Isn’t it fun to provide your conference attendees with tips how to get more out of their conferences? Why not share some smart tips pre-conference. Eye-opening, helpful and sometimes funny tricks to solve trivial conference problems. You could even consider adding an extra entry to your site or app: conference hacks. It’s a great opportunity to engage your audience and facilitate interaction.
Ok, let’s do it!
Preparation is everything!
1 why (not) to attend a conference.
You can help attendees make a decision by providing a clear overview of the target population, topics and sessions. Avoid false promises at all times.
2 how to set goals for your conference
Before you visit the conference make a clear list of goals you want to achieve. How many new leads you want to get, who (companies or people) you definitely want to talk to, what questions you hope to answer? Write it down and make it S.M.A.R.T.. Share these goals with your colleagues to get you motivated to achieve them.
Make a checklist of things to take with you each morning before you leave the hotelroom (transport tickets, route map, business cards, charged phone, conference schedule, etc.)
3 find out who’s attending
This is a killer. Really take some time to explore who’s coming and who you want to meet. Search the events website and app, the twitter hashtag, etc. If there’s a specific event community system, make sure you fill in the profile with not only your information, but also what your goals are for the conference.
4 start connecting to other attendees pre-conference
After you have researched who’s coming to the conference, start connecting to the other attendees early. Plan your appointments to avoid interesting people to be ‘sold out’ early. Prepare your follow up pre-conference.
5 try to organise a meetup or tweetup with your (online) connections
A tweetup or meetup is great way to meet a lot of old and new friends. It’s efficient, inspiring and above all a lot of fun!
Travelling, eating and sleeping
6 how to efficiently pack
This one is both funny and helpful to share. If you want to stuff your suitcase watch how this guy manages this. Watch this other video for very useful tips on how to pack like a pro.
8 save on travel expenses
I recently discovered that it can pay off to book separate flights with different companies for short distance flights. For a two day conference for example try to book your outward flight early in the morning and your flight back late in the eveningthe next day. If you don’t want to miss out on too much of the conference, it can easily save you two hotelnights. And speaking of that, why not book an appartment with a couple of people at AirBnB?
10 use Google Maps offline
Wayfinding ane save on your dataplan? There’s a hidden functionality in Google maps that allows you to save certain maps for offline use. Visit the part of your route before you leave or when you have WiFi. Zoom in to get the desired view. Scroll round the region, and if satisfied type ‘ok maps’ into the search bar. Remember that you don’t have the point-to-point route guidance, but you can use it like a paper map on your phone. Your own location will be available though, so you can determine where you are.
Meanwhile at the event
11 sit in the front row
This is a great tip I read. It got me thinking: actually an overlooked thing to do, and beautiful in it’s simplicity! Just takes some courage to do. Read the article by Clay Herbert where he gives you 5 reasons why you should: meet amazing people, connect with the speakers, actually be able to see the slides, focus and learn more, gain confidence in other areas.
12 how to start a conversation
There are a lot of tips, even funny or brilliant onces to start a conversation. Personally I like the simple and direct approach: Hi, my name is Derrick, nice to meet you. Are you enjoying the conference? Don’t forget to make eye contact and smile! And networking is for introverts too, watch this video to learn more.
13 how to end a conversation
Time is valuable for everbody, and unless the conversation is naturally ongoing and neither of you have to leave, take action in ending the conversation to move forward.
I prefer the simple and direct approach again, with handshake and eye contact. “Ok, it was really nice talking to you, I have to go now, let’s keep in touch”. Respect other people’s time and protect your own time in a polite way from that one sticky person.
14 your most important and overlooked tech friend: your camera
A picture can tell a thousand words, use your camera! Obvious things are taking pictures of slides, but you can also use it to quickly memorize company names, URL’s and posters. Take pictures (backwards) during your walk for finding the way back to your hotel. Ask people if you can take their picture while they hold their businesscard so you know which face belongs to which businesscard. I discovered that the photos on social media profiles often don’t match reality …
15 extending your phone’s battery life
Using you phone the entire day will drain the battery. So never, ever forget your USB charging cable. Your laptop is the first logical source to recharge. Also all modern tv’s have a USB port. Getting an external batterypack might be a good idea if you travel a lot.
Bonus hack: spend time with your dear ones
After a busy multiday conference it is tempting to drown in your work again. Take at least one day off to have some quality time with those who matter most.
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