Sure, you can just go to a conference and hope for the best. Or you can take a proactive role in your business and personal growth by following these basic steps.
Examples are included so you have zero excuses not to sponge up all of the info and connections the conference has to deliver. Get to it!
Rule #1: Go in with a plan.
Choose wisely. Know exactly what it is you want to accomplish and learn from each conference you attend—heck, write down your goals! Give yourself measurable guidelines to help you stay on track. For example…
- Hand out 25 business cards
- Collect 25 email addresses
- Add 25 Twitter or LinkedIn followers
- Find 10 promising business leads
- Find 1 viable investor
- Learn X specific detail about running an email marketing campaign (or what you will)
Rule #2: Connect online.
Know all of the online resources available to you about the conference and make them your own. Seek out info on presenters and attendees. Connect with them on social media. Do your homework and know people and companies before you arrive. It gives you more talking points and will keep you more engaged.
- Most conferences have a related hashtag. Search for it to discover other attendees.
- Some conferences like SXSW have their own social platforms. Don’t miss these exclusive opportunities to connect.
Rule #3: Announce your attendance.
Let everyone know you’re attending. It’s not a secret. Use Twitter Polls to ask your customers what they’d like to learn if they were going to the conference or embed a free survey on your website. Be your audience’s advocate. Use this info to create content and build hype around your attendance.
Rule #4: Give your social media an once-over.
Since you’re going to be promoting the heck out of this conference, please be sure that your website and social media pages and settings are as up to date as possible–especially LinkedIn & Twitter.
Rule #5: Mix and mingle.
Don’t go to a conference only to bury your face in the metaphorical sand that is your phone or laptop. Be mindful, be active, be present. Unless your goals (see Rule #1) include “stare at screen,” you’re likely there to meet real humans, so do it!
Rule #6: Bring some branded swag.
Make a splash by bringing fun stuff to give to people. A little company swag goes a long way. Don’t forget to add your business URL to all promo items! Branded pens, stickers, t-shirts, water bottles, and notebooks are all non-intrusive, easy-to-carry items any conference-goer could use.
Rule #7: Offer an exclusive discount to conference attendees.
Have an exclusive signup form ready to go on your website that offers other conference attendees (potential customers/referrers/investors) a discount code in exchange for their email address.
Don’t Forget These Tools In Your Conference Arsenal
Bring these clutch tools with you for even greater conference success!
Business Cards: These are a no-brainer. You have to have them. Your task is to make sure they have relevant & updated information. And for the love of all things holy, make sure you have a business email address! firstname.lastname@example.org does not cut it.
(To get your own business email, you’ll need your own website. Visit HostGator.com for a great deal and jumpstart your online brand!)
- Check Vistaprint for some great deals. Pay a few more bucks for glossy finishes or funky shapes that stand out.
- Time-saving tip: Vistaprint can take your business card brand logo and throw it on to additional swag items (see Rule #5).
Evernote: The free version of Evernote is like having a circa-1990 Trapper Keeper (and we mean this as a compliment) in your pocket. Take notes, add images, make to-do lists, record audio and stay organized with an intricate tagging system plus as many folders as you’d like.
Okay, you’re good to go!
Have any more suggestions for greater conference success? Hit the comments and let us know. We’re always listening…
Henry Green is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas who helps small businesses and entrepreneurs improve their online presence through marketing, social media, and website optimization.