Tips on the best use of your time at conferences
This blog is not my main source of income. As a single parent I also have a regular day job that is my primary source of income and is what provides the benefits to my family. This leaves me little time to make the most of blogger conferences and networking opportunities for my site. I love my day job and I love this blog as well. If you can remember, the reason why I came up with this blog was to not only share my adventures as single, working parent but to also earn some extra income to make up for non-existent child support. Attending blog conferences and events are something that I typically refrain from doing for the following reasons:
- Vacation Time is for Vacation – I work 9 to 5, and most of my PTO or personal time off is to attend to children’s doctor appointments or to spend time with the children. Sometimes I will take personal time off to attend an event but it has to be something pretty spectacular or at the request of a good friend of mine.
- Getting the value for the expense to attend – I question whether I’m really going to get the value for the money I spend or for the sponsor to send me there. When I mean value, I have a set amount of goals that put forth for anything that I consider a business expense or an investment. The majority of that expense is on maintaining the site itself and towards my freelance writing. If I can find the training and information I need from Google for free or from a book or teleconference I prefer to learn new things that way than to cover the expense to travel.
So how do I make the most of blogging conferences and networking?
I asked this question of a fellow LinkedIn connection of mine, Frank Gullo. He is a brand and business innovation manager at Superior Group and he also writes some great networking posts from for Business Insider. I asked him to give me some tips on making the most of blogger events, blogging conferences, and other professional networking events for my own job. Here’s what he had to share:
Generally, I love events and the opportunities they provide to learn and meet new people. Based on my experience, I approach events differently depending on whether I’m attending for networking or professional development or as a company sponsor or representative.
It sounds like you attend events in both of these capacities but less as a company sponsor/rep. So my tips are oriented around you attending as yourself or as a business owner, but not as an exhibitor.
With the exception of small, local events, I try and prospect events and do some or all of the following before attending:
- Review the attendee list, if available
- Reach out to select attendees (sparingly) who I think I might want to meet and tell them we’ll be at the same event
- Use the event hashtag if there is one and get in the conversation on Twitter and connect with attendees, speakers, and organizers
- Reach out to some attendees from the previous year and get their input on what was most successful during the past year’s event. Find out what they liked and didn’t.
- Inquire (about the event and city) with my contacts who live in that city.
- Update my online properties (web, blog, LinkedIn) to ensure the reflected image/brand represents what I want for this event
- Live tweet and connect with people on Twitter & LinkedIn during the event
- Socialize with attendees before and after event sessions
- Be safe
- Guerrilla marketing/promotionals
- Follow up – everything you normally do to nurture your network but with respect to the event and the individual. He writes a good post about following up on his post 10 Tips for Building Strong Professional Relationships.
When we talk about Guerilla marketing we are talking about low budget tactics in high traffic areas to get attention for your site. While at the conference as an attendee always have business cards with your site on them as well as promotional items that you carry around with you and give away to contacts. One of the things that discourages me from going to conferences is the infringement on guerilla marketing when you are a sponsored blogger. They want to respect the conference sponsors by restricting your ability to also represent your blog or your blog sponsor. This is part of the reason why I don’t attend some conferences because quite simply I can’t afford it unless I have a sponsor.
So How do I Choose?
I have an order of priority for what I will attend.
- Paid for travel for my Brand Ambassador programs come first
- SEO and Affiliate conferences that are local
- Blogger Conferences that are local
- SEO and Affiliate conferences in the US
How do you build blog awareness?
For me personally, the best way I build awareness to my blog is through my writing. The more quality content, the more I will show up in search engines. As much as I love brands and businesses, I’m trying to steer away from that for this particular blog and get back to basics of single parenting topics.
How do you balance your day job and your blog? Do you also attend conferences?