1. BUSINESS CARDS. You'll meet scores of people all week, many just once. Whether you bump into someone poolside or at a club at 3 a.m., exchanging business cards is a must. Giving someone your card is often the easiest way to become part of his or her database.
Cards don't need to be fancy: your name, company affiliation (or job description if you're self-employed), snail and email addresses, and phone number are the priorities. If you still need to order cards, it's not too late. Visit VistaPrint and, if you're really crunched for time, have them shipped to your hotel.
You should also have something to store cards you collect from others. A small notepad and pen are a smart investment, too-you never know when they'll come in handy (and they're useful in keeping a list of the parties you want to hit each day).
2. CASH. You'll be on the go, and navigating the streets of South Beach on your Amex alone isn't going to cut it. Taxi fare is a given-the Wyndham Miami Beach Resort, site of the WMC panels and seminars, is way more than a walk from the bustling nighttime club scene.
Don't forget money for food, drinks, tips (even at parties with open bar) and whatever you "have to have" at 5 a.m. Many clubs will be packed, and paying cash instead of credit is much less of a hassle. Bring cash for cover charges as well, even if you're "certain" you're on the guestlist. The promise of your name being left at the door, and even free passes you walk up with in hand, don't always translate into an automatic entrance.
The best strategy: set a daily budget and take that much cash with you when you start your day-exorbitant ATM charges add up quickly.
3. CELL PHONE AND CHARGER. Coordinating with your posse among the chaos of WMC is not always as easy as it should be, and any number of snafus-people being held in lines outside clubs, missed appointments, etc.-will keep you on your toes. Communicating via cell phone and charging your battery often are vital to keeping the pace.
4. SAMPLES. No matter how you're involved in the creative process, WMC is some of the best exposure your product can get. If you're an artist, producer/remixer or label representative, promo copies of your work can create instant buzz. Format diversity always helps-vinyl purists will always clamor for exclusive 12" but most people now accept (and many prefer receiving) CDs. CD-Rs (burned CDs) are inexpensive and easy to tote around. DJs on the hunt for club bookings should come armed with a demo mix on CD as well. The graphics don't have to be pretty, but make sure your contact information (name, phone number, email address and, if you have one, Web site address) is included on the CD/12" or sleeve.
5. PATIENCE. WMC is a whirlwind, and certain people and events are in high demand. Everyone's in town to have a good time, but most are trying to do business as well. Professionalism is paramount, i.e. not intruding on a conversation because you see someone you'd like to meet. Wait until it's wrapped, introduce yourself briefly, and pass your card along.
You'll also need patience at the parties. Be prepared to wait in line somewhere along the way, and determine your maximum wait time beforehand. Have a backup event to segue to if you become a victim of gridlock or a capacity crowd.
6. BATTERIES. Your camera and portable music devices will be used extensively during the week, and chances are you'll need to replace your batteries at some point. Hotel gift shops and convenience stores may run low or charge you the cost of a night's bar tab, so it's a good idea to stock up at Target, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, etc. before you leave home.
7. SUNSCREEN. The forecast is for sunny skies and low '80s temperatures all week, and whether chilling poolside at the Wyndham, hopping from barbeque to barbeque, or strolling Ocean Drive during some downtime, being prepared for tropical-intensity UV rays is a necessity. Take sunscreen with you wherever you go-you may not be able to get back to the hotel in time to reapply when you need.