Friday night postcard from Amelia: A rolling diary from a Tallahassee Chamber Conference veteran

From the Tallahassee Democrat

Thursday 6:21 p.m. 

Dear Tallahassee,

Thanks to the Democrat for the opportunity to give some updates from the front row of the Chamber Conference for your readers.

I will be sending regular updates on The Who and The What is going on at the conference.

Who may wonder why the conference is not in Tally?You have to have it outside of Tallahassee or you would not get people engaging in all the events, people would head home versus all being housed together. (Joyfully trapped to get to know your fellow attendees).

After 14 years of attending this conference, one thing is also crazy clear. Arriving on Friday, is for young folks.

By arriving Thursday, you can beat the traffic and be less frantic as the conference begins on Friday. The vibe at check-in and all over the hotel reminds me of a Rolling Stones concert, the day before.

Load in and set up is taking place all over the property but the majority of the audience does not arrive until tomorrow.

Ballrooms are being cleaned, stages are being built, lights are being set-up, sound is being tested, gift bags are being stuffed and schedules are being shuffled around. I just got the text that my panel (CEO Series) has been moved back an hour.

Chamber and hotel staff are hustling to make sure the place is ready to roar as the Conference gets into full swing. By this time tomorrow, 500 business and community leaders will be networking and engaging in authentic dialogue to grow their businesses and make Tallahassee a better community.

As I sign off for today for my first “postcard,” a shout out to Pam Butler, former Aegis CEO, who tasked me to attend my first Chamber Conference 14 years ago. What a ride it has been for me and for our company. I am grateful and thankful to be here, 14 years (and lots of grey hair) later. Thank you for the opportunity Pam. The view is nice and the post card barrage will continue in the morning. Which way to the bar?

Friday 12:20 p.m.

Today is show time, as they say in Hollywood. It is “show business,” not “show friends.” But here at the Chamber Conference, there is a chance to do both. That is, have a good time while pushing your message forward for the entity that you represent.

This will certainly be on display in about four hours at the welcome reception, where the roar of conversation sounds like a 747 taking off, no joke. The booths are also almost ready outside the reception. I just checked in with Tracey at Target Print and Mail, and she has her daughter helping her set up — that is how it is done.

But first the welcome bag. Every attendee gets one when you check in and it is packed with swag items from each of the corporate sponsors of the event as well as as from the Chamber. The work that goes into the bag prep is like a huge trek across the Sahara (see Jay Revell’s blog earlier today).

But from the sponsor side it is also no joke. I usually start about three months out with an idea that I bounce off the Full Press Apparel team (Danny and Tracey Shrine are here) and we start on proofs, puns are created, colors are chosen, etc.

For example, we did a suntan lotion bottle a few years ago that said, “Don’t get burned by your technology” and a deck of cards several years ago that said “Don’t gamble with your tech, call Aegis.”

This year also has an Aegis pun; we put together a charging accessories bag, and it is says “Charging Ahead with Aegis.” But we also co-branded a local nonprofit to try something new and help them support their mission. Watch more about that here.

Without the sponsors represented in this bag, there would not be a Chamber Conference, so let’s see what else we have in here: the Target Print and Mail stone coaster is a home run, the Riley Palmer koozie is simple and functional and the Awards4U charging brick will probably get used today.

Great job by all the sponsors and Chamber staff putting together one epic gift bag.

Friday 8:50 – Chamber Conference Welcome Reception

Dear Tallahassee,

What’s that sound, a 747 landing? Nope, that is 700 Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce Conference attendees networking at 100 mph.

You have heard of speed networking? Consider this Ludicrous Speed Networking (yes that is a Mel Brooks, SpaceBalls reference boys and girls). One minute we were talking to the WCTV team (Monica, Ben, Katie) then Tom Deison with Hancock Whitney, Daryl at Compass, then Dana from the Chamber, Jay from Ajax, Garvin and Ben from Gardner Bist Law, Alva with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Joel Silver with Live in Tallahassee, Richard from Moore Bass, Dean and Gloria with AMWAT, and this is the first 20 minutes.

If you want to really get out there you could have 50 conversations during this event, if you wanted to. I think 25 would be a better goal however.

What a great opportunity to say thank you to those in your current personal and professional worlds and to make new connections for tomorrow.

There are some serious booths set up also, but one gets the gold medal, Hearth and Soul owned by Susie Busch Transou, she has a entire room set up and it looks awesome, highlighting very cool items from her business.

So in two hours I was able to network with everyone in the Tallahassee community (it seemed like it ) with the exception of the butcher and the candle stick-maker (the baker was there).

We continue in the morning, and I will be participating in a panel with two awesome Tallahassee organizations, Coton Colors, and Applied Fiber; moderated by my friend Sue who runs the Chamber.

It’s going to be a great day on the island, although I will not see any of the outdoors until the Target Print and Mail Water Buffalo Pool party in the afternoon.

I will send more updates tomorrow.