9 Tips for Attending a DJ Conference

In just a few weeks’ time, this year’s slate of DJ conferences for the mobile DJ industry in North America will be underway.

On March 10th the CDJ Show kicks things off in Toronto, Ontario with the long running Mobile Beat Las Vegas beginning just a few days later on Monday March 13th in Las Vegas, Nevada. Then on May 1st the 9th annual Midwest DJs Live begins in Milwaukee, Wisconsin followed the next month by ArmDJs 10.0 on June 19th in Greenville, Tennessee.

But how does a person make the most of attending a DJ conference? What should first timers know? And what do we seasoned conference attendees need to be reminded of?

What follows are my thoughts, mixed in with input from Scott Faver, Sam Fleming, Mitch Taylor and Shawn Zilla (referred to by first names from here on). Thank you for sharing your input gentlemen.

1) Attend the presentations. It looks funny to write this here, but this idea isn’t obvious to everyone. Collectively, the presentations are the bulk of any conference and in Scott’s words, “It’s the presenters who have what you need to advance your business.” The main presentations are often the results of years of trial and error and that experience is being summed up and shared for the attendees benefit.

2) Never eat alone. Shawn suggests setting up lunches and dinners with people. He and I are definitely on the same page here! You need to eat, right? Some of the greatest insights are shared and friendships forged during visits over breakfast and conversations at the dinner table. Take advantage of this social time to break bread with your colleagues. You might learn some new techniques, and you will surely start new friendships.

3) Attend the show for the show. These words come straight from Scott and I couldn’t agree more. (Although I seem to fall off this bandwagon at least one night each conference!) Scott goes on to say “Make the show your focus. Not a vacation. Nor a reason for anything else that will distract you from the show.” Along a similar idea, Sam suggests to treat the experience like university. How do you do that? Get some rest and get up early. Easy, right?! 😉

4) Meet everyone. The relationships that begin at a DJ conference might one day be the relationships that get you through something years from now. Friend the people you meet on Facebook but always send them a message telling them why you are friending them. Was it something they said? They way they presented themselves? Was it an idea they shared that you wanted to thank them for? Do you have a follow-up question to something they said to you? Create some conversation and don’t assume they remember you and what you were chatting about.

Understand that there are many social circles of people at any conference and where it might appear that people are being “exclusive” it’s often just a matter of really good friends making the most of only being able to see each other once a year.

5) Support the vendors. DJ conferences only happen because we purchase equipment and music from the vendors and brands that support these shows. Without those vendors and brands, nearly all mobile DJ conferences would cease to exist (yes, they support the majority cost of putting on a show). Buy those lights direct from China if you want, but then don’t complain about a DJ show being “too expensive.”

6) Take notes, take action. Scott encourages making a commitment to implement show concepts into your business model. I would also add that show notes should be reviewed at the end of every day, on the plane ride home and in the week that follows. Create action steps based on those notes and share those action steps with a DJ friend. Have them keep you accountable and vice versa.

7) Find out who is speaking and why. Ask other DJs which seminars they are most looking forward to and why. This will help you discover who the seminar presenters are, what their topics of expertise are, and which might appeal most to what you’re hoping to learn.

8) Stay at the host hotel. I was so glad to see Scott share this in his list of suggestions for this blog post. Much like supporting the vendors is an important component to keeping conference prices low, supporting the host hotel is another method of doing the same thing. As an added bonus, you will have the option to quickly head up to your room to refresh between seminars or before dinner and you’ll save time and money commuting from another hotel to the seminar rooms in the host hotel.

9) Be a sponge. Those three words come from Mitch and are a great way to end this list. Take what you like, leave the rest. Open your mind, consider what sounds impossible, and find your own angle. Don’t say you can’t; ask how you can. Listen to as many people as possible and ask yourself how what is being shared might be useful to you. Soak it all in. Be a sponge.

Engage with other conference attendees through social media using the official conference hashtag (thank you Sam for that idea), get business cards (but don’t hand yours out until you are asked), try to remember names, and get to the first presentation every day. On that last topic, Shawn finished up his advice to me by saying that even if you feel like death, slam some coffee and get to it! That’s solid guidance for early mornings at a DJ conference!

I’ll be attending Mobile Beat Las Vegas and possibly ArmDJs in June. Where will I be meeting you?

For more on how to “survive” your next conference according to your personality type, see this great post here.

~ Dave

10 thoughts on “9 Tips for Attending a DJ Conference”

  1. Great post Dave. A great tip to add onto point #4 is to jump onto Twitter or Facebook and search hashtags related to the conference to find out who will be there and connect with the people via social media even before you get down to the conference. Creating a relationship with other DJs before you meet them face to face lets you take full advantage of the short time you have to talk with them while at the convention. Make sure you have a clear and recent profile pic so they know what you actually look like when you show up. It’ll feel like you’re in a episode of “Cheers” when you show up and people know you by name…”NORM!”

    1. Ha ha ha! Love that way you ended your comment Richy! And you’re absolutely right. Networking BEFORE the conference is a VERY good idea!

  2. Great article Dave. One phrase I hear often at shows is “you get some great nuggets in the corridors”. True, but you know where you also get great nuggets? In the classes with the guys and gals who have come to speak!

    As for implementing, the most successful people I meet at shows have plans to put their knowledge to work for them. Saying you learned a lot, then doing things the way you always did is why some DJs will struggle.

    I’ll be at Midwest DJs Live in May. Should be a fabulous show.

    1. GREAT advice Alan! Adding in the value of taking classes/workshops might have to show up in a part 2 of this post at another time. 🙂

  3. Love this write up Dave!
    According to my FB timeline review, my 1st Mobile Beat was 8 years ago. Thinking back, you Nailed so many valid points.
    I am a little dissappointed in myself for not attending MB this year.


    1. DK — Myself and Cory Gulenchin will represent Westman for all of us! You will be missed… many great memories with you in Vegas!

  4. Excellent read Dave. Thanks to you and all the contributors. Learning is best with a clear and open mind so, if you drink alcohol, drink less. Your focus will be sharper and your body will thank you. See you all at #MBLV21.

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