How To: Make the Most Out of a Conference or Trade Show

By on 04/11/2017

If there’s one thing the marketing industry has no shortage of it’s conferences, meetups, and workshops. In 2017 alone there are more than 250 conferences around the world. Here in Atlanta, we have a wealth of workshops, networking events, and even a few conferences stopping through on national tours. Whichever event you choose to attend, there are a few things you should know going in to make the most out of the resources available to you. Whether it’s an hour-long workshop or a three-day conference, these tips can be applied to maximize your experience. Let’s take a look.

Be Prepared

This is arguably the most important tip on our entire list. Tradeshows and conferences are not cheap, and as such, they’re usually seen as an investment in the person attending. Ensure you’re getting the most out of your investment by arriving prepared.

Conferences are a constant, and we mean CONSTANT, stream of networking, moving, learning, and notetaking. There is virtually no time between sessions and vendor exploring to read the agenda and plan your workshop route at the event. Depending on which event you go to, they might even have their own app with scheduling portals and descriptions of each breakout session. If this is the case, take advantage of this access at least a month in advance and plan your attack. It’s better to have the schedule memorized than to look at it for the first time on the showroom floor.

Shake Hands and Mingle

The beauty of conferences is that they attract professionals from all over the region, country, or world and funnel them directly to you. This presents an amazing opportunity to establish rapport with someone you’d otherwise never get to meet. Although many large cities, like Atlanta, have meetups and monthly networking events, there’s something to be said for getting the chance to converse over a cup of coffee with someone that has your exact same job in a different part of the country. You can actively improve your own strategy through idea sharing and casual networking. Aside from attending the learning sessions, networking is the second-best way to walk away with the greatest value of lessons learned from the conference.

Take Photos

Gain an extra bonus of attending a conference by telling the world about it. Take lots of photos and use the hashtags that are associated with the event. This allows you to come up in searches and find others you might want to work with at the conference. It also tells your clients, prospects, and community that you’re actively gaining more knowledge in your field and that you’ll be working directly with the leaders in the marketing industry. Associating your brand with a big name conference is great for PR and guarantees engagement from your social media audience. Milk it for all it’s worth.

Don’t Forget the Details

We’ve covered the most vital tips to make the most out of your conference but there are a few housekeeping items that will make or break your experience if overlooked.

We can’t stress enough just how important it is to network at these events. Although your main takeaway from any meetup or conference is to come back with more practical knowledge than you left with, it’s important to garner relationships too. Be sure to pack business cards so you can get in touch with your new contacts later.

You’ll be doing lots of walking at these events so be sure to pack the most comfortable pair of appropriate shoes. It’s worth the investment to purchase comfortable insoles. Trust us.

We are markers after all, and this is 2017. There are apps, emails, texts, G-Chats, and schedules to keep up with. You’ll have a device in your hand more often than not so make sure you bring all the chargers you need to the showroom floor. If you find yourself with a 10-minute break for coffee, plug in and charge up.

With these tips and tricks in mind, you should be ready for even the biggest conference. Here at Black Bear, we’re thrilled for the amazing conferences, networking opportunities, and events to be held around the southeast this year. Where can we expect to find you? Let us know in the comments!



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