I was fortunate to go to my second FinCon this September. Last year I went to my first FinCon in Florida on a scholarship as a new blogger. I went this year as a speaker. It’s amazing what a difference one year can make!
Anyway, this post is designed to give tips to anyone attending any type of conference and, in my opinion, how to get the most out of it. Secondly, you’ll be able to read about some of my adventures at FinCon19. Additionally, I’m including some fun photos (permission asked first).
What is FinCon?
What is FinCon exactly? Well, it’s basically a financial conference for money nerds. Maybe I’ll just use FinCon’s tagline to explain it:
“Where money & media meet. Helping financial influencers and brands create better content, reach their audience, and make more money”
The FinCon community is so fun that not only do financial influencers attend, but personal finance enthusiasts attend also. FinCon does offer community passes at a cheaper fare for this latter group. FinCon occurs every year in the fall in some new location in the United States. As I understand it, FinCon has grown significantly since it’s first event 9 years ago. Phillip Taylor of PT Money is the founder of FinCon and a very generous guy!
I’m not really making any money off my blog yet but I’m interested in reaching my audience, writing better content, and someday making some money off it.
Three Tips on Attending a Conference
#1 Go with Pre-Determined Goals
If you’ve signed up for a conference ahead of time, you’ll likely know the scope and purpose of it. I recommend really thinking about what you’d like to get out of it. This way, you can review the schedule ahead of time and choose the workshops, talks, and discussions which will closely align with your goals. Most conferences put out the schedule of events ahead of time so that you can make a plan.
FinCon puts out an app each year with a stream of activity, a map of the facilities, attendees, and the schedule of events. The FinCon app allows you to tag the events you are most interested in. I’d imagine most conferences do something similar. If not or if this format doesn’t work for you, you’ll likely receive a pamphlet upon the first day with similar information.
Take the time to find a quiet place to reflect on your goals and star the events you’d like to attend which align with said goals.
Additionally, and this is very important, write specific goals which have very actionable ways of achieving them.
Example of a non-specific goal: Get the most out of the conference
Example of a specific goal: Learn how to set up a website
Example 1 is a great name for a blog post, but it is too broad for a goal. Additionally, it and can mean many different things and is subjective and hard to measure. You would not really be able to point to specific things which identify fulfillment of this goal. Actually, I think this goal could exhaust you because you might try to go to everything to get “the most” out of the conference.
I suggest you instead write specific goals, like example 2. There is a real action there and you can find & attend workshops which will focus in on that specific skill.
My Specific Goals
I’ll give you my goals for FinCon19:
- Speak on a panel
- Learn tips on writing to my very specific audience
- Think about appropriate next steps for me (i.e. write a book, launch a course, one-on-one mentoring, public speaking)
- Visit with friends
- Make new friends
- Pace myself
- Dance at the closing party
In an effort to achieve my goals, I took action. Firstly, Refined by FIRE & I came up with a panel topic back in the winter of 2019 when we saw the invite for speakers at FinCon19. We reached out to several others (Wealth Well Done and FI Introvert) and received some resounding yes’s. After brainstorming, we wrote an agreed-upon synopsis for the panel and each of us submitted our applications based on the FinCon rules. We received word of our acceptance to speak in round three of announced speakers!
At FinCon, I attended workshops and panel discussions which aligned with my second & third goals. Additionally, I sought out others who might have insight on these topics.
Goals 4 and 5 happened organically because of my extroverted nature.
On the other hand, goal number 6 required effort because of my extroverted nature. I’ll talk more about this in my next tip, though.
Last but not least to dance at the closing party. Um, again for an extroverted person who loves to dance this didn’t require too much intentionality but I will include some suggestions in my final tip!
#2 Take the Time to Pace Yourself
This is an important one for anyone, extroverts, and introverts. I suppose it might be more important for introverts because they tend to get drained from being in large crowds. However, I spoke with several extroverted people at FinCon and we all said the same thing, the conference is an intense overload of people and can be exhausting for even extroverts.
My suggestions are twofold and very different but either can work.
Firstly, get a hotel room close to the event so you have a place to sneak away to and chill. Additionally, you may even want to consider getting a room by yourself or perhaps an Airbnb with several others but make sure you have a private room.
Secondly, another option is to stay further away from the event. For me, this helped because it is in my nature to want to socialize all hours.
I had to purposely “get away” from the hustle and bustle at times and this took intentionality. This goal became most possible thanks to my hosts, Fred of Money with a Purpose & his lovely wife Cathy. I stayed with them in Reston, VA for the first three nights. Additionally Ryan from Arrest Your Debt crashed their pad.
While I knew that staying further away from the conference location meant that I’d miss out on some nightly social gatherings, it also meant that I was getting rest and relaxation. It was a win!
It didn’t hurt that I fell in love with their Akita dogs. 🙂
Another tip on this topic of pace was that I found myself in a few instances, going off to a quiet room or private area and conversing with one or two others. It was a nice dichotomy to the loud bustling of thousands of people in the convention.
In order to balance out my desire to also be a big part of some social activities, I stayed the last two nights in a hotel right up the road from the conference. I found that I had the best of both worlds! However, in my last two days at the conference with the hotel room, I had to be intentional. One day, I simply hit a wall but I still had to push myself to go back to my hotel to chill for several hours. This was hard for me to do because I missed out on a few things. However, the positive recharge was worth it.
Tip #3 Have Fun!
Okay, chances are whatever conference you are going to, it’s because you are passionate about the topic. The good news is that you are going to meet like-minded folks. Like-minded folks tend to have an easy time letting the conversation flow as you geek on the topic of your passion.
That being said, have fun with it! Be sure to have intentional meals with others whom you’d desire to have a deeper conversation with. Be bold and ask! How often are you in a place with such a high concentration of people with a common interest?! Take advantage of it.
If there are social gatherings in the evening, which there typically are, plan to attend a few. If you don’t like going to said gatherings alone, be intentional about asking others to hook up with you ahead of time. Chances are they’d love to go to it with another person. Although, if you don’t find someone going to the same event you want to attend, still go! I’ve never gone somewhere solo and not found some value in it.
My personal favorite is the closing dance party at FinCon. I love to dance and since I don’t drink nor typically frequent bars, I take advantage of every dance party I can attend.
I’ve started to read the first few chapters of this book and it’s a must for any small business owners or entrepreneurs managing their business finances. You can find the book here.
When you agree to be a speaker at FinCon, you are automatically paired with a mentee. I had the good fortune of working with Samara of Budget to Be Free. You should check her out!
You cannot see the red carpet, but it’s there, I promise. 😉
And now to the dance party…
James & Emily, of Rethink the Rate Race, are a super friendly, real estate-investing, young, power couple who I had the good pleasure of hanging with.
I’m not sure what I was looking at when this picture was taken but I just love this lady! Krystal from All She Saves has been nominated two years in a row for best student loan debt blog Plutus award. She is slotted to have her debt paid off very soon and I’m predicting she’ll grab the award FinCon20!
Conferences can be a great way to gather a lot information on your topic of interest in a short amount of time. Furthermore, it can be a great way to share what you’ve learned with others. Most importantly, it’s a great way to make friends with folks in a similar niche or field of interest. Friends are great for many reasons but when you are starting a new business or venture friends are can be there for encouragement and advice.
Why go it alone?