Attending Live Events: Objective & Follow-Up

I have a crazy confession. I lost my Macbook Pro over the weekend. :shock:

Yes, me. The OCD woman that checks (at least) three times that she has her keys every time she leaves the house.

I had stayed over after the Savvy Blogging Summit, and was enjoying lunch & coffee breaks on the terrace of the Cheyenne Mountain Resort before taking off to visit family in the area.

I got distracted when Hillary arrived with sweet baby Jackson, and set everything down to toss him up on my hip and enjoy his cute little smile. Then we left. And sure enough I left my Macbook Pro sitting there on the Terrace all alone, and never even looked back...

It was a couple hours before I realized it was missing. I was hanging out with Hillary and playing with the baby, and enjoying a nice stroll through the Cheyenne National Park. The prairie dogs were adorable, by the way. :)

Once we arrived at her place and I was gathering my bags... I realized my precious Macbook Pro was MIA. ::smackforehead::

In a matter of seconds I retraced my steps in my head, and realized I'd left it out there on the terrace. Ugh.

I had a seriously sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. But not for the reason you might think. The Macbook Pro, like all physical possessions, was replaceable. The data was safely backed up. And speaking of back-ups, Mozy can even locate your lost device now by tracing the IP address of your last backup (which happens automatically every 24 hours). Pretty cool, huh? :D

What concerned me most was the other thing that was inside my MBP sleeve: my folder from the Savvy Blogging Summit that contained ALL of my contacts and follow-up material. (My event notes were safely organized in Evernote)

Fortunately I was reunited with my purple Macbook sleeve, and all of it's precious items, within a couple of hours. Many thanks to the awesome staff at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort, who remembered me AND my Macbook (lol).

I cannot even express what a relief it was to have it back in my hands. That manila folder is literally stuffed with highly valuable contact information & details!

(And yes, the contacts & connections I made at the Savvy Blogging Summit are worth FAR more than a single little Macbook Pro)

I'm sharing this whole crazy (and embarrassing) story just to emphasize the value of making connections, and then following up after live events...

Have A Specific Event Objective

Before you even attend a live event, you need a specific objective.
You should ask yourself:

  • Why are you going?
  • What do you want to achieve by attending?
  • Who do you want to meet and speak to - and why?

If you know these specifics upfront it will make the event much more productive, and it will also help you organize a follow-up strategy that will actually benefit your business long after the event is over.

An objective is what makes an event an investment, instead of just an expense.

If you have looked through my Summit photos on Facebook you might think my objective was to kiss turtles, drink iced coffees, and lounge on the terrace (lol).

But I did have a very specific reason for attending SBS - and I'm happy to report that I achieved my objective...

AND I kissed a turtle. ;-)

My objective was very simple. I wanted to learn how these bloggers were connecting so well with brands and merchants.

My focus has always been on affiliate marketing, which I love (and do very well at), but with my new niche blog I'm especially interested in connecting with various brands. I've dabbled in that a bit in the past with good results, but it was very obvious that these "savvy bloggers" had some insider secrets.

I learned A LOT. And I made some very valuable connections. I'm anxious to see how things pan out over next 12 months as I implement the things that were shared at SBS. I'm expecting to see some fun results...

The Importance of Post-Event Follow-Up

When you return home from an event there are always a million things to do. Spend quality time with the family, unpack your bags, do 6 loads of laundry, catch up on email & blogging, etc, etc, etc. And often, if an event was really good, you just want to sleep for about three days straight. :P

And that's all fine and good, but once you get back into your normal routine you have to make time for post-event follow up. Otherwise, like I said before:

An objective is what makes an event an investment, instead of just an expense.

Your follow-up strategy is going to be specific to your objective. It might be to study your notes, and get to work on actionable items or creative ideas. It may be to get in touch with contacts you made, or seal deals with potential JV partners. It might be to sit down and create a product that came to mind while you were at the event.

I've been to plenty of events where I didn't make time to follow-up on ideas and contacts when I got back home. My loss. And lesson learned.

I kept all of my notes in Evernote. That way they would be easily accessible from any device - without any backing up or transferring of files. I could just come straight home, sit down to any computer, and get to work on the action items.

I also kept all business cards, brand notes & company flyers in my event folder so they would all be in one place for easy follow-up.

To stay connected I have saved the event hashtag (#sbsummit) search for easy access, and am also in the process of creating a Savvy Blogging Twitter List of people I met there. This will help me stay in touch with them and get to know them better throughout the year, leading up to the next Savvy Blogging Summit in 2012.

Like I said, your follow-up will be specific to your objective.

I would love to hear some other ideas from you if you attend live events or even local meet-ups and get-togethers. What types of things do YOU do following an event, to make the most of it?

Best,

p.s. You can get recordings from last years event, and you can also watch that page for recordings of the 2011 Savvy Blogging Summit event as well.

The Summit Sale ends on July 23. The discount code is “TheSprings”. All 2010 recordings will be 50% off plus if you get the recordings during the sale you’ll receive a free recording of Phil Hollow’s 2011 Email Marketing session:

About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 17 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...more»

Discussion

  1. Wow! Glad you got your mac and folder back! I don't want to know what my reaction would be if that happened to me. haha

    After a conference or event, I have two separate items I follow-up on.

