By Leslie Youngblood
Even as technology advances and we all continue to live increasingly in the digital world, the power of in-person events remains more important and relevant than ever.
It makes total sense if you think about it though—the more online we go, the fewer our real human interactions. And that can result in us feeling more isolated. This strange cycle just further signifies that there's nothing like the connection of meeting in person with others.
In fact, a Harris Group report noted that spending on experiences and live events has increased roughly 70 percent since 1987. And many studies show that younger people, millennials specifically, actually prefer in-person events too; nine out of ten millennials have attended an in-person event in the last 12 months.
You may be familiar with annual events or conferences in your community. If you haven't attended one previously, what are you waiting for? You simply must do it! The impact it could have on your business is too huge to miss out on. If you have attended a local event previously, kudos! I'm sure you got something very valuable out of it.
Whether you jump at every chance to attend an event or have been too shy or busy to check one out, listen up. I've got the biggest dos and don'ts to help you get even more out of these important opportunities.
DO: Live Post the Event
This means posting across your social channels before, during and after the specific event. It sounds like a lot of work but planning ahead is key. You should receive a basic event agenda or overview to plan out your time beforehand. Take a look and determine what break-outs you'll be dropping in on and craft a related post you can easily schedule or edit on the go.
You can also utilize live video features on Facebook and Instagram to give viewers a real-time peek into what’s happening. People love feeling like they're getting special, behind-the-scenes access and this also shows them that you're out and engaged in your community and industry.
One word to the wise here: Make sure your content is relatable. Don't use technical language even if the event you're at is bursting at the seams with it. You want your viewers and customers to tap into that sense of belonging and they might tune out or not care if they don't understand what's being talked about.
DON’T: Just Be a Business Card Collector
Getting a slew of new contacts is awesome, but you have to be smart about how you use them moving forward.
Don't hound your new friends mercilessly, with endless requests for a follow-up meeting. Instead, try sharing customized articles, blog posts and whitepapers they may find interesting. This shows that you really listened, keeps you top-of-mind without being overbearing, and keeps the connection alive until the lead approaches you.
Also make sure you connect with your new contacts on LinkedIn within a week. Waiting too long isn't a good look. No one wants to feel forgettable and unimportant!
DO: Tap the Experts
It's not every day that you have this caliber of people in one room. So find ways to leverage the attendees and speakers to further your message, whether through pull quotes, video Q&A or live interviews.
Also make sure any content you capture with them can be used at a later date. Putting together a good list of 5-10 quotes means 5-10 Facebook posts basically already in the can! The content you gather can also be used in other places like blog recaps, future event promotion or day-to-day educational opportunities.
Now, you may feel intimidated to approach a big-name guest at first. That's totally normal. Try introducing yourself to a fellow attendee or even lesser-known panel member first to warm up. And remember: speakers and guests feel the same stranger anxiety you do! But they're also there for you and are excited to share their knowledge and know-how.
DON'T: Forget That the Event is for YOU
Conferences and events are more than just swag and special guests. Meeting face-to-face is the best way to start and build priceless relationships. It also helps you discover and innovate on new opportunities.
Another event plus? It gives you valuable insight into what others are doing as well as what you could or should be doing; it's a killer glimpse into the minds of your working peers and competitors. That alone should make you jump at any "Purchase Tickets" opportunity that's sent your way.
Personally, I've left every conference I've ever attended feeling insanely inspired and ready to kick ass. And that's on top of the awesome professional connections I've made as I continue to grow my personal network.
So what are you waiting for? I'm challenging you right now to find and attend a local industry event near you. Let me know how it goes!
Leslie Youngblood is the Creative Director for Excelerate America, the ultimate resource for entrepreneurs. She's totally serious about that challenge and wanting to know how it goes. Let her know how it works out for you at email@example.com.