HubSpot’s INBOUND 2018 Conference is right around the corner.
Once again, HubSpot will host thousands of business professionals from almost every industry imaginable and from all corners of the globe in their home city of Boston. While this conference was once home to just a few hundred marketers, it has grown to epic proportions.
Last year, INBOUND attracted more than 21,000 attendees — in large part because the tool now reaches beyond marketing automation, into sales and even customer service support.
INBOUND's three-day conference will be jam-packed with inspiring keynotes, breakouts, new product releases, and tons of networking that will leave you with a laundry list of ideas to take back to your job. Check out our coverage of some of the major topics and sessions from last year.
This year’s lineup of speakers will feature notable professionals from brands like GE, Spotify, Bloomberg, Google X, and WeWork. And you can be sure there are more speakers yet to be announced.
But after attending the conference four times, I can tell you this one is well worth the price of admission and beyond. From the production value to the breakouts, you'll leave Boston on a high note. And I've developed a few tricks for getting the most out of the conference over the years. Here's what I recommend:
1. Register for Sessions Ahead of Time
In the past two years, HubSpot offered pre-conference registration and this is an absolute must. Most of the best sessions fill up FAST.
Start by looking over the conference agenda and decide ahead of time which breakout sessions to prioritize. The sessions are broken down into six tracks. Take a look at all of the possible sessions so you don’t miss out on something really valuable for your business.
Make note of other sessions that sound interesting to you in case your first choice fills up.
But keep an eye on the conference schedule every day, because HubSpot has historically added encore sessions for some of the most well-attended sessions.
PRO TIP: After registering to attend, make use of the conference app from HubSpot. It’s the easiest way to plan your day and pick your favorite sessions. The app comes complete with a bunch of tools that will make your conference-going experience more pleasant!
2. Team Up with Your Co-Workers or Local HUG Members
There are way more sessions than you will ever be able to conquer on your own. Team up with other attendees from your area so you can divide and conquer.
Take notes at each session you attend and make them available to your team. Then, plan a recap day where you can share the best ideas and takeaways from the conference. It’s a great way to keep the ideas flowing after you get home!
3. Get to Know Your HubSpot Account Team
INBOUND is more than just keynotes and breakouts. Set up a time to meet with your HubSpot account reps. Not only are they essential to learning the inside scoop with the tool, but they can also recommend the best things to see while you are in Boston!
4. If You See Dharmesh or Brian, Try to Say Hey!
The HubSpot co-founders, Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shaw, try to spend a ton of their time talking to real customers during
And don't be shy about grabbing a quick selfie.
5. Keep Tabs on Your Badge
For the few days of the conference, your INBOUND badge is as important as your ID. They scan your badge for entrance to the conference, to check that you've registered for the session you attend and to pay for your meals at lunch time. Make sure you don't leave it at your hotel or the bar because an extra one is going to cost you around $100.
6. Meet Vendors and Partners
If you're in need of help with HubSpot, this is the place to look. There are tons of vendors and HubSpot partners that can help you with website development, content creation, inbound marketing strategy, workshops and more!
Some partners have booths and tables around the conference, but many (like us) can be spotted attending breakouts, giving presentations and networking with our fellow marketers. If you want to meet with us during the conference, send me a note!
Quick Note: Our CEO, Ed, is speaking again this year, so be sure to check out the information on his session: "Storytelling for Your Business: How to Engage Your Audience."
7. Take Lots and Lots (and Lots) of Notes
I know this seems like a no-brainer, but it’s important for several reasons. For a lot of people, writing notes helps commit ideas to memory, but it’s really important to take notes beyond just what the presenter is saying.
A lot of the best presentations will be made available after the fact, so don’t worry so much about writing down every word verbatim. Instead, focus on writing down how to use the ideas, the brainstorms that the sessions spark for you. The brilliant ideas yet to be fleshed out.
Writing down your key takeaways and ideas will help you connect the dots and recall those ideas once you are back in the office and the daily to-dos creep back into your mind. More importantly, it will allow you to revisit those ideas for months and years without having to hold every single one in your memory. Taking pictures of presenters’ slides can be another easy way to capture lots of information without the need to write everything down.
PRO TIP: Don’t forget to take notes of conversations you had with other people at the conference, too. Sometimes, a simple business card isn’t enough when you get back to the office!
