Preparing for INBOUND 2018: What I wish I knew my first time…

By Derek Kinzer on August 17, 2018

Last year was the first time our team went to Hubspot’s INBOUND conference. If you thought you were sipping the Hubspot kool-aid already, just wait…

Joining 20,000 marketing professionals from all parts of the globe who are hooked on Hubspot and ready to strengthen their skills, nerd out on new marketing technology, and network a bit surely did a number on us!

We’ll be at INBOUND 2018 this year with a new perspective from our first experience. Here are some tips that we wish we would have known for our first time at INBOUND. See you there!


The keynotes, sessions, networking, meetings, plus the evening events will sap all your time! So...if you’re thinking of launching a new campaign or project a few days before the conference thinking you’ll have plenty of time to monitor it and make adjustments, think again. I brought my Superman cape and everything, but still didn’t have the time and energy to make things happen during the week.

Get ahead and plan accordingly so that you can fully commit your focus on the conference, and not drop the ball for your team.

If you want to maximize your time and experience, set a few goals before you get there.

For example:

  • Make 10+ connections
  • Have a few questions that you plan to ask others in similar roles as you
  • Reach out to vendors or contractor and see if they’ll be there, set up a meeting, lunch or happy hour.
  • Meet 1-on-1 for coffee with a prospect or industry leader


  • Get ahead on your projects and initiatives so that you aren’t having to miss out to put out fires at home. *If you do, make sure you have someone to cover you at least).
  • Set goals based for why you’re there and what you hope to get from this experience.


  • Schedule a new campaign to start at the same time as the conference. What is intended to be a week of inspiration, learning, and networking will turn into unnecessary stress.

What to bring

For those of you who like to be over prepared, or at least have an idea of what to expect this should be helpful. I know that I scoured the internet for tips on what to expect, how to pack, and what I’ll actually need.

  • Day Pack
  • Laptop, tablet, charger, external battery charger (you’ll lose battery on your devices quickly)
  • Notebook
  • Comfortable shoes (you’ll be shocked how many marathons you walk this week… Yes, marathons.)
  • Water bottle and snacks: Stay hydrated, and don’t forget to pack some snacks if you tend to get HANGRY…
  • Business Cards

Choosing Sessions

Deciding which talks and breakout sessions to attend can be paralyzing. After all, there’s about 250 to choose from…

Hubspot helps you understand what “track” the sessions line up with, but think about your goal and intention for being there. Are you an owner that needs to hear from other owners about leadership and the industry trends, or are you an account manager who needs to sharpen their skills to deliver to a client better?

Think about your current role and why you’re going. This will help decide which sessions are best for you.

Here’s 6 Sessions I’m PUMPED about:

*not including keynotes because they’ll all be awesome

  1. Building Diversity and Inclusion Into the DNA of Your Brand: Andrea Flynn | Vice President of Global Corporate Citizenship and Sustainability MAC Cosmetics
  2. How to Get Started with Artificial Intelligence in Inbound Marketing: Paul Roetzer | CEO PR 20/20
  3. 7 Lessons That Will Make You (and would have made me) a Better Entrepreneur: Rand Fishkin | Founder SparkToro
  4. The 7th Level: The Most Important Way to Engage Your Audience and How It Impacts Your Bottom Line: Amanda Slavin | CEO and Founder CatalystCreativ
  5. Becoming a Champion in Sports, Life, and Business: Dana Cavalea | Former Director of Performance of The New York Yankees | The Dana Cavalea Companies
  6. 5 (Very) Actionable Ways to Improve Website Conversions Today | Bradley Friedman Lucky Orange

BONUS SESSION: If you're attending Partner Day this year come listen to Tyler's (Lone Fir Founder) session! 

Check out the full agenda here.


  • Start by favoriting sessions that seem interesting to you. Then chose from that list which ones to register for.
  • Ask a question during the Q/A portion (if time permits)
  • Stay after if you want to meet the speaker - they’re here for you!
  • Take plenty of notes - in most cases they’ll provide a way to download their slide deck. (no need to take pictures of every slide)


  • Give into FOMO (fear of missing out)
  • Rush to the next session if you’re in a conversation - stay present!
  • Stay if you don’t see the value after 10 minutes (they won’t notice or be offended, just leave quietly)
  • Sit by yourself! You never know who you’ll sit next to and connect with.

Pro Tip: it’s like drinking from a fire hose, so many sessions and so much content that's covered throughout the week. Try to pick like 3-5 things you are wanting to implement when you get home. Thinking you will implement and “do” everything you heard, isn’t realistic. But if you pick 3-5 of the most important things and focus on those, it will be a win!


Debriefing is important. After multiple days of a non-stop firehose of information overload, it’s good to take a few breathes and start to summarize your key takeaways (I find this helpful to do on the plane ride home).

Not sure how to “debrief” something like this?

Try breaking it up into a few different buckets or columns of information.

  1. Things to implement right away - Ex: could be a marketing “hack” internally or for clients
  2. Goals to work toward - Ex: Implementing a video strategy
  3. Vendors/Integrations that can improve your business
  4. Connections to follow up with - Ex: Drop a note to someone you met, connect via LinkedIn.

Here’s our biggest takeaways from INBOUND17

Derek Kinzer
Derek Kinzer
Sr. Strategist | Think Tank Operative

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