Random Observation/Comment #575: Conferences on the similar topics often have the same attendees. New location, same content, and same people.
Why this list?
I attend 1-2 conferences every 2 months (they’re usually free if you offer to be on a panel). I’ve been told I do a pretty decent job covering these conferences by keeping up-to-date with business connections and taking notes on the main events. I’ve been asked “how” enough times to write some tips for fellow conference go-ers.
- Office Lens – this is a recent discovery, but really cool for taking photos of slides presented on screens and saving them (works on iOS, Android, and Windows)
- Set a goal of the optimal outcome – “I’ll be happy if I… Meet with this person and learn the latest on this project… Introduce myself to…”
- Review the attendees – Who do you want to connect with at the conference? A vendor?
- Look at who else is attending and familiarize yourself with the companies ahead of time – This will be useful when you’re socializing and see where people work
- Review the agenda diligently – Hopefully you’re going for a reason and not just to attend
- Don’t be ambitious with attending all the sessions – Quality over quantity
- Remember names – You’ll likely see the same people again if this becomes a recurring thing
- Practice your 2 sentence intro that provides info on your company, role, and relevant interest to the conference – sometimes “I’m here with <company> interested in exploring <technology use case>” can start a good conversation
- Figure out your company angle – People will bucket you and the company you represent as a vendor (selling something), user (buying something), or partner (for connections).
- Figure out your own angle – People will then judge you as being a tech person, meeting business filler, or decision maker
- Keep track of your own opinions to the conference because people will always ask “what do you think so far?”
- Write something interesting on your name tag – It’s a good way to start a conversation
- Make connections and introduce yourself randomly while getting coffee or food
- Notice other people’s name tags – Hopefully you’ve done your research and you don’t start with “What does your company do?”
- If it’s a multi-day conference, spend the first night writing follow up emails to the people you meet
- Bring a stack of business cards – It’s old school, but people still do it
- Hand out a business card if you mean you want to make a connection. If someone gives you one, then you can also return the favor (unless you’re running low)
- If the conference has a section for vendors, don’t just go and collect all the swag. Make sure you learn something about their company and provide a two-way street on your interest. If vendors ask for your card, then they think there’s a possible partnership or sale
- Lunch time is a good time to mingle – Join a random table and introduce yourself. There may be like minded attendees that can bring valuable connections
- If you want to see if someone is interested in connecting with your business, ask them for a time during the conference at a later time to connect – You can message them by email right away and see if they’ll spend 15-20 minutes going into more detail
- When listening to the presentations, sit near the large screens showing the slides so you can take photos of them. I also tend to sit near edges if I know I might leave early
- If you get presentation fatigue, take a break and drink some water. Just see the key takeaways
- Imagine you need to create 10 slides for the whole conference and write what’s relevant as well as take-aways. Hint: Photos help a lot
- Google Keep has a function to turn images you attach to text – Works really well on slides!
- If you’re at the event with a coworker, make sure you’re not taking duplicate notes. Divide and conquer!
- Take advantage of the location if your conference is somewhere fun! You’re allowed to do a touristy thing here and there (my blogpost in San Francisco)
- Bring a backpack and pack a charger – You’ll likely need one for all the notes you’re taking
- Go to workshops where possible – The tech attendees tend to talk more candidly if you ask the right questions and get on their passionate topics
- Always thank the organizer if you know or see them at the conference. Even if they don’t know you, you will represent the company well
- Call your significant other! I miss you and have a fun time.
~See Lemons Attend Conferences