Beginner’s Guide to Attending Conferences


I just spent two days at the TechCrunch50 conference, and what I noticed was that most of the attendees weren’t getting their money’s worth. It doesn’t matter if you pay for admission or if you get in free because your time spent at an event is worth money.

If you want to get your money’s worth from attending a conference, here are a few suggestions:

Have business cards

It’s not cool to not have business cards. Recently, it has become a trend to not carry business cards, and this is a big mistake. If you don’t make it easy for people to contact you, no one will.

If you plan on attending an event, make sure you bring plenty of cards.

If you don’t have business cards, create some. More importantly, your card needs to stand out, and it has to say something about you.

Come up with an elevator pitch

Having business cards alone doesn’t mean you’re ready to attend a conference. Before you start mingling, you have to come up with an elevator pitch.

This elevator pitch should consist of a few things:

  1. Your name
  2. What you do
  3. Why you are here

In addition to those three elements, keep your pitch shorter than 30 seconds, and make sure it is relevant to the conference.

For example, TechCrunch50 is a conference about startups in the web 2.0 arena. During the event, I had the option of using a few different elevator pitches.

Here are some examples:

Hi, my name is Neil Patel. I am an Internet marketer that has helped companies like TechCrunch double their search engine traffic through SEO. I am here to find startups that need help with their Internet marketing efforts.

Hi, my name is Neil Patel. I co-founded a company called KISSmetrics that is a web analytics solution for startups. I am looking to help startups solve their problems that revolve around metrics.

Hi, my name is Neil Patel. I co-founded a company called KISSmetrics that provides web analytics for small and medium businesses. I am here to meet investors.

I know these examples may sound weird, but they work. All you have to do is say them in a conversation so they don’t sound cheesy.

Knowledge is power

I know the “cool” people don’t attend very many sessions, but you should. Sessions can provide a lot of knowledge and insight, so take the time to attend a few.

I recommend that you look at the conference agenda ahead of time and circle the sessions you want to attend. For these sessions, you should try to sit in the front so that:

  1. You can clearly see the presenter and their PowerPoint presentation (if there is one).
  2. You can hear what the presenter is saying (the audio system may not be working).
  3. You’ll have a better chance at asking the speaker a question.

Don’t be a networking whore

No one likes a networking whore, so don’t be one. Plus, what’s the value in meeting 1,000 people over a two-day period? There is no way you can truly get to know every person at a large event.

Don’t waste your time getting to know a large group of people. Concentrate on meeting high quality individuals with whom you can build valuable relationships.

  • Speakers – meet every speaker you listen to. Don’t spend much time chatting to them because they are getting hounded by hundreds of others. Be considerate, and give them space.
  • Conference organizers – meeting the conference organizer is a wise thing to do. No one really gives them the time of day, but they should. Organizers can get you into future conferences for free, and they know where the cool private after-parties are.
  • Competition – your competitors don’t have to be your enemies. If you build a relationship with them, they can potentially refer customers to you.

The only group of people I haven’t mentioned thus far is regular conference attendees. You should get to know these people, but it usually happens naturally as long as you aren’t sitting on the sidelines.

Don’t eat lunch with your friends

Most conferences provide lunch. The lunch food usually isn’t great, and when lunchtime comes, you will have the urge to eat out. Don’t!

Not only should you eat lunch at the conference, but you should also sit at a table filled with people you don’t know. When you do sit down, introduce yourself, and get involved in the conversation.

You’ll be amazed by whom you’ll meet over a 30-minute meal.

Walk the floor

Most conferences have an exhibition floor filled with sponsors and companies showcasing their services or products.

Take at least an hour to walk through the exhibition floor, and see if there are any companies you’re interested in. Even if you don’t buy anything, you can still get a lot from exhibitors.

Other than swag, you can get free products and services that will help your business grow. It just may take a bit of schmoozing to get these things for free.

Take someone out to dinner

If you want someone to open up to you, you have to talk to them one on one. It’s hard to do this at a conference because you can easily get interrupted. Typically, most conferences give you a few hours for dinner before any after-parties.

Find someone you want to get to know on a personal level, and ask them to dinner. If they say no, move on to the next person.

During your dinner meeting, don’t just talk about business. Find out how they’re doing, and chat about whatever interests them.

There is nothing wrong with doing business over dinner, but it shouldn’t be the focus. The focus should be on building the relationship.

Once the dinner is over and the bill comes, make sure you pay for it.

Attend the after-parties

The biggest value of a conference is the after-parties. This is where you’ll get the best  information. When people are loose (have a bit of alcohol in them), they’ll end up talking and sharing almost anything.

Here are a few unwritten rules to follow when attending after-hour parties:

  • What happens at the party stays at the party. Don’t go and blab everything you hear.
  • Don’t push people for information… even if they are drunk. Get to know people, and if they naturally want to share information with you, great.
  • Don’t leave the party early even if you are tired. You’ll benefit more from staying than leaving.
  • Stay away from the dance floor and any loud speakers. It is difficult to have conversations in these areas.
  • There is typically another party after the party is over, so try to go to it.

Don’t forget to follow up

At this point, the conference is over, right? Technically it is, but for you, it isn’t. You have to follow up with EVERY person you met at the event.

