I can’t help myself. Whenever I go anywhere for more than a night, I have to check out my neighborhood and find out the locations of the nearest grocery store, good beer selection and cheap eats.

However, I’ve learned that when I attend conferences, even if I bring a Word doc full of beer and food recommendations, it’s rare that I get to more than one of them. Usually because I’m going along with the flow from sessions to receptions to pre-planned dinners and then convenient watering holes, and my list stays tucked away in its folder. But, I’m always prepared, and now you can be over-prepared too!

Hotel

During #asae10 I’m staying at the Westin Bonaventure in the downtown financial district at 404 S. Figueroa St. The Convention Center is about eight blocks away at 1201 S. Figueroa St. There’s a Ralphs market about six blocks away at 645 W. 9th St. If there is time to venture out of the neighborhood, the 7th Street Metro Center is only two blocks away. I’ve learned that there’s an exercise circuit on the 2nd floor, food court on the 4th, a Subway on the 6th and a revolving restaurant and lounge on the 35th. How retro!

Apparently the hotel is a modernist nightmare that’s worn and in desperate need of renovation. No big deal because there’s a brewpub, Bonaventure Brewing Company on the 4th floor. I haven’t read any decent reviews on the beer sites so I don’t have high expectations. I confirmed with the Director of Operations Suzanne Melson that they have free wifi. Beer? Wifi? My LA office! Happy hour is Monday-Friday 3:30-7:30 p.m. Their current seasonal is a Hefeweizen.

You might have flashbacks when walking into the Bonaventure. It’s where True Lies filmed the chase scene where Arnold rides a horse into the elevator.

Coffee & Wifi

If you can’t find free wifi in the hotel, here are some nearby places.

  • Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf – 601 West 5th St.
  • Starbucks – 445 S. Figueroa St. (Union Bank), 505 S. Flower St. (Arco Plaza), 444 S. Flower St. and 400 S. Hope St.
  • 7th & Fig shopping center – few stores, several food options, open Sat 10-6, Sun 12-5, M-F 10-7

Beer

There are many sources for beer reviews (Beer Advocate, Pubcrawler and more) but I like Beermapping the best. All locations are plotted on a map so it’s easy to figure out what’s nearby. Their reviews are limited but usually thoughtful.

  • Bonaventure Brewing Company – I found a video of their patio.
  • BottleRock at 1050 S. Flower St., east of and in the same building as the Rivera Restaurant at the corner of 11th and Hope. In addition to their huge wine list, they have an extensive beer list with a dozen microbrews on tap.
  • Yard House at 800 W. Olympic Blvd. They have 100 taps, mainly American craft beer, but also Belgian, German, Czech and others.
  • Library Bar at 630 W. 6th St (6th & Hope, enter on Hope), has a large beer menu.
  • Wurstkuche at 800 E. 3rd St, has 25 beers on tap, mostly Belgian and German. They describe themselves as an “exotic sausage grill located in the downtown historic arts (warehouse) district”. The menu is in fact limited to sausage and Belgian fries, yum. I read that it’s not clearly marked so a little hard to find, but well worth the hunt.
  • If you’re in Hollywood, the Blue Palms Brewhouse is at 6124 Hollywood Blvd.

Eats

It’s true that I am usually thinking about my next meal. Here are some good resources to learn about what LA has to offer for good eating.

I like eating fresh real local food whenever possible, but I’m not against going to places that are city icons, especially when there’s maple bacon donuts involved. I had enough 5-star expensive meals in my earlier years that I’m not really interested in that anymore, something my wallet is happy about. Here are some regular places that caught my eye.

For mid-day eats, the menu at Mendocino Farms looks fantastic. Real local food. There are two locations: one in the California Plaza at 300 S. Grand Ave. (open 11-3 Mon-Fri) and one in the Citibank building at 444 S. Flower St. (open 11-7:15 Mon-Fri).

Wurstkuche, mentioned above, is on the short list too, open 11 to midnight (Sundays open at 12).

The French Dip sandwich is an LA invention. Two places claim to have invented it and have been serving it for about 100 years – Phillipe’s and Cole’s Pacific Electric Buffet. Cole’s is closer to the hotel at 118 E. 6th St, a 17-minute walk according to Google.

