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10 Mistakes to Avoid at the Next Event You Attend – SPI TV Ep. 6

By Pat Flynn on

Welcome to Episode #6 of SPI TV! Make sure to subscribe (YouTube / iTunes) to stay on top of it every Friday when new episodes go live.

Conference and event season is coming up – are you ready?

In this episode of SPI TV, I share 10 mistakes to avoid at the next event you attend. If you’re a newbie conference-goer, this will help you feel less overwhelmed and give you some great, practical tips that most people don’t know the first time they go to an event. If you’ve been to conferences before – awesome! Then you’ll know what I’m talking about and these tips will help you make sure that you’re on top of your game to get the most out of your next conference experience.

Events I’m Scheduled to Attend This Year

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What’s up, everybody, and welcome to episode 6 of SPI TV. Thank you so much for joining me today. In this episode, I’m going to give you ten mistakes to avoid at the next event or conference that you attend. I go to a lot of them. I go to a lot of them, and I have some tips for you, so stay tuned.

The first conference I ever attended was back in 2010, and it was called BlogWorld Expo. That conference has since changed its name to New Media Expo, and now I’m actually doing the opening keynote for it next month, which you’ll see actually in a video coming out in a later episode of SPI TV, which is really cool, but I remember the first time I walked into that space. I was just completely overwhelmed. All the different people, all the different things you could do, and booths, and vendors, and just presentations. There’s so many things going on. Hopefully this video will be a video that I wish I saw before I attended my first conference, so here we go.

Tip number 1 is to plan ahead. Check out the conference schedule, or the agenda, and pick the events or the presentations that you want to go to. It’s really important to do this, because oftentimes there’s just so much going on, especially if you’re going to one of these big events with a lot of tracks and presentations going on at the same time. You can pick and choose the ones that you want to go to, and then actually put them in your calendar.

That’s something I would suggest as well, to make sure that you just have them there, you don’t forget them, and also you don’t have to fumble around with the program the whole time. And then last thing, make sure you schedule time to eat and get a snack, or coffee, or whatever. That’s so important. It can be really easy to forget to eat, and then you just don’t have any energy at the end of the day, and then when you’re going to these networking parties at night, maybe you have a drink or two. You didn’t eat all day; not a good situation.

Tip number 2: Make sure you book your plane and your accommodations far in advance, for a number of reasons. One, it’s just more economical. The closer you get to the date of the event, the more expensive those things will be, but also just so you know, and you don’t have to worry about those things in the future. Also, with the hotel specifically, you can check the conference website to see if they have any deals for any of their attendees. Sometimes they have group deals and special rates, so make sure to take advantage of that if you can.

Tip number 3: One of the best parts about going to events is not just to watch amazing speakers and learn, but also to network with other people. To take advantage of this, and to help yourself out in the best way possible, you want to make connections with people even before the event happens. Get connected on Twitter with people you want to meet, or who you know are going to be there. Make sure to also use the hashtag for the event as well. If it’s a good conference, they’re going to have a hashtag, and that’s how you can connect with other people there and just sort of build that community, and maybe get some fans or people following you. That way, when you meet them in person it’s going to be less of a, “Hey, nice to meet you for the first time.” It’s more of a, “Hey, I remember seeing you on Twitter. Awesome! What are you up to? How was your trip?”

Tip number 4: Make sure you have a back-up battery for your mobile device. You’re going to be on your mobile device quite often, tweeting and putting contacts into your phone and things like that. You’re going to run out of battery, and that’s the worst thing you can do, especially when the networking events happen at night, and you’re trying to text your friend, or your friends are trying to text you to tell you where everybody’s at. If your phone’s dead, then it’s going to be hard to do all those things. Make sure you have a back-up battery. The one I use is a Mophie, and this one in particular can charge two things at the same time, so like your iPad, or your phone, or whatever. It’s just really handy. I use it every single time, because the battery always runs out at events.

Make sure you also bring Chapstick. This is seriously one of the best tips somebody’s ever given me. Before this tip, I used to go and then, by the last day my lips would be super chapped, I’d be super embarrassed. They would literally start to crack and bleed, and that’s just so uncomfortable. Make sure you bring a handy stick of Chapstick. Stick it in your pocket, and you’ll be set. Seriously, the number 1 tip: Chapstick. Oh, and maybe some breath mints and gum, in case your breath be stank.

Tip number 6: Now you might be wondering about business cards; do people actually still use them? Yes they do, but they don’t always use them correctly. I have a whole collection of them from people that I don’t really remember. The trick is, you want to make sure that when you present your business card, it’s done in the best fashion, and it’s not just a, “Hey, what’s up? Nice to meet you. Here’s my business card.” No. You want to have a conversation, get to know a person, have them want to get to know you as well, and the business card becomes sort of a thing you can share as you’re leaving, sort of as a last impression type of thing. You can be really creative with how you deliver it. For example, at my last conference, I would often do, “Hey, nice to meet you. Here’s a business card for you. What?” Yeah.

