We just spent our own time and money taking 14 flights going to 3 conferences over 5 weeks in Southeast Asia.
We met hundreds of people, attended dozens of talks, networked and did a bunch of masterminds. In today’s episode we will attempt to answer an age old entrepreneur question: Are conferences worth it?
Places we’ve been to:
- Chiang Mai SEO Conference
What Happens at a Conference?
- Talks / masterminds / events / meetups
- Sponsors / booths / upsells
Different Types of Conferences?
- Generalist / broad – DMSS
- Closed group (all have something in common – DCBKK
- Specialist topic – Chiang Mai SEO
How Much Does a Conference Cost?
- Price varies a lot
- Brighton SEO is free for example
- While some cost thousands
- Usually a lot of upsells
The VIP Upsell
- Front seat tickets: Many slides are hard to read from the back, but that’s not really an issue.
- Speakers dinners
- Access to conference video recordings
Are these worth it? Often not really. Most speakers are around and you can talk to them. Also some conferences upsell you HARD on masterminds and other events.
Yeah it’s a cost. Not much you can do about this.
If doing a long haul, arrive a bit early to get over jetlag. Other things you can try:
- get out and drink with people
- Use an app like Timeshifter
There’s usually a big party on the last night, so you might not necessarily want to fly off straight away. If you want to meet people / clients / partners, kill 2 birds with one stone.
Also, factor in a holiday afterwards.
- Depends on the event, but often the hotel is a hub.
- Good to meet people at breakfast, in the bar, at the pool, in the lift etc.
- Then again, even though the hotel is kind of nice, many people will stay around.
- If you’re good at connecting with people you can save money staying in an airbnb in the area.
- It’s also kind of nice to be away sometimes
Authority Hacker Meetup
We wanted to organize a meetup for AH fans/members in Chiang Mai. Some were at the conference but not all. It ended up being a semi-official event.
Do make sure the conference organizer is ok with this if it’s not a private event. We ran FB ads to people who like AH in Chiang Mai. 200 people showed up (we expected, like….50 :D).
We realized more people than we thought knew who we are. >.< However we were able to film testimonials -> a great ROI.
Is It Worth It?
- They’re okay, but often nothing you can’t find on best IM blogs / Youtube / Podcasts
- Still there are some gems
- Many “pro” speakers just disguise their talks as a way to sell their product
- Best bits come during Q&A
- They have your undivided attention, whereas blog posts don’t
- Hanging out in corridors between talks is a GREAT way to meet people, people are here to meet others. Just turn around and say hi.
- Get that delicious free food too!
- Highly dependant on the table you’re sitting at
- Usually higher level than the talks
- Can pick up really good tips
- If you are a solopreneur, great to get advice. Feel like we get slightly less out of it being a duo.
PRO TIP: go out and drink water so you can stay focused and remember other people’s tipsy tips
- Almost like mini casual masterminds
- You can pick the brains of a lot of people
- People let more stuff slip than they would in any other environment
- Link building tactics
- Even personal gossip
Speaking at Conferences
- Gael had talks at both DCBKK and DMSS
- A good opportunity to raise your profile
- Often means a free ticket
- Access to VIP events/dinners
- Become the center of attention / shift the dynamic
- Most conferences will be open to a talk if you do something interesting
- There is a degree of network needed so knowing people helps
- Just attend the year before
How All Kinds of People Get Value From a Conference
- AH PRO member
- Runs authority sites and a link building service
- Got 1 on 1 coaching with Mads Singers during conferences
- Picked up tips & tricks hanging out with us and other SEO’s
- Had fun!
- Ben runs a crossfit authority site
- He nerded out with Hanne and Gael from Thrive and got a ton of tips for his funnels
- Took action and set things up while hanging out
- Getting results already
- AH PRO Member
- mid 5 figures/month
- Looking for a co-founder to expand his business
- made interesting connections
- AH PRO member
- Doing well with existing sites
- Wants to expand his portfolio
- Picked up niche ideas through discussions we had
The real value is not really coming from the talks but rather what’s in between. We’d rather skip talks and be 100% tuned in for social events and time between talks.
Even if you’re an introvert, push yourself and talk to people or you might miss out.
Look for big wins (e.g 1 new affiliate = worth it). If a 10% improvement pays the trip it’s worth it.
The bigger you are the more value there is. So how early should you start attending?
- At $3500-5000 / month revenue
- focus on your business before that
- online courses are better value for money
If you need a social circle that does what you do it’s worth it.
- people will give you ideas
- share stuff they do you don’t get anywhere else
If you need a motivation boost it’s worth it
- seeing people do well makes you want to do well
- Gael learned he needs to outsource more
If you want to mix pleasure and fun go for it.
And finally, will we do it again next year? Maybe, but 5 weeks is a long time.