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So, you’ve read our list of the Top 11 Recruitment Conferences You MUST ATTEND in Summer/Autumn 2015, you know which event(s) you’re attending, you’ve bought your ticket(s), and the faithful day is fast approaching. Now what? How can you ensure you get the best out of the event you’ve selected? Can you do anything in advance to ensure a productive and enjoyable conference-going experience?
Well, it just so happens that today we’re sharing six tips we regularly put into practice when attending events that help us get the most out of the experience – six tips we know will help you do the very same:
1. Research the Speakers
There can be over 70 speakers at some events, so it’s no wonder deciding which ones to go and see can be a bit of chore! The best way to tackle that chore is by doing your homework. So, the first thing you need to do before attending an event, is to check the event website and find out who’s speaking and what they’re speaking about.
A lot of people make the mistake of deciding to listen to a speaker purely based on who they work for. They tend to assume the bigger the company, the better the speaker. Big mistake. Don’t be one of these people. The company a speaker is from is irrelevant.
There are only two things that really matter when going to see someone speak:
- The content – is the subject/topic their discussing relevant to you and what you do?
- The person delivering that content – are they a good public speaker?
The presentations you will enjoy the most are the one’s with topics/content of relevance to you delivered by a confident public speaker. So, if you see a speaker is discussing a topic of relevance to you, the next thing you need to do is to find out how good that speaker is. And there are four sources you should check before ever sitting in on a seminar:
- YouTube – can you find any videos of talks they’ve given in the past at other events? Interviews? Panel discussions?
- SlideShare – have they shared slide decks from other presentations? If they have, what sort of quality are those slides? Are the topics interesting? How many followers does their account have?
- LinkedIn – have they published any LinkedIn blogs? How many likes, shares and comments have those posts received? Do you like the posts they’ve written?
- Twitter – do they tweet regularly? What sort of stuff do they tweet about? Do people you know and respect follow them?
Bottom line: go to every event with the selfish motivation of seeing only the best stuff. You’ve paid to be at this event, so make sure you see all killer, no filler.
2. Download the Event App
It’s becoming more and more common for events to have their own specially created apps for the occasion. If the event you’re attending has one, make sure you download it. Dedicated event apps often contain:
- directions to the venue – so you know how to get there.
- a digital copy of your ticket – which makes for easy registration.
- a map of the venue – so you know where you’re going.
- an agenda for the day – which will keep you on track and save you from carrying around a paper booklet.
- live tweets using the event hashtag – so you can see who’s tweeting throughout the event and what they’re tweeting about.
Don’t worry, it probably won’t cost you a thing and yes, you can delete it once the event is over if you wish.
3. Use the Hashtag
99.9% of conferences and expos you’ll attend these days have there own hashtag associated with the event. When you arrive (or even better, before the event) find out what it is and start monitoring and using it.
During the event, tweet like crazy. Tweeting should be the only reason you ever have your phone in your hand at an event. Unsure what to tweet about? Tweet the most interesting quotes, stats and insights you hear throughout the day. See a particularly interesting slide on screen? Take a photo of it and tweet it using the hashtag. Bottom line: if something is of interest to you, tweet about it.
Most conferences with associated hashtags will generally have a screen displaying real-time tweets containing the event hashtag. Make sure your tweets appear on it regularly.
Not only will tweeting the knowledge you’ve gained create a digital notepad for future reference, it will also act as valuable content to share with your followers. You’ll may even get a few extra followers out of it too. We regularly come away from events with up to 100 new followers! So tweet like crazy, it’s worth it!
4. Create a Twitter List of Fellow Attendees
You won’t be the only one using the hashtag or indeed tweeting out valuable insights throughout the day. Other like-minded people will be doing exactly the same thing. Tap in to their knowledge!
Maybe they were at a talk you didn’t get to, or they gleaned an insight you missed. Either way, it’s good to capture all the insights shared by folks at the event by creating a Twitter list of those using the hashtag – something you can do automatically using SocialBro.com – a free Chrome extension. Just tell SocialBro the hashtag you wish to use, then anyone using the specific event hashtag will be automatically added to a Twitter list ready for you to consult later. You can see a few Johnny has created on the right ->
Or alternatively, use Triangulate to keyword search the event hashtag. Once the search results list has been populated, Twiangulate gives you the option to create a Twitter list of the results in one click. All you need to do is name it, give it a description and decide whether or not you want to make that list private or public. It couldn’t be easier if it tried!
5. Make a Plan for Tech
If you’re attending an expo on the hunt for new technology, don’t just wander around the exhibition hall on the day picking up merchandise. That’s a pointless exercise that will get you nowhere in the long run.
If you’re serious about discovering new tech, take the time to check out the exhibitor list a few days before the event and note down the specific companies that have products you may be interested in.
Note their stand number, and on the day, go straight to those stands and have a conversation with the stallholders. They are usually more than happy to give you a live demo of the product, explain how it works, and tell you how the product can cater for your specific needs. Most stallholders will also give you the opportunity to play around with the tech for yourself, so you can test it’s usability.
And remember, if you don’t ask you won’t receive, so ask your burning questions, that’s what you’re there for!
6. Make Networking Your Priority
Conferences are for networking. Yes, I know there are seminars to attend and exhibitors to visit, but at their core, conferences are about meeting other people, making new connections, and having great conversations with like-minded individuals.
A lot of people, recruiters especially for some reason, tend to worry about networking. Don’t. If you do your research and go to the best talks of the day, your networking will look after itself. Why? Because after attending a great presentation you’ll be excited and impassioned to tell everyone you meet about the insights, tips and tricks you’ve just heard – perfect conversation fodder for networking during coffee breaks and lunch breaks.
I know it’s tempting to plan your business calls during the breaks, but the morning breakfast, coffee breaks, midday lunch and evening drinks are there to be utilised solely for networking. So put your phone away, clear your calendar for that day, and start talking to fellow attendees.
The ultimate opening line at a conferences is: “What was the most interesting talk you’ve seen today?” Follow that with “What nailed it for you?” and “What would you recommend I check out?” and you have yourself the makings of a great conversation. And if you just do that all day and all night, you will have plenty of meaningful conversations and make some interesting connections – exactly what a conference is for.
Got any tips to add to this list? Looking forward to a particular event? Be sure to let us know in the comments below. And be sure to look out for the Social Talent crew at several different recruitment/HR conferences across the globe this summer.