In a few weeks Peter and I will be attending Affiliate Summit West in Vegas for their annual conference. We usually attend 2-3 internet marketing conferences per year. Some of the best connections that we have made in the internet marketing industry have come out of attending conferences. In this post I am going to talk about how to get the most out of attending a conference, in whatever industry you may be in.
Plan in advance
Whenever you are attending a conference, it is a good idea to lay out a plan in advance for people you want to meet up with and events you want to attend. Many people go to conferences and “wander around” and don’t end up making any valuable connections. If there is someone in your same industry that you want to build a connection with, reach out to them and see if they want to get drinks or meet up. You will be much more effective with your time when you are on a set schedule of who you are meeting with and when. Of course also leave some free time for networking with people you don’t know yet.
Attend private events
At most conferences there are RSVP events that are available to attend for drinks / cocktails at night. Typically these are the events where the most solid networking happens. When people are in a more relaxed social environment (and have been drinking alcohol) they are much more likely to open up and maybe even share some tips or secrets with you. These private events are always a goldmine for meeting interesting people and building valuable connections.
Bring value first
Often times the biggest mistakes that people make when they are networking at conferences is focusing too much on what the other person can do for them. Instead you should take the opposite approach. Find out what the other persons needs are and see if you have any tips to give them first. This will in turn make the other person feel valued and wan’t to help you back.
Pro tip: have 1 or two very good tips memorized to share with people you are networking with. Lead with your tip and they will likely give you one in return. If you talk to 15 people and 10 of them give you different tips back, you have gotten a 10x return on your 1 good tip.
Try not to attend too many talks
Many times at conferences there are talks and workshops going on all day long. Whenever I attend events I try not to go to many of these. I might only attend one 30 minute talk about something i’m interested in, but thats about it. Especially if the conference isn’t an expensive workshop, often times the event speakers are not sharing too much “ground breaking” knowledge. Instead, focus on the networking. Its unlikely that whatever the talk is about will help you directly in your business. You will get much more value by building connections with other people.