Being that I've made the trip three times, I’ve had enough experience at INBOUND that I feel I have a few tips to share - for first timers or seasoned veterans.
There are tons of articles on how to network at events, but INBOUND is so different, I feel like none of the articles I’ve read are applicable. You may not grab the business card of everyone you meet, but conferences like this are not about that.
What I’m suggesting is that you stay open to meeting as many people as possible, take home some great pieces of information (a free Website Throwdown at the IMPACT booth is a great place to start), and, overall just have a great time.
So, what are some real ways you can break the ice this year at INBOUND without feeling awkward, you ask?
First, I’d like to get this out of the way: Yes, last year was a bit tense with the election and with former first lady Michelle Obama's keynote this year, it might be tempting to talk politics, but steer clear of it. Just sit back and wonder what her arm work out is like any other day:
Ok, let’s get to it... Here are a few tips on how to break the ice at #INBOUND17.
Tips for Breaking the Ice at INBOUND 2017
1. Connect on Social Media Ahead of Time
Why break the ice in person when you can do it online?
There is a Facebook Eventand even a hashtag for solo attendees (#INBOUNDsolo) dedicated to helping people connect before, during, and after INBOUND 2017, so take full advantage of them."
The Facebook Event has a few posts in it already, but it could be the perfect opportunity to start a post of your own, or connect with others that posted. By pre-connecting with a few people, it may be easier for you to meet up with them at the event and connect with others they may be traveling with/met.
It can’t hurt, and it’ll take 30 minutes of your time TOPS.
2. Ask About the Agenda (& the Big Stars at INBOUND)
There’s a lot going on at the conference, so you may want to ask someone about the agenda, or that day’s keynote speaker.
Out of all of the people attending the conference from all over the world, you’re bound to find someone who loved The 40 Year Old Virgin or The Big Sick just as much as you do - which is great, because you’ll have a buddy for INBOUND Rocks with Judd Apatow.
This years keynote speakers and spotlight speakers include:
Former First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama
Author & Researcher, Brene Brown
Actor & WWE Superstar, John Cena
Chief Brand Officer of Uber, Bozoma Saint John
Chef, Restauranteur, & Author, Mario Batali
3. Expand on the Session You Just Attended
Immediately after a session, everyone is itching to take a quick break and meet people, so why not talk with your neighbor about the session you both just watched?
Ask them what their thoughts were on the key concepts shared and how you can both apply those to your daily activities when you get back home.
Even if the other person isn’t as interested in sharing, it gives you a chance to digest and verbalize your thoughts about the session.
Another opportunity for discussion: ask where everyone is going next. You may find someone that is heading to the same session, opening up the perfect opportunity to chat it up while taking a walk to find the next room.
4. Skip a Session
Yes, it is a conference with a ton of great sessions, but sometimes it’s a good idea to take a break and head to a common area, like Club INBOUND.
Here, you’ll always find others like you taking a break, checking their email, or scoping out the booths.
This is the perfect opportunity to strike up a conversation, especially since you’re going to be hanging out in the same location for a while. Plus, it’s a lot quieter during sessions at Club INBOUND than it is when everyone is there for happy hour.
Club INBOUND is also where you can get some HubSpot swag, or check out the vendor booths.
Companies that have integrations, content creation programs, and full service inbound agencies have their booths set up here.