If you don’t, you’ll never end up building any real relationships. Meeting someone is great, but if you don’t get to know the people you meet, you won’t gain value from the conference.

If a portion of the people you email or call don’t respond to you, you can try following up again in a few weeks, but I recommend letting it go. You don’t want to come across as being bothersome.

P.S. If you want help growing your business click here.


  1. These are some great Tips and Advices the next convention I think I will be going to is the CES SHOW 2010 =) Wohoo can’t wait! But I do agree about the business card part where I have seen many do not carry one, and some who do the card really does not sell themselves. I met someone recently and he basically does wholesaling of T-shirt he gives me a business card and the business card was a design related to Technology….

    • That’s awesome. They give away a lot of free stuff 😉

      • Prostate Problems :

        Use the back of your business card to present an irresistible offer and reason why someone should go to your website or contact you again. Offer them a free special report, eCourse or audio with information your target market most wants. The #1 purpose of your business card should be to invite them to take the next step in your sales process.

        • That is absolutely a great idea, but stay away from doing something cheesy. Make it simple and sweet.

          • CanadaImmigration :

            I personally believe that business cards are a great way to first introduce yourself and later serve as way to contact you. Even if you do not want to give them, you must have them if someone ask you for your business card. It look totally unprofessional if someone ask you and you do not them on you.

            • Yes, I agree, you should have some sort of card on you. Sometimes it could mean that you are “small time” by not having them on you.

              • I have made the mistake of not taking business cards myself. Not only is not good business sense but it’s also embarrassing when someone asks for your card and you just have to stand there looking stupid and kicking yourself.

          • Prostate Problems :

            Right Neil! It doesn’t have to be cheesy, painful, or out of character. We can instead “pull” people into our world and build a community, rather than “pushing” a product or service on them.

  2. Great tips, Neil! As you know, the after parties are my favorite… and sometimes the only part of the conference that I go to. 🙂

    After a conference, I pull out all the business cards I collected and try to connect with the people on LinkedIn. I’ve found it to be an easy way to stay connected and keep in touch.

    • Instead of just connecting with people on LinkedIN, call them!

    • CanadaImmigration :

      Hi WEBOSIS, That is very interesting to use the social media and get connected after the conference. Do you give any reference of the conference after you connect with them on LinkedIn?

      • The better strategy would be to call them first. It’s a lot more powerful.

        • Prostate Problems :

          With so many LinkedIn connections, Twitter followers, and Facebook fans, it’s impossible to create meaningful relationships with all of them. But if you meet someone you want to get to know better, find a way to take it offline and continue the conversation. It could be a phone call or meeting at a local event.

          • Right, take your time and work on your quality contacts, rather than just everybody…

            • Prostate Problems :

              I am a firm believer in the success of networking to create relationships, find potential clients and promote your business. Knowing how to network effectively is more important than attending event after event without a sincere purpose. The secret is to understand that you need to take the time to get to know the networkers as people first and as prospects last.

  3. Neil, this is really good advice. As someone attends arts conferences and has had booths at conferences on the trade show floor and who has actually organized arts conferences, I can tell you, you’re really on the mark.

    This should be required reading for anyone. I have to admit, I have trouble with a few of the items, but I just have to learn to get over them.

    Thanks. John

    • Thanks John. Conferences are VERY powerful for networking with amazing people.

      • Prostate Problems :

        With this prong approach for attending live continuing conferences, education seminars, you surely will get more out of each event when you improve your personal life, improve your business through using new techniques, and you will find new partners and joint venture associates which can take your sales to the next level.

        • As you begin to learn more and more powerful techniques in communication, you will naturally allow yourself to create and retain more connections.

          • Prostate Problems :

            Exactly! Everyone has at least one or two people in their lives that they have listened to when they’re at a public gathering, and so do you. They do not necessarily have to be famous (or notorious) but professional and humane in their approach. Some might read read their lines, but taking a mental note of how they emphasize what they say can help you once you are placed on the center stage yourself.

  4. This is good advice for any kind of social function involving potential clients or competitors. I like the don’t eat with your friends. That is the best way to meet all sorts of interesting people.

  5. Basically im not a social person, i dont like to go to attend parties and functions, But when ever i go to attend such parties i always even without reading this article i use to Follow your instruction

    “Stay away from the dance floor and any loud speakers. It is difficult to have conversations in these areas.”

    • Don’t say to yourself “I’m not a social person..” because you can if you really want to be. Don’t limit yourself.

      • Prostate Problems :

        In life we tend to get caught up in the busy world and we forget to take a break. The break doesn’t need to be long or expensive it just needs to be a break. Keep it simple, but do it.

  6. Hey Neil,

    Great point about the conference organizers. It would certainly make sense to get in good with them.

    Many of the conferences I have attended, I have actually gotten more value out of the contacts that I made than the information that was being presented. So you are definitely correct. Just showing up, learning and going home is definitely not going to get you the most out of any conference.

  7. How to make quick money :

    Neil, I was at a conference last year and can relate to exactly what you are saying.

    Only thing I had on my mind at the time was networking. You rightly out it what is the point of meeting 200-2000 people in 2 day period.

