Southern C Summit
Southern C Summit

Maximize Your Conference Experience

Get The Most Out of Conference Season in 2017

It’s the start of 2017 and the start of conference season — with some great learning + networking opportunities coming up. I have a ritual that I follow before + during every conference that have led to more partnerships and an overall better experience. I’m actually in the process of doing these now for the upcoming Southern C Summit at Sea Island. Since I’m presenting this year with Nikki Bazzani from Pinterest (I’m so excited!) I’m going to work extra hard to get the most out of the Summit. Ever heard you get what you put into it? We’ll it’s true. So follow these five surefire steps before you attend your next conference.

Create Your Brand Wish List Now. Most conferences publish the names of the speakers and brands that they’re associated with months prior to the conference. Do your research. Get to know these brands and start to create a curated list of who you would want to work with and/or be featured in. Make sure that the brand already aligns with your business. When you have your list, start to think of how you could work with them. I write out my pitch now for each brand so when I get five minutes with the Editor-in-Chief of Traditional Home Magazine — I’ll be ready and focused during that conversation. I won’t miss out on an opportunity.

Reach Out Prior to the Conference. There are always people that you want to meet during those three to four days. You’ll look for them at breakfast, during a break or at cocktail hour. However, they’re usually surrounded by other folks and you’re never sure when it’s the right time to approach them. Set yourself apart and reach out to them prior to the conference. Let them know who you are and ask to meet for coffee one morning. It allows you to carve some alone time with them and ensures that you’ll make that connection. Honestly, I would be honored if someone reached out to me prior to the conference asking to meet over coffee. It shows that you mean business and that you’re prepared.

Ask for Business Cards and Write On Them.  Always ask for someone’s business card and right after you meet them take notes on their card. Jot down things about your conversation. I’d recommend writing down how you met them and something personal that you discussed. Were they sitting next to you during a particular session? Did they mention that they’re going on a trip in a few weeks? Do they have a favorite cocktail? Did they offer a great piece of advice? Write it down. A few weeks after the conference when you start going through all of the tens of business cards that you collected this will help trigger your memory. Then when I reach out to them after the conference (via a handwritten letter) be sure to include a bit of the conversation (ask about the trip, thank them for their advice, etc.) It makes it more personal and shows that you’re a listener. It will make you stand out from other attendees.

Take Advantage of Social + Show Some Love. It’s important to use your social accounts to your advantage, especially if you have a good amount of followers. If you’re interested in the brand then you’re followers will be too. Here are some ways to engage with brands before, during and after the conference.

  • Prior to the conference, show some love via your social channels. Share, comment and include shoutouts to the brands you love via your blog/social channels. Check out my Facebook page as an example.
  • If a presenter really resonated with you — send them a direct tweet, Instagram or FB message. Let them know how much you enjoyed their session and ask to connect with them during the conference.
  • Give thanks to the vendors who gifted your swag bag goodies. Take the time to send a tweet, Facebook message or Instagram message to the brands that sent you a treat in the swag bag. It sets you apart from other attendees and helps make that initial connection. Hopefully, they’ll take a peek at your work and start to follow you on Instagram.

Send Notes After the Conference. The conference has ended but your work hasn’t. Send a handwritten letter to everyone that you connected with during the Summit. Let them know how great it was to meet them and that they’re on your mind. Include your business card and some of that personal info that you gathered from Step Three above!

I’d love to learn which conferences/summits you love and your tips for when you go too! Also, please let me know if you plan to be at the Southern C Summit! Would love to meet you!


Kelli Boyd Photography exclusively for Lavin Label


  • Reply Erin, Attention to Darling January 13, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    These are such awesome tips! Can’t wait to attend the Summit again this year and hope to meet you face to face!

    Erin, Attention to Darling

    • Reply Monica January 18, 2017 at 5:16 pm

      Thanks Erin! Hopefully we’ll cross paths!

  • Reply Winslett Watson January 17, 2017 at 7:19 am

    Thank you for the advice! We are looking forward to the Summit and to seeing you again. Can’t wait to hear what you and Nikki present!

    • Reply Monica January 17, 2017 at 9:30 am

      Thanks, Winslett! Can’t wait to see you again too!

  • Reply Kimberly Hanna-Wallis with La Soucique Studio January 17, 2017 at 10:55 pm

    I’m looking forward to a lovely time, thank you for the tips! In particular, the business card snippet idea – I feel that my memory was brilliant before the littles came and sapped it! Cheers x

    • Reply Monica January 18, 2017 at 5:12 pm

      Thanks, Kimberly!

  • Reply Deana Bibb January 20, 2017 at 2:38 pm

    Great info Monica! I’ve begun working on all of your suggestions…as well as my own list of questions to ask during any Q&A time. Looking forward to meeting you.

    • Reply Monica January 22, 2017 at 10:49 am

      Thanks, Deana! Look forward to connecting with you too!

  • Reply Amanda Warren January 29, 2018 at 9:55 pm

    This is my first year at the Summit- thank you for all the tips. I’m excited to amongst such an energizing group of entrepreneurs!

    • Reply Monica February 9, 2018 at 4:30 pm

      Thank you! I’m happy that you found them helpful!

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