If you didn't tweet it, did it happen? We all know how essential social media has become, and if you don't have an effective strategy, you're going to miss out at the next conference you attend.

Before social media took off, networking only happened during the conference itself. But all that's changed now. Prior to the event, you have the hype building up and going around. During the event, the conversations spark as does the networking. Once the event is over, the post-conference "meet-ups" and further "networking" continues.

Here are 6 tips to make sure you get the most out of your next conference:

1. Follow the event in the lead up to the event


This includes getting familiar with the hashtag(s) the conference is using to promote the event, joining LinkedIn groups, and Facebook events that are composed of all the right people you will be seeing during the event.

2. Start conversations before the conference


This allows you to get to know the people attending the conference beforehand. It would give you a chance to "meet up" with that one person you've always wanted to get in touch with but never had the chance to or that one person who you know will give you insight to kick-start your business idea or help you get investment settled.

3. Use the event hashtag in your tweets


Not only are the attendees following the hashtag, but also media publications and conference speakers. Make sure to use the hashtag when you're live tweeting because you never know where your tweet might lead.

4. Monitor the hashtag


Always be aware of the conference hashtag prior to the big day. This will give you to get a taste of what's going down on the day allowing you to maximize your time to fit everything into your schedule based on what seems to be the "hottest" thing happening there. Also, live tweeting is an essential part of every conference and that is why as an attendee, you should monitor the hashtag and hack into conversations taking place over the hashtag.

5. Raise a controversial debate


People love controversy. If there's a topic being talked about which you spotted as you were monitoring the hashtag, raise a controversial debate either pro or con. Make sure to have all your facts right to back up your argument rather than look like an idiot. And always always use the hashtag.

6. Respond to all those who tweet at you or else...

unfollowed-me (1)

The worst thing you could do is ignore those who tweet at you. The whole point of "live-tweeting" and social media in general is to be prepared to answer anyone who comes at you. You never know where this conversation or person may lead you.

Step Conference 2016 is the largest interactive gathering in the MENA region, happening on April 4th & 5th. Are you coming? Tell us who is at the top of your networking list for the conference!