A Few Great Ways To Source Conference Attendees Part I.

Before we start TL;DR. Why would we even invest any effort into searching conference attendees? 

Well… we don’t always have to. But there are some critical cases when it can be super helpful. This is my top three reasons: 

  1. Sometimes you search LinkedIn and get too many results. Understanding who has attended a certain conference is a great starting point of a conversation. Reason #1: candidate engagement
  2. Sometimes you are searching for a more niche profile and get too few results. Unearthing “secret participants” of meetups is a unique way to increase your long list 
  3. Sometimes you know your best candidates are members (or speakers) of a certain event but this info is not something they would display on their profiles. Searching via someone’s interest is a solid and smart way to find only the very best candidates 

Our world today is full of conferences – people love to gather together IRL. (I guess… that’s the ultimate human reaction against the increased digital reality around us… anyway…  I’ll write about it next time 🤔) Because the event industry is that aggressively booming a great sourcer, I believe, MUST know all these tactics below to hack every conference attendee. 

Let’s start! 

1. The Regular Ways

In some cases websites may contain some delegate information. X-raying a website and adding some further operators and keywords can reveal some of these lists.

Searches like these…

…and alike can bring plenty of interesting results.

But it’s not always working so let’s see some other, less obvious solutions.

2. Wayback Machine 

Many conferences use the same domain every year and they archive the last year content and upload only the new, current one. This is the case, for instance, with Cornerstone’s user conference, Convergence.

If you visit their website (https://www.cornerstoneconvergence.com/) you’ll see always the current conference content. However… 

…there is a website called the Wayback Machine (https://archive.org/web/) that tracks websites and makes archived website content searchable and visible. If you search Convergence’s speaker subpage you’ll be able to see every speaker back to 2013.

This is, as an example, how Convergence’s speaker list looked like on 6. May 2015. Quite amazing, eh? 😉 

3. The Hashtag Madness

Every conference runs a hashtag and we LOVE to use these hashtags everywhere. On Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, on a T-shirt and sometimes even in our #private #messenger #conversations.

Hashtags are also searchable… so guess what? With that we reach the next level of secret attendee sourcing.

3.1 Mapping and scraping attendees from Twitter

#SOFT2018 is the hashtag that the Society of Forensic Toxicologist was using last year on their event. If we go to Twitter we can easily find the tweets from that conference: https://twitter.com/search?f=tweets&vertical=default&q=%23SOFT2018&src=typd. These tweets were sent by those members who attended the conference last year.

Now we can scroll down the tweets manually (there are a few hundreds of them) and copy/paste the info or… we little upgrade our sourcing skills and apply some of the coolest automation tools.

A. AutoScroll

There are plenty of extensions that can auto-scroll a page for you, however, I’d suggest you to use this one. I’ve learnt it from the brilliant Gordon Lokenberg and cannot be grateful enough for the tip!

Once you’ve added the extension to your Chrome, go to the page you want to auto-scroll and click on the icon. ⬇⬇ It will start scrolling and will soon stop at the bottom of the page. Next step!

B. Dataminer

Dataminer helps you scrape data from the web. Go to https://data-miner.io/ and add the plugin to your Chrome extensions. Once done, go to Twitter, click on the Dataminer icon and search the Public Recipe library for Twitter recipes (simply: type in twitter to the search box and hit enter).

You can also create your own Twitter recipe (and here is a great video tutorial for that) but in this case you can use almost any of the existing Twitter recipes. I will use the top on the list (Twitter.com – Search List 2019).

Screen Shot 2019-04-15 at 16.35.56.png

Run the recipe and then download the results either as a CSV or Excel. 

Screen Shot 2019-04-15 at 16.41.40.png

Now you have every tweet from that conference (214 tweets!) scraped and stored in one file. Insert a PIVOT to see which attendee was the most active on Twitter (so that you can also better understand their level of influence) and while you’ll see some company names as well, a good number of attendees will also appear in the list.

Screen Shot 2019-04-15 at 16.50.57.png

For this search, it is 81 results. 81 attendees from a conference which secretly hid all of their delegates. Isn’t it amazing. huh?

3.2 Other hashtag search cases 

You can search for hashtags almost on every social network, even on LinkedIn as well. 

Just add your hashtag into the general search bar and select ‘Content’. It will give you all the relevant and recently posted LinkedIn content. The great news here is that every LinkedIn post is a public post so you can search within any LinkedIn members’ content. Yummy! 

Hashtag search nicely works on Instagram as well. You will find attendees taking selfies and other pictures of the speakers, the venue, the slides or the food. LOL The best part here though is to find group pictures of other attendees who sometimes like and comment, too, on that post. 

One last tip: don’t forget to check whether someone is tagged on an Insta pic. 😉

The search algorithm of Facebook has drastically changed in the first half of 2019 so while you can technically search for hashtags it may bring all the relevant results. 

In Part II. I’ll share even more tactics. Stay to close me via my blog: thebalazs.com/blog/. ❤️

Parts of this post was originally posted on SourceCon

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Unsplash

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