In the past, I have missed conferences, so when my friends and colleagues asked me where my handsome face was during those important networking events, I gave in to the temptation to brag a little bit: “Oh,” I replied airily, “I was just too busy with customers to make it this year.”
But I want you to know that I did attend this year's QuickBooks Connect conference in San Jose, Calif. It was a literal treasure trove of good advice and even better contacts.
The importance of personal contact was really brought home to me this past summer when I attended Joe Woodard’s Scaling New Heights. Noted author and speaker Mike Michalowicz shared a fascinating story that illustrates just how false the old saying “Familiarity breeds contempt” is.
It seems that for several months he was in the habit of taking the elevator up to work every day at the same time. In that elevator every morning with him was a man he described as “creepy.” Initially, Michalowicz wanted nothing to do with the man. He figured he would be unpleasant to know, maybe even dangerous.
But as the days turned to weeks, he started to interact with the stranger, and soon they became friends. To his surprise, Michalowicz discovered that his so-called “creepy” man was a warm-hearted and helpful individual. The lesson is obvious: People learn to trust one another only through regular contact.
Have you ever signed up for an important conference, initially believing it would be an invaluable help for your business, only to panic just days prior to the event, maybe even looking for a way to get out of it?
Well, that happened to me when I signed up for some Sleeter and Woodard Conferences a while back. I started to project my fears of failure and humiliation on to these important events. My mind filled with thoughts of being unprepared for any meaningful interactions with the other participants.
They’d think I was dressed funny. Maybe I talked weird. They’d think that I had no idea what I was talking about. My haircut was bad and my breath was offensive. Oh boy, I thought to myself, I’d better not make a fool of myself by showing up.
Luckily, I shared these fears with my wife. She knows me better than I know myself, and was able to talk me out of my foolish and unfounded fears simply by reminding me that in the past I’d attended conferences where the results had always been pleasant and positive. No one made fun of my choice of clothes or called me a “ninny hammer.”
Needless to say, I attended those conferences and the networking and learning results were fantastic.
One-on-one is what counts
The main take away from any conference is the warm personal contact you get with others who share your business goals and concerns. It's not unusual to become reacquainted with some of your colleagues by giving each other a warm hug.
I know that “business” is supposed to be cold and impersonal and all about the bottom-line. But what attending the QuickBooks conference brought home to me once again is the vital importance and pleasure of establishing or reestablishing that personal touch.
I’m not able to hop on a plane and fly to Minneapolis or Los Angeles to meet with the important people in my business life, but I can meet with all of them at a professional conference. Visiting the different booths to introduce myself and my Fishbowl Consulting expertise allowed me to shake hands and really get to know these people. We talked about our families, our goals and aspirations and, most importantly, we exchanged information about how our respective businesses can help each other.
So take it from me, make plans right now to attend the next QuickBooks Connect Conference in 2017. You’ll be glad you did. You’ll learn things and meet people who can become very important in your business life. And, who knows, they may also become fast friends in your private life. That may be an added bonus as a result of your decision to attend.
For 10 years Lance Brandow, owner and CEO of Brandow Consulting, has been giving expert support to small businesses of all industries with inventory tracking needs. His unparalleled experience began as an employee of Fishbowl Inventory, then later as Joe Woodard’s Method consultant. His knack for database organization and a degree in business management has given him the perfect mix for business software know how. Because of his willingness to work as a sub-contractor for Intuit’s leading Advanced QuickBooks Pro advisors and his background as a Fishbowl Inventory employee, he’s logged more hours consulting in Fishbowl Inventory than anyone else in the country.