a funny photo of Margot Lester at Content Marketing World 2015

The Hollywood Squares session is always popular at CMWorld. Here I am channelling Paul Lynde in the center square in 2015.

The content industry's biggest event begins tomorrow! Throngs of us will descend on downtown Cleveland for Content Marketing World 2017.

Here are a few strategies I've developed over the years to get the most from the big event (and any conference or trade show, really):

  1. Use the App. This year's version isn't quite as awesome as the last few, but it's the still the best way to know where you're supposed to be when and how to get there. It's also a relatively good way to connect with other attendees, do your session evaluations, and check out all things CMWorld.
  2. Make a List of Other Sessions of Interest. Chances are there are several sessions you want to attend in the same time slot. I make a list of at least one session in each segment that's of interest and the twitter handle of the speaker. If you've got friends and colleagues at the event, compare lists and share notes from sessions where possible. If you're a lone wolf, you can check out the Twitter feed from that session to get a feel for what you missed. Pro Tip: This also comes in handy should your first choice be over-subscribed or turn out to be a dud. You won't waste time finding a back-up session.
  3. Identify an Expendable Session. Despite your best planning, work or family stuff comes up that requires a block of time. Or you need to take a meeting with another attendee immediately to capitalize on an opportunity or momentum. Each night, I choose a session for the next day that I can comfortably live without so I know I have an hour between X&Y to take the call/meeting, do the work, etc. The safety net makes me feel like I'm in control of those last-second fire drills.
  4. Wear Something (Appropriately) Noticeable. I'm not advocating that you walk around with a putter or swim fins (two tactics I have used in the past on blind dates), but it's helpful to wear something unique or identifiable. You already know how to dress comfortably and professionally for these events, but here's an additional wardrobe tip: Don one thing that stands out and obvious from a few feet away. This makes it a lot easier for people to find you during breaks, when the floor is flooded with conference-goers climbing over each other for orange snacks and more coffee. Hats are popular. So are pins. I'm packing a couple cool scarves and a nifty necklace. Bonus points if you have enough orange to get through the week.
  5. Stash Business Cards Smartly. I keep a bunch in my name tag so I don't have to dig through my pockets (saw a guy last year unknowingly lose a $50 bill doing this) or bag to find one. It also helps people identify you when your name tag flips over (and it will).
  6. Watch Your Mouth. Keep dry mouth and bad breath at bay by drinking lots of water, packing some mints and bringing some lip balm. I know you know this, but I also know a lot of you don't do it. Pro Tip: If you don't feel like packing this stuff, many of the exhibitors have water bottles, lip balm or mints as give-aways. But why chance it?
  7. Keep Moving. In an attempt to eke out every ounce of CMWorld goodness, many of us forgo our need for activity. Sitting for hours sucks, so think about doing one session in the morning and one after lunch standing up. If that's too much, try not to sit down during the breaks. Keep moving! Pro Tip: Check #CMWorld on Twitter for groups gathering in the AM or afternoon for runs, walks, and other exercise activity. Great way to burn some calories and meet new people.
  8. Step Away from the Ride. Besides those precious minutes your head's on the pillow, take a few minutes each day to be still and quiet. It may seem like an indulgence, but this tactic helps you be more focused and more alert than slogging non-stop for the duration. In year's past, there's been a quiet room (complete with massage!) at the conference, but you can just as easily do this back at the hotel or in one of the public green spaces, or even a quiet corner of the Convention Center. Take a few more minutes to review your notes, scroll through the Twitter feed and distill the biggest take-aways from the day.
  9. Talk to Strangers. Sidle up to someone you don't know and start a conversation. This is especially important if you're doing CMWorld with a group from work. Talking to people outside your circle broadens your network and gives you great insights on what other content marketers are working on, the challenges they face and the solutions they seek/rely on. At the very least, it builds camaraderie. But you may also find that next job candidate (or the next position for you), a new client or vendor, etc. Pro Tip: Don't be afraid of the speakers! If you want to chat with a presenter, do it! If you can't get in front of them after their sessions, don't despair. Many stick around all day, and they know they're fair game for impromptu conversations between sessions. But don't hog them, or make them late for where they have to be.

Hope these tips help you get even more from the conference. If you see me, say hi! And watch for my recap of the conference next week.

Related Content: