Last year, I attended my first ever marketing conference. It had always been something I wanted to do, but I never quite found the time. Beforehand, I thought a lot about how to get the most out of attending conferences.
Luckily for me, this particular event took place in my hometown, Manchester in the UK, so I couldn’t pass it up! And I’m glad I didn’t.
There’s no denying the power of live events, aside from the awesome content, it’s an incredibly easy way to meet like-minded people who have similar goals and aspirations to you.
So, I’ve put together a list of top tips that I have taken away from attending this event in the hopes that it will help you too.
Make connections before attending conferences
Let’s face it; it’s never easy to start a conversation with a complete stranger, which is why it’s a good idea to connect with your fellow attendees before you attend the event.
It’s so much easier to start a conversation with someone if you know something personal about them. Even a small fact or a private joke will help break the ice enough to put you at ease.
With any luck, the event organisers will have created a forum or Facebook group where you can get to know the other attendees and speakers. I advise you to make the most of this.
Make a commitment there and then to follow up (set a date and time)
Let’s just say, you’re speaking to someone at the event, and it’s going great. The conversation is flowing, and you both know you’ll benefit from working together. Most of the time you’ll just exchange business cards and add it to the pile in your pocket.
If you’re both keen on arranging a meet-up or telephone call, why not arrange it there and then? It’s much better to make a commitment and set a date and time right away while it’s still fresh in your mind.
Make the most of the Q&A sessions
The easiest way to get attention at a conference (without doing anything stupid, of course) is to ask questions during the Q&A sessions.
Occasionally if the speaker finishes their presentation early, they’ll open up for Q&A. This is a great opportunity for you to take to the floor and attract attention for a minute or two.
Bare in mind that this is a Q&A and not a business pitch so you’ll have to be careful what you say. Here’s an example of what type of question you might want to ask.
“Hi, my name’s Martin, I really liked what you said about Blank. I’ve struggled with that for years so thank you for clarifying it.
My question is this; I run a web design business where I help entrepreneurs build a better online presence and get more leads.
How can I implement your [insert word as appropriate] strategy when I only work with a particular group of people in a certain niche?”
This type of question has three important factors.
- An actual question – you’d be surprised by how many people stand up to ask a question but end up just talking AT the speaker without asking an actual question.
- Respect – It shows that you’ve got value from their information because you referenced it and said that it helped.
- An explanation of who you are and what you help people do.
If you ask questions like this, then two things will happen. The speaker will respect you because you took the time say thank you and by giving them more information about your business they can easily answer your question.
The second thing is that you are making everyone else in the room aware of who you are and what you help people to achieve.
This can only be a good thing, when I asked a question like this, I had another attendee seek me out after the presentation to ask for a business card.
Make the most of the full event. Don’t get comfortable.
Most conferences and events are spread over the course of a few days and with travel and accommodation they certainly aren’t cheap. This is why you want to make sure you get the most out of the FULL event.
My biggest mistake was not speaking to more people. Although the first day was great and the energy in the room was incredible, the following days are usually more relaxed.
As you get comfortable with certain people, you tend to take things slower and have longer conversations. This makes it difficult to speak with more people.
You may also notice that new people join you for the second or third days of the event. This can be daunting as they have to integrate with a group who already know each other. Make them feel welcome.
In short, make an effort to speak to as many people as you can for the full event.
Stay active and arrange meet-ups
If you’re anything like me, after the event, you will be completely pumped, you’ll have loads of new ideas and be eager to get started on them.
But don’t forget about all the great people you’ve met!
There will be people you speak to at the event that you then forget about afterward. This isn’t personal. It’s just there’s a lot of people to talk to and very little time to talk to them. So, you might have a great conversation with someone but forget to exchange business cards.
My advice is to make a list of all the people you met at the event – try to do this straight away, so you don’t forget and make notes to remind you of small details for later.
After that, make sure you look up their details, use Google if you have to, and drop them a quick email. Explain it was nice to meet them, and you hope to see them again in the future. You never know where it might get you.
Join or Start a mastermind
Many successful business owners and entrepreneurs owe their success to a mastermind group. You can use the event to find people who will help move your business forward. You’re already spending time connecting with these people so keep an eye out for anyone who you think would be a good edition to your mastermind group.
Since attending the event, I’ve joined a mastermind group with some of my fellow attendees, and I couldn’t be happier. Whether they know it or not, they have been incremental in helping me to grow my business.
So there you have it, 6 top tips when attending events. If you have any tips to add then, please share them in the comments below.
Martin Huntbach – Digital Marketing Specialist
Martin runs numerous online & offline businesses including Jammy Digital, a Digital Marketing Agency in Manchester, UK. Mr. Huntbach also teaches small to medium-sized businesses how to improve their online presence via an online training program & live in-person workshops. He is a registered contributor to the Huffington Post where he shares his knowledge on running a business and entrepreneurship. His blog offers helpful resources that you can find here The Online Masterclass.
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