Today I will be a great conference delegate….
On the 12th September I was a normal fee paying conference delegate. The Conference was the Scaling Startups conference held at the Oval in South London.On this particular occasion I had nothing to do with the conference. Like a normal delegate I had selected this conference from scores of other available events. I liked the look of the content and the speakers. I flew in from Barcelona to attend.
Now being “just a delegate” is a pretty unusual situation for an event consultant and an event organiser. I find it hard to be a delegate. All that sitting about and not organising or advising the organiser feels very weird. But being just a delegate was too good an opportunity to miss and I didn’t just want to be a good delegate, I thought how about trying to be a “great” delegate.
Don’t just be good be great!
Every organiser I know complains about the lack of engagement from the majority of their attendees. However from my experience we organisers are no different when we attend events. Why don’t we lead from the front? It makes perfect sense for us, our businesses and our industry. So let’s be great!
Whenever we attend events let’s be “great” delegates. How hard can this be?
What a great delegate does
Well the great news is that being a beacon delegate is actually as easy as it is rewarding. Just doing the 12 things on my list really did change the conference experience for the better. If you become a great conference delegate four wonderful things happen:
- It enhances the conference experience of every participant
- It makes the conference more successful for the organiser
- It helps your network gain from your attendance and finally and most importantly
- It gives you the delegate more value
1. I tweeted from the event
Underneath are a few of my tweets. It is good to share content.
The speakers were of a very high standard and they had a lot to say. They had taken a lot of time to attend and present. So I thought let’s share some of that wisdom. I didn’t go twitter mad. I tweeted maybe 20 times throughout the day. I retweeted and commented. I engaged on line.
2. I thanked the speakers straight away via social media
There are a few SM powered actions on this list. If used properly Social Media can power our events for the better. I had enjoyed the presentations and I wanted to say thanks. I also spoke to a few speakers simply to say thanks face to face.
3. I met an attendee and introduced them to someone I knew
I had a coffee with a London based startup with a cool product. I thought who in my network would be good for this person to meet? I pondered and then sent an email introduction. It’s nice to be nice.
4. I introduced myself to everyone at my table
As well as a few SM entries there are a few networking ones as well. And here’s the first. I sat down said hello and chatted to everyone on the cabaret table. I like cabaret tables for networking and when the organiser is using them he is helping you network.
5. I thought about my objectives for attending the event
A few days before Scaling Startups I sat down, ensured there weren’t any interruptions and took 10mins (seriously that is all) to list a few objectives that I wanted to achieve from my time at the conference. And for completeness here they are:
- Meet at least one Event Startup who would be interested in Tech Fest
- Meet or be introduced (either at the event or through a delegates network) to someone running a cool and innovative event
- Collect 15 business cards and build my little growing startup London network
- Write a blog on attending as a normal delegate (if there is such a thing!)
6. I knew who I wanted to met and I made sure I met them
I was able to see who was attending and speaking. I highlighted a few people who I wanted to speak to and I made sure I found them and said hello. This involves a wee bit of openness from the event organiser and proactivity from delegates and both are to be encouraged.
7. I took notes and forwarded them on to people who weren’t at the event but would like the content
The content at this conference was fantastic. Now as a one man band I don’t have anyone to share this information with at Gallus Towers but if I did I would be writing up a little report and sharing what I learned. But even if that’s not appropriate for the great delegate how about, instead, sharing it with someone in your network? If the content is fantastic everyone involved in the event wants you to share it!
8. I moved table after lunch
Here’s another networking related one. It’s a really easy. After lunch I sat with a different group of five people. I looked for a table where I hadn’t met anyone and I dropped myself down. I then repeated step 4.
9. I attended the drinks afterwards
As an organiser when I attend a venue I want to see as much of it as possible. And who wouldn’t want to see a view like this!
The main reason was of course the free beer, sorry, I mean the dedicated time to network. I hadn’t managed to complete one of my objectives (I had sucked up only 12 business cards) so I had no option. As I said it wasn’t the free beer.
10. I filled out the evaluation form
Now even though I find these things pretty pointless and a terribly inefficient way to collect feedback, the organiser asked me so I did it. I also sent them a more detailed note on the event (but I wouldn’t expect a great delegate to do this – but I would expect a fellow organiser to do this)
11. I followed and connected with the other people on Social Media
I feel a wee bond with other people who tweet at events. They tend to have better and wider networks than those who don’t engage in Social Media. And in my experience they normally tend to be quite interesting people.
12. I took time that evening to write up my notes and my actions
This morning, while Scaling Startups was still fresh in my mind I wrote up a page of notes. I wrote five actions. I want the time I spent at this event to be of as much value as possible and this will help.
From good to great
Besides drinking coffee and listen to the speakers this was all I did. No more no less. And this added significantly to my experience and I think added a wee bit of value to other participants. The thing was, it wasn’t in the least bit painful. It felt nice and it felt easy.
It isn’t a chore to be a great delegate. So let’s think about that the next time we are a delegate. Share this list with your attendees. Ask them to be great. Not just for you, the speakers, their networks but for them. It’s great being great.