How to Make the Most of Affiliate Summit Conference: 10 Tips

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An Affiliate Summit newcomer has just emailed me the following:

I wanted to be prepared as possible for the upcoming summit, and had a couple of questions for you. I question markhave experience as a affiliate program manager and wanted to use the summit as an opportunity to primarily meet and potential clients to grow my side business.  Additionally I had been considering starting my own site as well.  How do I make the most of this event?  And aside from plenty of business cards and writing materials is there anything else you recommend bringing?

Good questions, and regardless of the fact that there’s less than 5 days left until Affiliate Summit West 2011 (ASW11), there is still time to prepare.

Here are my 10 tips on how to make the most of every Affiliate Summit:

1. Plan your meetings in advance — There are many great people to meet at each Summit, but meeting them “on the run” is never as effective as having a personal meeting scheduled in advance. For ASW11 you may find the list of attending companies here. There’s also a Twitter list of ASW11 speakers here.

2. Use Affiliate Summit’s social network — Yes, there actually is a dedicated Affiliate Summit social network, and at the time of this writing it has over 3,600 members. It is a great place to connect with other Affiliate Summit attendees.

3. Follow Affiliate Summit updates on Twitter — The hashtag always follows this pattern: # + ASW or ASE (depending on whether it is Affiliate Summit on the West or the East Coast) + two-digit year. So, for Affiliate Summit West 2011, it is #ASW11.

4. Don’t forget about Facebook and LinkedIn — Affiliate Summit has both a fan page on Facebook, and a LinkedIn group which you may use to make good contacts.

5. Be well-prepared to introduce yourself — If you don’t have an “elevator pitch” yet, you better come up with one before the event, and practice it well. Try to stay within 20 seconds. Don’t be intrusive, but at the same time don’t be shy!

6. Think “quality” not “quantity” — Stay focused, aim to connect with the right people, and not just with as-many-as-possible. If you focus on quantity, the vast majority of your conference contacts will actually be useless to you. When you talk to the person, scribble the important points about them (or potential avenues of working together) on the back of their business card.

7. A word about business cards — The question of “how many business cards to bring?” always comes up. I’d say not more than 75 per conference day. Also, as far as all the business cards you’ve collected go, make sure you follow up with people within the first week after the conference.

8. Plan events ahead of time — Be it parties (not the best networking events, in my opinion, but great to mingle in an informal atmosphere), or sessions to attend, make sure you know which ones you’re going to before you actually get there. After all, you want to make the most of the event!

9. Get plenty of rest before the event — There isn’t a single person I know that hasn’t fallen sick (with a cold, or a flu, or bad burnout) after one Summit or another. The upcoming Affiliate Summit will be my 5th one, and I’ve learned it the hard day too — you want to come there fully rested, and having a good supply of vitamins on you too. Staying away from alcohol overuse while there is also a good idea.

10. Other important points to make — Leave your suit at home (business casual is the generally accepted dress code at such conferences), wear comfortable shoes, keep your mints handy (to avoid losing your voice), drink plenty of water.

If I have missed something that has worked for you in the past, please feel free to jump in with your comments below.

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