Spring brings more than just a (long-awaited) reprieve from this intense winter we’ve been having. It means conference season is upon us, which means a (much-needed) break away from our computer shackles for some good ol’ fashioned networking.
It’s also a perfect time to build links. Yes, conferences are a fantastic opportunity to build links. How?
I know. This seems obvious, but I can’t tell you how many people I see at conferences who don’t make an effort to actually talk to the people they’re sitting next to in a session. Or worse, don’t break away from the people they traveled with.
The content is great, don’t me wrong, but the real value of conferences is meeting people who — wait for it — will be more inclined to link to and share your stuff.
Conferences are the one time where hundreds of like-minded individuals are crowded into one area, and frankly, it can be really overwhelming.
An easy way to network on a smaller scale is organizing an event or meetup with a subset of people in your industry. For example, I’d organize a user experience (UX) Meetup at an SEO conference to get to know people who do UX and conversion-rate optimization (CRO) and those who are interested in learning more about it. If it’s during happy hour, even better.
Blog about the event and start promoting and spreading the word. Most conferences also have some social network element when you register, which is a great way to circulate your Meetup. People will get wind of what’s happening, and they’ll start sharing it, too.
The amount that people link and share at conferences is probably double than what they do when they’re at their desk. They’re in that content overload frame of mind and want to absorb — or sometimes be the first to write — as much as possible.
Naturally, most of this surrounds conference content, and live blogging and then live tweeting that content is the best way to make sure your content is among what’s being read and spread. Even conference websites and industry blogs will link to live blogging coverage.
Speakers are a wealth of great content beyond just the session they’re presenting — and, they often either have huge egos or are surprised that a group of people actually want to listen to what they have to say.
Whatever the mix, it’s the perfect recipe for leveraging them to get links. Leading up to the conference, follow them on Twitter. Tweet to them. Retweet what they have to say. Show them you’re interested (and actually be interested) in what they have to say. Ask them if you can buy them a beer and pick their brain for an article you’re working on about the best speakers at X.
I don’t know a single speaker who wouldn’t agree to being interviewed or answering some questions, providing they have the time in their schedule — even the veterans.
I have time to do 2 interviews w up + coming bloggers in March – interested in great content? Got good questions? > http://t.co/Jun4kWQb3X
— Rae Hoffman (@sugarrae) February 26, 2014
Don’t be intimidated by speakers. I promise we don’t bite.
Conferences have a lot of content swirling around, and it’s impossible for everyone to catch everything. A mid-conference review of the big topics discussed is also a great way to give those overviews while people are still in the mindset of sharing and linking as much as possible. We’ve found these typically work better than post-conference recaps because of that reason.
Center it around a keynote because those typically have the biggest names, you have everyone in the conference in one session and you’ll invariably have people who don’t get up to make the 9am session who want to get the highlight reel.
That’s a lot of link building to be done in a couple of days, but I’m sure there are more ideas floating around. What did I miss? What are some other great ways to build links during conferences?