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5 Tips to Make the Most Out of Conferences (Sponsored Post)


NMX blog post_Sept_Kelly and Milutin You’ve booked the tickets. You’ve found a place to sleep. You’ve broken every single piggy bank you’ve ever owned and paid the registration fee (or registered early and got a really good deal, because why waste perfectly good piggy banks?).  And now the day has finally come – The Much Anticipated Conference is finally here, and you’re off, with your phone, laptop, tablet, chargers and friendship bracelets tucked away in your backpack.

But let’s face it: conferences can be a rather chaotic affair. As frequent and avid conference goers, we’ve put together a list of tips that may help you get the very best out of the event:

1. Plan ahead

One does not simply walk into Mordor. Similarly, one does not simply walk into a conference without a solid game plan – including, but not limited to, all the places that sell food that can pass for lunch. With all the great keynote speeches to hear, sessions to attend, people to meet and booths to visit, there will hardly be room for a three-course meal. So pull out that conference agenda, and mark away! Pick some favorites and a few backups – it’ll be as easy as choosing which college to attend (by which we mean, there may be tears).

2. Be flexible

You’ve picked out the three sessions you’d physically fight people to attend – but you lost, or the speakers cancelled last minute. Now what? This is when your backups come in handy: some of the best sessions we’ve attended were completely spontaneous calls that featured an awesome audience and a speaker who is a part time blogging messiah, and part-time stand-up comedian. We’ve loved him so much that we invited him to speak at our own conference. See how that works?

3. Check out those booths

Things that can happen if you ignore those conference booths: a cute baby animal dies. Or, somewhat more likely, the people who are ridiculously passionate about their work (and may have flown over 4,000 miles to be there) don’t get to pass on that enthusiasm to you, which is totally your loss, dude. Not only can you score awesome freebies, you can also find unexpected business opportunities: we’ve been known to interview bloggers that use .me, feature them on our blog and social media channels, and give them the extra exposure they deserve! So check out those booths.

4. Bring business cards. Bring more.

If done right, conferences are usually 70% learning, 30% networking and 100% fun. I just made those numbers up, but jokes aside – while you’ll no doubt be inspired by the speeches you hear and the stuff you learn, don’t hesitate to share it with all the awesome people around you! And in these Days of Digital, don’t forget that business cards (especially neat ones with your headshot on the back) can go a long way in nurturing the new relationships you’ve created.

5. Follow up!

You’ve met ALL THE PEOPLE. Now what? Easy: as soon as you sleep of the post-conference excitement, go through those business cards and shoot everyone an email. This step is especially important for potential business partners – remind them where you’ve met, perhaps what you’ve discussed and where you’d like to go from there. Including a personal comment will always get you brownie points – we get tons of these emails after sponsoring conferences, and the ones that stand out are from people that paid attention to my (slight) obsession with chocolate, or the fact that our company is based in Montenegro, population: 620,000.

With this cheat-sheet in hand, you’re guaranteed to have a fun, memorable and productive event.  We’re also looking forward to hearing your voice: what tips, if any, would you add? What are some of your favorite ways of approaching people or businesses? Lastly, what’s the best memory from a conference that you’d like to share with the Internet?

10 Tips You Didn’t Know About Attending NMX and Other Conferences


attending a conference

I’ve been working with NMX for about three years now, and it amazes me the behind-the-scenes info I’ve learned in that time. In order to make your next conference experience go a little more smoothly, I put together this blog post to share some of the secrets I’ve learned. I hope to see you at NMX 2014 putting these tips into effect! (Register for NMX here.)

Dave talking to Rob

1. Our hands are often tied…but it can’t hurt to ask. Talk to us!

If you have a creative idea or a request, always reach out to the conference staff. Often, the answer you’ll get is no, but don’t mistake this for being ignored. Conferences centers have rules. Budget can be limiting. We have to consider staffing and insurance and a million other little things that most people never realize is part of planning a conference. (Our Operations Director Dani is definitely the unsung hero of NMX for all the moving parts she handles!)

But it can’t hurt to ask. We want to say yes to you! If you don’t ask, the answer will be no for sure.

me sponsor at nmx

2. You can get special perks by name-dropping with our sponsors and exhibitors.

Often, our sponsors and exhibitors will offer special deals to our conference attendees. The same is true at other conferences as well. All you have to do is ask. Be polite about it, but recognize that YOU are their target market, and they want to make you happy so you tell others about whatever product or service they have to offer.