    I loved your idea of “elevator pitch”. I will have that in my next conference.


    • Yea, they are exactly like that, aren’t they! It’s too good of an opportunity to pass up.

      • Prostate Problems :

        The most important factor is to be passionate about your business. You got involved in network marketing because you believe it could give you the life of your dreams. You just have to go through a learning curve and apply the techniques you learn in the process. Your success will not come overnight; but with determination you will learn the key factors to be successful and you will be able to teach your down-line those same principals

  8. I believe conferences are big hubs for knowledge sharing and discussing opportunities for the future. I have two simple tips for all those attending conferences:

    1) Network Network Network and remember them. You are going to meet and mess with a lot of people out there. Understand what they are trying to say and understand what connects them with you.

    2) Formalities matter only to a point ~ Sometimes people attending conferences are so formal they end up building formal business relations that are mostly short lived till any one’s motive is fulfilled. Leave it, damn! If you really want to connect to people, get personal!

    While, Neil, you rock!

    • Get as personal as you possibly can. Always focus on networking. That should be the whole point in going.

      • Prostate Problems :

        The knowledge and expertise gathered from years of experience can be easily transmitted to the new generation, when it is effectively presented and communicated. Here knowledge sharing assumes an important role in social development. The modern day gives you ample opportunity to share your knowledge not just through classroom lecturers or seminars. You can effectively share your knowledge and expertise through Internet, the biggest media in the world. Various forums, Blogs and Websites make it easier to share your knowledge faster and effectively to a vast audience that are scattered around the world. The feedbacks you get from your readers will help you to further increase in your knowledge. The Internet provides an easy retrievability of the shared knowledge.

        • Every bit of information that you have learned throughout the past few years can be used as a tool to create powerful communication with people at conferences. You can also do your research ahead of time for people you anticipate to meet.

      • CanadaImmigration :

        Over the years, I have learned that networking is the most important factor of any business. One person can be more valuable than hundreds in your network. So it is important to find such a person, and that may take months or years to get in touch with such a person. So keep on building your network!

        • Networking is what separates the small time companies from growing to exponential levels. If you want your business to grow, it’s a requirement.

          • Prostate Problems :

            The compatibility of the business owner with the location is also a vital dimension that requires focus. Choosing a place, where the networking of the business owner is strong, is in itself not just a factor of comfort, but it is a prospect of profitability as well, both currently as well as in the longer run.

            • Well, if you’re new to the game, just go out there and do it. Don’t focus on choosing the best spot, just make it happen.

  9. Manisha Shahane :

    Bravo! Regarding the “networking whore”, as you put it, I couldn’t agree more. I also really appreciate what you say about building relationships. I’ve found that if you can connect on a personal level, then the rest will follow (and you don’t have to be disingenuous about it.) The part that’s tough for me is allotting enough follow-up time; I tell myself that I need to add about X minutes per Y amount of networking/educational event…something like that . *sigh*

    Two things I will add:

    1. If you find yourself waiting to talk with a speaker or someone who is attracting a fair amount of attention, take a moment to introduce yourselves to others who are also waiting (besides the “whores”). There’s a chance that, if you have attended the same session or panel, you might have something in common. At least it is better than standing around twiddling thumbs while you wait for your 10 seconds with the main attraction. If the crowd is really big, then wait until it dissipates and politely approach the speaker over at the water cooler, even if it is later in the day. Just keep it in mind so you don’t forget.

    2. Even the most savvy networkers or “people persons” make mistakes and accidentally overstep boundaries. Cut yourself some slack, especially if you are shy. Putting yourself “out there” is not easy and it takes practice to form new habits.

    Thanks again, Neil, for sharing your thoughts on this.

    • Everyone can make mistakes, but its the people who don’t focus on it that makes the difference. Plow through a bad conversation and constantly focus on the positive coversation.

      • Prostate Problems :

        Your ability to deal constructively and effectively with mistakes and temporary setbacks is a mental skill that you can learn and become proficient at. The best way to deal with any mistake is to realize that it is an indispensable prerequisite for success.

        • It’s because that’s where all the power lies. It’s when you become aware of something that you begin to understand it thoroughly.

  10. Hi Neil, great post. I always try to buy a speaker or presenter lunch or dinner when I go to a conference. I can probably count on 2 fingers (yes its only twice) that I have been turned down. I have made so many contacts from this technique I cannot even tell you. Highly recommended!!!

    • I agree, connecting wtih the speaker can be very powerful, but more often than not, don’t expect to get much information out of them because of the ‘ego’ factor.

  11. Christine Perkett :

    Excellent tips. I’m surprised #1 is necessary – I must have missed that era! I love the tip to sit with people you don’t know. I attended an event by myself last night and found that it did allow me the freedom (or kick in the pants) to meet more new people than I normally do, and to engage in some really interesting conversations and meet some new folks that I’m sure I’ll do business with in the future.

    (PS using Twitter helps, too – so many times you meet someone you’ve talked to online, and it opens up the conversation immediately.)

    Great post!

    Christine Perkett
    Founder & President, PerkettPR

    • You’ll find people who are engaging and some who are incredibly boring. And yes, titter is undoubedly powerful and a great tool for you to use.

