This post is based on a training session that we regularly hold internally at the Webrepublic. Since we have received very positive feedback, I thought it might make sense to expand the piece and share it with the community.
So, here we go:
How to attend an Online Marketing Conference and get the best out of it. (tweet this!)
In our industry, travelling and attending a variety of conferences pays off big time. You get to meet great people, join unexpected conversations, learn from other industry experts and generate leads. Also, sharing your ideas and insights will help others to be more successful. Great stuff happens at conferences and they can be triggers for both professional and personal growth - for you, but also for your team.
We strongly believe that it is a great privilege to travel the world and meet with your peers at such exciting cities as London, Miami, Hamburg, New York, Berlin, Vienna... But with great travel comes great responsibility: Be sure to make the best out of your time and money and create the biggest impact possible for your future career as a member of the Online Marketing community.
- Do the research
The successful trip starts at home, long before you grab your first conference-coffee and take your seat in the audience: Make sure to carefully read the program and find your favorite speakers and topics in advance. Find the conference's official hashtag and follow the speakers - this will make it so much easier to tweet from the sessions and add to the conversation.
- Choose your weapons wisely
Are you pixel or paper? Don't choose your favorite form to take notes based on what you think your peers will think about you, but what works best for you. Don't write complete summaries of every session (there are usually live bloggers for this), but make sure to note your thoughts and the most important statements/quotes. As for Twitter: We strongly recommend to use an advanced client such as TweetDeck (also available as Chrome App) or hootsuite to keep track of all the tweets around the conference, to manage multiple accounts and to check the interactions with your personal account. Also make sure to power-up all your tools and extend battery life by dimming your screen.
- Benchmark yourself
Are your online marketing skills any good? This is your zero moment of truth: Benchmark yourself against the industry, find your weak spots and work on them. You'll also find out what your strenghts are - make sure your clients know them too!
Sure, you paid for the ticket, getting there was tiresome and now you deserve to lean back and enjoy the show. Wrong idea, buddy: If you want to stand out from the crowd, find out how you can contribute to the event, share your insights, collect the best quotes (storify them!). Use all your online skills to add an extra layer of useful information to this event. Your effort will be rewarded - and networking will be so much easier, because everybody already knows you.
- Be fast (be very fast)
Tweet great quotes before anybody else has the chance - people at the conference and at home will retweet you and your network will grow! (Hint: You get extra-points for not just tweeting quotes, but adding extra thoughts and providing further insights!)
Leave multitasking to your computer. If the session is super-awesome, chances are you will get more out of it by listening very closely than tweeting your battery power away.
- Talk to the right people
Chances are, you already know some other attendees - through business or through twitter. This is a great chance to meet people in person that you only know online (feels like dating, kind of is!). If you don't know anyone, here is one great way to identify interesting and well connected people:
"Pick a random person in the crowd, and ask her (or him) if she knows anyone at this meetup. When she points at someone, go talk to that person instead. Probability works in your favor, this randomly picked friend is likely to have above average number of friends, a highly connected individual."(make sure to read the full Quora-Post on Power Networking to find out more about the theory behind this!)
- Stay for the party...
Things tend to get more relaxed in the evening. More secrets are shared, more stories told with a cold beer in hand.
- ...but don't get (too) drunk
That picture of you passing out next to the pool? Not that cool. After all it's not college anymore, but a business trip. Make sure to represent your company with style!
- Think positive
There is no such thing as a conference without a take-away - even if all the speakers suck, you still had a chance to benchmark yourself against the market, and obviously you know your stuff (...or picked the wrong conference after all)
- Connect the dots - and share it
What were the underlying topics of the event that nobody really talked about directly, but are SO obvious to you now? Spell it out, blog about it - and share it with the attendees. Write a recap post. Hold a recap presentation with your team at home - tell them what you have learned and how it will make your company better! Again: Don't overengineer - focus on your key take-aways and how they affect your business and what you want to change for the good.
So, that's it - now you're ready and prepared for your next conference adventure. Enjoy the ride! I look forward to meeting you at the next SESDMEXCONEXTBERLINSMXANALYTICSALLFACEBOOKCONF !
And now it's your turn, Conference Seniors: What are your tips? Sharing sure is caring!