For example, let’s say that you’re speaking to an exhibitor who sells a premium WordPress plugin. You might say, “I’d love to test this out. Would you be willing to give me a free trial once I get home?” Or let’s say that you’re having dinner at a club sponsoring one of the parties. When you get there, you could ask, “Do you have any specials for conference attendees?” The worst you can get is a no, and often the answer will be yes!

email from NMX

3. Want the best info and opportunities? You gotta be on the mailing list.

We make announcements and offers via our social accounts and here on the blog, but it’s pretty easy to miss that kind of thing in the stream. Want to make sure you don’t miss a deadline, discount, or opportunity? Get on our mailing list. (See the sidebar.) This is true of most conferences.

rick talking at nmx

4. Approach us when you have issues. Tell us about problems at the show or immediately afterward.

Like every conference out there, we always do our absolute best to constantly improve the show. All year long, we’re working on it. If you want a lot of attention to a specific problem, however, the best time to mention it is during the show itself if you see one of us in the hall and can discreetly pull us aside to mention it or immediately after the show in a private conversation. After each NMX, we get together as a staff to talk about how things went and what we can do better, and this is prime time for problem-solving for us. Sometimes, by the time we know about a problem with a show one year, it is too late to fix it for the next year. Sooner is better!


5. Say hello to staff and doors will open.

We want to help you! I can’t speak for every conference and tradeshow, but NMX was founded on the idea of helping the new media community and industry on a whole. And you, individually, are part of that, no matter what your experience level. We often come across opportunities for bloggers, podcasters, and other content creators, and when people ask us for recommendations, we can’t give them your name if we’ve never met you. For example, just the other week someone asked me for recommendations on hiring a writer and the list I gave her of people to contact were all NMXers.

So say hi when you see us in the halls. We’re not too busy for you. It’s our business to get to know every single attendee. We want to introduce you to others so you can make business deals, work together, and both grow your businesses.

asking a question

6. If you want to meet an A-lister, have a question ready.

The absolute best way to meet an A-lister, especially if you want him/her to remember you, is to have an intelligent question ready to go for after the session. You can sometimes meet these people in the halls, on the show floor, or in the new media lounge (our conference workspace), but don’t count on it. Once, I watched Darren Rowse of Problogger try to walk to the next session and her literally was stopped by people every 3 feet. I don’t think he ever made it! Is he going to remember all of the people he met? Probably not. But if you remind an A-lister, “I was the one who asked you about…” they will be more likely to recall you. Jot down some questions as you’re listening to presentations and run to the mic when the session is over.

show floor 3

7. Time on the show floor can lead to amazing business deals.

I’ve already written about how the show floor can change your life, but it’s worth mention again here. Don’t miss out on the opportunities a tradeshow expo hall gives you. At times, this is even more valuable than networking with other attendees in the halls.

one of our sponsors

8. When you’re pushy, people notice and they try to avoid dealing with you.

The picture above is featuring one of our past sponsors instead of picturing guilty parties! If you’ve been part of this community for any amount of time, you know the people I’m talking about. If you’re new…well, you’ll find out pretty quickly!

I’m naturally introverted and even a little shy, so I’m perhaps a little more sensitive to pushy people than others who might be more extroverted. It’s a fine line. You want to be heard, but you also need to avoid being rude.

When you’re pushy, people notice. They’ll attempt to avoid you. There are certain people who I see at networking receptions that make me turn on my heels because I know they’re going to pitch me, complain about minute details that are out of my control, and guilt-trip me into doing them favors. It’s not just me. Trust me, if you’re pushy, entire communities will mention this when you’re not around and try to avoid you. Be someone who gives more often than takes.

meeting dana white

9. Stick around after the keynote and you can meet amazing people.

After a keynote, people typically stream out of the hall or ballroom. Whenever I attend a conference, NMX or otherwise, I make a beeline in the other direction. Sometimes keynoters are whisked away by their “people.” But other, they hang out on stage for at least ten minutes or so to shake hands and take pictures. If you head to the doors after hearing a keynote from someone you really enjoyed, you’re going the wrong direction. At the very least, going to the stage could help you meet staff members who may be able to get you an interview with the keynoter in the greenroom. See point number 1 – it never hurts to ask!

networking reception

10. Attending official events makes the entire event possible.

Lastly, if you like a conference, make a point to show up at official events. They make it possible for the conference to happen again next year, while unofficial events that happen at the same time hurt the conference.

How? Well, most conferences’ official events (like parties or networking receptions) are sponsored. If attendance is low because people are going to an unofficial event that’s happening at the same time, the sponsor doesn’t get as much value, and they will be less likely to sponsor again. Without sponsors, a conference can’t exist. On the other hand, if official event attendance is higher, the sponsor will be more likely to come back or even pay more money the next year because they got such great value.

The better sponsors a conference has, the more money we have to invest back in the show. More money equals better keynoters, special events and perks for attendees, better venues, and lower ticket prices. So skip that unofficial event and at least make an appearance at the official events when possible, and if you have a good time, mention the sponsor on your blog, podcast, or social accounts to say thank you for hosting.

I hope you’ll use the above tips the next time you attend a conference, and I especially hope to see you putting these tips into practice at NMX 2014. What questions do you have about our show or conferences in general? Leave a comment and I’ll be happy to answer!

