058 – How conferences help grow your business

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058 – How conferences help grow your business

 
 
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Conferences are an amazing way to grow your business through referrals, ideas and relationships. In this episode you’ll learn why conferences are so important and how to find some to attend.

Resources mentioned in the episode

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About James

James is the co-founder of Content Snare and Aktura Technology. Once a web designer, his new priority is to help web designers and developers regain their lives, work less and get better clients.

He does this by writing helpful posts, building software and working with web designers to deliver the complex web development that they don't normally handle.

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Transcript

James Rose
Hello, and welcome back to potentially the shortest episode of Agency Highway ever. And that's because today I just wanted to hit record and talk about something that's been on my mind a little bit lately, even to the point where I wrote a blog post about trying to get to as many conferences as possible.

James Rose
It's something I spend a lot of time and thought on. A lot of people always give me a bit of stick saying I'm traveling all the time and not doing any work. But to me, conferences are work in a way obviously, there are a ton of fun, but I can attribute so much awesome stuff that's happened in our business, to just the people I've met at conferences or ideas that I've got. So I just quickly wanted to run through a few things about why I love conferences.

James Rose
And at first when I started going to conferences, it was something I felt like I had to justify the cost of going because obviously, there's flights and accommodation and food and drinks and whatever else, you know, it adds up pretty quickly.

James Rose
But the way I justified it at first was that we were able to hit like ROI (return on investment) really quickly, just based on project work that came out of conferences. So when we were building websites or doing a larger development work, I found it a lot easier to justify like that. That's kind of how I sold the idea to myself, is that you know, if I paid, I don't know, four grand or something to go to a conference by the time I paid for everything because I'd usually spend a few days beforehand and afterwards just to catch up with people, you know, so it starts adding up. But, you know, four grand you can make up in a website or two. So if you are able to build relationships that result in literally one project, you can get your ROI back immediately. So that's how I kind of sold it to myself in the beginning. So and I can't really rely on this anymore because Content Snare is, you know, 29 bucks a month, a yearly account is 290 bucks. So the chances of me paying back my ROI directly like this is pretty well impossible. Like the I'd have to sign up almost everyone that I talked to, which isn't going to happen. And in a way, I feel like being there, knowing that you have to get work out of it is kind of bad or damaging to the potential relationships you would make anyway, like, just by talking to people and hanging out and having fun, you'll find that project work comes out of it. So because I've met people at conferences where it's very clear, they're there to get business. So I guess I have to go over this before I go on to the next point like, If you trying to get ROI to justify it to yourself, don't be a douche bag about it. Like it's just such a, I hate when people are clearly there to try and get business and everyone sees through it. And yeah, it just doesn't look very good.

James Rose
You're much better off building relationships and getting to know people and work just falls out of that. If you know what you're doing and you're a good person. Yeah, so anyway, let's that's it for that bit. But as the next the next main thing for me is ideas that come out of these conferences. So you know, there's there's a lot of different ways conferences work, some are just speakers and they speak at you kind of thing and you take some notes and you walk away. To be honest, I don't get a whole lot of valuable ideas out of that anymore. After you've been to enough conferences, you stop kind of hearing the same thing over and over. But where it gets really awesome, just talking to people. So whether that's at lunch, or of course at the bar at like one 1 am, that's the way some of the best partnerships start I think. But like just bouncing ideas off people or talking to people about things they've done in their business in the casual parts of the conference can result in some really cool ideas. And a quote that I put bolded in my blog post was that all my best ideas, my in air quotes, all my best ideas, just things that I've brought home from conferences and things that I've learned from just speaking to people and listening to what they've done in their business or floating ideas with them. So yeah, like I just that alone. Justifies it for me.