    1) People - If I have business cards I collected, hopefully I've jotted down some notes about each person on them. I then reach out to them usually on LinkedIn to create a connection with a personal message. I'll then see if I can find them on twitter and Google+ to keep in touch. I DON'T contact them to sell them something or get anything out of them. Very important. I'm just aiming to create connections and relationships at first.

    2) Conference Notes - My "day job" is for a large corporation as the innovation manager for interactive marketing. So I create a presentation of the best tips, stats, strategies, case studies, etc and present that to my team and managers. It's an awesome way to build upon what I learned by getting the team engaged by getting their thoughts and figuring out how we can put the knowledge to use on actual projects in our pipeline.

    You made a fantastic point about having an objective before you go. That can make the entire difference on what you walk away from the event with...or without!

    Great stuff!

    • Great points, Shane! I'm also very much into making connections and building relationships. My peer network online has been invaluable over the years, and I am always looking to add "the right people" to that group. ;-)

      I also make notes on business cards, and any fliers or sponsor material I pick up. At this event, I made a note of ALL the brands in attendance and plan to connect with them and follow them for a bit to check them out...

  2. Well now you've got me thinking about NAMS coming up and my goal or objective this time around, which I suspect will be very different than last time I attended. As for next year sbsummit is on my list of things I'd like to attend (even if it will be in boring old Atlanta next year)

    • Registration should be open soon for Savvy Blogging Summit 2012. I am *definitely* going back - even if it isn't at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort LOL. I'm glad you're planning to attend too. :)

      Get your thinking cap on... I'll see you in a few weeks!!

  3. LOL! Glad you found your notes, Lynn. You're right. Great contacts are worth for more than a Mac, even though those are not necessarily cheap.

    Looking forward to seeing some of your posts regarding some of the tips and hints you picked up while you are there.

    I know those will be some great posts...:)

    Mark

    • Thanks! I am finally getting caught up on things here in the home office, and at home in general, and can't wait to dig into my notes and share some cool stuff with you guys! ;-)

  4. I love these questions, cuz it's so easy to want to go to a conference or live event because of the buzz or because it sounds great. But its also easy to have be an expense instead of an investment. There's a chance I won't be able to go to the conference I selected for this year (NAMS) after all, and I keep going back to the questions to determine if it's an investment I'm willing to walk away from or whether the ROI of going is just too high to give up. And it keeps coming back to people, connections. people I've "met" online that I'd like to connect with in person. The opportunity for in person meetings and face-to-face idea & info sharing is just so huge.

    • True. And the networking at NAMS is always so great. I find it to be one of the few events where I really get to *connect* with people. There hasn't been a NAMS yet that at least one single conversation ended up being worth the entire trip in returns. (Because even though I teach there, I don't accept payment for it and pay my own travel expenses just like everyone else!) ...

      Sometimes it's that one tip, idea, or a bit of creative inspiration you get from someone, that makes ALL the difference.

      • Wow! I am so glad you got your MacBook, notes and your contacts back.

        Love the photos you have on Facebook. Looks like you had a great time. I'm hoping to make it to the next Savvy Blogging summit.

        I agree with you about connecting with people at NAMS. I've made great friends, done joint ventures and, to this day, we're still networking and helping each other out.

        I look forward to seeing you at NAMS again, Lynn.

        P.S. I'm going to be teaching about WP & internet security. Can I have your permission to share your story and the relief you had knowing your data was backup at NAMS?

  5. I'm glad you got you MBP back. If it was me, i would really go nuts :). What i personally like about these events isn't actually to make clients OR even to learn something new, as much as making connections with other like-minded people (although sometimes the content is really good). The benefit that someone would get from these connections is way bigger even then the information presented. I would go and say that sometimes very few contacts who you meet at these events can save you months and even years of hard work on your business.

    • That's definitely true. At this particular event, I had an objective regarding the content - and really learned a lot from the things that were presented there. It was one of the rare events where I actually attended sessions LOL.

      The people were really cool too, which was icing on the cake. I met some super nice folks, attendees & companies alike, and really enjoyed the social & peer-to-peer aspect of the event too...

  6. Hey Lynn, so glad you recovered your Macbook and there was a happy ending. And thanks for the event tips. I've attended many events when I was working, however now that I have my own biz I haven't gone in several years, shame on me right? :-(

    But follow up is important, not for just the things you learn but with the friends and connections you make with others. That's going to be my biggest objective at NAMS in August.

  7. "An objective is what makes an event an investment, instead of just an expense."

    So good it hurts. :) I am still sorting thru my SBS follow up list, too!

  8. Your story reminds me of a similar experience I went through few years ago. Long story short: i left my notebook in a hotel room but I was home when I realized (two hundred miles). I call at hotel reception to ask about my notebook and they told me that my notebook is safe and they will send to me with courier. Next day my notebook was in my hand. I was so happy, I did not back up any files.

