We learned a lot from this experience and wanted to share some tips and tricks for anyone attending a tech conference for the first time.
1. Prepare all of your conference documents weeks before the conference.
This is pretty self-explanatory. Understand your target audience and the competitive landscape and ensure that your lean canvas is bullet-proof (in case someone tries to poke holes in your plan). Make sure all of your press releases and media kit are prepared and ready to easily share.
2. Download all your presentation media the day before you exhibit.
Don’t do it the morning of your presentation! Complications happen: you might not have access to wifi, all the outlets might be taken, or the file you need to download from the cloud is actually 8GB. Make sure to bring backup laptops with all the necessary files already downloaded.
3. Exhibit on the first day.
Multi-day conferences are exhausting. You’ll be meeting hundreds of people, pitching over and over again, and are often standing the entire time. By the last day, your voice will be hoarse and your ankles might be swollen (not an exaggeration). If possible, try your best to present on the first or second day. You’ll be the most energized and everyone who stops by will be eager to talk.
4. Personalize your pitch.
Don’t just memorize your 10 and 30 second pitches. Figure out who you’re talking to and personalize it to their unique use cases. We know that agencies use Xtensio to bring value to their clients while students need guidance in filling out their business strategy documents; because of this, we structure our pitch differently to cater to each of their needs.
5. Don’t just sell your product, gauge reactions and gain valuable feedback.
Everyone may seem like a potential user to be converted, but think of everyone as peers who are trying to help one another. Did your product or service resonate with them? Why or why not? The feedback you hear might validate your idea or it might make you reconsider your value proposition.
6. Write down notes on the business cards of everyone you meet.
Again, you’re meeting hundreds of people. That means you’re getting hundreds of business cards with no context behind them when you review the following week. Jot down a few notes: What interesting thing did you talk about? Why are they of interest to you to follow up? This will also help you personalize your follow-up emails and stand out from the clutter.
7. Don’t try to meet everyone.
Seek out those you are genuinely interested in chatting with but don’t book up your entire schedule. Allow time for random interactions; you might end up talking to someone that will connect you with a more valuable colleague.
8. Be wary of posers.
Startups and investors may try to look bigger and more successful than they really are. Do your homework to understand if your intentions align and if there’s a good reason to connect.
9. Take advantage of all resources provided.
Go to workshops that will teach you something new about the industry. Seek out speakers that inspired you in some way and offer to buy them a coffee.
10. Don’t forget to take breaks, drink water, and eat.
Don’t get too caught up on manning your exhibition booth or constantly looking for someone to pitch your ideas. Give your throat and ankles a rest. And most importantly, stay hydrated and nourished! Take shifts and rotate between your team.
11. The conference doesn’t end at 5pm.
Some of the best connections you make will be in the elevator of your hotel or at a local bar. Keep your eye out for networking events that happen well into the night.
12. Do a team-wide retrospective when you return.
Have a discussion reviewing the conference. What went well? What didn’t? What can be improved for next time? The conference is over — now what’s the plan of action?
We hope that our tips can help you and your team get the most value out of your conference experiences. See our conference toolbox for more media and conference resources.
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