With XEROCON South due to commence in Brisbane tomorrow morning we thought it might be handy to share some helpful tips on how to get the most out of this much anticipated event.

We cannot take credit for this list! We are big believers in finding out what the best do and R&D’ing (rip off and duplicate) their tried and tested methods. This list is brought to you buy HubSpot who are one the leading marketing platform providers in the world. With over 300,000 marketers in their community I think it’s safe to say they have been to a conference or two.

Snapshot of the 13 Tips

  1. Review the agenda
  2. Familiarise yourself with the conference venue.
  3. Find out who’s going via social media
  4. Set an “OUT OF OFFICE” Reply
  5. Bring the right gear
  6. Register Early
  7. Divide and conquer
  8. Connect with product providers
  9. Participate with the larger conversation
  10. Stay organised
  11. Do some housekeeping
  12. Follow up
  13. Teach

Pregame: Before You Go

Be prepared. Be prepared. Be prepared.

It bears repeating. The quickest way to throw away hundreds of dollars is to go to a conference without sitting down and formulating a plan first.

It’s not exactly military statecraft, but it’s essential. Its guaranteed there will be no time to stop and pause once you arrive at the event, so take some time to complete the following items before you board that plane/train/bus.

1) Review the agenda.

This one’s a no-brainer. Set a goal for what you’d like to learn at the conference, and use the agenda to devise a plan specifically tailored to that goal. Make sure to attend conference-wide events like keynote addresses. Xerocon typically doesn’t hold breakout sessions during these presentations, so you won’t have to worry about missing out on anything else.

When it comes to smaller sessions, consider both the speaker and the subject matter. Highly tactical sessions are generally useful to attend regardless of who leads them. However, sessions less directly related to your profession can be valuable as well if they’re led by an industry figure you’re angling to meet. ie. Any financial planning streams.

2) Orient yourself.

Familiarise yourself with the conference space so you don’t get lost. You don’t want to miss important information, or for a roomful of people to form a negative first impression of you by showing up late.

Make sure you make use of Xerocon’s team in this regard. They normally have a big meeting spot in the middle which is helpful.

3) Find out who’s going.

The people you’ll attend sessions with are as important as the sessions themselves. There’s no better time to network with your peers, connect with new friends, or touch base with product providers than at a conference.

Xerocon do a great job of using technology stations to help you connect with others. Make sure you take advantage of these.

Don’t count on simply running into people. Instead, reach out to them ahead of time to let them know you’ll both be in attendance – Sharon McClafferty will be representing us so make sure you follow her live twitter feed – she is the Xerocon Twitter QUEEN! – @sharonsnetwork .

4) Set an out-of-office reply.

Let’s be honest: You’ll probably be checking your work email during the conference. But even if you are, you definitely won’t be able to respond at the same clip as you do in the office. Make sure prospects and clients know why they might not hear from you for a few days by setting up an out-of-office reply.

NOTE: It’s actually a nice thing to let your clients know you are at Xerocon learning new ways to help improve their business.

5) Bring the right gear.

Conferences are multi-day affairs where you’ll be booking long hours each day. To remove as much stress as possible from your experience, make sure you’ve taken care of these things before you board the plane:

  • Keep your phone and laptop chargers with you. You’re going to spend a huge part of your day on your devices — don’t get caught with dead batteries – Xerocon do provide charge stations but don’t rely on these as you may have to line up.
  • Pack enough business cards. Make sure you have some on hand and a stash in your luggage. You never know how many people you’re going to meet.

Once You’re There

You’re here … Now what? The next few days will be a whirlwind of activity, but don’t be overwhelmed. You’re armed with a goal and a plan — there are only a few additional things to keep in mind to help you make the most of your time.

6) Register early.

You don’t want to be stuck at the registration desk while everyone else is off to the races. Register as early as possible so you can minimise your time standing in lines and maximise your time learning and meeting people.

7) Divide and conquer.

If you’re attending with coworkers, try and see as much as possible. If each of you attends the same sessions and events, your company might as well have only sent one of you. Splitting up for sessions will maximise how much you’re able to learn and ensure that each of you has unique insights to take back to your company. Plan to get lunch or dinner each day to regroup on key takeaways.

Flying solo also means you’ll each be able to meet more people. Huge conferences can foster pack mentality, but the more attendees you can meet and speak with, the more of an asset you’ll be to your sales team. Discovering how your business fits into the larger industry and how other companies run their sales divisions are invaluable insights. A conference is an unparalleled opportunity to pick the brains of your competition and your market. Don’t waste it.

8) Connect with product providers.

Sure, you might have exchanged emails and calls with your product/service providers in the last few months, but nothing beats a face-to-face interaction. If things aren’t going so well, this is a great opportunity to address any issues before things escalate.

And if things are going well, checking in will not only reinforce your relationship — it’ll also be fun! Enjoy spending time with your product providers to see if there is any other services or functions you can take advantage of to improve your business.

From memory, hang around the Dropbox kiosk when you need some energy, they normally do great fresh juices!

9) Participate in the larger conversation.

Most conferences will have a dedicated hashtag. During the event, make sure you’re tagging your tweets and Instagrams properly. You can also monitor the hashtag throughout the conference to see what people are talking about. Striking up a conversation online is a great way to reach out to someone you’re interested in meeting but haven’t come across in person yet.

Hashtags for Xerocon: #XeroconSouth #Xerocon

10) Stay organised.

Conferences are information avalanches. Between breakout sessions, workshops, one-on-one conversations, and happy hours, you’ll come away with more notes, names, and numbers than you can possibly remember. This wealth of information will serve you well going forward, but if you come home with a mess of business cards and a set of notes without labels or tags, you’ll spend double the time organising everything and trying to recall what you discussed with “Jamie Sky CEO.”

Thankfully, it’s not hard to keep yourself on track, so long as you strike when the iron’s hot. Write on the back of people’s business cards to remind yourself of the salient points of your conversation, or digitally capture the cards and take notes in an app such as CamCard. Include details about what session or happy hour you met them at — anything that will jog your memory a day or a week after the fact.

If you take notes by hand, you should at the very least include headings and start a new page at the beginning of every session, lest your notes become one long run-on list of bullet points. If you’re more inclined to keep everything digital, Evernote is one of the best apps for this.. It syncs with all of your devices and is super easy to use. You can create a dedicated notebook for your conference notes, and tag each note with multiple labels to organise any way you want — by topic, speaker, or even which day the session took place.

Postgame: Once You’re Home

Take some time to decompress after you arrive home. … But not too much, because your work’s not finished. The days and weeks after a conference are when you’ll be able to put everything you’ve learned to use and turn your short meet-and-greets into fruitful business partnerships.

11) Do some housekeeping.

All that information you gathered from customers and prospects? It’s time to transfer it into your CRM. Jot down everything you can remember from your conversations so that when you follow up, you’re able to view new insights in the context of the larger relationship.

12) Follow up.

Connecting with people you met during the conference is best done in the days immediately following your return. Send follow-up notes and LinkedIn requests while the conference is still fresh in everyone’s minds. Include a personalised message to accompany your request on LinkedIn. Remember, everyone’s inbox will be flooded, so make yourself memorable by reminding your new connection what you discussed.

13) Teach.

The insights you gained at the conference are likely to be useful for your team, so make sure to set aside time to pass on what you learned. Whether it’s leading an in-person session or writing an email or post to document the most valuable information, proactively sharing information will help your colleagues do better work while establishing you as a leader on your team.

There’s no better place than Xerocon to take stock of the state of the Accounting profession. Make the most of your time, and have fun!

Remember to track down Sharon and say hello – @sharonsnetwork