10 Mobile Apps No Conference Attendee Should Be Without

social media toolsAre you wondering what apps can enhance your networking at conferences?

There’s something about a “real-world” conference that can’t be duplicated.

However, your experience can be enhanced with the right apps.

When attending a real-world conference, you benefit from the energy of a room full of like-minded people, the ability to grab lunch with a favorite presenter and the opportunities to network with other attendees.

In this article I’ll reveal mobile apps that can help you maximize your time and results when attending your next real-world conference.

Why Mobile Apps at Conferences?

Before we look at some essential conference apps, let’s take a look at how we got here.

First came the paper era.

Years ago, you would attend conferences armed only with a pad of paper and a writing implement (or you’d annoy your neighbor with requests to borrow his).

You’d collect business cards, gather receipts and carry around a tote bag full of exhibitor booth sell sheets and sticky notes. In short, you’d arrive home with reams of paper.

Next came the laptop era.

Later, some forward-thinking people would bring laptops to take notes. Wi-Fi was still uncommon, but they could save their notes for later review.

As more people starting bringing laptops, the value of power sources and extension cords skyrocketed. Outlets became conference campfires, with attendees sitting cross-legged on the floor in semi-circles around them. Chants of kumbaya could often be heard echoing down conference hallways.

Welcome to the mobile era.

Now you’ll likely come armed with a tablet and smartphone to make the most of your conference experience. You take notes, take pictures and record videos. You connect, engage and follow up. And the apps available on these mobile devices continue to evolve.

apps

Get more out of your next real-world conference with the right apps.

Here are some of the best apps you’ll want to consider for your next conference.

#1: Evernote—Remember Everything

No matter how advanced conferences and technology become, the number-one activity of most attendees will be to take notes to get the most out of each presentation.

There are plenty of note-taking apps available, but the favorite of most attendees, marketers and businesspeople is Evernote.

evernote

On your phone, tablet or laptop, Evernote is a note-taking app that’s tough to beat.

Once you set up your free account, you can access Evernote from your laptop, tablet or smartphone. (I can’t count the number of times this has come in handy as my laptop battery is about to die, but my tablet or phone is fully charged.)

Evernote allows you to create different notebooks, and keep individualized notes in each one. That way you can create a virtual notebook for the conference you attend and then create a separate note for each individual presentation.

It’s simple to find content in notes as Evernote has a robust search feature and even suggests related searches.

You can also include photos (of your favorite presenter or a detailed slide you’ll want to review later), audio, tags, URLs and more in each note.

Evernote is available on all mobile devices and is free.

#2: Twitter (or Your Favorite Twitter App)—Network in Real-Time

Twitter is a critical app for any social media, marketing or tech conference and it comes in handy at just about any other conference.

Most conferences promote their own hashtag, a short tag that people use in tweets so that more people can follow the conversation, whether they are physically at the conference or stuck at the office.

At The Agents of Change Digital Marketing Conference last year, we used the #aoc2012 hashtag. This allowed physical ticket holders, digital ticket holders and even people who just wanted to follow along on Twitter to tweet and retweet the best content.

aoc 2012

Use conference hashtags to follow and engage with other attendees and speakers.

Another great feature of Twitter is when you only have your smartphone. Taking notes on a phone is pretty tough, but if the audience is filled with people sharing content on Twitter, all you need to do is follow the hashtag, wait until someone tweets out the note you were going to take, and hit retweet. When you get home you can go through your Twitter feed to see your notes.

The Twitter app is available on all mobile devices. It’s free, although some third-party apps may charge.

#3: Facebook Messenger—Keep in Contact With Friends

Facebook is a little unwieldy as a conference app. It doesn’t offer the real-time interaction of Twitter, and it’s not a great tool for taking notes, which would clutter up your timeline and bore your Aunt Matilda to tears.

However, Facebook Messenger is a great, real-time tool for keeping in touch with one or multiple friends during a conference.

You can reach your Facebook friends right on their phones, quickly message them to meet up after the current session, or make plans with entire groups for a post-conference dinner or other event.

fb messenger

Use Facebook Messenger to keep in touch with your Facebook friends attending the same conference.

Facebook Messenger is available on iOS, Android and Blackberry and it’s free.

#4: Foursquare—Make the Most of Where You Are

For large conferences, Foursquare is a must. When there are multiple tracks and your friends are all over the place, Foursquare quickly shows you where people are.

foursquare

Foursquare is a free app that helps you and your friends make the most of where you are.

Also, since multi-day conferences often have official and unofficial parties after the learning is done, Foursquare helps you quickly determine where the best networking is taking place.

