Conference season is busy and expensive! It’s near impossible to attend every conference, especially since there are so many now that they are starting to overlap. Not to mention the expense of registrations plus travel/accommodation, and the commitment to spending that much time out of the office. Whether you’re a sole-proprietor or one of many on a large team, it’s likely you’re not going to every upcoming conference.

While we are excited to have members of our team attending the upcoming SampleCon, Quirks OC & Quirks Brooklyn and London Insights conferences, there are others we won’t make it to. Here are our tips for making the most of a conference you’re NOT attending.

Hashtags on point:

Follow the hashtags for the conference during the days it is occurring. This predominantly happens on Twitter – but it doesn’t hurt to watch LinkedIn too. Speakers and attendees often tweet or post interesting quotes, facts, and tidbits from the presentations. You’ll start to see what the major trends are, which were the popular talks or booths and what people in attendance are learning.

Bonus Tip: If you can’t find a conference specific hashtag (some conferences are better at owning this than others) watch the #mrx hashtag the day of the conference, most people will use a conference tag in conjunction with #mrx to reach a wider audience so you should be able to track it down that way if there is one.

Join the conversation:

Again, using Twitter or LinkedIn, join the conversation happening around the conference in real time. Post a question as a follow-up to a presentation topic you saw mentioned. Tweet @ the speaker to initiate a post-conference conversation if you’re particularly interested in their presentation, findings or product. Share and re-tweet interesting factoids = give those presenters some love. Often time they’ll reciprocate or express gratitude for your help in further widening the audience of their presentation.

Streaming:

Check with the conference to see if the presentations will be live-streamed (ESOMAR) or recorded and shared after the fact (IIEX). I believe more and more conferences will be going this direction – as it’s a great way for them to generate leads and interest for future years.

Tap your network:

Know someone who attended? Take them to coffee after the fact and get a download of what they learned. It will be good for both you and them to digest the information presented and refer back to notes taken in real time. All too often attendees leave a conference with a notebook full of notes – which then never gets re-read or actioned upon. They may be grateful not only for the coffee but also for the reminder to engage with their learnings and discuss them with another counterpart in the industry.

Re-capture the re-caps:

Watch your email inbox, industry blogs and social feeds for re-caps written and posted by attendees. If you can’t meet to discuss in person, this is a great way to keep up with the trends and find out what companies are moving and shaking. We post all of our recaps on our blog.

Plan ahead:

Start planning early for next year. Conference “season” is generally thought of as the fall or Q4, but there are several conferences already registering for Q1 next year:

    1. Quirks OC: Jan 30-31
    2. SampleCon: Feb 7-9
    3. Quirks Brooklyn: Feb 27-28
    4. London Insights Show: Mar 7-8

Consider attending in person – or at least mark the dates in your calendars now, so that you can be ready to participate remotely with strategies 1 & 2 above.

Do you have any other strategies for participating in, or benefitting from conferences when you can’t actually be in the room? Let us know in the comments below.

Happy conferencing!