Every out-of-town event offers a common set of opportunities for attendees, but here are a few recommendations specifically for this week’s event – most for those attending, but a few for those like me who will be watching from afar.
If you’re there…
Cancel as many calls and meetings from back at the office as possible. You’ve made the investment to get there, make sure you take advantage of everything – the sessions, the speakers, the networking, the hallway conversations that could be your most important takeaway or new opportunity, etc. Use your auto out-of-office response to make it clear you won’t be able to respond quickly to email. This’ll make it easier to ignore inbound emails and focus on the event.
Get up early and have coffee with fellow attendees before the sessions start. This isn’t a day for sleeping in, or checking email until the last minute. Take advantage of every moment to learn from your peers who also made the investment to come (some of whom came to meet you!).
Try not to work (much). You’ll have access to wi-fi, perfect for ignoring the keynote and responding to email. Of course, you could have done that in your room or back at your office. Go ahead and check during speaker transitions if necessary, otherwise take advantage of the speakers and get to know those around the table with you.
Don’t sit next to people you know. Of course you want to reconnect with those you don’t see very often, but don’t spend all of your time with them. Expand your network by switching up where you sit for every new general session.
If you must work, do so in a public place (instead of your room). If you really need to concentrate, go find your quiet place. But if you’re just catching up on email, do it somewhere others might run into you (or where you might see someone you really wanted to meet walk by).
Follow the hashtag stream and retweet stuff you like to your back-home followers, colleagues and peers. Great way to give yourself a public reminder of points and topics you thought were particularly good, and to share insights in real-time with others not able to attend.
Meet and thank the sponsors. They paid a lot of money to be there with you, and most of them have really interesting products or services that might help you significantly. At minimum, I bet they have knowledge and/or best practices to share if you just stop by and ask.
No eating alone, and no room service. Cleveland has some really amazing restaurants and bars, and there are plenty of other attendees there by themselves this week. Find them and invite them to dinner with you.
And if you’re not there…
Follow the highlights on Twitter. Put #cmworld as a stream in your Hootsuite or Tweetdeck for the next couple days. Should be some great stuff.
Check out event, speaker and session highlights afterward. I have no doubt that Content Marketing Institute will have a plethora of summarized content from the next few days. Their daily blog posts are required reading for content marketing professionals already.
Introduce yourself to speakers, sponsors and attendees. You’ll see them on Twitter, and can look most of them elsewhere online. You can still actively participate in the networking, even if you’re remote!