So, your heading to a conference solo? It can be an intimidating experience if you are traveling to a conference for the first time. If you’re looking to get the most out of your experience, here are 10 tips to grow your following, attract clients, and leave motivated and taking action.
The top ten tips that we will be walking through today in detail are:
- Plan Ahead
- Update Marketing Materials
- Social Media Marketing
- Plan Dinners
- Plan your conference bag
- Collect Business Cards
- Take Hella Notes
- Review Your Notes
- Take Action
- Follow Up
Whether you're heading to a conference on your own dime or on your company’s dime, it is not a cheap experience so you wanna get the most out of it.
Typically, conferences can range from 1- 5 days and can cost you upwards of $5,000.
That said, it is very important that you get actionable takeaways that can provide you or your teams with values afterward.
Here are the ten recommendations to ensure that you get the most out of your experience and that you have long lasting impacts far after your conference.
1 - Plan Ahead
When you first hear or decide that you will be attending a conference you need to begin planning immediately.
This is important to ensure cost savings as well as ensuring that you are able to get the benefits you are looking for such as where you stay, if you are renting a car, where you are sitting and so on.
Be sure to consider the following:
- Hotel - If you are able, having a hotel within walking distance is imperative if you are not renting a car. The further you book your hotel in advance the better as these nearby hotels usually book up fast.
- Airfare - If you are flying to a particular conference be sure to book your airfare well in advance. That will ensure you get the best seats, times and prices.
- Goal Setting - Before you attend the conference, document what you want to get out of it. Determine how you are going to approach the conference, commit to a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset. Be sure to write down your goals for the year and if there are break out sessions or specific settings to learn more about how to achieve those goals, try to commit to navigating toward those opportunities.
2 - Update Marketing Materials
As you prepare for your conference determine who will be there.
Keep in mind that even if you are travelling for your company this is an opportunity to network with like-minded individuals and potential customers.
If you own your own company, this is your chance to approach your network, competition, and customers and put your best foot forward.
Be sure to prepare in advance and you will not be disappointed.
Its all about mindset, so if you are able to set goals for you and your marketing materials prior to attending the conference it provides you with a self-imposed deadline to get your shit together for lack of a better word ;)
Update the following Marketing Materials
- Website - If you own your own company be sure that your marketing message is up to date and consistent across all social platforms. If there are things that need updating, now would be the time so that when someone takes your business card and navigates to your website you are well prepared and presentable.
- Pitch - Its time to land your pitch. Whether you work for yourself be sure you have this skill down! Create a statement like such: I work with (ideal client) who (problem). I help them (result). Make it simple and ensure that it is comfortable to say aloud. Practice makes perfect. Give it a try.
3. Social Pages - Just as mentioned above be sure that you are leveraging consistent brand messaging across your website and social platforms. Let the momentum of going to a conference drive you to update all platforms.
4. Business Cards - This is so important and is one of the smartest things that you can do for your company. Update your business cards and / or create them prior to the conference. Be sure to give yourself at least two weeks to get them printed so you do not need to expedite. I used Moo to create my business cards and was pleasantly surprised. There are a million options out there, just be sure your do it!
3 - Social Media Marketing
Leveraging social media to market yourself prior to the conference is key. These days when a conference is large enough they usually put out a Facebook Group for that particular event.
This provides a platform to introduce yourself and create a community of like-minded people prior to the event.
Some of the benefits of creating this community are:
- Create Relationships with others in the industry
- Ability to create Social Media Groups from the conference group that will allow you to connect with individuals during and long after the event
- Lead Generation
- Advice, recommendations and industry specific opportunities
- Greater brand recognition
- Build followers on Social
PRO TIP: take a look in the larger and smaller groups, if someone has created a post to share your Instagram handle, be sure to share yours too.
Make sure you put in the whole address to make it easy for people to follow you! ie) www.instagram.com/reinventyourhustle
You will be sure to gain a lot of new followers.
If no one has created this type of posting, be bold and do it yourself! Everyone WILL thank you for it!
4 - Plan Dinners
By leveraging social media in advance to network and meet like minded individuals or potential clients, I also recommend planning dinners with those individuals.
One great way to create community is to introduce yourself on the conference Facebook group and bring up a topic that you feel you may have in common with a group of people.
