If you followed me on either Instagram or Twitter between the 28th to 30th August 2014, you couldn’t help notice that I attended #PBEvent on the Gold Coast with 550 of my best blogging friends.
Now I have a confession to make. As a fourth time attendee, I didn’t go to #PBEvent to learn. Instead, I went there for the networking opportunities, with the mindset that any learning would be a bonus.
Turns out that I learnt LOADS (more on that in another post later). But more importantly, I met loads of new people, got to know those that I had met online even better and further solidified my relationships with those people that I have known offline for some time now.
PB Event Pirate & Sailor GirlsIn addition to that, I gained exposure for my business and the products and services we offer, identified new business opportunities, formed strategic alliances with key individuals, discussed potential collaborations, gained some new leads and obtained additional clients! THAT was what made #PBEvent well worth the cost of attending and time away from my business and family.
Oh, and I also got dressed up as a Pirate and had lots of fun!
As someone who spends a lot of time teaching businesses how to build relationships with people using online tools such as social media, blogging and email, I also think it is sooooo very important that you take those relationships offline, as that is when the real magic happens.
Here’s what I learnt about how to get the most out of attending a conference from #PBEvent. It is my hope that you apply some of these strategies to the next conference or live event that you attend to help take all the great work you are doing building relationships via social media to the next level offline:

Start Before You Get There

Don’t wait until you get there to start making the most out of your attendance at a live event. Any pre-work you can do before you leave home is going to exponentially increase your chances of achieving your goals for the event.
I wrote this post on “How To Use Social Media To Prepare For A Conference” in advance of #PBEvent and put a simple call-to-action at the bottom of the post that said the following:

If you see me at #PBEvent or any other conference or networking event, come and say hi! Feel free to use this post as an ice-breaker if you like – it will make my day and get our relationship off to a great start.

I counted how many people that I met at #PBEvent that mentioned that post and it was 22! In each case it was easy for us to commence a discussion as we had at least one thing in common – we had both read that post – and the conversation went on from there.
You can also meet up with people before you get there. If you follow the event Hashtag in the lead up to the event, then you can get to know people and perhaps even organise a catch up before leaving.
Or you could do what I did and meet people en route simply by tweeting about your travel plans using the event Hashtag. I did this and other people identified themselves as also being on the same plane as me. Thanks to my tweets about my travel plans (and the broken plane) en route I met quite a few lovely people that I continued to hang out with during the conference. Connecting via Twitter also allowed us to meet up and keep each other company to help pass the travel time delays much quicker.

Travelling to the hotel via the event preferred transport provider is also a great way to meet others before you get there, ensuring that you have some familiar faces to hang out with once the event commences. A group of about twelve of us had a great time getting to know each other on the bus ride from the airport to the hotel. 

Organise A Meet Up

If you know a few people attending or are part of an online group of people where a few people from that group are attending, then organise a meet up at the event. By being the meet up organiser, you immediately project yourself into a position of authority within the group and gain the praise of those that appreciate your organisation efforts. This then becomes a great way to meet people with common interests en masse without having to try and recognise them in the crowds, especially if you only have their social media profile image to go by to help you recognise them.

Stand Out From The Crowd

At an event where there are 550 odd people, it is hard to stand out, so look for ways that you can make an impression. Whilst I find that there is less emphasis on handing out business cards at events these days, there is now more emphasis placed on standing out from the crowd by those that still do. I loved the unique gift given out by Carly Jacobs of Smaggle in place of a business card. Not only was Carly’s gift memorable, useful and yummy, it was also very Instagramable, making her reach for her branding extend well beyond those in attendance at the event.

There are other ways to stand out from the crowd, as I discovered at the official event party on the Friday night. Put some effort into what you wear to a themed function and you will not only be asked to be photographed by many people throughout the night, but you will also be remembered and recognised the next day by many, providing other people with an ice breaker to assist them in approaching you when they otherwise might have either been too shy or not felt compelled.
PBEvent Pirates Darren Rowse, Grove Galligan & Loren Bartley

Sit At The Front Of The Room

Last year at #PBEvent I sat in the front row because I was unfortunate enough to be wearing a cam walker and needed the space. This year I did so because I wanted to. Sitting toward the front of the room allows you to take better photos, connect eye-to-eye with the speakers and get selected to participate in random stage acts, as I was fortunate enough to be selected by Pat Flynn.

Meet The Speakers

I have been a big fan of Chris Ducker’s work for some time now. I have been following him on social media, read his book and listened to all of his podcasts. It was great to meet him in real life, ask for clarification about a few questions I had after reading his book and just generally just hang out and have a great time (he is lots of fun).
Whilst at #PBEvent, I asked if Chris would allow me to interview him for a podcast that I was inspired to launch as a result of his presentation and he said yes! I am sure that I don’t meet his usual distribution standards when it comes to agreeing to do interviews, but he was more than happy to accept my request as a friend. 😉

I also met Hunter Boyle at #PBEvent and whilst I was devastated that my broken plane meant that I missed his session, he quite happily gave me an overview of what I missed out on, as well as a one-on-one review of my website. I took loads of notes and will be implementing all of his suggestions in the coming weeks. That was absolute gold!

Ordinary People Can Do Extraordinary Things

One of the over arching themes of #PBEvent this year was that ordinary people can do extraordinary things. I feel like I have become one of those people just by attending #PBEvent. The relationships, opportunities and inspiration I achieved by attending was truly extraordinary. However, I must admit that this was not by fluke, but rather by design.

I am an ordinary person and I was able to achieve extraordinary things at #PBEvent because I went into the event with clear goals and a strategy as to how I would achieve those goals. This is no different to how you should conduct yourself in all aspects of your business, whether that be attending events, using social media or gaining new clients.
Set yourself clear goals, a strategy to achieve those goals and then just start! If you do that, then you too can be extraordinary.