Whether you want to go there or avoid it for a quiet night of decompressing is entirely up to you.

Foursquare is available on all mobile devices and it’s free.

#5: CardMunch—Turn Business Cards Into Contacts

There’s little doubt that one of the biggest advantages of attending an in-person conference is networking.

The more people you meet, the more business cards you acquire. At big conferences, you might end up with dozens of cards. By the time you get back to the office, catch up on old emails and get back into the swing of things, you’re looking at an intimidating pile of cards.

CardMunch quickly scans business cards and pulls the information into LinkedIn. This makes it easier to connect and follow up.

cardmunch

CardMunch is the next-generation technology in business card transcription.

CardMunch is available on the iOS platform and it’s free.

#6: Evernote Hello—Keep Track of Your Connections

Another great networking app is Evernote Hello.

With your permission, this app can connect your DayTimer, LinkedIn profile, Facebook account, phone contacts and more to help you remember all of those great contacts you made at a conference or any other event.

You can scan business cards or enter in people’s information manually. You can even instantly connect to a group of people using the Hello Connect feature.

evernote hello

Quickly scan in business cards or enter contact information manually.

Hello can automatically pull in related information about people you meet from your phone, online networks, your own Evernote account and more, to create robust profiles and enhance your networking.

Check out their how-to video.

Evernote Hello is available on iOS and Android. There’s a free version and a paid upgrade is available.

#7: Camera App (Your Choice)—Create Content That’s Easy to Share

There are plenty of benefits to documenting the conference through photography. In fact, photos are some of the easiest, quickest ways to create content for your social media networks and possibly the most viral.

Take snapshots of important presentation slides, establish “social proof” by having your photo taken with big-name speakers, or just take fun pictures with friends—both old and new—at networking events.

These photos can be shared on platforms like Twitter, Path or Flickr. You can also tag your friends when you post the photos to Facebook, strengthening your networking ties along the way.

You can use your tablet or smartphone’s default camera, upgrade to an app with more features or use a fun app like Instagram that has its own social platform.

instagram

A fast, beautiful and fun way to share your photos.

You’ll find camera apps for all mobile devices with free options and various prices for upgrade options.

#8: Video App (Your Choice)—Interview Experts

These days, attendees are as likely to create content as they are to consume it. One of the easiest ways to get great content for your blog, podcast or YouTube channel is a video interview.

At most social media and marketing conferences, you’ll often see people interviewing speakers and fellow attendees to share great content with their own audiences.

All modern smartphones and tablets come with built-in video recorders and most include some kind of video editing or sharing software. If you don’t want to wait until you get home to edit and share your video, there are several video editing apps for different platforms.

If you’ve got an Android phone, check out AndroMedia (free) or VidTrim Pro ($2.84.)

andromedia

AndroMedia is a fully featured video editing program for creating professional-looking videos in minutes.

On the iOS, iMovie is a popular choice for $4.99.

Once your videos are on your phone, you can upload them to Facebook with either the Facebook standard app or the Pages app for page managers.

You can also upload them to your YouTube channel using the YouTube app, and then embed them in your blog using the WordPress app!

#9: Shoeboxed—Eliminate Your Paper Clutter

Real-world events usually require an outlay of real-world cash. That’s where an app like Shoeboxed can come in handy.

With Shoeboxed, you can snap pictures of receipts and Shoeboxed will automatically enter the date, total, payment type, store and category of expense.

shoeboxed

No need to keep a wallet full of receipts any more.

Create and send expense reports right from your phone, or export expenses into several popular accounting packages like QuickBooks.

Check out their how-to video.

Shoeboxed is available on iOS and Android and there’s both a free and a paid version.

#10: Facebook—Keep Up With Friends

While Facebook may not be a great app during a conference (it just doesn’t offer the real-time interaction of Twitter), it’s a great tool for following up afterward.

It’s the perfect tool for cementing the bonds you made at the event. You can “friend” people you met at the conference, tag new and old contacts in photos and comment on the conference’s Facebook Event Page.

Also, with Facebook’s new Graph Search, it’s easy to find people by name or those who have liked the conference. This makes follow-up easier than ever.

facebook graph search

With Graph Search, you can look up anything shared with you on Facebook, and others can find stuff you’ve shared with them.

You can access Facebook across all mobile devices and it’s free.

Use These Apps at Your Next Conference

Whether you’re looking to learn, network or create content at an event, there are plenty of mobile apps to choose from for your tablet or smartphone. Be sure to consider the apps you’ll want to use at your next conference.

