9 Non-Awkward Ways to Break the Ice at INBOUND 2017 (or Any Conference!)
Being that I've made the trip three times, I’ve had enough experience at the INBOUND that I feel I have a few tips to share - for first timers or seasoned veterans.
There are tons of articles on how to network at events, but INBOUND is so different, I feel like none of the articles I’ve read are applicable. You may not grab the business card of everyone you meet, but conferences like this are not about that.
What I’m suggesting is that you stay open to meeting as many people as possible, take home some great pieces of information (a free Website Throwdown at the IMPACT booth is a great place to start), and, overall just have a great time.
So, what are some real ways you can break the ice this year at INBOUND without feeling awkward, you ask?
First, I’d like to get this out of the way: Yes, last year was a bit tense with the election and with former first lady Michelle Obama's keynote this year, it might be tempting to talk politics, but steer clear of it. Just sit back and wonder what her arm work out is like any other day:
Ok, let’s get to it... Here are a few tips on how to break the ice at #INBOUND17.
Tips for Breaking the Ice at INBOUND 2017
1. Connect on Social Media Ahead of Time
Why break the ice in person when you can do it online?
The Facebook Event has a few posts in it already, but it could be the perfect opportunity to start a post of your own, or connect with others that posted.
By pre-connecting with a few people, it may be easier for you to meet up with them at the event and connect with others they may be traveling with/met.
It can’t hurt, and it’ll take 30 minutes of your time TOPS.
2. Ask About the Agenda (& the Big Stars at INBOUND)
There’s a lot going on at the conference, so you may want to ask someone about the agenda, or that day’s keynote speaker.
Out of all of the people attending the conference from all over the world, you’re bound to find someone who loved The 40 Year Old Virgin or The Big Sick just as much as you do - which is great, because you’ll have a buddy for INBOUND Rocks with Judd Apatow.
This years keynote speakers and spotlight speakers include:
- Former First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama
- Author & Researcher, Brene Brown
- Actor & WWE Superstar, John Cena
- Chief Brand Officer of Uber, Bozoma Saint John
- Chef, Restauranteur, & Author, Mario Batali
- and More!
3. Expand on the Session You Just Attended
Immediately after a session, everyone is itching to take a quick break and meet people, so why not talk with your neighbor about the session you both just watched?
Ask them what their thoughts were on the key concepts shared and how you can both apply those to your daily activities when you get back home.
Even if the other person isn’t as interested in sharing, it gives you a chance to digest and verbalize your thoughts about the session.
Another opportunity for discussion: ask where everyone is going next. You may find someone that is heading to the same session, opening up the perfect opportunity to chat it up while taking a walk to find the next room.
4. Skip a Session
Yes, it is a conference with a ton of great sessions, but sometimes it’s a good idea to take a break and head to a common area, like Club INBOUND.
Here, you’ll always find others like you taking a break, checking their email, or scoping out the booths.
This is the perfect opportunity to strike up a conversation, especially since you’re going to be hanging out in the same location for a while. Plus, it’s a lot quieter during sessions at Club INBOUND than it is when everyone is there for happy hour.
Club INBOUND is also where you can get some HubSpot swag, or check out the vendor booths.
Companies that have integrations, content creation programs, and full service inbound agencies have their booths set up here.
This year, IMPACT is doing in-persona Website Throwdowns! All participants get a free t-shirt, drawstring bag, shot glass, and could even win a $500 Amazon gift card or website redesign! Reserve your spot here; they’re going fast!
Whatever you do at Club INBOUND, there’s always a lot of great people around.
5. Food Reviews
I had to include this one because I love food and usually think about my next meal as I’m eating one.
There are so many options for lunch at INBOUND (basically a food truck fest, just for us) it can be hard to choose. Ask for opinions and thoughts from others!
Happy hour is also a great spot to jump into a conversation or start one about your drink of choice.
6. “Where’d You Get That Swag?”
Conferences and free stuff go hand-in-hand. If you see some sweet swag, ask where they got it. Because you won’t only get free stuff, but it’ll open up the conversation nicely.
I mean, everyone loves free stuff they don’t really need.
7. Borrow/Lend a Charger
It sounds so simple, but everyone is using their devices constantly, and it’s such a simple way to open up the conversation.
8. Look for People Outside the Conference
During INBOUND, it’s hard to avoid attendees outside of the conference - they’re everywhere in Boston… which is great for meeting new people.
There’s bound to be several people at your hotel, which you can catch the shuttle or a cab with.. And even a few of the devoted ones who schedule runs/workouts during the week before the day starts!
9. Try a Tacky Marketing Pickup Line (or Two)
I like funny people, so I couldn’t resist these pickup lines as my last tip:
- “Did it hurt?” “...when you fell from the top of the funnel to the bottom?”
- “You must have great SEO because you just showed up at the top of my list”
- “If you were a facebook post, I’d like everything about you”
- “Ever wonder why lead generation is so important? Because I’d like to generate whatever leads me to you.”
They’re so terrible, it’s funny, and I’m sure you’ll get the person you’re talking to more comfortable --- or maybe it’ll backfire, in which case, I didn’t suggest this.
Whatever way you break the ice at INBOUND 2017, just get out there.
With over 19,000 expected to be in attendance, there’s so many people to talk to and connect with, get as much out of it as you can!
P.S. - We're sending 19 people up this year so come see them by the booth or reserve your Website Throwdown during the week!
About Katie Pritchard
Starting at IMPACT in 2013 as an intern, Katie quickly worked her way from accounts to team lead, member of the leadership team, and eventually management. Her natural organization and focus on process led to an IMPACT Core Award for Dependability in 2015 and has made her a significant player in building many of the foundational elements that made the organization what is it today. As Director of Client Services, Katie leads the team behind IMPACT’s marketing delivery for agency clients. In this role, she’s proud to coach account executives on effective communication and maintaining tight timelines, ensure processes and best practices are both in place and followed, and enable the entire team to do their best work through efficient capacity planning. Outside of the office, Katie enjoys spending time with her crazy - but lovable - family, watching too much HGTV (Is there really such a thing?), and traveling.