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So What? How to get the most out of a conference

So What? Marketing Analytics and Insights Live

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In this week’s episode of So What? we focus on how to get the most out of a conference. We walk through personal goal setting, how to navigate networking events and what to do post-conference. Catch the replay here:

So What? How to get the most out of a conference


In this episode you’ll learn: 

  • How to set your personal goals for the conference
  • Navigating the networking events
  • What to do once the conference is over

Upcoming Episodes:

  • TBD


Have a question or topic you’d like to see us cover? Reach out here:

AI-Generated Transcript:

Katie Robbert 0:26
Well, hey everyone, Happy Thursday. Welcome to so with the marketing analytics and insights live show I am Katie, joined by Chris and John. This week, we are talking about how to get the most out of the conference. Next week, there will be no live stream because the three of us will actually be at a conference marketing profs B2B in Boston. So today, we want to take a minute, as a lot of people are starting to return to conferences, a lot of people have switched careers, and maybe marketing conferences are new to you. Or maybe just for whatever reason this is, you know, the your first time attending any kind of a conference, I was only new to conferences a few years ago, myself. And so we just wanted to talk about how to get the most out of a conference so that when you go there, that can be overwhelming. You know, there’s a lot of people, it can be hard to sort of navigate. So, I mean, Chris and John are, you know, old pros at this, you know, they’ve been doing conferences longer than I’ve been alive. And then when I came on the scene we’re not way I want to ask both of you like, you know, what are you looking forward to the most out of next week? It’s going to be the first time actually that the three of us have been in the same room together in a couple of years.

John Wall 1:49
Yeah, cheese, Danish. I can’t get cheese Danish anywhere out here. And so that’s the number one thing on my list priorities. But no, yeah, it’s amazing to get back on. It’s because it’s been years, I suppose I wasn’t able to do inbound, I tested positive for COVID, like three weeks ago. So I haven’t been on a trade show floor since like, 2019, I guess, which is just insane. Because my background, I mean, I worked at an events company years ago. I mean, I would do 30 or 40 events a year. So yeah, for me to have gone this long without being you know, having a horrible lunch and be cattle called around for four days. It’s just unheard of.

Katie Robbert 2:28
What about you, Chris?

Christopher Penn 2:30
So for, for getting value out of conferences. The one thing that well, one of my martial arts?

Katie Robbert 2:37
Let me go back for a second. What are you looking forward to the most for next week? And then we can get into the other?

Christopher Penn 2:43
What are you looking forward to the most for next week for the marketing press conference? I’m listening to what other people’s questions are. Because I find that as a content creator, as as a marketer, as a as a marketer, marketing to marketers, I don’t always have the best sense of what’s on people’s minds. So being able to just sit and listen to people listen to their questions, listen to their reactions, you know, lunch tables, breakfast, table talks, et cetera. I always find interesting, exciting, because that’s where you get the really good stuff, particularly if, you know, after maybe an hour or so at the bar, where people are like, okay, they’ve, they’ve shaken off their nervousness and stuff like that they’re standing in your personal space breathing on you, then the really interesting questions start coming out.

Katie Robbert 3:37
Well, I am definitely not excited for the invasion of my personal space. I should probably just get like a hula hoop and attach it to my waist. And so people can like, if they can get past the hula hoop like they’ve gone too far,

John Wall 3:49
the alarm goes off.

Christopher Penn 3:52
Exactly, I You should wear one of these masks, these keep people away, you’d be surprised.

Katie Robbert 3:56
I have my own set of masks. Thank you. Alright, so let’s get into sort of let’s talk about how to get value out of a conference. So Chris, I apologize, I interrupted you, but you had started to go down that road.

Christopher Penn 4:10
One of the things that one of my martial arts teachers taught us years ago was for any kind of professional development of any conference, event, seminar, whatever, go into it with a burning question, go into it with a question that you need an answer to, so that you can ask as many people about it as possible, you know, my burning question that I want to know from people at Mark and Crosby before, you know, in general is how are you currently doing? If you are how are you currently doing marketing mix modeling? Because I have some thoughts about this. This is something that I wanted to develop for Trust Insights and our customers next year, and there’s a lot of different solutions. But I want to get a sense of if I ask people that question that like hack, then like okay, well, it’s gonna be a while before like this. This idea becomes mainstream. Maybe it’s something I need to write a book about to introduce the idea. Or if everybody’s like, Oh, yeah, we’ve been doing that for years. And this is how we do it like, okay, great. How can I improve on it, then? But no, there’s, there’s a need for it in the market. So that’s, that’s the number one thing I do to get value out of a conference is going with a burning question. So that I have an understanding of this is if I get this question answered, from peers and other experts, I will have gotten value out of this conference.

Katie Robbert 5:27
What about you, John?

