How to Make the Most Out of Conferences

If you are in the digital marketing/social media marketing field and you are someone who loves attending events, you are in great luck. The marketing field is home to so many amazing conferences and events. Everything from social media marketing to tech, to SEO- you are guaranteed to find a marketing conference that matches your interests.

These conferences are great for a plethora of reasons. For one, you are obtaining knowledge from highly successful people in the field. Secondly, you have the ability to network with others who share your same passion. There are so many other great reasons and if you can make the most out of all there is to offer, you can reap the maximum benefit from these conferences.

Take notes from the speakers

One of the greatest joys of attending conferences is the ability to hear raw, live talks from highly regarded individuals in the industry. These individuals know their stuff, without a doubt, and tend to share a large amount of their knowledge, secrets, tips, and advice at these events. Bring a laptop (or pen and paper) and jot down keynotes from speakers. Retaining and remembering all they say can be difficult, so if it is a topic you want to learn more about or simply something that caught your attention, it never hurts to jot it down!

Tip: Don’t take note of EVERYTHING. Make sure you listen to what the speaker is saying as well. Find a good balance between just listening and taking down notes.

Live Tweet and use #Hashtags

Any time I go to a conference, I immediately hop on Twitter and find the corresponding hashtag. This allows you to see who is at the event and vice versa. There have been many times where I have tweeted, someone from the event saw via the hashtag, and they replied and networked with me afterward. I also like to tag those speaking as they usually engage with mentions which of course, is a plus!

Live tweeting also shows your followers that you are well in tune with the marketing world and have genuine interest, passion, and knowledge in your field.

Tip: Only tweet out things that are relative to the topic, discussion, your field, and the conference as a whole. Don’t spam a hashtag with unrelated tweets. Sure, you will be seen more, but not in a good way!

Network as much as you can

A venue full of people who share the same passion for marketing as you do, what could be better? Networking at conferences provides you an opportunity to engage with people who share similar interests, who are looking for specific services or are looking to obtain a job/internship.

If you are looking for a job, networking is a great way to start. Don’t be too pushy and aggressive and never flat out ask for a job. Explain your expertise and experience.

If you are looking to hire people, make sure you are listening and try not to interview them on the spot. This could make them extremely nervous. Listen to what they have to say, take their card, and follow up.

If you aren’t looking for a job or to hire anyone, networking is a great opportunity to make strong connections. Don’t be shy. Everyone, including you, is there for a reason and 95% of the people you come across LOVE to network.

Tip: Networking is a mix of casual and professional conversation and finding a balance can be tricky, so don’t get discouraged if you “tanked” a conversation. Keep in mind you are talking to business professionals, so don’t divert away into conversations about the weekend. On the flip side, don’t come across as a sleazy salesperson. It’s good to talk about yourself, and encouraged, but don’t make it all about you. Make sure you listen to what the other person is saying.

Bring business cards

This seems like a given but you would be surprised at the number of people who don’t do this. Picture this: you are networking with someone who you want to potentially work for and the conversation is going so well. You end the wonderful conversation, they seem happy and ask for your business card to stay in touch and contact you. UH OH, you don’t have one.

Is it the end of the world? No, but it does reduce your chances of someone following up with you. A well put together business card providing all your contact information and job title will aid people in remembering who you are and following up with you if needed. Although print seems like a thing of the past, it is still vastly used in the form of business cards- especially at conferences! I suggest bringing as many as you can with you. Also, make sure you ask others for their business cards too, it’s not just one-sided.

If you are looking for a simple way to create an amazing business card, check out VistaPrint (no, this is not sponsored, I just really like them). I used them for my cards and they have so many great layout and design options.

Tip: Your business cards should outline who you are and what you do without being too much. Name, email, phone number, company, and job title are all sufficient information to provide on a card. You don’t need to create bullet points outlining what you do to a tee. Remember, this card is what people will use to find your contact information or to quickly refresh themselves on who you are.

Be vocal

Conferences provide many opportunities to vocalize yourself. There is usually an open mic portion where you are given a small amount of time to state who you are, what you do, and what you are looking for. This is a great way to get your name out there and give others a sense of who you are as a person.

Another way to vocalize yourself is to participate in Q&A portions. If there is something you want the speaker to elaborate on or simply a question regarding a topic they covered, ask away! This is a great opportunity to learn more and it shows everyone there that you are genuinely interested in the discussion.

Tip: Don’t let fear get the best of you. Holding a mic and speaking in front of large crowds can be terrifying, but don’t sweat it. Be confident in how you hold yourself and what you have to say. No one is there to judge you, everyone is there to learn, grow, and connect!

Conferences are amazing in so many ways and I urge anyone in the marketing field to attend at least once (I know they can be quite pricey). If you can check off all the tips and tricks I provided, you will surely reap the benefits of attending a conference. Remember to have fun, be yourself and be confident. Also, most conferences provide free food, I will leave you on that extremely postive note!

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