What to bring to Inbound 2019 - your survival kit
by John Kelleher on 28 August 2019
INBOUND is an annual conference which unites marketing and sales professionals from across the globe with big-name industry thinkers, inspiring events, and educational sessions. If you’re lucky enough to have a golden ticket to INBOUND 2019, it promises to be bigger and better than ever.
This is ESM Inbound’s third year attending, so we like to think we have some experience in preparing for this monolith of an event. If you’re getting ready too, you’ll know this is a thrilling, exciting time, but that if you don’t organise yourself properly before (and take care of yourself during) INBOUND, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and burn out.
Channelling Bear Grylls, join us in packing our bags to adventure across the pond! We’ve boiled down our 10 most useful tips to surviving (and thriving!) at INBOUND – actionable things you can do right now to get ahead before jumping on your plane, train or automobile.
This document’s importance cannot be overstated. We suggest you wear it around your neck on the lanyard provided (sleep in it if needs be!) as life will become very difficult if you lose it. As HubSpot say themselves:
‘Treat your badge like cash or your child – whichever you’re less likely to misplace. If your badge is lost or stolen, you should notify us immediately by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or letting a member of our onsite staff know.’
Your badge is your gateway to everything and becomes your lifeline to all the events, talks and presentations you’ve booked on to at INBOUND: it will be regularly scanned by the HubSpot team. When you arrive at the INBOUND campus for the first time, HubSpot reminds us:
‘To pick up your badge, all registration fees must be paid in full and you’ll need to show a government-issued form of photo ID, like a driver’s license or passport. The name on your photo identification must match the name on your registration.’
So what can you do now? Register (see Item 5), and think about where you’re going to keep your passport safe for the first day – a backpack with lots of secure pockets is a good idea. And of course, make sure your registration fees are paid as soon as possible so there’s no confusion once you arrive.
Phone - check.
Laptop - check.
Tablet - check.
If you’re anything like me, you have three (or more) devices which inconveniently each come with their own individual leads. Ensure you have each of these chargers with you before leaving home, then pack each of them daily when you set out for campus. Remember your adapters too, if you’re coming from overseas – we’ve all been caught out that way before!
It’s worth buying a power pack and keeping it fully charged so you can plug in during a talk if needed. While INBOUND is, as you’d expect, completely geared towards tech-savvy laptop users, with regular charging stations placed throughout the campus, you may be on a tight schedule and need power on the go. Don’t wait for Brian Halligan to walk past before realising you have no battery – try to stay on top of all your electronic devices.
Channel your Geography teacher and keep a pen somewhere handy – whether that’s in your top pocket or, dare we say, even behind your ear! INBOUND isn’t all about looking cool, it’s about being prepared! If technology lets you down, then old-school methods will be the next best thing.
Treat yourself to a new notebook (if it’s branded with your business’ logo then it doubles up as a marketing opportunity!) because you’re going to write a lot. Preferably, make it a hardback one so you can scrawl on the go.
What did your mum used to tell you before an exam? Test your pens! Make sure they’re working before leaving your hotel that morning (and check they didn’t explode in the plane’s altitude). You’ll likely be gifted some fantastic HubSpot merchandise while you’re at INBOUND, but at least turn up prepared with your own gear before switching to their swag.
Okay, this isn’t exactly something you can pack, but certainly something you can aim to bring with you. We know a well-rested mind is difficult to achieve when you’re jet lagged, but getting as much catch-up sleep as possible ahead of the first day is imperative to getting the most out of INBOUND.
These are long, full-on days so remember to take purposeful break times. And this doesn’t mean catching up with work emails, tweeting or starting your next blog post (though some of this is inevitable). We can’t recommend enough how much putting your screens down, walking around in (hopefully) the Boston sunshine, and just taking it all in can work wonders for your wellbeing.
A relaxed, rested mind is one that is far better prepared to retain precious information at the next studio session than one drowning in unfinished tasks and sleep deprivation. You'll also be more open and receptive to what you can learn from the sessions you'll attend - which our director of content, Lucy Seymour, says is crucial if you're going to get the best out of INBOUND:
'It's important to go with an open mind - some of the most valuable lessons and ideas we've taken from attending INBOUND came from the least likely sources - and these lessons have endured long after our return to the UK.'