Doing NMX 2014 on a Tight Budget


nmx on a tight budget

NMX is a show that will pay for itself if you use your time in Vegas to network and learn as much as possible. I’ve made several business deals, built valuable relationships with a-listers, found new readers for my blog, and more at past NMX/BlogWorld events. In my mind, there are very few good reasons to miss this event if you’re serious about your online content or business.

Still, one of the most common excuses I hear is this:

I’m on a tight budget this year. I’d like to be there, but NMX is just not financially possible for me.

If you’re motivated, however, I do believe that your budget should not be a hurdle. Today’s post is all about attending the show, even if you don’t think you have the money for traveling or conferences.

Step One: Buy your ticket right now.

A lot of people put off buying a ticket because they’re unsure if they can afford to attend or not. Here’s the thing: the longer you wait to decide if you can afford it, the less likely you’ll be able to afford it.

Commit. Buy your ticket right now at the early bird price. Not only will you save money on the actual price of the ticket, but you’ll also flip that switch in your brain. You’re committed to attending. No more “thinking about it.” Now you can focus on making it happen.

If you are still a little wary about buying a ticket this early, keep in mind that tickets can be transferred if you end up not being able to go. Check out our Attendee Terms & Conditions for more information.

Buying your ticket right now has another benefit – it allows you to spread out the money you spend as much as possible. In December, are you really going to be able to afford a ticket to the conference, hotel, plane ticket, etc. all at once? If you’re not a good saver, getting one of those things out of the way now allows you to think of attending NMX as more like a multi-part payment plan, where you pay for things a little at a time between now and January. In fact, that’s my next step!

Step Two: Create a payment plan for yourself.

Make a list of all the things you need to pay for in order to attend NMX. And I mean everything, from your hotel booking to your meals to the checked baggage fee. Estimate the price of each item as closely as possible.

Then, come up with a plan to pay off those things one at a time. Check things off your list one by one.

Think about your life and schedule bigger items during months when you don’t have as many other expenses. For example, if your budget is tight, you probably don’t want to buy your plane ticket the same month your child’s birthday.

But do try to put some money toward your trip every single month or even with every single paycheck. For example, maybe you only have $20 to spend this month because you had a number of other life expenses as well. Buy yourself a $20 gift card to Starbucks to use for breakfast during the trip. You can also just put the money into a special savings account, but I don’t have a ton of willpower. If you’re like me, buying gift cards to use during the trip is better than putting money into an account where it can tempt me to be used for other purchases.

Step Three: Allow your loved ones to help.

If your loved ones are anything like mine, they always ask what you want for your birthday or for Christmas. It’s a little awkward because I’m fine with just a hug and a card, but they want to give me something. Often, I end up with stuff I don’t really need.

This year, make it known that you’d rather have an investment in your business than a new sweater. If everyone pitches in with a $20 gift card to your hotel of choice or your favorite booking site, you can cross “accommodations” off your list of things to buy. You can also ask people to gift “services” for when you’re gone. For example, maybe for your birthday, your sister agrees to watch your children while you’re in Las Vegas.

It doesn’t have to always be a gift. You could trade with your loved ones as well. For example, maybe your drive your cousin to the airport for her next business trip in exchange for driving you to the airport when you leave for NMX. Or maybe your walk your neighbor’s dog while they’re on vacation this summer in exchange for the same while you’re at NMX.

Step Four: Land Some Sponsors

Easier said than done, right?

Actually, I fully believe that one of the biggest reasons some people don’t have sponsors when they attend conferences is that they don’t ask for them. If you’re proactive in finding sponsors, it might be easier than you think! It’s about more than just a blanket beg for sponsors on Twitter or your blog. That rarely works. It’s important to be strategic about it.

Start by looking for people who have sponsored or exhibited at events like NMX in the past or who are actively involved with your niche’s community by sponsoring blog posts, podcasts, giveaways, etc. They don’t have to be brands you’ve worked with in the past. It’s okay to “cold call” potential sponsors if they’re a good fit for your needs.

Next, put together some packages. What will the sponsor get in exchange for paying your way? Think about smaller packages, not just “pay for the entire trip” deals. For example, maybe you agree to wear their t-shirt during the conference one day in exchange for the price of a ticket. Or maybe your write some posts for their blog and give them ad space on your sidebar in exchange for your hotel room.

Don’t just think about what you need. A potential sponsor will say no if the deal doesn’t give them anything of value. Try to see things from the brand’s point of view. Are they going to get a good return on their investment?

Also, especially if you’re new, consider approaching more established bloggers, podcasters, and video producers who might be attending the show. Some people will happily pay to bring along an assistant for the week. You’ll get to attend and they’ll have someone to help them take notes, write posts, network, etc.

Step Five: Cut Your Costs

Lastly, think about some ways you can cut costs on your trip. Luckily, this is definitely possible in Vegas, which caters to tourists and travelers.

