Attending conferences and tradeshows is without a doubt one of the best ways you can stay educated, motivated and inspired throughout the year. You’ll learn about hot new industry trends, meet a ton of suppliers, make great new connections and have a whole heap of fun along the way.
If you’re new to event management or haven’t had a chance to attend many events, word of warning, the programs are jam-packed and it is completely normal to find yourself feeling totally overwhelmed. To eliminate your stress, follow these simple tips and before you know it, you’ll be conferencing like an industry pro!
Pre-build your schedule: Preparation is key! Prior to traveling to the conference, review the agenda and carefully select all of the sessions you’d like to attend. Don’t miss a beat by scheduling all of the sessions, keynotes, social functions, and anything else you plan to attend into your calendar.
It’s a date: Is there an industry guru, prospect or customer you’ve been wanting to connect with? Conferences are the perfect place to make it happen. Keep track of speakers and sponsors via the event website, peers via commentary on social media and the mobile app and don’t discount your own network. Post a call-out using the event hashtag and see who reaches out to you.
Business cards: Pack plenty! You are about to meet lots of great new contacts. Be sure to have ample cards on hand so you can exchange details with every single one of them.
Shoes: Over a multi-day show, you will walk miles (and miles) so it’s definitely not the time to break in a new pair of shoes. Adopt my ‘multi-shoe’ strategy to ensure your feet are always at different angles. This will give them a little more staying power as you race between sessions, make your way around the trade show floor and dance the night away at a social event. Don’t forget gel cushions, band-aids, and deep heat – you’ll thank me later!
Emergency kit: While they are so much fun, conferences can also be grueling so it’s important to look after yourself. Include the following items in your luggage and be sure to take advantage of any downtime: Emergen-C, lip gloss, moisturizer, hair spray, mints, small snacks, elastic bands, bobby pins, safety pins, Advil, band-aids, deep heat, tissues, dental floss, krazy glue, hand sanitizer, a Tide to go stain remover pen and a bottle of water.
Set your Out of Office: Let’s be real, you’ll probably be checking your email during the conference but even if you are, buy yourself a little time and pop on your OOO.
Badge collection and site orientation: If registration is open, avoid long lines by collecting your badge the day prior to the conference. While you’re onsite, familiarize yourself with the venue so you know exactly where you’ve got to go for the opening keynote, exhibition, and your sessions.
Snap!: My general rule of thumb: If anything makes you double take, capture it! An image gallery is a great source of inspiration for your next event and a super simple way to sell an idea to your boss or client.
Put your stamp on it: Live tweets, session summaries, images and daily wrap-ups are just a few of the ways you can share your experience and amplify your personal brand. Keep the conversation going with flashbacks and highlights and make sure you use the event and relevant industry hashtags.
Strike while the irons hot: Conferences are an absolute information overload so whether you’re writing on the back of a card or digitally capturing it, taking good notes is imperative. Use those notes to send personalized follow-ups and LinkedIn requests within a couple of days of the event. Don’t forget to transfer all of the information captured into your CRM so you’ve got a record of your interaction.
Do you have any tips I’ve missed? Help me keep the conversation going by popping them in the comments section below.