You shell out a few hundred dollars (or if you’re lucky, you successfully get your employer to cover the expense) for a conference and you’re super excited to attend. During the conference, you take a ton of notes — maybe you even tweet out a few good quotes — but by the next day, those notes are simply buried in a notebook never to be looked at again. Sound familiar?
Without deliberately making an action plan, what you learn at a conference will never actually be used and you won’t get a return on your investment — whether that’s time, money or both.
If you’re a subject matter expert (or an aspiring one!), it’s time that you rethink the way you approach conferences — seeing them as an excellent opportunity to amplify your personal brand through content marketing.
Content marketing is an incredibly important part of your thought leadership journey, particularly “newsjacking”, a term coined by marketing expert David Meerman Scott. In his book of the same name, Scott describes “newsjacking” as the kind of content that connects your message to what’s happening in the news cycle, making your expertise extremely timely for your audience.
So, how can you “newsjack” a major conference? Here are three practical tips:
Be extra active on social media
Twitter is typically the most popular social platform during conferences as it’s best for real-time updates. Live-tweeting continues to prove itself as a valuable networking tool and there are a number of reasons for this: 1) You can easily connect with other attendees and foster conversations around the session topics and 2) It enhances your personal brand as you continually share insights during the conference and in turn, you position yourself as someone worth following.
Here’s a pro tip: if you’re looking to get on the radar of a particular speaker, create some insightful tweets during their talk (and add some photos if you can!) and be sure to tag them. More often than not, the speaker will retweet you afterwards which exposes you to their audience and perhaps they’ll initiate conversation with you as well! That said, be sure to also take some time to update your bio and headshot before you attend as your social media activity will bring lots of eyes to your profile!
Create follow-up content
When the conference is over, don’t let your online engagement stop there. Use the post-conference momentum to create an insightful wrap-up summary (ideally within 24–48 hours) that reviews the event and highlights your key takeaways. Here are two questions to ask yourself:
What are the key themes/topics that were discussed and how do they apply to my current or future work, ideas or goals?
Go through your notes and find the themes that serve as a common thread between everything that you heard. Highlight key insights or quotes that really stood out to you and then take a moment to reflect on how they could be applied to something you’re working on now or in the future. For example, is there a new tool, approach or problem-solving technique that could be applied to a campaign you’re working on, a new product you want to launch or perhaps your current job search?
What do I still need to learn more about?
Was there something mentioned by one of the speakers (or even someone you met at the conference!) that piqued your interest? Perhaps there was a book, website, business strategy and/or productivity tool that was quickly thrown out there? Take some time to do any additional research so that you can immediately decipher whether it’s useful to you — or someone in your network.
Your content can take the form of a blogpost (on your own site, on LinkedIn and/or a post on Medium), video, podcast or even posts on Instagram! Go through your notes and find the themes that serve as a common thread between everything that you heard. Highlight key insights or quotes that really stood out to you and then take a moment to reflect on how they could be applied to something you’re working on in your industry. Wherever you choose to share your content, don’t forget to add the conference hashtag to maximize visibility.
Share relevant content with your network
Did you learn about a tool that could be useful for a former colleague and/or professional acquaintance? Send them a quick note via email or LinkedIn to share it with them! If you haven’t talked to them in a little while, this is the perfect opportunity for you to re-connect in a unique way. Remember, you always want to find genuine ways to build and maintain your network before you need it and who knows…this small gesture just might remind them that they’re looking for a speaker for an upcoming event with your exact expertise ;)
In essence, conferences are not only a great way to learn and connect with other people but they provide the opportunity to demonstrate your thought leadership. Be intentional about creating high-quality content and sharing that value with others and you’ll find that it will take your personal brand to the next level.
This post was adapted from an original article on Do Well Dress Well.