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!
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Kelli Boyd Photography exclusively for Lavin Label