9 Lessons from Attending #Inbound15 Conference

Inbound 2015Do you enjoy attending conferences and events?  Ones that get you out of the office to mingle and learn?

Personally, I prefer smaller intimate gatherings to large ones — for me, anything over 50 attendees is “large” as I like to build relationships rather than “speed date”, it’s all a matter of perspective.  This year I attended Inbound 2015, with somewhere around 10,000 – 13,000 attendees depending what you read and absolutely loved it.

With speakers such as Seth Godin, Brené Brown, Daniel Pink, my friend Marisa Smith, client Anese Cavanaugh, Chris Brogan and more, totaling over 200 sessions in 3 days, you knew it was going to be an event to remember.

Some lessons from Inbound15:

  1. Whenever possible, never have someone introduce you who doesn’t know you.  Seems obvious, yet only two of the speakers I saw had someone else introduce them.  The rest were introduced by event staff clearly reading off notecards.  The difference was palpable.
  2. Never read your PowerPoint slides and call that a presentation, especially when attendees are getting the slide decks as part of the conference — it’s disappointing to the audience who could have attended one of six other sessions at that time (and, in my case, who had 3 that I wanted to see and chose this one).
  3. If your talk is meant to serve people at all levels, include something for all levels.  If it’s meant to be basic, say that.  Same with advanced.  One well-known speaker (not mentioned above) presented content so basic that within 20 minutes (of 45 min session), over 70 people walked out.  I left at minute 25, again disappointed as there was another session I wanted to attend at the same time.
  4. Speaking and you wrote a book?  Bring several and hand them out to attendees (as in “giveaway”).  Be sure the book has a bookmark or other info inside which leads readers to your website to sign up for additional resources.  No book?  No worries — offer a resource kit for conference attendees and make that the last slide of your presentation so it remains up while you do Q&A.  Give the resource kit (no opt-in) and then offer additional info for the opt-in for true Extreme Client Care™.
  5. Ensure there’s someplace for attendees to mix and mingle (and relax or just get away from the crowds) that’s outside the session rooms and hallways. Inbound15 did a fantastic job with this.  If you’re attending, know where these spots are so you have a place to recharge, especially if you’re an introvert.
  6. Several sessions to choose from and not sure which to attend? If any of the speakers wrote a book, read it. This will tell you more about the session than the talk write-up and you can make a more informed choice.
  7. Business cards are passe.  Some may argue with me here, yet only one person asked for my card (and he connected with me on LinkedIn and then returned the card within a minute), everyone else wanted my LinkedIn name.  Note: If you’re networking in local Chambers of Commerce, BNI Groups, etc. cards may still be popular, check out the environment you’ll be networking in to see what’s best practice there and do it before buying hundreds of cards.
  8. Mix comfort with style.  The first day I logged over 5 miles (thanks Fitbit for letting me know!) at the conference.  My shoes were cute, my feet were killing me.  Day 2, my shoes were cute and my feet were good to go.  A colleague wore gorgeous boots and suffered in pain, wishing there was a comfy shoe store on site.
  9. If the venue offers an app, get it.  Inbound had a phenomenal (as in “best I’ve ever seen”) app for this conference.  It included everything from live social updates, attendee info (if you wanted to provide for networking), info about every session and speaker, info local to Boston, shuttle info. . .the list goes on and could fill several blog posts.  Truly well done and a prime example of Extreme Client Care™.

I’m not going to list “follow-up with those you met” — you know you need to do it and you know the lack of results that happen when you don’t.

And a great example of Extreme Client Care™?  They’re sending out copies of all the slide presentations to attendees so if you couldn’t attend everything you wanted (like me!), you can at least see the slides and, in some cases, recaps of those sessions.

Attend any conferences lately?  What lessons would you add to this list?  Please share below.