Preparing well for a business conference is often said to be the key to success. After all, if you prepare well and achieve your objectives early then you can relax and enjoy! We all know from our own experience that when we don't give at least some thought to preparation that we are (a) inefficient at the event, and (b) we tend to run off in too many directions as we don't have our clear outcomes in mind.
Does this remind you of social media - you start down a track of checking a few people and a few status updates and then an hour has gone and you wonder what you are doing and what you achieved? Similar huh?
To get organised for a conference, in this day and age, requires the use of social business, and requires that you be as efficient as possible with your time, and to be effective. And in fact you can be remarkably effective and achieve much more at the meetings you do have by using social media.
So that's why I signed up for Xeesm, a new generation social business application. Xeesm has a module (free and PRO versions) which is called Xeesm/Flights! It's a neat name because a flight goes from A to B. You start with a destination. A Flight is in fact just a set of your contacts, but arranged in a meaningful business way so that all the right people are on the right Flights and heading in the right directions - and you are the air traffic controller AND the pilot. So you can onboard new people for the flight, and you track your waypoints to ensure that you are heading towards your destination.
Conference Planning Example
I received an email reminding me to register for the Online Retailing Conference in Sydney in June. It listed an impressive group of key speakers. I want to engage in a real conversation with some of those speakers at the conference.
How did I do it in the past?
Pre-2010 I would do a little research of their company site, read some news items, perhaps google their names, and then at the conference I would listen seriously to their talk and then frame a approach which I thought would be mutually of interest. The real work was actually in real time as I listened at the conference. Then I would figure out how and where to approach them. Still, after all this preparation I was still a stranger and at this point without a connection to the speakers.
What do I do now?
I create a Xeesm Flight. I call the Flight Online Retailing Conference, and add objectives. The ultimate objective is to have a constructive meeting and in that one meeting engage strongly. You can see in the image that Xeesm allows you up to 5 goals:
- I start by listening and gauging how active my speakers-of-interest are in the social media;
- Then for those that are active I move on to "Contributing" to their conversations;
- Then I move on to "Refining My Engagement Objective" for the meeting at the conference according to what I find are their issues and concerns and expertise; and,
- Then I start testing my ideas about topics and engagement by testing if I can arouse participation in those topics and issues in their social media; and,
- Finally I have the objective of contacting them to arrange a meeting, on the basis that they have some idea who I am through the social business interactions.
That's the process, and all managed through the Flight.
Selecting your Flight passengers
Of course I have to add people to my flight in order to execute the daily routine of visits. Choosing the people is not rocket science - just match to your objectives. I'm not wanting to engage with speakers from Agencies, nor in general tools suppliers for this Flight. I do want to meet those from businesses, such as the IBM speaker, the speaker from Boots.com, Zazzle, Best Buy, Motorcycle Superstore, and also the people from Bazaarvoice as their customers in Australia could be my potential customers also.
- I highlight the name and firm, right-click, and "Google search";
- I also search the current Xeesm database for the same person, which in the case of Craig Stevenson (IBM) drew a blank;
- In the case of no current entry add the person to your Contacts, and then to your Flight. You use the Google information to enter their social sites, and because Xeesm requires an email address if you don't know it you best guess.
In this way you end up with your people in your Flight, and some of their network places, at least the ones which come up high in Google. You can make it more personal for yourself by grabbing their Twitter or Linkedin photo and adding it to their contact profile.
Now I'm not going to mislead you here, when you begin in this process it takes a bit of time uploading the people, but you get better and faster as you do it. For 10 people I would allow 30 minutes of concentrated work.
This may seem like a while, and it is, but your relationship isn't going to stop at the conference, and forever more they are in your Xeesm system, and in the global Xeesm database. By the way this is not wasted time as while researching and loading your people you are learning about their social media level of activity.
You have your people in your flights, you have their social places and spaces which you need for the moment, what do you do? Here's the program:
- Start at least 2 to 3 weeks before the event, perhaps more;
- Each day do the rounds of visits to each person in your Flight and their social media places;
- Scan in relation to your goals, if you can jump ahead well and good;
- Allow 2 to 3 days for each goal achievement, meaning you tick it "complete" after those 2 or 3 days.
- Keep visiting, scanning, acting according to your goal, for example if you are up to the Participation goal, goal #4, then you should be achieving participation and shaping your request and agenda for the meeting request.
By day 10 to 15 you will have succeeded in getting a meeting, to discuss a topic of relevance to you and each of your targets, and the prework can continue by using your Flight up until the conference.
What I have described is a very directed, A to B, way of efficiently using your time to arrange relevant meeting with key people at a forthcoming conference. I think it's very apparent that the results, using Xeesm/Flight!, are going to be much better than other methods which you may have employed in the past - both for you and the people you plan to meet.
Have you used Xeesm/Flights for this purpose and how did it work for you?