First thing’s first – get registered. There’s really not much you can do until you’ve done this. Bite the bullet, pay up and get the initial documentation sorted – because then the fun can begin.
From there, you can download the app. It acts as your schedule, you can manage your agenda, connect with other attendees, find your way around campus, and much more. It's a must-have accessory for your time at INBOUND.
And once you’ve downloaded the app, it’s time to start reserving your sessions in advance (you’ll thank yourself later). It’s your chance to get ahead – especially for the big, popular sessions such as Elizabeth Gilbert, Alexis Ohanian, Jada Pinkett Smith, and of course, the Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah Spotlight.
Again, this isn’t exactly something to pack in your survival kit, but something you can do ahead of travelling to help you get more prepared.
Your HubSpot rep is likely to be attending INBOUND, so it’s a great chance to meet face to face (especially if you haven’t before). Send them a quick email now to find out if they're going, then get a time and place in the diary to meet up.
As StoryTeller recommends:
‘INBOUND is more than just keynotes and breakouts. Set up a time to meet with your HubSpot account reps. Not only are they essential to learning the inside scoop with the tool, but they can also recommend the best things to see while you are in Boston!’
Make it your mission to answer a pre-written set of questions by the end of the week. Not only does this direct you, giving you focus and purpose, but it’ll stop you from wandering around feeling lost, or attending talks that sounded good but just aren’t relevant to your business.
Think about how you can then use this information – blog posts, changing your processes with customers, website updates: make sure there’s a direct benefit. If you “pack” Item 6, you can probably get some great quotes and advice directly from your HubSpot rep to include in content – a video of you talking together in a mini, informal interview would make an amazing social or blog post.
It might not be your job to post on your business’ social media feeds usually, but at INBOUND, it becomes the role of everyone on your team. You’ll all be experiencing such different, insightful and helpful content that you’d seriously miss out if only one of your team was uploading content to social media.
Whichever platforms your business predominantly uses, make sure you and your team are logged into these accounts on your phone ahead of attending, ready to snap, post, Tweet and upload.
This is a great way to connect with other marketers and salespeople too, keeping on top of what is trending, and to plan future networking opportunities. Some of the most helpful content you can create comes from live tweeting. It helps anyone who is sitting at their desk back home get a sense of what you’re learning by uploading images and powerful quotes as you listen to sessions.
The INBOUND 2019 hashtag is already in use, so take a look at what your fellow marketers are saying and start using it yourself.
We know – INBOUND is great, but it isn’t Utopian enough to banish all client emails from our inboxes for a week! So how are you supposed to arrive work-free?
Inevitably you’re going to have work to do while you’re at INBOUND, but make sure you try to stick to key times throughout the day which are your ‘checking in slots’. Let your team and clients know these times (taking into account time zones!) and explain that otherwise, you are largely going to be OOO. As our senior content strategist, Anna Kaine, explains:
'INBOUND is a huge investment for most businesses, so really grab it by both hands. If you try to balance your usual workload while also trying to get the most out of the event, you'll inevitably end up doing everything badly: you won't have learnt anything new and beneficial for your business, and you'll also have put-out customers who don't feel they've been receiving their usual level of care.'
No doubt your team back home is fabulous and doing a great job without you: rely on them to manage client expectations so you can have your head fully in the INBOUND experience (after all, it’s for their benefit, too.)
Don’t run yourself ragged trying to get across the campus – this is a huge space and your chosen sessions might be close together on the clock and far apart on the map.
If there are multiple members of your team attending INBOUND then split up and cover as many parallel sessions as possible. Debrief about everything you’ve learnt in one of the chilled break-out areas, or at one of the evening events put on by HubSpot (did someone say Happy Hour?).
But as a backup option, don’t forget about the on-demand content that will be shared on HubSpot’s YouTube channel. You’ll be able to catch your favourite sessions again, or check out anything you missed there – don’t panic!
We hope your INBOUND 2019 experience is amazing. You’re in for an exciting, exhilarating ride – prepare to feel seriously inspired when you come back to work (and maybe a little weary, too!). If you pack our survival kit items, you’re sure to thrive and make the absolute most of your time in Boston – see you there!