You've viewed the event website and received an email or two about the event, but how do you know if the event you are thinking about signing up for is really worth your time? In a recent post, we talked about how to set goals to help zone in on the events that you should be attending. Once you've mapped events to your goals, you may still need to narrow down the list. How can you get past the marketing and find out what the event is really like? Here are five tips that will help you get the inside scoop on recurring events.
1) News coverage - For larger events, do a Google news search on the event name to see what media attended and what they had to report about the show and the content. While they may not be reporting about the show specifics, there will be coverage of what speakers said. Are there some interesting/unique quotes or information you had not read or heard before? If so, it's a good indication that the show provides fresh content.
2) Social Media "coverage" - Search both the show name and hashtags (events will typically use the same hashtag year after year so check the current show site for a link to their twitter page and possibly a list of event hashtags). See what people were saying about the show. Was it positive? Were there a lot of interesting quotes being tweeted? Are all the tweets from the event handle or are attendees in on the conversation?
3) Past attendees - If you are looking to exhibit or sponsor the show, event organizers should be willing to give you a list of past participants (typically companies only). Take that list and compare it to your network (scanning your LinkedIn connections is a good way to remember who you know). Reach out to your contacts to get connected to the person who can give you feedback on their experience.
4) Survey your network - Put out a post on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter (whichever network has the most engaged work colleagues on it) asking people to share their past experiences with the event. Invite them to private message or email you to get an honest opinion.
5) Previous events - Look up past events and see if you can find any archived sessions, presentations, etc...If these are not readily available via an Internet search, contact the organizers and ask if they can point you to past content. Once you find it, evaluate if it is in fact the kind of material you are looking for.
If the event you are considering is a first of its kind, you may be thinking these tips aren't of much help. However, you can simply focus these tips on the organization that is putting on the event. Check out their reputation in the industry they serve. How much news coverage has the event organizer generated for other events? How much social media buzz did they create? What did past attendees of other events have to say? There is some truth to the old adage "The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior."
We'd love to hear your thoughts on how you've gotten the real scoop on events and how it has impacted your attendance and planning.