Going to Boston for the HubSpot conference, a.k.a. INBOUND 2018? So are we—look at that, we already have something in common! There will be over 21,000 sales, marketing, and customer service professionals hailing from all corners of the globe. Whether it’s your very first time attending or you’re a seasoned pro, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a roundup of everything to help you make the most out of this spectacular event.
Before you leave
1. Divide and conquer
Get with your team before you leave to set goals for what you’d like to learn more about. If you’re the only attendee, ask key users and leaders if there are any specific sessions they’d like you to attend. Create a wishlist and prioritize the must-haves, adding a few alternates as backups in case you can’t get into your top sessions (more on registration coming up).
Although INBOUND is one of the best digital marketing conferences out there, HubSpot isn’t just marketing automation anymore. The product has grown by leaps and bounds over the last couple years and now includes Sales Hub and Service Hub, too. Think beyond your individual business area about how to better leverage the product cross-functionally.
At Partner Day earlier this year, we learned that HubSpot is ditching the traditional sales funnel model in favor of a flywheel approach where customers are at the center of your business universe and thus your biggest marketing opportunity:
2. Leave work at the office
It’s tough to unplug from the demands of the office while you’re in Boston attending INBOUND 2018, but it’s worth it. Your company made an investment in sending you (even when you’re the owner). Between travel, meals, conference passes, and miscellaneous expenses, it all adds up. You’ll get the most out of this investment by immersing yourself in the experience as fully as possible. Soak up the content, and be the life of the [networking] party.
Work ahead to complete outstanding projects before you go, and come up with a plan for while you’re there. If there’s something that absolutely, positively needs your immediate attention, ask your boss to text you.
You don’t have to be incommunicado, but try to keep office noise to a minimum. Plan to respond to email early in the morning and again in the afternoon, ideally after sessions end.
And don’t forget to set an out-of-office reply.
3. Use social to find friendlies to connect with
If you’re not already involved with your local HubSpot User Group (HUG)—and even if you are—LinkedIn has a ton of groups representing local HUGs in major cities (and many smaller ones, too). Join the action, and find out who’s going to INBOUND. If there’s a synergy between your companies, use the opportunity to connect in person.
LinkedIn isn’t the only player in town, though. The INBOUND Studio’s Facebook page has a six-figure following, and the event page is ripe with commentary from folks going to Boston for the conference.
And then there’s Twitter. The official hashtag, #INBOUND18, has a ton of engagement, too.
And what kind of marketers would we be if we didn’t invite you to connect with us, too?
4. Packing list
Sure, you’re going to a conference—you’ve probably been to one before if you’re reading this. But there’s nothing worse than forgetting something super basic, like a charger (or deodorant). Here’s a quick list to run through before you head off:
- Business cards
- … and their matching chargers
- Car charger (especially if you’re renting a ride)
- Several pens
- Post-coffee gum
- Professional shirt for each day
- 2–3 pairs of nice jeans or slacks (you want to look sharp but approachable)
- 1 pair of versatile shoes—remember, you’ll most likely be walking miles a day
- An appropriate number of socks and undies
- Hygiene kit
- Weather-appropriate blazer or sweater (Boston will be warm, and the rooms will most likely be cold)
You can always copy-paste this list into a note app on your phone, add to it as needed, and use it as a checklist for re-packing when you’re heading home. You’ll come back with a bunch of new things like books, notebooks, giveaways, souvenirs, etc. Staying organized will help you remember what you brought in the first place so you don’t mistakenly leave anything behind. Embarrassingly, I once left my entire conference notebook in my hotel room (gasp). Lesson learned, never to be repeated.
And on that note, bring a suitcase with some extra room—you’re gonna need it.
5. Get the INBOUND 2018 app
Before you board your plane, go ahead and grab the conference app. This is a must-have for managing your individual agenda, new contacts, notifications, and overall activities.
But wait, there’s more… The app also puts a TON of logistical info right in your pocket. You can get maps of each campus area, manage badge access, find food and amenities, and even figure out how the heck to get around Boston.
