AskPat 54 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: Hey. What's up, everybody? This is Pat Flynn and welcome to Episode 54 of AskPat. I'm here to help you by answering your online business questions every week, five days a week.
Yeah, I'm here for you. I want to mention our sponsor for this particular episode which is FreshBooks. FreshBooks is an amazing, online, simple-to-use tool for all of your books, your accounting, financing, and all of that stuff. Invoicing for your business. Something I wish I had gotten hooked up with when I first started out which I didn't, and I suffered because of it. GetFreshBooks.com is where you go. Put “Ask Pat” in the “How did you hear about us?” section and you'll get a sixty-day extended free trial just so you can check out that software. Again it's GetFreshBooks.com and put in “Ask Pat” in the “How did you hear about us?” section.
Today's question is from Mary Catherine Johnson, somebody who I've had the pleasure of speaking to before when she had me on her podcast and she's asking about something that I've been falling in love with lately, which is going to conferences and meeting people in person and attending the sessions there to get and further my education. So let's hear from Mary right now.
Mary Catherine Johnson: Hi Pat. It's Mary Catherine Johnson from ParentEntrepreneurPower.com. First, let me say thank you so much for creating this new forum for questions and answers and it's really created such an amazing resource and encyclopedia, if you will, for business owners to access. I think I see a great audiobook out of it in your future. But anyway, my question. You talk a lot about conferences and I think I might be ready to attend one but for an online entrepreneur, how is a newbie conference attendee to decide which one to attend and which one will give the most bang for her buck? Thanks a bunch again and keep on trucking. Loving everything. Bye-bye.
Pat Flynn: Mary, thank you so much for your question and before I answer it I just want to say because this is kind of funny, my assistant who puts the questions together from SpeakPipe into a spreadsheet so I can look at them, she put a note here on your specific question here which was, “Side note, her voice is amazing.” Your voice is amazing. Obviously, you're a podcaster and you have a wonderful microphone but you have the voice so that's awesome. I'm glad to see that since we recorded our episode together for your show, I've been seeing a number of other episodes come out which is great so kudos to you for keeping going. They say when you get past Episode 7 as a podcaster that means you're in it for the long run. Most people give up before then so well done. Kudos to you and it's awesome to see that you're now interested in getting out of the house, I guess, if you will, or out of the city and into a place where other like-minded individuals are to help take your business to the next level and the question is a great one because there are a lot of conferences out there. A lot of new ones coming about and so, how do we know which one is best for us? I think the first and most important thing to do is tap into your existing network because the best thing to do when you go to these conferences is go with people that you know or go there to meet people who you may only be acquainted with online.
It's one of the best things ever when you are friends with somebody online and all of sudden you see each other in person. It just takes that relationship to a whole new level and the synergies and just what happens after that is amazing. There's nothing like meeting in person so I would tap into your existing network. If you have any mastermind group or if you know anybody online, if you talk to anybody online every once in a while, even on Twitter, perhaps or on Facebook, just say, “Hey guys. What conferences have you been to? Which ones do you like? Which ones would you recommend that I go to?” And that's where I would start. Before starting cold and having to do the research yourself, that's where I would start with your existing network. Just ask around.
Beyond that, I would also try to attend conferences that you know there are going to be people you look up to or people you can learn from. So there might be bloggers out there who you know will attend conferences. They might not be in your direct network but they're people you follow, perhaps, and you know that they go to these different conferences. They align with your goals and values and those are the conferences you want to go to as well, not only so you can meet them but so you can meet the people around them, everybody else there who's there to be around that person. That's primarily why in 2010 I went to the Blog World Expo in Las Vegas because people like Leo Babauta from ZenHabits.net were there. Darren Rowse from ProBlogger.net was there and those are people I looked up to. That was my first that I've ever been to. Again, Blog World Expo in 2010 which later changed its name to New Media Expo and that was my first taste of conference life and it was very intimidating. It was very overwhelming but I went there because I knew a few people who were going and also those people that I just mentioned, they were there and I looked up to them and I knew I was going to be around a crowd that I was going to benefit from.
To be honest, I only attended like a couple of sessions. Most of the value I got was just from talking to people and stepping out of my comfort zone which is really hard for me actually, and just talking to people and getting to know people. A lot of relationships I have today started back then in 2010 at Blog World Expo. Again, there's nothing like meeting in person and shaking a person's hand or giving somebody a hug. I would start with your existing network, after that I would go with people who you follow or you look up to and you just know that these are the types of people you align with. Go to the conferences that they go to as well. They might have a schedule on their website or you might listen in on them on Facebook and Twitter and see where they're headed. You might even ask them, “Where are you speaking? Where can I see you next?” And go there.
