Good conference attendee / Bad conference attendee
Inspired by Ben Horowitz and with Accountex around the corner, I thought it would be fun (and hopefully helpful) to point out some tips when attending conferences as an accountant, bookkeeper, consultant, frankly anyone who gets paid and has some face-time with clients.
Good attendees know their client operations and pain points well. A good attendee will have in mind real life scenarios and challenges which they will ask software/solution vendors to demonstrate the solution for.
A bad attendee wouldn't know the above and asks all the software vendors questions such as "show me a demo of what XYZ software can do" (piss off!)
Good attendees will keep an open mind around the solutions which can benefit their clients. If you're still holding some issues with a solution provider due to something which happened a few years ago then you don't quite understand how quick things change in tech today. Always keep an open mind because that solution you thought was terrible a few yrs ago may now not be and it may be perfect for your client(s) so keep an open mind.
Bad attendees sign up for ALL the apps and want to show the world they use 10000000 apps. For real, don't be this person. If you're having to use apps for every workflow your client has every time, then either (a) your platform you're using is too light as it doesn't have the necessary features and (b) good luck training your new staff members on all these apps which may not all be necessary to have and (c) its expensive to maintain all these apps. We all know someone like this.
Good attendees shortlist apps based on the scenarios they typically come across hence put the app vendors on the spot and ask them to show you exactly how they would use the app they're selling to solve the challenge you have. Once you have your answer and have asked for demos from these vendors, select 1 and take a trial with your client in mind. Test driving is the best thing to do as you may find that app X does everything you need but is practically impossible to use.
Bad attendees forget that apps are used by clients too. If you're about to buy an app which is dependent on your client to be using it frequently such as an expense capture app, it may be a piece of cake for you Mr Accountant but your client may not be as savy, so keep them in mind and trial the app with your client to see if its usable for them.
Good attendees share new feature development and updates from HMRC etc with their team when they get back to the office. If you have a team who were unable to attend, tell them your insights. This could be in the form of a FAQ / a quick email with bullet points to reflect the cool stuff you saw which will help clients like ABC ltd.
Bad attendees wear uncomfortable shoes, good attendees wear sketchers.... and other comfy shoes, there is a lot of walking so be prepared to keep your energy levels high and be comfortable.
Good attendees network with other people, if you're at a vendor stand or in a hall waiting for a speaker, speak to the person next to you, share your thoughts on the day and what you're looking for. You never know, that person may have faced the same challenges and found solutions. I remember at an ICAEW event a few years ago, I bumped in to someone who wanting to sell their firm and I knew a potential buyer.
That's my quick list above, have a great Accountex