Actionable Steps to Navigate Business Conferences

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We are SO excited for all of you to come to the Startup Grind Global conference! It seems like we have prepared for this event forever – and now it’s finally here -- only two weeks away. Yay!

Introduce Yourselves

PLEASE come up and introduce yourself and tell us your name and what you do. One of the Startup Grind values is to make connections, not just network. We will be rushing around doing our best to make this event special for you – but you can carry our values forward by trying to have some in-depth conversations with each other and make some life long associations.  

Your ROI may not show up the day after the event, but if you approach this conference by giving your best – we are confident you will receive the best at this conference for yourself and your company.

Mark Your Calendar

Don’t forget to mark your calendars. Mine has a big ole' red mark around it. You can add a big smiley face on most calendars now to put you in the mood for adventure. I also set my alarm on my phone for one week, one day, day of the event. These little reminders are not set to remind me – I won’t forget this event.

Rather, these ringtones are meant to cheer up my soul and bring me into focus if I’m down -- and reminds me I have something really exciting to look forward to. On the day before the conference I lay out my clothes for the next day and make sure everything that I want to take is in my bag.

Often on the week and day before the event, I confirm with friends and make sure we have our meeting times and places set. If I'm attending events by myself, I determine about where I want to locate myself in the event space. Am I sitting on the front row, or back six rows on the right. Then I don't have to think about it, nor look around. I walk straight to "my" spot to sit.

Open A Few Conference Emails.

The Startup Grind emails are merely reminders for you. Some companies spam you to death. We won't. If there is an email from us that you want to quickly browse through for new announcements about the event -- do that.

Startup Grind will provide you with information you may need or about any new speaker announcements. Some speakers you don’t want to miss – or maybe (so and so in your office) will be upset if you let them miss their ex-boyfriends speech -- the boyfriend that was announced at the last minute. You have to know these "important" details.

We will send you info on any of the special “making acquaintance” events -- which means special networking events before or after the conference, so you won’t miss any opportunity to meet with potential hires, contacts, clients, friends or partners.

Stay Connected to the Event.

In addition to emails, another way to stay connected to the event is to follow the conference via social media. One way to start networking with other people at the conference is to announce that you will be going to the event. I have a friend that puts out -- on social -- every event she's attending. There are many incredible parties, events, displays, entertainment, museums, movies, etc. etc. that I would never have gone to if this person didn't show she's going on her social. 

Don't let your friends miss the Startup Grind Global conference this year. It's going to be an absolute blast and an experience you don't want to miss.

Facebook event has that function, where you can click “I’m Going” or “I’m Interested” on the event page. You will be able to find other people that will also be going to the event – in this way, you can potentially start your networking earlier and begin to set up meetings before the conference.

Do Your Homework.

Most of the conferences will release the agenda a few weeks before the conference. Download the agenda and review it. Some conferences might have hundreds of speakers and sessions. You can divide those sessions you’re interested in, into two sets: “cannot miss” and “want to find out more.”

Startup Grind Global Conference.

For our Startup Grind Global Conference there are over 100 world class leaders and VCs that will be speaking. Of course, there is no way you will be able to know all of them. So, look through the agenda and find out which topics the speakers will be covering or are famous for. Find the speakers or topics that interest you the most.

The "Mini."

Make yourself a “mini” schedule of the sessions you are going to attend and where the location will be. Have this in hand so you feel completely confident in your day. You can alway change things around if you wish to.

AI / Machine Learning.

For instance, if you are interested in AI / Machine Learning, mark the sessions with Reid Hoffman (Co-founder, LinkedIn | Partner, Greylock Partners), Dr. Andrew Ng ( | Co-founder, Coursera) and Anna Patterson (Founder, Gradient Ventures - Google’s new AI venture).

B2B and Enterprise Products.

If B2B and Enterprise products are where your company needs to focus on, circle the sessions on Cal Henderson (Co-founder, Slack) and Faizan Buzdar (Box).

Influencer Marketing Strategy.

