Learn how to get the most out of a blogger conference and make more money, with 20 great actionable tips.
Snap Conference is right around the corner and I am busy with last minute prep. For the first time in years, I am planning to participate as an attendee just as much as the organizer. As I make my plans, I find myself drawing on nearly a decade of conference experience to determine just how to get the most out of the coming week.
How to Get the Most Out of a Blogger Conference
To make the most out of a blogger conference, preparations should begin before you leave.
1. Give your blog a mini “facelift.” During and after the conference, you’ll have many new visitors checking out your blog. Make sure they notice how fantastic your work is, rather than glaring issues.
- Make sure your brand is clearly represented from the moment visitors hit your page.
- Update your about page. Make sure it it up to date and concisely describes your brand.
- Ensure that your contact information is available front and center. Most brands don’t have time to fill out a contact form.
- Check all of the links on your home page to ensure they are working properly, especially your social media.
- Make sure the bios on all of your social media channels are filled in and showcase your brand.
- Publish your best work immediately before AND after the event so that curious brands and bloggers see your best.
2. Interact before the event. Even before the event start to identify bloggers and brands you’d like to meet.
- Participate in advance conversations via the conference Facebook group (Snap has a great year-round group)
- Reach out to brands and attendees on Twitter.
- Email contacts to set up short on-on-one visits.
3. Perfect your elevator pitch. You never know when you might be asked to share a little bit about yourself. Worried about what to say? Learn how to develop the perfect elevator pitch.
4. Plan your Snap schedule in advance. Determine your goals and set at least a tentative schedule. Many conferences, like Snap, have a mobile app that you can create a personal working schedule on.
5. Schedule any necessary posts and set an out-of-office reply on your email. Let’s be honest. You’re going to be busy. You will never have the time to polish off that blog post or read ALL of your email.
- Schedule necessary posts in advance. Don’t have any sponsored work that needs to go up? Share a quote and a quick note as to why you will be away from the blog for a few days.
- Even if you do check your email during the conference, you will not have the ability to respond the same way you do when you’re in the office. Make sure that people know why they might not hear from you for a few days by setting up an out-of-office reply.
Of course, many of the actionable items for creating the perfect conference experience will take place during the event. At the conference, consider the following…
6. Register early. You don’t want to be stuck in line at registration or check-in, while everyone else is out meeting sponsors and attending networking lunches. Register as early as possible so you can minimize your time standing in lines.
7. Don’t be afraid to fly solo. Steer clear of heard mentality. It’s often more comfortable to have a “wingman,” but if you’re not afraid to break off on your own it may hamper your experience.
- Sit by someone new at meals and in sessions.
- Introduce yourself to everyone you sit near.
8. Work with your friends to “divide and conquer.” Split up and attend different sessions to maximize how much you’re able to learn. Plan to share notes and regroup on key takeaways at the end of the day or after the conference.
The more attendees you are able to meet, the more classes you’re able to cover, the more you will be able to take away
9. Sit in the front row. The best seats in the house are often empty. The front row has the best sound and the best chance to connect with the speakers before, during and after the session. The close proximity allows you to create rapport during the session. Plus, presenters are so grateful when people sit in front they will likely make more eye contact and remember you later on at the event.
10. Ask Questions. Presenters and keynote speakers typically leave plenty of time for Q&A at the end of their session. If there’s time for questions during or after a presentation, be the first to raise your hand. When you stand up to ask your question, speak up.
11. Don’t be afraid to bail out of sessions that are a bad fit. If you hit up a session that you’re not sure is right for you, it’s not a terrible idea to take a seat toward the back. If you find it’s not right? Do not hesitate to leave the room and find something better.
12. Need a break? Skip a session or sit down in a hands-on class. More often than not, it’s the best time to catch conference organizers, sponsors and speakers. The space is relaxed and it’s a great time for conversation and collaboration.
