It’s conference season and there is nothing like being in a room full of like-minded people who are willing to take time away from the office to learn something new. Although conferences can feel like a field trip away from the office, it’s important that you leave with more than a great hotel stay and some free swag.Leave your next #conference with more than just swag! Get the most from events with these tips: Click To Tweet
85% of business owners say they build stronger, more meaningful business relationships during in-person business meetings and conferences.
The real value of attending a conference are the people you meet and the networks you develop. Social Media can provide the perfect platform for you to stand out from the crowd at a conference and help you get the most out of it.
PREP PREP PREP!
Before attending a conference you must prep! Pre-work makes all the difference, so when you arrive people already know who you are.
Most events have a hashtag that is promoted well in advance. Use that hashtag to start getting active early. Also, don’t be afraid to show your personality and have fun with it. Engage with others using the hashtag, this is a great way to discover who the influencers are and it’s a great ice-breaker for when you meet them in real life at the event. Often there will be Twitter Lists of speakers, and following these lists is a great way to connect with others prior to the conference. There may also be an event page, app or Slack channel to follow. Be active and introduce yourself without going into your full sales pitch.
Your to-do list:
- Bookmark the conference page.
- Learn the hashtag.
- Find a twitter list of speakers or make your own.
- Write a “Why I’m Attending” post.
- Locate any online discussion groups or facebook forums.
- Find articles you’ or your company has written about popular topics.
- Plan your schedule and let your followers know which sessions you’re attending.
Schedule time to meet after engaging in conversations prior to the event, organize a time to meet up at the conference with your targeted connections. Don’t assume you will run into them, these conferences can be crowded and fast-paced. Break out of your comfort zone and ask someone to grab coffee, lunch or cocktails with you. Even better, set up a group outing before or after a conference to continue to network and build connections.
Be Engaged Online and Offline
Use every minute wisely. Don’t forget to have an active presence online. Use hashtags, retweets, and tags to the fullest. Don’t be afraid to be overactive online, however, turn those hashtags into handshakes and make lasting impressions in person. Try:
- Taking pictures of the expo floor. Vendors love this! Especially if you tag them and learn more about their products or services.
- Asking the speakers a quick question after their session and post it on social.
- Grab pictures of slides with stats and infographics to post later.
- Get to know your seatmate in every session.
- Strike up a chat while you wait in line for coffee or lunch.
- ALWAYS attend the social hours associated with the conference.
- Create an Evernote document of your notes so you can write a wrap-up post.
- Ask other attendees for their reaction to a speaker or keynote.
Sit at the Front of the Room
This allows you to take better photos which increase the chance of your photos getting shared. With all the awesome pictures you’re taking, you can use the app Ripl to create animated videos or add quotes and logos to an image. Also, it increases your chances of getting selected to participate in presentations.
You have the opportunity to go live, before, after or during breaks at an event. Most people don’t do this, which means it’s another opportunity for you to stand-out. Be sure to take a ton of pictures, there will be plenty of opportunities to take pictures of speakers, people you meet and booths.
Don’t stop after the event, keep the momentum going by connecting online. Figure out which people would be mutually beneficial to maintain regular contact with. If you continue networking it will become easier and easier to stand out from the crowd at future conferences. Create your follow-up plan by:
- Creating an email with the hashtag in the subject line and your message BEFORE you go.
- Collecting business cards (or snapping a photo with Evernote)
- Thanking the organizers and speakers on social.
- Connecting with the folks you met, either on LinkedIn or Twitter…save Facebook for later.
Networking events are an investment in yourself, your company and your career. Don’t waste any time being idle. Stay active before, during and after the event to get the most out of the event.
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