So! You’re going to a podcast conference! Congratulations, excellent choice, and godspeed — you’re about to meet so many people, learn so many things, and get so, so, SO many ideas.
The secret to podcast marketing at a conference: Just showing up is not enough, and just talking about your show isn’t enough. There’s something magical about a podcast conference, where you’re surrounded by all these other podcasters whose knowledge you get to absorb, so we’re going to use the three Ls that make for a focused, memorable interaction. Listening and Learning from your peers, then Lighting up when someone asks you about your podcast.
Before, during, and after a conference, marketing your podcast is actually about marketing yourself. And how you market yourself isn’t only about how you talk about your show, it’s also about how you interact with others around you. That, my dear podcasting friends, is networking: making a meaningful connection with potential new listeners, new fans, new partners, and new friends.
How you market yourself isn’t only about how you talk about your show, it’s also about how you interact with others around you.
Introverts, ambiverts, and extroverts: I see all of you reacting to the term networking in different ways. For some, it’s about mentally preparing to meet and interact with new people and managing the energy needed for that; for others, it’s about maintaining focus and making quality connections with so many stimulating things happening at once.
This article is here to help each and every one of you. There’s a balance of personal reflection and interpersonal activity, and across the board, I hope to equip you with some specific approaches to thinking about and conveying your work to the people you meet in a thoughtful, manageable way.
Listening and learning about other people’s podcasts are mini-lessons in podcast marketing, and with the call and response of your first meeting with a fellow podcaster, you’ll keep on practicing how you talk about your show with others as well. Ready? Let’s go!
Prep for arrival
Before arriving at a conference, getting yourself in order is a must. Conferences are a place to learn, to connect, and to get inspired, but it can be really overwhelming to try to do all of that at once without a little bit of pre-conference planning.
Who will you meet?
Scan the speakers and schedule online beforehand and ask who in your immediate network is attending to begin to schedule your time accordingly. Balance your time between being in the audience absorbing lessons from speakers and interacting with other attendees; you’ll likely learn as much from the person standing next to you in line as the person on stage. If there’s someone you really, really want to spend time with, send a note ahead of time and propose a meeting, and note what you’d like to talk about with them.
What will you need to have when you meet someone?
- Genuine curiosity about what someone makes. Sharing is a two-way interaction: listen to how a fellow podcaster talks about their show and learn what motivates them to make their podcast.
- A pitch. Someone asks you about your podcast, so it’s time to use your pitch! That’s your single, concise sentence that describes your show in a unique and compelling way, which is what you’ll share when someone is curious about what you’re creating. Practice writing your podcast’s logline in preparation for talking with lots of new people.
- Business cards. This is a great way to wrap up a good conversation with a new connection. Be sure to include your podcast website URL on there so they can learn more about your show.
- Swag. Go classic with stickers and buttons or get really creative with something that represents your show (a pen if you make a writing show, a bookmark for a reading show, a guitar pick for a music show…)
Scan the speakers and schedule online beforehand and ask who in your immediate network is attending to begin to schedule your time accordingly.
It’s time! It’s here! Conference day! You’ve got your podcast shirt and comfy shoes on and a bottle of water and your swag in your bag and lots and lots of enthusiasm.
Before or after a session, at a meetup, or waiting in line, introduce yourself to your neighbor. Need some conversation starters? Ask:
- What’s the origin story of your podcast?
- What have you learned from making your show?
- How does a listener describe your show?
- What episode of your podcast are you most proud of? What episode is the best one to start with?
If you’ve got more time, learn more by asking:
- What have you learned today/during the conference so far? How will you apply that lesson to your show?
- What has surprised you about the conference so far?
- Who have you met that you were excited to or really happy you met? Why?
- (After you’ve talked about each other’s shows) Is there anyone here I should meet?
If you’re processing or need a quiet moment, that’s a-okay. Remember that bottle of water I mentioned? Take a few minutes to take a drink or refill your bottle (and your brain). Your body will thank you later.
After the conference
You did it! This conference is in the books. Pat yourself on the back for getting through and meeting all those great new people.
On your flight home, take some time to reflect upon the experience. Some things to ponder:
- What are some of your top takeaways from the conference?
- Who are you happy you met? Why?
- What are you hoping to implement immediately for your podcast? What are the steps you’ll need to take in the next week, month, and six months to make it happen?
- Are there any questions that have sprung up from your conference experience that you need to think about more?
If you’re not ready to take on these big questions just yet, it’s equally cool to fill up your podcast queue with episodes from the people you’ve met. (No promises that it won’t inspire you to start thinking about your own show at the same time, though!)
Follow new conference friends on Twitter to keep on listening and learning year-round, and email new connections thanking them for their conversations.
Now that you’re home and well-rested after the conference is over, it’s also time to solidify your new relationships. Follow new conference friends on Twitter to keep on listening and learning year-round, and email new connections thanking them for their conversations. Do it all while it’s still fresh in their and your mind.
You might also find that conversations and things learned at the conference may have more of a slow burn. It’s totally fine (and even more exciting!) to send a note to someone well after you met saying how you were influenced or inspired by something you talked about together, and share the product of that conversation with them. That’s how these connections get stronger and the impact of a conference experience will continue to power your podcast: with regular, ongoing improvement, supported and encouraged by your new-found community of fellow creators.