Twitter is a fantastic resource for connecting with conference attendees ahead of time, both for conference organizers and attendees themselves. Hashtags (#) are regularly used to facilitate conversations at events.
For example, my company HubSpot is hosting INBOUND 2013 next week, and the official hashtag is #INBOUND13. People attending this marketing conference can use the hashtag to tweet about the event, and find other people who are also talking about it on Twitter.
Here’s how you can use Twitter to find conference attendees ahead of time:
1. Tweet that you’re attending
If you’re a bit nervous about reaching out to other people on an individual basis, start by making it easy for other attendees to find you and reach out to you. For example, you can tweet: “So excited to go to #INBOUND13 next week! Tweet at me if you’ll be there, too.”
2. Search for the conference hashtag
Hashtags make it easy to follow the right conversations on Twitter. If other people are excited about the event and are tweeting about it, you should be able to find them if they’re using the hashtag. Just do a Twitter search for the hashtag, such as #INBOUND13, to find other people talking about the event.
3. Regularly check for new attendees
Set up a Twitter feed in Tweetdeck, HootSuite, or whatever you use to monitor your Twitter feeds. Create a new stream that monitors the hashtag that promotes the event. This way you can keep up with the latest conversations that happen about your event without having to search for it every time you want to see the latest updates. Then you should check and respond to the latest tweets. Get excited — conferences are fun. You get to learn a lot and connect with other experts outside of your own company. So make your tweets fun an excited, too!
4. Create a Twitter list
To keep yourself organized, create a twitter list of all of the attendees that you find. Title the list: “People Attending #INBOUND13” (substitute the appropriate hashtag) and make it public. This way, the people who you add to the list will see that you’ve added them to the list, making you look like a networking superstar. People love to follow leaders, so you’ll open up your networking opportunities.
5. Follow and tweet
Review these people’s bios and Twitter streams, and see if you have anything in common that you could chat about at the event. Then follow them, and send a tweet their way saying that you’ll be at the event too and that you’d love to meet up. Be that person people will want to meet up with at the conference.
How do you use Twitter to prepare for conferences or networking events? Let me know in the comments below!