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Tip number 7: It’s all about first impressions. First impressions are really important. You’re going to make multiple first impressions while you’re at your next event. Two key points for you. One, what you wear is actually really important. That’s something I learned recently, after getting some advice from somebody who knew I was going to do a lot of conferences, on what to wear and what kind of looked good on me. This is Antonio, over at He’s a great guy, if you’re a guy looking to check out how you can improve your style. When I got involved with paying attention to how I looked, people started treating me differently.

It’s really weird, and it shouldn’t happen like that, but that’s the way the world runs. When you’re going to events, if you have a nice coat, and you’re not in sort of sneakers, and you just look presentable. You don’t have to wear a tux; that would be kind of over the top, but if you’re presentable, and you meet people for the first time, they’re going to remember you. They’re going to treat you differently. They’re going to pay attention to what you have to say and be interested in what you have going on.

The second thing is, when you walk into a room, or as much as possible at this event, smile. It can be so hard to smile at these things because they’re just so tiresome, you’re worn out, you’ve been using your legs all day, moving around. You’ve just been talking all day long. Smile; it’s so important. It’s going to leave that great first impression, even before you speak to somebody for the first time, and it’ll have them open up to you a little bit more.

Number 8: Make sure you get some water in you all day long. Have a water bottle or a container. You know, they have those fancy ones that are metal, that keep things cool all day. Whatever the case may be, always drink water throughout the day. It’s really easy to forget, but it is so important because (a) you’re talking so much, (b) you’re also going to be potentially partaking in some adult beverages at night, and it would be nice to stay hydrated so you don’t mess yourself up and just ruin the whole conference for you.

I’ve seen it happen time and time again, where people forget to eat, they forget to drink water, and then at night they go all out. The next morning you don’t see them, because they’re in bed with a hangover.

Don’t be afraid to start a conversation. You’ve got to get up and talk to people. That’s the primary benefit of going to these events. Meeting people, networking, befriending people, helping people out, providing value for them so they can provide value for you as well. You never know; the next person you meet could be the one that literally changes your future, and the rest of your business. Maybe they know somebody who could change your business as well.

The big tip here, and the easiest way to do this is when you are sitting down, getting ready for a presentation to start, whoever sits near you or next to you, just introduce yourself. A quick way to do this is just to simply ask, “Hey, have you ever seen so-and-so speak before?” “Oh, yes or no.” Then start the conversation from there. Really, that’s the main trick. You just want to start the conversation. That’s the hardest thing to do, but that’s a quick and easy way to do it. Or just saying, “Hey, my name’s Pat. What are you up to?” or “What’s your blog about?” Depending on the event, you can start a conversation about whatever it is that topic is that you both seem to have interest in.

Number 10, biggest tip I can give you, and this is for not just people who are going to events in person, not just for people who are doing business online. This is just in life. The biggest thing that will benefit you, in terms of networking and meeting other people, is to stop trying to be so interesting to people, and start getting interested in what other people are up to. You know, don’t let it all be about you. In fact, get so interested in what they have going on that they’re going to return the favor and ask you what you do. That’s when you can share what you’re up to. That’s when you can potentially get into your website and what you’re selling or any of that stuff. Don’t be the person who just walks up to somebody brand new and starts to pitch their thing. Get interested in what other people are doing. I want to credit James Schramko for that quote, a quote that I will never forget, and you shouldn’t forget, either. Stop trying to be so interesting, and start getting interested.

Thank you, so much, for watching this episode of SPI TV. I want to remind you that me and Chris Ducker are holding our next live event on April 24th. You can go to to check out the information about that. I also want to share that I’ll be attending a few conferences this year as well. I’ll be attending Social Media Marketing World, here in San Diego, California. I’ll also be going to New Media Expo in Las Vegas. There I’ll be doing the opening keynote, which I’m really stoked about. Then, at the end of the year, sort of in September or October, I think, I’ll be attending the financial blogger conference, or FinCon. Hopefully I’ll get to see you there.

Before I leave you today, I do have a question for you. You can leave your answer in the comments section below if you’re on YouTube or on the blog, or if you’re watching this on iTunes as a podcast, you can head on over to, and find episode 6 there, and leave a comment in answer to this question: What conferences are you attending this year, and you’ll be applying these tips at? I’d love to know. Maybe I’ll see you there, at those conferences, and you can all share with each other and figure out, maybe be able to connect with other people who’ll be at those conferences, too. Check it out,, episode 6.

Thank you so much. I’ll see you next week.

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