Attending conferences can do wonders for your business and your personal network. But, if you are a busy parent, attending conferences can be costly and sometimes impossible due to schedule conflicts.
Just because you can not attend a conference does not mean you can not receive value.
Here are several ways you can still gain tremendous benefit from live events, even if you are unable to be there in person.
You can also listen to this week’s podcast episode (above) where I dig deeper into each topic area.
Hashtags are the cheat codes for following anything online. Whether it is a major news story or the latest meme, hashtags provide a simple way to stay informed.
The same holds true for live events. If you are missing a conference, find the official hashtag associated with the show and start following the news on Twitter. Start to build a small list of hashtags relevant to the given conference and track them when you can.
For example, with New Media Expo I was able to follow much of the happenings simply by searching on Twitter for #NMX.
Many times conferences will let you know a particular hashtag to use so they can get the most engagement and perhaps gain trending status.
Conference Twitter Lists
Once you have found information related to a conference hashtag, it is important to organize and collect it in a way that makes it easy to consume.
One particularly effective way to do this is to create a Twitter list for the event. For example, create a Twitter list called “New Media Expo 2015”.
Once you find people who are using the conference hashtag add them to your new list. This allows you to pull those folks out of your busy Twitter feed and place them in a container where you can follow the conversation easily.
Be selective with who you add to this list as many times spammers, trolls, and other internet scum will simply tag-along with the hashtag, providing no value.
Here is another hack for the Twitter list approach. Go out to the conference website and look up the speakers. Many times their Twitter handle will be listed. Add the speakers you find interesting to the same Twitter list.
Now you will be able to not only follow the conference attendees but you will also see what the speakers are talking about.
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of isolating the individuals engaged in the conference discussion is the ability to continue to follow their tweets after the conference ends. You now have a nice little location where you can pull up people who have a common thread related to the conference topic.
Many conferences will offer online experiences for those that can not attend in person. It will be up to you whether this option works for your particular learning style.
I recently had personal conflicts pop up that prevented me from attending New Media Expo. One good thing with conferences related to social media is the fact that they typically will bend over backwards in regard to customer service.
Here is what I did when I needed to discuss my options with conference organizers.
- I reached out via their Twitter account asking for a particular email address I could use to discuss my situation
- They quickly replied with a point of contact
- I sent an email letting them know about my situation and how I had already bought the ticket
- They offered options and I chose to take the virtual ticket to this year’s event
It was extremely easy to work with them and to come to a quick and easy resolution.
When choosing a Virtual Ticket option you do need to be careful.
I have had experiences in the past where some of the speakers’ materials were not available. Many times this is the result of the speaker not providing the information, but it still hurts nonetheless when you pay for the virtual pass.
Follow Up With the Conference
Some shows may not offer a Virtual Ticket. In this case, reach out to the conference organizers and ask if they will be posting the materials on the website in the future.
It only takes a few minutes to write a polite email asking them if they will offer the materials. Even if they have no plans of doing so, you might get lucky and they may offer to send you the material from a particular session you are interested in.
You never know until you ask.
If you did not attend the virtual session and the conference was not able to fulfill your request for materials, go to the next step.
Reach out to the folks on your conference Twitter list and see if they would be willing to share. You could ask them for their feedback on the conference, which sessions they liked, and what they didn’t like about the show.
You could also ask if they would be willing to share their notes or maybe even jump on Skype for a quick discussion.
Additionally, you can reach out to speakers directly. Many speakers would love to share their materials. Just make sure you do not become a burden for them as their time is probably precious (like us all). Introduce yourself, quickly get to the point, and thank them for their consideration.
Again, you will never know unless you ask.
Leverage Streaming Services
Two live video streaming services available today are perfect for occasions when you can not attend a conference in person. Both Periscope and Meerkat provide options when you want direct access to live happenings.
This was the case recently with New Media Expo.
One of the things I was looking forward to was Pat Flynn’s keynote. I attended the conference last year and thoroughly enjoyed his magic filled presentation related to moving your casual audience to raving fans.
So, I was bummed when I finally made the decision that I could not attend this year.
But, I was pleasantly surprised when Caleb Wojcik from DIYVideoGuy.com popped up on my phone.
The way Periscope works is that when someone you follow starts broadcasting you will receive an alert. This is exactly what happened. I received the alert that Caleb was at Pat Flynn’s keynote and I immediately jumped in.
I pulled up the app and the stream started. Caleb was sitting in the front row. I had direct access to the keynote as it was happening!
Even if no one you are following is broadcasting you can still do a quick search on Twitter to find someone in the global community that might be.
How do you find them? It is simple.
Go to Twitter and search for keywords such as “Periscope Live NMX” or “Live Meerkat NMX”. This will bring up a number of people who may be broadcasting live from the event. I love it!
5 Things I Learned (5TIL)
Also, in this week’s podcast I discuss the following 5 things I learned this week.
- Marijuana delivery services
- Norway getting rid of FM radio in 2017
- Star Wars emojis
- The new Twitter landing page
- Shoes that grow with your kid…for 5 years!