Guest Blogger: Sarah Binder

First, let me welcome you. Iowa’s entrepreneur community thrives when new people bring new ideas, new passion, and new energy – I’m so glad you’re here and can’t wait to (hopefully!) meet you.

Second, let me share a little about myself: I’ll be attending my fifth EntreFEST in 2017. I have been on the curation committee for the past two events, and I have even had the privilege of being a speaker at EntreFEST. I’m more of a corporate innovation type, working for a 130+-year-old media company, and I have learned a ton from every EntreFEST I have been a part of, and I know you can too.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you to snag a ticket while Early Bird pricing lasts – prices will go up soon! Ok, on to the tips:

Embrace the unexpected, embrace the FOMO.
You will quickly see that EntreFEST is not your typical business conference. Seeing a marching band fill up a historic theater, hearing surprisingly relatable advice from a pig farmer, or listening to a piece of music that was written that day are all things I have experienced at EntreFEST. You never know what might surprise you, so be open to all kinds of experiences.

Also, embrace the FOMO (fear of missing out). There will be more interesting sessions than you can attend. Go ahead and accept it. In fact, some of my favorite EntreFEST memories came from playing hooky for an hour to catch up with some fellow attendees. While you are trying to soak up as much as you possibly can, make sure you’re also enjoying the experience.

Be yourself and come ready to learn.
One of my dear friends who works with college students often tells them to focus less on “networking” and more on “making friends.” This advice is especially true at EntreFEST. In fact, if you are overly focused on getting your business card into as many hands as possible, you will probably end up feeling a bit out of place – it’s simply not that type of event. Instead, just focus on learning and being present for the experience. Genuine relationships will follow.

Also, along with the theme of being yourself: dress how you please for EntreFEST. There will be people wearing fancy dresses or suits and ties, people wearing jeans and t-shirts, and everything in between. Wear what makes you feel comfortable and confident – especially comfortable shoes since you will be walking between sessions, meetups, parties, and more in beautiful downtown Iowa City.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
EntreFEST is designed to appeal to business owners, startup founders, corporate “intrapreneurs,” social innovators, and more at all levels – beginners included. That said, the startup world can be filled with jargon. So if you’re in a session and you don’t know the CAC for your new B2B MVP – or even what those terms mean – please ask. It’s like your teacher always said, there’s probably someone else in the room who has the same question.

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