  12. Excellent points. One thing to add is…try to be a speaker! This is a great way to get your message out in a very targeted way AND with a receptive audience. I’ll be speaking at the Vision Expo West in Las Vegas in early October; I was able to secure a speaking engagement and found a co-sponsor with which I’m splitting the marketing expenses. Just one new customer out of the thousands that will be attending will give me a 10:1 ROI.

  13. Great post. It’s so easy to forget the simple “edicate” of going to conferences. I’ve kicked myself a dozen times over for forgetting my business cards in my hotel room…

  14. I’ve been bad about point #1 (and it’s the first thing I always say too!). At the last conference I forgot my business cards back at the hotel room (and I was a speaker for crying out loud). The good thing was (if you can find a positive here) is that most people offered their cards and they easily caught my contact information from my closing slide 🙂

    But I’m in complete and utter agreement that business cards need to be creative & unique. They need to stand out and say something about you with conviction.

    As far as the rest of the event, follow up is absolutely key! I follow up the very same day I meet someone. I shoot them a quick email when I get back to the hotel. Or at the very least, I’ll follow up upon my first day back at work. And by the way, I think written note cards aren’t out of date… Just sayin’…

  15. So far, I have not been able to attend conferences. But I can relate to what Neil says. It does immense sense to follow these code if one wants to extend his networking.

    • If you haven’t, then make sure you do. It’s worth every little penny to attend one. The connections you make are priceless.

  16. “Don’t eat lunch with your friends”
    A good advice for not only conference but whenever you go out at new place. Helps you build relationship and learn something new.

    • Unfortunately, most people will never follow this because they get so uncomfortable about it. Be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

  17. CanadaImmigration :

    Neil, that is an interesting guide to attending conferences. Well, again a well picked topic! That is what this blog presents, information that can really help people like us. I really like the networking part. It would’ve not cross my mind that meeting the competition can be that helpful. I think networking is the most important factor and you said it very well.

  18. I agree on the ‘not so good’ foods part. But its always important as you said to just get along with it.. After all its not bad foods, its just not that good.

    Another tip, although not really that relevant is that, you have to always bring a camera… I just thought its a must for any conference..

    • A camera is a bit of a distraction though and can take away the attention. Especially when your around “celebrities”, it lowers your standards.

      • wow, I didnt know it.. Maybe more explanation on why it lowers standards?

        • It makes you look like a “fan” type of character. Think about celebrities, once you take out your camera, you instantly lose your creditability. You are no longer seen as a person and now viewed as a “fan”

  19. Prostate Problems :

    I must confess, I am a seminar junkie and I love to attend seminars and meet and network with people there.

    But I don’t just go to any seminars. For me I attend marketing conferences on niche topics dealing with increasing your online marketing business results and making more money from the internet.

    • That’s great, but just take advantage of your time being there. Create goals for # of connections you anticipate to make.

  20. Good tips, Neil. I’m going to be at Elite Retreat with you in a few weeks…let’s eat lunch together :-).

  21. Great tips Neil.
    I’ve been doing most of these for years and it’s really paid off. I have been on the attendee and vendor at many conferences, so seeing both sides helps.

    Thanks again.

  22. You should take advantage of this information right now or as soon as possible.

  23. I learned early on to do my homework before attending a conference. Learn more about the speakers and find out who will likely attend, who the vendors will be, etc. that way you can map out your strategy before attending — go with a list of people you WANT to meet or talk with — collecting 100 business cards does you no good if you know nothing about these folks and half turn out to be of no interest to you later.

    Eating with strangers is always good — by the end of the meal they are no longer strangers!

    • Exactly, if you do your homework ahead of time, then you will be able to target the specific people that can drastically help you. It’s is the strategy of being effective and efficient.

  24. Hey Neil, i dont have to repeat myself related to how good is the post and others stuff…but again the advices are coming very in handy. Meeting new ppl in conferences and network with them can bring many benefits for yourself and to your company(if is the case). Beside making new links, the things you can learn are so many and this can only make you an informed man. And my grandpa had a word: “an informed man is doing much better then a smart man”.

    • Exactly. The knowledge you learn alone from the other conference attendees can be valuable and essentially make you a lot more money.

      • Thanks to keep incouraging me, although i started to be in this circle for almost three months is good to have the back-up from an old and good blogger as you.

  25. Jonathan Bennett :

    Thanks Neil. I may start attending conferences next year, so these tips are helpful.

  26. Im always amazed at how many people attending events really don’t know this basic info

    • Yeah, it’s because people are always trying to learn the most complex things thinking that the easy stuff doesn’t work. They have it backwards.

      • CanadaImmigration :

        You are right Neil, we always go after complex things. I think sometimes people are even shy to ask about basics. Posts like this really help a lot of people. That’s what I really like about this blog.

        • It’s all about keeping it as simple as you possibly can. The simpler and better you can make the experience for someone, the better it’ll be.

  27. Neil,

    As someone who organizes conferences (Virtual Goods Summit, Social Gaming Summit, iGames Summit), I think this is very useful advice. Well don, sir.