  • Do some research to find the best food deals. Some casinos have super affordable options.
  • Share a cab to the hotel with other NMXers who have flights arriving at the same time.
  • Watch for Vegas flight and hotel deals – most booking sites run them from time to time.
  • Consider driving instead of flying if you live within a few hundred miles (and if gas/parking is less expensive).
  • Pack just a carry-on instead of checking a bag.
  • Arrive early on the morning of the first day or leave after the keynote on the last day to avoid extra nights at the hotel.
  • Pack some snacks instead of paying for overpriced (and often unhealthy) food at kiosks or vending machines.

Get creative. I once went to Disney with less than $100 (after buying tickets) in my pocket for an entire week. If you put your mind to things, you can travel on a very tight budget.

Bonus Step: Plan to Make Your Money Back

The great thing about NMX is that you will see a return on your investment if you’re smart about things. Go into the show fully prepared (tips on that here). Make sure you make it to the sessions that will best help you grow and make more money, and have a plan for networking and visiting the show floor. That way the cost of NMX will be more than justified.

Afrobella’s Do’s and Don’ts of Conference Fashion


My path in life has always been creative and non-conventional, so when it comes to events that require a professional, reserved, business-like appearance, I feel completely at a loss. Professional I can do. Reserved and business-like? Corporate? Not so much. Even before I quit my job to blog full time, I worked in laid back, jeans-and-a-cute-top office environments.

When the dress code for an event asks for business formal or even business casual, I feel a flash of fear because I know my closet doesn’t contain anything that fits that description. I don’t fit into the professional fashion box, but I am frequently invited to, and asked to speak at professional events. I’ve had to find ways to rise to the occasion.

Here’s the thing about attending and participating in conferences – you are your own best representative. You want to look like you on a really good day. You want to make an immediately great first impression.

Here’s what this non-corporate blogger has learned along the way. Here are the do’s and don’ts of conference fashion:

Do be yourself.

The reason most people attend blogging conferences is to network. You’re there to meet, greet, and get to know people you’ve probably only seen as an avatar before. This isn’t the time to develop a new fashion persona or come as someone other than who you are. It IS the time to put your best face forward and let your unique personality shine.

Do rock a power blazer.

The easiest go-to conference outfit for men and women has to be the winning combination of a nice pair of pants (or jeans), a cool shirt and a sports coat or blazer. It gives you a tailored, professional, together kind of look. And blazer doesn’t have to mean boring. At conferences I love to wear what I call my “power blazers,” meaning a blazer in a color or pattern others might not wear. Just about everyone else can wear black. You’ll be hard pressed to find someone else in a bright orange or leopard print blazer.

Don’t be a walking billboard.

We’ve all seen this person at a conference – the one who’s wearing a tee shirt and a hat and everything but a blinking sign advertising their website, or the website of the brand who sponsored their trip. Too many logos and too much self-advertising can be a turnoff. When it comes to dressing the part, play it cool. You’ll make connections by actually connecting with people! Don’t be your own sandwich board.

Do dress like you plan to be photographed.  

This is what social media is all about, right? Every event must be chronicled for Instagram, Facebook and Twitter – and let’s not forget for the follow up event recap blog posts. You’ll probably be taking lots of photos, so dress accordingly. Think of adding a pop of color so you stand out!

Do consider comfort.

Many conferences are in large spaces, and at conference events there can be multiple venues, requiring fast paced walking from place to place. Ladies, now isn’t the time to don your sexiest sky high heels. It’s a time to consider the fact that you might be on your feet a lot and walking more than you plan to. Good sense and comfort should come first. Always.

Don’t overthink it or stress yourself out.

We’re all here to get to know each other, make some new connections, learn from each other and have FUN. Most of the time when I get all stressed out about what to wear, it turns out all my stress was in vain. Ladies if you find yourself in doubt, wear a simple dress, or your coolest blazer and pants combo, and make the look special and unique with your hair, jewelry and makeup. And never forget – the best accessory you can wear to a conference (or anywhere) is a bright, welcoming smile!

Editor’s Note: Want to hear more from Afrobella (a.k.a. Patrice Yursik) and see what she wears to NMX this month? Be sure to come see her session, “How To Actually Grow A BIG Brand And Community With Just A Simple Blog.”

Photo Credit: Bigstock

13 Ways to Make Sure You Get Your Money’s Worth from Your Next Conference

conference session Have you ever been to an industry conference where you ponied up as much as a thousand dollars or more and the conference really sucked? Can I tell you something? Now, this may sting a little bit so do yourself a favor and strap on your big boy or girl pants and get ready. If it sucked, it was all your fault.

I know, I know. You didn’t book the speakers or schedule the keynotes. You weren’t in charge of the venue. You didn’t choose the subject matter. In fact, other than buying a ticket and showing up with your iPad and your fired up Twitter account, you had nothing to do with it, right?

