Guest post by Katie Hornor of Como Blog.
Business conferences and niche conferences are an excellent way to increase your subject knowledge and grow your business network. There is nothing like face to face for building relationships. And there are countless conferences to choose from annually.
I have heard successful business people say you should attend at least 3 conferences yearly. One in your niche with an attendee group you can serve. One in your niche that you attend specifically to learn and improve in a weak area. And one outside of your niche market where you can learn from and network with professionals in other fields. Exposure to other niches, strategies, and viewpoints can give you an edge in your own market as it intersects with theirs.
However, because of financial, schedule or logistical reasons, it may not be possible to attend every conference you’d like to attend. That is unfortunate, but not a total loss. Here are 5 ways you can still reap the benefits of those events without being there in person.
1. Follow the Speakers
Most live events will announce their speakers well in advance. It’s part of their marketing strategy for the event. Make a point to follow the speaker’s blogs and social media using your business social media account. You can glean a lot from what they share ahead of the conference. By interacting with them, you can establish a relationship for business that may open the door for more contact and perhaps even partnerships later. You may also get more exposure as a result of interacting with their followers as well.
2. Attend Pre-conference Virtual Events
There are generally great tidbits of information shared during webinars, facebook parties and twitter chats as the conference tries to build excitement for what is to come. Follow and participate in those social events. If you are present and engage there (again using your business account) you can learn a lot and you may also grow your own network through contacts made with other attendees.
3. Follow the Hashtag During the Conference
Most events will have their own hashtag. Find out what it is and follow the stream of tweets throughout the event. You can interact with the sponsors, brands, speakers, attendees etc, just as if you were there. Make connections, retweet important things to your own followers, initiate conversations, find new people to follow, etc. Being present on social media allows you to be an influencer at the event, without being at the event.
4. Order the Recordings of the Conference Sessions
Most live events will have recordings and/or live video streaming of their sessions which they will offer for purchase. The benefit of purchasing the recordings is that you get every session, whereas if you are there in person, you will have choose between sessions.
5. Follow Up After the Conference
Was there anything incredibly helpful that you learned? Thank the speaker, sponsor, or event publicly. Make a social media mention with the conference hashtag a few days to a week after the conference has ended. In a live-in-the-present society, we tend to quickly forget things that are over and move on to the next thing. The speakers and conference organizers will be thankful for the mention that helps create an afterglow buzz for their event, and will often retweet it to their followers.
Do you have a blog or podcast? Offer to interview one of the speakers as a follow up to the session they gave at the conference. Everyone likes free publicity, and their information as well as their influence can be beneficial to your audience and to your platform.
Katie Hornor is a work-at-home-professional and the founder of Como Blog, a bilingual education site for bloggers and online business owners, and the new Como Blog Connection, where you will find resources, connections, and mentoring to spur you on to reach your business dreams. Get info about The Connection and download the Free ebook 50 Powerful Tips for Successful Business Habits at Como Blog.