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6 Clever Ways To Make The Most Of Your Next Tech Conference

“I deeply love attending tech conferences!” <- Not necessarily something you hear people say every day. (Unless you’re sitting next to me at a Lakers game.)

As weird as it sounds, I really do enjoy attending tech conferences. I love attending tech conferences and – if I’m going to take time away from my gorgeous wife – I want to be sure I’m making the most of my time there.

There’s more to tech conferences than sitting in hotel ballrooms, watching panels, and exchanging business cards! Here’s how I use tech conferences to strengthen existing relationships, build new ones, land clients, and grow my knowledge base.

6 Clever Ways To Make The Most Of Your Next Tech Conference

1. Choose the right conference

The right tech conference will be filled with people you want to be friends with, clients you want to work with, and panels and events you actually want to attend – not just business card-pushing schmoozers and topics you’re already an expert in.

Once you’ve found a conference you love? Go back to it year after year. You’ll build trust, brand recognition, and a referral network of people who know and love your work. Click To Tweet
Some of my favorite conferences: 

2. Do your research ahead of time

It sucks to show up at a conference and – on day two – discover that your favorite founder was sharing mind-blowing insights … on day one. Or to be scrolling through LinkedIn after the conference and realize a bunch of people from your network were there – but you totally missed each other.

Research to do before your next tech conference: 

  • Figure out who’s presenting and what they’re talking about. Find a few can’t-miss talks and make sure you’re following those people on LinkedIn and X.
  • Post on social media that you plan to be at said conference and see if any of your friends or followers will be there. That way you won’t miss each other!
  • Extra credit: reach out to some of the speakers and friends you’re particularly excited to see and tell them so!

3. Choose a few people and go deep

Listen, nobody likes a business card-slinging group jumper. And we all know how that looks and feels: They elbow their way into a conversation, pitch themselves within 30 seconds of meeting you, and then dip as soon as you talk about yourself or – God forbid! – something other than business. Grosssss.

Instead, choose a few people and go deep. Get to know each other as actual human beings –  favorite movie, bar, basketball team. As an Angelino, by mine is obviously The Lakers – shoutout Uncle Ronnie.

Share the why behind your work. (Here at Neutech, our “why” is making sure tech doesn’t stand in the way of great founders creating great companies. Grab a spot on my calendar if that sounds like you and say goodbye to spaghetti code!)

4. Give value in your relationships

The same way we’re all familiar with schmoozy, business-card-pushing types, we’re also familiar with the person who asks you for an introduction, a discount, or a referral within 15 minutes of meeting you.

Instead of being a pushy, selfish a-hole, let’s build our professional relationships on a foundation of trust and generosity. Click To Tweet
Give before you get. Offer up your brain for picking, recommend your favorite marketing team, SEO Specialist or other smart founders to connect with. (Bonus: these trusted contacts will also be thrilled to have their name in the mix.) Be a sounding board or a sympathetic ear before you make a big ask.

When in doubt, fall back on the golden rule and treat everyone you meet the way you’d like to be treated – whether they have something to offer you in return or not.

5. You don’t have to attend every day of the conference

Controversial opinion: You don’t have to have your butt in a chair of a conference room from 8 am - 7 pm for each day of the conference to get something out of it. Click To Tweet Much of what we gain from conferences are the connections and some of those are best made outside of a hotel ballroom.

(Scenes from catch-ups and meetings at the recent Benzinga FinTech Deal Day conference.)

Typically, I spend one day at the conference and one day taking meetings. I catch up with friends I saw at the same conference last year (remember what I said about finding a conference you like and then going back every year?) I meet with current clients, potential clients, and just all-around-awesome humans.

6. Book meetings in advance

When you do the work of figuring out ahead of time who’s going to be at a given conference, it makes it so much easier to book meetings in advance. Ask your network who you should talk to while you’re at the conference!

Meetings you should book while you’re at a conference: 

  • The person in an adjacent field – they don’t do what you do, but their clients need what you offer (and your clients need what THEY offer)
  • The friend-of-a-friend you’ve been following on social forever but haven’t met in person yet
  • The person who’s in the same stage of business as you – you’re both seeking funding or you’re both growing really fast and trying to scale. You can commiserate and share resources.
  • The person you hope to be in five years – maybe that’s the founder of an 8-figure business, an NGO head, or an app developer who created something everyone uses. 

Choosing the right tech conference and being really strategic with how you spend your time there can truly be a game-changer. And next time you’re at a conference in L.A.? Hit me up!

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