How to get the most out of a conference

Make the next event you attend a winner from start to finish

by Pete Jenkins, article posted in September 2016

The world of marketing conferences is in full swing. Perhaps you’ve struck lucky and are off to attend one yourself? Maybe you’re presenting, maybe there’s an expert that you’ve always wanted to see, or maybe you’re just starting out and want to boost your knowledge of the industry?

No matter what stage of your career you’ve reached, these events are vital for keeping up with changes in digital marketing. Use this break from the office to your professional advantage with these 8 pointers on how to get the most from a conference.

1. Consider buying a premium pass

Get off to a strong start by investing in a premium pass. It’ll get you full access to talks, workshops and other events at the conference. You can even receive priority booking to make absolutely certain you don’t miss the most popular talks. This is essential when benchmark names in your respective discipline are scheduled to speak — you don’t want to miss out, after all. To top it all off, you’ll occasionally get exclusive access to the conference presentations once the event is over, result!

2. Download the mobile app

Not all conferences have a mobile app, but be sure to download it in advance if they do. It will help you navigate the venue on the day, as well as identifying where all the tastiest food stalls are come lunchtime.

3. Bring the right equipment

Technology plays a key part of conferences. Bring an extra phone battery and some portable chargers, along with your laptop, mobile and tablet chargers. You’ll want to remain focused on the conference, rather than missing insights because you were worrying about your battery ebbing away before you could photograph a speaker or get essential notes typed up. Speaking of which…

4. Take notes

Make notes during each presentation, so that you can refer to the key takeaways after the conference. Plan your method beforehand: which tools are you going to use and what’s the purpose of your note taking? Are you going to be blogging about the event later?

Bring a laptop to record information quickly and to visit any websites referenced during the talk. This will come in handy for allowing you to understand and frame the points of the speaker, before you forget them after a long day of talks. Get on Twitter and alert your followers to anything important that is happening in the presentations. Most importantly, ensure you label your notes with headers so that it’s easy to sort back through them.

5. Question the speakers

Another great way of getting the most out of conference talks is to ask questions at the end. Be critical of the presenter, without coming across as negative. Challenge their ideas, or ask them to elaborate on points of interest. Speakers generally welcome questions from the audience, so get stuck in and don’t be shy about raising your hand!

6. Attend different sessions

If your employer has sent several of you to the conference, maximise your company’s reach by going to sessions that your colleagues are not joining. Not only will this broaden the range of insights acquired, it’ll open more networking opportunities too. In the long run, you’ll be helping your employer to achieve their business goals. Select top talks and workshops in advance to save time on arrival.

7. Take part in the conversation

Conferences normally have their own hashtag created just for the event, which attendees can use to spark discussion on social media. Take a look at the conversation that’s taking place before, during and after the event to see what others are saying, then get involved. Why not volunteer to send a few tweets or Facebook posts from your company’s social accounts when you get there?

You can also connect with others who are attending the event and identify people who are adding expert opinion to a hot topic. It’s also easy to identify the key areas of debate in your industry, so you know what to focus on when you get back to the office.

8. Share your newfound knowledge

Your company sent you to the conference to gather and analyse information on their behalf. Make sure you share your digital marketing notes with the wider team at the office, or write up a blog post. Otherwise you won’t be able to show ROI to the people who fund your trip!

Visiting a conference will provide you with new insights and contacts as long as you’re prepared. Set yourself some hard goals on what you want to get out of the conference, and use our guide to help you along the way.

And don’t forget to enjoy the show!

Caliber loves a conference. Find out what we had to say at BrightonSEO in September 2016.