There have been a number of ongoing conversations about FinCon 2016. Here’s one from OurNextLife. While I did not attend, from everything I’ve heard and read, it was a positive experience for those who did attend. And one of the big reasons the conference has received such high marks is that it’s not a typical “industry conference” like so many of us have attended in the past.
For most of the past 20 years, I spent this time of year getting prepared for my company’s big industry conference which was typically held in November. And after attending this industry conference as well as many others, in my experience, there are three or four aspects to these events.
First, there are the content sessions. These are generally educational in nature and targeted at different topics that are relevant to the attendees. In some cases, you can earn continuing education credit if that’s something you need. I’ve found these sessions are good for keeping on top of current industry trends. The problem is that more often than not, I attended the industry conference as a sales and marketing activity. In these cases, I wouldn’t register as a full conference attendee, so I couldn’t participate in the sessions.
Second, there is the exhibit hall. This is where all the industry vendors and sponsors would set up booths to pitch their products or services to the conference attendees. Most of the time, this is where I could be found throughout the industry conference. Either meeting at the booth, at one of the designated meeting areas in the vicinity, or in someone’s meeting suite, this was the prime reason for attending the conference. And this was valuable. At this one time, typically I could meet with everyone I needed to. It was more cost-effective than traveling around the country meeting with people individually.
Thirdly, there are the networking events. These are company-sponsored gatherings that range from small, intimate cocktail parties or dinners to extravagant parties. These events are for relationship building and promotion. The bigger the event, the more prestige. Some companies use these to promote themselves throughout the industry. While others use them as an extensions of the exhibit hall meetings. Typically, you would have a small event or two in the early evening and then attend a bigger event or two in the later evening. It definitely made for busy days, but that wasn’t always the end of the evening.
There is a fourth category of activities at industry conferences. That is the after-party. Usually these events have very little actual business happening. Instead, these are for the hard-core attendees who are away from home and want to take full advantage. This has never been my scene, but in the past, I’ve had to entertain clients during these activities. In some cases, it’s meant staying out nearly all night and being ready to get started again bright and early the next morning.
Honestly, I have never been a big fan of the big industry conference. But as in much of business, you do what you need to. And for many companies, the industry conference is a big part of their sales and marketing efforts.
Now having heard all the stories from FinCon 2016 attendees, I am rethinking the industry conference. Next year, FinCon is being held in Dallas. As a long-time resident of Dallas and with family still living there, it makes sense to consider attending the event. I would like to start putting some faces to the all the sites I visit with on a regular basis although I’m guessing it will be a little much for those readers living in another country. We’ll see what happens.
Readers, have any of you decided whether you’ll be attending FinCon in Dallas next year? If so, I would love to get together, so let me know. And if you attended this past year in San Diego, I would love to hear about it. How did it compare to a typical industry conference you attended while working your corporate job?