Did I follow my own rules?
I did! I followed my own playbook for FinCon and learned quite a bit in the process. While this site is all about personal finance, part of investing is investing in yourself which is what attending one of these events is all about.
While I didn’t get to stay for the entire conference, I did pack a lot into the 2 full days I was there. As mentioned in the article, the 3 C’s are important to making the most of a conference and pre, during, and post show planning is crucial to making the most of your time there. I’m going to dive into what I gathered from the 3 C’s checklist at the conference and what I would have done a little differently.
The 3 C’s
Community: This is an opportunity to network within the industry and get to know the people that are also around either taking business from you, working with you, or influencing how you make money.
I did in fact talk with a ton of potential affiliate partners and other content creators. I had 35 meaningful conversations that last from 30 minutes to 1 hour. This does include the 9 planned meetings I had before. I got to hear from larger creators on what would be compelling to them if they were an author on theinvestingcircle.com, creators just getting started interested in being part of the platform, and what brands were looking for.
I even had a chance to talk to two different brands that would be interested in working with me on User Generated Content (UGC where a creator is paid to create a video but not necessarily post on their social). I wrote a good piece on that here.
Top things I learned in the Community C:
1) Brands are not just looking at your traffic as a creator. They’re looking at demographic information as well so figure out a way to track that. Example is a bank would like to know if the users on your site have a certain net worth, what they spend daily, etc.
2) The Personal Finance space is by far the most collaborative and transparent niche I’ve been part of. Everyone is trying to help one another and no one is afraid to pull punches when it comes to feedback.
3) Don’t be afraid of the breakout sessions. I found myself in two and they ended up being a spot where I picked up two new authors!
Closing: This is the “C” that is purely for the self-serving business part of your event – how are you moving business forward at this event?
I had the opportunity to represent my day job (ad tech vendor) and The Investing Circle. As always your quick elevator pitch is important, but so is the research prior to talking with someone so you know which way to go and how to work with the person on the other side of the table. The goal was to find some more authors for The Investing Circle and help monetize publishers with diDNA.
Top things I learned in the Closing C:
1) Solidify what you’re going to be talking about in each planned meeting and if it wasn’t make sure you have quick pitch for everything you’re representing.
2) Take a no with grace. This community was so collaborative and just because someone isn’t willing to work with you right now doesn’t mean they won’t in the future. Make sure you understand why it’s a no right now, what they’re looking for, and come back to them when you have it!
3) Seriously don’t forget to just ask for the business. As horribly outdated as the movie is, ABCs of sales is still very true (Always Be Closing).
Communication: These events are excellent opportunities to practice how you explain what your brand is all about. It’s an excellent opportunity to practice how you listen and understand what others do as well.
I did a lot of talking and asking questions. I also got plenty of feedback on what sounds better when discussing what The Investing Circle offers to different users!
Top things I learned in the Communication C:
1) When you get feedback take the notes and don’t forget to ask why or alternatives. Example is if an author isn’t particularly interested in the indefinite revenue share offered on the site then what is compelling to them? Get down to the why!
2) I would have spent a little more time practicing my Investing Circle pitch, but this was quite the training ground. Spend some more time getting ready for an event and your new service or product.
The Trade Show Sandwich
Do you remember this? It’s not food. It’s the conference broken up into a pre, during, and post show. It helps me ensure I’m doing all the kinds of pre show follow up, post show follow up, and I’m organized during the show.
What I would have done differently for my Pre Show: I did all the things I mentioned in the post before about scheduling meetings and having a document with notes prior to arriving.
1) One thing I wish I did a better job of was scouting the layout a bit more and understanding the schedule. Example is I set a lot of meetings to meet in the lobby of the hotel when I could have met at FinCon Central.
FinCon Central was the large meeting area where vendors were and they had round tables to discuss. So if a meeting got done early I could just flow into the larger area and start networking or continue my journey through the many brand booths.
2) Second thing for me would have been to leave just a bit more space for breathing and collecting my thoughts. It could just be my personality, but I found myself running from one meeting to the next and barely scribbling notes more than once.
What I would have done differently during The Show: I did use my hotel room as the control center going back for things like water and bathroom breaks. I also loaded up on cards and ripped out pages of my notebook so I could transfer them to my CRM later.
1) Next time I want to make sure I hit every booth and vendor. I think I focused on the ones I thought would be a good fit and didn’t realize until the last day that I almost missed a few collaborations. Make sure you hit them all and ask some good questions.
2) The breakout sessions ended up being a surprise attendance for me and I loved it. 1 Author came from it and 1 great collaboration. I will be paying a bit more attention to the breakout sessions next time.
What I would have done differently for my Post Show: I spent hours Friday night after returning scheduling my follow up so all my new partners and authors got an email a few days after the conference. I also prioritized partnerships that verbalized a detailed collaboration, those that thought we could but nothing solid, and then people that just spent time with me (they of course get a thank you at the minimum).
1) Organizing this. While I still have this in my CRM I can already tell the follow up to my follow ups might be tough. I probably would make a note and task in my calendar to follow up as a reminder for next time.
2) Creating a calendar link. I have to manage a day job and my personal calendar which can be tough but I got a few requests on send me a link and I’ll book a time. I’ll most likely create something like this for my next one.
Til next time
I loved the overall feel of FinCon, the collaborative attitude from almost everyone I talked to, and the amount information I gathered. I can’t wait for the next FinCon and I hope this experience pushes you to go invest in yourself for that conference or trade show. Oh and to make sure you’re organized and get the most out of that event!