This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that we will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase. All opinions are those of the author.
As you navigate the professional world, you may get the opportunity to attend a business conference. Conferences will typically take place in a fun city, and span over the course of a few days to give you plenty of time for networking and learning. If you are attending a business conference for the first time, you may be wondering what items you should pack.
Packing for a conference will be very similar to packing for a regular work trip. You will want to start with some research on the conference, and consider what other marketing resources your company will want you to bring. If you are traveling for a business conference and need to figure out what to bring to the conference, take the following steps below.
How to Build a Conference Packing List
Step 1 // Research the conference dress code.
Step 2 // Print business cards and gather additional promotion material.
Step 3 // Review our Ultimate Business Trip Packing List for the big stuff.
Step 4 // Add these 5 things you don’t want to forget to pack!
Research the conference dress code
Your conference dress code will be dependent on a few factors. What industry is the conference in? How do you typically dress for work?
If you are attending an industry conference and you typically dress business professional to work, you may need to continue dressing business professional for the conference. A conference in finance or real estate may expect attendees to be best dressed. If you will run into clients at this conference, you will want to dress as if you were visiting them on-site.
On the other hand, perhaps you are attending a technology conference where most of the attendees will be in jeans. Even if you are attending a more casual conference, you will still want to dress to impress. This does not mean you need to dress business casual, but you will still want to be at least smart casual. This may mean a button-up shirt or cardigan, instead of sweat pants. You will be networking, so you will want to give off a good first impression.
A good way to determine how to pack for your business conference will be to look at past photos of the event. Google your conference with the past year on the end (eg. “Business Conference 2018”) and see if any images from the conference show up. You will have the opportunity to see what other people who attended the conference were wearing.
Read our 5 Tips on Attending Conferences.
In addition to deciding what to wear during the conference, think about what you will be wearing in the evening. Your evenings may be filled with extracurricular activities, which could range from a formal dinner to a casual happy hour. The conference may even have excursions that involve going out into the city. Look at the conference agenda, and determine if you need to bring any additional outfits or shoes.
Print business cards and promotional material
No matter what type of conference you are attending, you will want to bring business cards. One of the great benefits of conferences is the ability to network with people either in your industry or who share your interests.
Even if you are more introverted, you may want to leave a business card for a conference presenter or someone you sit next to at lunch. You will want to make sure you add extra business cards to your conference packing list, so that you do not miss any business opportunities.
If you are attending a business conference on behalf of your company, you will want to check to see if there is any other promotional material you should bring. If your company has a booth at the conference, you will want to pack any brochures, white papers, or other takeaways to give out to the people that you meet.
Talking to people and giving them your business card is great, but if you have any other marketing resources or free stuff to give away, your company is more likely to be remembered. Especially if you are responsible for running a booth at the conference, check with your company’s marketing department to see what additional promotional material is available.
If you are required to bring promotional material, there is a chance you do not have to pack it all. Work with marketing to determine if these additional items can be shipped straight to your hotel, so you do not have to worry about packing it all.
Review our Ultimate Business Trip Packing List for the basics
Our Ultimate Business Trip Packing List will cover the majority of items you will want to add to your conference packing list. This includes what clothes, toiletries and electronics you may want to consider throwing into your bag.
If you are traveling to a conference for work, you will likely need to bring your work laptop with you. However, while you are attending the conference, I would not recommend carrying your work laptop around with you.
Unless you are attending the conference for specific training, for the majority of your lectures you should not need a laptop at all. Typing on a keyboard will be obnoxious, and there will not always be places for you to charge. Bring your work laptop, but leave it in your hotel room. Use a notepad and pen to take notes throughout the day instead.
Don’t forget to pack these 5 things for your conference
In addition to your business trip wardrobe, for conferences in particular you will want to consider the following:
- A tote to carry all your free stuff in
- Mints for networking after lunch
- A fun lanyard to hang your name tag on
- Casual clothes for the evening
- A notepad and pen for taking notes
Packing for a business conference will be similar to packing for any business trip that you go on. If you are packing for a 5 day conference, you should be able to limit your conference packing list to just one carry-on suitcase, plus your laptop bag. Do your research, pack the night before, and you are well on your way to having a successful conference.