  28. Good advice. I’ll have to do some of this networking in November without being a whole, of course.

  29. Some business owners say that it is a bit abrupt to call others and give them fair reminders, but I think it is overall professional. If you need to call them for the business to take action, so be it. Business cards are one of the greater alternatives out there that online businesses, most of the time, forget.

  30. How To Make Solar Panels :

    Knowledge is power : I total agree. More knowledge you gain more you qualify. More you qualify more you get confidence. So my concern is participating more sessions, makes us more successful.

    • CanadaImmigration :

      I think just participation can not make you successful. You gain knowledge and build your network by going to the Conferences. It’s how you use this for the success of your business.

      • Those networks are what will allow you to grow exponentially. The more exposure you can get, the better.

        • Prostate Problems :

          Look through the people in your contacts’ networks. Select 3-5 people each month you believe would be good to know and request an introduction from your contacts. Your network will grow exponentially and virally. Do the same for them.

    • Exactly, but it’s also important to work with what you have. Don’t become an information junkie.

      • Prostate Problems :

        Nowadays, people who use the internet are information junkies and you can usually find everything you need right online.

        • People are information junkies and that’s actually a problem. Too many people focus on learning information rather than implementing it.

          • Prostate Problems :

            Right, it’s not the training material or even the process of learning the new information that will make you a success. It’s the act of IMPLEMENTING what you’ve learned that will makes you a success! So just stick with the learning you’ve selected, implement it in your marketing and fine tune it. Then, and ONLY then, move on to the next great learning.

            • You know what helps, having an accountability partner. Someone who is there to help you, confront you, and motivate you.

  31. pays to live green :

    Great advice. I have yet to attend a conference for my online ventures, but this is useful information for when I plan to. I especially agree with your point about over-networking. No point in meeting too many people when they won’t ever remember who you are nor will you remember them.

  32. These are amazing tips Neil! Once I begin my career field, I plan on attending some of these conferences to grow my businesses too. I think it’s the perfect place to prospect for clients. 🙂

  33. I find your suggestions very useful specially regarding to not be a Networking whore.I think you will have the opposite effect if you just look after everybody asking for JV and or for telephone number.

    • Be proactive and extremely sincere. That’s the whole point. You don’t want to be viewed as someone who just fakes it.

  34. Prostate Problems :

    It is pretty clear that millions of people actually earn money over the Internet in a business opportunity. Most of them have accomplished this without any prior network marketing experiences. Many more have managed to achieve success by starting something unique right from the comfort of their living room.

    • The internet has been able to give an opportunity to succeed to almost anyone. No one has any more excuses to give now.

      • Prostate Problems :

        Right Neil! For any reason, the need for money leads to the necessity of finding a good job that pays well. If you are one of those who seek a kind of employment that pays well, then you can turn to the internet for various options.

        • The are various options, but you need to look outside of the box so to speak. Doing the same thing everyone else is doing will lead you where everyone else is at… no where.

  35. Armen Shirvanian :

    Hey Neil.

    You’ve got some valid details here about things one could do to some real worth out of a conference instead of going to it and leaving feeling that something was missed.

    This makes me think about going to a conference at some time. It would be nice to be part of one of these big gatherings where much information is shared and public social networking occurs.

  36. Justin Wright :

    Thanks for the great article, this is useful even to people that have attended conferences. It’s always important to be ready and have everything organized (business cards, elevator pitch, etc.) before you go.

    • Those who don’t prepare, prepare to fail

      • Prostate Problems :

        well said Neil! All too often many people ask for success and prepare for failure. One of the ways we sabotage our success is procrastination. We talk about what we want to do, without writing out a plan, and without taking any steps in that direction. Plans are good. They help us to focus, and to put our ideas in some semblance of order. Writing helps to make things real.

        • If there is ever a time when you think you need to do something now, suck it up and do it! Your results from taking action will be tremendous.

  37. I recently have been reading a book called “Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time” which also talks in greater detail about some of the points made in your post.

    • What an interesting topic, I’ll have to look into that book. Thanks!

      • Prostate Problems :

        The book isn’t that bad, but it isnt worth buying with so many other masters out there writing about how to get it done. Here’s what’s wrong….

        First, it’s billed as “revolutionary” concepts which I found to hardly be true. Almost evey idea was something that I’ve read in a Covey, Mackay, Peters, etc book. Recycled.

        Further, he’s so proud of his accomplishments it becomes exhausting to keep up with all the great things KF did in his life.

        Finally, he writes often about how he was from poor, underprivileged family and he had nothing but his “revolutionary” concepts to break him into The Club. I believe it at first, until he started (and then repeated) to tell the reader about how he went to a private elementary and HS, then to Yale and Harvard BS. He was IN the club from first grade – hardly a life course that demonstrated how unique and terrific his practices were.

        • At least the title sounds good 😉

          • Prostate Problems :

            As you know one of the leading rules of developing an irresistible title is to aim for a concept, a memes, a word, or phrase that tell a story that your readers can immediately connect with and want to associate with.

            • Having that is definitely idea, but getting to that point where you could provide that kind of power takes time, no doubt.

              • Prostate Problems :

                Absolutely It can take hours and hours to create powerful point with respect to your leading title.

                • If it’s something you really are interested in, you’ll quickly build the momentum to complete it in no time at all.

