This guest post is by Ben Liau of Digital Online Strategy.
Blogger conferences are a great way to find out more about how to become a better blogger. You learn from successful bloggers who have already made it big, and who are willing to share their knowledge and success stories of how they reached their goals.
But blogger conference tickets aren’t cheap—these events can be quite costly to attend. The ticket price for good blogger conferences start from around $100 and go up to about $300 of more for the larger events.
If you are going to spend that much money to attend a conference, you’d best get your money’s worth. I can help with that. In this post, I will go over eight tips that any blogger can follow to make the most out of paying for and attending a blogger conference.
Do your research
When attending a blogger conference, it’s always important to do your homework.
Some blogger conferences have speaker sessions that run concurrently, so it’s important to research and work out which presentations you would most like to attend.
It is also important to research the actual speakers to make sure they are the ones who can answer all the questions you have.
Have a plan
Planning is essential to getting the most out of a blogger conference. You will want to be able to meet the right people and ask the right questions. Here’s how you should plan:
Make a list
There will be many bloggers attending the event, and there will also be many brands and PR agencies looking to build relationships with bloggers. So make a list of the bloggers you would like to meet at the event, and try your best to touch base with them and spark a relationship.
Make a list of which brands you would like to be associated with and approach them during the conference to introduce yourself. Also make sure you have a media kit prepared, just in case they are interested in your rates and charges.
Before the conference, drop a message to anyone you would like to meet in person. This breaks the ice, and it makes it easier for you to approach them at the event.
If you are travelling interstate or overseas make sure you plan your time correctly, because missing the start of a conference could leave you quite clueless.
Finally, dress to impress. This will boost your confidence when talking to people, and you will also feel very good about yourself.
Take the right tools
Most conferences will provide you with a notepad and pen to take notes, but that’s definitely not enough for you to be highly effective.
Make sure you bring along your favorite device for taking notes, whether it be your mini laptop or your iPad. Use what you are most comfortable with. An iPad is great because you can also take a video of the event, or showcase your blog on your iPad to others.
The golden rule to going to conferences is bringing a lot of business cards. The worst position you could be in, is to not have a business card when you’re asked for one.
A business card will show you are professional and organized, and is easy to distribute. You never know who might end up with it—and contact you at the end of the week for sponsorship!
Network like a rock star!
Blogger conferences don’t happen every other day, and when they do happen, they cost money.
So make the most of the opportunity by networking and chatting with everyone and anyone you meet. Preparing for the conference by dropping messages to other bloggers beforehand, as I mentioned earlier, will make it easier for you to approach and chat with people—and once you get going it gets much easier.
Always be yourself. Don’t try to be someone you are not. Be humble and ask for advice if you need it, and try to be up-to-date with current news, so there will be plenty to talk about.
Don’t just stick with the people you already know, go and meet new people. And never, ever get drunk at a blogger networking event. Most, if not all the bloggers will be blogging about the event, and the last thing you want is to be mentioned in their post about your disorderly behavior.
Get on social media and start buzzin’
Before the conference, make sure you join the conference’s Facebook page and engage in conversations with other bloggers to make initial contacts.
Tell your own followers that you are going to the event—you never know who might be able to help you with introductions!
At the event, hop on Twitter and comment about the conference, using the conference’s hashtag. This works as a great ice breaker for networking with other people who are tweeting.
Be proactive, and ask questions during speaker sessions
This is where a lot of the value of attending a conference lies.
It’s important to take notes during the session, but it also very important to write questions to ask the speakers during the Q&A time. If you’re shy, you can always go to the speaker after the session, to privately discuss you questions.
Also, at some blogger conferences, the speakers asks questions after the session and those who answer stand a chance of winning something, so it’s always good to be on your toes.
Get as many freebies as you can
Every blog conference will have sponsors that will contribute to a conference goodie bag full of awesome product samples and promotional items. Make sure you get your hands on one of these conferences bags and visit the sponsor booths to see if you can get anything extra.
Also, some booths will also run competitions, so make sure you have your business card handy so you can enter that competition to win the prize.
After the conference
After many conferences there are “after-conference” networking events. Keep your ears open for any of those events, because they’re another great opportunity for networking.
Once the conference is totally wrapped up, it’s always good to review your notes and start taking action.
Lastly, take that list of the contacts you have made at the conference, and follow them on social media. This will establish a connection and solidify your relationship.
Tell us your tips, too
These are my tips, from going to numerous blogger conferences, and speaking at a couple of digital marketing conferences.
I hope you can use this guide to get the absolute best value out of your next conference. But if you have any more tips to add—or questions to ask—please feel free to do so in the comments.
Ben Liau is a veteran digital marketing strategist and is a regular speaker at online marketing conferences. He regularly blogs about all digital marketing channels including seo, sem, email, social media marketing, and web analytics at Digital Online Strategy. You can follow him on Twitter @benliau.