Chris Brogan recently wrote a great post on 9 ways to rock Blog World Expo, a must read with some great pointers on how to get the most out of your experience. I wanted to expand upon those tips, and add a few extra ways that I am getting ready for Blog World LA in November, my
first second major blogging conference.
1. Create a folder / label in your inbox specifically for the event.
This is where you want to keep track of everything from your hotel confirmation, airline tickets, conference registration, and any emails from people who want to connect at the event. This way, you don’t have to search all of your email at the last minute looking for something important.
2. Figure out what sessions you want to attend prior to arrival.
It’s not all about just who is speaking, although I must admit I’m attending a few sessions just because of the speakers. But it’s also about attending the sessions that are at the right level for you, and will give you the most useful information.
One thing I like to do is see if the presentations have been given at other events – this way you can see the content in advance and know if that session is the best for you, or if you could learn more elsewhere. Easy ways to research presentations include:
- Google the title of the presentation.
- Look for the presenter’s Slideshare account.
- Search YouTube for the title of the presentation.
Remember, if you do find just the PowerPoints or someone else’s summary of the session that there is a lot of other great information that is shared when the Q&A happens after the presentation. So if the presentation looks like it will give you the opportunity to ask some more advanced questions, that will make it a worthwhile session to attend.
3. Jot down the speaker’s Twitter handles.
I’m sure Blog World speakers will be more Twitter handle friendly in their introductions, but I have attended smaller events where I wanted to tweet a quote by a speaker, and had no clue as to what their Twitter username was. Therefore, it’s a good idea to have it written in your notes, on your schedule printout, or somewhere handy for live event tweeting.
4. Plan your meetups early!
I already know of several meetups for collaborative blogs and blog groups already scheduled so people can meet everyone on the team. If you want to get a group of people such as your best guest bloggers and readers together, be sure to plan it in advance. Things get a little hectic once you arrive, and you don’t want to miss out on having a big meetup because your group has already made other plans.
Also, don’t forget about the official and unofficial Blog World parties and tweetups including:
- Wednesday night’s Pre-Blog World Tweetup
- Thursday night’s Slushie Mall Bar Tweet-Up and the Techset Light Group Party at Liquid
- Friday night’s MashBash at Haze
- Breakfast meetups (tentatively for Thursday and Saturday morning, and possibly for Friday) for Third Tribe members only – join now if you want to meet up with some great marketing minded people (and not to mention get access to some 20+ educational seminars and a supportive community forum).
- Saturday night’s TechKaraoke event (wish I were staying long enough to be at this one).
UPDATE: Even more events listed at Plancast.
5. Get to know people before you meet them.
I’m sure that you have an idea of people you would like to meet at an event. Blog World Expo attendees, for example, can be found by monitoring the #bwe10 hashtag on Twitter, following conversation on the Blog World Facebook page, checking out this attendee list with bloggers by location, and by connecting your social accounts with the Blog World Expo schedule and seeing which of your friends are attending.
So now that you have an idea of who is going, how do you get prepared to meet them? If you’re like me, you’re an introvert when it comes to real life situations, and the thought of walking up to (essentially) a complete stranger is about as appealing as sticking your head in a lion’s mouth. Some good ways to alleviate some of the nerves include:
- Get to know them through their blog by commenting.
- Follow them through their social media networks: Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
- Check out their photos and watch some videos of them if they do interviews, have a YouTube channel, etc.
This way, you’ll feel like you know them a little bit better before you actually meet them. Also, if the thought of networking terrifies you, you MUST check out the Shy Networking course (not an affiliate link). I just downloaded it this weekend, and it includes a lot of great information geared towards the shy, introvert type in helping you to network with confidence.
6. Know your elevator pitch.
You shouldn’t start out a conversation with the same spiel by any means, but it’s a good idea to have a concise description of yourself, you blog, and your business to share with others. And if you have researched the primary “must meet” people, you should even consider tailoring your pitch to make it personalized and specifically for those people so it will pique their interests.
7. Update your about page and social networks.
When you meet new people at Blog World, chances are they might go check out your site and blog, either during the event or shortly thereafter. You will want to make sure that your about page and main social networking profiles are updated. These online hubs will essentially be your second impression on people, and with the plethora of other people they will have met, you will want your information to be up to date and enticing so they will remember why they enjoyed connecting with you! If you want some about page points, check out these posts on guidelines for writing a good about page and how to write an about page that will tell visitors why they should listen to you.
