If the purpose of social media is to be social, then going to a social media conference, like Social Data Week, which I just attended, is a chance to really connect with those you’ve only talked to or seen online. Here are some things that have helped me to prepare for a live conference. If you’re unfamiliar with live tweeting, read You Too Can Be Guru’s excellent piece: Live Tweeting Events.
You probably already have a list of the conference speakers. Why not reach out to those you’d really like to hear before the conference? Connect on Twitter, retweet, ask a question, and tell them you’re looking forward to meeting. For Social Data Week, I reached out to several social media superstars. I was excited to reach out to Susan Etlinger, Nova Spivack, John Bell, Nick Halstead, and Rob Bailey.
Dig a little and find out what the speakers at the conference do. I like to prepare a little “cheat sheet,” with conference speaker titles and Twitter handles. When you’re sitting in the dark, trying to tweet, you don’t want to have to dig around for names, so this really comes in handy. It took me about 20 minutes to compile all the names. Knowing a little bit more about these people and having more of a personal connection, made their talks even more compelling.
The conference itself may have a hashtag, so make sure you have that ready, too, so that you can live tweet. For instance, Social Data Week’s hashtag was #sdwk13.
When you say hello to people, they usually say hello back: it’s amazing! So during the conference, introduce yourself. As an introvert, I don’t run up to every single person, but I do make a point of meeting a few people, and especially those I’ve connected with on social media beforehand.
During the Conference
If you’re following the hashtag, you can also reach out to those you meet online at the conference. You can retweet them, comment on their tweets, or even connect with them after the conference by looking back through the hashtagged tweets. You can ask them how they liked the conference, and of course, follow them on Twitter.
Take more pictures than you think you’ll need. You can tweet those photos out during the event or use them later. Make sure you get a photo of a sign or two, and of course the people you’ve met.
What Do You Do to Prepare for a Conference?
Do you like to live tweet? Do you do anything to prepare for a conference? Tell me in the comments below!