OPINION: Going To CPAC? Here Are Tips From 13 Veterans

Dustin Siggins Contributor
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Thousands of conservatives — and a few liberals — will pack their way into CPAC near Washington, D.C. this week. This can be overwhelming for newbies who won’t know how to dress for success, how to balance their time, and how to avoid the CPAC plague.

To help alleviate these challenges, 13 CPAC veterans — including this author — offer the following tips.

Stay healthy

Do not look [ACU Chairman] Matt Schlapp directly in the eyes. Refer to him only as “Your Excellency.” Also, the first rule of hotels is to keep a pack of bottled water in your room. As a wise man once said, ‘This ain’t my first rodeo.’” — Vince Coglianese, editorial director of The Daily Caller and host of WMAL’s “Mornings On The Mall”

Don’t forget to eat lunch!!!  — Ed Morrissey, senior editor at Hot Air and  CPAC’s 2010 Blogger of the Year

Set a bedtime and stick to it. CPAC is a great place to meet old friends and make new ones. You’ll want to continue the conversations long into the night. Don’t. You want to be fresh and alert. Otherwise, you’re not getting everything you can out of this amazing conference. — Jim Lakely, director of communications for The Heartland Institute

Wear comfortable shoes! — Peter Roff, a veteran journalist whose first CPAC experience included seeing Ronald Reagan speak at the event’s Ronald Reagan Dinner

CPAC Plague is a real thing. Make sure to wash your hands before every meal or you may end up suffering with the creeping crud for a couple of weeks afterwards. — John Hawkins is the founder of Right Wing News

Don’t be a D.C. vulture

Remember why you’re there. Focus on getting the most out of the experience and don’t get distracted with other things. Also, don’t talk to The Daily Show. — Jonathan Bydlak, founder of the Coalition to Reduce Spending

If you want to make connections that matter, go to the bar, say hello to strangers, and stay sober. Don’t be a D.C. vulture and ask “what do you do” — just connect as people. — Ian Patrick Hines is CEO of Hines Digital, a political fundraising firm

The golden rule for anything relating to politics, including CPAC: be courteous to everyone and network with everyone. Don’t do anything that will burn bridges, because the political sphere is a small and incestuous one. If you upset one person you might have upset their network as well.  — RJ Caster, digital director for Majority Strategies

CPAC isn’t just for networking — learn something while you’re here

Talk to fellow attendees. You can often learn as much from attendees as from presenters. Plus, it’s encouraging to know there are thousands of other concerned Americans all across the country, just like you. — Marji Ross, president of Regnery Publishing

Go to sessions featuring speakers you haven’t heard before and issues you don’t know much about. CPAC has programming covering a wide range of issues, so take advantage of the opportunity to learn about those issues. — Karin Lips, president of the Network for Enlightened Women

Go to the panels featuring topics you know nothing about. You’ll get enough reinforcement of your ideological beliefs just by being at CPAC.  A lot of serious, knowledgeable people are here for your benefit. Take advantage of it. — Trey Mayfield, constitutional and appellate litigator at D.C. law firm Juris Day, PLLC.

Avoid liberal trolls

There are liberal trolls hanging around CPAC and conservative posers who may not have America’s best interest in mind. Don’t forget your skepticism. — Mark Tapscott, congressional reporter for The Epoch Times and CPAC’s 2008 Journalist of the Year

My own advice? Leave heavy objects in your room or wear a strap over your shoulder to carry them. As a longtime journalist who has covered CPAC for years, carrying my laptop bag in my hand was a mistake.

Dustin Siggins (@DustinSiggins) is the founder of communications firm Proven Media Solutions.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.