James Rose
But the thing that I haven't touched on yet, which is the absolute most important thing for me is the connections that you can make with amazing people at conferences. I'm consistently blown away like, every time I go to a conference, I feel like I make a bunch of friends. And obviously, you probably you might be listening to this going on not gone to conferences just to make friends. But that's not my point. It's kind of the fact that when you are very friendly and in great terms with these people that you meet, that turns into other things later on. So, you know, it can be things like partnerships like you might build something together, or they might refer work your way, could collaborate on something like whether it's just content or podcasts like I come every conference, I end up with a big list of people that I need to reach out to to have on this podcast and I end up going on a bunch of other podcasts, because of it. Some people even bring their microphones and we do the interviews right there at the conference, which is super cool. And another one is my final point is masterminds like that's the one of the most awesome things that come out of my relationships. And masterminds are basically just, I mean, they can be formal, ours are mostly informal, where we just get together once every couple of weeks, and chat about something. So I met some people at a conference in 2016. And we still catch up every so often, to just bounce ideas off each other, vent, you know, whatever it is, and that can be amazing when you're running an online business or something. And you don't have that much time to Well, I mean, you're hanging out with your normal like, quote, unquote, normal friends in real life and they just don't understand the same crap you're going through all the time. So it can be good to vent to people that understand the same stuff you're going through. And I think that's why the connections you make it conferences are so freaking awesome is because something magic just seems to happen when you get a bunch of people together who are dealing with the same crap in their everyday business. You know, it's people. It's something's different than you, I guess the standard friend and family group you have at home where they don't quite understand, they're not on the same level and realizing the bullshit we go through all the time. So something just happens. I don't know what it is. I can't put words on it. But like I even joked at a conference I went to last year that I felt like I'd found my people because if I went to a random networking event or a like hanging out with random people at home, I'd probably like one person out of 100.

James Rose
That's a little bit of an exaggeration, but at this conference, I was saying, like, I feel like half the people I meet are just amazing and I want to hang out with again, for various reasons. So I don't know what it is. Something just happens at you know, the caveat here being their good conferences. There's a lot of crap conferences that usually the ones that are like 30 to 100 bucks and they really just a pitch fest, a disguised way to get you there just to sell you more shit on the back of it run to the back of the room, sign up before you leave. And you'll get some amazing discount all that kind of crap. Don't do that never sign up for those things. And and the other thing I look for in conferences is actually distance away. That kind of sounds funny because it's like it's it's easy to go to a conference down the road. But something happens when everyone's traveled to be there. I guess. Maybe it's because they've taken time away from their business or you have to be fairly serious to be able to take that time away from your business like, and like, so it's obviously still running while you're at the conference. So you've got to be at a certain level to make that work. Or, you know, a lot of people still do work while they're at the conference. But yeah, I think I feel like travel creates this barrier to entry, where the quality of attendees goes through the roof. So yeah, I would, what I'm trying to get at here is that don't let travel put you off. In fact, travel for me is like, something I look for because I am pretty certain that it will be a better conference, if quite a few people have to travel to get there.

James Rose
So yeah, that's um, that's pretty much all I wanted to go through. Like, these are all the main reasons I like going to conferences. If you're looking for ideas for conferences, you can just start by literally googling something like design conferences USA, you know, like that is actually a way to get some pretty good results as a web designer, especially if you're using WordPress, check out WordCamps. They are a really low barrier to entry conference, they usually very cheap. You'll meet some amazing people, you get a ton of good swag. So a WordCamp is a really good place to start. So you can literally just google WordCamp and try to find the one that is closest to you. Yeah, and literally just searching around, ask people, asking groups, what kind of conferences people like, and just keep an eye out. That's, that's it.

James Rose
What prompted me to write this post, which I will link up in the show notes, it's at jimmyrose.me. What prompted me to write it and record this is that I will be speaking at recurring revenue retreat in Orlando, Florida. It's literally inside Disney World, which is crazy. I have never been so that's going to be an experience for me. But if you go to RRR so three R's, well 2 RR's-retreat, recurring revenue retreat.live, rrretreat.live, you will see everything there. It's on August 29 and 30, 2 days at Disney World. I'm speaking along with a whole bunch of other people. And the headliner is Mike Michalowicz himself, the author of Profit First and The Pumpkin Plan and a whole bunch of other stuff. So yeah, this is gonna be friggin awesome. So if you would like to come and hang out, grab your tickets to Recurring Revenue Retreat, I'm going to be hanging out with people basically constantly because that's what conferences are to me, building relationships and meeting people. So hopefully I will see you there. Yeah, that's it.

James Rose
One more thing before I sign off. I want to know what you are struggling with right now in your agency. And I would like to know because I am looking for guests. So whether Maybe that's something you can reach out to me with as well. If you have a great idea for my next guest, someone you think would be great to hear from for agencies, someone who can really help agencies with something. Please reach out to me. Yeah, that's it. What are you struggling with and who do you think would be a good guest? You can use the contact form at agencyhighway.com to let me know. That's it, and I will see you in the next episode.