Once you’re there
6. At a HubSpot conference, registration is everything
If you have either the All-Access or VIP Pass, pre-register and reserve your sessions ahead of time for sure. In case you missed it, HubSpot allows attendees to reserve sessions in groups ordered by date of ticket purchase. Session reservations opened on August 1st, so don’t get sidelined from your INBOUND goals by missing out on the breakouts you have on your wishlist.
There’s so, so much awesome content to choose from. If you can’t get into one session, you can always go to another.
And if you have a Community Pass and aren’t able to pre-register, make a beeline to book your sessions as soon as you arrive. There is a little backdoor if you miss out on a session you’re yearning to sink your teeth into. At HubSpot’s conference, they graciously include standby seats, just like airlines do. If you arrive early enough, they’ll start allowing standbys into sessions 10 minutes prior to starting. Maybe the early bird really does get the worm :)
7. Figure out where the water and snacks are located
This one may seem a little… well, dry. Conference spaces (hotels, convention centers, etc.) are notoriously arrid. You’ll be spending not only your days but also your nights in a parched environment. Drink plenty of water from the time you arrive, and grab a snack or two when you need it.
8. Get the lay of the [INBOUND 2018] land
Aside from the keynotes, spotlights, breakouts, and the INBOUND Studio, there’s a LOT going on at this year’s HubSpot conference. They’re taking advantage of all there is to offer in and around the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Both Aloft Boston Seaport and Westin Boston Waterfront will host additional breakout content (yes, the conference is that big!). Both hotels are a short walk from the conference center.
Another big draw will be the Lawn on D. Not only will there be a gaggle of the city’s finest food trucks—lobsta’ rolls and Boston cream pie, anyone??—there will be actual, futuristic, adult-sized SWINGS. Yes, swings. Grab a juice box, kiddo, and let the nostalgia set in while networking over fascinating discourse about sales, marketing, and customer service.
Speaking of which…
9. Bring LOTS of cards
Your card represents you. Business cards help jog our memories and make interactions more meaningful. And since you’ll be meeting a lot of people, there’s really no such thing as packing too many business cards.
Waiting in line for a session to open? Say hello to your nearest neighbor, and ask them what they do or what they’ve liked the most so far. Waiting for the elevator? Literally, what better time for your elevator pitch? ? Kidding… sort of?
Don’t annoy the people you meet by immediately pitching them. Do engage people empathically by asking about their business and what brought them to the conference. Usually, there’s a natural opening to share what you do and provide your card for reference.
Find opportunities to connect with other conference-goers. Everyone is in the same boat you are, more or less. And if you’re the quiet type, there’s no better way to venture beyond your comfort zone.
10. Don’t overlook partnership opportunities
There’s a saying about being nice to everyone you encounter because you never know when you might be entertaining angels without your knowledge. At INBOUND, you’ll likely meet people you may not otherwise be able to reach in real life for one reason or another.
Perhaps you’ll get a few moments with a thought leader after an impactful session or bump into your next big partnership opportunity. If you don’t currently have referral partners, then you should almost certainly make it your mission to leverage INBOUND18 as an opportunity to lay the groundwork.
And if referral partners simply don’t fit into your business model, then be on the hunt for vendors and technology partners. There will be tons of exhibitors and folks in sessions learning about the same stuff you are.
Shameless plug: we’re a HubSpot Platinum Certified Agency Partner. We know a thing or two about this stuff and don’t mind giving away free advice. Hit us up to connect in person at INBOUND :)
11. You can network in the evenings, too
INBOUND doesn’t just have an overabundance of invaluable sessions—each night has its own event, too. What better way to kick off the conference than with a welcome party on the first night (9/4)?
Grab a drink or two (no judgies) during happy hour Wednesday evening at Club INBOUND, where the HQ, Sponsor Showcase, and lounge are located.
And/or if you’re an agency, you can head to INBOUND& to network with other agencies at Rosa Mexicano over legendary guac and margaritas.
