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Attending a Conference – Make the Most of It

Attending events, shows and conferences are important for you and your organization that you are representing.  Make sure that the maximum benefit is gained by you attending.  There is a great deal of preparation work that needs to be done before an event.

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Here are some tips and what to do before an event, during the event and after the event:

What to Do Before an Event

  1. Determine your objectives – Before you get there (and probably need to do to get approval to attend the event) write down your goals for the event.  Your minimum goal, your primary goal and your visionary goal.   And document action items necessary to achieve these goals.
  2. Get there early and stay late – Don’t be rushed at an event.  Great conversations are before the event starts or after it ends.  People are usually more relaxed at this time as they don’t have the pressure of attending certain sessions.  Feel free to contact people that are attending the event.  Make your travel arrangements early so that you are in the appropriate hotel for the event and you are not stressing out about your air arrangements.
  3. Be prepared – Before the event, use the event hashtag (#) on Twitter to find out who is going to the event and what they are talking about.  Follow them.  Feel free to reply back to some of them and strike up a conversation.  See if you can get the Twitter user names of the speakers that you are going to their sessions.  Determine the people you would like to meet at an event including friends and presenters. Get to know them through their blog and watching any YouTube videos they have done.  Do a web search on the event and read any blog posts concerning the event.  Make a list of questions or things you want answered at the event especially after a  speaker finishes their presentation.  At meals is a great time to ask your table mates questions you have.
  4. Pack right – Don’t forget the following: business cards, comfortable shoes, jacket or sweater (session rooms can get cold), spare batteries, necessary chargers (phone, camera, iPad, etc.), memory cards and flash drives
  5. Create a folder in your inbox specifically for the event – This is where you want to keep track of everything from your hotel confirmation, airline ticket information, conference registration and any emails from people who want to connect at the event. This way, you don’t have to search all of your email at the last minute looking for something important.
  6. Plan your path – You’re spending good money (yours or your organization’s) to be there, so take a moment and review the schedule of events. Plan the sessions you will be attending as well as the hospitality events.  Socialize.  Get your money’s worth.  Make sure that you attend a session that does not tie directly to what you do.  Go to something out of your comfort zone.  Try to go to sessions by some of the up and comers in your industry. Plan on attending the sessions that are at the right level for you, and will give you the most useful information.
  7. Know your elevator pitch – It is a good idea to have a concise description of yourself and your organization to share with others.
  8. Update your social media network profiles & blog – People are checking you out before an event just like you are checking them out.  Your social media profiles or blog could be your second impression on people.If you have a blog, make sure your blog is current with new posts. If you know you’re going to be super busy around the time of the conference, just make sure to schedule some awesome content on your blog for the week of and maybe even the week after.
  9. Get your phone and tablet apps ready – Be sure that you have those apps you will need ready to go before the event so you’ll be mobile prepared the moment you get there.
  10. Check out last year’s photos and videos – Not sure the dress or the atmosphere at the event.  Well, last year’s photos and videos are a good place to find out.  Usually on the conference website.

What to Do During the Event

  1. Collect business cards – Write on the back of the card the information that you need in your reply back to them after the show.
  2. Do Social Media – Tweet about the event.  Use the event hashtag. Follow the Twitter posts about the event that use the event hashtag.  Take photos.  Post to Instagram and Facebook.  Do a video.  Post to YouTube.  Gather information for a blog post.
  3. Take great notes – Remember you want to refer back to them in your write up and for your lunch and learn session.
  4. Have fun – be social and network with others.

What to Do After the Event

  1. Update database – Get the business card information into your database (such as your CRM system) as soon as possible.
  2. Document – Write up your notes and action items from the event.
  3. Communicate – Send thank you notes to those that you met and the organizers. Send an email to the individuals whose cards you took with the promised information.
  4. Do photos, videos & blog posts – Upload your photos and tag them on Facebook and Instagram.  Get those videos edited and posted.  Write that blog post about the event and post.
  5. Monitor – Follow the Twitter posts that occur after the event is over.  There might be some blog posts written about the event of items you missed at the conference.
  6. Educate – Hold a lunch and learn to your department regarding the event to share your knowledge.

Hope the above was helpful.  Get the most out of your attendance at your next conference or event.  Let me know via comments if you have other tips and tricks on making your conference attendance more beneficial.

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