John Wall 5:29
Yeah, you know, there’s three areas, usually where that will end up drawing me out to a show, you know, one is if the attendees are the profile of your customer, like, that’s the easy one, if a bunch of your customers are going to be at a show, you can go there. The other one that happens a lot more than you think is events where it draws out enough crowd that it’s just it makes it the right networking opportunity. Like you may not even care about any of the sessions. But the fact that you can talk to a list of 15 people all over three days, that’s actually going to save you, you know, five weeks of travel throughout the rest of the year. So there’s some things that you go to just because of the the networking and the audience that’s there. And then, in a rare occasion, you get in some industries, there’s just events that you can’t miss, you know, if you have anything to do with entertainment, now you’re gonna go to Comic Con, because that’s just what you do. And, you know, there’s shows like that that are unlit. So if it’s any of those three, that’s enough to get me out the door. And for us, pretty much it’s always, you know, now it has become the second one, I think we can talk about this too. It’s interesting. When you look at the agendas for some of these sessions, some of these shows now, I’m gonna go because everybody’s there, but I look at the agenda. I’m like, Oh, my God, no, I’m not going to spend five minutes in any of these things. Like, this is the worst, you know, bunch of vendor pitches I’ve ever seen in my life. But yeah, it ultimately just comes down to it’s a chance to get in person FaceTime, you know, to talk to people, ask them questions, and get real time feedback, not, you know, trying to read an email and figure out what you think they meant by that?

Christopher Penn 7:01
Well, John, you don’t want to 5x your pipeline with the secrets of Account

John Wall 7:04
Based Marketing, and X, come on 10x. Turn it up, crush it, man.

Katie Robbert 7:10
I mean, if you tell me it could be 12x, then maybe

John Wall 7:14
you and your puny 10x stepaside?

Christopher Penn 7:18
What about you, Katie? What are you looking forward to? What are you? And what do you look do to get stuff out of events,

Katie Robbert 7:23
I’m looking forward to seeing a bunch of my friends. So that’ll be fun. You know, that aside, when I go into an event, I don’t have a specific question in mind. But my agenda is to just sort of sit back and listen to how people are approaching their marketing in general. And, you know, what are things that I maybe hadn’t thought of? Or, you know, what are questions that people are struggling with? And so one of the things that, you know, we feel is happening right now is that a lot of it is back to basics. Because a lot of people, you know, have switched careers, or, you know, their teams have turned over or whatever the reason. And so, what I’m going to be looking for and listening for are those topics that people are consistently talking about having trouble communicating. And so a lot of what the sessions are about, are, here’s how to do this thing, or here’s this idea. And so to me, I find that interesting of, well, why this topic? And did it resonate with the audience? And so And is there something that we can do with that information? How can we put our own spin on it? Or how can we partner with whoever gave the talk to enhance it? So those are the kinds of things that I look for, when I go so I go in with the agenda of pretty much wide open. But I’m constantly data collecting constantly thinking about, you know, what does this mean for Trust Insights? What does this mean, for me personally? You know, what haven’t I been thinking about? You know, or is there a new way to think about the same idea? Yep. You know, and I think that that’s, you know, as we think about, if you’re going to a conference for the first time, or if it’s been a while, or even if you go to conferences all the time. You know, Chris, this is something that you and I talk about a lot is, you know, what are speakers bringing to the table? And is the new innovative idea, is that a new spin on the same idea? Or is it just the same idea, and maybe they want you to just sort of like think about it a little to the left, so that you can maybe do something practical with it. So in terms of setting your expectations, I think that you know, to Chris’s point originally is go in with a question. And then that way, you’re not just looking for the latest and greatest shiny object because those are going to be everywhere. You’re The vendors are going to be pushing what they call new things on you people say they have new ideas, you may not necessarily need new ideas, you may need new spins on current ideas.

Christopher Penn 10:12
It’s funny you say that, because for a lot of events that I go to, that might have value, I’m specifically looking for the stuff that isn’t ready for the stage. So one of the worst kept secrets in the conference industry, particularly marketing industry is that what’s on stage is a year old, right? Because it’s had time to become a talk to become a book to become a thought leadership platform. And it’s not new. You know, there’s sessions on Account Based Marketing and stuff like, yeah, we’ve been doing that since 2015. But like a Content Marketing World, I was sitting down at one of the the gatherings with a friend of ours, and just talking about what he’s working on. He’s like, Yeah, behind the scenes, this is what’s going on right now. He’s like, I got advanced notice of this, and I’m telling you this, this was gonna happen in six months, here’s what you should be doing. He’s like, we’re not ready to put those, you know, we’re not gonna we’re not gonna tell anybody this except our friends and our clients. And I’m like, taking notes. Like, okay, so need to know that. And talking about like, the different ideas. So you know, we got a long discussion about the difference between diffusers and transformers, AI technology, and how we could see this stuff being applied. And for me, that’s where I get the most value out of an event is the hallway conversations, the stuff that’s not on stage, the stuff that isn’t ready for the stage, because, you know, it’s like some of the stuff I was working on this morning. For some of our clients. It’s not ready for primetime. Right? It’s still janky. It’s still got some bugs. It’s cool. And you know, if you catch me at the right time, and Mark and prosper example, I’d be like, Yeah, you know, here’s what I’m working on right now. But is it? Is it stage ready for talk? No. But is there value in? Yes, because that’s what’s going on right now. And I think if, if folks wanted to really optimize what they can get out of the conference, do I, I hate calling him networking, and we’re going to rant about this on the podcast one of these days. But build those professional friendships with people so that yeah, you can grab coffee or, you know, hotel chicken or or beers with your your professional friends and say like, Yeah, this is what what what are you working on? What’s what’s going on behind the scenes at your place?