If you have time for breakfast, The Pantry, at 9th and Figueroa, is another local institution that’s been around since 1924. Reviews are very mixed, but everyone agrees the sourdough toast is the best in town.

Redwood Bar & Grill at 316 W 2nd St., off Hill St., is said to be a bar with character and good food at reasonable prices. It used to be a Los Angeles Times hangout and still has a red phone that used to be connected to the City Desk.

How can you not want to go to a place that looks like this?

Clifton's Cafeteria

Another LA institution, Clifton’s Cafeteria at 648 S. Broadway (near 7th) is open everyday from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. It’s not “pay what you can” like it was during the Depression, but like all cafeterias, it’s cheap. And what an ambiance!

Wood Spoon is a Brazilian restaurant at 107 W. 9th St. (between Broadway and Main) that’s “not to be missed” but it’s closed Sunday and Monday.

You’re still wondering about those maple bacon donuts, huh? They can be found at the downtown Nickel Diner at 524 S. Main St., open 8-3:30 and 6-11, but closed Mondays.

One last food stop is the Grand Central Market where, in addition to the usual market fare, you can find all kinds of amazing Mexican street food. I found these directions from my hotel. Exit the hotel on the 6th floor overpass toward the YMCA, walk past the Y across Hope St., then upstairs (or escalator) across Grand, and downstairs past the water plaza to Angel’s Flight for 25-cents funicular ride down to the market’s doorstep. He recommended Maria’s Seafood’s fresh fish tacos as “the stuff of dreams.”

The Amateur Enthusiast blog recommends the intersection of 6th and Main as the place to go when you haven’t decided on anything specific but want a lot of choices. Sounds like a group from a conference, right? Cole’s of French Dip fame is there as well as a bunch of other restaurants and bars, including

  • The Varnish, 118 6th St. – he calls it the “home of the best cocktails in downtown.”
  • The Association, 110 E. 6th St., next to Cole’s – his “favorite after work spot,” and with that name, shouldn’t it be ours? It has an unmarked door that’s a replica of 10 Downing St.
  • The Edison, in an alley off 2nd near Main, has the “most dramatic setting of any bar in the entire city, and the best and most varied live entertainment in downtown.”

That should be more than enough to get you started. If you’re checking out any of the beer or food places, send me a DM or @, if I’m free, I’d love to join you. Don’t forget to check in on Foursquare so we can ask you about it later. Remember the hashtag for the conference is #asae10. Tweet out any other good finds so we can all make the most of our time in LA.

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In Part 1 of this series I shared many posts written by fellow #asae10 bloggers about their thoughts and preparations in advance of the ASAE Annual Meeting. With only a few days remaining before the meeting, here are some suggestions for things to add to your to-do list. Thoughtful of me, huh?

The Big Picture

First, think about why you’re going to this meeting. What are your goals? My goals this year are very different from last year. Last year I had just moved to Raleigh and was seeking an association position. This year I’m settled in and building a consulting business specializing in social media. I’m eager to see friends from last year and meet new ones. If you ask what most excites me about the association world, it’s my smart, fun and generous online association community, that’s what makes me grin. I’m also looking forward to the education and discussions that will get my brain clicking. And I’m hoping to find opportunities to give social media tips and advice to others, just a few minutes here and there so I feel that I’m giving as well as receiving during the meeting. I’m not going to LA with thoughts of sales and marketing. This experience is more for my brain and heart than for my wallet. Wise? Who knows, but it feels right.

My friend Camden Watts recently wrote a post that got me thinking about writing this series and sharing my goals. She wrote in anticipation of attending a social media conference here in North Carolina.

I also like this post by Dawn Foster about staying productive while at a conference. She advises us to stay focused on our goals and our purpose for attending, and to not multitask.

Valeria Maltoni shares excellent ideas for 21  things you can do at a conference. This is a list I will read over and over — really good advice.

