If you are a modern startup, you need to attend more and more conferences. Sure, social media and your digital presence definitely matters. That being said, the face-to-face relationship you have is definitely your most important. From start-ups to customers and partners who may eventually invest or acquire your business, no startup can afford to be an island.
If nothing else, conferences are a great place to drive out competitors and get a better pulse on your industry. Of course, it is not as simple as signing up for a bunch of conferences or events and just showing up. Planning is key to making the most of any conference, especially if your long-term goal is development.
But what exactly do you need to do to crush a given conference? Good question! We’ve put together a six-point checklist to make sure you have everything before heading out into the woods.
Take care of your marketing material
Putting your brand in the front center and what all conferences say. Now is the time to roll out the big guns that will strengthen your brand and its creativity in the minds of competitors and potential customers.
For example, custom retractable banners for events can make your business appeal to passers-by. Of course, there are also conference staples like business cards and stickers that people can quickly grab that will keep your business fresh in their minds. Ask yourself: What are you doing to get more eyes on your business and how are you making sure the same people remember you?
Conferences are more about being there.
They represent some of the most valuable networking events for startups, provided you don’t overlook the importance of gathering people’s information.
Case in point, the conference is a prime place to grow your email list and collect contact information. Instead of requiring a business card or in-person sign-up, an opt-in pop up on a tablet is a prime place to invite attendees to drop you a line.
look the part
First impressions at conferences are make-or-break, just as they are at a business event. And when you do not judge a book by its cover, it is not bad to double check the expectations of the dress code of the conference you are attending.
For example, you don’t want to show up in a suit-and-tie case in jeans and a t-shirt. Likewise, some startups may go the extra mile to coordinate outfits or wear something thematic depending on your brand (consider: colors based on your company’s logo).
Check guest list
Time is tight at most conferences. Like, you have to know which big players are joining and how are you going to allocate your time to see them.
This can mean splitting and conquering between your team to ensure that you are taking notes in the necessary talks or getting in front of the right influencers. Depending on the event schedule, you can come up with your own internally to understand how everyone in your team will divide their time.
You may not be able to speak your mind at every conference you attend, but hosting one thing is a quick way for a startup to make you feel like a million bucks.
Giving an effective presentation is an art in itself that will take some practice, so it is worth running some “test-drives” on small events before stepping onto the proverbial big stage. Having the confidence to talk to your audience in such a setting should be a credible goal for any startup worth their salt.
Document your experience through social media
The conferences represent a full treasury fund of content for social media. The more active you are both during and after the conference, the more valuable attention you can focus on your business. For example, you can use your event’s hashtag on Twitter and Instagram and meet with fellow attendees to promote the event.
During the event, you can publish live updates, Instagram stories and Facebook live videos to show that you are in action. Finally, you can publish takeaways and blog posts after the event to gain experience and highlight the presence of others. This type of content signals that you are an active player in your industry and are capable of breaking your own news.
There are a million moving pieces at any conference, but these steps are arguably the most important to make a strong impression and score an ROI for your in-marketing. No matter what your industry may be or what kind of conference you are attending, all these tips are completely fair play.