Katie Robbert 12:26
Well, until we come up with a better name for it, let’s call it networking. So the next question that we wanted to tackle was navigating networking events. And so the first non clinical event that I went to was actually with you, Chris, when I joined you at the old agency, it was actually marketing profs was my first commercial event, for lack of a better term. non academic, I guess, is the best way to put it. And it was very overwhelming to me. And basically, I just trailed behind you, because I didn’t know anybody. I barely had an idea of what was going on what to expect. It was like no event I’ve ever been to, and it wasn’t even really the biggest, you know, event we’ve been to since then. But it was like sensory overload for me. And, you know, as someone I was lucky to have you sort of guiding me through it, because you knew so many of the people at the event already. But what advice would both of you give to someone who’s maybe doesn’t have the benefit of traveling with someone who knows all the players already? Like how do they navigate networking, without it just sort of being like, here’s my business card, then you come home with a pile of cards that you never look at again. So John, this is this is really kind of your jam. So I’ll turn it to you first.

John Wall 13:49
Yeah, it’s, it pays to be strategic, you know, look at the attendee list. Like if, if you’re just coming in green, and you don’t know anybody, you know, try on social media to find somebody to PAL up with who has been to the show, who can tell you kind of where to go and what to do. Because for every show, there’s all kinds of things like, Oh, you don’t go to this thing this evening. And whatever you do, don’t go on the boat cruises, oh, my God. You want to like lose five hours of your life, you’re never gonna get back on the boat cruise. So you know, there’s stuff like that. But yeah, try and have a plan. And it’s super tough if it’s your first year at event, but once you’ve got your feet wet, and you understand what you’re getting into, you know, the goal is that you’ve already got all your appointments set up. And your meetings have. And it doesn’t have to be hard times it can just be, hey, here’s four people that I want to meet. And I’ve said to them, Hey, I’m going to be on site. Let’s talk at some point. Because yeah, in a perfect world, you’ve got all the things that you want to accomplish written down so you have a plan as you go in there. Because you can go in and just start going to the the mixers and on the show floor to talk to vendors and randomly talk to people and you might have some great conversations. But if you at least have your pump primed with like, Okay, here’s Three people that I want to get to talk to and find out what they’ve got going on. And even an easy hack with that is, look at the agenda and pick one or two speakers that you’d really like to, you know, talk to and learn more about, you know, figure out what they’re going to talk about, if they’ve got a book, go ahead and buy it and bring a copy of it to get signed. And, you know, don’t be afraid after somebody’s session to go up to them and say, Hey, I like your work, like what’s going on. Because that can at least give you some, it can be a great conversation starter. And when you talk to someone at the end of the session, the other five or six people that are around you, these are your tribe, these are people that are interested in the same stuff and the same speaker. So that’s another great place to you know, if it’s a late session on the day, and you’re waiting to talk to the speaker, you can ask the other folks around your Hey, where are you guys going for dinner? You know, what are you guys doing for drinks, you can find out what’s happening and, and get to know some folks, which is really the what you can’t get, you know, that doesn’t happen in virtual.

Christopher Penn 15:55
The thing I do, particularly in event where I don’t know anybody, and maybe it’s you know, it’s not someplace where I’m known is at the first opportunity for like a meal break or coffee break or whatever, you look for people who are presenting friendly body language, right. So maybe they’re sitting at a table by themselves, but they’re looking around looking for somebody else to join them. And you sit on the other side of the table, don’t like get right next to him, don’t get their business. And just introduce yourself say hey, if it’s a start event, hey, you know, what are you looking forward to learning at the event, you know, or who you’re looking forward to see speak, if it’s in the middle? Or to the end of it? Ask them hey, what have you learned so far that you really liked? You know, what have you enjoyed? And I find that that is a great way to build that sort of impromptu network of somebody like, hey, these people that are interested in the same things, we’re all here for the same reason. We’re all here for it. It’s not like this person actually stumbled in from like, the home gardening show. I mean, maybe they did. But the, we want those people to you, we can find people to become our tribe at an event very, very quickly. Now, I will advise you to be really aware be really in tune because some people Yeah, some people just don’t want you to talk to them and respect that honor. That’s cool. Man, nice to meet you have a great show. But if they decide to engage in conversation stuff, you may find some pretty cool professional friendships that way, I found a number of folks over the years that way that it goes like, Okay, this is this is a person I’ll stay in touch with that, you know, has useful insights and things that, you know, let’s let’s let’s learn more together.

