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How to Stay Healthy During a Conference


Whether you’re still recovering from Comic-Con a few weeks ago, or you’re gearing up to take a few of your colleagues out to NYC for LeadsCon at the end of August, you’re probably well aware of how exhausting conventions and conferences can be. Swarms of people, reams of business cards, and a whole lot of handshakes — sounds like you need a battle plan.

Man stands at edge of railing overlooking water at San Diego Convention Center

(Photo Credit: Pranav/Flickr)

As it turns out, staying healthy during a conference is not something that comes easily to most attendees. Whether it’s the late night networking sessions or the open bar, no one will ever know. What is certain is that if you’re not careful, you could end up with a conference full of really sick people.

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In fact, just last year at the Air Traffic Control conference in Las Vegas, an outbreak of a virus led to 200 of the 1,200 in attendance going down for the count. Presumably, ATC folk aren’t any less hygienic than some of the other conference crowds around the country, but that didn’t mean they were safe from a nasty episode.

So what do you do? Skip the conference altogether and avoid the possibility of contagion altogether? Absolutely not. Conferences are an amazing opportunity for growth and networking — and tons of free swag. Here are a couple of tricks to keep you healthy and energized during a conference instead.

Contact: Fist Bump Your Way to Networking Glory

Before you dismiss the wholly frat-like fist bump, consider its myriad benefits. There are so many instances where handshakes, bro hugs, and cheek kisses have room for misinterpretation. Are you coming across too dry? Are you being too informal? Are you touching someone’s just-sneezed-into hand?

Probably all of those.

The magnanimous fist bump is different. According to this NPR report, it presents a two-fold benefit: it’s clean and it’s empowering. For starters, it does spread along far fewer germs than a traditional handshake, so that should be reason enough.

If you’re walking the floor glad-handing like it’s one of your LinkedIn skills, you’re going to be in contact with who knows how many bacteria. But you’re also going to be faced with a lot of different, potentially sticky social situations. The fist bump, as the aforementioned study shows, is the only traditional greeting that shows both “victory and equality” for both parties.

Think about that next time you’re on a networking spree.

Rest, Diet and Exercise: Eat and Drink Your Way to a New Client

As it turns out, booze and mini crab cakes aren’t actually your best use of calories on a three-day, sleepless exercise in being a super-extravert. In general, cutting down on alcohol is going to positively affect your quality of life, but it’s also a wise move when you’re low on sleep and high on needing people-skills.

When you drink before bed, you don’t sleep as deeply. And when you’re already running on low sleep hours at a conference, you need all REMs you can get. Once you’ve check that off your list, and you’re still not getting the sleep you need, it’s time to master the art of the power nap.

Look at it this way: if this sounds like a bunch of fun-sucking, remember that these are skills you can hone that will make you a conference master. Good luck!

Tell Us What You Think

What are your conference horror stories? Any tips for staying at the top of your game? Let us know in the comments below, or join the conversation on Twitter.

Peter Swanson
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