Five tips for a successful Mackinac Policy Conference


Make accomplishing your conference goals a little easier with these tips from Martin Waymire

Anyone who has been to the Mackinac Policy Conference will tell you that it’s a unique experience that can be exciting, exhausting, overwhelming and rewarding all at the same time. Martin Waymire has had a strong presence at the conference for the last 20 years, providing earned and social media support, paid advertising and other services to help our clients and their issues be front and center at this premier gathering of business and political leaders. 

Here are a few of our recommendations to make this year’s conference the best one yet.


#1: Have a strategy for the event and map out each day

What are you looking to get out of the policy conference this year? A solid communications strategy for your organization is key to ensuring you make the most of your time. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Outline the overall goals you have for your attendance at the conference.
  • Plan the connections you want to make and takeaways from conversations with others.
  • Set expectations for internal and external communications channels: what coverage do you plan to have for you and your organization on social media or earned media?

Ahead of MPC, familiarize yourself with the agenda, key events you want vs. need to attend and timelines for arrival and departure from the island. Make sure to identify the speakers, networking events and sessions that you want to attend each day — it’s easy to do this in the MPC app. Follow along on social media to get real-time updates at the event, and find conversations that you can participate in. 

Once you catch your ferry back to the mainland, take some time to note which contacts you need to follow up with to close the loop on your networking conversations. Timely follow up is key!


#2: Pack your walking shoes

From the Grand Hotel to downtown and back again, comfortable, supportive shoes will not only save your feet but will help keep you mentally sharp with the long days of sessions and networking. Be prepared for 15,000+ steps per day.

We recommend bringing a comfortable pair of casual walking shoes and stashing dress shoes in a bag if you’re trekking up the hill to the Grand Hotel. 

Insider tip: Have a friend staying at the Grand Hotel? Ask if you can keep a pair of dress shoes in their room, so you can arrive in walking shoes and change. 


#3: Layer up and carry a bag

Late May always brings unpredictable weather, but a northern Michigan island setting brings it to a whole other level. Make sure you’ve packed your sweaters, rain jacket, an umbrella, and even plan for it to be sunny and 75. 

Don’t be afraid to carry a backpack or bag to store extra layers, devices and chargers, and even your extra pair of shoes. 


#4: Get ready for networking

Connections are made all across the island, from the Grand Hotel to the downtown restaurants and bars. Make sure you’re ready to make a good impression with:

  • Extra business cards: Ensure you bring enough and that you also have them stored safely to be in pristine condition when presented.
  • Name tag: Having a personalized name tag gives you a professional look and saves people from having to look down at the lanyard name tag for your information. Remember that you must have your conference lanyard on at all times to be allowed on Grand Hotel property.
  • Digital cards: Digital cards are becoming more popular and allow others to tap their phone to yours and instantly download your information to their device. Some recommended services to check out include Blinq, Linq and Popl.


#5: Get some exercise

With an eight-mile road around the island and countless trails in the interior, finding a chance for a walk, run or bike ride will help make your conference even better. Among the morning sessions and evening drinks, stepping away for some exercise can help clear your mind in the midst of packed days.

The Mackinac Policy Conference provides a tremendous opportunity for individuals and organizations to connect, learn and support the important work being done by organizations across the state. We hope these tips help you make the most of your time on the island! See you there!