Katie Robbert 17:38
I think that makes sense. You know, I would add Chris to that if you’re sitting down with someone you never met. Another super easy place to start is, hey, what’s your name? What do you do? What kind of marketing are you in, tell me more about it and give the other person the opportunity to either open up to you or not. And to your point, Chris, pay attention to those cues. I’m awful at networking. Because I’m such an introvert, there is a reason why I used to be confused for a mute in high school because I can just sit there and not say anything for hours, believe it or not. But in a public forum, I will just sort of sit back, take a back seat and just sort of take it all in. And so I’m the person who if you sat down at a table across from me and tried to engage me in conversation, I would struggle with it, I wouldn’t necessarily open up, not because I’m trying to be rude or I don’t want to talk. It’s just not something that I’m good at. And so for me, I really do rely on the both of you to do the majority of the networking, like once I sort of warm up into a situation, you know, I can open up to people, I can talk to more random people, especially if they’re approaching me after a talk or something like that. But I’m not great at initiating that conversation. And I think that for you know, those folks who are going into an event that are sort of in the same boat as me, that’s okay. I think a great place to, you know, find people to talk to are like so one of the things that marketing profs is doing is the breakfast roundtables. And they did that when we were in San Francisco. And those were really successful. What they do a lot of events do this is basically during meal times, they’ll have pre chosen speakers are experts to sit at different tables with a specific topic in mind. And Chris 10 times out of 10, you cover something about analytics. And so if I was going in cold and I didn’t know anybody, I would probably pop by your table, introduce myself and be like, I’m interested in analytics. I have some questions, but I don’t know what they are right now. Can I grab your card and maybe follow up with you at another time so that way don’t feel the pressure to immediately engage in conversation. Maybe I’m more comfortable behind the scenes over email or something like that, but ask you that in person like is that okay? And that’s just another form of networking. The other piece of advice, you know, and so John’s saying, Don’t get on the booze cruise like, it’s really a waste of time to be quite honest. And I appreciate that these events are trying to put together like the fun after hours things because a lot of times people are stuck in a city that they’ve never been in and don’t know where to go. So the events are just trying to create a safe space for people to sort of stay contained. So they can, you know, like the mother hen keep track of all their little chickens. Just a word of caution, on those after hours events, there does tend to be a lot of alcohol flowing. And if that’s not your jam, that’s okay. If it is your jam, proceed with caution, because you’re in a strange city with strange people. That’s just my mother, hen PSA.

Christopher Penn 20:55
It it’s very valid. I mean, we have I was reading a book this past week, an upcoming book on events. And the event organizer was writing about this and saying li le at one of our events in the past, we had to eject several people from the event because of sexual harassment issues and stuff. So it is a very real problem. And it’s again, one of those things where I say be very cautious when how you approach people. Particularly if you are someone who is perceived as threatening to somebody else, make sure that you are super aware of people’s verbal and nonverbal cues, I mean, is the the last thing you want to do in any context, but especially in a professional context, where you’re not only representing yourself, you’re representing your company and brand is to make someone feel threatened.

Katie Robbert 21:42
It’s true. And you know, with that these events are safe events. You know, marketing profit is a very safe event, the coordinators, the whole team, they spend a lot of time and energy making sure that all of the attendees and the speakers are in safe environments that they have people who they can reach out to if they suddenly don’t feel safe. One of the tips that I would say for you, and events are really good at identifying these people through like shirts, or whatever it is, make sure you know who the event staff are. So that you can ask them if you have a question or a problem, or, God forbid, need to report something, but it happens.

Christopher Penn 22:21
Nobody, even even attendees can just help out as well, a Content Marketing World this past time, I was at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the party. And there was a person sort of just standing tentatively at the gate on the way out. And I said Are you okay? And they said, I’m not comfortable walking back to my hotel, I said, I’ll go with you. And they were very grateful to have just because they didn’t know Cleveland. And there are parts of Cleveland, you know,

Katie Robbert 22:50
any city to be

Christopher Penn 22:51
any city? Yeah. But we got the person back to their hotel safely. And and so everyone, if you have the opportunity to help out, and there’s someone who has need offered to help out, you know whether or not it turns into business, it’s just being a decent human being.

Katie Robbert 23:04
Well, and I think that that’s a really good pro tip, if you are someone who’s comfortable doing so if you’re a bit of an extrovert, or if you’re just looking for new ways to meet people at events, you can reach out to the event ahead of time and say, hey, you know, do you have anything you need help with, I’m happy to volunteer and maybe set up a room. And then you get to know the event staff who typically work at other companies, it’s a really good way to start to get involved. And it’s an easy way to meet people, because you’re there you showed up. I mean, I think Chris, a few years back when we went to marketing profs, I think we were there early, because of our flights. And they immediately put us to work and we were, you know, helping stuff bags and you know, put things out. But I didn’t know anybody and it was it helpful for me to get to know people in that specific context. John, you know, do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?

John Wall 23:59
Yeah, no, I’m score high on the extrovert scale. I mean, not a full 20. But you know, definitely in the 10 sided thing. Yeah. And one thing with that, too, on personal safety, keep your badge off. When you’re outside the venue. You know, when you leave the conference, and you’re out on the city streets, the badge is basically saying, Please rob me, you know, you have to

Christopher Penn 24:20
wear it, just for that reason, like, come on.

