Conferences are the go-to even in your industry if you want to gain access to new networking potential, learn practices which may not be publicly shared, and to promote your own services to like-minded individuals that “get” what you’re saying.

Conferences have it all:

  • Keynote speakers by leaders in the industry
  • Intimate workshops for learning new strategies
  • Interesting presentations and demos
  • Small, but powerful, gatherings (during and after)
  • An all-around fun environment

The marketing industry has no shortage of conferences worth attending – including:

  • Adobe Summit – Learn from those not only well-versed in the computing world but how the platform adds to digital, mobile, traditional, and Web-based marketing avenues.
  • SXSW – A hodge-podge of everything tech; you’ll find just about everything here (especially connections with the bigger names in the industries).
  • F8: Facebook Developer Conference – Sign up and get to see what developers are bringing to the world’s largest social platform: Facebook (because, after all, it’s deeply engrained with your marketing strategies).
  • MozCon – Interact with others in marketing brought to you by the industry leaders of online marketing software/services: Moz.
  • Youth Marketing Strategy – Change it up by attending a conference aimed at reaching youth and millennials (since we all know how this area can be quite tricky).
  • Content Marketing World – Cut through the chase and take a deep focus into the content marketing strategies that are working for building brands and driving sales; it’s niche in focus but certainly one that shouldn’t be passed.
  • Google I/O – It was a toss-up with the big Apple events but since Google is the leader in search engines (and subsequently… advertising on the Web) it makes for a great choice to learn about new developments and have the opportunity to ask tough questions.

Attending these events may originally stem from the idea of promoting your business but look deeper and see the value of networking with others. You can certainly find new clients or vendors for products/services you may need but the value comes from the connections you build during the event.

One such way to maximize your efforts in the networking aspect of attending conferences is to pair your physical presence with that of your digital footprint. Companies like DoubleDutch create one-off apps for events which allow you to follow activity feeds of presenters, interact with surveys, and leave reviews, get your name out there while making it fun and interactive.

A traditional method you’ll certainly want to employ (with a twist) is the distribution of your business card or some kind of gizmo that won’t be immediately thrown away. The twist comes when you tailor landing pages for the conference; you could, in theory, reiterate pitches you’ve made during that time, embed your live social and video feed, live blog, and make it much like an event within an event. Real-time engagement not only pushes you to get in touch with more people but also creates content for your business which can later be coupled into marketing campaigns.

Also, never underestimate the power of a cocktail. In many ways, the dealings with other industry professionals are still done in the older sense where deals are struck during a stiff drink and casual conversation. Think outside the conference; look into what other events are happening during the time of the conference (check, LinkedIn, or follow people attending) and you could find yourself in intimate environments where the guards are down and your ideas and strategies are more acceptable because people aren’t feeling as rushed or overwhelmed.

All-in-all, conferences are certainly the type of event every serious individual should try to experience at one point or another in their industry’s career. These events are a hotbed for making great contacts (which could blossom into sales or joint venture deals), learning something new, and all-around having good fun with people that are interested in the same subject. You don’t have to do the entire circuit – one every year is often enough to let you experience the majority – but don’t put it off completely; see it as an investment into your business and self.

What are your thoughts about attending industry conferences? How do you make the most of your time when interacting with so many others (often competitors) in your field?