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9 tips for surviving Mobile World Congress (+11 crowdsourced tips from the experts)

It is Mobile World Congress time next week so therefore I present the following tips that should be rather useful for newbies — although I hope some regular attendees might find some use from them.

Right. Here we go…

  1. Passport: Do not lose your flipping passport. I always keep mine *on* me. Make sure you’ve got a photocopy in Evernote or Dropbox.
  2. Your MWC badge: Take it off when you exit the venue. I know this is a simple dullard tip but I’m always amazed when people forget — or when they deliberately keep it on because they like the look of it. It is a walking advertisement to the hordes (and I do mean, HORDES) of Barcelona thieves and vagabonds.
  3. Your valuables: Think carefully about whether you need to bring your £2,500 camera. Don’t be surprised to return to your hotel room and find it missing from your rucksack as one blogger colleague experienced a few years ago. Not good.
  4. Plan your time properly: It’s all too easy to decide that since everyone who is anyone is there, you should meet them. Don’t over stretch. A few years ago I thought I could easily do one 20-minute meeting every hour. No. It’s nigh-on-impossible because everyone else is late… because you just don’t realise how flipping big the place is. Don’t forget to allow for the random ‘fancy meeting you here’ connections.
  5. Battery. You will look stupid — seriously stupid — when your top of the range smartphone is out of battery by 11am. It will be, especially if you’re trying to connect with people and, even worse, if you’re trying to do demonstrations to people. Your phone will have to work triple time just to try and squeeze it’s signal through to the many transmitters around the venue. With tens and tens of thousands of people all trying to do the same thing, your battery won’t be able to hack it. So, take multiple phones. Sim swap if necessary. If connectivity is important to you, definitely think about getting a Mophie battery pack so you can charge your devices. And remember, MWC is when even the best mobile phones look really stupid — when you remember that, yes, Nokia did have it right years ago with their approach to managing battery life. Your 3310 will last the whole of MWC. Your S4 or 5S won’t even see midday — so allow for needing to demonstrate your app or service at 1am in the morning to someone very important.
  6. Team Whatsapp: Other messaging apps are available of course. But get your whole team on Whatsapp or something like that with a live connected chatroom. That’s one of the most effective methods of staying in touch with a disparate set of people at such a venue. And let’s face it, a lot of the communication is mission critical, particularly when the CEO of Vodafone has just arrived on your stand and your boss has decided to go and get a ham sandwich somewhere.
  7. Remember to eat: Have a huge breakfast if you can. But, there’s a better way ahead and this one comes from Rafe Blandford — the man who writes the infamous All About Symbian and All About Windows Phone sites. Blandford fills his suitcase with Mars Bars whilst in the UK and then takes at least 4 of them out each day in his ruck sack. It’s a very, very smart move and one that I’ve started doing regularly too. If you’re being serious with your meetings, food will be your lowest priority. And standing in large queues will not appeal. By 11am on the Tuesday you’ll be screwed, especially if you missed breakfast and managed to eat 5 tiny canapés the night before. Mars Bars. Seriously. You can wolf them down whilst you’re walking to the next hall.
  8. Parties. Don’t forget that a lot of the networking is done after hours at the hundreds of parties and events that happen throughout Barcelona. There are a series of excellent party lists — I’ll try and tweet some as I discover them.
  9. Get some sleep. Although it’s tempting to stay up late and do the party thing, if you’ve actually got to deliver a service level (i.e. be able to speak competently to customers on your stand), I strongly recommend getting to bed as soon as you can. Most of the MWC attendees do zero exercise for the whole year, spending all day at the office sitting on chairs. Imagine the shock to the system when you have no choice but to walk 10 miles a day for almost a week. Don’t underestimate the shock to the system.

Now, here’s a selection of tips from the wider MIR Twittersphere:

That’s a good one Aleksi.

Very sensible advice from Joe.

Short and sweet Patrick … but a seriously important point, especially for women. Think twice about the funky shoes. Choose the ones that you can actually walk in. 

Ah yes this sensible advice Ben. It’s way too easy to just think, ‘right,… I’ll just see what’s going on in Hall 8,’ and then wasting 2 hours of prime networking time. Get searching and connecting with people right now, ahead of time.

Another sage piece of advice Patrick — very important for those who are attending along with their company and expecting to be camped out on the stand. Book some time in your diary to get out to see other people. 

Ilicco speaks from experience, I think. He’s been to tons of MWCs. Very good idea this. And also, travel via LHR if you can. Terminal 5 is my favourite. Although I have to say Gatwick is doing well at competing. Berocca is required, definitely.

Ah you’re absolutely right Lauren! If you expect to be disappointed with huge queues and plan accordingly then you’ll be fine. 

Very good. Geert’s right about the ‘cool stuff’ — I highly recommend seeking out the smaller stands at the back of the halls as that’s where you’ll often see some amazingly smart innovations.

How could I forget business cards, Liron??? Goodness me. Very good point. Oh… and plug adapters… arrrrgh! Yes don’t forget those. Or chargers. 

And this is reader Patrick showing precisely the sort of attitude you need at MWC. Don’t be afraid to promote yourself. I might even wear my rather bold MOBILE INDUSTRY REVIEW jacket again.

Can’t forget TripAdvisor Jolene, very good idea, especially when you’re hunting for a good Tapas restaurant!

Well then, if you’ve got any more suggestions please put them in the comments. Thank you for everyone who response to my request for tips on Twitter. I recommend clicking through and following each of the individuals above!

Have a wonderful MWC — and I might see you there. I’m there on the Tuesday.

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