During the first week in September, more than 4000 content marketers from all over the world descend on Cleveland, Ohio for Content Marketing World. They network with other content marketers, learn the latest content marketing strategies and check out content marketing tools and platforms that will help them build and grow their brands. This isn’t an easy task because there are more than 200 scheduled workshops, breakout sessions, keynote speeches, labs, and networking events scheduled between September 4 and 7. No matter how you slice it, that’s a lot of people to see and things to do.
Tips to Help you Get the Most Out of a Big Conference
The last thing you want to do when going to a big worldwide conference is wing it. That’s why I reached out to a few veterans of Content Marketing World and asked them for their tips on getting the most out of the conference.
Set Goals and Hold Yourself Accountable
Set your goals for the conference, and give serious thought to how you will meet them and how you will measure your success. Conferences are primarily networking opportunities. So, before I attend, I make a list of people I’d like to meet and plan for how I’ll do that–going to their sessions, asking for introductions, etc. Then, I let someone else in my organization know what my goals are. This level of accountability helps me to stay focused during the conference itself.
Save Your Energy for Networking
CMW has a great vibe with so many opportunities to talk with people and learn new skills! It’s easy to get overwhelmed! Sometimes, I’ll sit out on a session so that I can rest a bit before the next round of meeting people. If my goals were to learn a particular skill, I would reverse that and sit out on a social event so that I could focus during key sessions.
Susan Moeller, Business Development Manager at BuzzSumo.com
Connect with Content Marketing Experts and Get Expert Input on Your Projects
A lot of people come to Content Marketing World to learn from the big names they’ve been following online (Robert Rose, Jay Baer, Ann Handley, Andy Crestodina, Amanda Changuris, etc.), but the possibility to interact and converse with these people, as well as thousands of other content marketers, is my #1 reason for attending. You get to meet so many smart people from all different backgrounds & industries, discussing projects you’re working on, get their input on a piece of content you’re considering, or (if you’re like me) you offer to help others and watch your professional network explode with amazing people that you keep in touch with far beyond the event. That’s what I look forward to most.
Jason Schemmel, Podcast Creator and Host of #GSDChat
Attend Sessions to Learn New Skills
If it’s your first time, make sure you go to some talks that you know nothing about. CMW is where you become a better overall marketer. You need to know a little bit about a lot of things to compete.”
Jon Burkhart, Speaker and Author at TBCGlobal
Share What You’re Learning with the #CMWorld Hashtag
Create a fun autoresponder email and make sure to tell people to follow your streams using the #CMWorld hashtag. This is a great way to share what you’re learning with your followers and perhaps gain new followers.
Download the Conference App to Grab Connections
The conference app will help you stay on schedule, give you directions to the sessions you want to see and most importantly be a storage bin for all the new connections you make. You can use the app to connect with people before the conference, schedule meetings and even follow-up with new connections after the conference.
Heidi Cohen, Actionable Marketing Guide at HeidiCohen.com
Collaborate with People at the Event!
Come up with a topic and format that includes contributors and create the piece while you’re there. This gives you a reason to connect with people and a project to work on when you get back. Two of my best years in Cleveland came out of these kinds of collaborative projects.
Create a Content Marketing World Yearbook
A few years ago, I create a simple spiral-bound notebook, but it gave me an excuse to introduce myself to 160 like-minded marketers. I simply asked them to “sign my yearbook.” The final result was a post called How to Meet Everyone at an Event. Silly, fun, collaborative and creative. People still talk about it.
Ask it Forward
Here’s a collaborative idea that gave me an excuse to meet all the speakers. It was way back in 2014, before anyone used the term “influencer marketing” but today, that’s probably what you’d call it. I brought a laptop, a microphone and an idea. I had each contributor answer the question asked by the previous contributor. I did this in the halls between sessions, on the street outside of parties and anywhere else I ran into the speakers I love. The final piece was called 26 Questions from 26 Marketers. The goal was to meet people, so the piece was a success even before it went live!
Andy Crestodina, Co-Founder and CMO of Orbit Media
Make Time for Serendipity and Spontaneity
To make the most of Content Marketing World, plan ahead but leave plenty of time for serendipity. Identify the sessions you want to attend, find the people you want to meet and schedule time with them in advance. But be open to spontaneous opportunities all the same.
Matt Heinz, President and Founder of Heinz Marketing
Invest in the Virtual Pass
My advice is not to pack your agenda full with sessions. Content Marketing World is one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended for networking. You’ll meet, connect with and learn from the fantastic people at the conference and don’t be surprised if you end up with sales or partnerships after casual conversations. Get a virtual pass where you can watch all the sessions after the event. Make sure to drop in and hear your favorite speaker (come to my session!!!) but just don’t fill up your agenda completely.
Ian Cleary, Founder of RazorSocial
If you haven’t guessed it by now, the number one reason marketers, influencers, and brands love coming to Content Marketing World is for the people and the relationships and business connections that they make. If you’re feeling lost and lonely and want to level up your content marketing game, Content Marketing World is a great event! If you can’t attend in person, just follow the #CMWorld hashtag on Twitter and start building those connections today.
Image: Content Marketing World