I went to my first conference as a freelance marketer this week (as I’m writing this), or last week (as you’re reading this).
It was a stroke of good fortune that I went at all, really. Luckily, my morning Twitter scrolling came good; I spotted the #B2BMarketing19 in the list of hashtags trending/recommended for me, and discovered that it was for a big 2-day Expo in London @ the ExCeL. For B2B Marketing. With free tickets for visitors.
The universe had clearly wanted it ✨
What was going to be a reasonably uneventful Wednesday turned into an unexpected one. Armed with a strategy as to how I was best going to manage my energy (#introvert), I went along - for conversations, insights and, well, excitement.
I went along for 2-3 hours on both the Wednesday and the Thursday. Here were my personal highlights:
1. Going to my first B2B Conference
Despite being in the B2B world for the last seven years, and writing content for the last four, I’d never been to one of these before. Most conferences and events I’d been to (bar a memorable one back in 2016) had seen me going on behalf of the company I was working for at the time. Here I was representing just me - and my company
2. The talks
I sat down, or rather stood and watched from the outer edges (#safezone), as I slowly wandered amongst the stands and chanced upon the various larger areas, varying from 30 to around 200 in size, which had various talks happening throughout the day. It was useful to have some of my own knowledge and methods reinforced, and also learn a bit more about Account-Based Marketing (ABM), which I had actually done before without realising whilst working in recruitment. There were talks from HubSpot and Fujitsu and all sorts of well-known brands.
3. The wacky costumes
I saw an astronaut, an alligator, and various other themed costumes which stood-out amongst the suited and smart-casualed majority of us. I guess this was a marketing conference, after all…
4. Seeing familiar faces…
I recognised someone I’d connected with previously from the mortgage world, Andy Nelson of Edison Wells and InSurge. (Turns out Andy and his colleagues wear a few hats!). I was convinced InSurge were a part of LinkedIn (#greatbranding). This was my 2nd ever conversation with Andy and he really knows his stuff. I was amazed at how successfully they are using LinkedIn, and helping other clients do the same; they built Edison Wells, their mortgage business, completely on LinkedIn.
I also came across ThriveMap and their CTO Mark, startup friends of mine who I’d known for a while; he was deep in conversation with a prospect, so I didn’t get a chance to say “hi”.
5. A spontaneous lunchtime chat…
… with Knut Anders @ Inzpire.me. We bonded over ‘taking a breather’ from the Expo (ironically!), got chatting, and Knut showered me all the funky things you can do with HubSpot which I had just started using. He even invited me to hang out for a day or two if I ever returned to Oslo and needed a desk to work from. Spontaneous chats, like these, are my ultimate favourites.
6. Vipin @ Zoho
A familiar CRM that I used to use, Vipin explained to me that Zoho had changed a lot since I had last used it. I was pleasantly surprised at how many companies had come from overseas, particularly from various parts of Europe and India. (I was also listening to a freelancer podcast today sponsored by Zoho, maybe it’s a sign).
7. Talking about me and what I do
Whilst there were lots of enterprises at the Expo, there were lots of small-medium sized businesses, too. I got to talk to a few about HonestContent and my e-books, practising that elevator-pitch - there’s always time for practise!
The most joy I get out of these events (and life, really) is these 1-to-1 interactions. Here are a few I enjoyed:
One of these small businesses was nettl, whose stand caught my eye immediately and I hit it off with Xavier, there. (And not just for his wicked name).
Another was OneTrust, who I’ve nicknamed in my head as “the GDPR guys”. They’ve been around since the ‘90s, but are obviously offering a timely service with their Privacy Management Software.
I even spotted a chap who goes to my gym in SW London, Kevin Davis @ Simplifie. I’ve never spoken to him at the gym, where I’ve been a member for 2 years now - it took a B2B conference for us to get talking!
8. A free cupcake (thanks Jag/Gigabit) and a cookie (cheers Sam/OneTrust) whilst on my wandering adventures.
9. Other notable mentions…
Z-Card, an interesting concept for a business card and small leaflet in one.
The guys at Landingi who have a great product and hail from Poland. They also get the award for most useful piece of kit - a Landing Page Creation Kit (see below). As someone who loves to write and plan and doodle by hand, I’ll be having fun with this :)
I also had a good chat with The Next Big Thing, plus a free 20-minute website consultation with a company whose name I can’t recall (🤦🏽♂️), but their workforce is completely remote (🙌🏽).
I also spotted a couple of Wordpress-aligned companies like WPengine, who might be on my radar again should I convert back from Squarespace. In the future, perhaps, we’ll see.
In summary - a really useful, enjoyable and spontaneous event. My first of many I’m sure, I’m already looking forward to the next one. And that’s a statement not made lightly for an introvert… :)