  38. Camella Cerritos :

    you hit it right. before, i can’t find the reason why some people attend conferences like techcrunch50 for outrageous fees. And then you’ll see some of them chatting while someone is giving a talk.
    so it’s basically about networking and not about what’s presented in the conference. And the relationship you build during that day will continue long after the event which potentially pays for the fee in the long run.

    • Fees are necessarily, but they are investments. 1 or 2 deals that come (or clients) will help you gain that money back and then some.

  39. Just a note on business card etiquette. When you receive a business card from someone, don’t just shove into your pocket as soon as you receive. Take a good look at it first and then put in your wallet or briefcase. You will come across as someone who is very serious and appreciative

  40. Mhairi Petrovic :

    Indeed the conference is just the start. Building valuable relationships with the key people you meet there – the ones you would like to do business with – is paramount. These days we are lucky in that we have so many communication tools like social networks to enable us to keep in touch. After the conference, find these contacts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or on their blog and use these tools as an effective means to stay in touch.

    • All the social networking is important and it does let us stay in contact, which is amazing. However, you should always make the effort to meet in person.

  41. Great post Neil. Never been to such a conference but do exactly get what you wish to point out. Also, I can picture some networking whores and why people would want to avoid them. 🙂

    • There are a lot of them out there, but networking can never do you wrong. The more people you know, the better chances you have. The choose those people wisely.

  42. hi thanks for these great tips i’m related to business field but now a days i am studying. i’m starting my icma in few days hope in practical life these tips will help me alot.

  43. Software Photography :

    Great post. I’ve always been scared to attend conferences, mostly because I assumed that everyone at them has already been to a few.

    I’ll take your advice and try and attend the next one I can find.

    • Do it as quickly as you possibly can. The more events you go to and the more people you talk to, the better you’ll do.

  44. Anand Srinivasan :

    Interesting strategies. Last time I was at a startups conference here, I didn’t remember to take all my cards! They got exhausted in the first hour and I spent the rest of the 5 hours just getting cards but not giving them…

    • Well be careful on who you give the cards out to. Don’t just hand them out like hot cakes or they have no value.

  45. Great tips, so many people think networking is annoying other people at conferences who are successful to try to get them to hand over million dollar tips. If they would just try to create friends and be prepared with a small pitch to tell about themselves they would be a lot better off. One thing is to network with everyone not just the percieved big shot because everyone at a conference has some type of business or idea that could help you a lot more than sucking up to a big shot like the thousands of others there.

    • You never know when you’ll run into someone who can really help you take your business into the right direction.

  46. Casino Lemonade :

    I’d like to discuss the party tip:
    It seems quite difficult for me to attend parties, not even talking about after party parties, and being fresh in the morning for conferences.
    It just not possible, it’s a myth or a luxury that can afford teenagers and people who needs only 4 hours of sleep per night (I know some of them in the egaming industry, I won’t name them, they are famous for that)….well I did it once in Barcelona last year (Casino Affiliate Conference) but I was heavily and daily supplied with local “farlopa”.
    It was super fun, but I won’t do it again.
    Plus the fact that I’ve never been to a party where I could talk to people: loudy music, not enough space, to warm places, people talking to people they already (it’s unavoidable in loudy places where it’s hard to start a conversation with strangers you barely can ear) know and inaccessible open bar.
    For me, parties are definitely a no go.
    Since then, I’ve found a nice “compromis”.
    I go for dinner with people I really want to meet but before and after, I spend my time at the bar (or the lobby, it depends of the place configuration) of the main hotel where everybody stays.
    There, you can see people going to and coming back from parties, dinners and any other place you won’t go, etc…then you can talk to them in a quiet place.

    • At parties, the only real solution is staying away from the speakers. Try going outside in the patio and talk to people there.

  47. Hey Neil, I always invest a some time prior to an event looking thru the list of attendees to make a list of ‘targets’ – those people who I really should be talking to. I’ll have a look thru their blog, social network sites etc and most importantly – their business website. Gives u a great head start when trying to spark up a conversation. Note:- dont comment on their girlfriends outfit or something specific from a photo you’ve seen!!

  48. Everyone needs a break.You cannot continue when you killing yourself…

  49. Thanks for this, man. Is it possible for Freelancers, to get a biz card of their own? I’ve being doing some good biz as a freelancer online. Now, if I wish to attend conferences for good exposure & also some profits, Can I attend 1? Also, What do I do about the biz card part?
    Let me know, Neil.

    • Just go to a store or even order some business cards online. Conferences are a freelancers jackpot. Everyone there needs your help!

  50. Firme de communication :

    I like your style Neil! You are very genuine about your relationships, and I found out I might be a networking wh***.

    I will keep on reading your blog as long as you write posts!


    • Being a networking wh*** isn’t so bad… just as long as you jump on those connections and take advantage of them.

  51. Ibrahim | :

    Awesome advice here. I just got my first real job (after graduating college) and they are going to put me through a few big conferences and workshops. Your advice just increased my effectiveness of these things at least 10 fold. Very kind of you to share! Thanks!

    • That’s great to hear Ibrahim! I’d be very excited to hear about the success you create for yourself in the future.

