The Ultimate Guide to Attending INBOUND 2013

INBOUND_2013_GuideIn two short weeks, we're excited to kick off our annual inbound marketing event, INBOUND. (Aptly named, eh?)

Yes, it's a lot of work to organize an event like that ... but attending an event -- any event -- isn't always a piece of cake, either. Some people have trouble securing budget and time off from their regular jobs; others struggle to sort out logistics, like booking flights and hotel rooms; many might get stressed thinking about where they're supposed to be, and when, during the event.

I want to alleviate that pain for anyone already planning to attend INBOUND, as well as for people who want to attend, but are held back for various reasons. I'll cover things from convincing your boss it's a worthwhile expense, to figuring out which hotel to stay at, to some tips on where to be and when during the actual conference.

So here we go -- your guide to attending INBOUND, all in one blog post. Ready? Get set ... let's go!

INBOUND Attendance Logistics

1) Convincing Your Boss You Want to Attend

Many people struggle trying to convince their boss that they should even attend. The best way to broach this subject is to have some succinct bullet points that explain the value of the event -- whether those are sent via email, during a presentation, or in a meeting one-on-one. We've written out six reasons your attendance at INBOUND will benefit the company, which you can find here. I'd also recommend pulling out some specific details from your pitch that align INBOUND with your company's goals. For example, if you're trying to increase your conversion rates on email, you could tell your boss about the INBOUND session with Sarah Goliger called "6 Steps to Optimize Your Emails for High Clickthrough Rates & Conversions." Or if you're interested in mastering social media, you could tell your boss about the session with Anum Hussain called Social Domination: How to Conquer 'The Big 3' Social Media Networks.

2) Purchasing Your Tickets

Once you've tackled the whole getting-permission-from-your-boss thing, you have to take care of logistics. For the other detail-oriented folks out there, this is the easy part. For the rest of you, bookmark this blog post. ;-) The sooner you do this the better, because most conferences have early bird passes available. Since INBOUND is only two weeks away, the early bird pricing has passed, but we do have our Final Countdown promotion going on this week. Go to the INBOUND registration page and select the conference ticket option. You also can add certification tickets to your registration. With the Final Countdown promotion, you can get $500 off today (Monday, August 5, 2013), $400 Tuesday, $300 Wednesday, and so on. Check out all the details on the Final Countdown promotion here (particularly if you're an Arrested Development fan).

3) Booking a Hotel Room

We have good news and bad news. The bad news is that our hotel room blocks are sold out. The good news is that the conference is in the heart of Boston with a ton of other hotel options. Check out the Charlesmark Hotel for similar rates to our room block.

4) Getting Around Boston

Luckily, there are a ton of different travel options to get to the conference once you're in Boston. If you're flying in, the airport is located right in Boston and is accessible by public transportation (we call it the MBTA, or the T). You'll be able to get to Hynes Convention Center via the T if you get off at the Hynes Convention Center stop, or you can simply take a cab -- the ride is short, and should run you somewhere around $30. Of course, you can also drive if you are local to the area.

Preparing for Your Time at INBOUND

5) Using Your Time Well

Remember when you promised your boss you would bring back takeaways to do your job better and improve your team/department/company? Ahhh yes. Well now it's time to set the goals so you can make sure you're keeping your end of the bargain. Think about your goals for the rest of 2013 and even into 2014. Are you trying to increase leads? Increase conversion rates? Optimize your landing pages? Widen your network? Write down a list of everything you want to accomplish, and use it as a reference to guide your activities during the event.

6) Understanding the Agenda

Take a look at our agenda page. Is there anyone you've been just been dying to see? Seth Godin maybe? Arianna Huffington? Or maybe you're a HubSpot customer who wants to get more familiar with a certain part of the software? Do your homework before you step foot in the conference. List out the sessions you want to see the most, and make sure you arrive early to get a seat (space is limited). In many sessions, there will be time to ask the speaker questions or approach them after, so if you have any specific questions have them ready in advance so you can concentrate on the presentation and taking notes. You can also take a look at previous presentations or videos of the speakers to get an idea of their expertise.

7) Spending Time With the Right People

Conferences aren't just a time to learn new things; it's a time to meet with peers or catch up with business partners you may not see too often. But things can get hectic during a conference. Everyone is running around to various sessions and parties. You're getting stopped in the hall for a quick chat that ends up cutting into the sessions. Bottom line -- things get stressful and crazy! If you know there's someone you want to make time for at the conference, schedule it in advance. By now you know the sessions you must go to, so you can carve out time slots to meet with people around those times. Conferences are great for these in-person conversations, so take advantage of the opportunity! (Tip: It might be helpful to coordinate a dinner in advance.  This year, INBOUND falls during Restaurant Week, so while there are a lot of great deals at typically expensive restaurants, there is also more demand for those reservations. So get your name on the books now!)

What To Do While You're at INBOUND

8) Bringing Back New Ideas

With 140 sessions at INBOUND, it won't be hard to walk away with a ton of ideas to do your job better, grow your business, or move those tough numbers. Be prepared to take detailed notes during any session you attend -- it'll help you remember everything you learned, and prioritize what to implement when you get home.  You can also tweet what you are learning on social media with the hashtag #INBOUND13. (Nothing like some live tweeting to show your boss you're making good use of your time at the conference!)

9) Connecting With Other Attendees

One of the greatest benefits of attending conferences is meeting people who are just like you -- or, even better, people that are totally different. INBOUND will be full of people with similar marketing challenges, and innovative solutions to those challenges. Make a point to ask people what they're working on so you can learn about their businesses and how they approach inbound marketing. It's a great opportunity to compare notes and get some new ideas that you can bring back to your company.

10) Staying Connected With the Office

One of the hardest parts of going to a conference, especially one that is more than a day, is catching up on emails and other responsibilities that are going on back in the office. Block off some time each day that you can stay connected to work while you're at the event. There will be a wireless connection and lounge areas around the conference to help you balance the conference with work.

11) Checking Out Boston Hot Spots

Being in downtown Boston also opens a ton of doors to explore the city and see some historical sites. Whether it's your first time in Boston or your 20th, there is a ton to do! Some of my favorite things to do around the city include taking a duck tour, going to Faneuil Hall, taking a boat cruise, and going to Mike's Pastries in the North End. You can also take the Freedom Trail to explore everything historical in Boston. And of course, there are some pretty cool parties going on for INBOUND attendees along Boylston Street, too! If you're interested in squeezing in some sightseeing, check out's Guide to Boston.

Post-INBOUND Activities

12) Following Up With New Connections

You will meet hundreds of people at INBOUND. You will make fantastic connections. But the key to making them matter is making sure they last. Go through all of the business cards you collected, all the Twitter followers you gained, and take a step to make the relationships more meaningful. I recommend adding them on LinkedIn -- and write a personalized message that mentions your conversation when you add them -- so you can stay up to date on your careers and get in touch for questions, projects, and partnerships.

13) Showing the ROI of the Conference

You may have gotten a lot out of an event you attended, but you still need to follow up with your boss and prove that the conference was worth it. (Otherwise you'll have a hard time getting budget to attend next year.) Outline what campaigns or improvements you're planning that are inspired from the conference, and show the ROI of those changes, too. Whatever proof you can use to demonstrate to your boss that your time away directly helped the business, use it!

What else are you planning to do at INBOUND 2013? If you haven't registered yet, be sure to take advantage of this week's Final Countdown promotion!awkward conference networking guide