#SMMW16 Follow-Up: How To Make The Most Out of a Conference

By Stevie Sleeter, Content & Social Media Manager

Published: April 22, 2016

Thousands, if not tens of thousands, of hours go into pre-planning a conference. As I reflect on the whirlwind couple of days spent in San Diego, CA at Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Marketing World 2016 international conference, I am appreciative of all the organizational and networking tools put in place for attendees. These tools helped me make the most out of my time at the conference.

Social Media For Social Media Professionals

Naturally, you’d expect a conference on social media to make use of social media. There were Slack groups, Facebook groups, Blabs, LinkedIn groups, and the Social Media Society forum. All provided a way to network and connect with industry peers before even landing in San Diego. I started joining all of these conversations about a month in advance of #SMMW16.

I joined social groups related to topics I was interested in, a group dedicated to those attending the conference alone, and even social and networking groups that were hosting events like walk/runs in the morning. Never once did I worry about eating a single meal alone. “Meet-Ups and Eat-Ups” allowed me to secure a spot at the dinner table among my peers.

All of these resources helped me feel better prepared, allowing me to immerse myself in the conference “buzz” before it even started.

Conference Sessions vs. One-on-One Time Building Relationships

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Once at the conference itself, attending various social media sessions was undoubtedly helpful and informative. Yet, it was more about the relationships I developed rather than soaking in hours of information at a time. One of my favorite moments of the conference, thanks to one of my Slack groups just an hour prior to the meetup, was a sit down with Christopher Penn in a very small, intimate setting. We spent an hour discussing Google Analytics and finding the ROI in social, in an unstructured, informal setting. Had it not been for that Slack group, I wouldn’t have found out about this opportunity! Another conference highlight was reconnecting with Brian Solis, whom I met at a previous social media conference.

I was able to make the most out of my time at the #SMMW16 conference in large part due to the massive amounts of resources Social Media Examiner afforded me before I even got to San Diego. They made it easy for me to have a plan well ahead of time – researching which sessions to attend, networking events to partake in, and the community of thousands of industry peers to relate to and connect with. I had a mission of who I wanted to talk to and I stuck to it. I met everyone I set out to meet, and then some!

The bottom line is if you attend a conference and don’t get anything out of it, you have no one to blame but yourself. Make use of the resources available well in advance of the conference and you will come out feeling reenergized about your industry.