Exactly my point.

I don’t care how much it cost you, how many people were there, where it was located, what venue it was in, who was speaking or what company it was run by. The success of that event for you is in direct proportion with the effort you put into it.

Here are the facts. You are thrown into a room with speakers that are oozing value and want to share it with you. Attendees that are there to learn are also scouring the place looking to meet new people within their industry. Vendors are paying a lot of money for a mere few minutes of your time just to show you what they do.

There are opportunities everywhere. If you missed them, you blew it.

But you don’t have to blow it next time. That’s what this article is about. It’s 13 of the best little bits of advice I have to give you to make sure your next conference is an overwhelming success. Whether I am there as an attendee or a speaker this is the mindset I have when I walk into that room. And this is why I always leave with more value than anyone else there. It works. Trust me.

1. Bring 25 Business Cards with You Each Day

No more. No less. I know this goes against conventional wisdom which states that you should bring two for every person within a 25 mile radius of the convention hall. Don’t. If you bring a lot of cards you are going to want to give them all out. That’s when you become that guy. You know that guy. The one handing out business cards as if he was dealing blackjack. Nobody likes that guy. Nobody respects that guy. And nobody remembers that guy. By bringing only 25 cards you are forced to seek out and create 25 quality relationships throughout each day. That means spending more than just a few minutes with someone. It means really discovering who they are. It means telling them something interesting about yourself instead of attempting to sell them. This is called building a relationship. Wouldn’t you rather have 25 new friends instead of 1,000 less business cards?

2. Eat Lunch in the Conference Center

I don’t care if you bring your lunch or go out and get something and bring it back. There is no eating outside of the convention center. Even if it’s a nice day. You aren’t likely to find a small empty table with one chair or a quiet corner that nobody else knows about inside which means you are going to have to sit with a bunch of strangers. It’s a great opportunity to stretch outside of your comfort zone and build a few new relationships.

3. Be Friends with the Ushers that Check You in at the Door.

You know those folks that stand in front of the door to check you in to each track? Well, believe it or not they are human beings! And they have cool stuff like feelings and personalities! Get to know each of them…sincerely. Be nice to them. Joke around with them. Have a little fun with them. Make them smile. The benefit? You will meet some nice people. And there may be a time or two where you are let in early or allowed into a sold out track while everyone else is turned away. Hey, friends hook each other up. Just be sincere. Like most people, they can smell a skunk a mile away.

4. Sit in the Front Row

If this were a concert you would knock over women and children to get to the front row. Yet at a conference, you tend to find the “safe” seat. The one towards the back with easy access to the exit. Instead, force yourself to sit in the front row for each track. Sitting in the front row assures that you aren’t going to drift into lala land, check your e-mail, play Angry Birds or partake in a host of other attention stealers while the speaker is talking. You have no choice but to be totally present. An active listener. You know…the reason you came here in the first place.

5. Clear Your Entire Schedule for the Week

A lot of stuff goes on during the week of the conference. Parties, keynotes and various after hours hangouts are as much a part of the conference as the tracks themselves. I once missed a really good keynote and networking party because I booked a speaking engagement well after the last track not realizing there would be some cool after hours stuff going on. I missed out. Trust me, it’s better to just clear your entire schedule and make room for anything that might come along.

6. Schedule Your Sessions One Day in Advance

The night before the first day, read through every track on the schedule. You can usually find them posted on the conference website. If not, get there at least an hour early. Pick the top two tracks you want to attend in each time slot for the first day only. Put them on your calendar by adding a 1 for your first choice and a 2 for your second. Make sure you include the track name, speaker and room number as well. If for some reason you either don’t like the track, it was cancelled or the room is full, head over to your second choice. At the end of the day just repeat by creating your schedule for the next day. Just be sure to only schedule one day at a time in case you catch a new speaker or subject matter that you now want to check out the next day.

7. Be the First to Ask a Question

Most tracks end in a Q&A session which tends to result in a blown opportunity for a majority of the room. I don’t get it. The speaker is likely someone that you have been hounding on Twitter for months in an attempt to get their attention and yet now that you have it the little voice in your head tells you not to get up and ask. Don’t listen. Being the first to ask a question gives you an opportunity to introduce yourself not only to the speaker but to a room full of like-minded people. If that doesn’t sell you, this might. A speaker’s biggest fear is that uncomfortable silence that comes after asking for questions and no one jumps out of their chair. A lot of speakers tend to reward those brave souls that step up first by giving away copies of their book or free admission into their programs. Free stuff is awesome.