Have you determined that you want to start 2018 with strong influencer marketing strategy? You cannot miss the influencer marketing session with Stephanie Horbaczewsk (CEO, Style Haul) and Ashley Tisdale (Entrepreneur and known Actress).

Looking for Funding.

This one is a place we have all been, or where many startups need some help. Looking for funding or if you need to know more VCs in the valley? Pay close attention to the VC stage and do research on all the VCs that will be coming - Sequoia Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, Khosla Ventures, Google Ventures, Floodgate, Forerunner and many more.

Be Prepared to Network.

Abraham Lincoln said, “I will prepare and my day will come.” We feel this is especially true when it comes to networking at conferences. One of our Startup Grind Chapter Directors, Marian Gazdik, a life-time networker shared some of his best tips on networking.

Marian Gazdik Suggests:

1. Arrive early.

2. Greet the host first

3. Use the power of a compliment

4. Develop a personal relationship first

5. Offer help first

6. Ask to be introduced

7. Don’t exhaust the conversion

8. Finish on a high note.

See details in Marion’s article.

Business Cards.

Another simple networking tip is: don’t forget to bring your business card with you. Gratefully, the business card is making a great comeback. Consider having your new cards printed on material that you can actually write on.

You're probably not going to be able to have an extensive conversation during the conference. But when you receive someone’s business card, immediately after the conversation, jot down a few keywords from that conversation on the back of their business card.

This little tid-bit of information you write down will help you recall the important details when you follow up with this potential client via email after the conference.

Prepare your 30 Second Elevator Pitch + Review the Program.

You will be meeting hundreds of people each day, and so will everyone that is attending. Keep your self-introduction short, concise and end your intro with a question. (Nowadays, new studies say, don’t end with a question. Consider this advice from both ways and see which fits your personality the best. Prepare a couple of self-introductions in your back pocket - 10-second intro + 30-second elevator pitch. This is your maximum timing resource.

Done Drone-On.

Don’t drone on. Most “big-wigs” I’ve run into want all of it in two sentences. If you can do that – hats off to you. If not, practice enough that your 30 seconds rolls off your silvery tongue with clarity. Write it on your hand if you have to.

What to Include.

Things you can include in your intro: name, company, your role/position and why you are interested in connecting. Be attentive and show genuine interest in what the other person does or says.

Follow--Up, Follow-Up, Follow-Up.

You will do your best work in following up with your leads. This is because you are not put on the spot and you can think.

Good on You for Following-Up!

This can be an old habit for you to follow up, or maybe you are creating a brand-new habit for yourself. After a whole day of conference, take 15 minutes to put in the “warm leads” into your CRM system - Streak, Salesforce, etc. Take no more that 30 minutes drafting short follow-up emails for each of the leads collected during that day and save them in your draft inbox.

During conferences peoples inboxes get totally filled, so allow them to digest other conference ideas and people for a few day. Set a reminder for yourself in the calendar to start sending the follow-up emails several days after the conference.

Dress Appropriately and Comfortably​

Some conference requires different dress codes. Make sure you check this out. If you are attending a Finance Conference, they may require you to dress more traditional business dress.

For tech conferences, the dress code is more relaxed. You will be in the conference all-day and there tends to be a lot of walking involved. Try to dress comfortably with easy-walking shoes. I always have a different pair of shoes either in my bag or back at the hotel to change into if my feet hurt or for the occasional shoe-wardrobe malfunction.

A Few Weeks Ago....

At a conference a few weeks ago in Vegas, it seemed to me that the clothing-trends for all conferences – even tech – are changing. Many more people were in suit jackets or sport coats. The woman at the conferences I’ve seen to, seem to be classing-up and leading this trend.

Bring a Blazer in Case You Get Cold

Bring a blazer or suit jacket with you to the conference – even for warmth in case it rains. Even with business casual wear, adding a suit jacket will instantly boost up your professional look and give you confidence.

Important Above All Else!!

Yes, important above all else for our friends at the Startup Grind Global Conference 2018: Enjoy Yourself.

E – N – J – O – Y      Y – O – U – R – S – E – L - F