Conferences are blossoming everywhere and we are all heading out to hotel and stadium event venues across the nation and maybe the globe. We’re ready to learn, network, have fun and eat great food. But many people attend events and never make sustainable contact with anyone new. So, don’t forget to tweet, post, blog – and LINK!
When you register for the conference. Most events worth their salt set up a social media hangout for attendees. Some even ask you to fill out a short personal survey prior to the event and they then proactively sort through attendees and send you a list of folks they think you might want to meet. Or they just post all info and attendees can reach out to each other. (Think match.com for a conference.) Either way, the hangout gives you a host of pre-show information – including attendee information. So set up those meetings and links before you even walk out the door.
When attending sessions. Try actually talking to the people around you (but not while the speaker is speaking). A good session will be interactive so there’s a good chance you’ll break out into discussion groups anyway. Use these session discussions as a jumping off point to many other interesting conversations.
Bonus – Some conferences supply attendees with an app to use on site – to check session updates, to schedule meetings and to find where everything is. Take advantage!
When visiting the FreeWiFi hub or Bloggers Lounge. Almost all conferences of any size have these areas set up so that attendees can stay in touch with the outside world. But they also give you a chance to stay in touch with the inside world by doing some live blogging. Vendors sponsor the area, so there is often free coffee and water too. So you can blog or you can get some good face time with new faces.
When stopping to take it all in. Because there is a LOT to take in – all the time. Conferences can last from 2 to 5 days. A good conference will post a review of the highlights midway on the show site. The post will walk through the keynotes, the sessions feedback, and will review all pertinent findings and housekeeping notes. It will also preview some of the stuff happening next. Here’s another way to recheck who you should link to, what questions you want to ask and thoughts you want to share when you do link.
When reaching out to speakers. Yes, you can talk to speakers. Most session speakers will not mind at all. Many events will allow attendees to send in questions for the session speakers in advance. So there’s a chance to ask for a meeting when you send in those questions. Or tweet to them. Their social media vitals will most likely be listed on the reg site and/or on the event program.
The keynote speakers may be a bit harder to pin down, but go for it!
Bonus – For both types of speakers, retweet what they had to say after their session or keynote.
When enjoying the off-hours events. These are usually a lot of fun and are meant to be an entertaining break from the more serious side of the event, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have some great conversations that lead to great links. Through tweets, videos, and photos, attendees can share what’s happening at the event on their websites, blogs and twitter. One HR industry association offered a “TweetUp” event where folks gathered over drinks and food and tweeted the night away. Prizes were given for the best tweets. Way to follow!
When it’s time to wrap up and say goodbye. Don’t let the last opportunity to link pass you by. And try to do it before the conference “Happy Face” video is shown. Just in case the camera caught you in an unfavourable light.
So – – Link. Link. Link. Because when you have a bunch of like-minded people in one place, the energy, the knowledge share and the possibilities are endless.