Though Blog World LA has come and gone I am left with some great memories and lessons learned. This was my first time being at Blog World. If you’re not familiar with Blog World it is one of the largest conventions for bloggers. I’m not sure any first timer really knows how-to prepare for an event and trade show of such grand proportion. With over 275 presenters, 80 vendor booths and 5,000 attendees it was overwhelming to try and prepare.
If you’re going to a conference any time soon some of these tips may help you get the most out of it especially if you don’t have much time to get organized.

Reach Out To Vendors, Participants and Speakers On Twitter

First, I went to twitter. Luckily, Blog World and many participants, vendors and speakers were using the hashtag #BWELA. My first step was to search for the hashtag along with the conference name. I started conversations as well as read what others were saying about the event.

This is when I found CorpNet. They were using the hashtag and it paid off for them big time they simply posted that they were looking forward to meeting Blog world attendees. That made me feel welcome so I sent a tweet in response saying I look forward to meeting them. One of their next tweets was to invite me to stop by their booth. We “chatted” back & forth after times. I did this with a few other peeps using the hashtag.

At Blog world, I did stop by the CorpNet booth. It was like a reunion. They were thrilled I stopped by and encouraged me to enter their contest. This contest required that I tweet or post to their fan page a word of the day. What a great idea this was for them to get some great exposure during Blog World on social media.  It also gave CorpNet the opportunity to expose their business to me. I learned about their corporate identity formation services for small businesses. The really fun thing was that I won the contest.  Although, you can’t count on this, if you show up and engage with enough people, you’re bound to win in all sorts of ways.

CorpNet got a chance to stand out from the crowd by engaging me before, during, and after the event. First of all, they were the only company at Biog World that encountered doing S Corp, LLC, etc formation for small businesses. Plus, the CEO Nellie Akalp (@CorpNetNellie) was there personally speaking with attendees, answering questions, and having fun with her team. She has experience in forming over 100,000 corporations and LLCs What’s furthermore impressive is how savvy and in tune she is with social media. She uses social media and the CorpNet blog to educate small businesses about the various trends and ways to navigate the small business world. Not only does her company provide the most reasonable prices in the industry, but she adds a whole lot of value through her massive bogging contributions on sites like Mashable, All Business, American Express OPEN, and Small Business Trends.

What is also as impressive to me is their commitment to living up to their brand. They are focused on serving the startup and small business niche. CorpNet is a small business themselves. They give a very personal touch. Their website is super easy to navigate with a simple one-page order form. They understand the needs of the small business owners.

By now you can tell I’m a fan of CorpNet and all they do. They definitely will have my business when I have a small business entity formation need.

Get A Hold of the Media/Press List

In addition to searching out speakers, vendors and participants, I was lucky enough to find the list of media attending the conference. You can usually get this if you are a vendor from the trade show coordinator. If you can do a little research up front and find out what media outlets will be sending representatives, be sure and contact them. You can typically get a hold of the event coordinator and ask to have the list. I sent a letter to each of the press personnel inviting them to visit with me and find out about the great social media content syndication community I recently launched. As a result, I was interviewed by a TechCrunch blogger (@JustparaDOX). He spent about 30 minutes learning about my company. Then he mentioned us on twitter and promised a write up.

Given more time prior to the event I would have communicated with these media contacts  on twitter, LinkedIn and/or Facebook and set up more appointments. Also, find out which vendors are doing video interviewing and get on-the roster if you can. You may be able to scope this out at the very beginning of the trade show.

Interview Thought Leaders in Your Industry

In addition to being interviewed, I learned that much of Blog world is devoted to interviewing others. I believe you can do this at any event if you want to as well. That means bring a decent video camera. It  also means do a lot of interviews of speakers there. In other words, it’s a great place to get tons of blog post content. I was able to set up a time to interviews Mike Stelzner, founder of Social Media Examiner. You can see this interview at Social Buzz Club .

If you don’t have time to interview these people at the conference ask them if they would be available to do an interview remotely via Skype or webinar. Be sure to get their card if they agree. I think I came home with a half a dozen or more people who we’ll be interviewing on Social Buzz Club in early 2012. Including  Jason FallsGary Goldman, Joe Pulizzi  John Canning of WeVideo, Jennifer Wojcik, and Srinivas Rao of BlogcastFM.

Speakers love to be interviewed because it brings them more visibility. Everyone was so friendly and willing that I highly encourage you to speak with them.

Find Your Influential Friends There And Plan to Meet or Host a Meal for A Few Of them

If the least you do is ask your friends and colleagues if they’re going to the conference you can be sure to connect with them. I wish I had done this one more on purpose.  I know I missed several people I would have liked to connect with because I either didn’t ask or we didn’t prearrange a time to meet. Hoping you’ll run into them is surefire way to miss them or not have any quality time with those colleagues you want to make sure and connect with.

I did have the chance to plan to meet with the CollectiveBias team about ideas to enhance their blogger outreach.  All that being said if you schedule yourself too much, you will miss out on forming new connections and serendipitous meetings during breaks.

One of the greatest gifts a newbie can be given at a convention is to be taken around by the hand and introduced to other people of influence and similar interests. That being said, my networking hero at Blog world was none other than Warren Whitlock (@WarrenWhitlock). I didn’t ask for Warren to do this and I’m not even sure he knows yet how much I truly appreciate him consistently and generously taking me around to make surest met people. What made his efforts more meaningful is that he had just published his new book and was there to promote it. In other words, he put helping out the newbie above his own self interests. Plus, he gave me a copy of his book to review. “Profitable Social Media” is a wonderful compilation of wisdom from a variety of social media experts.

After the event, I made sure to send several tweets out raving about Warren and his book. I also included a buzz on the Social Buzz Club for all our members to share to their networks.

You may be detecting a pattern of reciprocity going on.

Plan Your Sessions

I would say this was what I could improve upon big time. Blog World ran 20 tracks each day with 6 session times each day, sometime multiple keynotes at the same time. I love the variety. I must admit that with over 200 possible speakers, it was hard to know who’s who and who would be best to attend.

For the next time, I will be looking the speakers up on Twitter and LinkedIn in the tracks I’m most interested. I will review their websites. I will also ask some seasoned participants who they are going to see. Perhaps I’ll do a blog post or find a blog post about “What Sessions To Attend At Blog World.” I’ll also search Google for blogs from the past about people’s recommendations about which people to attend.

In the meantime, we have tons of time to follow those speakers who were there and learn more about them now in case they are going to be present there or at another event.

Just going to sessions and stopping by booths was an education in and of itself.  Please share your trade show tips in the comments below.

Overall Blog World was a fruitful experience. The Blog World organizers know what they’re doing. Patti is amazing at coordinating the trade show and the volunteers were extremely helpful. Thanks again to CorpNet, Warren Whitlock, Michael Stelzner, Greg Writer and Team TUKI who all helped to make the Blog World a richly rewarding time.

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