Useful Conference Preparation Tips

In today’s online heavy world, conferences provide an excellent way to bridge the online / offline gap.  The amount of networking and connections you can make nowadays on social platforms and virtual events is staggering, but that doesn’t replace the quality of meeting someone face to face.  Conferences provide the ability to not only meet the people you’ve been talking to online but it also has the added bonus of being able to learn a thing or two from all of the panels and presentations.

In this week’s chat, people provide their best insight into how to get yourself to a conference, and what to take away.  This summer, BlogWorld and the Community Leadership Summit are coming up, but what else is out there taking place that Community Managers should be at?

Q1) What do you focus on when you attend a large conference like SXSW? Panels? Networking? Creating Content?

AskTim I spend a lot of time at panels, with networking as my next priority.

rhogroupee I like to take as much advantage of face-to-face time as possible; since I can be virtual any other time.

Shananigans5  All of the above, I like to tweet during conferences and use that as a stepping stone to networking.

jennalanger All about meeting people. The panels are just the reason to gather, and content can get lost in the shuffle.

MelodyWilding  Panels, keynote, networking. Focus on realtime. Always able to take content inspiration from print materials

Q2) How do you justify conference attendance to your company? What’s the “ROI” or expectations for when you return?

Shananigans5  If you come back with all kinds of knowledge it’s great to do a post-event lunch n’ learn.

annabelleblue Relationships are currency. Even having a deck of new contacts can be enough justification sometimes.

ATT_Jam  I expect to return with new relationships and personal stories from others that I can leverage to improve our processes.

SunnyinSyracuse  There should always be some reporting out to leadership on what you learned, as well as an action plan for the future!

JPedde  Bringing back a summarization / presentation to those who couldn’t attend but would want the info is a great investment.

alphamommie Actually implementing something, anything, and then noting that you learned this at….

 Q3) Name takeaways/goals you have big conferences

lilGronberg  Meet ppl, see ppl IRL, have fun & learn!

MelodyWilding   Reinforce my personal best practice as a CM: follow-up w emails w/in 24 yrs, schedule info calls

cmdane   Self improvement. Always come away from a con with more knowledge than you had going into it. Tools, trends, techniques, etc.

jamileh   Collect as many email addresses and twitter handles as I can!

ATT_Jam  I also want to promote AT&T social initiatives. We’re doing a lot of awesome stuff in the social space that I’m very proud of!

CDeBaise124  Connect, develop, refine, rebuild. Be willing to have other ideas affect you in a real way.

Q4) Are you a #SxSW veteran? Share some tips for those in here who are first timers. Not going? What are you doing instead?

evanhamilton I already shared all my SXSW tips on @TheCMgr this morning: 

annabelleblue Bring a power strip to share outlets – take a photo of your bus. card in case you run out – can always text or email it that way

lilGronberg Bring extra phone power period. External battery & internal ones if you don’t have an iphone

rhogroupee My Mophie Juicepack was a lifesaver when I went to CES. Best thing since sliced bread.


*This digest originally appeared on #CmgrChat on Wednesday March 7th, 2012


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About the author

Jenn Pedde

Jenn is a Co-Founder of The Community Manager and the Editor-In-Chief. She’s also an adjunct professor at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies. You can find her almost anywhere online, but specifically on #CmgrChat every Wednesday from 2-3pm ET.


Great post. CardMunch was my ultimate tool at my last conference. I was easily able to scan business cards instead of having a pile of cards to sift through later.