Social Media

Your next stop is the Engage page on the meeting website. If you blog or tweet, add your URLs to those rolls. You can also download a badge for your blog or website. Also, check out ASAE’s meeting newsfeed page (the Hub) and its mobile version. Bookmark that. Check out the iPhone store for the FollowMe ASAE app. I have heard rumors of a Blackberry one coming but not sure if that’s expected before the meeting.

If you’re not already subscribed to ASAE’s blog Acronym, make sure you do. You can subscribe to an email or RSS feed for your Google Reader.

If you’re on Twitter, set up a search column in your Tweetdeck, Hootsuite or application of your choosing for #asae10 – the hashtag for the meeting. If you’re not on Twitter, you’re missing out on many professional development, networking and relationship building and reputation management benefits. Learn how to set up an account and create your profile.

On LinkedIn, let others know you’ll be attending by RSVPing for the ASAE Annual Meeting event.

Twitter hug? (flickr photo by CarbonNYC)

Make sure your online profiles (website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter, LinkedIn and any others) are up-to-date.

Save the attendee list to the computer you are bringing to the meeting. Review the list to see if anyone you know is attending. Check for those from your state. Is your SAE having a reception? If not, see if you can arrange an informal meet-up.

Your Schedule

Make a tentative schedule of social events and educational sessions you’d like to attend. I’m selecting my top three sessions for each time slot and noting the reasons why I want to go, so when I’m on site, I don’t forget and attend something else less meaningful and valuable. If I have time, I plan to check some of the handouts. I’d also like to have time to check out some of the speakers’ social media presence to see if they have blogs, SlideShare presentations or active Twitter accounts. Their online content might give me the information I need to make a decision between sessions.

Review the list of exhibitors and note the ones to visit. You can also make appointments to talk to them in the Business Connection Lounge.

Finally, see if anyone else is arriving at LAX the same time as you and arrange to meet up and share a cab. So, is anyone arriving at LAX around 4:30pm on Saturday? Contact me by email (deirdre.reid.nc at gmail.com) or Twitter if you are and we can exchange phone numbers and hope the sky gods grant us on-time arrivals.

The Packing List

You’re on your own with the clothing, accessories and all that, but here are a few items to add to your list.

  • Your laptop, netbook or (suppressing envy) your iPad.
  • Lots of business cards – do they include your social media profiles?
  • Cell phone charger and computer power cord
  • An extension cord and power strip in case you’re far from a plug and running out of juice
  • Good reading for the possibly long flights and layovers
  • Journal or notebook to capture all your brilliant ideas when you don’t want to pull out your laptop

Do you have any tips, ideas or items for the to-do and packing lists that you can share with us?

I’m taking a brief break from my Twitter Basics series to get ready for the American Society of Association Executives Annual Meeting & Exposition (aka #asae10 on Twitter). I fly to Los Angeles on Saturday and return to Raleigh on Wednesday, my birthday. I’ll celebrate by reflecting on good times and great knowledge, treating myself to good airport fare (ha!) and a good book. Next up on the reading list is Heat by Bill Buford, his tale of three years going from “kitchen bitch” to line cook in Mario Batali’s restaurant. It’s been unread in my bookcase since its publication and since I spent over a year as a “pastry wench” in a professional kitchen, I’m sure to identify with some of his experiences.

Today, I’m going to share some good posts by other bloggers about #asae10. In posts later this week, I’ll share preparation tips for #asae10 and resources to help you eat and drink well while in LA.

But before I do that, a time sensitive task: take a look at your business cards. Are they up to date? Do they include your social media profiles – personal blog or website, twitter username and LinkedIn profile? If not, order some new ones today that include your regular professional contact info but also your personal social info as well. Zazzle has quick turnaround on business cards if you pay for overnight or two-day shipping.

Now for good reading — Maddie Grant starts her Socialfish post with a Twitter fountain – love that! She lets us know what she, Lindy Dreyer and the rest of the Socialfish gang will be up to during the meeting – a full schedule of many events that I’ll be attending as well. Check it out for ideas.

Bruce Hammond tells us the Three Things (He’s) Looking Forward to at the ASAE Annual Meeting – collaboration, community and content. I love that he talks about community – this is a meeting to strengthen bonds with friends you know and to meet others who will go from being strangers to acquaintances to friends. Long live the Twitter hug!

