Blog World is a great event. I had the opportunity attend my first Blog World (in Los Angeles) in November of last year and I got a lot out of the event from both the business and personal perspectives. What I learned though, is that without proper (and early) planning, most of us will not really take advantage of all of the opportunities that Blog World New York presents.
Before the Conference
One of the biggest mistakes I made for Blog World LA was not taking enough advantage of the pre-conference networking and of not doing enough advance planning. Luckily I still got a ton out of the event, including getting some interviews, meeting some amazing people, writing up blog posts that helped quite a few people, and getting my photography featured on blogs or social media sites around the web.
So how can you use pre-planning to your advantage?
Take Advantage of pre-event social media opportunities
There is a lot of activity on social media leading up to the event. You have opportunities to connect with people, to be updated on events and opportunities and to learn from or meet some of the speakers. Here are some of the ways you can get more connected on social media.
Official Blog World Social Media
- Blog World social networking forum (you get access once you register)
- Blog World Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest
- Blog World Twitter chats (#BWEchat) leading up to the event
- Know, Follow and Use the Blog World NY Hashtag (#BWENY)
- Follow the Blog World staff on Twitter: @blogworld, @blogworldexpo, @dave_blogworld, @alison_boyer, @nikkikatz, @debng (and more…)
Unofficial Blog World Conversations and Resources
- Connect with people who are going (find them via the resources above or via the hashtag)
- Connect with or learn more about the speakers
- Sign up for unofficial attendee lists that people post (Note: Put your name and Twitter handle in the comments if you’re attending BlogWorld New York and want to connect with other attendees)
- Look for unofficial events planned around the conference
Determine your conference goals
Determine your main goals for the conference. Are you there to learn? If so, are there specific things you want to take away? Are you there to promote your business? Are you there to make new connections? Obviously, most of us do a combination of these things, but determine what you most want to get out of the event and plan your activities around this.
Based on those goals, what advance planning do you need? I’ll talk about some of that below.
Find out who’s going to be there
One of the basic things you should start to do in advance is to find out who’s going to be attending or speaking at the event. Are key partners or customers going to be there? Are thought leaders that you want to connect with going to be there? How about other “kindred spirits” or people in your industry?
You can use the list on the Blog World site to find out about the speakers. Connecting via social media as discussed above will help you find out who else is going.
Are you doing interviews or having meetings?
If so, try to set these up in advance. You’ll find that while you’re there, it’s very hard to opportunistically meet people for an interview. The further in advance you set it up, the better. You may want to set times just before or after the conference if possible.
Get your equipment in place
One of the things I discovered is that trying to find specialized video and sound equipment at the last minute is not easy – even in a big city like LA or New York. If you’re doing interviews, blogging, photography or video, make sure you have your equipment in place. Some ideas:
- Video camera
- DSLR camera
- Zoom lens
- Voice recorder (for back-up recording of interviews)
- Smart phone (for Tweets/Social Media)
- Backpack (for equipment and swag)
- Chargers and cords for all
Optimize your timing and logistics
Take advantage of pre-conference events (and book your flights accordingly)
If you want to interview people or go to pre-event parties or get-togethers, consider getting there a day early or leaving a day later. For example, last year I found out about several events taking place the day and night before Blog World LA (for example, Darren Rowse was participating in the LA photo walk last year and inviting people to join him). Unfortunately I already had other plans but next time I would leave some flexibility to network in a more relaxed environment.
Book your hotels early
Book early to get the best rates and location close to the event or that has a shuttle. Use the Blog World recommended hotels, your hotel points, or other means to get the best deal.
Upon Arrival / During the Conference
Figure out the events, shuttles and timing
Just before the conference, make sure you know the timing of the various events (official and unofficial). Make sure you know when the shuttles leave that first morning of Day 1 and where it leaves from. Plan to go early for Day 1 so you don’t miss part of the first presentation due to transportation and check-in delays.
Also, check out the map so you have a feel for the event space and where all the different activities are taking place. The last thing you want to be doing is rushing around trying to figure out where you’re going.
When you get to the conference
- Check in right away
- Get the Wifi password
- Figure out the first presentation you’re going to
- If you want to shoot pictures or video, sit up front
- If you need a cord, make sure you get a spot early
Network both strategically and opportunistically
The conference will fly by, so you may not want to just let things fall into place. If you had plans to connect with specific people, make sure you make arrangements to meet them. Or if it’s a speaker, figure out where/when they’re speaking. The few minutes before or after they speak can be a good time to quickly connect (but don’t distract or nag them)!