An excellent opportunity to use these mobile apps is at Social Media Marketing World. This is Social Media Examiner’s latest mega-conference—taking place at the waterfront San Diego Marriott Marquis & Marina in San Diego, California on April 7-9, 2013.

As you’d expect, Social Media Examiner recruited the biggest and best names in the world of social media marketing for this conference. Only the best for you! Be sure to check it out.

Watch this video to get a quick overview of Social Media Marketing World.

Now it’s your turn! What other apps have you used at past conferences, or what other tactics can you share with fellow Social Media Examiner readers on how to make the most of their next in-person conference? Let us know in the comments below.

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About the Author, Rich Brooks

Rich is president of flyte new media, podcasts at The Marketing Agents, and founded The Agents of Change conference. He helps small businesses succeed through search, social & mobile marketing. Other posts by »




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  • mike david

    Boring & nothing new here. Why even write it?

  • madguy000

    maybe you should have said professional networking for dummies instead of what you used for your title. :)

  • http://twitter.com/therichbrooks therichbrooks

    Hey! I live on Dummy books!

    There are definitely some networking apps here, but not all of them. Outside of networking and learning, what other apps would you have included?

  • http://twitter.com/therichbrooks therichbrooks

    Mike,

    Well, keep in mind that what’s old hat to you may be brand new to someone else. I know that as I researched into some of these apps that could enhance a conference for attendee, I made some nice finds that I will personally use going forward.

    Evernote Hello was something I hadn’t seen before and now use not just at conferences, but also during sales meetings. And every time I use it to scan in a business card, people ask me what app that is and some start downloading it on the spot.

    And, as someone who comes home with an overstuffed wallet full of receipts, I’m looking forward to giving Shoeboxed a real world test drive.

    I hope the next article you read offers you something new that you can use.

  • http://buddyseoservice.com/ E N Brown

    Hi Rich. Really nice article with apps I will certainly give a try-out. As you know I don’t travel much these days – but I do have local business meetings and network enough that some of those will really come in handy. Thanks! :D

  • http://twitter.com/Gina_SCI Gina George

    Rich, I found two (maybe 3) apps here that were new to me and that I’ll definitely use. That’s 2-3 times the return I look for in any article like this. Great job. Ignore the naysayers and keep the info coming.

  • http://www.EntrepreneurOnFire.com/ John Lee Dumas

    Great reminder Rich! This will be of great help for a lot of people getting ready to enjoy their first conference experience! I have used some of the apps mentioned here and they certainly helped me. I remember using the #aoc2012 Twitter hashtag when I attended the The Agents of Change Digital Marketing Conference and it gave me a chance to grow my network and to connect with some awesome people.

    Let’s all have an awesome Monday everyone!

    ~John Lee Dumas

  • http://twitter.com/therichbrooks therichbrooks

    Thanks, John!

    I’m glad you enjoyed #aoc2012 and I hope to see you at #aoc2013! :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/donna.biroczky Donna Biroczky

    Thanks for the list! I got two new apps off of this that will definitely help with upcoming travel and events!

  • http://twitter.com/therichbrooks therichbrooks

    Cool, Donna!

    I’ve got two events in April (including SMMW) and plan on busting some of these out, too!

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  • http://twitter.com/JessicaJElliott Jessica Elliott

    Loved these suggestions. Just got back from an event and wish I’d had them then. Will bookmark this post. One question, any suggestions for an app that let’s you measure the social media results of your event?

  • Deb Ng

    Evernote is essential for taking notes at conferences and creating lists and connections for when you get back home.Because I like taking notes long hand, I also have Penultimate which allows me to write and then save to Evernote.

  • http://www.mikegingerich.com/ Mike Gingerich

    I’m headed to compare CardMunch and Evernote Hello! I’ve used Sonar to discover relevant social connections nearby, but want to check out these 2 further! Thanks Rich!

  • RivkaK

    Card Munch is the best app ever! I immediately scanned the article to see if it was there. Now I have a couple more to look into. :-)

  • http://twitter.com/therichbrooks therichbrooks

    Card Munch is pretty sweet. Glad you found something new!

  • http://twitter.com/therichbrooks therichbrooks

    They both work well, but since I’m already addicted to Evernote, Hello’s been what I’ve been turning to more often. Let me know what you find!

  • http://twitter.com/therichbrooks therichbrooks

    Deb,

    I *totally* thought about a handwriting app *after* submitting this article! So, Penultimate is your choice? What else have you tried?

  • http://twitter.com/therichbrooks therichbrooks

    Jessica,

    If it’s your event, I’d look at my Google Analytics. I’d also use Twitter and follow my own hashtag.

