The Craft and Hobby Association (CHA) Mega Conference and Trade Show opens this Thursday in Anaheim and I'll be there! I am thrilled to be attending for the third time. I'm spending 5 days there this year and my schedule is jam-packed. I am SO excited.
I'm taking ten classes, which range from a Google Marketing boot camp to a weaving class. I have a ticket for the FaveCrafts Blogger Network Event, will be at the Mega Block Party, and am meeting up with some local Fiskafriends. I'll be at the Hot Product Sneak Peek, meeting with a product rep to try a just-released tool, and attending a breakfast sponsored by Michaels. I'll be spending approximately 18 hours on the show floor doing make-and-takes, trying new products, scoping out trends, and entering contests. During all that, I get to hang out with some of the coolest people on Earth. It really is a dream.
Now that I'm a CHA veteran (having attended in 2011 and 2015), I feel like I have a pretty good handle on what to pack, what to expect and how to prepare. I've been able to give advice to several CHA first-timers, including my new Marketing Coordinator, Tanya, and my new friend, Jean, of The Quilted Cupcake. Jean found my blog through a Google search about attending CHA and contacted me to ask a bunch of questions. Tanya had a ton of questions as well. I figure there must be others with similar questions.
If that is you, start here: What to Pack and How to Prepare for the CHA Mega Show. That post covers most of what I think you need to know, but I do have some additional tips.
*Dress in layers:
I swear by my 'dressy on top, comfortable on the bottom' uniform, but I forgot to mention the importance of layers. I usually wore a light blouse and light short-sleeved layering sweater, then had a light jacket to put over that as needed.
*Dress for movement:
You already know that comfy shoes are a must, but expect lots of stooping to look at products, bending to photograph samples, and perching on stools to do make-and-takes. To me, that means no short or tight skirts, no heels, and no low-cut blouses.
*Carry business cards:
Don't just carry them. Hand them out. Don't be shy about exchanging business cards with anyone at all. I like to jot a note on the back of mine to remind the person where/how they met me ("wearing the Marsala shirt," for example) if I'm able. I also like to jot a note when I receive a card. And while this isn't a part of preparing for the CHA show, I'll mention it anyway: after the show is over, use the business cards you took to reach out to everyone you met. Follow their blog, check out their store, send thanks, email especially good photos you took of them, or simply say hi.
*Pack snacks and water:
The Convention Center has concession stands and there are plenty of food options nearby, but that doesn't do you any good if you're in a 3 hour class and need a bite to eat. I carry a handful of healthy snacks (nuts, dried fruit, granola bars, etc) and a bottle of water so that I can have a quick snack when I need one.
Most crafters don't need to be told to take pictures, but it bears mentioning. Even the most photo-happy person can forget to take pictures when engrossed in make-and-takes, riveted by a fabulous presenter, or having the time of your life chatting with new friends. Whenever possible, take photos of cool products, take photos at the parties, take photos of awesome people, and take photos of inspirational displays.
CHA is what you make of it. Say yes to everything. You