My first time attending AfroTech was in 2017, and I was blown away by it. I had never been to a tech conference, and the fact that my introduction to the tech world was amongst my people made it much more special. I likened what I saw to Wakanda from the movie “Black Panther” in an article I wrote for Blavity last year called, “How I Saw Wakanda At AfroTech.”

Fast forward to 2019, and I am preparing to attend my third AfroTech as a member of Team Founder Gym. I have a game plan to maximize the experience — a schedule of the events I want to attend, objectives for what I want to accomplish, and a list of all the dope people I want to meet. Don’t worry! I’m not keeping all these gems to myself. To help you navigate this truly awe-inspiring event, check out my top five pro tips to #LevelUp at AfroTech.

1. Create a Game Plan

There are so many great speakers and events lined up for AfroTech 2019. It can be overwhelming! Take a deep breath and create a plan.

Create a list of the objectives you hope to accomplish during AfroTech.

      • Do you want to get a job?
      • Do you want to meet an investor?
      • Do you want to identify a potential co-founder?

Create a curated schedule for yourself based on your objectives.

      • Download the AfroTech app
      • Review the schedule of events and bookmark the events that you want to attend.
      • If you want to stay organized, add these events to your calendar, so you arrive on time.

2. Know That You Belong

I will admit that I was nervous about attending my first AfroTech. With so many successful and amazing people, I felt intimidated. Before attending, I took the time to meditate and affirm that I deserve to be in the room.

3. Engage During the Events

Don’t just attend the events — be involved. Before AfroTech, practice introducing yourself — full name, title, and company name. If you’re a founder, practice your ten-second company description.

During the Q&A section, at the sessions that you attend, introduce yourself and ask questions. It’s a great opportunity to gain knowledge and pitch yourself to the whole room. Go to happy hours and networking events to meet people. You never know! You might meet your future employer, co-founder, or investor!

4. Have Fun

There are many wonderful parties and events taking place that you should check out. Last year, I got the chance to attend the Toasted Life AfroTech After Party. It had a tremendous atmosphere filled with great vibes and great music. Your experience doesn’t have to be solely about growing in your career or business. We are at the end of 2019, and I know you have been working hard, so don’t make this experience all work and no play (#workhardplayhard).

5. Explore the Bay

Being from Alabama, one of the things I always look forward to during AfroTech is exploring the culture of the Bay Area. One of my favorite places is Souley Vegan, an awesome restaurant located in Oakland. Learn more about Souley Vegan and other Black-owned businesses in Oakland in this great article on Travel Noire. Since AfroTech is taking place in Oakland this year, I hope to explore the historic landmarks associated with the Black Panther Party.