Events are something that can serve your business and personal marketing well. In my experience the best way to make the most of an event is to prepare for it. You are investing money and (more importantly) time in your business by attending an event, preparation is key to making the most of it.
Next week’s Social Media Marketing World will be one of the premier events of the year. In this post I’ll share seven ideas to prepare for to make the most of this or any event. I will also share a link to my agenda and how we can connect in person at the event.
Going to Social Media Marketing World in San Diego this year? Going to other events in the coming months? Below are some ideas to help you make the most of it. Even if you only implement one of these ideas, you will be further ahead for doing so. Ok, let’s get started.
1 – Prepare to Maximize Event Opportunities
Someone recently said to me, “life always seems hectic to the run up to traveling to an event, I end up saying, ‘Oh, I should’ve printed new business cards, oh well, too late now!'” This has happened to me, but as I reviewed things, it most often came down to the fact that I was simply unprepared. Don’t let that happen to you.
Set aside 2-4 hours to prepare for the event. Ideally this is done 4-6 weeks out, so you can prepare new marketing or other materials as needed.
Determine what you need to have in order to make the most of the precious hours at the conference.
- Who do you want to meet?
- Who in your network is going?
- Who would you like to have a breakfast or other meeting with?
- Is there someone you’d like to interview? Audio or video?
2 – Come Prepared to Learn
No doubt an event like Social Media Marketing World will have some tremendous content. What sessions are most important and relevant to where you are at in your stage of business? Are there burning questions you have about a subject matter that you could ask of a presenter?
Take Notes: However you like to record things, come prepared to do so. It may be a paper journal, an electronic note taking system like Evernote (my current favorite), or perhaps audio snippets you record on your smartphone. Notes are designed to be reviewed for application purposes. So don’t overtake on notes, rather jot things down that you think, if applied in the next few months, can make a measurable difference in your business.
3 – Come Prepared to Meet People
Checkout the list of speakers at the event. Are there some you’ve heard of, but never met in person. Make a point to attend their session, and greet them afterward.
Are there like-minded people at the event that are likely dealing with the same challenges/opportunities you are? These can be incredible connections at and after the event. Is there something you can come prepared with to give them (a tipsheet of sorts, etc.)? Consider lessons you’ve learned in your journey that might help those you rub shoulders with at the event.
You may consider scrolling through the search results of the event hashtag for people who will be there. Which brings me to the next point.
4 – Come Prepared to Engage
Engagement means involvement. Minimize distractions from the home office so you can be fully present at the event.
Face-to-Face: I’ve notice what I consider a ‘sad’ trend in recent years, people aren’t focused when meeting face-to-face. It’s as if you represent just another tab open on their browser, or another update in their flittering social stream.
Therefore, in my view, first order of business is face to face engagement. Be there. Look people in the eye. Resist the temptation of being distracted by people beyond or behind those you are speaking with.
Digital: This is a much lesser engagement priority, as mentioned earlier, follow the event hashtag, and participate there if someone says something cool in a session or keynote.
5 – Come Prepared to Follow Up
You’ll likely come away with a few of business cards? Prioritize those cards for follow up, and have a time caved out when you can do just that within 3 business days of returning to the office.
Ideally, have a follow up system in place that you can tee up from the event. I use Infusionsoft for follow up, with their business card mechanism, they go into my system and will get a personalized message from me after meeting them, and several days after the event is over.
Having this in place frees me up tremendously. Having the cards in the system when I board the return flight means I can focus on important things when I get home, like being reunited with my family, catching up on work that may have mounted while I was away.
6 – Come Prepared to Not Sleep
This is kinda funny, but I find true. At an event like Social Media Marketing World, the days are long, for me 16-18 hours. There is so much to do, and so many amazing people to meet, I want to maximize my time. After trying to convince myself to get a good nights rest at conferences, I realized that’s what it’s supposed to be like, because I’m so busy connecting with people.
If you return well rested and charged up, something may be amiss. Which leads to the final idea.
7 – Come Prepared to Recover
The plane ride home represents stage one of recovery. Review your notes, business cards, and setup a priority list of action items for the first 24 hours back in the office.
Know that when you get home you may need a day or two to simply recover. This is especially true if you are traveling internationally, or spanning multiple timezones. Preparing for this, will help you return to work with clarity and energy!
You Be There? Let’s Meet!
Your Turn: How do you like to maximize events? What are your thoughts on these 7 ideas? Chime in below