Congratulations! You’ve finally convinced the boss-man that attending and covering an industry conference on behalf of your B2B company is fantastically worthwhile for a multitude of reasons.
As an attendee, you’ll absorb rich information from true thought-leader s– info you can bring back to the office so the whole team stays on the cutting-edge of technologies, trends, tactics, and techniques specific to your biz.
As a blogger, you’ll churn out a ton of valuable content sure to beef up your B2B publication (fresh traffic, readers, links, hooray!) and get on the radar of the conference organizers and speakers (because who doesn’t like when their genius is favorably promoted?).
And lest we forget: The bevy of after-hours networking events, opportunities to mingle with industry rockstars and soak up some juicy secrets of the trade….
So yes, congratulations. You’ve got the green light to attend cover dominate B2B conferences. And. You. Are. Stoked.
But Where Do You Begin? What Tools Do You Need?
The exact contents of any conference blogger’s arsenal will vary depending on who you are and what show you’re at. But there are some tried and true goodies every conference attendee should have on hand, or at least have access to.
Read on for a list of essential 10 tools that help ensure ultimate coverage and optimal experience.
1. Conference Agenda + CTRL+F (Or Command+F)
First things first. Before the show kicks off, you want to know where you’ll be going, what you’ll be seeing, and who will be doing what. That means cozying up with the conference agenda for at minimum a day prior to the opening keynote. Put on a pot of coffee or open a bottle of wine and pour over the event homepage, list of speakers, and day-to-day agenda.
Get a little CTRL / Command + F action going on… find names of speakers you recognize and keywords in session titles or descriptions that may be of interest to you and your social community (“Mobile,” “Local SEO,” “B2B,” “Social,” etc). Plan your coverage schedule accordingly.
We’d actually recommend doing this well in advance for a few reasons:
- With a comfortable understanding of how the conference is laid out, you’ll feel less frazzled in when you get there.
- You can start talking about the conference before it even begins. Follow the event hashtag, tweet to see who’s also attending, get on the radar of the conference organizers and speakers.
- Publish a blog post with a schedule of the sessions you plan to cover… simple, fresh content that plugs the event and showcases your excitement and dedication.
2. Notepad & Excel
Without a doubt must-haves for turning live-tweets into rockstar conference coverage. Scrape tweets, sanitize formatting, reorder tweets, remove junk, connect the dots, and behold! A stunning showcase of the pearls and gems shared by speakers mere moments ago.
3. Digital Camera / Smartphone
Nothing says, “Hey, I was there!” quite like a crystal clear photo snapped by your very own hand. Keep a digital camera or smartphone nearby and don your field journalist hat. Snap pictures in the expo hall, crowded keynote ballrooms, of the speakers, of attendees, or the guy who made you coffee in the convention center lobby.
Post them to Twitter, Facebook, or save them for your blog posts. Your online community wants to feel like they’re with you, so take them along.
4. Irfan View / Pixelmator
If you do decide to save the photos for your conference coverage blog posts, show them a little extra TLC before releasing them to the masses.
A quick run through a streamlined image editing program a la Irfan View (free, super stripped down, for PC) or Pixelmator (cheap, more features, for Mac) can turn an ordinary photo into a glamorous feast for the eyes.
Crank saturation, tweak contrast, up the brightness, and resize appropriate for your blog in a snap. Quality images from the frontline will only add authenticity and value to your coverage.
Any conference blogger will tell you, convention center wi-fi ain’t always so good. It’s no discredit to the conference organizers – a ton of people are clamoring to hook up to the Internet, and there’s only so much bandwidth in the universe.
Pack a Hotspot or similar wi-fi device in your laptop bag and activate it when the conf signal gets weak going gets tough. Share the password with a neighbor to make a friend for life.
6. Power Splitter
Speaking of friends for life, nothing solidifies absolute devotion and loyalty (or, at least gratitude) like giving the gift of electricity to a conference attendee in need. Power outlets are precious. Should you be the shining savoir brandishing a gadget that turns one outlet into multiple, be prepared for an instant spike in popularity.
7. Comfortable Shoes
Some conferences have a dress code, typically business casual. Do yourself a favor – wear something presentable, but leave the spike heels and sole-destroying (get it?!) dress boots at home. We’re not suggesting scuffed Reeboks from yesteryear. Go with some conservative and comfortable (repeat, comfortable) kicks that compliment your snazzy ensemble.
Break time between sessions is sometimes as little as 15 minutes, and you want to get to your next room as early as possible to ensure a seat at the head of the class. Choose comfy kicks. Seriously.
8. Granola Bars
Or some similar snack that suits your taste-buds. Ask any conference blogger… food can become a coveted item during these events, and many media members skip lunch to meet deadlines and publish timely posts. Chuck a couple granola bars or high-protein yummies in your bag and avoid fainting mid-PowerPoint presentation.
9. 5 Hour Energy
Whether you down it before heading out to a star-studded networking event or nurse it the next morning to stave off a hangover amp up for the day, these little babies come in handy when your fuel tank is running low.
10. Thick Skin
Believe it or not, not all people appreciate conference coverage. If you’re live-tweeting, some followers may complain about the frequency of your updates. Some folks may totally disagree with philosophies or teachings you rebroadcast from various speakers. Some people are just hate-spewing trolls. Get over it!
Shake off the Negative Nancys and remember: You’re doing an awesome service for your company, industry, community, and the conference itself. So chin up, and go get ‘em!