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Attending HubSpot's Inbound Conference? Tips and Advice From 15 Pros

As a first-time visitor to HubSpot’s INBOUND conference in Boston, I couldn’t be more excited about the upcoming experience. From meeting like-minded inbound marketing peers, to the learning opportunities, and hearing some of my most-admired celebrities speak—shout out to you, Anna Kendrick—I know the INBOUND conference will be unforgettable.

But with INBOUND16 less than a week away, there is still a lot of preparation to be done. Figuring out what to pack, which sessions to attend, and mentally preparing for long days of networking is a grueling process in itself. So, I reached out to 15 seasoned INBOUND conference pros for the their advice.

Here Are Their Tips for Attending Your First Inbound Conference:

1. Create content, use your social media channels and make memories.

 

Photo of George B. Thomas, The Sales Lion and Inbound conference speakerGeorge B. Thomas, Inbound Marketing Sales Strategist at The Sales Lion.

Don't forget to follow George on Twitter at @GeorgeBThomas. Want to hear more from George? Don't miss George B. Thomas speak at the INBOUND conference!
SESSION: How To Be World Class With The HubSpot Tool In 60 Days Or Less Wednesday, November 9, 2016 | 11:45 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

2. Bring business cards and be prepared with an ice-breaker.

“One of the biggest benefits of INBOUND is the people you meet. Bring lots of business cards, download the app, connect on LinkedIn, and have a good opening line to introduce yourself like, ‘Do you like ducks? Vanilla or chocolate? Is this your first INBOUND conference?’”

Photo of Dan Tyre, HubSpot Inbound Marketing Conference Speaker Dan Tyre, Director at HubSpot.

Don't forget to follow Dan on Twitter at @dantyre. Want to hear more from Dan? Don't miss Dan Tyre speak at the INBOUND conference!

SESSION: How to Establish Rapport with Anyone Wednesday, November 9, 2016 | 11:45 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

3. Leverage your network, start conversations and get lots of rest before the INBOUND conference.

"Think about the 1-3 biggest challenges you're running into, and create 1-3 questions to ask others. Once there, ask every single person those questions. Take note of responses; and if there are patterns, determine how you plan on solving the challenge based on what you heard."

"Go up and start conversations! This is hard because it's easy to become shy or embarrassed in new situations. But whenever you're feeling a bit reserved or not as outgoing, just remind yourself that talking to other marketers is exactly why people come to INBOUND. So by going over and talking to them, you're helping them achieve the reason they came. Remind yourself what it was like when someone nice approached you and started a good conversation...it felt good. So return the favor, and start good conversations with others."

"Get lots of sleep the week before, and prepare to be going from 7 a.m. - 2 a.m. most nights. To get the most of INBOUND, make sure to take advantage of every opportunity to learn, meet people and network. This means pushing yourself to wake up early for breakfast and going out late to events. Many of the good relationships and deep information I've gotten from INBOUND happens at night. When you find yourself saying 'I'll skip this to rest,' slap yourself and remind yourself you can sleep when you get home. Get out there."

"Do yourself a favor. Take time to watch this Tim Ferriss talk on getting the most out of conferences, it's great!"

Photo of Luke Summerfield, HubSpot Growth-Driven Design Speaker at the Inbound ConferenceLuke Summerfield, Program Manager at HubSpot.

Don't forget to follow Luke on Twitter at @SavvyLuke. Want to hear more from Luke? Don't miss Luke Summerfield speak at the INBOUND conference!
SESSION 1: Growth-Driven Design: A Retainer-Based Web Design Model That Will Transform Your Agency Thursday, November 10, 2016 | 1:00 p.m. - 1:45 p.m.

SESSION 2: Growth-Driven Design Agency Panel Friday, November 11, 2016 | 11:45 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

4. Sign-up ahead of time—sessions can get full.

"Eat healthy and stay hydrated. If you have some time beforehand, study up on the agenda. It pays to have an idea of which sessions most align with what you want to get out of the conference. Getting around Inbound is never easy in such a large space and you are going to end up doing quite a bit of walking. This year, be sure to look out for the boards that will tell you how full rooms are going to be before you make the trek to a room on the other side of the building!"

Photo of Tim Dearlove, Principal Channel Consultant at HubSpotTim Dearlove, Principal Channel Consultant at HubSpot

Don't forget to follow Tim on Twitter at @tdearlove.

