I received an email from a reader named Bernard, who is new to the domain industry:
With the Traffic domain conference coming up, is there any chance you could do a blog post on how a newbie such as myself could maximize their 1st time domain conference experience? I hear so much about ‘networking,’ and how valuable it could be. I just want to make sure I can be properly prepared for this and any other important considerations! Any advice would be sincerely appreciated.
First off – I want to say thanks for the email and for asking this great question. My first domain conference was TRAFFIC New York, which also happened to be the first time I received significant traffic to my blog, as I live blogged the auction results. Going from being a passive domain investor, where the only communication is done via email and message boards, to attending a conference can be exciting.
Below is some advice I’d like to share on how to make the most of attending a domain conference.
Before the conference:
Before you make your trip, I think it’s vital that you have business cards printed along with the name of your company or your focus (ie Domain Investor, SEO Expert, Venture Capitalist…etc). Whether you have a private company or you are an independent entrepreneur, you should have business cards made that identify you and provide your contact information. You are going to meet many people, and a business card exchange will enable you to keep in touch after the show.
It might sound silly, but prepare a brief description about who you are and why you are attending the conference. You will bump into people all over the place (I met the partner of someone who is now one of my closest business friends while leaving the bathroom at TRAFFIC). Sometimes it’s difficult to really describe what we do as domain investors, so it’s always good to think about it before being asked. For example, “hi, I’m Elliot Silver. I am a domain investor, domain developer, and I have a domain blog.”
Email all of your domain colleagues to ask if they are going to the conference. Although the conferences aren’t filled with thousands of people, it can still be difficult to meet everyone you plan to meet due to a variety of circumstances. Make plans to meet ahead of time, and exchange cell phone numbers to make sure you are able to meet up. Before you go, set up meetings with suppliers/partners to introduce yourself, because it’s much easier to communicate when you know the person with whom you are dealing.
During the Conference:
One of the nice things about domain conferences is that just about everyone is eager to meet other people in the industry. My advice is to introduce yourself to as many people as possible – especially at lunches/dinners, outside of panels, and inside before the panels begin. One thing to be cognizant of is that many people have known each other for years. If you see a small group of people in a discussion, it might be private. Try to meet people who look like they aren’t in mid-conversation – especially because there are going to be many others who have never attended a conference either. Trade business cards where possible.
Attend as many of the panels of interest as possible, and if you have follow-up questions, try to meet with the panelists after their presentation. Most are more than willing to share, although some may have other meetings or people waiting to speak with them. It’s best to keep an exchange short, get contact information, and follow up with any questions in an email. Also, if you will remember a discussion better with notes, then by all means take them with a pen and paper or on your computer.
Take your laptop to the show floor. You can connect to the wifi network, send emails when an idea is triggered, and you can take detailed notes. Just keep an eye on your laptop for obvious reasons.
Be sure to mention your domain forum nickname when you introduce yourself to people, as many people don’t even know other peoples real names! You may consider adding this info on your name badge for easy reference.
This might sound silly, but at the events there is always tons of free booze (who doesn’t like free beer and liquor?). If you are attending your first conference, I’d take it easy on the drinking so you can remember everything and everyone you meet. You will also have an easier time getting up in the morning, too!
After the Conference:
Go through your conference notes, conference guidebook, and business cards you collected, and follow up on all of those things that you said you would. It’s important to tend to the things you’ve learned ASAP, otherwise you are bound to forget!
Email the people you met to give them your email contact information and follow-up on anything you may have discussed. If you meet dozens of people, you will want to be in contact with those who may be able to help you and your business.
I am sure there are plenty of other things that people can think of, and it would be great if you post your advice, comments, or feedback to help others who may be attending their first domain conference this year.