How to get from attendee to thought leader at industry events

Make the most out of the conferences and events you attend

Attending networking events and conferences is a great way to learn about new technology and gather tips for making the most out of your business. If you’re not using these events as a brand-building opportunity, you’re only getting half of the value for your money.

I’ll show you a few easy ways to connect with thought leaders and experts in your industry so you can keep the conversations going from the hallway to home and beyond.

Before the event

Tip #1. Make a list of the speakers you want to connect with

Start following and engaging with them on Twitter and LinkedIn leading up to the conference.

Once you register for an event, take a look at the posted speakers and their session schedule. The first thing I like to do is follow them on Twitter and LinkedIn.

It’s a scary thing to get up in front of a room full of strangers and share personal stories about our work. When someone reaches out before an event, it makes me more comfortable about my talk and I’ll eagerly follow them back and reply to their tweet or LinkedIn post.

Tip #2. Follow the event hashtag

Every conference has two experiences happening simultaneously. The in-person event and the conversation happening on social media. Take advantage of both. One of the best tips I’ve heard was adding the event hashtag to your profile leading up to and during the conference.

This makes it easy for other attendees who are following the conference hashtag to find and follow you. I personally like to take a photo from the airport or my house the day before the event and talk about how excited I am. I’ll include the hashtag so others doing the same can find it.

During the event

Tip #3. Make it easy for others to connect with you

I like to tweet a selfie with my event badge and a statement about looking forward to meet new connections. It’s not that I’m vain. I want people to see what I look like that day. I’ve noticed that doing this makes others more likely to approach me even though we’ve never met.

Tip #4. Share great quotes and slides from sessions

Since I’ve already done my homework with the speakers I want to hear and I’m following them on social media, I like to tweet photos of them on stage, photos of their slides, and quotes from their session. I’ll tag the speaker in the tweet and use the event hashtag as well.

If you want to really stand out doing this, use a quick photo editor like Canva to add text overlays to photos you took. Unique and engaging photos get shared more, so investing a few minutes on the image is a worthwhile investment.

You’ll find that tweets during sessions are often liked and retweeted by others at the event. The retweets and likes are great ways to find others to follow and build your name as someone that shares good information on a specific topic. As a speaker, there’s no better feeling than replying to tweets from the audience after a session.

After the event

Tip #5. Keep the conversation going

The week following an event I like to tweet a thank you to speakers that really stood out and had an impact on me. Conferences can feel like organized chaos at times. So waiting a few days to engage with people you met is a great way to make sure you have their full attention.

Tip #6. Turn session notes into blog posts

My closing tip is a powerful one. Take the photos and notes you took during the sessions to write a recap of the session or highlight how you’re incorporating something you learned at the conference. This is a fantastic way to set yourself and your blog up as a valuable contributor to the community you’re a member of. Sharing your personal knowledge is the best way to establish yourself.

Who knows? Next year it might be you up there on stage.


A cheerleader for small business owners and buying local, Isaac “loves the heart and soul that local businesses put into their products and services.” He’s especially interested in writing articles and sharing advice about productivity and efficiently building a business. “It’s hard to run a business and balance family and friends,” he says. “I have young kids and a wife at home, so I know how important family time is. I love sharing tips and tricks that help small businesses grow and give them more time to spend with the people who support their dream at home.”   When he’s not at work, you can usually find Isaac and his kids riding their bikes at the local skatepark or sampling local coffee offerings.   Isaac is a native of Northern California who transplanted to Phoenix eight years ago to work for GoDaddy.