  52. The greatest business card i ever saw as the one on fantasy factory with rob dyrdek. The guy who has your business card is crap guy is a marketing genius.

  53. People will remember you if you have a fancy and colorful name card…print those one!!!

  54. lung cancer stages :

    Get some related photo(s) and attractive logo and people will tends to remember logo more than words most of the times…

  55. lung cancer survival rate :

    I saw some striking name card mainly using Red, Gold and Silver color to attract attention. May be that one we can look into.

    • Color does have a lot to do with the attention people have… so maybe a good idea for you would be to start researching colors that work and don’t work?

  56. active rfid tag :

    I saw some name cards translated to Chinese / Japanese at other site of the card, people tends to look at the translated words, feel like really cool.

    • hmm, that’s an interesting concept you have. I guess it’s like the same reason why they get those symbols as tattoos.

  57. Italian Leather Jackets :

    Hm… Have be thinking of going for a conference like Adtech. Would be a real big investment for me as I am not living in the US.

    Many people did comment that their business make big strides after attending the conference due to the relations they forged in the conference. Tempting…

    • You should jump on the wagon to start attending conferences… it’s going to be the best way for to build your network.

  58. I get the thing with ‘networking whores’.. It can really get very irritating. I think you would know better Neil, now that you would be on the other side of the table..

  59. lung cancer survival rate :

    Need to be socialized a bit and know more “connection” when you attend the conference. Who knows one day you can get help from your connection.

    • People you met from months or years ago maybe people who can benefit you right now… That’s exactly why you should start today.

  60. Wow, there are a lot of comments on this post!

    Yea, that is the business we are in…. Trade Shows. Its like anything else, there are amazing events to go to, and there are shows that aren’t great. The key is to be productive for the time that you are there. Generally, you are taking the time out of your day(s) and sometimes have to travel to get to these shows so take advantage of everything. Also, since this blog mentioned business cards. My associate began this start up:
    (Essentially your business card with ball markers etc for the golfer)

    Tell’em Jeff sent ya!

    • That’s a very interesting idea…(the golf thing)… right when you are there, you should turn on game mode. Each and every moment needs to be spent productively to ensure you get the most value out of it.

  61. Im always amazed at how many people attending events really don’t know this basic info

    • It’s surprising… no doubt. More often than not, these people are going to the event just to learn something from the sessions. They are missing out on a huge opportunity to network.

  62. That’s important to have business card that stand out of the crowd as we say. I never miss my when attending conferences.

    • Business cards that are unique can make a good impression, but it’s actually the degree of your contact that’s much more important.

  63. Jay Jalodomisa :

    Hey Neil,

    I’ve never been to a conference because the DVDs are shortly released anyways for a MUCH cheaper price.

    The other point I wanted to bring up is that I am a very shy, quiet, and introverted person.

    The only value I see of going is to network which I’m not very good at. Just something I need to work on as a business person.

    Not to mention most conferences cost like $2.5k – $5.0k which in my opinion is very over priced 🙁

    Jay Jalodomisa

    • If they’re too expensive for you, figure out a way to sneak in… you’d be surprised at how easy it really is. There’s always away. Also, if you’re to shy… change!

  64. I have never been to a conference but I am sure it is a bunch of people that like to talk about what they do. Probably got to weed out the sharks and the people you can trust also. I am very interested in going to a conference really soon.

    • You should… and sooner than later you’ll begin to notice people who can benefit you and others who are just weasels.

  65. Sourav Sharma :

    This is indeed a great post. I have seen many people just go these conferences and spend time here n there as they are company funded.

    But the points you make esp the elevator pitch makes lot of sense as your 1st speech will make way for other things to follow.

    I need to be come a regular reader of your I browse some of the post and they all looks very interesting. I will read them tomorrow. 🙂


  66. On other thing to mention…Don’t forget to act professionally at all of the after show events. Just because you are finished with the main events and you are in down time having a beer with friends, colleagues and new associates does not mean that you should act without professionalism and a lack of respect to other delegates.
    I have seen so many people fall flat on their faces at conferences.

    • It’s probably not a good idea to drink like a fish and act like a moron 😉 Doing so will only lead you to be the person people can’t trust or rely on.. that equals 0 business!

  67. You have a very good outlook on the conference tips. I am too shy lol

    • That’s your first problem, stop admitting to yourself you’re shy, and change it to ….. I’m working on becoming a powerful communicator.

  68. cheap laptop batteries :

    I’m working on my public speaking skills in college to help me overcome my fear in networking.


  69. Famous entrepreneurs :

    Entrepreneurs should treat their business pitch similar to a sales process and clearly understand that the goal of the first meeting with an investor IS NOT to get a funding commitment but to win them over in order to establish a solid relationship, and possibly, to secure future meetings. It is essential that entrepreneurs do not commit the following tactical mistakes: Business proposition should be clear, Ethics and professionalism.

    • It is a sales process, in fact, you’re always selling yourself, what you do and how you do it. It’s not the business plan that makes the deal happen, but you and what you can do.