    If you mean as an attendee…hmmm, I’m sure there are some tricky things you could do if you were inclined. Have a business card with a tracking phone number on it? Send them to a copy of your website for tracking purposes? See how many new followers/friends/LI contacts you get in the next few days?

  • http://about.me/bpicks Ben Pickering

    Great suggestions. If anyone out there is a conference/event organizer you should also have a look at QuickMobile (www.quickmobile.com) as they create apps specifically for conferences that bring together much of the functionality in a unified app experience.

  • http://twitter.com/therichbrooks therichbrooks

    E N,

    Yep. There are definitely apps here that work in many environments. And, even if you don’t travel much, there are almost always good seminars that can be found through your chamber or similar organization.

  • rongentile

    Great article Rich! At conferences I’m a big user of Evernote and Twitter. Another product I’ve recently started using is RiteHere. RiteHere let’s you connect with other attendees at the conference based on your LinkedIn profiles. See http://ritehereapp.com. In the interest of transparency, I’m a co-founder. :) But I would genuinely like to know your and other readers’ thoughts and usage experiences. Many thanks!… Ron

  • http://www.consaborakafe.com/ Karina Fernández

    This will come in hand for my upcoming conference. Thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/WhitneyLeigh01 Whitney Cantlon

    Familiar with some, hadn’t heard of others. Thanks so much for compiling this!

  • Gijs Gompen

    selectthedate for optimizing attendance at your events

  • Susan Tellem

    Can’t find card munch – are we sure it is for adroid too?

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  • http://twitter.com/therichbrooks therichbrooks

    Gijs,

    Is that for attendees, or for conference planners?

  • http://twitter.com/therichbrooks therichbrooks

    Susan,

    Looks like it’s still coming for the droid. Sorry!

  • http://twitter.com/therichbrooks therichbrooks

    My pleasure!

  • http://twitter.com/therichbrooks therichbrooks

    Thanks, Ben. There were a lot of great apps that didn’t make the list just because they weren’t specifically for attendees. Appreciate the include, though!

  • Jennifer Doyle Vancil

    Guidebook can tell you what conference sessions are coming up and Sonar can tell you who is in the room.

  • http://www.facebook.com/wanna.be.with.you.forever Devesh Verma

    Rich, Nice Work!
    I am not a mobile junky but as a techy guy I know every
    application which you shared with us r extremely useful for everyone. All these
    mobile applications are basically several pillars of online work or business.
    Glad to have a knowledge about all ths.
    Keep Writing SME Team!

  • http://twitter.com/jenillustre jennifer illustre

    Help! My iPhone is too full with apps. Hahaha! Kidding aside, thank you for the tips.

  • James Lyons

    I’m a conference manager and the one app I couldn’t live without is Around Me. It just makes sense. If you’re in a city you don’t/hardly know, Around Me is a great app to find the everyday things you need.

  • Pete

    If interested, I have a top ten conference app being developed and will be released within a month. Connect with me on LinkedIn to find out more. – Pete Weachter

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  • http://twitter.com/newleafco Margaret Lukens

    To this great list I would add AroundMe, which lets you locate ATMs, coffee shops, gas stations + hospitals (and a lot more) in an unfamiliar city or airport. Don’t know how I traveled without it!

  • http://www.itssimplyplaced.com/ Debbie Rosemont

    Great article Rich! In fact, I clipped it to Evernote and filed it in my “travel” notebook for handy reference as I prepare for my next conference. I’m using Evernote pre-conference as well – have a packing list started there (adding things onto it as I think of them), my travel confirmations are there for flight, hotel, etc., notes on the city, etc..

    Some organizations that put on conferences are even developing their own apps now. The upcoming NAPO conference has one (seen it?) that contains the program listings, daily schedule, map of the hotel and conference center, presenter bios, etc.. It seems pretty slick and I know I’ll use it while there as well.

    With all of these apps, are you able to leave your laptop behind when you travel now and just take your tablet and smartphone?

    Thanks for the great content. Valuable stuff!

    Debbie Rosemont
    http://www.itssimplyplaced.com

  • Mike Ambassador Bruny

    Great piece Dr. Brooks. You gave me some new tools to use and some old ones to use in new ways. Can’t wait for my next conference. What do you use to keep track of the people you want to meet at a conference.

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  • http://www.webspiders.com/ John Murphy

    Great information! Thank you for sharing this. But on what basis you have enlisted these 10 mobile apps? It will be good if you kindly share your thoughts on this.

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  • http://www.go-n-tell.com Konstantin Triger

    Things change and there are more – GoNTell – a new app that is tailored for conferences and provides all the features inside

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