ASAE’s Acronym blog is publishing a series of posts from members that focus on “3 Things” about the conference. Here’s one published today by Marc Mestdagh from Belgium, land of amazing beer and art nouveau!

Elizabeth Engel has written several quick reads about the meeting that you can reference by clicking on her tag “ASAE Annual Meeting.” I also love the fact that she throws around the term “geek” so readily. Hello, my name is Deirdre and I’m an association and social media geek. No intervention required.

flickr photo by lhourahane

Jeff De Cagna tells us about his sessions at the meeting, always good brain food, including a special informal salon about business model innovation scheduled for Tuesday.

Teri Carden shares her excitement about her first ASAE Annual. I can vouch that the excitement continues to increase even when it’s your second time. One of the things she looks forward to is meeting Twitter colleagues. Me too, Teri!

Kiki L’Italien remembers her experiences as a first-time attendee and council member (what an entrance!) and encourages us to follow her lead and get involved as an ASAE volunteer. Great idea! She’ll also be doing a live SweetSpot broadcast from #asae10 on Monday at 12:30 (Pacific time) in the Engagement Lounge.

Mark Bledsoe tells us why he loves fully immersing himself into the association geekfest of #asae10, particularly since he really missed going last year. We all want the professional development, but it’s the people and relationships that keep us coming back.

I’m sure there will be many, like me, who will continue to write this week about their preparations and thoughts for the conference. If you’re one of them, please share a brief blurb and link to your post in the Comments. Thanks!

————————————-

UPDATE:

Of course there will be updates! Eventually I’ll stop but here are some additional posts from bloggers attending #asae10 that were published after I wrote this.

Mickie Rops shares some of what she’ll be doing. If you want to learn more about credentialing and certification, she is the one to follow.

Jamie Notter will be “pushing the envelope” at #asae10, what we gratefully expect from him.

Shannon Otto of MemberClicks shares what they will be up to during the show when they’re not in Booth 332.

Maggie McGary, although not attending #asae10 (unfortunately!), shows how social media makes a positive impact on association membership and community.

———–

Update: Part 2 – Getting Ready for #ASAE10: the Do and Bring List

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In my preparation for attending the American Society of Association Executive’s conference in Toronto, I’ve discovered a lot of handy web sites.

Main conference site

Toronto Metro Convention Centre – 255 Front Street West (Union subway)

The Hub browser version and The Hub mobile version – ASAE describes The Hub as “designed for any mobile device and can also be accessed by a computer’s web browser. The new platform aggregates our existing social web tools into one convenient place you can access anywhere. The Hub pulls content from Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, SlideShare, the Daily Now, and our Engage Your Career Video Blog. You can use the Hub to microblog your thoughts and take-aways from education sessions. The web version also has a notes wiki for taking notes to share with your fellow attendees and your colleagues back at the office.”

Twitter roll for ASAE09

Blog roll for ASAE09

Education session handouts and conference attendee list (excel and pdf)

Association Jam’s resource list

Toronto weather and Celsius to Fahrenheit converter

Canadian dollar to American dollar currency converter

Kilometers to miles converter

All kinds of Canadian trivia

Restaurants and bars that have great beer lists (my preferences in bold font):

  • The Pub at The Strathcona Hotel (where I’m staying) – 60 York St (off Front, .3 miles from the convention center)
  • The Loose Moose Bar & Grill – 146 Front St West (.2 miles) Not for the beer but the proximity.
  • Smoke’s Poutinerie – 218 Adelaide St (off Simcoe, .4 miles) Must try poutine before leaving Toronto!
  • Smokeless Joe – 125 John St (at Adelaide, .4 miles) closed Sundays
  • The Keg Steakhouse & Bar (chain) – 165 York St (off Adelaide, .6 miles)
  • Beer Bistro – 18 King St East (at Yonge, .8 miles)
  • Esplanade Bier Markt – 58 The Esplanade (near Yonge & Front, 1.1 miles)
  • C’est What – 67 Front St East (at Church, 1.2 miles)
  • Cafe Volo – 587 Yonge St (1.9 miles) closed Sundays
  • Orbit Room – 580 College St (2.1 miles) Not a beer bar, but I was told that on some Saturday nights you might get to see co-owner and Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson sit in with the house band, The Dexters.

