INBOUND will be here before we know it.
As one of the largest marketing events in the country, the annual HubSpot-hosted INBOUND draws more than 20,000 marketers, agencies and sales professionals together.
In many ways, INBOUND is like Walt Disney World for those in marketing and sales.
Held from Sept. 3-6 at the Boston Convention Center and Exhibition Center, this year’s conference is filled with an endless supply of speakers, sessions, networking and more.
Whether it’s your first time or you’re wanting to get more from the conference, here are nine tips to help you rock INBOUND.
No. 1: Divide and conquer
If you’re going with a team, work now to coordinate your schedules. There are 291 sessions at INBOUND 2019. Study the agenda as a group and find the top sessions you would like to see. Divvy them up and meet up at the end of the day or conference to share notes and findings.
If you are going solo, follow #INBOUNDsolo to connect with other people going solo to INBOUND. There may even be a preconference meet and great, so you’ll know a few friendly faces going into the first day.
In past years, many INBOUNDers have also united to share notes on different sessions collectively through Google Docs. Keep your eyes and ears open for any chatter about that.
Don’t forget to use the INBOUND app – it’s helpful in organizing your sessions and staying on top of the event’s many happenings.
No. 2: Reserve your sessions now
You’re probably busy trying to wrap up projects early so you can fully immerse yourself in INBOUND, but don’t forget to reserve your breakout sessions if you have an all-access or power pass.
If you have a community pass, you won’t be able to preregister. Book your sessions as you as can once you’re at the conference.
If a session you really want to attend is full, don’t forget about standby seating. HubSpot dedicates a few seats in each session for walk-ins, so try to get to that session early. Wait in the standby line and about 10 minutes before the session begins, you may still find a seat in the room. Click here to read more from HubSpot.
Tip: As you plan your sessions, try to keep sessions grouped together geographically. With thousands of people shuffling between sessions, the closer they are together, the easier it will be for you to move from room to room.
During the conference
No. 3: Leave work at work
Close that inbox and silence those instant messenger notifications!
While you probably can’t completely unplug from the office while you’re at INBOUND, make sure you do as much as you can to minimize office distractions. Set your out-of-office reply and respond to emails in the morning or evening if possible.
Remember: You’re at INBOUND to soak up as much of the presentations, content and connections as you can. Your business has made an investment in sending you to Boston, so why wouldn’t you want to get as much from it as you can?
No. 4: Connect and mingle
You’re going to be surrounded by more than 20,000 people. As much as we would like to think that INBOUND is all about the epic keynote speakers or inspirational messages, it’s also about meeting other professionals and vendors.
Go ahead – have a conversation and chat with someone new. Introduce yourself to someone while you’re waiting for coffee.
A few things that can help:
- Prepare that elevator pitch for your business and yourself
- Think of questions you can ask, whether it’s a silly icebreaker (i.e., Do you like narwhals?), something general (i.e., Is this your first INBOUND conference?) or professional (i.e., what do you see as the biggest marketing challenge within the next 18 months?)
- Dig a little deeper and get to know new connections. Maybe you both love French bulldogs or attended the same college. Maybe you’ll find that you both share similar professional goals.
No. 5: Take care of yourself
INBOUND is a crazy, crazy event filled with a lot of activities and networking events during the conference and into the evening. Your first day is going to be overwhelming.
Give yourself permission to take a break to decompress or skip an after-hours event to get some sleep. It’s OK to sneak away for a mid-afternoon nap if it means you come back refreshed and ready to tackle the day.
Also, remember to stay hydrated. According to the Mayo Clinic, women need a minimum of 11.5 cups of water a day and men need 15.5 cups. Staying hydrated will keep you alert and your brain ready to learn. Reusable water bottles are allowed in the convention, so be sure to bring your water bottle of choice.
No. 6: Tweet wisely
It should come as no surprise that Twitter is going to be a huge channel during INBOUND. Just be sure to use #INBOUND19. Can we all agree that we don’t want a repeat of last year’s #INBOUIND18 typo?
— INBOUND Event (@INBOUND) September 7, 2018
No. 7: Recap with your team
If you went to INBOUND as a team, regroup after the event to share your thoughts, feelings and take-aways. What stood out? What were everyone’s favorite sessions? What new connections are you excited to have met?
Whether you went solo or as a team, create a recap presentation to share with the rest of your company when you return. It doesn’t need to be comprehensive. Highlight the top things each person took away from the event and how it could be incorporated with the business strategy.
No. 8: Follow-up with your new connections
Now that you’ve made all those new connections with other professionals, it’s time to put your networking to good use. Follow up with them via LinkedIn, Twitter or via email.
When you reach out, add a note that relates to that person, such as the quirky similarity you both share (i.e., you both love fun socks) or an interesting infographic that you found relating to one of the sessions you both attended.
Avoid a generic “hello” message to stand out and increase your chances of strengthening your networking connection with this person. You never know what new partnerships may develop.
No. 9: Put your INBOUND inspirations into action
There’s a 99.9% chance that you’ll walk away with actionable strategies from at least one of your sessions. OK, I’ll admit that I just made up that number.
The point is that you’re going to find inspiration and wisdom to take back with you to the office.
Now it’s time to make those inspirations happen.
It may be something personal that changes how you look at yourself, your work, your time or your voice. It may also be something to be implemented at your business. Bring those new ideas to the table and start the discussion with your boss.
Added bonus: The essential packing list
As you start packing for INBOUND, don’t forget:
- Device chargers: Take it from someone who once left her laptop charger at the office 800 miles from the conference – double-check!
- Comfortable walking shoes: You’re going to be walking a lot at INBOUND. Keep comfort in mind as you decide what shoes to wear. Fun fact: the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center is New England’s largest enclosed man-made space and is big enough to hold 16 NFL games consecutively. And it still can’t even hold all INBOUND’s sessions! Many sessions are held nearby at The Westin and Aloft.
- Break in your shoes: If you buy new shoes, break them in before you go to INBOUND. Don’t ask me how I know.
- Moleskin/blister-specific bandages: Pre-cut the moleskin if you can to make it easier to apply it to roughed-up heels and toes.
- Business cards: From experience, pack at least twice as many as you think you’ll use. Trust us.
- Mints or gum: Between food truck fare and coffee, bring something minty to help soften the post-meal or -coffee breath.
- Cardigan or light jacket: Boston weather may not be cold yet, but the conference rooms typically are. Layer your clothes to accommodate the temperature shifts.