In case you couldn’t tell from my recent posts and comments therein, I’ve been at a conference all weekend. It was a marathon for this busy girl, especially since my sister’s movie premiered in Miami on Friday night with a red carpet screening and the obligatory fancy party I couldn’t miss. By the time I got in my rental car on Saturday morning (at 6 AM) I was already exhausted.

After stopping at every Starbucks along the way I was suitably jacked up—just in time for a ten dollar virgin Margarita and twenty dollar fish tacos at the convention center’s hotel.

Meanwhile I had no place to stay, having messed up my reservations by submitting an expired credit card a couple of months ago and failing to read the email explaining said foul-up. Finding no lodging at the inn, I resolved to sleep in the back of the rental in the guarded hotel parking lot.

Then I got down to business: planning my strategy at the North American Veterinary Conference (the largest veterinary conference in the world, if they do say so themselves) for meeting and schmoozing and passing out business cards, media kits and sponsorship proposals detailing my exploits—all in search of a sponsor for this blog to help fund its [very expensive] upgrade.

In the process, I learned many things about conferences and sucking up in general. Here’s my top ten list for take-home points from this unique brand of continuing education (none of which will win me credit hours from the Board of Veterinary Medicine, I’m afraid):

1-The drive to Orlando sucks when you’re in a dinky rental car (I seized the opportunity to have a bumper replaced on my vehicle to spare its mileage expenses). It’s invariably less safe and inherently more stressful. No six-CD changer, no leather seats, no roomy interiors and no side-impact airbags ensures back pain upon arrival and several white knuckle encounters on the treacherous Florida roadways.

2-DO NOT stop and attempt to get out of your vehicle after witnessing a [possibly fatal] car crash on the Turnpike. The professional truck driver involved in an 85 MPH spinout collision with a Mustang and a Sentra informed me of this after I careened to the median and waited for the Highway Patrol to take my statement and ensure my rental car’s no-damage status while the rescue copter took the Mustang's driver away on a back-board.

3-Accept all manner of freebie invitations from drug reps. It wins you elevated social status along with firmed up connections and in this case, a free massage and steak dinner. Thank you Boehringer-Ingelheim (I apparently use enough Metacam on my patients to pay for such niceties several times over).

4-When a drug rep offers to put you up in her room, you accept graciously. The next time you do, however, you’ll warn her ahead of time that you snore so that you don’t have to spend $100 on a guilty thank you gift.

5-Writing has its perks. In a stroke of uncharacteristic genius and typical impatience, I bypassed the swarms at the registration desk and marched brazenly into the VIP area. Brandishing my media kit and The Miami Herald as weapons, I sliced through the red tape and saved $500. A fancy badge and free food sealed my victory. 

6-With a couple of notable exceptions, pharmaceutical marketing muckety-mucks could really care less about you or your valuable projects. Note to self: Showing some cleavage, however ill it might serve you in other arenas, would’ve probably helped me out in this case. Silly me.

7- Don’t let the previous rejection cloud your approach to the next prospect. Easier said than done, no doubt.

8-The only people truly interested in your work have already been exposed to it through personal interest and attention to the field’s more subversive voices. While they make the whole event worth the pain, they also tend to be the least financially able to sponsor you. On that note: A big thank you to fellow Wharton alum Alex Krooglik from Embrace Pet Insurance for his generosity and patience. I’d like to see our field populated with more dedicated, righteous souls like his.

9-Be yourself. Also easier said than done, especially when you know they really don’t want all that personality in their face in the absence of the cleavage.

10-Wear comfortable shoes.

That’s my top-ten. What do you think? Can I get some CE credits for any of that?