Make it a weekend getaway: One of the main benefits of attending a trade show or convention is that many offer events during the day on Saturdays or even Sundays. Use it as an excuse to have a mini-vacation. Arrange child care from a family member for the weekend, and maybe even convince your spouse to come along for the trip if the location is interesting.
Contact the event: Not ready to leave the little ones behind for that long? No problem! Some conventions and trade shows offer on-site child care, or they may be able to direct you to nearby options that they recommend. It’s a great place to start looking since you’ll have peace of mind knowing that the caretakers have been vetted.
Break out the baby carrier: While it may be difficult to take a baby to a panel or class, it is possible to explore a convention floor with one in tow. A comfortable baby carrier, like a Bjorn or sling, can make it easier to navigate the crowd. Every industry is different, of course, but more often than not, your little one will be a conversation starter and help make your memorable to other professionals rather than hurting your reputation. After all, you’re showing your commitment to your career by attending even though you just recently gave birth!
Know your child: If you have an older child, you need to consider what’s needed to keep him or her happy while you attend. Snacks? Toys? Activities? Plan ahead, and pack a bag the night before. Communicate to your child what to expect from the event, and try to find things that make it interesting. Who knows? Maybe your child will learn something, too!
Keep it short: Get in and get out. No matter how prepared you are or how well-behaved your child is, a convention or trade show isn’t really an entertaining place for little ones. And many children may be overwhelmed by all the activity. Find out when the event will be quietest and visit then. It’s usually during the first few hours or the last few hours, but you can get guidance by contacting the event’s coordinators. Yes, you may be missing out on connecting with a number of people, but the flip side if that there’s less competition for people’s attention.
Have a game plan: If you’re not spending all day there, that means you don’t have the luxury of strolling around and discovering what’s on exhibit. Do your research beforehand. Know what you need to see, who you need to meet, and what’s the top priorities. If you can, map it out in advance, so you can get in and get out. Do the most important things first just in case your time is cut short unexpectedly by your little one.