For the last few years, thousands of marketers flock northeast to Boston in the fall for the much-anticipated Inbound conference from HubSpot. Like heading to see the Red Sox in the post season (when they make it), Inbound 2016 fills most of the hotels in the city and the suburbs for the week.
Surviving this massive venue and nearly 15,000 of your closest friends, rookies and veterans alike will need some tips to make it out alive.
Tips for Inbound 2016
While this is the first time in history that HubSpot has moved the event into November, it is also an interesting time in that the conference is being held during the General Election in the United States.
1) Absentee Vote – Please DO NOT forget to register your absentee vote. Unless you are voting on Tuesday and then hopping on your flight, make sure you don’t forget to register for your absentee ballot very soon.
2) Scotty, We Need More Power – Pack the power packs, pack the extension cords, pack the batteries and pack the fire retardant bags (Android users only). Your days will be packed from the opening keynotes (no power in those rooms) to back-to-back sessions through to lunch and happy hour. Each room has a handful of sockets but with hundreds of attendees, only those lucky enough to be on the perimeter, get plugged in. Many attendees recommend bringing a power strip but I have never taken it to that extreme.
My favorite for portable power now is the power bricks from the Mophie. They go for days and provide the necessary power for the “Pad” devices as well as several phones.
3) Pack Warm Clothes – Once again, not sure why they decided to move this to November in Boston but it WILL be cold. Inbound 2016 has been pushed back nearly six week from previous years but that can represent a good 10-20 degree shift and your early morning and late night (you may not feel or remember those) walks to and from your hotel, will be cold. Pack a warm, knit hat and gloves.
4) Pre-Game Planning – No not like when you were drinking before you went out on weekends in college, but plan each Inbound day ahead of time. With over 15,000 people expected this year, it’s a war in there. You need to plan your day, plan your sessions, plan your calls back to the office and plan your breaks. In the past, lines have formed to sessions up to an hour before the doors even open. With eight, specific tracks this year, you will most certainly find times
where you have to decide on the topic, speaker and your needs.
BONUS: This year with your Inbound registration, you can plan and pre-book or reserve your seat. They have coined this “indicating interest and pre-registering”. It essentially tells them how many seats they may need. Be sure to do this soon and you can read more here.
5) Get the Must Have Apps – Most of these you likely already have but here are some that are my go-tos:
- Evernote, a fantastic note taking app. Can organize notes in folders, add tags to keep organized, take screen shots of presentations and include in your notes and so many other great features. On the Premium account, it is a perfect tool to share notes with fellow teammates. Evernote also includes a business card scanner called Scannable so you don’t have to carry every card around for days.
- Official Inbound App, I have not found this in the Apple App Store yet but they had it last year so I’d expect to see it soon.
- Uber and Lyft, If you have to ask what they are, you are either from the mid-west or you may need to re-think if you should be going.
- MyBCEC App, Find the quickest and shortest routes with this app, which features an interactive map for each floor of the convention center so you don’t waste time hunting for rooms. This place is HUUUGGGEEEE.
6) Make New Friends – Do I really need to tell you this? 90% of the people you will meet at Inbound are there for the same reason, they have the same or similar issues with their agency or at their jobs, they may just want to vent or just hear your perspective as an Inbound Marketer. Make it a habit to turn to the person you are sitting next to in a session and introduce yourself, hand them a business card, ask where they are from, make small talk, ask about their sessions thus far. You never know, it may be your next employee, your next client, your first or next spouse or even better a business partner.
Before you attend you can find friends too. HubSpot has created Facebook and LinkedIn pages for the event and you may old friends or make new ones. Chances are good that you may never see them in the vast sea of people in BCEC so connect with them before.
7) Take More Selfies - Look for and maybe “stalk” some of the cool people, they are everywhere. HubSpot co-founders Brian Halligan (brings his dog) and Dharmesh Shah are the most down to earth CEO’s I have ever met. Look for the infamous Sales Lion, Marcus Sheridan, Try finding Rand Fishkin from MOZ, he’s the guy with the coolest hair at the event. Eric Keiles from Square 2 Marketing, they know what the hell they are doing. Look for Chris Kneeland from Cult Collective and then hashtag #sethgodin. Paul Roetzer of PR2020. Nick Salvatoriello (Nick Sal) from HubSpot, just to ask him how to pronounce his last name.
You get the point, make friends, take selfies. They are still cool!
8) Hashtag and Shoot (Photos) Everything, OK, well maybe that’s more for me. But it works. I had attendees that recognized a photo I took on the way into Convention Center one morning stop me and strike up conversations. Hashtag the event, #inbound16, hashtag your sessions, hashtag or Tweet the speakers. Be creative, take some fun photos, not only in the building but out in the city, of new friends, during your long walks, anywhere and all day.
9) Divide and Conquer – If you are going with co-workers, for God’s sake DO NOT attend the same sessions. People are clamoring to get into these rooms so divide it up, cover more of the meetings. In the past when we took a large contingency of staff we would meet internally weeks prior to Inbound and the staff would present to leadership their plan to tackle as many sessions as possible. Then we created "Notebooks" in Evernote and everyone was responsible for taking and sharing their notes, literally real time, during the sessions. This made it easier to bring back good fodder for the folks that remained back in the office.
10) Go to Club INBOUND– I freakin’ love it in this massive arena. It’s loud, there’s a DJ, tons of cool vendors, SWAG and giveaways everywhere, hundreds of HubSpotters ready to answer any question that you may have and so much more. This is the epicenter of Inbound and you can’t miss it.
First and formost, bring an open mind and bring a ton of patience. It is crowded, people are people; pushy, tired, hungover, angered by the election....and so many other individual traits. The few days that you are held up in the Convention Center may push your boundaries.
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