8. Make sure your blog is current with new posts.
Whatever blog or blogs you have listed on your main social networks should be updated before and after the event. This may help you earn some new subscribers, as some might not be likely to subscribe to you if your last post was sometime in 2009. (Speaking of subscribing, if you don’t have a mailing list, you might want to have that setup as well.)
If you know you’re going to be super busy around the time of the conference, just make sure to schedule some awesome content for the week of and maybe even the week after. Not sure what to write about? Check out this post on ways to inspire blog topics with social media.
9. Create a review post template.
A “key takeaways” or other kind of conference review post is always a good idea as well, as many people who attended the event (or didn’t get a chance too) will be looking for those nuggets of wisdom highlights. If you are already planning to do a Blog World Expo wrap-up post, why not make it easier on yourself and create the template for it now? Plan out how you will want to format it (bullet points, photos, video, etc.), and while you’re jotting down notes during the sessions, mark the notes you know you’ll want to include in the highlights. This way, you’ll be able to pop that post out as soon as possible after the event has ended and get it on the event’s hashtag while people are still excited about the event.
10. Update and bring business cards (plus take notes on them).
I’m a fan of business cards, especially the creative ones. Did you know you can upload your own custom design and get 250 front & back glossy business cards for less than $50 at sites like Vistaprint. And you can do a design on a free software program like Gimp. So needless to say, business cards are affordable. Just remember to order your cards early so you can get in on free shipping deals and not pay almost the same amount for shipping as the cost of the cards.
Also, when you get a card from someone, be sure to write a little note on it as to what you want to do to follow up with the person, like send them a whitepaper, email them about your services, and so forth. That way you don’t have a pile of cards with no clue as to who was interested in what, which person said they wanted to get on your mailing list, etc.
11. Get your iPhone / iPad / Droid apps ready.
Want to take photos and have them post to your Twitter and Facebook? Make sure you have your TweetPhoto (now Plixi) app downloaded, account setup, and social networks connected. Want to check-in and unlock a swarm badge? Make sure you have your FourSquare app downloaded, account setup, and social networks connected. Want to stream live video to your blog? Make sure you have your Qik app, account, and embed codes setup. Whatever you think you might want to have access to on the go if you won’t have access to a laptop, be sure that you have those apps ready to go before the event so you’ll be mobile prepared the moment you get there.
12. Carry spare batteries, chargers, memory cards, USB sticks, etc. wherever you go.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t trust my Droid’s battery to survive a full day of calls, texts, and tweets. Fortunately, I have a warranty plan that entitled me to a spare battery for free, so I’ll have that on hand as well as my charger, just in case. Also, I will have every memory card for my camera for lots of pictures, and a jump drive on hand, just in case someone wants to give me a file from their computer. You never know when things like this will come in handy, and you won’t want to be without one just in case.
13. Check out last year’s photos and videos.
Wondering what to wear or how crazy the parties get? Blog World has a Flickr group and YouTube channel so you can see some official photos and videos from prior years. Just searching on these two sites will reveal even more photos and videos from attendees so you can get a feel for what the conference and after parties will be like!
1. BWE08_Expo_82, 2. Down on the Tweetup, 3. Blogworld – Day 2 – Morning Keynote,
4. Blogworld – TechSet Party, 5. Marsha Collier interviewing Guy Kawasaki
14. Save on registration.
You’re going to want to save wherever you can so you’ll have some extra spending in Vegas, so if you haven’t already registered for Blog World, be sure to register
and use code LATE15 for an extra 15% off.
15. What happens in Vegas…
Finally, a few notes about Vegas. First of all, what happens in Vegas does not stay in Vegas. There are photos, videos, and your basic word of mouth that can get you into a heap load of trouble if you’re doing something you shouldn’t be. Also, my favorite must visit free experience in Vegas is the Bellagio – the fountain show is every half hour (or between 8pm to midnight, every 15 minutes), and inside is a beautiful conservatory, which makes for a great photo op. Finally, if you are going to wear crazy heels to party in at night, be sure to bring some comfy shoes for the daytime. Your feet will thank you, as the Vegas experience typically includes a LOT of walking.
Your Event Preparations
Have any additional conference preparation tips you would like to share with first timers heading to this big event, or any social media conferences? Please share your thoughts below in the comments!