Katie Robbert 24:24
So to sort of get through the contradicting point of views, follow God’s advice. It’s follow John’s advice. The point being is inside the event space, you know, insurance reasons liability inside the event space, the coordinators of the event, that’s where they can protect you, once you step outside of that space. It’s sort of out of their hands, like they’ll do their best but you know, to John’s point, like, you’re basically walking down the street with a billboard saying, I’m not from here. This is my first and last name. This is where I’m staying. This is where I’m going. And so you know, sews your Common Sense, like if you’re comfortable with those things, if if you’re Chris, and you’re probably carrying 8000 Different hidden weapons, you’re probably fine. But if you are myself, someone like me who probably looks like an easy target, then proceed with caution. Yeah, that’s it is mine of whether or not I look like any

John Wall 25:22
scoring. Danger assessment. Yeah, I mean, these events are totally made for extroverts. There’s no doubt about that, you know, I mean, it’s just all social our and I be mindful of that with speakers do that’s another thing. There’s a lot of folks that I see this with keynotes where people just presume that because they’re a keynote, and they’d love to talk, that they want to now go out and spend three hours hitting the bars with everybody. Like that is not the case, there’s many a speaker that will leave and go to their hotel room to so that no one can talk to them for another three hours. Yeah, because that’s, again, just because somebody’s up on stage. And it’s telling a story, that doesn’t mean that stories are their thing. And they don’t want to hear about your family. That’s for damn sure.

Katie Robbert 26:06
You know, and I think this is sort of the other side of it. So you know, I can only give myself as an example. You know, I do get on stage, I do talk to people, I do talk on the shows, you know, as part of the job. You know, if you’re excited to see someone that you’ve been like, following or haven’t met before, definitely, probably don’t just walk up to them and start talking to them, because they may or may not know who you are. This happened to me a couple of years back at a show. I mean, you know, it wasn’t like an unsafe thing. But some gentleman approached me. And he said, Oh, my God, you’re Katie, I can’t wait to see your talk. And as someone who’s super introverted, I was like, how the hell do you know who I am? Where did you get my information? What are you doing here? Like it, it caught me off guard, because that’s not a situation I’m used to. And so definitely, you know, there’s time in place to make yourself known to people that you want to meet. And this was sort of John, what you were talking about earlier is, you know, you can make your shortlist you can reach out to people ahead of, you know, the conference in the event, you find them on social media follow them, you know, and that way, you’re not just like surprised, here I am. I wanted to meet you forever, it gets a little. Not everyone’s okay with that kind of approach. I’m personally not okay with it.

Christopher Penn 27:21
The dividing line and this is a line I find very helpful between introvert and extrovert is whether being around people recharges you like if you if you recharge from the the the fun of being around people, you are an extrovert, even if you’re not necessarily loud, if you just enjoy being in the crowd, you are an extrovert. If on the other hand, it takes energy from you, and it doesn’t refill you. You’re an introvert, you’re like, because they’re to John’s point, there are people who, yeah, they can be in a crowd, they can get on stage and stuff. But at the end of the day, they’re like, I have got to get 20 minutes of silence and darkness and just hide because your social battery is zero, it’s flashing red.

Katie Robbert 28:01
So I think we have to enter no two extroverts and an introvert.

Christopher Penn 28:07
I’m an ambivert. It depends on the day.

Katie Robbert 28:10
No, you just said there’s a dividing line, you don’t then get to make up a different rule, Chris?

John Wall 28:17
Because Chris, I would say, do you actually feel drained? I think by the end of the day, you’re tired? It

Christopher Penn 28:23
depends on the event in the crowd and why I’m there. Right? So marketing events, typically, yes, because I’m sharing a lot. But I’m not necessarily getting a lot back. When I go to like a data science or an AI event. I’m the other way around. I’m like, by the end of the day, like I’ve got all these ideas, and there’s always people I want to talk to and there’s all stuff that that I need to know that I you know that the whole reason I’m there is to say, okay, can somebody look at my code and tell me what I’m doing wrong here? You know, one of my favorite examples was at IBM think back in 2016. I was I showed up at the the data science experts station, I brought up my laptop and I sat with one of IBM’s PhDs in data science and I said, Tell me what I’m doing wrong and the guy goes into this guy goes, oh, like pretty much everything like that’s, that’s the wrong model to use. You’re you’re not using the right classification technique. So where’d you learn this? Make sure you never pay them any more money, like thank you, that’s, that’s, you know that so from, for me, part of the purpose of an event. And we can even talk about the five P’s when it comes to events but part of the purpose for me is getting knowledge out of the event that I can then go and use and the more of that that I get, the more excited I am for the event and the more fun it is for me if it’s like and now we’re going to talk about how to get more followers on Twitter as

well, my best thing is like an event like that where it’s It’s all how to get more followers on Twitter and you know why you should be doing email marketing like okay, probably the least the event content in not going to be super helpful to me, there might be like one or two little things. But to kind of do what you were saying earlier, John, it’s not worth spending 45 minutes for like one little thing in a session, I’d rather talk to people in the halls.

