What you need to know if you’re going to ONA10 in DC

ONA10Ladies and gentleman, start your smartphones.

The Online News Association’s annual conference kicks off on Thursday in Washington, D.C. It’s the nation’s only sold-out journalism conference each year, meaning this is the place to be if you’re excited about news in the digital age.

If you are going and maybe this is your first time, I’ve thrown together some quick thoughts on how to get the most out of the conference.

DO: Bring a positive attitude and a willingness to share ideas. The people at this conference are excited and optimistic about the future and will do anything to help others make it happen.
DON’T: Whine and complain about how people in your newsroom “just don’t get it.” Most of the people at this conference are dealing with, or have dealt with, “traditional” journalists who failed to see the value in digital. This isn’t the time for that. It’s a time to celebrate the possibilities. In fact, I think we should rename this from “conference” to “festival.”

DO: Arrive at the sessions early. They often fill up and you’ll end up sitting on the floor if you get in at all.
DON’T: Watch the livestream from the conference if you are at the conference. This is pretty much a geekfest, meaning everyone is online all the time. Even the most robust wifi system is going to struggle a bit with this crowd.

DO: Try to network as much as possible. While the conference sessions are always good, it’s the people who make this conference special. Never dine alone and always introduce yourself to whomever is sitting near you. (Or you can “pull a Ken Sands” and never actually attend the sessions, preferring instead to work the hallways.)
DON’T: Forget business cards, or Bump on your iPhone or Droid, so you can exchange contact information with the new people you meet.

DO: Post helpful information to Twitter with the #ona10 hashtag. Save a search with this term so you can see what else is happening at the conference, too.
DON’T: Post personal tweets with this hashtag, unless it will be helpful for others to see. This stream will be flooded anyway, so use discretion.

DO: Use Foursquare or Gowalla to connect with others and figure out where your new friends are having lunch or a post-conference beer.
DON’T: Check in at every corner of the conference hotel. Being mayor of the escalator is really kind of pointless, don’t you think?

DO: Drink lots of water and squeeze in a nap if you can. Especially if you like “late-night networking.”
DON’T: Complain about traveling and time zones. Most of us traveled through time zones, too. Remember, no whining.

And lastly, DO play Webbmedia’s QR code game. If this doesn’t prove how different ONA is from other journalism conferences, nothing will.

See you in DC.

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