8 KILLER Tips on Getting The Most Out of a Conference

If you’re like me, you attend 15-20 conferences a year. That’s a lot of money and time invested, even if the conference pass is comped because you’re speaking. So here’s how to make sure you’re growing your knowledge, your network, and your business while there:

Carry PLENTY of business cards: Bring at least 100 with you.—pre-packed in your luggage. Your objective is not to randomly hand them out, but give them out to people who ask for your card. I like to keep my cards in my left pocket and other people’s cards in my right pocket—that way I don’t get them mixed up.

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Keep a pen always with you: The pen you’ll have to write down notes on the backs of business cards. When you get back to the hotel at night, you’re not going to remember what you talked about with each person, so write down a few words about them on the backs of each business card WHILE you’re still talking to them. If anything, that will show the other person respect—that you care what they have to say. That will help you write your follow-up email later that night.

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Keep a mini-notebook with you: The tiny 3 inch size ones that fit in your pocket do just fine. You’re not going to remember all those awesome tips that you learned. I am amazed at how many attendees aren’t taking notes during sessions. You’re paying money, so pay attention! Well, all the more advantage for us folks who are paying attention and writing things down.

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Don’t just hang out with friends: Not saying to be anti-social—just make sure that you’re spending time meeting new people. Perhaps you can ask friends to introduce you to other people in their network. How many times have you seen 6 people from the same company hang out together—doing everything together? Perhaps they’re too shy to reach out. Sit at different tables, attend different sessions—then get back together at night to compare notes.

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Have a clear mission: Can you state in 10 seconds or less what you’re good at and also what you are looking for? No, then you’re an amoeba floating aimlessly in the pond—or a jellyfish, for folks who didn’t remember anything from high school biology. If you’re clear about what you have skills in, then people will seek you out for that skill. Likewise, when you can clearly tell them what you want, they can introduce you to other people who have that skill or can hook you up. Don’t just say you’re an affiliate or some vague term. Worse, don’t say that you do it all. For BlitzLocal, I tell folks that we do Facebook advertising and Local advertising, since both overlap nicely. Being clear on what we’re about makes it easier to stand out.

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Make a FEW strong connections: Don’t be the networking idiot that desperately passes their cards around to as many people as possible—only to find them go in the garbage when nobody is looking. At each conference, try to make one or two strong connections with folks who you see as valuable long-term business partners. It’s okay to meet a lot of people, but if you can focus on a couple key folks—maybe even just ONE good connection, that will make your time worth it. That’s also a sign of respect.

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Carry some schwag: Do you have some stickers, pens, T-shirts, or other things you can share? I like to carry around a bunch of stuff in my backpack and pull it out for folks who I think are important enough to deserve it. For $100 you can get 100 pens or 500 stickers. Careful not to be overly self-promotional.

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1) Follow up that same day: That’s the most important tip, yet so few people actually do it. You’re tired at the end of the day, you’ve got emails to respond to, you’ve got to get up early the next morning, yadda, yadda, yadda—the excuses go on and on. Don’t pretend that you’ll get around to it tomorrow. You’ll be even busier the next day, since a whole bunch of new things and follow-up items will now be in your list. Do it that night while things are still fresh in your head.

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This post was guest blog by Dennis Yu.


33 thoughts on “8 KILLER Tips on Getting The Most Out of a Conference”

  1. Christian says:

    Thanks, this is rockin! I plan to hit this conference next time around. Good stuff…have fun man!

    1. Hey Christian …

      Although all points which Dennis disclosed here are important but however which point you think is rocking one.

      I like these points most –

      “write down a few words about them on the backs of each business card ”

      “Have a clear mission”

      “Follow up that same day”

  2. Christian says:

    Wait, I didn’t get this was a guest post…John you are at a conference and have someone else post about going to a conference. LOL. you’re a true playa 🙂

    1. Thanks for pointing this out. Thanks to whoever wrote it. 🙂

  3. MLDina says:

    I wrote an article on this topic in this month’s Feedfront. Glad I’m not the only one with conference planning on the brain!

    1. Well Dina you should and you must have because your post and your designation demand that one.

      Isn’t ?

  4. Richard says:

    Awesome and helpful article John. I am a person who hates carrying things, especially tiny ones, but the wisdom can never be over-emphasize, perhaps I should rethink my strategy of sort.

    The first tip is particularly helpful for me. Carrying business cards I think has not lost its way in this ever expanding cyber world.

    1. Hello Richard

      This is Dennis Yu who wrote this awesome and informative article.

  5. Dennis Yu says:

    John Chow always seems to have the best advice– I think he’s the best affiliate blogger. Have you read his 6 part series on email marketing? Superb.

