As a long-time attendee of the HubSpot INBOUND conference, and former HubSpot User Group leader, I wanted to share a few tips I learned to help those planning to attend future INBOUND conferences:
- Purchase your ticket early – In return for completing the attendee survey, you'll likely be offered an early registration discount. So yes, that requires making a commitment (likely refundable for a while) to attend next year’s event several months before the event. But buying your ticket that early will almost certainly be the lowest price.
- Reserve your hotel early – Depending on your hotel preferences -- for example, balancing proximity to the Boston Convention and Exposition Center (BCEC), price, and amenities -- make your hotel reservation early as well. Especially if reserving really early, you'll almost certainly be allowed plenty of time for cancellations or modifications if needed.
- Study the conference agenda – and make the tough decisions – about a week before the conference – With many different types of sessions going on, it’s nearly impossible not to feel like you need to be in two places at once. Many HubSpot customers, agency partners, and other attendees solve this problem by bringing other team members from their companies. But unless someone from your team can attend each concurrent session during the different tracks, you will have to make tradeoffs.
- Download the mobile app and start networking before INBOUND – Many INBOUND conference attendees arrive a few days before the conference and start posting status updates to the mobile app.
- Configure auto-post from the mobile app to Twitter and LinkedIn – Although you run the risk of over-sharing volume-wise with those who are not attending the conference, a lot of my LinkedIn connections and Twitter followers are the kinds of people who’d like exactly the kind of content I’d be sharing. As long as the posts add value and are remarkable, this shouldn’t be an issue.
- Take the Silver Line bus from Logan airport into town if staying anywhere near BCEC – I shared this tip on the conference’s mobile app. “If you are staying anywhere near the conference center, the Silver Line bus from the airport is free. For the Renaissance, it’s just one stop to the Silver Line Way Station. Plus a three-minute walk from the bus stop to the hotel.” (On the return trip back to Logan after the conference was over, the bus driver didn’t collect the nominal amount because the bus was packed like sardines. But my understanding is that the fare would’ve only been $2 or $3.)
- Wear comfortable shoes – If you’re the kind of person that loves to track how many steps a day you take, you’ll love attending the INBOUND conference at BCEC. Why? Someone mentioned it’s 1,500 feet from front to back – although, at times, it felt more like miles plural rather than a fraction of a mile. Either way, on the return flight, we spoke briefly with an attendee from our local area that’d brought five pairs of shoes. I thought to myself, “Gee, where’d she have room for all the cool swag?!?”
- Treat every mobile app interaction like a physical handshake – In the same way you’d exchange cards with someone you’d meet and chat with for a few minutes at the INBOUND conference, for nearly every person who liked or commented on one of my posts, I ended up with my clicking through to their mobile app profile and following him/her. My plan for the flight home: Use the physical business cards and mobile app connections to cross-pollinate over on LinkedIn to deepen the relationships between now and the next INBOUND.
- Bank extra sleep the week before the event – If you plan to truly burn the candle at both ends, attending social events in the evening and making it in time for 8:30 am keynotes, you’ll be working on a major sleep deficit. But it’s well worth it in the end!
- Hashtag everything – Using the INBOUND year-specific hashtag is like attending the conference within the conference. Over the course of the four-day event, a handful of attendees actually saw my Tweets and reached out to me to meet in person specifically because they saw my Tweets with the hashtag.
- Distinguish between HubSpot employees and temps from the conference center – While most HubSpotters would love to talk with you about the Inbound methodology, you’ll get a blank stare if initiating the same conversation with a BCEC employee.
- Be patient – With 10,000+ attendees, there are lines. For the bathrooms. For coffee. For lunch. To get the best seats at keynotes. Even the Wi-Fi and mobile app often have at least some availability issues during a small part of the conference. But also use that time to network. You never know who you’re standing next to! So don’t overdo the mobile device attachment crutch.
- Take notes and photos of slides – You will learn a ton of incredibly valuable information and action items. Don’t rely on memory. Some people prefer to take notes on paper. I prefer my tablet. But either way, there’s too much great stuff to let the training fall through the cracks.
- Set specific dates, times, and places to meet with people – While it’s possible that you’ll randomly run into someone you really want to meet, with 10,000+ attendees and lots of session tracks, you’re much better off arranging a specific date, time, and location to chat.
What’s your favorite tip for attending the HubSpot INBOUND conference? Please share your favorite nugget in the comments section below.
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