For about 4 years, I lived in the world of conference-going. I could distinguish Hiltons, Hyatts, W's, Sheratons, and Hampton Inns (that was never a lucky day) by their shampoo lines, and being in four states in one week wasn't a novelty, but often the norm. In order to maximize my time at the conferences (being in marketing and business development) I came up with a formula for ways to meet and interact with target attendee-goers. It's not any lead that is important, afterall, but the right lead. Heartless. I know.
Key to this formula involved getting one's hands on the attendee list. May I interject here that in order to obtain this attendee list I usually had to pry it from the tight grip of the conference organizer?
Regardless, once I had the list, the research part began. Attendee: John Jones, XYZ Corporation. Sr. Bloopity Bloop. Ok John - what are you pain points? Who do you know? What is your company up to these days?
Luckily, being the curious George that I am, this part was pretty fun. But lots of digging. And often with a dull shovel.
Charge ahead to today.
In the last couple of years, and especially since the advent Eventbrite in 2006 (founded by CEO Kevin Hartz) something pretty radical has happened. Attendee lists at events are more frequently open and shared. And attendees are being generous with their givings!
Here's an example:
This is a quick snapshot of some attendees signed up for an upcoming event in June - the Social Media Day 2010 in Washington DC. Take a look. Of these 5 people, we have Twitter accounts blogs, LinkedIn profiles, Facebook pages, and websites. For anyone really looking to learn more about who they might be schmoozing with at their upcoming event - this is unquestionably some pretty awesome market research.
People tweet their connections, pain points, likes, dislikes and often blog what is most important and top of mind.
Since people are voluntarily offering up this information, I even doubt it's sketchy to break the ice by saying, "hey, I think I'm following you on Twitter!"
To me, this sure beats trying to pry a bunch of names and emails from the conference organizer.