I just returned from ShopTalk, which was the second conference of the year for me after attending eTailWest. These conferences are often viewed as boondoggles where employees go and spend on the company’s dime for what some see as senseless things and for no gain.
Having gone to so many conferences over the last 20 years, I most definitely lost sight of the real value and with the two-year hiatus, it is now clear to me that the full value of a conference isn’t measurable. Traditionally we would measure how many leads we get from the conference and how many turn into deals. This is an easy way to measure as it is super tangible. It is also super short-sighted. It is not much different than a lot of marketing and advertising. There are tangential things that you just can’t measure but are hugely impactful to your business.
This week I was in Vegas and I can tell you that I spoke to zero prospects, we have zero leads from the conference, and yet it was hugely successful. This is thanks to networking.
We didn’t attend it to gain leads, we attended to meet with partners and current customers. In two days I connected with two large partners and we talked about what we’re seeing and how we can work together better in the future. I was able to articulate what makes Searchspring different and how we view ourselves and the long-term plan.
Scheduled video conferences are okay, but the energy and ability to have a multi-threaded conversation with four or five people at one time is invaluable. I had just three meetings pre-scheduled but ended up meeting over a half-dozen other invaluable people.
The value wasn’t just running into partners, it was also an hour with a large competitor that isn’t likely going to happen over a scheduled Zoom. Bumping into each other and discussing the industry and both our trials and tribulations is worth it.
Sure, the conference was in Vegas and I saw plenty of people likely tossing away valuable networking time, and my VP of Finance may tilt his head sideways at some of my expenses, but it was all worth it.
We will be at IRCE and back at it and I cannot wait to meet more people and talk about the industry and the future, both of Searchspring and just ecommerce.