DO NOT SHOW UP AS A HOT MESS!  Welcome to the beginning of conference season!  You may be attending a conference to learn something new, obtain professional credits, make connections, or just get out of the office.  Whatever the reason there are a bevy of opportunities waiting for you when you attend.  To make the most of your time at the conference, this week I have outlined my conference plan.  In March I will be attending Social Media Marketing World and I have been having a blast getting myself ready.

I was honored when selected for the volunteer staff at Social Media Marketing World. It is the gold standard of social media conference and, from what I have seen, conferences in general.  The staff really has thought of every possible way to ensure a participants success at whatever level they are attending.  I have been encouraged to engage through multiple Facebook groups and an app.  I have connected with amazing individuals and…drum roll…I have already been asked to guest blog post which is a major goal of mine for the conference.

Before I share my plan, keep in mind that this is extensive.  I dedicate time every single day to getting ready – connecting, reading, asking questions, answering questions and preparing my content.  Your plan and conference participation depend largely on what you want to get out of it but you do not need to do everything on my list (although I would definitely recommend you pay close attention when I talk about packing business cards – those are important).

So, our three Big Topics today:
Topic 1:
 Before the Conference
Topic 2:  During the Conference
Topic 3:  After the Conference

Topic 1:  Before the conference

  1. Set Goals – I first learned about setting goals for a conference in one of the Facebook Groups for SMMW.  I thought it sounded crazy at first, but it makes sense!  When you have a goal you can then focus your energy to ensure you use your time wisely.
    1. You might want to find staff or Connect with others for a whole bunch of reasons – clients, outsourcing…
    2. Get guest speaking gigs – SEO, visibility, know, like and trust
    3. Get clients
    4. Learn something
    5. Meet conference staff and find out how you can help out the organization.
    6. Now you have direction for your efforts!
  2. Spruce up your online presence.  Make sure to develop your Know, Like and Trust Factors
    1. When you want to connect with others they are going to check you out.
    2. LinkedIn – you want to make sure that your LinkedIn profile is filled out and well written.
    3. Twitter – fill out your bio and put in great pictures.
    4. Post content to LinkedIn and Twitter each day.
    5. Get your website in shape clearly explaining what you do.
    6. Put a few videos on Youtube explaining what you do.
    7. Commit to being authentic.
    8. You digital footprint should clearly articulate how you help solve problems.
  3. PreGame the Conference
    1. What’s the hashtag?  Every conference has a hashtag.  Social Media Marketing World is using #SMMW19 this year.  For most conferences, staff monitor the hashtag and will probably engage with your tweets.  In fact, find out who will be monitoring the hashtag during the conference and let them know you will be onsite to help out.  Get on the radar screen!
    2. Not sure what to do with the hashtag?  Look up the hashtag from last year’s conference.  See which tweets had engagement and who sent them.  Start to develop a plan from these examples.
    3. Connect with speakers, conference staff and other attendees on LinkedIn and Twitter
    4. Look for opportunities to meet your target contacts.
      1. Ask them where they are going to be – networking tables?
      2. Schedule lunch.
    5. Is there a Facebook group?  This is one of the things that Social Media Marketing World does best.  There are multiple Facebook groups for attendees and volunteers.Contribute to each group by asking and answering questions. I’ve participated in discussions on topics from packing tips to details about social media strategy.  I’ve already met people and have already been asked to guest blog post!
    6. Download the app.  These days conferences have apps which allow you access to a bevy of information.  Do not leave this step to when you are onsite as there is a wealth of information available!  Depending on the features of the app you can introduce yourself, ask questions, see the schedule and even load up a plan.
    7. Pack business cards – yes, I have been known to leave home without business cards. Business cards are critical – in fact this reminds me I need to order news ones with my new branding.
    8. Decide how you are going to take notes- notebook, conference program, phone, computer?  I tend to always have paper and pencil ready but definitely prefer the more organized approach of the digital environment.  In fact, I just ordered a new laptop because my old one is a bit too big and heavy.  Making sure your tech can handle your plan is key.
    9. Clean space off your phone to ensure you can take pictures and record videos.  Come on, you know its time to upload those pictures of 2018 vacation to your desktop.
    10. Plan out the content you plan to create.  For instance, I plan to create blog posts from the sessions I attend.  I have looked through the program book and already put information into individual blog posts with appropriate links in draft form.  This way all that work is already done and I can put in the new knowledge quickly.

TOPIC 2:  During the Conference

  1. This is not a business card exchange – make sure to authentically connect with those around you.
  2. Don’t just keep posting selfies of you and the speakers.  The trick is to understand
  3. If there is a selfie contest, then disregard #2 and selfie the heck out of the conference.  Go win that conference.
  4. Tweet meaningful tidbits – entertain, educate, connect, inform.  Include speaker Twitter handles.  Ask questions and try to generate discussions – and remember, always use the conference hashtag!
  5. Take pictures (some now and some you will use later).
  6. Look for those moments of hysterical brilliance.  Remember, social media is all about educate, entertain and inform.  This isn’t all about being serious. HAVE FUN!  Allow these unplanned moments to sweep you off of your feet.

TOPIC 3:  After the conference

  1. Connect with those who you did not get to while you were onsite.
  2. Follow-up to those who may have asked you a question or requested information.
  3. Blog about what you learned and how it will help you better serve your ideal clients.  That last part is key.
  4. Share the content you create with the conference organizers.  Social Media Marketing World has a page of links to articles that were written about the conference.

Mindset Adjustment:    I am enough to get all this done.
This is a good one as you start to gear up to attend a conference – there is a lot of work to get done and you definitely have the bandwidth to do it.

Marketing Tip of the week:  Spruce up your twitter bio – I mentioned it as part of the prep process for a conference- it only takes a few minutes – can have a significant impact on your conference experience.