In-person events have returned with a vengeance. Attending industry events and conferences is an excellent way to connect face-to-face and share ideas with fellow leaders about the trends and challenges facing your industry. These forums also serve as great spaces to gain expertise outside of your organization and expand your network.
Before you head to your next event, consider these five ways to get the most out of your time, money and attendance:
As a participant or sponsor
Conferences are great places to learn new strategies and the latest trends, but often, the biggest reason to go to a conference is the networking opportunities. How can you network if no one knows you’re there? Send out an email prior to the event to let others know how to get in touch with you on-site. When you arrive at the conference, you’ll know at least a few of the people you’ll get to spend time with and can focus the remainder of your time on organic meetings and conversations, attending educational sessions, etc.
Social media is your best friend at a conference. Whether you’re manning a booth, speaking or simply session hopping, TAKE A PHOTO! Whip out the selfie stick if you must to get the shot and share those photos of you and your colleagues across your social platforms. This will let other attendees know you’re on-site and give them a way to get in touch if they’d like to connect. It also shows others in your network who aren’t at the event that you are committed to investing in yourself and growing as a professional. No downside to that!
Pro tip: Make sure to tag the conference, colleagues in attendance, attendees from other organizations and any relevant speakers. Don’t forget to use the event hashtag when posting!
Once you return home, break out your laptop and reflect on your learnings from the event! By developing a post-event takeaways blog, those in your network who couldn’t or didn’t attend have the opportunity to see what they missed and fellow conference attendees have yet another avenue to keep the conversation going.
As a presenter
Testimonials are a marketing gold mine, yet are often overshadowed by flashy collateral or important announcements. However, testimonials from a partner or client can go a long way in instilling credibility and deepening trust in your company. The conference cycle is a perfect place to gather these gems! Odds are, someone in your circuit will be in attendance and now is the time to make the big ask. More often than not, they will be flattered you value their word and now you’ve added a new notch to your corporate reputation.
Turn your presentation’s abstract into a short pitch and distribute it to any industry media contacts who may be in attendance. This allows reporters an additional opportunity to set up time before or after the presentation to interview you and position you as an expert on the topic. Additionally, you can distribute the pitch (with photos!) following the conference with added credibility as a thought leader.
Pro tip: Consider linking to a video from the conference, if possible!
If you don’t land any external interviews through media pitching, consider turning your presentation into a blog or guest article for publication. Though this route may be a little more time consuming, you’ve likely spent significant time developing the talking points and have a unique opportunity to convert those into an article to showcase your expertise on the topic.
Carson Brown is an Account Manager at Pierce Public Relations.