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Survival Guide: The Essential Tools for Attending Industry Events (like Content Marketing World)

Industry conferences are among the most informative, engaging, and entertaining of all business-related experiences. But you will certainly miss out on all the valuable learning and networking opportunities they offer if you have trouble finding the venue, can’t keep up with trending discussion topics, or get overly stressed about the work that’s piling up on your desk while you are away.

Just because you are out of your office doesn’t mean you need to feel like you are out of your element. Take a look at these tips and tools our Content Marketing World speakers use to help them meet their conference goals and make the best use of their time on-site.

One word: iPad.- Pam Didner (@pdidner)

I don’t need anything fancy for conferences; sometimes I’ll download a conference-specific app, but many times I don’t. What I love is the ability to follow along through a Twitter hashtag. It gives me the ability to follow along in sessions I might be unable to attend and it also introduces me to new people that are either attending the conference or a part of conference conversation.- Melissa Harrison (@alleecreative)

When attending conferences like Content Marketing World the following are essential: social media management/monitoring tool (i.e., HootSuite) to keep up with tweetable tidbits and hashtags, note taking app (i.e., Evernote) to capture all of the information, travel app like TaxiMagic to help you get from the conference to the airport, and a photo-sharing tool (pick your favorite) to create content while you are there.- Amanda Maksymiw (@amandamaks)

EverNote (note taking/blogging), Yammer (staying connected with what’s happening back at the office) and GroupMe (group texting with my coworkers on site to coordinate plans).- Paul Roetzer (@paulroetzer)

At events, I use my mobile device for communicating (well, in addition to my eyes, ears and voice), my tablet for reading/exploring, and my laptop for creating. The only “apps” that are essential to my conference experience are EverNote for note-taking and organizing, LinkedIn for research, and TripAdvisor for any non-conference exploration.- Michael Sweeney (@mjsweeney)

Of course, I wouldn’t want to go anywhere without WordPress and TweetDeck. I have them on my laptop, iPad and iPhone. But one of the really handy apps that I use a lot at conferences is cardmunch, by LinkedIn. Before cardmunch, I’d collect cards, and then go home and load the information in my contacts folder. By the time I’d get home, I couldn’t remember which conversation went with each card. cardmunch lets you scan the card right on the spot, connect with the person on LinkedIn and make notes about the conversation and when and where you met them. You can send emails to the contact from the app and forward the contact to your other accounts or to someone else. Awesome!- Waynette Tubbs (@waynettetubbs)

My one piece of advice – no matter what tools you’re using when you’re on-site – is don’t rely on ‘let’s catch up at the exhibition hall / Rick Springfield concert’ as a scheduling tactic. If you’re keen on meeting someone, reach out as soon as you can before the event without seeming like a stalker.- Todd Wheatland (@toddwheatland)

Whenever I attend a conference, the most important app for me is TweetChat. It allows me to essentially tweet my conference notes, to follow the hashtag conversation and to connect with attendees and followers.- Michael Brenner (@BrennerMichael)

A really great mobile app for the event. No more paper, binders, bulky bags. And a venti iced coffee nearby. Mornings can be rough.- Joe Chernov (@jchernov)

If you’re a true content marketer, then you’re planning on generating content while you’re attending Content Marketing World. And if that’s the case, there’s no better way to curate, comment and compile your key learnings than using Storify allows you to compile content from around the web into what they call a ‘social story.’ So while the rest of the room shares their wisdom, ideas and insight in real time, you can concoct a blog post that integrates a variety of sources, social channels and relevant content into a compelling piece of original content with great ease and flare. One piece of advice before you head out to Columbus in September – give Storify a shot in the comfort of your office. You won’t want to try to learn the interface on the fly. Storify is powerful ‘participation creation’ at its best.- Andrew Davis (@tpldrew)

Before attending a conference, think through your social media and content strategy. Doing so will guide your tool usage.

  1. Note taking. Use a computer or other device for taking notes for future reference and content creation.
  2. Internet enabled device. Engage on social media with smartphone, tablet or computer. Understand Wi-Fi at many events doesn’t always work.
  3. Text and/or voice. Communicate with colleagues and others via mobile phone.
  4. Photographs. Capture what’s happening in photographs, videos and/or audio. Use your favorite camera, recorder and/or smartphone or tablet.
  5. Business cards. Attend show with a supply of business cards.
  6. Elevator pitch. Be prepared to tell people what you do so they remember you.
  7. Dress. Wear clothes that represent your brand and are in line with the image you want people to have of you. For example, Joe Pulizzi always wears an orange shirt.

Heidi Cohen (@HeidiCohen)

Love them or loathe them, industry conferences are certainly more manageable when you have easy ways to keep tabs on your work, plan your day, navigate unexpected travel considerations, and join the conversation happening around you. What tools do you rely on to keep you on track — and to preserve your sanity — when you hit the expo floor?

Get more expert tips for furthering your content career by attending Content Marketing World on September 4 – 6 in Columbus, Ohio.

Want more guidance for meeting your content marketing challenges? Our CMI Consultants would be happy to help. You can also learn more on measuring content marketing success if you attend Content Marketing World in Columbus, where you can listen to and meet many of our consultants.