12 tips for SiriusDecisions Summit attendees (#SDSummit)


SD-Summit-2013Several hundred B2B marketers will descend upon San Diego today for the annual SiriusDecisions Summit. There are a number of great learning & networking events for B2B professionals throughout the year, but in my opinion this one tops the list.

It’s a busy three days, but here are a few tips to help get the most out of it (most of these tips work for most conferences and events you’ll attend throughout the year as well).

Cancel as many calls and meetings from back at the office as possible. You’ve made the investment to come here, 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.

Power up all of your devices now, and as often as you can. Access to power cords during sessions can be spotty, and you’ll be taking tons of notes. Make sure your laptop, tablet and/or smartphone are full powered each morning, and sneak whatever chance you can (during lunch and breaks) to power up some more. The last thing you want is to lose power on a device in the middle of a great session.

Hang out in the lobby tonight. The “official” event may not begin until tomorrow, but head down to the lobby, restaurant or bar tonight, and introduce yourself to whomever is around. Chances are they’ll be here for the conference too, and your networking will have already begun.

Get up early Wednesday and have coffee with fellow attendees before the keynotes 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!).

Have a plan, but surrender to serendipity when needed. Take a few minutes today to review the schedule and clarity where you want to be when. Know in advance your plan, but be aware of and open to serendipitous moments – chance meetings you should take advantage of, a few extra minutes with a peer before heading into a session late, etc. The more you mix your value between great content, connections and networking, the better off you’ll be.

Try not to work (much).
The set-up in the general session may include wifi, 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.

Take great notes. Here’s a rundown of how I take, organize and process notes, at conferences and elsewhere, and here’s a piece specifically on how to take better notes at a conference.

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, at lunch, breakfast, etc..

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 here 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. San Diego has an unending assortment of amazing restaurants, and there are plenty of other attendees here by themselves this week. Find them and invite them to dinner with you.