I’ve attended numerous conferences in the past year, and each time I kept thinking about how useful it would have been to have a checklist for attending these things. There’s so much to see, and like you, I want to see it all!
I understand. You’ve seen these checklists before. Most of them are a self-serving, “Download our app and come see my session!” pitch. This one is different.
I’m not a quantum physicist who can prove the ‘two places at once theory’, so how can I help you absorb all the excellent information during a single conference? By narrowing down the most important tips to get the most out of your next event.
And the best part: This will work for any conference, any time of year, no matter the place!
Why Do We Love Conferences So Much?
For marketers like us, attending a conference or workshop is great for the following reasons:
- You learn tons of new, relevant information specific to your position. Whether you’re in the C-Suite or the operations side of the business, there are numerous breakout sessions to attend.
- You’re able to network with industry experts, marketing professions and agencies that can help you achieve your business goals.
- The highly influential keynote speakers are thought leaders in the space and provide key takeaways to bring back to your business.
- Sometimes you’ll get to travel to conferences and experience a new city.
- …and hey, everyone loves free food and swag, right?
For you visual learners out there, we wanted to provide a checklist in the form of an infographic to really drive the point home: These steps are necessary to get the most out of your marketing conference experience, and we have statistics to back it up.
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Let’s dissect each step and explain why we included them in our checklist.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Next Marketing Conference
1. Review the conference agenda before an event
Agendas are typically posted a month in advance which makes preparing easy. Although timeslots may shift until the week before, the information tends to stay the same. If there are multiple sessions you want to attend that overlap, look at the session descriptions to make your decision.
The title should draw you in, but the description should be the determining factor of whether you attend a session. As a speaker, I spend a lot of time writing descriptions about my workshops to accurately depict what you’ll get out of a session, should you choose to attend.
2. Highlight the sessions that you’re attending and map your walking journey
Occasionally, conference rooms are spread apart, and it takes some walking to get to your next workshop. Make sure you’re getting to the rooms with enough time to pick a seat right up front. The ‘splash zone’ is what I like to call it, as people are always so scared of it. The closer you are, the more likely you are to be engaged with the presenter.
Use your agenda (and in some cases, the conference floorplan) to navigate your way from session to session. Take time to plan ahead, and schedule your walking journey. This will ensure that you get to the sessions on time, in the splash zone, and ready to engage with the presenter.
3. Follow speakers on social media
If you’re interested in a specific session or topic during a conference, follow the presenter on social media. Chances are they’ll be ‘live tweeting’ the conference with fun facts, insider information, giveaways and more. Twitter is by far the most popular for conferences, often accompanied with event #hashtags that make it easy to find updates.
LinkedIn is also a great place to engage with other attendees or speakers. LinkedIn groups are often used for asking questions about the event, receiving suggestions on workshops to attend or even connecting with speakers to continue the engagement.
Social media also allows for future networking after the conference. If you attended a session with a speaker who sparked interest, they are likely posting relevant content via social media each week, or updating their followers on upcoming events.
4. Download the event app (if applicable)
In the past year, I’ve noticed that more and more marketing conferences are creating apps to help their attendees navigate through the chaos. The benefits of event apps are easy to see:
- You’ll stay organized with a schedule, floorplan, and notes.
- You receive updates on the fly.
- You can provide feedback or ask questions directly to speakers/keynotes.
- You can rate speakers for future conferences
You (might) receive special discounts, rewards or promotions from sponsors.
5. Ask questions!
For speakers and the audience, questions keep the sessions exciting. I love when someone asks a really great question and it not only challenges myself to think differently, but opens the audience’s mind to new concepts.
At the very least, when asking a question during the conference, you’re getting an answer to a question that others want to know, as well. Questions help continue the conversation and help us grow in this ever-evolving marketing landscape.
Don’t be timid! If you heeded my advice in Step 2, sitting in the ‘splash zone’ will allow for you to be seen and have your questions answered.
6. Engage with speakers after their presentation
If you’re not comfortable asking a question in front of the entire group, feel free to approach the speaker after the session. This is your opportunity to introduce yourself and ask questions about your business that the speaker can weigh in on. Speakers attend conferences to educate. If you feel your question wasn’t answered during a session, reach out.
In addition to chatting after the session, make sure to take down his/her email address as they are usually shared during the presentation. As a speaker myself, I have attendees reach out for questions as they come up after the conference. We’re always happy to help!
7. Take advantage of downloadable assets after the conference
These days, most sessions will come with accompanying slide decks which are typically shared via email post-conference. These are yours to keep. Make sure you access the content and download the workshop slides you liked best.
Downloadable assets are beneficial when sharing your experience with your internal team or trying to convince your boss to buy into a new marketing strategy.
8. Take advantage of networking breaks and cocktail hours (if applicable)
As previously stated, there are many influential and helpful individuals attending marketing conferences. Take the time to make connections that could be mutuality beneficial down the road.
Often, conferences will schedule breaks throughout the day to network with other attendees. This is your chance to ask questions and build relationships that can directly impact your business.
We’ve created a section of our website dedicated to upcoming Digital Summit Conferences that’s full of information about networking opportunities, nearby restaurants, bars, and attractions. During your next conference, research areas around the venue that might be a great spot to talk to prospects, marketing experts or friends.
Where Will You Go to Your Next Marketing Conference?
There are so many conferences to choose from. If you’re in the market to learn something new or expand upon your existing knowledge check out our post detailing the Top Conferences of the year.
I recommend selecting a conference that offers deep dive sessions. These are typically half day or full day workshops that may cost an additional fee over the conference fee but are very much worth the investment. They tend to be interactive and deliver much more information than what a speaker can deliver in a 30-minute session.
These are perfect for those who are just embarking on their digital marketing journey or have been successful marketers for years but need some help with their individual business needs.
Hope to see you at future events!
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