December 5, 2013: After spending much of my year at conferences and trade shows, I can tell you events are a great place to learn what’s happening in your industry, connect with your peers, and drive new business. Events also offer an opportunity for businesses to increase their brand visibility and gain a few links to their site.
Being December, I was hoping to come up with something clever around the “12 days of Christmas” theme but I didn’t have any luck. So instead, here are 12 simple ways to build links through events:
Have you attended an event recently where you didn’t have to register? Probably not. Event organizers need to know how many people are attending, take payment, and they’ll likely want information on just who will be attending.
While we don’t always love giving away our personal information, make sure to fill out your website URL info. Not all conferences or events will post attendee information but many will. Even better, they’ll include the link to your site:
2. Pitch to Speak
Many businesses have an interesting story to tell and events are always looking for new speakers and fresh content. As a speaker, you typically get a number of benefits including free tickets, brand exposure at the show, and a bio/link on the website.
Even if you aren’t chosen to speak, you can take your pitch and turn it into a blog post or article.
3. Offer to Help
Interested in attending a show but don’t have the budget? Offer to help.
Many conferences need volunteers to help out with everything from registration to comment moderation to blog coverage and more. Some events will have volunteer information on their site and many will offer on-site recognition versus payment.
For example, in October I live blogged SocialMedia.org’s BlogWell Boston event. I didn’t get paid but I did get free access to some amazing sessions, a few shouts out during the show, and a nice byline on the site.
Tip: If you don’t see volunteer information, email a conference organizer and let them know you’d like to help.
4. Connect with Attendees
One of the amazing things about social media is the ability to immediately connect with people all over the world. It’s also made networking at events much easier as people are able to connect and “meet” before the event.
Headed to a show? Check out the event’s Facebook page, Twitter hashtag, LinkedIn group, etc. Introduce yourself, your company (no selling) and get to know your fellow attendees.
5. Hold an Interview
Pre-show interviews are a seriously great way to get your business out there, connect with attendees, and drive links to the site ahead of the show.
See who’s speaking or who’s going to be at the show and ask to interview them. What will they be covering? What trends are they seeing? What are they most excited about?
Interviews are a cool way to get to know your peers and hey, if you don’t like to be on camera, hold an email interview.
I know for most businesses the idea of sponsoring something doesn’t sound super appealing. Why spend thousands of dollars on something you may get no return on?
The thing is, sponsorships don’t have to be expensive and they can be creative. Local events often need someone to sponsor food or drinks (and who doesn’t love the person paying for drinks?). Other times, events need companies to sponsor giveaways or donate items for giveaways.
Non-traditional sponsorships can be a cool way to get your brand exposure without paying an arm and a leg.
During the Event
7. Live Blog
Live blogs are basically link gold. People who aren’t at the event can follow along, people who are at the event can go back and take a look at it later, and often, shows will actually link to blog posts written about a session.
They also present a good way to promote your blog without being that guy:
8. Take Photos
With Instagram and Pinterest really taking off this past year, and phones now containing 41-megapixel cameras, photos have become the hot medium. They’re quick, they’re easy, and they can often capture a moment much better than words.
Events are jumping on the bandwagon, creating Twitter and Instagram hashtags for shows, and encouraging attendees to take photos to be featured on the event’s blog or social media pages.
So go ahead. Break out that camera, take some photos, and put them on the web! Just remember though…what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas if you post it online.
9. Speakers: Post Your Slides
When attending an event, there’s often a lot to take in. If you’re at a big show, you likely have attended 20 other sessions, you’re trying to keep up with your own work, and your brain is overloaded. Even if you are at a small event, there’s a lot happening and remembering every presentation is impossible. That’s where the slides come in.
If you’re presenting, put your slides up on your company site ahead of time. It gives people the information they want and more importantly, it gives you a good way to get people back to your site. A few other tips:
- Tweet out the link when your session starts and/or when it ends.
- Tell people when you begin where it’s available
- Include the link in the presentation (beginning AND end)
10. Speakers & Exhibitors: Give Away a Prize
I love when a speaker gets up there and immediately asks you to do something for a prize. You know why? Because I love winning things! Also, it gets everyone to pay attention.
At the BlogWell event mentioned above, the speaker from Keurig told the audience that the first five people who tweeted “I love @keurig” would win a free Keurig. I know that there were about 50 tweets ahead of mine so it got the crowd involved and talking about the brand. I can tell you it also drove at least one link (thanks Keurig).
If you’re exhibiting, you have an even better opportunity to drive mentions. For the cost of an iPad, you can gather business cards and encourage people to tweet or write a post for a chance to win the prize.
11. Write Session Recaps
Similar to live blogs, session recaps are a fantastic way to garner links and drive traffic. They make for good site content, they let you include your own thoughts on what was said, and they can get picked up in a number of places (other attendee sites, the event site, social media, etc).
The key to writing a session recap (aside from it being well-written) is the promotion. Promote it through social and don’t be afraid to cc the show and/or speaker handles so they know you wrote about their session.
Hopefully you learned something new, met a lot of people, and grabbed a few leads. Now you have to follow up with them.
Reach out to them via social media to let them know you enjoyed meeting them. Send them an email (not a sales pitch) telling them you enjoyed your conversations and would love to get together or hop on the phone to talk some more. The key is to keep those relationships going. It could turn into a meaningful business relationship, a friendship, a new opportunity, a partnership, or more.
Events are often a key component in B2B marketing initiatives and it’s important to make sure you are getting the most out of the event. Whether you are exhibiting, speaking, or just attending an event, be aware of all the opportunities around you.