An Any Answers post back in March titled Big Conferences drew a lot of attention and some interesting observations from members around the usefulness or otherwise of attending some of the big vendor events and general trade shows.
Inspired by the AccountingWEB members (and with references to them), Richard Sergeant provides his own survival guide to the big accountancy show of the year so far.
Make sure you see the speakers you want
It’s actually quite easy to miss people speaking at shows like this. You’ve got to to remember to be on time, in fact for the more popular you have to get there early. For some sessions you can book in advance and this might be an option, but I may have to leave that to the super organised amongst us. The fact is that it’s quite easy to either hear the same speakers each year, and as someone pointed out to me last year “The only reason I’m seeing X again is because I couldn’t get in to see Y”. Don’t miss out. Get there early and bag your seat.
You know you’re going to get sold to, so go with it
It’s a trade show! It’s a hall jammed packed full of vendors who have spent a lot of money to be there. There is a very strong chance that they want to find accountants like you to introduce their service to, and why not? You’re a sophisticated buyer who appreciates a good sales pitch, so let them try and impress. But only if it’s something you’re genuinely interested in. Tell them what you’re looking for today and see if they can help, or just ask for top level pitch and see if it grabs you. If not? Move on.
Go with a plan, or send someone who has one
Cruising around 200+ stalls and hoping to find something of interest isn’t the best way to make up for not being in the office. So have an idea of at least a couple of areas you want to get more information on or some product type (tax, cloud, financial service) that could help solve a client or practice issue. Keep it focussed.
And if there’s nothing that really grabs you, send someone else, like AccountingWEB regular Maslins suggests: “I'm not going this year, but have got a few of the more junior staff to go. Mainly just as a day out for them, Maslins said. “I've encouraged them to see as many of the talks as possible, and will task them with each reporting back at least one interesting thing they learnt that we should consider implementing in our firm.”
After all, there’s nothing like a fresh pair of eyes to go and explore out new things and bring some ideas back to base.
‘Mingle and moan’
Great expression that ‘mingle and moan’ with full credit to Paul Scholes who used it to describe what is one of the staples of all big conferences: Catching up with your peers and friends. We’re all busy people, and having the opportunity to catch up face to face with good contacts is a fringe benefit, but a high quality one.
Seek out something new
There’s a number of great new products out there, and this is a perfect time to check out something new. I’m looking forward to having a look at Silverfin the cloud based live link reporting platform, Beyond a new live budgeting tool, Pleo a new tool to link company cards and expense accounts, and what 9Spokes connected apps dashboard have been up to.
This could cover a multitude of sins, but it’s always been my downfall. Let’s leave the post show alcohol to one side for a moment, what I’m talking about is about not getting dehydrated (a cardinal sin that leads to grumpiness and an evaporation of all interest), or consuming too much high octane ‘conference coffee’ which quickly bring on the shakes. Keep an eye out for those giving out free bottles of water, and the better baristas.
And finally, try not to get caught up in the rush hour...like I seem to, every year. Hope to see you there.
About Richard Sergeant
Specialist insight and business development support for accountants and their vendors. Cloud advocate with a pragmatist eye.