How I Growth Hacked A Conference About Information Management with Pictures

sketchnotesWhere’s the last place on the planet you’d expect sketch noting to be a huge hit? How about a conference on digital data management put on by an association for information management professionals?

Okay, so it might not be the last place, but when I attended a workshop on sketch noting at SXSW Interactive a week earlier, I certainly didn’t expect that using what I’d learned would create such a stir.

After all, it’s hard being the new girl in town—and it can be harder still showing up at a conference where you know no one and have no idea what to expect.

But that was exactly the case when I attended the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) conference earlier this year.

Why was I there in the first place?

My official purpose for attending was to scope the conference out to determine if the organization’s members fit into Device Magic’s target audience and whether or not it would make sense for us to exhibit there in the future.

A lot of the conversation at the conference was around how to take data and capture it digitally in such a way that it can be searchable, indexable, and ultimately, easily referenced. In other words, definitely relevant to what Device Magic did and quite likely a good fit going forward.

But it wasn’t what Device Magic did that got me noticed—it was my notes.

How Sketch noting got me noticed

I’d love to say it was entirely intentional, but really, on day 1 of the conference I just decided to practice what I’d learned at SXSW the week before.

Still, it didn’t take me long to realize I was creating a stir.

A few other attendees sitting nearby stopped me to ask me if they could check out my notes after the first session was over; after the second, someone asked to take a picture.

It was about that time I realized I had something I could use to get myself noticed at this conference where I knew no one. So, I started posting snapshots of my notes to the conference app.

By the end of the conference, one of the exhibitors had taken photos of my notes from their talk, the organizers had officially photographed them and were distributing them to all of the attendees, I was publicly recognized during the closing keynote for my sketches and people I didn’t know were coming up to me and talking to me about sketch noting. I heard several times “Oh! You’re the girl that’s creating those cool picture notes, right?”

Indeed I was.

On each image I included both my name and my company name—which led a few people to ask me about what I did, and then about what Device Magic did, by extension.

But the real takeaway? I took the sketch noting class because I wanted to try something new just for fun. It was a great reminder that it pays to try new things and that I should never stop learning.

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© 2014 Melissa Breau. All Rights Reserved.

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