5 Pointers for Getting the Most from a Conference

Yeah, it’s a list. Judge away.


Why are you going to a conference?

Either you’re interested in learning something new or maybe rubbing elbows with thought leaders. Could be you’re looking for a target-rich environment. Even if TPTB sent you against your will or you just wanted out of the office – whatever your reason for going to a seminar or conference – if you want results, you’ll need to work for it.

someecards.com - Another blogging conference? I'm still hungover from the last one.After enjoying the first ever Solo PR Summit, then lurking SoSlam on Twitter last week, it occurred to me the things I’ve done right – and (many more) wrong – at conferences. Here’s what we can all do better:

  1. Have a plan. There’s no reason to miss a connection or breakout session. Read up on the schedule, the events, the speakers and plan ahead. Tip: Make friends (See: Get Social) to divide the breakouts, so you don’t miss the good stuff.
  2. Be prepared. A pocket full of business cards isn’t enough. You’ll also want your iPad or laptop and smartphone. Think keyboards, power cords, battery backs. Your elevator speech – reword, refine, rehearse – and own it.
  3. Get Social. Even if not a ‘social media’ event, being social will still be part of it.
    • Search speakers, key attendees and see where they are social. It’s not stalking, it’s networking.
    • Reach out and connect on LinkedIn before; follow up after the event.
    • Create a Twitter lists and/or a Google+ circles so you can start following speakers and attendees before the event.
  4. Don’t play the home game. You made the effort, paid the fees, broke out your business casual best to be there in person; it’s not the time to act the wallflower – make it count. Take notes, ask questions, hell.. answer questions, participate, get involved.
  5. Share Smarter. Bookmark, download, save links and slides – to share later. Remember those notes? Use them for your own blog posts, presentations and other rich content that you customize for your organization, your audience. Tweet the event. Bonus list-within-a-list: 3 tips for better live tweeting:
    1. During the event, use the tools. If Tweet Chat is down, try a mix of TweetGrid, HootSuite or even plain old Twitter to follow the hashtag and your lists.
    2. AttributeIf someone is saying something worth sharing, give them their props. I tweeted that during my lurk of SoSlam because there were a lot of good soundbites, but I had no idea who actually said them. Drove me batty.
    3. Engage. Don’t ignore the audience playing along at home. If you’re sharing all these great tweets to your followers and they engage, give them the same courtesy.

Tell me what I missed. What’s the best thing you did to get the most from a seminar or conference?

Want More? Keep Reading.

8 thoughts on “5 Pointers for Getting the Most from a Conference

    1. Heh. Maybe I’ll fire off something on making the most of the dog and pony show someday. 🙂 You’re dead right sir, it’s about objectives; right now being of limited means my objectives are all about contacts – the kind that connect me w/ new blz, new companies, potential employers and clients. So that means fewer ‘social’ events, more on biz. But as an observer, lurker of many … I thought these tips would help, esp. the ‘3 Guidelines for Live Tweeting’. FWIW.

  1. I know you had a blast at the SOLO summit. There are so many good ones, and I really want to attend all. If I had someone to watch kidlet, I’d invest in the time, $ and travel. Yes, it’s the time away that gets me the most. Can’t do a conference w/o iPad and iPhone to shoot Soulati Media On The Street. I had tech glitches, too, this time and that taught me a lesson.

    I am so glad we got to meet last year! It makes it more real to see peeps IRL.
    Jayme Soulati recently posted..The Happy Friday Series: Five Seconds And Happy

    1. Solo was pretty great – b/c so much of the content was usable, actionable, and for me, scalable to small business.

      Would also like to do more – meeting friends is great; but limited time, $$ means future conferences are about career, client building and biting fish. 🙂

  2. The one piece of advice I would add: Don’t hang out with the people you know. It’s not just that some people have to break out of “wallflower” mode — it’s that I see too many people spending all their time at conferences hanging out with their peeps rather than forging new connections.

    BTW, the reason you were disappointed by SoSlam last year is the reason I have not attended. For the most part, I’d rather spend my time (and money) at conferences outside my comfort zone. While SoSlam has always had an insider appeal, that’s not how you get the most out of your conference time. Hmm, maybe that’s my second piece of advice.
    Daria Steigman recently posted..Why Your Business Must Crack the Code on Big Data

    1. Good one Daria, I’ve made that mistake before. At Solo PR I switched tables on the second day for that reason – to sit w/ other people.

      Getting most out of conference time/money, it’s tricky – the expectations; think I was disappointed b/c I expected to learn tons and tons, hear what’s new, discover the how and the tricks; and more face time meeting people (which I realized, unrealistic given the number of attendees). What content was there was quite good, but also not much I couldn’t get on my own. Still enjoyed it and wanted to go again this year to meet/see those speakers; couldn’t justify it after SoloPR when – like you said – I’m better off using that time/money for a more ‘business’ oriented event. FWIW.

  3. I was thinking of you and Gini as I packed for SoSlam. I did NOT take my laptop, depending only on my iPad (had been able to figure out any work stuff that would require the laptop ahead of time). But I still took my Mophie, my mi-fi, and the Belkin thingy you pointed to in one of Gini’s posts (for extra adapters). I think I had more electronic gizmos than clothes. So that was one good thing I did.

    I also got REALLY great one-on-one time (or, at least, small group time) with many people I’d hitherto (when was the last time you saw that used in a comment?!) known only online, or known of. And I was blown away by how down to earth most of the keynotes were. It was one of the best conferences I’ve been to.
    Shonali Burke recently posted..Things I Learned From Erin Feldman

    1. Yeah, my iPad started dying by the end of the day so I learned to bring the chargers. It’s the face time I need to work on for future events, get past my shyness when talking myself ‘up’ Shonali.

      Last year I was quasi-disappointed w/ SoSlam in that I didn’t think what I was hearing was that ‘new’ to me, nothing I don’t read online all the time. IDK like, the content was FAB but I was like “the clients/biz owners are the ones who need this, I’m already ‘sold’ on social and PR.” Anyway I wanted to go to this year – looked like a great program, I suggested it to a number of people – but having just done Solo PR Summit, couldn’t make it happen.

      It’s the connections at these events – that’s what I really enjoy the most. For some I’d known online for years, it’s like a wonderful reunion. Glad you had a good event, maybe next time.

Comments are closed.