Each year I speak at a couple internet marketing conferences like HeroConf Los Angeles, Pubcon, SMX West, etc. These conferences span multiple days and have tracks for topics from PPC to SEO to social media and more. Speakers come from agencies, brands, channels, and tool providers. Attendees are from all over the world. This experience can be both amazing and overwhelming all at once.
Maximizing your conference experience starts long before the conference and ends long after. So here are 5 tips to get more from your experience:
Before The Conference
Plan your schedule beforehand
Conferences publish speakers and topics weeks in advance. Take an hour to look through the agenda and plan which sessions you’ll attend, what vendors you want to visit in the exhibit hall (free swag can be distracting) and what networking events you want to attend. Reschedule work as much as possible so you’re not missing valuable sessions for client calls & emails.
Network before the networking
While conferences provide lots of opportunities for networking during the event, social media makes it possible to start making connections even before you arrive. Look at the sessions you’ll be attending and reach out to speakers with specific questions you hope they’ll answer. If they hadn’t planned on addressing it, they may personally reply. This also helps your in-person networking go more smoothly because you have already had some interaction & it’s not “weird” to talk to them.
Pack & dress appropriately
This isn’t a modesty thing, it’s about preparation. Conference rooms are notoriously cold, so no matter what the weather is outside, you need something to keep you warm. You’re soaking up a ton of information in a short period of time, so bring snacks/caffeine/ibuprofen as necessary to keep yourself on point. Plug-ins can be hard to find & crowded, so consider backup batteries or chargers for your electronics. Wifi is often spotty with so many techies around so a wifi hotspot may be vital to success.
After The Conference
Teach someone else what you learned
This is one of the best ways I’ve come across to crystallize my thinking as well as get new perspective. You can’t teach something you don’t fully understand, so knowing this is coming forces you to take better notes. Getting input from another person can add insights & create that synergy that everyone talks about.
Take the time to thank speakers, attendees, vendors, and organizers for what you gained.
Good luck with your next conference & if I’m there, mention you read this post and say hello!
What are you tips for getting the most out of conferences? Let us know in the comments below!