Katie Robbert 30:11
Right. But that still makes you an extrovert. Just because the you don’t find the content fun. Like, I feel like you sort of veered off the definitions. But regardless, you know, that bit of self awareness about sort of the time and space that you need, when you go into event is going to help you not get exhausted. And so the last topic we wanted to cover is after actions, so it’s all it’s great. It’s good, go to an event, do the networking, get what you can out of the, you know, sessions, talk to people go to the dinners, whatever it is, but then, then you go home, and then what? And I think that that’s the piece of the puzzle that’s often missed is the so what after an event, so like, you have this pile of notes that you’ve taken from every session, you’re so excited about all the things you’ve learned, you’re, you know, super stoked about all the cool people that you’ve just met? But then what, what do you do? So, you know, Chris, what are some what’s some advice that you could give to someone of how to make the most out of what they learned or who they met at an event, like 123 weeks? Post about?

Christopher Penn 31:23
In the first couple days, ideally, if you could do this, if you’re traveling, do it on the way home is write down not just what happened, but your thoughts because that stuff goes away really fast. At content marketing, well, I on my drive home, because at a 10 hour drive back, I recorded like three and a half hours of my just my thoughts and notes from the event as I was driving back, and I look back at it now like, oh, yeah, that’s right, that did happen. And I find that super helpful, there’s an app that we recommend, it’s called otter, if you go to trust ott er, it’s an AI based app where you just record a voice record into it, and then it transcribes it. And I find that super helpful right after an event, just stream of consciousness, get everything out of your brain, because part of the the excitement of an in person event is getting you out of your day to day, it gets you out of your office out of your chair, and your brain is gonna think different the moment you sit back down in that chair, you know, everything because we’re reattaches that’s number one. Number two is, at the very least, if you’ve met at least one person that you would consider now a professional friend, meaning that there’s no professional interests that overlap. And work out mentally yourself a schedule for staying in touch with that maybe you drop them a line once a month on LinkedIn, maybe you tweet at them, maybe you shoot them an email once a month, but build a habit of staying in touch because again, at these events, you may walk away with three or 400 people you’ve met at a time and you’re not going to remember them all. So pick the ideally, at least one person that like yeah, this was somebody who we seemed to be mutually valuable to each other in in a professional context. Let’s stay in touch. You know, for example, a number of years ago, we met our friend Jeff Coyle, over at market news. And he’s somebody I try and stay in touch with us on a regular and frequent basis. Not, you know, take his money or to give him our money, but just like, Okay, you you know, a lot of stuff, you see a lot of stuff in the industry soda, why? Let’s keep trading notes. So those are my two things, write down stuff before it goes away, because it goes away fast. And pick one person to stay in touch with at least one person to stay in touch with and set up a cadence for yourself whether or not the person reciprocate, set up a cadence for yourself to stay in touch.

Katie Robbert 33:34
What about you, John?

John Wall 33:37
Yeah, the big. So what is really never until 10 months later, you know, you’re looking at the next event, it’s coming back and like, are you actually going to go and give up your time and money to do it? And that’s when you’re gonna look back and say, oh, yeah, actually, I’ve met five people. Or maybe you don’t even you don’t even think about like, Hey, this is my chance to go hang out with my friends. So I’ve managed to clone here, just perfectly. Dual. John.

Christopher Penn 34:01
When someone is someone in a sales role, how much do you look at whether the event helped from a sales perspective? Yeah,

John Wall 34:09
well, that’s attribution model. Right? I mean, you should know which leads came in from the show and which ones he followed up with, and keep good records of that. That’s an interesting point. Like in Hubspot, I do have source code that I’ll throw in there for everybody that I know that’s going to show. So even if, you know they came in from some other thing, I can still look at the show and be like, oh, yeah, okay. You know, we had these seven people that came from other places, but they all think that this is the right show for them to be going to and they go to the show, so you will know that okay, yeah, just because we didn’t close any deals, you know, specifically from that we do know that, you know, there’s an 80% chance that the people there are the people like that would buy from us and that we should be there. So and you really crushed it though. The big thing is like, you have to do it, in fact, even more often than on the ride home. I even sit down at night. Like before I cash out for the day, you know, make a note on the business cards that you’ve got or just put it all on your into a Google Doc. So you’ve got it. But take notes on like, this session was good, this session was bad. Here’s the people I met. Here’s a couple things. Because yeah, it’s amazing, you won’t realize how you’ll, you know, it’s so funny, I don’t even know business cards are a thing, like they were before the pandemic, I don’t know if they’re gonna be a thing after the pandemic. But you can have a stack of 20 business cards and the day you get back home, like half of them, you’re gonna be like, where did I meet this person? What did I ask them? Like you won’t even know. So as soon as you get the card, if you even just put a few words like interested in this? Or does you know, this podcast or whatever, that kind of stuff will serve you well, in the long run. And then, yeah, you know, sending email is kind of a total mess. You know, every all the exhibitors SPAM for the next two weeks. So it’s hell, but don’t be afraid to link up to people on LinkedIn, you know, just say, hey, if the show was great to meet you, let’s connect here on LinkedIn. So now you’ve got that and you know, later on, you can follow up or and again, tag it for next year and say, Hey, you’re going back this year.

