Recently returning from Chris and Ponzi Pirillo’s Gnomedex event, I find myself genuinely satisfied with the entire experience. Yet as great as the conference/event/human network was, it has long since been my experience that using the following tips when attending any Gnomedex event will greatly improve the attendee’s overall experience tenfold. Here are my tips in no particular order.

  1. Be ready to network with others. This means being ready to speak at length about what you do and why you do it with complete strangers. When you do so, generally you gain new perspectives on your business that you might not have had otherwise.
  2. Stop Twittering every so often and listen. This is one of Chris’ big pet peeves I suspect, understandably so. That said, I do “get” the value in twittering about the presenters ideas and sharing their relevant links with others as they become available. Therefore I believe hitting a happy medium might be the best solution here. Take offline notes during the presentation and then tweet the most valuable of them AFTER the presenter has finished speaking. This will, in theory, provide you with a more complete picture to share with others on Twitter later on. (Total disclosure here, this is one area that I myself discovered on the second day of this event, so I realize how difficult it can be to resist the urge to tweet non-stop.)
  3. Have a clear idea what you are looking to get from the conference. While my attendance this year came on rather suddenly (I am sooooo glad I went), I knew ahead of time exactly what my goals were going into Gnomedex despite the sudden opportunity to attend. I was to provide hands-on support for one of the Gnomedex sponsors (WeatherBug), network with like-minded people, and learn as much as possible in areas that might apply to my own life. Others attending may have different goals in mind, but generally speaking, most people are looking to connect and gain new ideas/feedback on what they already do.
  4. Bring or locate a wingman (or wingwoman). I cannot overstate this enough. Bringing someone with you will almost always give you an edge with meeting new people vs. going in alone. Trying to go at it alone is a bit overwhelming. For those doing this on their own, my advice is to find a conversation in the halls/etc. where there is a crowd gathering, often focusing on one person talking, then listen while you wait for the talk to conclude. When the talk concludes, begin making your presence known by saying “hi” and introducing yourself to those who appear to be available to speak with you. I have met more new contacts by doing this than you could possible imagine. And it is great for people who are considered the “center of attention.” I have also discovered this is a fantastic way to gain new friendships that can last for years to come. After all, friends that network together, benefit together.
  5. Be yourself, but do so with a governor attached. Whatever you do, be yourself. But at the same time, keep your fingers on the volume control of your ego. Listen to what others have to say, while showing an interest by providing relevant feedback when applicable. There is plenty of time to talk yourself up when you are asked about your work.

Do you have additional tips you share? Hit the comments and share your top networking/conference attending tips in the comments section of this article.