As the big Inc. 500 conference is upcoming, wanted to suggest a few points to consider that make your investment pay off. By the way, come by one of my two sessions (Thursday night for sure) for my session and learn a boatload more.
Here you go:
You may not be a speaker, but speak up in Q&A and make your thoughts heard. Don't just blend in. Stand out with good thinking.
Come well prepared by knowing who you want to meet at the conference IN ADVANCE and be in touch with them before or just as you get there to set up your own meetings. You can even pull a group together at break time for a small agenda of your own. Organize a min-conference within a conference of your own.
Draft off a Big Kahuna. By that, recognize who the big guys are at the conference that everyone knows and get to know them. I guarantee if you are around the big guys, the important people will rotate by them sooner or later and you'll meet everyone who matters.
Be an info-hub. If you know everything about the event and the ins and outs of all the private fun stuff, eventually everyone will come to you for the skinny.
Master the Deep Bump. The point here is balance between meeting as many people as possible and making as deep an impact with each one you meet. Think Clinton. Everyone he meets feels like they know him intimately.
Breaks are not time to take a break. It's at the breaks that you'll meet everyone. Hey, get a blackberry so you can do e-mail during the sessions don't run back to your room AFTER the session. MEET PEOPLE during the breaks!
Then follow up, IMMEDIATELY. The key here is don't collect cards and wait till later when you get home. Each night, shoot out your follow up e-mails, or you'll forget later.
Don't be this guy: the Celebrity Hound; the Smarmy Eye Darter; the Pure Card Amasser. You get the point, don't you?