4 Things To Help You Get The Most Out of the Next Conference You Attend

Conference tipsConference Tips: It’s all about being relevant

I imagine that some marketing bloggers go to big conferences just to cover the event and to have content for their blog. That seems like a good idea, but then you’re working the whole time with no time for fun. Boo! I actually did a few video interviews and have some great content to share with you later this month from SXSW. But that’s just the point I want to make. If you didn’t attend SXSW then you probably could have cared less about what was going on there. But a good blogger will make it relevant to your business or to you in some way.

Relevancy is what makes the world go round. You meetup with people at conferences and get demos of software and attend sessions if you think it’s relevant to your business. If it’s not relevant to you then your time could be better spent elsewhere.

Regardless of the conference, there are 4 key things you should do to get the most out of the experience and make it a valuable use of your time.

  1. Pre-Network.
    See who is going to be there that you might want to meet up with and make it a point to try and meet that person. Most conference sites list their attendees or their speakers and these are relationships that could move your business forward. Also, if someone reaches out to you and asks to meet up at a conference, say yes if you have the time. You never know where that will lead to.
  2. Be comfortable.
    I go to conferences and I see so many people dressed uncomfortably. No one cares that you’re in sneakers. No one cares that you are not wearing a suit or a dress. Now, should you show up in your yoga pants? Probably not. After all, you do want to maintain some level of professionalism. But wearing jeans and comfortable shoes is totally acceptable. Think of it like this: if someone doesn’t want to do business with you because you are wearing comfortable shoes, then maybe they’re not the right fit for your business. At SXSW, I brought one pair of shoes and one pair of sneakers. My feet hurt still after wearing sneakers for 3 days. So it’s all about comfort.
  3. Let go of the schedule.
    Of course, it’s easy to stick to a schedule for conferences that have one track. But for conferences that have many tracks, it’s easy to schedule yourself to death, but try not to over do it. If you’re going to miss a session because you are networking with someone, let it happen. Chances are you’ll get more out of the face-to-face interaction than you will out of the session. Besides, someone will probably blog about it in a few days anyway.
  4. Take notes. 
    Of course you should take notes on what you are learning. But you should also take notes on when you meet people. Half the time we meet people, collect a zillion business cards, only to get home and not remember who they were. You can use an app like CardMunch to connect to them immediately, but you still may not see that specificity about them that drew you to them and made you want to connect in the first place.

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Will you be at BlogHer ’13 in Chicago? If so, tweet me.

What are some tips you have for helping you get the most of out of a conference?

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About Tracy Sestili

Tracy Sestili is CEO and Chief blogger at Social Strand Media. She is also the author of Taking Your Brand from the Bench to the Playing Field -- Social Media Fundamentals for Business.