This year, the 2019 Running Remote conference will be held in Bali, Indonesia from June 29-30.
I’m pumped to be representing my employer, Remote Year, who is one of the sponsors for the events.
Conferences can be a big time and energy investment.
The quality of your experience at a conference, especially one that requires travel to Bali, can be dependent on the preparation and mindset you take into it. The following are some ways you can maximize your time at the Running Remote conference. Most of these tips are applicable to any event or conference you attend.
Know Your One Thing
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed being around hundreds and sometimes thousands of people at conferences. We can get too wrapped up in making every second count — as if we don’t fill each moment with handshakes and business cards we’re a failure.Forget all that.The more you stress yourself out about being everywhere at once, the less you’ll take away from the experience. You’ll lose your sense of authenticity, and in the process you’ll exhaust yourself. That’s why, when I go to conferences I try to focus on ONE THING.Yep, just one.
The simple act of knowing your answer, and being able to articulate it concisely will also allow others to help you get what you want out of the experience.
- Are you looking for specialized knowledge that will help your business reach the next level?
- Are you looking to meet a specific type of person who can be a major resource for you?
- Are you able to articulate your goal easily so others can help you?
As an example, here’s my ONE THING:
At the Running Remote conference I’m looking to connect with remote CEO’s who can provide perspective on hiring practices for remote employees and who’s companies might be able to leverage Remote Year as a partner.
My focus is on meeting certain types of people.
When I meet other people at conferences, one of my main focuses is building relationships at a personal level first. By knowing my one thing I’m also able to create and direct quality questions toward the people I meet.
Asking better questions is all about being genuine.
And for heaven’s sake, please don’t lead with:
“What do you do?”
I can’t think of a worse question.
While it may be good intentioned, it’s always come across to me as belittling and condescending. I’ll always give someone the benefit of the doubt that they don’t mean it that way, but there’s so many more interesting questions you can ask that will elicit meaningful conversation.
A few examples:
- What are you hoping to get out of the conference?
- What is a passion project you’re working on right now?
- What are you hoping to do in Bali while you’re here?
2. Network Pre-Conference
Networking BEFORE the conference is a great way to prepare yourself for being at the conference. By setting up meetings prior, you reduce some of the pressure of feeling productive while at the conference itself. You also give your chance to start building genuine relationships in advance.
- Leverage the Twist App: Twist is a communication platform that provides one place for all conference attendees to collaborate. You can start conversations in specific threads, comment on the posts, or direct message others.
- Quality > Quantity: You’re not Gambit from X-Men. Keep the card throwing to a minimum. Come to the event with the intention of making a few deeper relationships rather than trying to make acquaintances with everyone. Your focus also relies on the “one thing” you established in section one. That will guide where you put your energy and who you focus your time on. Remember, you have a limited amount of both.
- Come Early/Stay Late: There’s a group of attendees that live in Bali and out of those who don’t: some are coming early, and some are staying after. This is a perfect opportunity to engage in events outside of the conference. Running Remote also provides promotions on different tours, listed here. Having a few extra days in Bali ain’t so bad.. promise.
- Hashtag Hunt: Search the #RunningRemote or #RunningRemote2019 hashtags on social media. People will start posting about the event and using these hashtags. This is a good opportunity to connect, follow and engage with others on social media and potentially set up meetings with them. When you take pictures at the event and leading up to it, use the hashtags on your posts, too.
3. Determine Your Value
Conferences and relationships alike are not about what you can get from other people. It’s much more beneficial to know how you can provide VALUE. Being able to articulate what you’re looking to get out of the conference in the context of your value will give other attendees a reason to help you and also want to build relationships with you.
Here’s a few examples of how you can provide value:
- Organize Events: The more you help bring others together to create meaningful connection, the more you bring people to you. Providing valuable events is oftentimes just being the one who puts in the extra effort to make them happen. Maybe it’s a simple happy hour, a rafting trip, or a lunch — it doesn’t have to be huge to make an impact.
