Conference Survival Toolkit: 9 Tips to Make Your Exhibiting Awesome

The first few months of this year are jam-packed with conference fun (and plenty of planning). As with many phases of a company’s growth, shifting from a small 10×10 booth–where most items can be packed up into one of those nifty rolling cases–to a 10×20 or larger booth requires more planning, logistical work, and a jump in “stuff.” Last year we upped our conference game and now have an enormous wooden crate that stores eight different booth ~*~elements~*~ (locking kiosks, standing banners, etc.), and a slew of overhead lights, cords, pop-up banners, tablecloths and more.

 

I’ve always loved conferences (whether attending or presenting). Along the way I’ve learned a few lessons and tips to share with anyone who is coordinating a (larger) conference booth for the first time. While it’s safe to assume that Murphy’s Law will apply to any conference you attend or exhibit, here are nine tips to help you make your next conference planning (and execution) a success.

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Template: Showcasing Your Community Strategy

There are many factors to consider when building a community from the ground up, and from my experience, no two companies are the same. (Not just from my own career advancements, but from speaking with the community managers I’ve met through CMX that cover many different industries, too.)

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Quick & Dirty Tricks to Prepare for an Awesome Webinar

Organizing and executing a webinar is no easy task for community managers or content marketers. Considering technical logistics, quality content, an engaging presence, and all the other details that go into great webinars, there’s a lot that could seemingly go wrong.

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Here’s How to Save 15% on CMX Summit East 2016

CMX Summit East 2016 is quickly approaching, and with it comes two awesome days of workshops, speakers, networking, and all-around good times. I went to my first CMX Summit last year and learned so much (from the speakers and fellow community managers alike).

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Tips for a Smooth & Seamless Google Hangout On Air

One thing I have plenty of community experience with is webinars. I gave a quick overview in a post last month, but wanted to a drill down on Google Hangouts On Air, which I used at my previous job for the last year or so that we conducted webinars. For those looking for a free service with easy ways to share archived footage, Hangouts On Air is a good option, once you learn the ins and outs of its various features.

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Community & Content Guide: Webinars 101

I’ve had a lot of practice doing webinars over the past four years. A few months into my job, I did my first one ever to about 200 live participants. (Which is an intimidating amount for a n00b.) I stumbled over my words, did not feel comfortable with the technology, and had no idea how to communicate or engage people while staring in front of my computer.

In other words, this was me:

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I hear from friends and colleagues in the community space about exploring webinars as a way to engage existing and attract new community members and customers. No bones about it, webinars are a great and often affordable way to do this… when done well.

There can be many bumps in the webinar road, with lots of opportunities to learn, grow, and improve along the way (yay!). I’m starting to compile my thoughts and experiences with webinars, with this post as my first attempt at sharing that knowledge in a somewhat cohesive format.

Over time, I’ll share additional strategies to help you provide an awesome webinar experience.

In the meantime, read on to get a high-level overview on choosing a platform, selecting the right date/time, tracking attendance, and showing your personality during your webinars.

Let’s go!

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Building a Community Roadmap (and a Template!)

During the downtime that is Christmas Break, schools, teachers, and many other people are mentally checked out and taking some much-needed time off from work. Alas, not I.

I was recently tasked with building out a six-month plan for our community growth and marketing. It was an overwhelming task—not only to prioritize the many branches of community that I juggle, but also to what degree of detail I should cover, and to do so in a visual way. (If you’re like me, just the word “spreadsheet” induces dread, let alone building a relatively detailed one.)

Today, I spent most of my time building a community calendar using a Google Sheets template. I’ve made this template available for other community managers to use for their own planning.

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Photo Recap: CMX NYC’s December Drink-Up

I had an awesome time at the CMX NYC December Drink-Up last night. I work with a diverse and impressive crew of community peeps, and am always grateful for their support. Having David with us made it extra special, too. Happy Holidays to all!

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CMX NYC’s Holiday Drink Up

Ahh, could that gingerbread man be any more relaxed in his latte hot tub? </chandlerbing>

I envy that lil guy right now. These past couple of weeks have been Stress City, AZ, and not much time to focus or reflect on community work. In an effort to not completely desert this place, I come bearing good news!

For community folks in NYC, please join me and the rest of the CMX NYC team at West 3rd Common for our Holiday Drink Up. We’ll be schmoozin’ and boozin’ with other community peeps, and a certain David Spinks will be with us. Reserve your spot today!

Drink Specials

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Content & Community: A Marketing Power Couple

It’s been a busy week, and no time to write! I had at least five calls with community members (and even more emails), a face-to-face chance encounter with one of our influencer friends (always a fun experience), and our lil team started preparing for the onslaught of events coming our way in Q1 of 2016.

I’ve been feeling pretty good about my work as of late, so you can imagine how pleased I was when my friend passed along a Digiday article, Content is Still King, but Community Management is Queen, which argues that content marketing and community management are a dynamic duo for brand loyalty. Having transitioned into my CM role by way of content marketing, I’ve always seen the innate connection, but haven’t noticed much discussion of it.

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I’m Texas-bound!

Some exciting news to share today. The SXSWedu 2016 panels were announced on Wednesday, and the one that I’m on was accepted! (Granted, SXSW misspelled my last name, but I promise it’s me who will be there.) I’ll be reppin’ Imagine Easy on an #EdTechBridge panel, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

I first discovered #EdTechBridge in my Twitter stream about a year ago, and it has been an invaluable resource for my company as we have made our way through a challenging, pivoting year. I can’t wait to join my friend Steve, and two other ETB community members, as we share stories of collaboration between vendors and educators, and how this important (and often undervalued) interaction is shaping our products and design process.

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CMX Series NYC: Our first event!

Working in community management involves a bit of a learning curve for many of us. Earlier this year, I found CMX, a wonderful resource for all things CM-related. The CMX East Summit was incredibly valuable, and gave me a lot of food for thought.

When I saw an announcement on the busy CMX Facebook group about helping out with a New York-based meetup, I jumped in. Working with other awesome CMs on the leadership team, we’re excited to announce our first event next Wednesday, October 21. It’s at Trello HQ, with free food and booze, and we have lots of fun things planned. Check out the event on Facebook, and follow the trail to the Eventbrite page to reserve your spot today.

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Hump Day Happiness

It’s Hump Day. These days can be tough, especially during a week when New York City is going haywire in preparation for A Very Papal Visit on Friday. Despite the excitement (and mild panic), a couple of fun things happened today that I want to share.

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When First Impressions Fail

I read an article on EdSurge this week, Why Edtech Companies Can’t Explain What They Do. Essentially, it argues that most ed tech websites are vague, leaving educators (and prospective buyers/users) feeling confused, uninterested, or apathetic about the tool they just learned about.

Ed tech companies primarily create digital tools that require a web or mobile connection to work, so what does it say about the company (or the product) when its own website can’t communicate what it does? It’s not a great way to make an impression in an industry swamped with competitors vying for buyers’ attention.

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Community Management Crisis: What Am I, Anyway?

Ever since I got a ~formal title change~ in January, I have struggled explaining to people what it is I do. Most of the time I tell people I work in marketing at an ed tech company. If you work in community, you know it’s not so cut and dry.

I’m fairly positive “community manager” was not a thing when I started my job in 2012. Even now, though it is more defined and there are even conferences and summits for community managers (CMs), I’m still not 100% clear.

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