As a professional blogger, traveling to blog conferences is something that I strive to do on an annual basis. I strive to be strategic about the conferences that I attend to ensure that the investment of my time and finances is worthwhile.
Over the past few years, I have learned to implement a few action steps before, during and after to maximize your blog conference experience.
Maximize Your Blog Conference Experience
1 – Pack lightly and comfortably.
I am the worst packer. I always tend to over pack – mainly because I typically pack at the absolute last possible moment. For this conference, I will be packing early. My goal is to be done by next weekend. My list: Three day outfits, one somewhat “dressy” outfit (just in case) and a sweater. Remember to pack headache medicine, vitamin C and Vitamin B.
2 – Connect before the conference.
Most conferences will have Facebook groups that attendees can connect in ahead of time. You can, also, follow the conference hashtag and connect with those that are posting about it on different social media outlets.
3 – What’s your why?
What’s your takeaway going to be? Are you looking to connect with fellow bloggers? Is there a particular session you’re especially looking forward to? Are you looking to develop a relationship with the brands in attendance? Make a list of what you want to get out of the conference and refer to it during the conference to make sure you’re staying true to your reason for attending.
4 – Expand your circle.
If you’re traveling with friends or have attended conferences before, it’s easy to stay within your comfort zone. DON’T! Make it a point to meet 2-5 new people a day and have genuine conversations. You never know when you’ll make a new friend, future business partner or supporter.
5 – Bring business cards and follow-up.
Typically what I do is find downtime to connect at least once with those whose business cards I have received via social media – usually Twitter or Instagram since those outlets are more conversation based for me and use the conference hashtag. After the conference, I will reach out at least once more depending on the level of contact. If it’s someone I feel I want to collaborate with somehow, I will reach out via email. If it’s a fellow blogger, I will connect on their blog with the manner I feel is most appropriate – comment, follow via social media, subscribe to their newsletter, etc. If it’s a brand, I will send an email thanking them for their support of the conference, following up on any conversations we may have had face-to-face or, if applicable, ideas for ways we might be able to work together in the future.
6 – Be present on social media before, during and after.
You don’t have to be present on all of them – but choose 1 or 2 and interact with other conference attendees and supporters using the hashtag. If you’re in a session or keynote, tweet out key points and (at) the speaker or speakers. Snapping photos? Upload to Instagram or your site’s Facebook page, if appropriate. This is a great way to interact with those you meet via social media, too! There are some bloggers that are able to write out daily recap posts – if that’s you, then make sure you’re syndicating on social media. You’re genuine enthusiasm will be appreciated by the conference organizer, fellow attendees and those following along at home.
7 – Be nice.
I know it sounds elementary, but we all have cranky moments. Please be careful of how you talk about attendees, the conference, speakers, etc – there’s constructive criticism and then there’s plain rudeness. You never know who’s around or how the person you’re speaking to is connected.
8 – Revisit your why.
After the conference, revisit your list to see how beneficial the conference was to you. If you feel it was lacking, do a self-check to ensure you put in 100% to get the best out of it. If you feel you did, then express yourself (professionally) on the follow up survey or to the conference coordinators. They will appreciate honest and sincere feedback as it will help them see where to improve the following year.
9 – Ask yourself “What will I do as a result of attending this conference?“
What action steps will you take to implement what you learned? What relationships will you continue to cultivate? Do an honest assessment to see how you can improve yourself personally and professionally with the information you brought back from your conference experience.
— Michelle D Garrett (@DivaMDGarrett) October 29, 2016
— Michelle D Garrett (@DivaMDGarrett) October 28, 2016