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Should Inbound17 be the year of the virtual?

These 2 photos illustrate a couple views of Hubspot’s Inbound and while taking notes or capturing slides is important there are missed opportunities for connection and community with everyone gathered in these sessions. Inbound17 improved improved some logistics, such as lines for sessions and better focus on certain content, but there are dozens of experts and beginners gathered in these sessions. *There could be deeper interactions at the conference around the wealth of content presented.* Hubspot is keeping their foot on the content with more star power, more and bigger sessions, and more video but what if, particularly with the video, they could reapproach how Inbound is structured? Open up virtual participation, add breakdown sessions, and facilitate followups to get the most out of the content at the conference.

The schedule is one of the main reasons networking is difficult since breakout sessions run right into each other. No time to talk to other folks in the same group and little time to engage with the speaker. However, the schedule is a choice and many choose to get to as many sessions as possible, especially if this is their entrance into Inbound. Why not let those who are exploring all the topics do so online. While a lot of content is available after the fact, virtual participation could allow some to get this content right away for a similar price point (it is the same content after all but without travel expenses.) For those who continue to come to the conference, which will be most people, there are clearly many additional benefits but even more could be added such as breaking down after the breakouts.

One of the main reasons for a conference like Inbound is to gather and connect folks of a common tribe in this case Inbound Marketing. However, unless one really makes their sole focus connecting to other marketers, it is difficult to find opportunities to network with new people. At the breakout session above, folks had to rush right from this great talk by X on X to the next session. X was so engaging it would have been great for 20-30 people to stay for a breakdown session right there with the speaker. Right away we could get perspectives on what people thought about the session, what they where still unclear on, and where they could see the information applying shared among the group.

Even with just the folks who are looking for deeper interactions at the conference and more opportunities for discussion it’s tricky to follow up with presenters. The better networkers will find ways to make a warmer introduction but it can be difficult to wait in line after a session to get a card and make a proper introduction in the tight schedule. As sessions pass, could host small, and simple, areas for follow up questions or contact information for the presenters right where their content is posted. In this way, presenters aren’t overwhelmed with LinkedIn messages and there is a focused place for on topic discussion.

These are just a few ideas for how to refine the structure the conference. Inbound has a few rough edges even as it follows the overall idea of Inbound Marketing; put out outstanding content that provides real value for customers but, just as Hubspot is constantly reminding, there is potential for optimization.


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