8. Don’t Forget Your Chargers and Notebooks
With 20,000 marketers fighting to power their devices, outlets can often be hard to come by. If you haven’t gotten a portable charger, you might want to invest in one before you leave. (I love my Anker Powercore.) Make sure your laptop, phone, and tablet are all charged up and ready for the day before you leave your hotel. It’s also not a bad idea to bring along an extra notebook, just in case you aren’t able to refuel during the day.
9. Ask Tons of Questions
This is your big chance to learn from experts and tacticians from all over the country (and the world). Don’t spend all your time talking. Make sure to ask tons of questions and learn what is successful for others. Have a question in a session? Just ask!
PRO TIP: If you are in a relevant industry, spend some of your time asking questions and getting interviews with people around the conference. Here's one that Reputation Ink did at the 2016 conference with Ed.
10. Take Short, Intentional Breaks
With several days of brain-filling breakout sessions, it’s important to take a few intentional breaks to reset. Plan some time to check your work email, make a phone call home, or just take a short walk outside.
11. Make the Most of Social Media
There is a lot of chatter that happens on Twitter and Instagram using the conference hashtag (#INBOUND18). It’s a cool way to capture the best quotes, ask questions, or start conversations. You can even tag your favorite speaker or find groups of people doing meetups all over the Boston area!
PRO TIP: If you meet someone new, don’t hesitate to add them on LinkedIn or Twitter right away. If you wait until you get back, you might forget how you met. Send them an invite to connect, and include a personalized note to remind them what you talked about, in case they don’t see it until they get back to the office the following week.
12. Don’t Miss the Networking Events
From seaport parties to Boylston Street bars, inbound marketers know how to throw a good party. Check out the conference hashtag #INBOUND18 to get an idea of all the networking events happening throughout the week. They are a perfect way to meet other like-minded marketers, look for exciting jobs, or just have a good time.
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13. … Or the Entertainment
HubSpot doesn’t skimp on entertainment either. Club INBOUND has a resident DJ and happy hours are known to feature bands or other entertainment. Not to mention previous headliners — Cyndi Lauper in 2012, One Republic in 2013, Amy Schumer in 2015, and Trevor Noah in 2016. This year’s headliner? A live recording of the popular podcast, 2 Dope Queens, made up of comedians Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams. It will feature stories of twenty-somethings living in New York and some special guests to be announced.
14. Come Rested and Mentally Prepared for a Packed Week
Between the breakout sessions, networking opportunities, entertainment, and sheer volume of people, this conference is no joke. The four times I’ve visited Boston for INBOUND, it’s not uncommon for me to wake up at 7 a.m. and go to bed around 2 a.m. Not to mention the fact that you sit in 6-8 sessions every day, listening to some of the most brilliant marketing minds in the world.
PRO TIP: Sleep is crucial, so use these tips to reset your internal clock to make sure that you are up and ready to roll when the day gets started!
15. Get Your Work Done in Advance
One of the biggest distractions from getting the most out of a three-day conference is your work back at the office. Do your best to plan in advance and clear your to-do list, so your co-workers can get their own work done while you are out of the office.
If you know you’ll need to communicate with clients or someone back at the office, set specific time blocks for people to follow up with you. Try not to check your email while sessions are in progress to make sure you don’t miss out on any good nuggets.
16. Prioritize Your Takeaways and Tactics
When you get back to the office, or maybe even on your trip home, spend some time going through your notes. Look over all the tactical ideas, make a to-do list, and document the ideas/discussions you want to cover when you get back in the groove. Prioritize that list and keep it handy so you don’t lose track of all the ideas you had. Ultimately, you're not going to be able to implement all of your ideas right away, so it will be good to have a running list you can refer to throughout the year.
17. Make Use of the On-Demand Content
HubSpot records a lot of the sessions and makes them available to attendees, and sometimes, on their YouTube channel. Save your favorite sessions and revisit them throughout the year as reminders of the brilliant ideas. It’s also an easy way to check in on other sessions that you didn’t get a chance to attend.
I'll be attending the conference for the fifth time. So, while I may be drinking the Koolaid just a little bit, I always come away with a ton of ideas that I can implement in my day-to-day life.
But just in case you want another person's perspective, here's why Evan Dean, channel account manager at HubSpot, thinks the event is so special. "It's a great resource for learning about new marketing trends, techniques, tools, and thought leaders. But it's everything that makes it happen which makes INBOUND special — all the great people participating. There is a real buzz in the air at INBOUND, when you meet new people who are excited about the same things as you, sharing ideas and meeting everyone."
Let me know if you are planning on attending this year! We'd love to see you there.