In my recent attempt to spread the word about Mevvy, I traveled to San Francisco to participate in the Apps World conference, which united 8,000 industry professionals to discuss topics like API strategy, mobile development, the second screen industry, and many other topics over two full days.
This being the second conference I have attended within the past two months, I would like to share a handful of useful apps — and some firsthand advice — to make your next conference participation a worthy investment of both your time and money.

Great Apps for Conference Attendees

The following app recommendations should get you through any conference. They are great companions before, during, and after the event!

Conferize: Conferize is a networking platform. It allows you to view upcoming conferences, schedules, speakers, and most important, attendees along with their profiles. Not every conference features its own app/platform, making Conferize a welcome alternative tool.

Twitter: Twitter is THE app to have during a conference as it provides you a great realtime overview of what is happening at the event. Follow event-specific hashtags, find new interesting accounts to follow, and use it to schedule meeting times and meeting places at the venue.

CardmunchCardmunch is probably the best business card scanner there is. Download the app, take a photo of a business card, and let Cardmunch import the information into your contacts.

LinkedIn: LinkedIn can be a great tool to connect before, during, and after a conference. Foster relationships and connect with those you’ve met in person at the conference. (Cardmunch is part of LinkedIn and finds your new contact’s LinkedIn profile instantly!)

UberUber makes getting around a new city a breeze. Instead of struggling to catch a cab, use the Uber app to hire your private car and driver in any major city in the world.

Hotel Tonight: Last-minute travel plans? No problem. Hotel Tonight is an app that allows you to find great hotel deals for the same evening! Download the app and find a great place to stay at great rates.

Making the Most of Networking

All conferences share one main goal: to connect people and companies. Finding the right people to talk to is the first challenge everyone faces. Twitter and Conferize are great conversation starters. But what happens next? Here are three tips:

1. Prepare the Perfect Pitch
If you do not have an elevator pitch for your company/service/product, then it’s time to develop one. An elevator pitch is a one-sentence, quick, intriguing and engaging description of your company. Use the WOW, HOW, NOW formula to deliver your statement: Start with a wow-factor, explain how it works, and then give an immediate example.

2. Hand Out All of Your Business Cards
If you’ve attended a conference before, you know how it is: you start out strong at 9 a.m., you go full speed until lunchtime, make a few more connections until a coffee break, and by 2 p.m. things start slowing down. To avoid an early end to your networking activity, bring a set amount of business cards to the event and keep handing them out until you run out of cards.

3. Become the Voice of the Conference
It often (or pretty much always) occurs that conferences feature multiple “channels” concurrently and hold several presentations at the same time. While you can’t split yourself in two, three, or four, you can help others follow the presentation next door — via Twitter. Become a real-time reporter of what’s being said, post quotes and interesting statements, and add instant value to your Twitter stream.

Visibility Is Key
Here is a piece of personal advice to you: get a booth. Having an actual presence at an event and a go-to desk can help tremendously in creating true visibility for your company. It gives your company a face and a recognizable image, something that can attract the right people to speak with you and build relationships for the future.

There are a thousand and one ways to design and decorate your booth, so here is a small list of suggestions on how to make your booth as welcoming as possible.
Key Elements of a Great Conference Booth:
  • Feature both printed signs as well as videos screens displaying your brand.
  • Install an info desk at the front of your booth and have business cards or brochures of your product/service ready.
  • Arrange for sufficient power supply and digital devices (laptops, tablets or TV screens) to give demos of your product/service.
  • Plan for (at least) one seating area with lounge chairs and coffee tables for a comfortable environment to talk business.
  • Offer small refreshments: soft drinks, coffee, and snacks.
Share Your Knowledge, Grow Your Reach
Most conferences wrap up with presentations and speeches – keynotes from famous individuals, advice from industry leaders, and panel discussions around diverse topics. Even if you are a rookie, you should pitch your presentation idea to the conference organizers. They often seek fresh material for their program and might consider your contribution.

I’ve written a couple of articles before about presentations that you can use for guidance when putting your presentation together: How to Create a KILLER Presentation and 7 Best Tools and Apps for Amazing Presentations. Remember to keep your presentation as simple as possible. Use keywords and imagery in your slides to make it easier for people to digest the information you are feeding them.
Mastering a conference can be a challenging task and definitely takes some practice. The most important takeaway of such an event is the connections you’ve made, the people you’ve met, and the conversations you’ve had. You never know which one of them will play a role in the future success of your company!