8. Seek Out the People Running the Conference

Get to know the people behind the curtain. They are usually pretty awesome. Sometimes not, but in my experience, pretty awesome covers it. The reason I am writing this post is because I got to know a few of the people that ran BlogWorld and grew to really like them. I get the feeling that I’m one of their favorite people in the whole wide world as well. (The previous statement cannot be confirmed or denied at this time.) The only thing I would caution you with here is not to get to know them with the expectation of getting something in return. Life doesn’t work that way. Get to know them because they are cool people with a cool job. If you get some insight or a foot in the door along the way make sure that it is because they recognized that you have a lot of value to offer. Not because you’re a suck-up.

9. Don’t Tweet During the Tracks

I know this is not a very popular one. Sorry. I’ve watched too many people come to these things and stare at their Twitter screen waiting for the speaker to say something profound. And then spend the next few minutes trying to figure out a clever way to cram it into 140 characters. Ultimately they end up missing a bunch of other stuff that gets said in the meantime. Stop. Take good notes instead. Write down the good quotes and then during a break you can Tweet away. Sure, you may not be as timely as some others but more importantly you didn’t miss anything. Ultimately that’s what counts! Your Tweet only lasts for a few minutes. The knowledge you pick up by actually paying attention can last a heck of a lot longer.

10. Follow Each Speaker on Twitter

After each track, make sure you are following the speaker on Twitter and give them a shout out. Thank them by pointing out one solid thing that you picked up from them. First, it’s a nice thing to do. The speaker likes to know that they have reached their audience. Second, it’s a good way to get on their radar. Bonus points if you asked them a question during the Q&A so they recognize you when you Tweet them!

11. Visit and Speak with Every Single Vendor

The majority of these conferences have an area set aside for vendors to have a booth and pitch their wares. Most of us tend to stop by the booths with the best swag. But you’re not most people. Not anymore. Rather than just roaming around and stopping at one or two vendors, start at the beginning and visit each one. Don’t stop until you have talked to every single vendor. It will give you a chance to see what other companies are doing. Who knows, you might even find some synergy with a company that you normally would never have come across. Heck, you might even meet some cool people. And if all else fails, you’ll end up with a new wardrobe of free t-shirts and squeezy balls with someone else’s logo on it.

12. Get Yourself Interviewed

Often times you will see folks with cameras or podcasts looking to interview speakers and attendees. Pretty much anyone with half of a personality. Do whatever you can to get in front of them to be interviewed. I know, you aren’t camera material. Even more reason to get out there. It’s a great opportunity to practice being interviewed. It may even turn into a good promo piece for you! Free promotion! And who is going to turn down free promotion!?!?

13. Shut Off Any Work Related Stuff

Leading up to the conference make sure that you have any necessary systems in place that allow you to leave work behind for a few days. Don’t waste the time in between tracks distracted by work related e-mail or calls unless it’s an emergency. That time should be spent networking, visiting the vendors, going to the book signings, talking to speakers, meeting the people running the conference and all of the other stuff we have been talking about up until now. It’s a great opportunity and it’s only around for a few short days. Use your time wisely.

The easy part is done. Now comes the hard part. Actually doing it. Regardless of whether you are a newbie or an old pro at attending conferences, I challenge you to take each of these on and see what kind of results you get at your next conference.

Do you have any tips that help make the conferences you attend a big success? If so, leave them in the comments below and let’s keep the conversation going!

What NOT to do at BlogWorld (And One Big Fat Event Secret)


I’ve written often about what to do at BlogWorld – tips to help you prepare, tips to help you while you’re at the event…I’m about tipped out. Well, almost. BlogWorld LA is going to be here in less than two weeks, so I wanted to write one last post, this time featuring what not to do while attending. Oh, and head to the end because I have a big, fat conference secret that might just change the way you approach the entire event!


Tip #1: Don’t over-promise.

Thousands of really awesome people attend BlogWorld every year, and a-lister or not, a lot of them want to meet you (even if they don’t know it yet). Some of your friends might be speaking. People plan dinners and unofficial events. There are parties every night.

I know you want to do everything, but chances are pretty good that you won’t be able to get to all the cool stuff you want to attend. Don’t promise that you’ll be there, because when you miss it, you’ll disappoint (and maybe even anger) your friends and new acquaintances. The fact of the matter is that events overlap and sometimes you just need to refresh in your room for a few hours. Instead of promising that you’ll definitely be wherever someone wants you to be, tell them you’re going to do you best (and then actually do your best).

Tip #2: Don’t go to your friends’ sessions.

Deb might want to ring my neck for telling you to not go to sessions, but the point isn’t to skip them completely. Just attend the one that most fits your new media interests and needs in every time slot. With well over 200 speakers, you probably have some friends who are presenting sessions. That’s awesome. Go and support them – IF there are no other sessions that interest you at that time. You can always listen to their presentations via the virtual ticket after BlogWorld ends, but you only get one chance to actually network and ask questions in-person with the speaker presenting a topic that truly interests you. So choose how to spend your time wisely!

Tip #3: Don’t panic.

There’s a lot to do and see. You won’t do it all or see it all. It’s okay. Breathe. Focus on enjoying your time there, not on worrying that you aren’t making the most of your experience.

One of my fave pictures from BlogWorld 2010!

Tip #4: Don’t neglect Twitter.

A lot of people make jokes about people who are tweeting during the event when they could be hanging out with online friends face-to-face. While it is true that you should put your phone down to have dinner with a colleague or drinks with some readers of your blog, don’t turn it off completely. When you neglect Twitter, you miss out on the really cool stuff that pops up. Some of the coolest people I met last year were people I only met because I was watching the BlogWorld hashtag (it’s #BWELA for this upcoming event). I got to go to dinner with David Murray. I got to hang out in Darren Rowse’s suite. I got to sit up talking with Jordan Cooper until the wee hours of the morning. None of that would have happened if I wouldn’t have been using Twitter while at BlogWorld. This event is all about the people you’ll meet (like the wonderful group pictured at left), and they aren’t always listed in the program guide.

Tip #5: Don’t drink too much.

The opportunity is there. A lot of people do. If you want to party, go a day early or stay a day late. I have a heck of a good time in Vegas last year before BlogWorld started! But during the official event? Represent yourself well. BlogWorld should be fun, but this is also a professional event. No one wants to work with the guy who’s trashed and stumbling away from the party with a random hook-up on his arm and no one wants to be associated with the chick throwing up in the bathroom. Using “but my brand is edgy” isn’t an excuse. A lot of “edgy”-branded people go to BlogWorld parties and drink, but I’ve never seen Scott Stratten or Miss Destructo or anyone other a-lister get wasted when they should be networking.

Tip #6: Don’t give me your card until after our conversation.

At every BlogWorld, people seem to fall into three categories: those who have a stack of freshly-printed cards they’re actually holding in anticipation, those who have cards but rarely remember to give them out, and those who give cards when it makes sense. Be part of the last group. If we’ve barely met, I don’t want your card. Walking up to me and handing it out as you give your elevator pitch is not a good marketing plan. Talk to me. Get to know me. And then, if we connect and there’s a reason we might want to email one another in the future, give me a card before we part ways.

Tip #7: Don’t be a stalker.

One of the great things about BlogWorld is that tons of a-listers a attend and unlike many other events where they’re whisked away as soon as they’re done speaking, most actually stick around and talk to fans at BlogWorld. You’ll see many of them attending other sessions, perusing the expo floor, and hanging out at official parties, so there’s lots of time to say hello. Say it! They want to meet you (in my experiences). But don’t be a stalker. Just because you said hello to an a-lister (or anyone at BlogWorld for that matter), doesn’t mean that you’re now best friends. Give them some space. When you start popping up everywhere and monopolizing their time, it’s just…well…creepy and annoying.

Tip #8: Don’t forget to follow up.

As soon as you get home (or even back to the hotel room if you have time), follow up on the business cards you collected. Check out sites you promised to check out. Follow people on Twitter. Draft emails that you promised to send. Say thank you if someone helped you. If you let these tasks go, they’ll never get done. Two months later, you aren’t going to remember a lot of the people you met if you didn’t follow up with a relationship immediately after the event – and they certainly won’t remember you either.

Tip #9: Don’t forget to bring your camera.

And more importantly, don’t forget to use it! You may not see these people again until next year. And in reality, you may not see these people again EVER. Bring your camera to capture the fun moments. No one ever leaves and event thinking “man, I wish I wouldn’t have taken so many pictures” but all too often, we leave wishing we would have taken more.

And One Big, Fat Secret? Okay, are you ready for this. Here’s what I didn’t know coming into my first major event that has changed my outlook: Everybody is nervous about attending.


Last year, I let my nerves get the best of me on several occasions, and I thought I was totally alone. When I wrote about my experiences afterward, however, I found out that I wasn’t! Even people like Chris Garrett and Andy Hayes stopped by to comment about feeling similar at times. We all have insecurities. We all have “heroes” who we’re nervous to meet. We all get anxious when going to a party where we don’t know anyone else. We all worry about what other people thing. It’s human nature. Some of us are more anxious than others, but at BlogWorld, I’d say there are probably more introverts than extroverts. We spend all day blogging behind a computer screen. Meeting people in real life is scarey.

So don’t think you’re the only one who needs to retreat to the hotel for a few hours of alone time. Just don’t let fear paralyze you to the point where you stay there. We’re very nice people. I promise. 🙂

How to be a Good Swag-Grabber


This weekend, the BlogWorld Expo team headed to San Diego for BlogHer, a blogging and social media conference for women featuring educational sessions, networking parties, and an expo hall full of sponsors. Before I ever left, veteran BlogHer attendees warned me to either pack an empty bag, bring some extra cash for shipping, or leave room in my suitcase for swag…and they were right. One of the ways BlogHer differs from other events is that their sponsors are there promoting everyday household items (like cleaning products and food), rather than just blogging tools and technology. It’s an awesome place to find new affiliate programs and connect with companies looking for reviewers.

