by Teri Hockett
Recently, I had the privilege of attending the Women 2.0 Conference 2013 “The Next Billion” in San Francisco, California. The conference features successful women who share their story and help others. Key words to remember for this conference: Connectivity, Community, and Collaboration. The line up of speakers was off the charts with talent, wit, charm, and above all… inspiration!
When attending a conference, you want to set yourself up for success by making the most of your investment, time, and resources. Here is the approach that I took with this event.
1. Weeks leading up to the event
Do your homework and prepare – Read the conference agenda, read about the speakers, follow the event on Twitter, Like on Facebook, join the LinkedIn group, etc. This is the beginning of the connectivity, and you want to add comments, ask questions, and basically make connections in advance. Specific to Twitter, most conferences will have a # hashtag, which is important before, during and after the conference when communicating on that platform.
Some great advice that I received from Wendy Nguyen, Founder of HealthyOut, was to connect with the community that you want to collaborate with. Identify 3 people that are attending the conference that you want to meet, and ask them for 5-10 minutes of their time before, during, or after the conference. Lock down a specific time and place to meet, and make yourself identifiable by color of jacket, scarf, etc. And, check out as many pictures of them as possible before hand, so that you can easily identify them in a crowd.
Another tip is to plan your outfit for style and comfort. Review prior conference photos to determine the dress code, and then dress from the ground up; unless you are one of the fortunate women who can walk in stilettos all day.
2. The day of the event
Smile and introduce yourself – Get to know the people around you. Sit down with a new table after each session, and exchange business cards or connect via your mobile device on the spot.
Take notes about each person you meet, so you don’t forget your encounter. Have your 30 second elevator pitch ready to go, so when people ask what you do or what are you hoping to get out of the conference; you have a short answer that will elicit a discussion.
Get involved, volunteer; ask a question, and sign-up for a small group session. I was fortunate to be selected to join a mentoring session at lunch with Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer, CEO of AirPR. Sharam advised, to set yourself apart you must narrow down to one thing and do it better than anyone else.
3. Following the event
Follow-up, and follow through. Business cards and connections mean nothing if you do not follow-up with an email, phone call, or some type of social media connection. If you offered something to someone, such as an introduction to someone that might be of interest to them, follow through with an email introduction.
Recall and cite a minimum of three key quotes from the speakers. Who said what, and why it was impactful. Did it strike a chord with the audience resulting in a reaction? Did you think “wow” I want to remember and share that with my audience? Whether you write a blog, follow-up letter, make comments on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn – you will want to have something impactful to add to the conversation. Thanking a speaker by listing their words and why they had an impact is the sincerest form of flattery and a great way to give recognition to a job well done. Here are three quotes from this conference that I found impactful.
- “Disrupt the education process.” Lynda Weinman, Co-Founder of lynda.com. There is still a need for the traditional brick and mortar schools with live instructors, but so much more can be gained by integrating online courses as part of the traditional education.
- “By helping other people, you create a virtuous cycle and you’ll pay it forward, and that can be really powerful; men have been doing that a long time.” Fran Maier, founding member of Match.com and current chair and founder of TRUSTe.
- Replace “work-life balance” with “work-life convergence.“ Monish Perkash, CEO and Founder of LUMO Body Tech.
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