13. Introduce yourself to the conference organizers/staff. The folks in charge are typically east to find and happy to chat. They are a great resource for insights and introductions. It’s easy to make them beam with a few kind words. It’s far more likely you will be asked to participate as an ambassador or speaker if you’ve built a relationship.
14. Utilize social media, particularly Instagram and Twitter. Most conference create and share a hashtag long before a conference kicks-off (it’s #snapconf at Snap Conference).
- Begin tweeting about the conference several days prior to your arrival. Chat about the brands you’re excited to engage, the speakers you have questions for etc.
- Brands will watch the conference Twitter feed in advance looking for buzz-worthy attendees to interact with.
- Utilizing social media during the event will help you stand out as everyone goes back to their room to check the # and see what’s going on.
- Most presenters will include their handles on opening and closing presentation slides so that you can share during their presentation and provide feedback.
- Participating in the feed during the conference will keep you connected to what’s going on in sessions, even though you can’t attend them all.
- Your social media accounts will likely grow with people who’re watching the hashtag.
15. Use the conference to create content. You’re taking time away from regular content creation. Consider all the ways that you might find material suitable for sharing with YOUR audience.
- Record video interviews of top bloggers, speakers and/or brands relevant to your niche. Try to find a quiet corner with okay lighting. These interviews are a popular networking tactic.
- Gather short answers for a roundup. Ask an interesting (and relevant) question to attendees. Record or transcribe them for a round-up post.
- Livestream product demos, interesting products and/or commentary on social media.
16. Stay organized. Conferences generate an avalanche of information – you will come away with more names, notes and thoughts than you can possibly process. If you come home with a mess of business cards and a bunch of notes without labels or tags, you’ll spend most of your time after the event organizing and feeling overwhelmed.
- Write notes on business cards. Be sure to bring a fine tip marker, since some cards are hard to write on with a regular pen.
- If you’re hoping a particular contact will follow up with you, send you a link or collaborate, make a note on your own card before handing it over. You’ve created an action item for the moment they go through their cards.
- Make your notes actionable. Use symbols and short hand to note if a contact is an urgent follow-up, if you promised some action, additional research, or just to connect to establish more of a relationship.
17. Don’t expect to catch everything. Many conferences are large with concurrent sessions. There is no way to meet everyone and absorb everything.
- Don’t spread yourself to thin. Plan breaks or downtime. At Snap, take some of the hands-on classes.
- Don’t cut a good conversation short just to move on to the next person.
- Don’t walk away from an interesting topic to rush to another class or sponsor.
What you do after the event is almost as important as what you do before and during the event combined. Follow up over and over.
18. Follow up creatively. Once you’re home sorting through business cards and notes, follow up with more than a “nice to meet you, here’s my media kit.”
- Follow up with both bloggers AND brands.
- Connect with your new contacts on social media and comment on their content regularly. Create lists on Twitter and on Instagram that will allow you to connect frequently without having a million notifications pop up on your phone. (Learn how to create lists on Instagram here.)
- Be specific in your follow up comments and include something valuable and relevant to your conversation like an article, infographic or one of your posts. It will set you apart from the barrage of boring, “nice to have met you” messages.
- If you spoke about an action item, be sure to follow up on it.
- Do more than share your media kit. Without a story or a pitch, it’s unlikely to result in much.
- Follow up more than once. Keep your brand top of mind.
19. Make a plan.
- Refine your notes and create action items. Dismiss items irrelevant to your brand.
- Prioritize items based on how likely they are to help improve your bottom line and work on them one item at a time.
- As you implement items, follow up with the brand or blogger who made the suggestion. Tell them how the information impacted your business. They will love it AND it will elevate your presence.
20. Send thanks. Organizing a conference is no joke. It takes many, many people. Everyone loves a gracious attendee. Thank the organizers, thank the speakers and most importantly thank the sponsors who make it all possible. Trust me when I tell you this is one exchange they will not forget.
These tactics have allowed me to recoup my conference expenses year after year. Each item has resulted in long-term relationships and four-to-five-figure contracts. Let me know if you have any tips for how to make the most of a blogger conference.