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How to Get the Most out of Attending a Live Event (and Welcome to #cmworld!)

Content Marketing World 2012Welcome to Content Marketing World week! The Content Marketing Institute and Content Marketing World teams cannot believe that a year has passed and our annual event is upon us again. If you are one of the 1,000 people attending CMW, get ready to have some fun! But, even if you are not lucky enough to be joining us, you can follow along.

Here is some advice to help you get the most out of any live event, with some specific ideas for CMW attendees. A big thanks to Pam Kozelka who provided much of this advice based on her experience planning CMW.

Engage via the mobile app

If the event has a mobile app — ENGAGE! It takes a few minutes to upload your profile, but most of the time this can be done well before you get to the event, and the benefits to you can be astronomical. Depending on the features of the app, you can use it as your agenda reminder, your map, your networking communicator, and your friend finder all in one. Events with good mobile apps have staff on site to help if you have any questions about using the app or its features.

If you are at CMW: Download the official CMW app, where you can:

  • View the full agenda
  • Create your own personal schedule
  • Access event logistics
  • Update your status by checking in to sessions
  • See other attendee updates in the activity feed
  • Customize your profile and network with other attendees
  • Earn points, badges, and prizes by checking in, commenting, and liking other attendee updates. Expand your professional network, climb the leaderboard, and have fun!

Get outside your comfort zone

The good thing about in-person events is that you can be immersed in learning — not only from the sessions, but also from your interactions with others. While some marketers are natural networkers, many of us are not. If you’re more comfortable listening instead of talking, make an effort to get outside your comfort zone. Here are some ideas.

Split up from your coworkers: If you are attending with others you know, make a choice to not sit with them — at least some of the time. You’ll probably be surprised to find how friendly other attendees are and how much you can learn from different people than those you work with every day.

If you are at CMW: We have five session tracks each day, so split up, not only to meet new people but also to bring the most ideas back to the office.

Attend the networking events: Although it may be tempting to go to your room to catch up on email or exercise or even nap, take advantage of the networking events where you can interact with others casually.

If you are at CMW: You are going to have FUN! In addition to the session breaks, make sure you check out the “Vegas Night” party sponsored by Skyword on Tuesday and the backyard BBQ with Rick Springfield on Wednesday. You can even attend the Rick Springfield After Party!

Visit the blogger lounge: As Joe referenced in his post on extending your reach at in-person events, SXSW did a fantastic job catering to the bloggers there with the Samsung Blogger Lounge, a place where bloggers could meet and, most importantly, charge their devices. If you blog, take advantage of this opportunity to connect with others.

If you are at CMW: We love our bloggers! Stop by our blogger lounge to meet other bloggers as well as people from CMI. If you are interested in writing for CMI, CCO, or even publishing a book, you’ll be able to connect with the right people.

Connect on social media: While it’s ideal to connect with others in person, consider how you can engage on social media as well. Rachel Foster has some good tips on tweeting at live events.

If you are at CMW: Our key social channels are Twitter (using the event hashtag #cmworld) and Facebook. You can also follow along using Hashcaster.

Talk to sponsors: Sure, they might want you to sign up for something or talk to you about their product or service, but it doesn’t mean you have to buy — you certainly may be interested to know it exists or that there are tools to make your job easier.

If you are at CMW: We have a fabulous group of sponsors on hand that have technology and services to fit most any content marketing need. Visit them in the Expo Hall, or listen to a few key sponsors during our Second Annual Content Marketing Technology Cage Match taking place during lunch on Wednesday.

Remember key ideas

When attending an event, it’s easy to get invigorated by all of the great ideas you are learning from the speakers and other attendees. But, once you get back to the office — and your overflowing to-do list — it’s easy to put this aside. Instead, decide that you are going to DO something with everything you have learned.

Consider writing about the event: One of the best ways to remember key points is to write about them. Here are 9 ideas (with examples) on how you can cover events. Not only does organizing your thoughts help you remember the key things you learned, but it can also help justify the trip the following year.

If you are at CMW: If you write about CMW, please let me know! Send me an email at Michele[at] with a link to your post, and I will include it in our event coverage (see below).

Have a plan to use the info you learn: Figure out where all of the notes are from the sessions and save them in a central spot so you have them for reference. At the end of each day or the end of the event, spend some time reviewing your notes and choose three to five things that you will actually DO… and then do them.

If you are at CMW: There are a number of ways to get highlights from the sessions. We will be posting key highlights from the sessions on the CMI blog Thursday and Friday mornings. I am curating any posts about CMW, so if you write something, please shoot me a quick email at michele[at], and I will make sure it is included in our coverage. You will be able to read the posts by sessions:

Find other ways to learn: In addition to attending the event, there are likely other ways you can learn from the event speakers. Maybe there is a podcast series or video-on-demand? Find out and use any of the resources available to you depending on how you best like to learn.

If you are at CMW: Pamela Muldoon has done a fantastic series of podcasts with some of the speakers at CMW that you can listen to at your convenience. She’ll also be continuing this series after the event. And, if you want to see more sessions, you can get Content Marketing Video on demand (more info to follow).

What would you add to this list? What have been some of your greatest experiences at in-person events? Let us know in the comments.

And, if you are at CMW, please stop by to say hi! We LOVE connecting with content marketers!