Breweries

  • Steamwhistle Brewing – 255 Bremner Blvd (.7 miles) Tours Mon-Sat every 30 minutes beginning at 1pm, last tour at 5pm. Tours Sun every 30 minutes beginning at 1pm, last tour at 4pm.
  • Mill Street Brewery (and restaurant) – 55 Mill St (1.5 miles)
  • Granite Brewery (and restaurant) – 245 Eglinton Avenue East (5.3 miles)

Bar Towel’s pub walks

Chowhound forum on Toronto dining

Hockey Hall of Fame – 30 Yonge St (.6 miles)

Toronto public transit

The Globe & Mail (Toronto newspaper)

What other resources have you found? Please share them in the comments and I’ll add them to the list.

I’ve made my to-do list to prepare for the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) Annual Meeting & Exposition in Toronto starting this weekend, and decided to share it with all of you. I did many of these things long ago, but wanted to give you some ideas about what to do before leaving for ASAE09.

Laptop – Download Tweetdeck. Create search column for #asae09 (official Twitter hashtag). Follow association tweeps who are also attending.

Blackberry – Download UberTwitter. Create bookmark for ASAE’s Hub and authorize my Twitter account on the My Contributions page.

ASAE resources

  • Add myself to the Twitter and Bloggers page in the Engage section. Add the ASAE badge to my blog.
  • Send my blog feed URL to Scott Briscoe at ASAE. I’ll be tagging any conference blog posts with ASAE09 so they’ll show up in the Hub’s Newsfeed.
  • Save the attendee list to my laptop. Search for those attending from North Carolina as I’m new to the state and want to meet my fellow NC attendees. Upload to Gmail and then Twitter so I can follow them.
  • Review handouts for sessions – this helps me make some decisions on which to attend. Save and print the ones that interest me. What do I want to learn about or explore?

Schedule

  • Enter my “must do” events into my Blackberry Calendar.
  • Create a Word doc of “must do” and possible events for my binder.
  • Think about issues and questions related to sessions I might attend.
  • Create list of booths that I definitely want to visit.

LinkedIn – Add travel dates using TripIt app. Update status while I’m there.

Research and find a few nearby brewpubs (or places with local beer), coffee shops and moderately-priced restaurants.

Call Verizon to activate my SIMS card, Global Data Feature and Nationwide+Canada for the time I’m in Canada – will cost less than $10 for this temporary addition to my regular plan. Will call *228 (option 2) before leaving the US on Saturday morning.

Call my bank and credit card company to notify them that I’ll be in Toronto so they won’t deny any debit or credit card transactions originating there. Stop my mail using the USPS web site.

Back up my laptop C drive to my external hard drive.

Items on my packing list

  • Laptop and cable, extension cord, power strip, Ethernet cable (just in case)
  • Blackberry and charger
  • Business cards
  • Binder with program guide, conference badge/express check-in doc, travel docs (itinerary, flight boarding pass and coach e-ticket, Southwest schedule between Buffalo and Raleigh/phone number, Coach Canada schedule between Toronto and Buffalo/phone number), miscellaneous docs, my schedule
  • Passport

Figure out my transportation options from Coach Canada terminal to hotel. Print out my Southwest boarding pass 24 hours ahead. Weigh my bag so I avoid any fees for excess weight.

This short period of time will bring many opportunities to connect with old friends, meet online friends in real life and make new friends. It’s a time to learn together and share crazy ideas, thoughts and challenges. It’s a time to be a sponge and absorb as much as you can from both the sessions and social gatherings. Get into conference mode as soon as you start traveling there – you may meet some fellow attendees on the way!

And remember, wear comfortable shoes, try to eat somewhat healthy, talk to strangers, don’t drink too much and get a decent amount of sleep each night. Oh, and have fun!

What did I miss? Please let me know in the comments. What are you doing this week to prepare for ASAE09? Let’s help each other make this the best experience possible.

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