In preparation for Hubspot Inbound 2017, the 190west team created a game plan that would make the best use of our time for this event.

Like most digital marketing conferences, the pace is fast and there’s a ton of information, yet only a limited amount of time to take it all in.

That’s why we created our own conference survival kit below: 8 tips to help you get the most out of the event, and still have time left to have some fun. This kit will work for any trade show or marketing conference you plan to attend.

1. Team Huddle

Collaborate with your team on what you want to accomplish. If you are sending multiple team members to the same event, decide ahead of time which sessions will be most important for each team member, and what new skills or tools they are most interested in. If there are many choices,  divide and conquer. We use this approach and sign up for different sessions, rather than having multiple team members attend the same session, to maximize our investment.

2. Is there an App for That?

Download the conference app if they provide one. Conference organizers develop these apps to help you navigate the venue, schedule your sessions, and receive updates (such as last-minute session cancellations or a change in keynote speakers). It also makes it easy to share and post status updates on social channels to stay connected.

3. Yes, You Should Bring Business Cards.

You never know who you’ll meet at a conference: a prospect, a future collaborator, or an important influencer. Even in the digital age, business cards are still an essential networking tool. Your card is your contact, and matches your face with your company. It can also add a more personal touch, make a good first impression of your company, and show you came prepared. Once the conference is over, it can be difficult to keep track of everyone you’ve met. A great insider’s tip is to write a quick note on the back of a business card you receive so it will be easier to remember your discussion when you return to the office.

4. Fuel Up

Conferences usually provide a wide variety of of food choices for attendees. The problem is, popular food vendors can have long lines, and you may simply not have time in between your sessions to wait. Or, you may get hungry before your next long break. That’s why it’s wise to bring along a snack that doesn’t require refrigeration and is easy to carry in your backpack or tablet case. Opt for ready to eat items such as peanut butter crackers, pretzels, a piece of fruit, granola, trail mix, or a protein bar. These types of snacks will keep your brain fueled to absorb and retain all this great information!

5. Charge Up

Create an alert to remind you to bring your charger to the conference and not leave it at the hotel (or at home or at the office!). You may want to consider bringing a power strip along with you as well. While there are many outlets at conference venues there are also a lot of attendees who need to charge up too. A power strip opens up more outlets for charging—and can help you make new friends! Power strips can be a power play at a networking event!

6. Follow Up

Don’t wait too long to follow up with new contacts made at a conference. In fact, don’t wait! Connect with new contacts as soon as possible on Linkedin and follow companies and individuals you’ve just met on Twitter. This is where those business cards come in handy. Personalize your follow up emails using the notes you wrote on the back of your contacts’ business cards, which will leave a positive impression of you and your brand.

7. Take Note

This may sound like a no-brainer but in between networking, taking selfies with featured speakers, and finding a good seat at a session, many newbies forget to take down the name of the speaker; the session; and some of the key takeaways. Studies show that actually writing notes pen to paper is the best way to retain information. But even if you type, tweet, or write, don’t transcribe the session word for word. Session slides are usually available to attendees online after the event, so just take down the information that interests or intrigues you most.

8. Post Mortem – Collaboration is Key

Once the conference is over and you and your team returns to the office, share what you learned with the rest of your team. Schedule time soon after the conference so the information—and your enthusiasm—are still fresh! Compile your notes from sessions, speakers, or even the discussions you’ve had with colleagues and organize them into a few topics. Be prepared to share your top takeaways such as:

  • The 5 most inspirational quotes I heard
  • Best digital marketing tools we should start using
  • Most common theme/tool/technology everyone was talking about
  • Effective strategies we can implement now

9. Bonus Tip: Have Fun!

Conferences are the perfect place to get inspired with innovative ideas that can help your company grow. But they’re also a great place to foster new relationships and meet people with similar interests. Make this time away from the office an event you’ll want to continue to gain insight from long after it’s over. In addition to attending informative sessions, take the time to go to some of the networking and social events after hours. You’ll come back to the office with a fresh perspective–and new friends in marketing.

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