What if you plan a party and nobody shows up? Or worse, just one or two show up and you stare awkwardly at each other while they wonder where all the cool people went instead?
The same is true if you present a session at an event.
Don’t just rely on the event coordinators to promote your session, do your part to get people into the room to listen to you. Attendees usually have several sessions to choose from during a single time slot, and plenty of people to distract them in the hallways, so you have tough competition.
Of course, prior to the event you want to blog, tweet and update your social media channels to promote your event. Blog on your own site, LinkedIn and group blogs. Add your blogs to various LinkedIn groups, Yammer groups, Facebook groups and of course, Twitter. Be sure to use the event hashtag for the best chances of reaching the right audience.
But there are several things you can do to promote your session DURING the event. Here are four ideas:
At the event hand out “invitations” with the title/time/room # of your session. Business cards or postcards are extremely inexpensive. Print up a batch before the event and start handing them to people you speak with in the hallways or at meals. Leave them on breakfast tables, or if you are especially bold, slip them under hotel room doors. (Assuming this is legal, I never asked).
2) Wearable promotion
My hero in this type of self promotion is Jon Rivers. Not only did he use social media to promote his session at WPC 2015, he used his body. This t-shirt only cost Jon a few dollars but how could you not look at it if you were walking behind him at the event? He doesn’t need to say a word but you get the message.
3) Live Tweets
Post tweets about your session right up until it starts. (It will be easier if you schedule these in advance, just make sure you get your timing right). Then put your twitter handle on every slide of your presentation and ask people to tweet during the session. This can attract stranglers from the hallway, or get people to come to your next session. Again, be sure to use the event hashtag.
Here is another great example from Jon Rivers:
4) Twitter profile
Change your Twitter profile text to include the title/time/room # of your session. When you tweet during the event (with the event hashtag) people who don’t know you will click on your profile and see that you are presenting a session. I have seen this work well for event sponsors too. When I looked at their profile to see who they were, it included their booth number. (Just remember to change your profile again after the event.)
One last piece of advice....
Make sure you choose a great title for your session. It needs to stand out from everything else in the session catalog. Use the same principles you use when writing a blog post title- at first glance the reader should be intrigued by the title, it has to catch their attention. It should tell them who should attend, what it is about and what they will learn. In just one sentence. It is not an easy task but if you spend time to craft a great session title, you will need to spend less time at the event pulling people into an empty room.
I hope to see you at my next presentation. I’ll be the one in the hallway waving banners to get your attention. I just hope Jon Rivers doesn't have a session at the same time.
By Anya Ciecierski, www.cwmktg.com