Once you find a following from those people, create a separate Facebook group and ask if anyone would like to go to dinner one of the evenings.
Most likely you will find other solo travelers that are looking to join up and have a networking session.
This is a great way to build lasting relationships and leverage those resources long after the event to not only keep you motivated, but potentially for business interest down the road.
5 - Plan the bag you bring to the Conference
This may seem silly, buet when I was planning on attending the Rise Business Conference, the stadium did not allow bags inside the arena, only plastic, clear bags.
So I put together a list of things you should think about prior to the conference. Be sure to check the conference website before you leave.
Plan on what you need to bring, here are some ideas to think about:
- Laptop (is it necessary?)
- Post its
- Recorder (or can you use your phone?)
Some of the additional questions you may want to ask in advance are:
- Can you bring snacks in?
- Do you have eating restrictions? if so, what are your lunch options?
- Do you need a clear bag?
- Can you bring a purse or clutch in?
6 - Collect business cards
First, go back to number 2 and make sure you know your pitch. This is the best way to collect business cards.
Once you provide your business card to a potential client, or industry professional, you will most likely receive a business card from that person.
Most of the time business cards do not have the individual's face on them, so my suggestion is to write on them so that you remember who that person was. Because you are meeting so many people and it is a long weekend of digesting intel, make sure you create a crutch for yourself and write when you met them aka: at lunch in the diner, or something of that nature.
Next, plan to reach out on social and/or via email post conference. If you have time in the evenings, try to reach out and follow that person during the conference. Because it is so recent, they will most likely follow you back!
7 - Take Hella Notes
This may be a no brainer, but take notes every day, all the time.
PRO TIP: When taking your notes, do not get into the habit of writing everything down as you will then most likely miss things. Instead, try to absorb the topic and then jot down the summary of things.
Write down your favorite quotes! This is a good motivator, when you write these down you will most definitely go back to them at a later date. You will also want to share these with your teams, on social or with your leaders.
PRO TIP: When writing use the ABC method: Act, Brainstorm, Clarify. As your taking notes Write an A for Act or Action, B for Brainstorm or more ideation and C for More clarification.
When you use this method, you will have created a better way to sift through and create your to do lists after the even in categorical order.
8 - Review Your Notes
A great way to begin digesting all the information you have documented is to start reviewing on your travels home. Begin to organize your notes and create your lists categorized by the ACT method:
Certainly, if you wanted to create a quotes page or anything else that serves your business, feel free to break these notes down further. Plan to go back through all of your notes in the first week of returning from the conference.
You may even find that there were personal takeaways that you can begin to implement as well.
9 - Take Action
You have documented everything that you deemed important to implement within your ACT category. Now you need to take action
Break apart your action category into 2 parts: Things you are already doing but need improvement and Things you are not currently doing but are going to implement.
Label your top 3 goals (and make them smart goals while your at it) and put those items into action immediately. Add result reminders to your calendar for a one-month check in and then again at a two-month check in.
Continue adding to this list over the next month, prioritizing the items that will give you the greatest return and align with your over all strategy for the year.
Add a 6 month reminder for those ideas that you like, but are not taking top priority so that you can be reminded and those ideas do not go unanswered.
10 - Follow up
Follow up on all the business cards you collected, conversations you had an action item against and the leads you might have gotten.
Keep your word and if you said you were going to connect with someone, DO IT!
PRO TIP: Learn how to hold yourself accountable. Click here to read my blog on HOW TO HOLD YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE AND ACHIEVE POSITIVE RESULTS or skip the read and just download my accountability cheat sheet below!
My largest takeaway as a business owner was the relationships and networking that I was able to get out of the conference. I added over 200 followers on my instagram and the motivation has kept me driven and focused to achieve my goals.
Also the motivation was ridiculous, I came out of there a new person. It was almost as if I had a conference hangover. A really good hangover that just does not go away! It was an incredible feeling and I highly recommend that you immerse yourself in the experience to the best of your ability!
If you take anything away from this post, here are the 2 major items I recommend:
- Network like a boss!
- Follow up and Action on your notes with grit and hustle!
Go like a rock star and if you need motivation, plan the next conference you will be attending! You can do this friend!