We can all agree there are different benefits to all the different seminars, presentations and the like. We attend because we want to learn, grow our business, or network. On the rare occasion you can get all 3 done at the same event. It’s even more rare that everything is discussed. So what types of things should we be looking for when attending an outreach event? We can’t retain all of it, so here are 5 things I recommend paying attention to while at a conference or event.
1. Use your time to solve a problem. Understand your reason for attending this event. You know the topic and it should be relevant to your needs. Utilize your attendance to find solutions or create more efficiency. For instance, you may have a good handle on leveraging your Social content to drive engagement on Social Media. But you don’t know how that correlates to other facets of marketing. Be sure to listen explicitly for information on data, advertising, how Social relates to Search, etc. You likely won’t find value in ALL the information presented. I rarely do. But there is usually 1 or 2 things from each seminar or event that of which I take note. They key is narrowing your focus to solve a specific need.
2. Know the crowd and key players. I always enjoy conferences because the knowledge in the room is so high. You can literally learn from everyone. Bounce ideas of your table compadres. Listen to the speaker. Find out who’s asking the “good” questions. Then discuss with your colleagues any further topics you want explored. Once you know who are experts or who else is in your industry you can start going back to Tip #1, solving a problem. Have a plan of action. Even if time doesn’t allow, set up a time for a phone call or meeting. This creates a lasting relationship that can be mutually beneficial.
3. Be a Social Butterfly. I’m not talking about bouncing from conversation to conversation, although being open to meet new people is a given. I’m talking about Social Media. Follow the hashtags and Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, whatever Social Media the conference or event is utilizing. I’ve found I sometimes miss a great tidbit of information because I’m either spacing out (NEVER!) or taking notes. What someone finds interesting or insightful may skip you until you see it on the host’s Twitter feed. Live events are perfect for Twitter. The real-time engagement of the audience is measurable. Who knows, you may even see someone you know Tweeting about the conference, but you had no idea they were attending. #meetup
4. Don’t let conversations with new people drag on too long. This is something of which we’re all guilty. We start a conversation with someone new. We learn their name, company, what they do and maybe even where they are from. But then the dialogue dries up and there is awkward silence. It’s OK to walk away. Say “It was really nice meeting you” and be on your way. Of course grab their card before removing yourself. Understand there are plenty of conversations to be had and often you’ll realize if it’s going to be of utmost productivity early. If you’ve hit a 5-minute limit and small talk has begun it may be time to move on. I really don’t want this to come off rude, but one point of attending events, seminars and conferences is to network. It’s hard to network when you get locked up in a boring conversation and it’s moved away from a productive talk to anything less. You’re there for work and business purposes. Learning personal information can be helpful and is important in getting to know and understand your potential partners. Just don’t let it be a drag on your overall networking opportunity.
5. Recap. I find the return in a car, or plane, is a great time to reflect on what you learned, most important takeaways and next steps. Some bosses will want documentation on what you did, key people with whom you spoke and what was accomplished. Use travel time to organize your thoughts. The key is knowing not only WHAT you learned, but HOW you will apply it in your upcoming projects, sales efforts or brainstorming sessions. After all, Tip #1 was about solving a problem. Now it’s time to take action. Make it meaningful. Too often we learn valuable tips that can help our business, but when we return it gets left on the back burner and soon it’s forgotten. Post your action items on the wall in your office or somewhere you see them often. Once it’s instilled in your mind you will automatically think about this tip when the time comes. You won’t have to be reminded.
Thanks for checking out this blog on getting the most out of a seminar or event. As always, you can reach us on the website “Contact” button or through Social Media @rivertownmedia on Twitter or RiverTownMultimedia on Facebook.