Where do you start with an event like PI LIVE? With thousands of people all in one room, for a new person stepping over the threshold, it can be an intimidating sight. The best possible thing you can do with PI Live is to think a little more long term. There’s a lot more going on than just the main two days.
In the past, when vouchercloud first started going to PI LIVE (travelling from Bristol) we tended to leave on the day. The downside with London - even if you get there early - you’re still going to miss the first half of day one. If you’re spending the money on a ticket, you should absolutely do it properly - at the very least spend the night before in a hotel. You’re wasting some of your money just by not showing up on time!
You’ll need to download the app - it’s there for a reason. You’ll have a visual on the attendees who are going to be there and can start some conversations prior to even arriving. Consider the app as an outreach tool, but mark the time and place down manually in your calendar too. We all know that meeting a person doesn’t always go to plan when you attend a big event, so make sure to exchange contact details just in case you miss the chat and need to move on to your next meet.
It sounds basic, but make sure you have some business cards on you, too. Telling people to add you on LinkedIn isn’t quite as effective - it’s useful to have something physical to exchange.
What to do during PI LIVE:
You’ll need to be picky about the talks you go to - there are so many amazing opportunities for learning, and if you go to each one, you’ll miss out on valuable networking time. Try to split your time evenly between going to talks and actually talking to people. Some years I’ve put meetings on hold for the educational value of the talks.
Choose two or three ‘must go’ talks, and have other areas where you’re free to actually talk to people. Another great tip is to run through the attendee list and find people you really want to meet at the event itself.
As it’s such a chock-a-block day, you may not be able to network with that person in the time you’ve allotted. Consider the lunch break as a potential networking opportunity instead of going off and having lunch by yourself. It’s an underutilised time to connect with important contacts over a coffee or even through a business lunch.
Make sure you get involved in the talks - interact in some way. Most of the time there will be some kind of Q&A - don’t be afraid to put your hand up and ask a question. Interacting with the speaker makes the whole process more valuable. The odds are that someone else was thinking it anyway!
The calm after the storm:
When you do follow up with the amazing contacts you’ve made at PI Live, don’t leave it until weeks after. Reach out to these people within a few days of the event ending - even if that is just a holding message saying “great to meet you - catch up soon”.
If you don’t follow up in time it gets pushed back and back until you’re a month down the line and trying to remember what the original conversation was about.
Remember to give your feedback. Everyone who’s registered will receive a feedback email, and these are amazingly useful. For example, a long time ago the lanyards weren’t colour coordinated to show who’s who. These days, after feedback, different colours are there for different types of attendees - from publisher to advertiser. It means you’re not squinting to find who you’re looking for.
It’s good to mark down which presentations you found useful, and which ones were not so amazing. It all feeds into how the next event will be put together. We all contribute to the success of the event, after all!