Christopher Penn 36:04
LinkedIn is definitely the way to go for that. Because it does allow you to stay in touch in a way, it’s gonna be less noisy than the inbox and stuff. Particularly if you don’t avoid doing it in the mobile app, if you can, if you can’t do it on a desktop, do it there, because you can then customize the note that goes along with the invitation. It’s a little harder to do that mobile app, but you can say like, Hey, you know, great meet with MP B2B. And that that way, that person who also met 300 people is like, oh, yeah, okay, well, at least I know, at least in a wire talking to me. One thing I do with the business cards is, I will, again, fire up a voice recorder, read the name, and then you know, audio type out my notes that way again, just just so that I can spend a little more time and not have to like write in two point font like who this person was. At inbound and Content Marketing World, I did not see a ton of people trading business cards. But I did see a lot of people exchanging data on phones, like, you know, let’s, let’s connect on LinkedIn and stuff. So if your LinkedIn profile is not up to date, now would be the time to do it before you go to the event so that it reflects who you want to be seen as,

Katie Robbert 37:07
I think that’s a really good piece of advice to you know, especially if you’re just sort of getting into the industry. Or if you’re looking to make a move in the industry, make sure that your LinkedIn profile and your Twitter bio, that you have a presence on social media, even if it’s a small presence, but that your bio is up to date. It’s a handle that you’re comfortable using whatever the thing is, because that really is the new business card. You know, what’s your handle on Twitter, you know, where can I find you on LinkedIn, and if someone shows up to look for you, and you’re either not there, or things are, you know, out of date, or just not complete, you’ve missed the opportunity to hold on to that connection that you worked really hard to make in the first place. So that is a really good piece of advice. A million years ago, I used to work with a man who when I traveled with him, he would do that exact thing. And I always, you know, was just amazed by his ability to he would take the business card and immediately start scribbling notes on it. And then when we got back to the office, you know, a few days later, he would spend, you know, a few days updating all of his contacts, and making sure that every little note that he took about that person was in his computer, in his contacts, make sure that there was, you know, a full story for each one. And then he would take the time to write those personal notes and emails to follow up with them. Oh, John, it was so great talking with you about, you know, the podcasts that you’ve been running for 15 years. And I’m really excited to learn more from you. And so he would go into details of the conversation that they had to show that he was listening. And he was just really great at making and keeping those connections because he took the time to give that personal touch. Now the flip side of that he was also the person who would spend the time to fill out all of the surveys after an event to give them feedback on what he felt they could do better. And a big part of that was, you know, can you make the person first name bigger, because a lot of times like the company is the biggest thing or you know, whatever it is, but it’s hard to read someone’s first name. And for depending on what the person is wearing it they may be showing the badge in a different place. And so you’re kind of squinting staring at someone’s you know, chest or someone’s leg or something, you’re like, What is going on and you’re like, I’m just trying to read your name, I just want to know what your name is. And so you know if that’s the case, if you get a badge and at the end you feel like your name is too small, then just get one of those Hello my name is and write it really big. So that way you feel like people can just approach you

Christopher Penn 39:47
exactly a couple other things that make it easy to network at events and then do stuff afterwards. Number one, make sure you carry a lot of cables right so this is one of my favorites is USB cable with the three different things everybody at some point and In their trade show, I was like, Oh crap, I didn’t charge my phone, does anyone have the cable for x, and you can be the person who goes, Hey, I’m pressing, here’s my cable, give it back to me. You’re done. Portable Power strips, you will be the best friend at the table. If, if you have a power strip that it can spread the, you know, the one outlet that’s in the room in the breakout room. The other thing that at the event, and after that we started doing recently, actually, a Katy suggestion, which has been a lot of fun, is recording a lot of media out events, even if it’s just your own thoughts, you know, just recording short reels, or videos or whatever, you might want to invest in like a little handheld stabilizer for your phone. Or if you have one of the newer phones has automatic stabilization. Record, create and create content if you’re comfortable doing so, because it does a couple things. One helps you remember stuff, too, it’s content that you can then go remarket with, right you can do if you go to the Trust Insights YouTube channel, you can see some of the travel stuff that we’ve talked about in the past. And three, if you get a chance, particularly if you talk to other people, you then can network with them and have a reason for reaching out with it to them, say like, Hey, we met at MarketingProfs. And the interview the five minute interview that we shot, I am just about to post it on YouTube, I forgot to tag you and see if maybe you want to do a follow up, you do want to webinars something like that. To do that, at a very least you need a decent camera, your mobile phone is probably good enough, you may want to invest in some, you know, wireless microphones and things I’ll be bringing these along with me to marketing processes, a couple of folks that I want to see if we can grab 10 minutes with them, just to get their thoughts, but it’s kind of like the marathon tip that I you still do. One of the things I do every year is I stand on the six mile mark at the Boston Marathon. Now I just shoot video and stuff photos. Because the videos are 4k videos, which is great. And then every runner that goes by that has gray hair, I take a steel frame, find their bib number, look them up on LinkedIn, say here’s a photo shot of you at mile six. Type A personalities who run marathons and have gray hair tend to be executives at companies. So it’s a great way to build a network by doing somebody else a favor. So all of these things are things you can do at the event and then follow up after the event and keep those connections strong.