  6. Some good tips. Another one to add is carry the Flip camera with you at all times to catch the action. 🙂

  7. Hey John,

    I see conferences as the best way to make out new connections. There are chances that you might get someone who can help you out with your business, and can eventually be your business partner.

    Keeping the schwag is something that I will surely follow from now.

  8. Great post!

    I definitely agree on your tip on we should over publicized ourselves.

    For me, the quality is definitely plays more important role rather than quantity.

    By limiting the business cards or stuffs that we are giving out, it will create an impression that there is value for those item and once you get it, it is something that you will and want to always remember.

    Cheers!

    1. I totally agree. When you come across as desperate, you lower your perceived value to others.

      By making yourself seem scarce, you raise your value to others, and people will be more likely to remember you. Just have to make sure you don’t come across as arrogant.

  9. Usually I just read your site for all of the great info on blogging, but I actually have something i can contribute regarding the small pocket sized notebooks. I use the Moleskine Volant mini because it fits in a shirt pocket and you dont even know its there. I use mine for keeping a daily to do list, but I think it would be great for this purpose too because of its size. Here is my review with some pictures if anyone is interested:

  10. Hi Dennis,
    It certainly reaffirms certain things I do when I go to conference.
    However, I would want to say that it wouldn’t be much productive without a willingness to make it so. Different conferences with different kinda objectives need some in general preparation & some specific. But, at the end, if you can honestly & objectively answer few questions in your mind, you would not falter much around.
    1. What do you want to achieve in all areas?
    2. Can you measure & quantitfy results?
    3. Working with law of avarages, what should be your strategy?
    4. What would be necesary back-end help you would need?
    5. Can you get few favouarble lines & facts in front to achieve the goals?
    I hope it helps your readers….

  11. Keep a good pen!!! Buy Parker it worth the game. You can’t imagine how good pen and not expensive but good business cards say about you.
    Nice advice, thanks

  12. I’ve never attended a conference to date, but with this post’s advice I’ll now be well prepared for when I do. Thanks John.

  13. EarningStep says:

    great advice.. i think this post may have the second part. CMIIW

  14. I am so jealous that you’re going to be at the conference. Those are some great tips. Sometimes being at a conference can be overwhelming; having a game plan for how to interact with people and make genuine connections will definitely help newcomers.

  15. fas says:

    Most importantly don’t be John Chow who throws stuff at you 😛

  16. Lee Ka Hoong says:

    Good points Dennis, you know I didn’t bring a pen or a piece of paper when I was outside, I used to note down my ideas in my handphone. 😀

    1. Benjamin Cip says:

      handphone? cell phone?

  17. PPC Tips says:

    I love the idea of writing down notes on the back of the person’s business card. i can’t tell you how many times I have had a ton of cards but can’t remember anything about the people.

  18. money-era says:

    Guys, do you really find these tips so valuable? For me they are just obvious!

      1. Money-Era says:

        Maybe this is a great niche for another blog of mine then? What a surprise so many of you need assistance with that

  19. Nick Bentley says:

    If they’re really someone you want to connect with later, I’d ask if you can take a picture of you together, then snap one of their business card to when unloading the photos you can know who they were rather than taking notes.
    I personally use Sendoutcards to send them a real greeting card with that photo in it saying it was nice meeting them. Emails are so run of the mill, I just never got a response compared to sending a personalized real card with the photo I took printed in it.
    A slim, small camera that can take standard batteries is best if you’re going to spend a day meeting people. Any phone battery will get burned out quick 🙂
    I find using the memo record function on a cell phone is really convenient compared to writing notes. I mention some things like their spouses name or other personal information to mention in the greeting card if they’re a good contact. Many are Facebook junkies and don’t mind having their photo taken.

  20. Vince Cianci says:

    Awesome post Dennis. Your tips are common sense networking tools that many people dont think about when attending conferences/conventions or other industry events. You just never know what impact some of your suggestions will make on a new person when they see a self branded pen or business card etc.

    Nice one Dennis.

    Vince.

  21. S Ahsan says:

    This is a real good post! i guess i did read the one posted by Market Leverage! it is sweet! 🙂

  22. Mortgage Guy says:

    These conferences charging $599-$1099 are they worth going after ? You pay hotel $90/night +airfare+ Sushi+ taxis and its close to $ 1300- $1800 per person.

    Can you make $1500-$2000 from your website in one month?

  23. Excellent tips to make the most out of every event, not only conferences imho. I personally found No.5 “Follow up that same day” the most important and sadly – most over looked – tip, SY

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