This week I’m writing from the IFP Conference. It is an annual event that always makes it into my diary no matter how busy I am. I can honestly say I look forward to it every year.
I’ve been thinking about why this conference (and good conferences in general) are such a valuable investment of time and money. Here are my thoughts:
Attending a good conference offers a great opportunity to network with like-minded professionals. Anyone who’s prepared to invest a bit of money and a large chunk of time in attending a conference is serious about the growth of themselves and their business.
Also, if you’re a regular conference attendee you get to reconnect with old friends and acquaintances that you may not have a chance to see for the rest of the year. If you’re new, then there’s the opportunity to meet new people and form contacts that could be useful to you either now or in the future.
And…you can often bump into those Twitter connections you’ve never met in real life!
Paying It Forward
You get a chance to pay it forward and give something back to the profession that’s given so much to you. When I think back on my working life, there have been loads of people that have helped me along the way. Most of them I can never repay directly, so I always feel good about trying to pay it forward to others. They in turn may not be able to repay me directly, but can pay it forward and so the cycle goes.
At an event like the IFP Conference, you see people doing this constantly and I love that sense of community spirit and camaraderie. In my experience, you tend to meet exactly who you need to meet there. I used to be more deliberate in catching up with people at events, but nowadays I just leave myself open to allowing it to happen and trust I’ll bump into the people that have something to share with me (or vice versa).
Relighting The Fire
During these past few days I’ve listened to great keynote presentations, attended interesting breakout sessions and had brilliant catch ups with advisers, consultants, industry notables and total strangers. All of these interactions have rekindled a passion for my work and stimulated ideas that can help me and my clients.
Being at the conference gives me an opportunity to have fun and relax away from the office, whilst still working on my business. I will, no doubt, leave with a fresh perspective, and I’m reminded that, as challenging as running your own business can be, it beats having a real job! That’s worth the price of admission alone!
Of course, I find some sessions more engaging and useful than others, but judging individual sessions in isolation misses the point of the overall event. It’s the totality of a conference like this that really does its magic and it’s what you put into it that determines what you get out of it. For me, the value definitely outweighs the expense.
On a final note, congratulations to everyone at IFP for another fabulous event and same goes for everyone who made the effort to come and contribute. Well done, one and all.
As challenging as running your own business can be, it beats having a real job!
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