As this was my second time attending the HubSpot INBOUND conference (INBOUND13 and INBOUND14), the conference is now much larger and in a different location, 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 #INBOUND13 attendee survey, there was an early registration discount that ran through the end of November. So yes, that required making a commitment (refundable for a while) for attending next year’s event about 9-1/2 months before the event, but it was the lowest price.
- Reserve your hotel early – Once I learned that there were only two hotels in very close proximity to the Boston Convention and Exposition Center (BCEC), we made the hotel reservation as well – which again allowed for 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 10 different types of sessions going on, it’s nearly impossible to not feel like you need to be in two places at once. I solved part of this problem for INBOUND14 by bringing my co-founder Jennifer Rossler. But since SP Home Run is a HubSpot Certified Partner, all that really ensured is that we would be able to be at both concurrent Partner track sessions. You will have to make tradeoffs.
- Download the mobile app and start networking before INBOUND – While many INBOUND conference attendees arrived a few days before the conference and were already posting tons of status updates to the mobile app, my first post was a selfie of me and my co-founder Jennifer on the plane headed to Boston.
- 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 for example, it’s just one stop to the Silver Line Way Station. Was a three minute walk from bus stop to hotel.” Considering I paid over $20 last year to take a private shuttle from Logan to the Sheraton (when #INBOUND13 was still at the Hynes) and had to wait nearly 30 minutes for the shuttle, this was a very pleasant surprise. Over the next few hours and days, I was thanked profusely by attendees for sharing this nugget on the INBOUND14 mobile app. One fellow HubSpot User Group leader that I met even offered to buy me a beer. (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 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, every person who liked J or commented one of my posts ended up with my clicking through to their mobile app profile and following him/her. My plan on heading home: Use the physical business cards and mobile app connections to cross-pollinate over on LinkedIn to deepen the relationships between now and #INBOUND15 (Note: Several people I met at #INBOUND14 approached me because they recognized my face from either Twitter with the hashtag or the mobile app.)
- 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 #INBOUND14 or #INBOUND15 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 four boxes of the Inbound methodology (Attract, Convert, Close, and Delight), you’ll get a blank stare if initiating the same conversation with a BCEC employee. Case in point: My co-founder and I were walking into a Partner only session. We had our yellow (Partner) badge lanyards on. Walking in with us was David Weinhaus, a very seasoned HubSpot Senior Channel Account Manager, wearing a red (non-Partner) conference badge lanyard. (Multiple people told me it was HubSpot orange for HubSpot employees, but hey to me it looked red!) And even though at least half of us attending that session have gone through HubSpot Partner training with David Weinhaus (his terrific Friday sales coaching calls), the BCEC employee working the door almost didn’t let David in until I offered that I can vouch for him.
- Be patient – With 10,000+ attendees, there are lines. For the bathrooms. For coffee. For lunch. For getting the best seats at keynotes. Even for the Wi-Fi and mobile app that both had 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 10 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.
And if you happen to be part of a B2B technology company that wants to get more leads, clients, revenue, and ROI from its Inbound marketing and Inbound sales, be sure to download your complimentary copy of our IT Channel Inbound Marketing Planning Guide.