10 Tips to Get the Most Out of Texas Conference for Women

Bad news, Austin. If you waited to buy your 2017 Texas Conference for Women ticket, you are out of luck. The one-day, November 2 event sold out, oh, weeks ago. Or was it months ago?

I freely admit to being a conference geek. [Oh, I’m all over a good conference! Currently, I’m working hard, organizing Women Communicators of Austin’s annual Get Smart Conference (Shameless plug: Register here!).] However, there’s good reason for all the TCW frenzy. Setting aside fabulous keynote speakers (Viola Davis, be still my heart! Sheryl Sandburg; Malika Chopra; and Anita Hill–yes, ANITA HILL), there are informative and inspirational panels, book signings, and interactive breakout sessions.

Now, while TCW is billed as “the state’s largest gathering of women,” guys are welcome, too. Whatever your demographic, there’s tons of good content for communicators, business leaders, and general conference geeks.

10 Tips for Your Best Texas Conference for Women

Conference bags lined up wait pick up at Texas Conference for Women 2016 in Austin
Conference bags awaiting attendees at Texas Conference for Women 2016. Photo Credit: Leah Nyfeler
  1. Attendees get a handy tote bag, so don’t hesitate to bring a few practical things (a wrap for frigid Austin Convention Center mega-rooms, refillable water bottle, business cards).
  2. Though the shoe game is fierce, opt for comfort. Be prepared to walk at a brisk pace to make those sessions on time. With 100+ speakers and 24 sessions, you’re moving among multiple rooms on different floors.
  3. Arrange in advance to meet friends. You’ll never find them in the throngs if you don’t. You will, however, discover a lot of people you didn’t expect to see and make tons of new acquaintances.
  4. Skipping Austin’s downtown traffic and parking is always a wise move. Take CapMetro Light Rail (buy a one-day ticket via app); the station is right there at the Convention Center. Go earlier than you think necessary. The morning train can be extremely crowded and run late. At the end of the day, don’t join the crush. Give the crowds time to thin out–you can entertain yourself downtown during happy hour, right?
  5. Do your due diligence by mapping out seminars to attend before arriving (there’s an app for that). Yes, some good stuff will be missed; there’s simply too much to cover it all. To help guide your selections, set an intention for the conference.
  6. This is a social media-friendly group, and you’ll tweet and ‘gram up a storm. Bring your phone charger — there’s a Networking Lounge to sit and plug in inside the Exhibitor Hall. In case of flagging energy, visit the Expo’s coffee bar.
  7. Don’t worry about the view at lunch. Because of the multiple screens and excellent sound system, there’s no bad seat in the spacious Austin Convention Center.
  8. Be sure to pay as much attention to WHO is involved as WHAT is being covered. For example: the local leader meet-ups are an excellent place to connect. Roundtable discussions around social media varied depending on the facilitator. Panels were another method to experience some of the various experts who gave other talks.
  9. If possible, consult a veteran for recommendations. Newbies can miss out on things that a more experienced attendee could’ve pointed out. For example: There’s all kinds of hands-on stuff, for example, in the Community Connection Pavilion.
  10. No tickets? Quit your crying and make a commitment to jump the minute next year’s conference is announced. Don’t wait to register; every year sells out.

Who’s Got Me Excited about 2017 Texas Conference for Women

Screenshot of Viola Davis Instagram feed photo with husband Julius Tennon
Yeah, I’m one of Viola Davis’s 1.7 million Instagram followers.

Viola Davis: Fan love, girl crush, whatever you want to call it, I adore this actress. Just a glimpse of her would make any day, much less hearing her speak. Besides admiring her acting talent, Davis (or rather, Annalise Keating from How to Get Away With Murder) is my style muse.

Susie Gray: I have a soft spot for the Austin American-Statesman; it’s my local paper. Gray, who I’ve never met, is the publisher, and fitness writer Pam LeBlanc (who I do know) and technology reporter Lori Hawkins will be there, too. Journalist peeps, represent!

Anita Hill: C’mon–do I need to explain?

Robyn Moreno: I believe Texas’ future is Latina. When I was an editor in chief, tapping into this influential and growing market seemed a no-brainer. Between her editorial, blogging, and author bona fides, Moreno is an exciting draw for me.

Cover of Sheryl Sandberg's book Lean In
This is a great read, even if you’re not a woman in the workforce with children.

Sheryl Sandburg: After I left Austin Fit Magazine, I went on a family vacation to Costa Rica and read Leaning In. Sandburg’s book gave me with a new–and life changing–view of “the career ladder.”

Sarah Thomas: an NFL official! The only way we change football culture is from the inside, so I’m proud to see Thomas on the field during games. (Now, Oprah, will you please buy a team?)

Alex Wolf: Adweek listed Wolf as one of a “Top 20 Influencer Who Radiates Creativity & Gets Everyone Talking.” This is why I attend–to find creativity and inspiration. #mustsee

Coaches’ Corner: I got so much out of the last TCW roundtable discussions that I’ll certainly be back for more. It’s a little early to ascertain exactly how expert access will shake out (download the conference’s app for latest news)

Camp Gladiator Workout: It’s one of the last things on the agenda. Now, I’m not sure how this activity is going to fit into a conference-clothes-wearing kind of day, but Marion Jones is leading the workout. Jones was my first interview with AFM. Meant to be? You tell me.

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Published by Leah Nyfeler

I’m a writer, editor, runner, and adventurer who is always looking for the next new story, exciting adventure, and good meal/book/movie. My focus is on helping people find their best, healthiest self through sharing what I know and how I’ve come to learn it. In addition to my blog “Enjoying the Journey: Observations on the Fit Life” at www.leahruns100.com, my articles have appeared in a variety of print and online magazines. You can hear me as part of the 2015 Austin cast of Listen To Your Mother.

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