Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

smmw13One of the BEST run conferences I attended last year was Social Media Marketing World. Event planners have a huge challenge to meet the needs of masses of people, and Michael Stelzner and his team pulled it off incredibly well for their first major event. Having more than 1,000 attendees, they made everyone comfortable and thought of so many cool things to keep everyone engaged. this included the opening night party BINGO game where you have a great ice breaker tool to meet people you otherwise wouldn’t know. They even have Event Ambassadors on staff to help connect attendees to each other and make them feel welcome. When you make the decision to attend you may not know where to begin to maximizing conferences like these. Here are 3 steps that will make the most of your investment.

1 – Clarify Your Intention For The Conference

There are many reasons to attend a large conference. The emphasis on meeting planners minds are typically to create a worthwhile educational and networking experience. However, you might be there for more specific reasons. I highly recommend you clarify those reasons. Start a list and include the things you want to walk away with by the end of the conference. For example, are you there to meet new people, learn and/or make business deals. Do you want to find guest bloggers? Is there a resource you need like a coach, programmer, or software?

Also write down a list of questions you’d like to get answered. Bring this list with you.

2 – Review the Conference Schedule and Choose Wisely

Once you’ve written your list of intentions and questions down, then print out and review the agenda. Place a star next to any session and/or event that matches your intention.

3 – Connect Ahead of time with Attendees and Presenters

Now that you know whose presentations you are going to attend, connect with them on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and/or your favorite network. Be generous and share something they have posted to your network friends, fans, followers and/or connections. After all,  the highest compliment you can pay someone online is to retweet or share something they posted.
If the event has created a LinkedIn group, be sure to join, introduce yourself and take part in the discussions about the event. Who knows, you might even get some of those questions answered in step one answered prior to getting to the conference.

Use the event hashtag to find more attendees. Social Media Marketing World is using #SMMW14 this year.

You also might plan too meet up with some other attendees at some meals and or networking functions.

Go Virtual And Benefit Even If You Can’t Attend In Person

If you can’t get to the location for the event, check out the virtual attendance option and/or conference recordings. Just because you have a scheduling or budgetary conflict doesn’t mean that you can’t benefit from the event. With social media today, you can certainly connect with people no matter where they or you are and you can still get all the high quality training and be a part of the community  with virtual passes to events like #SMMW14 that are livestreamed.

Make The Most of Your Conference

Navigating well attended events and trade shows can be overwhelming, so it’s well worth it to plan for making the most of them. So start your conference planning about 4-6 weeks prior to the convention. In short, getting your ducks in a row starts with your intention for what is most important to accomplish by investing in such an event. Make sure you set aside some time to do these conference building activities and you’ll be glad you did.

If you’re attending Social Media Marketing World 2014 please connect with me at @CoachLaura. I am truly excited about being a part of the event team once again this year and helping you make this your best conference of the year.  Let me know in the comments who you want to meet and I’ll do my best to help you out too.

See you there!

3 Responses

  1. Thanks for the information and the tips as well. Maximizing one’s experience and what you can get from these conferences is really valuable. Will surely try to make it to this year’s conference.

  2. Laura–
    You’re getting my head on straight about the conference. I need to determine my objective!

    Another tip here is: if you don’t want to shell out the cash for registration, consider volunteering. I’ll be working the registration desk and getting all the cool behind-the-scenes peeks…and I don’t have to pay! Or speak or host a panel like Laura.