by Angela Maiers
Using social media to enhance or prepare for your next conference or event might seem like a no-brainer, but many conference goers get so excited about the “going,” they fail to make the preparations that can transform a good conference into a great one.
Before you leave the house, board the plane, or turn on your computer, make sure you are conference ready:1. Do Your Homework
It is not just the teacher in me that encourages this; your practice and preparation before the event will guarantee an “A-Plus” time when you arrive. Consider the following assignments:
- Set up your profile and connect with others before you arrive.
- Practice telling your story. (It may sound silly, but practicing out loud can really help.)
- Research both the speakers and attendees; you’ll be ready for those impromptu run-ins or elevator rides that can lead to substantial connections later on.
- Upload any conference badges to your Facebook profile and blog.
- RSVP to any conference-related Facebook or LinkedIn events.
- Find the Conference and Speaker Hashtags.
- You’re going to be meeting a lot of new people and each time you introduce yourself, you are not just handing them your business card, you are telling them your story. Sure, you will tell them where you work and what you do, but know they will remember who you are by the story you tell.
- Your introduction is what can make or break a great first impression, so your story needs to be brief, bold, and “rememberable.”The key is to stand out for the right reasons: your strengths, your unique talents, and perspectives. Make sure you sound like the genius that you are.
3. Take People Notes
You have introduced, talked, connected… but what happens if you can’t remember their names or contact information? I take notes on the back of business cards, in my special moleskin notebook, and with key apps on my mobile device. I make sure I have extra batteries for my camera so, I can capture and share the event via Flickr, Facebook and YouTube pages.
Here’s What You Might Consider Capturing
- The Who: Who did you meet? What intrigued you about their story?
- The Where: Where and when did you meet? This is important to jog their memory for the next contact. “I met you at the conference,” is not very personal, giving them the impression that their story just wasn’t that remarkable to you.
- The What: What did you discuss? How did the topic come up? What excited you about the conversation? Did you discuss specific plans and ideas?
- The Next Step: Did you initiate next steps? If so, you must make good on that promise. “I’ll be in touch soon,” is not a promise. “I will send you an email following up on our conversations Monday” is! The difference between you and the hundreds of other people who met your future client, business partner, friend, or colleague is what you remember and how you follow up. Don’t leave home without a note-taking system!
As incredible as technology is for communication, there’s nothing like connecting with your network in person. If there are no scheduled “meet ups” with people you want to connect with, take the reins and organize one yourself. Mashable has an incredible step-by-step guide to organizing the Perfect Meetup.
Another great way to find out where people are hanging out during conference time is Foursquare.
And, don’t forget about staying connected at home. Make sure you tell your family and network where you are going and what you are learning from the experience. Ask them if there is anything they want you to bring back with you. Agree to post a blog, a tweet or update your Facebook page so you can keep everyone abreast of all you are learning.
5. Share the Wealth (Remember, we are smarter together!)
Can you remember the top five take-away ideas you had from the last conference you attended? How much sharing did you do? Sharing is not only fun and valuable to your network; it has huge effects on how you will retain and remember the experience. Repetition is key to memory retention. The more you can repeat your new learning and share your take-aways, the more likely you’ll retain and apply the things that are most important to you.
Each time you discuss it, blog it, tweet it, post it, and link it, the content becomes clearer and more connected. It is important to begin the process of reflection immediately following the conference.
Consider the following:
- Recapping your thoughts with others
- Summarizing the conference for your network
- Discussing the experience with friends
- Seeking innovative ways to apply what you learned
- Saying thank you
Angela Maiers is founder and president of Maiers Education Services. This originally appeared as a blog post on angelamaiers.com. Used with permission. These are also great tips to use when planning to attend our 25th Annual Creative Training Techniques® Conference.