5. Maximize ROI and focus on making key connections.

"INBOUND is a huge event that draws participants from every corner of the world, with a diverse range of deep expertise. Having access to so many amazing people in such a short period of time can really put the pressure on to make as many introductions as possible. My advice: Don't. To really maximize ROI at INBOUND, focus on forming a deep connection with a few people, rather than superficial connections with many people. My goal last year was to make a strong connection with one person, and it's amazing how that single relationship has impacted my career ever since."

Photo of Austin Knight, UX Designer at HubSpotAustin Knight, Senior UX Designer at HubSpot.

Don't forget to follow Austin on Twitter at @ustinKnight. Don't miss Austin Knight speak at the INBOUND conference!
SESSION: Design is Not Art Friday, November 11, 2016 | 10:30 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.

6. Connect with everyone you meet, and enjoy Boston.

What to do when you're visiting Boston:

"Do post on Facebook to your network that you're heading to an inbound conference in Boston and you're looking for suggestions. You never know who in your network has been in town, IS in town, or who might just be impressed you're investing in your inbound education."

"Do try to visit HubSpot HQ. INBOUND is a conference for everyone in the inbound movement, not just HubSpot customers and fans. So their HQ does not feature prominently in the conference (it's actually miles away). So, if you can, come early on Monday, or stay later on Friday, to see if you can connect with a few of your favorite HubSpotters and make a date to meet up with them before/after the conference."

"Can't connect and make a date? Just head on over to the Davenport building, grab a coffee, sit in the atrium and people-watch for a bit in the morning or during lunch time—when there's a lot of HubSpotters milling around! Just don't try to visit during the conference, everybody is already at the BCEC and you should be too!"

"Do walk the freedom trail. I mean come on, it's Boston!"

"Do check out some of the amazing civic/urban art exhibits on display downtown near South Station and Fort Point (the area by the bridges leading to the Seaport district)."

"Do bring a good pair of walking shoes/sneakers."

What not to do:

"Don't rent a car. Boston is very compact, and you can walk to most places. Mass transit takes care of the rest. You don't want to drive the narrow, congested, illogically-laid-out streets of Boston."

"Don't plan on doing too much outside of INBOUND. You're there to soak up the jam-packed programming of the conference. The BCEC is set apart from much of the sites in Boston, so you likely won't be able to "duck out" for a meeting in Cambridge or elsewhere and get back to the conference in a timely manner."

"Don't miss the seaport parties and networking events. That's half the value of the conference."

"Don't be a wall-flower, reach out to others and form a party-hopping brigade. Find a HubSpot employee or HubSpot Agency Partner you can team up with and take on the night!"

"And finally, networking advice—I wrote a post this same time last year addressing this same question titled "Live Networking: tips for being human, harnessing the power of organic vs forced." It's my greatest hit, and biggest bag of tricks that I have honed over years of "working the room."

nick-sal.jpgNick Salvatoriello, Partner & Head of Client Services at Innovative Marketing Resources.

Don't forget to follow Nick on Twitter at @NickSalinbound. Want to hear more from Nick? Don't miss Nick Salvatoriello speak at the INBOUND conference!

SESSION: Chaos Under Control: How to Organize a Messy Contacts Database to Market More Effectively Wednesday,November 9, 2016 | 1:00-1:45 p.m.

7. Sign up for sessions early.

"Sign up for sessions ahead of time. Last year, the lines were incredibly long; and unfortunately, sessions filled up fast. And also, don't drink too much at the after parties, unless you’re hanging out with Halligan."

bob-ruffolo.jpgBob Ruffolo, CEO at IMPACT.

Don't forget to follow Bob on Twitter at @BobRuffolo. Want to hear more from Bob? Don't miss Bob Ruffolo speak at the INBOUND conference!

SESSION 1: What They Never Taught You About Growing an Agency Wednesday, November 9, 2016 | 1:00 p.m. - 1:45 p.m.

SESSION 2: The Secret Sauce to Fixing Lousy Conversion Rates Thursday, November 10, 2016 | 10:30 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.

