I’ve just got back from the UK Podcasters conference 2014.
Why did I go as I’m not currently podcasting? I went because I love to meet entrepreneurs, business people and content creators who do similar work to me and the UK is sadly bereft of conferences like these.
I don’t like to say that these are the “rules” for attending conferences, they’re more “suggestions”. But, “7 Suggestions For Attending Conferences” sounded a bit lame.
1. Hang around the conference venue before, during and after
The conference sessions may well be valuable (they were at the Podcasters conference) however, the real business gets done in the corridors, by the coffee machine and at the bar.
This is great news if you’re not able or don’t have the money to attend a conference, simply hang around the conference venue as much as you can. I can guarantee you’ll meet someone who you’ll connect with on a deep level this way.
Social wall-flowers, like myself, need to push themselves to connect with as many people as possible.
2. Stay at the same hotel as the conference
If you’re staying right where the action happens, you may make that awesome connection at breakfast or in the elevator.
3. Get your elevator pitch ready
Or, maybe I should say, conferences are a great opportunity to rehearse and perfect your elevator pitch. An elevator pitch, for those of you that don’t know is your purpose, your business’s aim or your “why”. Why you do what you do.
Your “why” should be constantly evolving. Well, mine is.
4. The paperback is the new business card
Some people think business cards have gone the way of the filofax and the rolodex. I disagree, I still have them. However, I’ve also got something better up my sleeve.
Giving someone your book is much more effective than a business card. They can read it on the way home from the conference and will build a greater rapport with your personal brand as a result.
If you haven’t written a book yet, you should, but you can always use business cards until the time comes.
5. Don’t get too drunk
In order to meet as many people as possible, it’s best to drink as much water as possible before you move onto the hard stuff (if you like that sort of thing). I haven’t always followed this rule.
6. Don’t shoulder gaze
If you’re talking to someone, make sure they have your full undivided attention. Don’t look over their shoulder to see if there’s someone “more interesting” to talk to.
I always tell myself that everything happens for a reason and if I’m talking to someone at any given time then it’s because I should be.
7. Focus on helping people
Don’t go to a conference with hopes of pulling off a killer deal with a big name. You’ll run the risk of coming over as a bit desperate.
Offer help to the people you meet. This way you’ll make great contacts and, if great things happen as well, that’ll be a bonus.
You can do it
The last conference I’d been to was the 2013 London WordCamp and, as with all conferences, the value lies in the people you meet.
For the same reason as I love meet-ups, you can’t beat a face-to-face relationship in business, despite all the great connections we make with podcasting, Skype, email and social media.
You can look for conferences in your niche or use Meetup.com to find other meetings of like-minded business people and forge win-win relationships that will last for decades.
Share your knowledge. Make friends. And enjoy.