DOES ONE NEED TO DO ANYTHING before attending a conference? Chris Brogan listed 27 Things to Do Before a Conference (thanks, Keven). Here’s a compact rewrite of the tasks in terms of the tools involved (Google, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.):
1. Event schedule :
- Research - Note what you want to see and get a sense of what you might ask and/or decide what the business value of your interaction at the session might be.
2. Google Blogsearch and Technorati :
- Research - Look for event references to the event, company announcements, signs of business opportunity.
3. Google News and Google searches (in addition to 2. above) :
- Research – Look for industry news around the event, to understand what might be impacting the people you’re mingling with.
4. Web pages & Site Links :
- Research – of the exhibitors and sponsors for the event. Are they a prospective vendor/client for you? Any business value in meeting any of them?
5. Flickr :
- Research - Look for recent pictures of attendees or other people you hope to meet at the event.
6. Blogs :
- Research - of the prospective attendees or business people for ideas of how things are going in their lives or in their businesses…. It’s free intelligence before a meeting.
- Content Prep - Put up a few post-dated posts and have a great post launch on the day of the event.
Consider writing posts that might help you form conversations at the event. For instance, if you’re looking to work with restaurants, write a blog post about how you’d help restaurants improve sales. Another example: blog about people you know who might be at the event that you hope to connect with and write about what you might want to talk with them about. For other examples, see Brogan’s 100 blog topics. This way, people who might investigate your blog ahead of time can know what you’re thinking about.
Consider making a video about something and posting it to your blog. Videos will give people an even better opportunity to observe you and see what you’re about. It might also help with the people recognition factor, as seeing you in motion might improve their chance of seeing you at an event.
Sometimes an event has a blog. It might be neat to see if you can guest post on it. That might up your chance of meeting folks at the event.
7. Facebook/Twitter Searches & Streams :
- Research – See if anyone’s talking about the event you’re attending, to determine if you want to follow them and start conversations ahead of the event. Look for the personal news top of mind of the people you’ll say hi at the conference.
- Content Prep – If you’re looking to connect at the event, some of your content should be outreach related, via services like Twitter or Facebook. Message the world using the event’s hash tag (if it has one), and/or the city/state (or province, etc) where the event is held. Thus, people using Twitter Search or poking around via Facebook might catch you in a search and engage you.
- Promo - Send message saying that you’ll be visiting ____ conference in ____ (city) and let people know you’re coming. See if you can strike up friendships ahead of time. Maybe mention some of the stuff you’re looking to do, business-wise.
8. LinkedIn :
- Research – Look for the city where you’ll be attending, and/or for any of the speakers’ or exhibitors’ names to see their professional profile.
- Promo – Send some personal emails to people that you might want to meet in the target city. They don’t necessarily have to meet you at the conference, but you might be able to schedule coffee.
- Business cards - Order fresh ones. Go to somewhere like Overnight Prints and pick up some new cards. Here’s the thing: make the NAME part very large. Make your primary mode of requested contact come first. Make it VERY clear what you do for business. Make sure you add the kind of offering you’re putting out there for the event (or for the next several events, if that makes sense).
- Laptop – Backup before you travel. Consider any extra batteries or power supplies you might need to bring with you.
- If you’re thinking of liveblogging the event, prepare ahead of time (here’s a great article at Web Worker Daily about that).
- If you’re going to take lots of photos or videos at the event, check your gear to make sure you’ve got everything (charger, media transfer tools, spare whatevers).
- If you’ve got a business offer to promote at an event, practice and practice and practice how you’re going to talk about it. Make it crisp, clear and easy to say. Practice believing in yourself.
- Remember that not meeting someone at an event isn’t always the end of the world. There are other chances, other times. Just the same, if it’s the kind of event where people have traveled to be there, take every opportunity to reach out. It’s harder to recreate an opportunity once everyone’s gone home.
- Remember to give your family a bit of extra love before leaving for the event. Take them out to dinner, and/or give the little ones some extra fun. Make a game of showing where you’ll be via Google Maps, and switch to Satellite or Street View to show them the visuals instead of just the map. Give everyone a chance to connect while you’re on the trip via Skype video, so they can stay in touch. Easily.
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