- Use Your Platform: In the social media era, everyone has a platform. You also may have expertise where others don’t. You may not have a large following, but use what you have to feature or highlight others. Maybe you create videos, you write articles, or you’re a photographer. Use your skill and your platform to create value for others or the event. No doubt the organizers of Running Remote are always happy to have someone else helping them with press too.
- Learn Others’ Target Clients: When you speak to others about their companies and projects, take a moment to learn about their target customer. You may be in a position to offer referrals, or even be a client yourself. This is the most valuable thing you can do for anyone because client acquisition is so difficult. An important thing to consider: always get an opt-in from both parties to receive an introduction. There’s nothing worse than being introduced to someone as a ‘potential client’ when you don’t need the service and your friend didn’t even ask you if you wanted to be introduced.
- Survey Mutual Friends of Attendees: The world is small, especially in the remote/nomad realm. As you survey the attendee list, see if you already have mutual friends with folks who are going to the conference. You can check LinkedIn or Facebook and if you do have mutual friends, you can ask for introductions. This might lead you to a more productive conversation and bring you ideas of how to provide value to either of the people.
- Take Advantage of Sponsor Offers: Running Remote is offering a bevvy of exclusive sponsor offers, listed here. By using the offers you are providing value to both the sponsors and the Running Remote conference, as it strengthens the bond between the two parties. If you are in need of any services that can be found on the sponsorship page, consider using them. You can also use the time at the conference to meet some of the sponsors that will be there. Bring your own swag if your company has any! People love free bags, laptop stickers, phone poppers, discounts etc. Always think about how you can give to the community.
4. Rapid Fire
These last few tips are general conference tips that can be applied in many different situations:
- Show Up Early: Don’t be the person who walks in late to a speaker’s session or a networking event, if you can help it. This sets you back as most of the people in the room are already congregating. Especially for introverts this can be social suicide. You’re putting yourself in a situation where you must interrupt your way into conversations and figure out how to dissect the social dynamics of a large group of people, or distract others as you find a seat in a crowded room. Showing up early allows you to have more one-on-one conversations as people trickle in. You can also help the organizers set up or converse with them about the people that are showing up to that particular event — and receive introductions from those conversations.
- Stand Near a Funnel: Going up to people is difficult. Oftentimes we don’t know what to say, we don’t know if they want to talk to us, or we may have creeping anxiety that they’re going to tell us to get lost. Get rid of all that fear. At a conference like this, everyone is there to meet others, so simply reminding yourself they’re going through the same anxiety can be calming. Usually others are also waiting for someone to start the conversation too – so have confidence in being that person who does that. Standing near a funnel, like the food (where people are naturally walking towards), makes it easier, since people are physically coming toward you. The more you can rip down the barrier of anxiety, the easier conversations will flow.
- Connect on Social Media: Instagram, Facebook, and Whatsapp are the new business cards. If you have a good conversation, ensure to capture the persons’ information and add them on the spot. Make sure your social media is optimized too. Is your LinkedIn filled out all the way? Does your Instagram feature the personal brand you’re trying to portray? People will use your social media as a barometer for social proof and collaboration with you in the future, so the more you can keep them updated, the better.
- Follow Up: Once you add someone on these platforms, send them a quick message to remind them how you met, or a simple, fun reminder about the conversation you had. Go above and beyond to follow up. Most people don’t do this. If there’s an event later at the conference, send them a quick note to see if they want to go. After the conference is over and you’ve both left, send them a follow up text seeing how they enjoyed it and that it was nice meeting. It’s not always easy to provide the extra effort, but it is simple. Become the type of person that is good at keeping up with others and you’ll always have opportunities and fruitful relationships coming your way.
If you attend the Running Remote conference and you’re interested in Remote Year, you’re eligible for $200 a month of one of our programs.
Are you going to the Running Remote conference?
What other tips did I miss that you use to make the most out of events?
Leave a comment below, or connect with me on LinkedIn here.
I’d love to hear from you!
About the author:
Jordan is a program consultant for Remote Year and helps people keep their job while living and working in different cities around the world as part of an immersive cultural and community experience. He also guides aspiring remote professionals with the transition to finding remote employment. He enjoys creating content to help nomads find success with locational independence and wishes he was good enough to play in the NBA.