Also, take the opportunity to meet your neighbors at presentations or people at your tables over meals or breaks. I’ve met some great people via these chance meetings.
Pick topics based on your goals
Go to topics that will best meet your goals. If you’re writing up posts about the event in order to increase visibility for your blog, you may want to steer towards the hot topics or speakers (or the ones that your audience cares the most about or could learn the most from). If you’re trying to learn specific things to help your business, make sure you pick the topics and speakers that can help you meet those goals. Don’t get swayed by the popular topics if they’re not going to help you move forward.
Learn about new products, services and tools
Use the exhibit hall with various vendors as an opportunity to learn about new products that may be able to help your business. Also, consider these companies as potential partners. Do they take guest posts on their blogs? Are there other ways you can work together? You’ll also be able to collect plenty of swag items, trial memberships or discounts here – you should see several opportunities to win an iPad (I haven’t won one yet…).
Do some interviews
If one of your goals is to get an interview, keep trying to set that up (obviously the best is if you reach out to them before Blog World). Be respectful of people’s time though. If they can’t fit in an interview or are not willing to do an impromptu one, be understanding. Perhaps they can do one later via Skype or phone. Don’t consider this the only opportunity to interview them.
Here’s an interview I did with the Content Marketing Institute’s Joe Pulizzi at Blog World LA:
Write your blog posts
One way to get your blog noticed is to write up a blog post based on one of the presentations or keynotes that you got a lot out of. Or you can write a post about the entire conference or highlights from it. I’m not a big fan of live-blogging myself, but you can always do that as well, if that’s your thing. My favorite style is to take good notes and then write up the post quickly afterward (usually that night) while it’s still fresh.
Here are two posts I wrote from last year’s event:
- 19 Lessons From Peter Shankman – Blog World LA Keynote
- Google+ for Business – Guy Kawasaki & Chris Brogan
Collect physical and digital “artifacts”
One of the ways I like to make my posts stand out is by getting pictures, video and items (that I can photograph later) to make the event come alive. Consider what artifacts you can collect to spice up your coverage. In fact, a few of my pictures ended up on other blogs and social media pages. A couple of examples:
Share via social media
During the presentations, you can share lessons learned, pictures or other details on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Google+. When you Tweet, don’t forget to use the conference hashtag! This is a way to get noticed by other attendees or by the BlogWorld team.
Participate in the extracurricular activities
There are a lot of BlogWorld sponsored events or events sponsored by other companies. These can include things like breakfasts, cocktail hours and dinners. Be on the lookout for notifications from Blog World or from some of the sponsors or other companies (e.g. Social Media Examiner had a breakfast last year).
After the Conference
After the conference ends, take advantage of the connections and lessons that you gained from the conference. Also, make sure to get your own content out and shared!
Get your blog posts out
You have to get your blog posts, videos or pictures posted and shared within the first few days of the close of the conference. That’s when people still have that “conference buzz” and when people are collecting links of articles about the conference and promoting them.
Make sure to alert the conference organizers and people mentioned that you’ve written a post that includes them.
Connect with other bloggers who have written about the event
Link to their posts, share them on social media and comment on them. This is a great way to make connections with other bloggers.
Solidify your new connections
Follow the social media profiles of those people you met. Share their good content, schedule those interviews or meetings and follow through with any commitments. Do you have joint venture opportunities to pursue? How about guest blogging opportunities?
Put your new strategies into your planning process
I’m sure you’ve picked up a lot of new strategies, ideas and tools that can help your business. If you don’t put them into your planning, many of these will go by the wayside. So, make sure you document the key items you’ll focus on and put them into your plan.
Take advantage of the Virtual Ticket
Whether you’re attending or not, consider getting the Virtual Ticket (so you can watch the event online, on demand). There are a lot of great presentations that you weren’t able to attend, so this is a great way to watch those online. Also, if you want to go back through any of the ones you did attend and learned a lot from, this is a great way to review those key points or strategies.
Are you going?
Will you make Blog World New York this year or get the Virtual Ticket? A little tip… you can still write winning blog posts about a keynote or presentation even if you don’t attend it. Anyway, look out for me there!
What did I miss?
I’m sure I missed a lot of great tips for getting the most out of Blog World New York.
What would you add?
Are you attending Blog World New York? If so, put your Name and Twitter @name in the comments section if you want to connect with other attendees.
Tom Treanor is the founder of the Right Mix Marketing blog. He’s the author of the Search Engine Boot Camp, the co-author of Online Business Productivity, and regularly speaks at industry and corporate events. His writing has been featured on the Content Marketing Institute, Social Media Examiner, Copyblogger and other leading industry blogs.