Five ways to ensure that you have a great conference experience!
Attending conferences can be quite overwhelming, especially if you’re going solo. Here are a few tips for how to prepare, what to do once you’re there, and how to follow-up, to make sure that you get the most out of your conference experience.
Make sure you’ve got your ticket, and read about the event beforehand. People will often share information beforehand to hype up an event, like INK Asia, for example. Can you get a journalist pass or save money on tickets in other ways? Plan ahead for the next few months, so you know what conferences you’d like to attend, and look out for opportunities to save costs.
Schedule your meetings ahead of time. Having meetings scheduled ahead of time will make the conference seem less overwhelming, and help you plan your time. It’s a good idea to also check if the conference has a meeting app, as this will help you save time.
Lastly, prepare your elevator pitch. What are your intentions for the conference? Are you there to find leads, to promote your products, find investors, find partners? Prepare your pitch based on this.
2. Set goals
Once you’ve decided your intentions, you need to know how you’re going to measure your success. Set clear targets for how many people you want to meet, business discussions you want to have, and leads you want to generate. This will also help you to plan ahead and figure out which events, panels, and sessions to attend, and which companies to seek out.
3. Use social media
Use your social media accounts to advertise the fact that you are at the conference and spread the word about it. Tweet about your experiences, reply to people, share quotes from speakers and photos of events, even find out if any of your followers are there and meet with them. Use the conference hashtag to participate in the conversation. Social media is a great way of marketing yourself and supporting your elevator pitch. You can even post stories on Instagram or Whatsapp.
4. Know where the parties are
Parties are the best place to socialise and do business. Make sure to know where and when the important ones are. Use networking events to meet people quickly, in a more relaxed setting, and make new connections. Don't be afraid to tell your story, and make it fun.
Get in contact with the people you met and keep the discussions going! Invite them for coffee, connect with them on LinkedIn, or share relevant events with them. Encourage people you meet to follow up with you, to share the workload, but don’t expect everyone to come to you. It’s a good idea to sort business cards as you receive them, to reduce your workload later on.
Most of all… Enjoy yourself! Conferences are interesting and a great way to meet new people.
Written by Nicole du Plessis, co-written by Anne-Laure Herrezuelo