Then on Thursday night, get ready to laugh your a$$ off during a live taping of the podcast 2 Dope Queens.
12. Solidify new connections quickly on LinkedIn
Send an invite to people you’ve just met, and tell them you enjoyed your conversation about [insert topic]. That will help remind you both why you’re connecting and open up a broader discussion for post-conference follow-up.
13. Decompress when you need to
Some of us love the excitement of being in close quarters with 21,000 people and the exhibition center. The rest of us find that idea overwhelming, to say that least.
In any case, be sure to include some time to unwind when you need it. Maybe it’s going for an early morning walk or hotel gym visit. Perhaps it’s taking some time to read up on the speakers for the next day. Maybe it’s calling home.
Whatever floats your boat, make a little time here and there to re-center. You’ll learn more and come home happier.
Connecting the dots
14. Take notes and ask questions
At most conferences, your notebook is your second best friend next to your business cards. Take a ton of notes. Not only will you learn new stuff more fully when you jot down what you’re listening to, but you’ll also inevitably want to revisit your notes later for a quick refresher.
Quick tip: one of my favorite note-taking techniques is to create action items and immediately highlight them in yellow or pink. Once the action item is complete, I go back and highlight in blue, which changes the color to either green or purple.
And you’ll have questions because everyone does—whether it’s at a session or while making new contacts. Don’t be shy. Remember: we’re all human, and we all have valuable things to learn from each other.
15. Follow the feeds
INBOUND isn’t any regular, ol’ conference—it’s an inbound marketing summit, meaning the content reaches a level of thought leadership that eclipses that of most marketing conferences.
This almost goes without saying, but keep an eye on Twitter and Instagram for knowledge nuggets, further engagement with speakers, and thought-provoking Q&As. You might even find an unsponsored event or two to attend.
No matter what, you’ll find new folks to follow and fresh colleagues to connect with while you’re at the HubSpot INBOUND summit.
16. And there’s live streaming, too
Many sessions will be recorded and made available to attendees. Some sessions will be available to the general public, too. This is a great way to make sure your office-bound coworkers can also get in the know on the latest and greatest. Make note of what’s what, and be sure to share liberally once you’re back.
17. Put a face to your account rep’s name
We all have business contacts at other companies that we’d love to meet in person but haven’t yet. Technology enables us to move much faster in business, yet email and phone calls aren’t exactly all that personal. Reach out to your account team (and any other contacts you may have at HubSpot), and ask them when you can connect to say hello.
They want to meet you… trust me. I used to work in customer/retention marketing at an enterprise SaaS company. There was nothing at all that gave me greater joy in my working life than getting to meet face to face with folks I’d spent hours on the phone with.
18. Bonus: Get in touch with your own customers that may be at the HubSpot conference
No matter what kind of business you’re in, you probably have a customer or two in attendance. Even if you don’t work directly with those folks, it’s always a good conversation starter to reach out as a vendor or partner. You have nothing to lose and potentially lots to gain.
When you’re back
19. Plan a follow-up strategy session
You’ll come back from INBOUND having absorbed an absurd amount of fresh content, innovative ideas, and helpful contacts. Put all you’ve gained to work quickly by forming a group with which to hold strategy follow-up sessions, including relevant, cross-functional stakeholders.
You may have discovered new product features that other teams or departments could begin benefitting from. Now’s the time to invite them to the table if they aren’t there already.
Organize your notes digitally, and share them with your team and leadership. If you went with a group of colleagues, it may be easiest to put together a slide deck and present your findings. You can go from there based on where the conversation takes you.
Going to the INBOUND conference in Boston can feel a little overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to. In this industry, knowledge is literally power. Use these tips to plan your experience, but don’t be afraid to go where the road takes you. A little spontaneity never hurt anyone—there will be plenty to see and do.
And we’d LOVE to meet you and talk shop about INBOUND 2018 (or anything else on your mind) :) See you there!
Let's get together :)
Drinks on us! Or lunch - your call... Just let us know when you'd like to link up, and we will be in touch shortly.
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