That’s exactly how long you have to wait before INBOUND 2018 starts.
Are you excited, yet? ▼
If it’s your first time visiting INBOUND, the remaining 30 days will feel like a rollercoaster.
You’ll have to finish all your to do’s before you leave for almost a week.
You’ll have to figure out which sessions you’re going to attend.
You’ll need to think about which outfits you’ll pack.
And make sure you have all the necessary paperwork with you.
(Don’t forget your ESTA’s and stuff!)
Now, that’s a lot to think about.
As a 5th time attendee, I wanted to share my tips and tricks to get the most out of the event.
In this article, I’ll share very hands-on advice on:
- How to create the perfect INBOUND 2018 agenda
- What to wear at INBOUND
- How to network at INBOUND
- How to take notes
- And so much more.
As always, feel free to leave your advice in the comments below.
I’m curious to learn from your experience as well.
Here we go!
Wait, what’s INBOUND 2018?
INBOUND is an annual sales and marketing conference in Boston, MA.
The goal is “to provide the inspiration, education, and connections you need to grow and transform your business” according to HubSpot, the organizer of INBOUND 2018.
Since 2012, inbound marketers, sales professionals and business owners are coming together to learn from each other, from industry leaders and inspiring speakers.
That sounds like any other big marketing conference, but believe me… it’s different.
There’s just something in the air, that first week of September.
Let me put it this way:
You’ll meet 21,000+ like-minded people from 100 countries who are struggling with the same challenges and they’re all sharing their insights openly.
During and in between the sessions, at Club Inbound and all the side-events.
There’s no negativity.
No hidden agendas.
Just 21,000 people to help each other out and being really excited about that.
In other words, you’ll experience the real inbound movement.
And that movement is growing every single year.
Just look at the numbers of INBOUND 2017:
- +21,000 attendees
- 100+ countries represented
- +300 educational sessions
- Keynote speakers such as Rand Fishkin (prev. Moz), Dr. Ed Catmull (Pixar) & Michelle Obama (🤩)
But these numbers are some of the main challenges.
Many first-time attendees are lost when they open up the schedule for the first time.
Where do you start?
How do you choose the right session?
Which do’s & don’ts do you need to take into account?
Take a deep breath. Put away the coffee mug ☕you were going to hit your computer with.
And read on…
P.S. the conference is organized by HubSpot, but you don’t need to be using any of the HubSpot products in order to attend the conference.
1. Plan your schedule and pre-register for sessions
With over 300 sessions, there’s plenty to see.
So plan ahead.
You won’t have time during the conference to plan your entire agenda.
The venue is huge. On average you’ll need 10 to 15 minutes to switch rooms.
If you’re still figuring out which session to attend next, it’s possible that a huge line is already waiting for you – or worse – the doors are already closed.
Some popular sessions will just be fully booked up front.
So if you don’t want to miss out on those top sessions that will boost your business, plan your agenda before you travel to Boston!
2. How to create the perfect INBOUND 2018 agenda?
In June, you should have received an email from Elijah Clark-Ginsberg, event marketing manager at HubSpot.
That email looks like this:
Click on the big ‘Check it out’ button and check out all the available speakers and sessions.
Here’s my routine:
- First, I browse through the entire list of available sessions.
This usually takes me 30 minutes.
I add every single title that triggers me to “my interest.”
Don’t be too picky, just add anything that seems mildly interesting.
- Then, I read every description of the sessions I’ve added to my interests.
I check the speaker’s Linkedin profile and the company website.
Simply to make sure they are the ‘real deal’.
If a company is talking about Instagram success, but they only have an account with 30 followers, drop it.
If the session is about SEO and you’re not able to find the speaker on Google. Drop it.
This is very time-consuming, but it pays off.
This usually takes me 3 – 5 hours, but in the past 4 years, I’ve only been disappointed once by a session I carefully handpicked.
- Now it’s time to narrow it down.
By now, I have 3 or 4 options left for most of the time slots available.I narrow it down by looking at the bigger picture.
If I’m already following sessions about a similar topic, I might drop one.
You’ll only find me in 1 session about AI or chatbots for instance.Make sure you take your business reality into account as well.
Chatbots can be really cool, but if you’re struggling to use Hubspot’s CRM for instance, you might want to change your sessions.
For instance, I recently started my own content marketing business, so that’s guiding me this year.
- Once I’ve narrowed it down to 2 sessions/timeslot, I add my favorite sessions to my INBOUND 2018 schedule.
By doing so, you’re registered and guaranteed to have a seat.
Important advice: always keep 2 sessions/timeslot.
You can only register for one, but it’s a good idea to have a plan B.
If you’re running late, or if your mood changes, you’ll have another option.
If you want to know which sessions I will be attending, continue reading.
I’ll share some of my favorite INBOUND 2018 speakers at the end of this article.
I’m halfway my routine 😉
“In the past 4 years, I’ve only been disappointed once by a session”
3. Don’t forget the side-events
At the heart of the venue, you’ll find Club INBOUND.
These are the conference headquarters and the center of interaction at the event.
If you’re looking for networking opportunities or new tools you’ll want to start here.
You’ll find an awesome lounge and the Sponsor Showcase, with great opportunities to learn, get tangible advice or discover new software.
And it doesn’t stop there.
Every night you’ll find plenty of smaller networking events organized by Partners, Sponsors or other companies.
Following #INBOUND18 on Twitter is your best way to find out about spontaneous meetups!
4. Set-up your own meetings with agency partners and HubSpotters.
So arrange some meetings, talk to them and pick their brain.