With dozens of companies handing out swag that ranged from candy bars to pain relievers to sunglasses, it wasn’t long before I, like many of the other attendees, was carrying two bags overflowing with goodies. In fact, I took a picture of all the samples and promotional items I picked up on the first morning:

BlogHer 2011 swag

At BlogWorld Expo and other industry conferences, there isn’t nearly as much swag, but no matter where you go, you will find at least a few companies giving away free stuff. If you’re going to pick up some items to take home, here are a few tips you should keep in mind to help you be a better swag-grabber.

  • Actually talk to the company about their products.

Yes, it is time-consuming to talk to people at sponsor booths, but if you’re going to take some swag, it is polite to listen to their pitch. This isn’t just about being polite, though. Often, the samples companies give away are brand new products with special features, unlike the old products from the same company that you may have tried in the past. If you take a moment to learn about the company, you might also find out that they have an affiliate or review program that would work well for your blog.

  • Talk about the products you pick up.

Not every piece of swag available at a conference will be right for a review on your blog. If a company is giving out free samples of their breakfast sandwiches (like Jimmy Dean was at BlogWorld) and you primarily write about new media (like I do), there’s not much of a connection. That doesn’t mean that I can’t talk about the product, though. If you try a sample of something, the least you can do is mention it to a friend if you do (or do not) like that product. For items you really like or dislike, I also recommend sending a quick email to the company with your feedback. Most appreciate that nearly as much as they appreciate a post reviewing their products. better yet, if you like a product, buy it in the future!

  • Don’t be greedy.

Companies spend a lot of money on swag, and while they are happy to give you an item to try out, don’t be greedy. We all like free stuff, but walking past a table ten times to pick up items or worse, taking a whole handful under the guise “they’re for my friends” just isn’t cool. At the end of conferences, many companies have run out of items, so some bloggers might not get swag because you took more than your fair share. Only take more than one if you truly do have a friend who would use the item (and talk/blog about it), the item can be given away on your blog or otherwise account for more promotion for the company than if you had just taken one item, or the company representative invites you to take more. Pro tip: if you really want more of a certain item, go to the booth at the very end of the show, as the company is starting to pack up. They hate shipping home leftovers and are often happy to give you extra items at that point.

My suitcase was literally bursting at the seams from all the cool stuff I picked up at BlogHer – and I can’t wait to follow up on my connections and talk about some of the products I picked up. Feel free to share you swag-grabbing tips below with a comment!

4 Tips To Better Follow Up After a Conference


When you go to a conference, often times it’s to learn and other times, well, all the time whether you see or not, it’s to network as well. Big events such as BlogWorld are an incredible place to network and establish some solid connections. Problem being, that’s usually where it stops and opportunity is flushed down the drain. Let’s fix that…

Mike Stenger is a Social Media specialist with a huge passion of the platforms around us. You can find him on his blog where he talks about Social Media Tips And Business Success.

Plan, Prioritize, and Prepare For Anything: My Conference Tips!


I just finished attending Comic Con this past weekend (my third year in a row) and am headed off to an SCBWI Writer’s Conference today (my second year in a row, fourth time attending a writer’s conference). Although BlogWorld & New Media Expo fits somewhere in between these as far as scope and amount of attendees, I figure my tips (from these conferences and the others I’ve attended in the past) should be of help to some of you.

I’m a planner by nature, so when it comes to conferences I scour the conference tracks and the exhibit schedule. I research the speakers and exhibitors, and put together a plan of where I’m going to go and when. But it’s not only the event itself that needs planning … it’s travel arrangements, parking, bringing snacks to munch on, packing a jacket for the freezing cold conference rooms (and they are always freezing!) and of course what to wear to the parties.

Sometimes you can’t fit it all in. There’s no way. It might be two panels at the same time or a book signing on the expo floor at the same time as a speaker in another room. You have to prioritize. Pick one, two, or maybe three things that you want to make sure to hit during a particular day, and plan around it. With Comic Con it’s pretty insane – you may choose a panel as your top priority, and then realize you’ll need to go park it in Hall H all day, just to make sure you see it! With a large event, you definitely need to plan for lines and crowds.

Prepare For Anything:
I can’t stress enough how much you need to be prepared – and this will be completely based on what your goals are for the conference. If you’re taking pictures, bring an extra camera battery! If you’re live blogging, bring along your charger and make sure you have Internet access. If you are networking, make sure you’ve got a ton of business cards (I have a major fail on this one for my upcoming conference). If you want a book signed, make sure to pack it with you!

Nikki Katz is the Managing Editor for the BlogWorld Blog and is exhausted from only one day at Comic Con! Feel free to follow her Twitter @nikki_blogworld and @katzni

Image Source: SXC

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