Katie Robbert 42:17
I think the other thing that we haven’t talked about, you know, we could talk about conferences, you know, forever in terms of protests is if you’re sitting in a session, or if you’re having a conversation with someone and they say something that really resonates with you, you know, don’t be shy about, you know, sharing that quote on social media, but also make sure that you’re giving them credit, you know, so, you know, just had a great conversation with Chris Penn. Here are some of the tips that he gave me and then tag him in it. And so that’s a really great way again, to sort of show I was paying attention, I was listening, what you said was meaningful to me. And now I want to share it with other people. Because chances are that person also has an audience that you may feel that you can start to connect with. And you can build that community.

Christopher Penn 43:05
Yep. The last caution, particularly for events where you’re going with a team of people from your company, is make sure you spread out, make sure that you’re not all in the same sessions, you’re not all hanging out with the same people use the opportunity to build those professional friendships with other people, particularly people that you might it might not be in your ideal audience like the three of us are going to Mark and John, obviously in his role at the company really is charged with looking for decision makers and folks who could engage Trust Insights for for business. Katie, as a senior executive is going ideally is going to get a chance to chat with other senior executives, other CEOs, other people who she might be able to talk to the in a non sales capacity to say like, I just want to do this, you know, I’m going to try and find more nerds. Folks, like, you know, Jeff and Andy Crestodina. And folks in you know, just sit down, say, Okay, well, what are you guys working on? Again, not in a sales capacity, Justin, I want to hear what you’re working on. I’ll tell you what I’m working on a maybe some cool stuff that we can collaborate on. Particularly, if you are a creator, you’re a content creator, you want to be looking at people that you can create new content with that might not be the your usual crowd. You know, part of the joy of events is it’s not necessarily the usual crowd that you hang out with every day. So use that opportunity to branch out.

Katie Robbert 44:29
The thing I’m not looking forward to the most is all the spammy emails, I’m gonna get post event. All the lists that I magically suddenly going to appear on that I didn’t sign up for. And so I think sort of the flip side of that is if you are looking to network or make a meaningful connection, or whatever the case may be, then definitely proceed with caution with just adding people to your mailing list, you know, reaching out to them unsolicited, because you will immediately get thrown into the trash like I’m probably just going to spend four days deleting e males, I’m not even reading them. Personally,

Christopher Penn 45:02
I recorded a YouTube video the other day, because they always get that email. Hey, can we do have time for a quick call? Right? You get all these emails from all the vendors. And I just have a pre recorded five minute video of me pretending to be on a quick call with that I just say my lines and like, here’s, here’s a quick call by

Katie Robbert 45:18
let’s see, I won’t even get to the point of reading the email to see that that’s what they want. Oh, I don’t even bother opening it. So yeah, just proceed with caution. People are going to throw you into spam if you don’t sort of approach them the right way. John, anything you’re not looking forward to?

John Wall 45:37
Not like it was just a hassle, right? That’s the both the blessing and a curse is the fact that, you know, we can’t do these virtual events because the office always sucks you in. And so this is your chance to finally leave the office. So you’re gonna get to go do cool stuff, by going somewhere. But yeah, so now this means you’re going to have to deal with airplanes and trains and automobiles, and, you know, maybe bad food and a bunch of craziness. So it’s a hassle, but it’s definitely worth doing. One thing, post business card world, if you use a popsocket, I have one with my virtual card on there. So that way, I don’t have to carry cards around, I can just say here’s throw your camera at this, and I get my business card. And I don’t have to do any paper around, which is cool. So that’s something to try. If you’re in fact, you know, I’ll put a link up for that. Because to get the QR code to work, there’s some stuff you have to go through, but it’s definitely worth doing.

Katie Robbert 46:24
Well. And I think that that’s a really good especially for sort of this modern day and age, if you have the opportunity to turn your contact information into a QR code. That’s not a terrible idea. People will have their phones with them, they will be attached to them. Give them something to scan or you know, have your contact information in such a way you can say here just take a picture of it. It’s a smart way to

Christopher Penn 46:46
make a YouTube video with all my contact information in the description say like, Hey, you met me at this event. That’s video.

Katie Robbert 46:54
Yeah, also just have like a still image of you.

Christopher Penn 46:59
I could I’m gonna do a YouTube video. I don’t think that’s a great idea.

Katie Robbert 47:05
I’m glad I gave it to you. All right. Well, as we said next week, there is no live stream because the three of us will be live in person at MarketingProfs B2B in Boston. Very excited, we will all have an opportunity to debut our Trust Insights schwag. If the gentleman care to do so I’ll be wearing it so that I don’t have to make decisions about what I’m wearing. Any other parting thoughts for people who are attending conferences and how they can get the most out of the conference?

Christopher Penn 47:35
Three weeks before the event? Make sure you get your booster if you’re eligible for it. And please wear a mask.

John Wall 47:40
Yeah, to drink limit on site.

Katie Robbert 47:46
All right. I think that’s it for this week.

Christopher Penn 47:48
Thanks, everyone. I’ll talk to you next week. Thanks for watching today. Be sure to subscribe to our show wherever you’re watching it. For more resources. And to learn more. Check out the Trust Insights podcast at trust AI podcast and a weekly email newsletter at trust Got questions about what you saw in today’s episode. Join our free analytics for markers slack group at trust for marketers See you next time.

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