8. Come prepared with lots of water and comfy clothes.

"Inbound is a week of go-go-go! So make sure to bring a water bottle and a lot of immune-boosting vitamins to keep you from needing to sleep the entire weekend after the event! I also recommend comfortable shoes since you'll likely walk miles each day. We're casual here too! So for clothing, anything goes. From jeans to suits, do what's comfortable for you."

rachel-plummer.jpgRachael Plummer, Channel Account Executive at HubSpot.

Don't forget to follow Rachael on Twitter at @RachaelPlummer.

9. Take advantage of the nighttime networking.

"Make sure you either wrangle up a group of people for the after-parties, or just tag along an existing group. I've done more business over a beer those nights, then I did from 9 a.m.-5 p.m."

jamie-shanks.jpgJamie Shanks, CEO at Sales for Life.

Don't forget to follow Jamie on Twitter at @jamietshanks. Want to hear more from Jamie? Don't miss Jamie Shanks speak at the INBOUND conference!

SESSION: Where Does Social Selling Fit in the Buyer's Journey? What 50,000 Sales Pros Told Us Wednesday, November 9, 2016 | 11:45 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

10. Make the most of your experience.

jill-fratianne.jpg"Inbound is the most inspirational and unforgettable three days in business. Period."

Jill Fratianne, Partner Channel Manager at HubSpot.

Don't forget to follow Jill on Twitter at @SpicyLegume.

11. Aim to stand out.

janna.jpg"Differentiate yourself with a noteworthy outfit. Everyone dresses the same, so use this as an opportunity to stand out."
Janna Erickson, Grow with HubSpot Marketing Manager at HubSpot.

Don't forget to follow Janna on Twitter at @BostonJanna.

12. Focus on building relationships.

"Inbound can be overwhelming for a first-time attendee. I would recommend staying focused on sessions that can have immediate impact on your business. Secondly, it's important to embrace the community. Inbound as a marketing philosophy has developed into a community that celebrates each other's wins, and is open to share mistakes. There is no better place to begin those relationships than at Inbound."

alex-moore.jpgAlex Moore, Sr. Partner, Marketing Technology at Stratagon.

Don't forget to follow Alex on Twitter at @AlexMoore100. Want to chat with Alex in person? Stop by the Stratagon booth in Club Inbound.

13. Don't spend too much time in your room—instead get around and explore Boston.

"You should never feel alone at INBOUND. Get out of your room, hang out in the hotel lobby, talk to people, join the bar crawl, and attend the sponsor parties. A lot of the best networking is done after hours."

"Always wear your INBOUND lanyard—even when you're out at night. It's an easy ice-breaker and people will approach you to talk about the conference."

"Transportation Tips: Take the “free” silver line bus from the airport, it will drop you off right at the convention center. Uber is not allowed to pick you up from the airport, but they can drop you off. Use Uber or Lyft to get around and share the fare if you can. Try to avoid rush hour, you are better off walking or catching the T."

Trish Lessard CEO, Media JunctionTrish Lessard, CEO at Media Junction.

Don't forget to follow Trish on Twitter at @trish_lessard. Want to hear more from Trish? Don't miss her speak at the INBOUND conference!
SESSION: Growth-Driven Design Agency Panel Friday, November 11, 2016 | 11:45 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

14. Be prepared for a lot of walking.

"Wear comfortable shoes, and be prepared for a lot of walking! Boston is one of the fittest cities and for good reason—it's walkable!"

kim-wilcox.jpgKim Wilcox, Vice President at Media Junction.

Don't forget to follow Kim on Twitter at @kimkwilcox. Want to hear more from Kim? Don't miss her speak at the INBOUND conference!
SESSION: Growth-Driven Design Agency Panel Friday, November 11, 2016 | 11:45 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

15. Connect with everyone you meet on LinkedIn.

"Have your cell phone ready with LinkedIn and Twitter so you can easily connect with everyone you meet. If you are out and are meeting a lot of people, use your phone to take a picture of the person's Inbound lanyard and connect with them the next day."

ryan-vonbergen.jpgRyan VonBergen, Creative Director at Media Junction.

Don't forget to follow Ryan on Twitter at @ryansavedit. Want to hear more from Ryan? Don't miss him speak at the INBOUND conference!
SESSION: Growth-Driven Design Agency Panel Friday, November 11, 2016 | 11:45 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Can't wait to see you there! Don't forget to stop by the media junction® booth and meet our team. And finally, follow us on Twitter and Facebook for an exclusive look at the INBOUND conference.

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