This Sunday kicks off the Design Bloggers Conference, a two-day conference that seamlessly merges interior design bloggers, industry leaders, and social media innovators under one roof. Traditionally the conference has been held in Los Angeles, California but this year our beloved Atlanta gets a fair shake at hosting this powerhouse event.
When scrolling social media sites to see what was trending on the DBC, I read the excitement shared by those who’ve previously attended the conference. I also read comments from bloggers about “being a small fish in a big pond.”
Blogging for the past five years, I’ve attended several conferences and in the beginning remember feeling the same way. It wasn’t until I became more focused on the true purpose of these conferences, education and networking, that I realized its full value. Instantly motivated, I began to draft this post to offer tips on helping you get the most out of your Design Bloggers Conference experience.
I’m willing to guess the majority of attendees have traveled to Atlanta from out of town and have incurred much expense to get here. Review this list to insure you get the greatest value possible from your investment of time and money.
1. PUT YOUR OFFICE ON AUTO PILOT
Especially if you are a one-person operation, you want the folks you interact with the most to know of your plans and how to contact you in case of emergency. Leave your clients (and office staff) “in a good place” before you depart. There’s nothing like being in a conference and getting an urgent phone call to handle a situation that could’ve been taken care of before you left.
Leave an auto-responder message on your email so that senders can get an immediate, pre-written response from you and understand the reason for your delayed reply.
2. REVIEW YOUR CONFERENCE AGENDA, MARK SESSIONS YOU WANT TO ATTEND
Unlike traditional conferences, the DBC only has one schedule. Everyone is gathered together in a specific venue and will not have the burden of deciding which sessions to miss because of conference scheduling conflicts. If there’s a session that doesn’t interest you, feel free to take that time to interact with conference sponsors in the exhibitor’s hall. There are fewer crowds and much better opportunities to make connections with the vendor reps.
3. MAKE A LIST OF VENDORS YOU WANT TO CONNECT WITH
Because this is a blogger’s conference, it’s obvious the featured vendors have an interest in establishing relationships with you via social media. Familiarize yourself beforehand with their social media campaign and decide where you think you would fit best. I have garnered great relationships with vendors this way. Profitable writing opportunities and brand partnerships have been the result of my planning ahead.
4. BRING YOUR BUSINESS CARDS
This recommendation seems to be a given, but everyone at some point leaves them behind or they aren’t deliveredt in time for your event. I’ve been a victim of both situations, but here’s how I’ve gotten around this dilemma. Thank goodness for innovation of the smart phone! I would simply gather the person’s email address before the close of our conversation, then proceed to send them a short message reintroducing myself and including a reference of what we chatted about or something I was wearing that they complimented me on. This immediate action allows you to capture their contact information and allows them to receive a second interaction from you.
5. MAKE CONNECTIONS WITH OTHER ATTENDEES
I’ve connected with interior designers all over North America in conferences like these and have kept in contact over the years. You create an extended network that goes beyond your city and often these individuals become virtual supporters of your professional and sometimes personal endeavors. No one gets ahead in any industry without help from others. Most importantly, be genuine in your interaction.
6. WRITE A DAILY RECAP OF WHAT YOU LEARNED AND WHO YOU MET
There’s no time greater than now to recall (on paper or electronically) new information from the conference sessions. If you wait until you are headed home on the plane, it probably will never happen. You’ve paid in time and money for this valuable opportunity. Capture it now for both immediate and future references.
7. HAVE FUN
Trash the “small fish in big pond” mentality. This isn’t a high school social club or a popularity contest. This is your business, your livelihood, your time to mix business with pleasure! We’re all here for the same reason, baby! Let’s do this!
If you plan to attend, please say hello if you see me! I promise to do the same. Take my above suggestions to heart and get the most out of this conference experience and all other future events!