Beyond that, there might be conferences you know about and before committing to those, you want to make sure there are presentations and speakers there who have attended either in the past or are going to be there at the next event that align with your goals and what you do. If it is at all possible, you want to see what the agenda is or what the presentations are about. That's part of the value of going to conferences, is the presentations. Actually sitting in, forty-five minutes to an hour, and taking in education for your business so you can see what those presentations are going to be about. Are there any topics that you're interested in that you feel you can learn about, and then take and put and implement into your own business?
That's the first part. The second part is, of course, the other people who are around them, the stuff that happens outside of the presentations. The networking, the stuff in the hallways, the stuff at the after parties and things like that. Those are where a lot of relationships and partnerships start as well. Again, going to the websites if—for instance, if you're interested in New Media Expo you go to NewMediaExpo.com. You can either see last year's agenda if the new one isn't up yet or you can see the next year's agenda and who's speaking and you can sort of gauge whether or not that might be something useful for you.
Obviously you want to make sure you know what you need in your business and connect that with what's being offered at these conferences. You don't want to go and end up going to a conference where you feel like you're not going to be connecting with anybody or you're just not going to get anything from any of the sessions. I think that's kind of obvious but a lot of times we just see “conference,” and it might be an area close by and we need to get away and we go and we just have a bad time. We don't want to do that. I've gone to a couple of conferences like that but I've also gone to some amazing conferences and mostly it's because of the people who are there which is why, again, Mary, I mentioned start with your existing network. Go with people, make a trip, make a fun trip out of it. Become roommates and share the bill so you have to split the cost and just hang out and have a good time. Step out of your comfort zone, meet other people. That's where you get the most bang for your buck is, I feel, from all the interactions that happen outside of the sessions. Even though the sessions are completely valuable especially if you know which ones you're going into.
Some tips for you when you're attending your first conference: Look at the schedule. Mark out the ones you want to go to. Some have printable schedules, others you have to print them out yourself. It's up to you if you want to do that. I would highlight the ones you want to go to and go into those knowing you're going to learn something that you're going to implement. One of the things I've noticed: People go to these conferences, they get fired up, they learn new things, and then they don't implement and that's the worst thing and that's, of course, something when you're not going to be getting a bang for your buck, because you're going to get away. Not only do you lose time from the work that you could've done when you were away at the conference, you don't get anything done with what you learned there either.
Mary, I hope that answers your question. Thank you so much. I have a number of difference conferences I'm speaking at this year. I'm speaking at the Financial Blogger Conference in New Orleans. I'm speaking at the Platform Conference with Michael Hyatt. I'm speaking at Rich Brook's Agents of Change, also Digital CoLab in San Diego. Next week I'm speaking at Social Media Marketing World. You know, I love speaking at these events but more than that, I love being able to meet the people and talk. Talk about business with people who are also into talking about business. I love that and I get so much out of that. I ask a lot of questions, too. I think that's an important thing. I don't go there just to share and just to meet people, but I go there to learn and see what other people think about what I'm doing because I want to make sure I do things the right way and there's no way for me to know that unless I ask.
Again, Mary, thank you so much for your question. An AskPat teeshirt is going to be headed your way. You're going to get an email from my assistant soon with the information about that. If you have a question, for those of you listening, head on over to AskPat.com. You might get featured on the show and get a teeshirt as well. Teeshirts, again, thanks to SuccessShirt.com. Check them out and of course I want to mention our sponsor for this episode which is FreshBooks. Simple accounting software online for your small business to help you organize everything you need to organize as far as finances, invoices, stuff that is absolutely necessary if you have or are treating your blog, your entrepreneurship journey, like a business. So go ahead and go to GetFreshBooks.com. Put in “Ask Pat” in the “How did you hear about us?” section and you'll get a sixty-day extended free trial for you so you can check out FreshBooks.
The quote of the day I want to leave you with is from Carl Jung. The quote is, “The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances. If there's any reaction, both are transformed.” Like I said, there's nothing like meeting people in person. I love that analogy: “It's like two chemical substances. If there is any reaction, both people are going to be transformed.” Thank you so much and I'll see you in the next episode of AskPat.
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