Attending conferences is an excellent way to network, and it’s also a great opportunity to learn and strategize for building your business. There is plenty to take away from a conference, but being prepared is key.
Whether you are looking to make connections, learn tips for marketing your business, or both, having a clear game plan is essential to a successful conference experience. Here are some ways to ensure you make the most of the event.
Start planning now.
All good things take time, and the same goes for your conference planning. Don’t wait until the week before to outline your goals for the conference. Break up your strategizing into smaller pieces in the few weeks leading up to the event and your outcome will be much better.
- 3 Weeks Before: Start looking at the list of speakers, sponsors, and other important companies and individuals who might be in attendance—that way you can make an organized list of the key players you need to be meeting with.
- 2 Weeks Before: Develop a strategy for how your presence at this conference will benefit your business. Think about utilizing social media as a way to interact with other attendees and your customers. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook Live are excellent tools for sharing your conference experience and can help you track your new connections in real time.
- 1 Week Before: It’s time to really focus your energy on the most important things you’re looking to take away from the event. If your main goal is to form new connections and network, figure out how you can best market yourself and your brand to others. Don’t overthink it, though. You don’t want to sound too rehearsed when the time comes.
Always bring more than you think you’ll need.
No, this does not mean overflowing your bag with everything but the kitchen sink, but you don’t want to be stuck in an incredible networking opportunity without a single business card to give out. It’s also important to be prepared with note-taking tools—never forget a notebook and pen!
Don’t be left without a phone.
In the same realm as a notebook and pen, your phone is invaluable for recording information throughout the event and helping you stay connected. But you will be on it all day long, so it will likely die on you at the most inopportune moment. Be sure to pack a portable charger, or two, or three. You will need it.
Recap as soon as you get home.
In the excitement of the event, it can be difficult to digest everything that you’ve been taking in and to process this new information. When you get home, consider going through your notes—maybe even re-writing them to help you remember the most important lessons. This is also a good time to go through any information you might have received from your new contacts and draft an e-mail to thank them for taking the time to speak with you. You don’t have to send this message the minute the conference ends—but at some point over the next few days it’s imperative to reach out so that they will remember you long after the event has ended.
Be sure to follow our coverage of the 2017 Inman Connect conference, from January 16–20, on Facebook and Twitter.
For more information on the conference, visit http://www.inman.com/icny17/.