For the last five years, I’ve been producing The Bullish Conference, the summit for career-focused feminists. From a beachside event with just 25 people to a goal-getter gathering in D.C. this November with 100+ attendees, here are some tools I use to make it happen.
The first few years I ran The Bullish Conference, I held it at hotels and venues I personally enjoyed or just happened to see a beautiful picture of. I then met Brian Chisolm of ConferenceDirect at an event for event planners. My life got a lot easier! A few months later, Brian basically wrote my RFP (Request for Proposal) and sent it out to hotels all over the East Coast, and got back to me with a spreadsheet of their offers. I picked a hotel, he negotiated the contract – and it was all free to me (the hotel pays a commission). Incredible. Saved me months of research. I had no idea a service like this was available for small events (my conferences usually have about 50 people – this year maybe up to 150).
Some awesome postcards (and stamps!)
A favorite conference activity that provides a nice break in between intense sessions is “write a postcard to your future self.” People write lessons from the conference they don’t want to forget, and actually address the postcard to themselves. We collect the cards and mail them out sometime during the next year, so it’s a bit of a surprise! Here are the cute cards I used last year.
In previous years, I’ve used Eventbrite to sell tickets, but since I already run an e-commerce store, there’s no reason to send people offsite. There are event and ticketing apps you can plug into Shopify, but I don’t even need that – in my online store I just create whatever “product,” I need, including conference tickets, a “BFF Special” ticket pack (bring a friend, save lots of $$$), and even sponsorship packages!
Mighty Networks is the host of The Bullish Society, our online membership society. Having an app-accessible custom social network helps build community before an event, and keep people connected afterwards. While I use the professional plan to host a paid network (there is a free trial!), you can also start a network for free, and upgrade if you need to.
If you’re already a Prime member, it’s basically cheaper to ship audiovisual equipment to wherever you’re going and then donate it when you’re done than it is to rent it from a hotel! Not even kidding. Instead of paying thousands for AV, I bought a $300 projector (small enough to take in a suitcase), then Amazon Primed myself a $150 screen and all kinds of other stuff, including inflatable unicorns. If you send a ton of Amazon boxes to your hotel, make sure to tip whoever has to bring them out of storage and to your room or event!
I’ve been running The Bullish Conference for five years now – it gets easier as an event builds momentum and people make friends at your event (and want to catch up with those friends next year)! So there you go – whether your event is for 6 or 600, those are some resources to get your business and brand going in the offline space.
Jennifer Dziura is the founder of GetBullish: Aggressive Lady-Advice and the annual Bullish Conference. After beginning as an advice column at the intersection of work and feminism, Bullish has now grown to include a membership society and a shop carrying feminist gift items and more. Jen speaks at colleges and conferences about designing your own career, networking without being fake, smashing the patriarchy at work, and monetizing things that are awesome.
Read her interview on LadyBossBlogger to learn more about her!