Squeezing every last drop out of an in-person event

For the first time since 2019, SAAS NORTH is (finally!) returning to all its original in-person glory. 

Although there are some positives of virtual events, like their convenience – allowing us to join multiple events a day by simply clicking the link in our calendars. In-person events, on the other hand, require a little more planning and preparation. 

Not only does an in-person event require you to be physically and mentally present, but it goes without saying that it brings with it a lot of social interaction. More and more people have started experiencing some form of social anxiety since the pandemic began. With such a long break from, well, people.. returning to an in person event or a big crowd has never seemed so daunting. So while post-lockdown social anxiety is very real, it shouldn’t stop you from getting the most out of in-person events.

Anxiety aside, we’re going to dive into some actionable tips and tricks on how you can squeeze every last drop out of your in-person event experience.

Really get to know the event 

Events have a lot of moving parts, and it’s easy to miss some of the great sessions and opportunities that an event has to offer. Really take time to get to know the event you plan on attending, it’ll help you get the most out of your experience.

How:

  • Websites + Apps. The event website + app are your best friends. Spend time looking at everything the event has to offer so you don’t miss out on any of the great opportunities. Capitalize on this hub of information! 
  • Social media. Follow the event organizer on social (ahem..@SAASNORTH). You’ll get the inside scoop on speakers, networking events, prizes, and all the fun stuff you might otherwise miss. Plus, you’ll be the first to hear about discounted ticket sales for next year! It also gives you a chance to connect with other attendees and speakers – don’t be afraid to engage with . After all, this is an entire group of likeminded people who are clearly interested in the same things you are, so take advantage of the fact that the community exists! 
  • Your agenda. Decide on exactly which sessions you want to attend, what they’re about, where they are, and who else is going if the platform allows. Really try to focus on what you hope to gain from every aspect of the event that you plan to participate in. Keep this top of mind throughout the duration of the event so that you never lose sight of why you’re there.

Be prepared for the day-of

What that looks like:

  • Business cards: if you have them, bring them! If you don’t have them, it may be worth your while to have some basic ones made so you can easily exchange information/share your business details.
  • Fully charge your phone. You’ll want it handy so that you can take down numbers of potential contacts, and connect in real-time using LinkedIn so your prospects aren’t lost in the shuffle (and while you’re at it, why not pack your charger for the day-of just in case?)
  • Bring your own sanitizer. This makes it easy to use between impromptu handshakes, because sometimes we forget that we’re living in a pandemic! Rather than stress about it, you’ll have sanitizer handy no matter where you are in the event.
  • Dress comfortably (but no, that doesn’t mean sweatpants). It’s been a while for some of us, and we may feel the urge to wear something outside of our comfort zone to look the part – but remember, when you feel comfortable and feel like yourself, others can tell. That energy is important! 

On their own, these little things may seem simple and insignificant, but the more prepared you are the more present you can be and the more engaged and focused you’ll feel. All of that leads to a better event experience.

Be on time 

This one seems pretty straightforward, but after over a year of virtual events making it far too easy to join just in the nick of time, or a few minutes late, we’ve all gotten kind of accustomed to overfilling our schedule leaving us no time for commute, or rest, or for unforeseen things like construction on your route in..

In-person events are not so forgiving. Being on time isn’t always as easy as knowing when your event starts and relying on that as your north star. I personally like to schedule out my entire morning down to the smallest detail whenever I have something important to be on time for, leaving little to no room for error as I get ready to get out the door on time. 

In fact, my go-to trick is to over allocate time in my schedule for small tasks so I don’t have to rush, and it helps me accumulate extra time after all my morning routines are out of the way. I always end up feeling like ‘Whoa, I finished everything on my list and I’m 45 minutes ahead of schedule!’, but it’s all by design. 

Everyone is different, but finding the routine that works best for you can be a real game changer when it comes to preparing for an in-person event.

Be well rested

Another no brainer, right?

Being well rested and starting your morning off right is a crucial step in getting the most out of your day, but particularly important for getting the most out of in-person events. When you feel well rested you’re less likely to forget something important, and less likely to feel frazzled and distracted as a result. 

This is so important for remaining engaged in the countless conversations you’ll have throughout the day, and will help you retain as much information as you can from keynote speakers and networking sessions.

Don’t overbook yourself

This is another simple tip, but it’s another bad habit we’ve all gotten into thanks to the ease of virtual events/meetings. 

It’s really easy to book things back to back all day, because you don’t have to leave your desk to get anywhere. With social lives also slowing down over the last year, we haven’t had much opportunity to practice our skills at saying ‘no’ to things, and when a zoom drink invite came our way we’d often accept simply because we had nothing else on the go – but with calendars filling back up again plenty of us are finding that all of a sudden we’re really busy. 

When you have an in-person event or full day conference, try not to book anything else for yourself right before or after. Leave your evening wide open so that if you get invited to a networking opportunity, or drinks with a potential investor, you can say yes without having to scramble and cancel other plans. While this isn’t always possible with kids and other commitments, try to focus on what is within your control to give yourself that time to be flexible.

Follow up

So you had a bunch of great conversations with potential investors or customers, but what’s the point if you don’t follow up?

What makes those connections lasting and impactful is when you take the time to follow up and make the LinkedIn connection, or reach out via email. You want to reap the rewards of attending this event and the time and effort that you put into it.

Another pro-tip: when you purchase your event tickets, also schedule time in your calendar *right away* to debrief on your event experience and take note of the valuable connections you made – and then follow up. That way you won’t accidentally book a day of meetings after the conference, losing out on that valuable time to de-brief and follow up. You’ll thank yourself later.


Will we see you at SAAS NORTH this year? It’s not too late to register! Grab your tickets and join us on November 17 + 18.

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