  70. i hate conferences.. i hate em coz im too shy.. and the days im not shy i say something stupid.. something i later regret.. so i try to avoid such events all together. 🙁

    • Well I can appreciate that you’re shy… but if you want to make it in life, you are just going to need to get over it… take baby steps and put yourself in awkward situations.

  71. Attending Conferences it’s a not simple work… i think so!
    as for me, I should believe this work only professionals… sory for my english, i’m from Russia
    But thx a lot, interesting article and nice advices)

    • It’s definitely not vacation time… it’s a lot of work. Your goal should be to meet (x) amount of people.

  72. sell textbooks :

    These are great things to go by even if you aren’t a noob at conferences. Your elevator pitch is a nice touch as well. I have time wanting to do the lunch thing, but it does make sense.

  73. sell textbooks :

    “I have time wanting to do the lunch thing, but it does make sense.”
    what i meant was, I have a hard time wanting to do the lunch thing because they are not very good, but you make a good point.

    sorry for the double post

    • Just choose the people you do lunch with wisely so you won’t waste your time.

      • sell textbooks :

        Do they ever have a Q & A’s for beginners at conferences? I think that it would be beneficial to offer promotions to first timers that get them into various different speakers and such at a discount. Not only would help people get into the business but not have to carry as much of a risk for going, because conferences can get pricey!

        • Yes they can and I”m sure you can find some discounts or something over the web for some of them.

  74. It seems like they have a lot of conferences on the West coast. I am looking for some on the East coast. Is there a website you can go to?

  75. Scott Casey :

    I love the idea of the elevator pitch. All I need to do now is practice working it into conversation! Thanks for the advice.

  76. Halloween Costumes :

    Great guidelines. Anyway, I wish to attend any siminars and conferences.

  77. Kiralık Araçlar :

    I love the idea of the elevator pitch. All I need to do now is practice working it into conversation! Thanks for the advice….

  78. Web Design LA :

    First point is really important. Take business cards. Share it and also take from where you want to be in touch afterwards. By this you can gain more networks and find more opportunities.

  79. I don’t think a lot f people understand how different the USA and the UK view an elevator pitch. It is massively important in the US but in the UK hardly anyone bothers to develop one. They should but the fact is they don’t.

  80. Pure Costumes :


    Do you do SEO reviews on seasonal site? I want to rank well for a few key terms in the Halloween space but it’s only good for two months in year. Would that be a different strategy for that?

    • I don’t do any SEO consulting. You should slow down on your link building, a lot of your links are spammy. And the all page ones don’t seem to be working that well for you. 😉

  81. Hi Neil,
    I am chirag gupta from indore. I am a final year student. I get a chance to attend the conference recently and i was unknown from these basic facts. Thanks a lot and can u suggest some books to enhance my knowledge on how to have better communication & influencial skills. Also i don’t have any cards with as i am student. my question is if i ask for cards to someone does that feels odd. One more thing i want to mail all those persons whom i met there how should i start can u plz guide.
    sorry for the mistakes as i am not good at english.


  82. Model Trains for Beginners :

    Great tip, especially for the after parties. I find it hard to just sit down and speak to people like suggested for lunch time. So the after party (with a little alcohol) is a much better place for myself to mingle.

  83. Vivek Krishnan :

    I would not call myself the most appropraite person a company should send for conferences. Making the most out of a conference is a tough thing…its difficult if you are not too much of a people person.

  84. Thank you for making the trustworthy attempt to give an explanation for this. I think very sturdy about it and would like to be informed more. If it’s OK, as you reach more intensive knowledge, would you thoughts adding more posts similar to this one with additional information? It would be extraordinarily useful and helpful for me and my colleagues.

  85. Neil, really like the elevator pitch idea – I’ll definately be using that at my next networking event! Thanks for the good read!

  86. kadinvesaglik :

    Neil, this is really good advice. :S

  87. I have been to loads of conferences and find them pretty daunting usually. It’s difficult to approach a complete stranger and get straight into the ‘riff’, but you suggest great advice, both in the article and your replies to comments.

    Many thanks.

    • You have to be confident and not let the fact that people are strangers through you. Everyone you know now first started off as strangers. You never know what great opportunity could result from putting yourself out there.

  88. Hey Neil, would I be able to reblog this if I give you full credit, link it up etc? Feel free to say no and i’ll just reference it in writing my own.

  89. Neil,

    I like your last post so much that I decided to search for you and here is another good read. One comment though is that not everyone are at the stage of going to conference. If you are like me, spreading myself too thin on other aspect of the business, attending conference will be the last on your mind. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the important of it.

    • It is never a good idea to try and spread yourself to thin. When you get more time then you should consider going because it is a great way to make connections and learn.

  90. Th ida is not bad.. but i have full doubt.

  91. One person can be more valuable than hundreds in your network. So it is important to find such a person, and that may take months or years to get in touch with such a person.

  92. Hello friends, how is the whole thing, and what you want to say concerning this article, in my view its genuinely awesome in support of me.

  93. Joane Ourth :

    Hey Neil,Keep It Going! I really learned a lot from how you generate traffic for this nutrition blog. We all learned from mistake and keep moving on. The setbacks will just make you stronger!

  94. Timothy Carter :

    I’m going to take a few of these tips to attending PubCon. Are you going to be there this year Neil?


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