 on Twitter or find us on Facebook.
- Discover everything Washington, D.C. has to offer in blog posts from local NAFSAns.
This was my first time at the NAFSA Annual Conference and I found it to be an amazing experience! Not only did I make great professional connections, but a few personal ones as well. I also enjoyed the ease and flow of navigating through the conference. I am leaving even more passionate and excited about what I do, and proud to be a part of such a great organization! ~Imani A. Johnson, Missouri Valley College