  9. I recently went to a Networking Workshop hosted by 85 Broads and one of the things they talked about was having a process to follow up with the contacts you made at events. Seems like you have it all down pact. They highly recommended LinkedIn, but the Twitter List is also a great tip, didn't think about using it in that way.

    • It really depends on what type of event it is, and what industry. LinkedIn is great for corporate, local & service based businesses for sure. I would like to get more involved there but just haven't yet...

      Twitter just makes it easy with this particular group (bloggers). ;)

  10. Lynn,

    If I may, I'd like to add a bit of an observation to your "exciting" little experience".

    You did spend a lot of time up there on the terrace (I know; I was there, too!). I also noticed that you gave them a lot of business, got to know the staff, and "took care of them".

    I'd like to think that they were taking care of you when they held your computer for you because you took good care of them and went out of your way to treat them as more than just the "hired help".

    There's a great little lesson here in how to treat people. You passed with flying colors.

    Best regards,
    Tom

    P.S. -- Scratch Slim behind the ears for me... :)

    • Aww thanks, Tom. Slim says hello! :D It was SO great to have the opportunity to spend time with you in person, instead of just Facebook, for a change. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know you!

  11. I wonder if there are certain niches that lend themselves more to the brand strategy? Eg. A blog on customer electronics might do very well but a blog on webdesign wouldn't ... or am I being too narrow minded?

    • Hi Kathy,

      I had this conversation with a friend just yesterday that has a very specific niche blog, and we were still able to brainstorm ways to put it to use. The key is to look offline, and look at the brands and companies that dominate in your niche. Of course with web design, there are many online companies to consider: merchant accounts, shopping carts, hosting companies - the list of related services/products goes on and on.

  12. I know the answer to this question is either "both" or "it depends on your objectives", but which would you recommend? Blogworld or the Savvy Blogging Summit?

    • I'm attending both. LOL. I like how you predicted my answers, because both of those are exactly what I would have said. ;-) Of course you DO want to have an objective. For me, the content & brand connections at Savvy were the real pull. At BlogWorld it's about networking with the peers in my industry - seeing friends, striking JV deals, learning new blogging ideas & strategies, etc.

      I'm probably just going to get a 2-day pass to BlogWorld this time around, because I have a busy November. But it's definitely worth going if you have people you want to see there. I love their Expo hall too!

  13. Losing a Macbook or any other brand will definitely break once heart because the work n effort put to store messages. Congrats Lynn and a reunion with your Mac. Your post gave me a lot thinking to be done on what I want to do. Thank you.

  14. Oh Lynn I am so glad the hotel saved your mac for you! But yes I agree with you that the people we meet at these events are more valuable than any computer. Thanks for the great post, and see you next month at NAMS!

  15. Argh. My worst nightmare- leaving a computer behind. So glad to hear you got back yor MacBook.

    Thank you for your excellent information regarding attending conferences. It is very timely as I am attending a blogging conference next week and your information has provided me with some wonderful food for thought!

  16. A long time ago I was used to be in the promoting business here in NYC. My neighbor downstairs accidentally set the house on fire and I was evacuated losing the phone I had with over 1000 contacts I needed to conduct my day to days. Since thenI make sure to always have one old fashiooned hard copy just in case. Good to hear you got your macbook back I will bet you will not be leaving it behind again soon.

    Cheers!

  17. Nice attitude about making your tip an investment instead of an expense. I agree that success is really about making what you enjoy and what brings you money into complete and full alignment.

  18. WOW - Glad you got the folder back. That is the irreplaceable piece.. This is a great post and lots of insight, just what I needed to get me focused for NAMS. I need to put the Savvy event on my calendar too. Both you and Dan can't stop talking about it.

  19. Oh my goodness! I really like the silver lining in this story and the message is so true. I really believe in the old saying, "what goes around comes around." If you're a nice and honest person and also make an effort to meet people and be nice to them, it will reward you. I'm glad to hear you got your contacts and macbook pro back!

  20. John Fuhr says:

    Great story and nice to see any article that promotes travel and the value of attending meetings and events. I'm in the business of managing and promoting face-to-face events so attend lots of conventions and trade shows during the year. I recently discovered a new iphone app MunchCard http://www.cardmunch.com/ that takes pictures of business cards which then scans them into your address book! The other great feature is that the contacts also synch up with your Linkedin account which I use to manage my business and professional contacts over Facebook.

    Keep America Meeting: http://www.keepamericameeting.org/ is a call to action for the meetings, events, and incentive travel industry.

  21. Ugh! That's scary, leaving your valuables behind. I've had that experience, and that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach!

    I went to affiliate summit east last year, and it was good, but I didn't do a good enough job following up with the contacts I had made. I think if I go again I'll have a better idea of what to expect, and set some goals in advance.

  22. yikes I don't know what I would do without my computer, must have felt great getting it back :)

  23. Great point, I gradually accepting the fact that follow-up is something very essential not only to business, but for your daily life routine. This kind of feeling, affacted me since I started working last year, being adapted to the working environment as a leader in project management, follow-up teaches me a lot :)

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