This is your chance to pitch your business idea or talk about your biggest challenge.
You’ll be amazed by the answers you’ll get.
You might have to skip lunch or a session in order to do so, but you’ll get tailored advice.
Totally worth it.
5. Talk to everyone sitting next to you
There will be 21,000 people you can learn from.
So don’t be shy and talk to them.
I know that’s often easier said than done, so here’s my favorite “hack”:
“If you’re entering a room, don’t leave an open seat.
Just go sit next to someone and say:
“Hi, my name is X. Who are you?”
Sounds silly, works perfectly.
If the conversation is not going well, try questions like: “What are you hoping to learn today?” or “Which was your favorite session yesterday?“.
I’ve met some very interesting people in the past few years and was able to overcome various challenges thanks to their insights and experience.
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, you all have at least something in common: you’re attending the same session.
By the way, if you’re flying solo it’s a good idea to follow the #INBOUNDsolo hashtag.
There are plenty of events, meetups and other initiatives to meet other solo attendees.
For the first time in 5 years, I’ll be #INBOUNDsolo as well.
So don’t be a stranger if we cross each other in the hallway!
6. Take notes (or follow Twitter)
You will learn new things every single day.
Don’t think you can remember all of them.
Take a notebook, a tablet or smartphone (and extra battery power) with you and write stuff down.
It helps you to process everything you hear and you can look things up after the conference.
I usually look for a quiet place for 30 minutes after all the sessions ended.
These 30 minutes are for processing all the things I’ve heard.
Usually, I use this time to write a quick & dirty blog post of all the things I learned that day.
It helps me to connect the dots and get even more out of all the sessions.
If you don’t blog, use this time to write a list with all the things you’d like to change in your life/business based on today’s learnings.
You’ll end up with a very clear overview – or even a to-do list – at the end of INBOUND 2018.
Not a big fan of taking notes?
Follow the #INBOUND18 hashtag and favorite interesting tweets.
There are a lot of people live-tweeting quotes and key learnings from all the different sessions.
So am I…
Click on this button to follow me on Twitter:
7. Dress appropriately
In general, the dress code for INBOUND 2018 is “business casual”.
Don’t overdress and don’t underdress.
Yes, T-shirts are perfectly fine — you’ll see plenty (usually with company logos.)
But the most important piece of advice: wear comfortable shoes.
As mentioned before, the venue is huge.
On an average INBOUND day, I walk 10.000-15.000 steps.
High-heels might look cute, you’ll regret it.
8. Don’t go to your hotel
Socializing is a major part of INBOUND 2018.
Don’t go to your hotel immediately after the last session.
Go to a bar instead or to one of the many inbound parties or events and get to know new people.
You won’t be sleeping much those 4 days, but you won’t stop learning either.
9. Always keep an open mind
Yes, you’re already doing a lot of great stuff.
Yes, you already know a lot of stuff.
But there’s always room for improvement.
So leave your attitude at the entrance of the Convention Center.
It will only block new perspectives and ideas.
10. Come say hi!
I’m always interested in meeting new people.
- You’re thinking about starting with inbound marketing
- You want to take your content marketing strategy a step further
- You’re struggling with your content marketing strategy,
- You want to improve your content marketing’s team productivity
- You’re a start-up or active in B2B, the entertainment or sports marketing industry
- Or just want to have a chat about your experiences, the amazing city of Boston, the Patriots or Belgian football/soccer
Come say hi!
So, what’s on my agenda?
Since I can only reserve seats on August 9, I’m halfway my routine.
So some things might still change.
Nevertheless, I’ve already highlighted some speakers and sessions I’m really looking forward to.
It’s a healthy mix of people I’ve seen before, actual topics, hands-on advice and general trends.
Maybe they can inspire you to start filling up that agenda as well!
- How to Survive as a Marketer at a Product-first Company
By Matt Hodges, VP of Product Marketing at Intercom.
- Music Streaming Intelligence: The Key to Uniting Brands and Consumers
By Danielle Lee, Global Head of Partner Solutions, Spotify
- It’s in the Numbers: Leveraging the Data Driven Buyer’s Journey for Revenue Generation
By Eric Keiles, Chief Marketing Officer Square 2 Marketing
- How To Get Started with Artificial Intelligence in Inbound Marketing
By Paul Roetzer, CEO PR 20/20
- The Top 10 Facebook Messenger Marketing Hacks of All Time
By Larry Kim, CEO MobileMonkey
- Breaking Down Blockchain: Understanding the Basics of this Revolutionary Technology for Business
By Lex Hultquist, Founder & CEO of HQdigital
- Ten Techtonic Trends: 122 Cannes Lions Later, Here’s What I Know Today
By Wesley ter Haar, Founder and COO of MediaMonks
- Google’s AI is Smarter Than You: What Does That Mean for AdWords and SEO Campaigns?
By Daniel Russell, COO Go Fish Digital
- Link Building Tactics for “Boring” Pages
By Irina Nica, Senior Content Strategist HubSpot
- Is the Keyword Dead? The New Role of Intent in SEO and Content Marketing Success
By Everett Ackerman, SEO Strategist New Breed
- BONUS: My good friend Marcus Sheridan is hands down the best public speaker I’ve ever seen.
His energy and interaction is something you have to see for yourself. He’s doing a Live Podcast Recording and a Keynote at INBOUND 2018.
Make sure you register for at least one of them!
See you at INBOUND?
If you want more insights, make sure you also read:
- Content marketing ROI: where do you start?
- The inbound marketing secrets you need to know before you start
- Launching a new content marketing business?
- How to build a highly effective content marketing team?
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