Lessons Learned From The Financial Blogger Conference

Well, I made it back in one piece! The Financial Blogger Conference was amazing. There were hundreds of bloggers as far as the eye could see. No one batted an eye at my complaints about having to pay for WiFi or my trying to split a cab anywhere we went. It was heaven 🙂 so many like-minded individuals in one place, and all there to grow as a whole.

The conference was organized by one Phil Taylor, and I don’t think anyone could have done a better job. The speaker list was amazing, the food, sponsors and swag fantastic and the people warm and fun, like a family.

I had set some goals for the conference, such as meeting my online BFF and business partner Crystal at BudgetingInTheFunStuff.com, who was just as amazing in person as she is online and so full o’ life!

My other goal was to completely break out of my shell. I didn’t want to waste a second of the conference time, life’s too short! So I set out to spend every hour I could meeting new people and getting to know my fellow bloggers.

I’d like to name everyone I met, but there were 280 attendees and I think I met almost all of them! Specifically, it was a pleasure meeting Phil, JD Roth, Suba (and Mr. Suba!), Khaleef (and his wonderful wife), Andrew and Gyutae, J. Money, Glen, Nate, Pete, Ashley, Luke, Jeff and Kylie. I’m sorry if I left you off here! I loved meeting every single one of you!! The conference was seriously amazing…did I say that already? 🙂

But there were some things I learned that were unexpected. These lessons didn’t come from the excellent speakers or the classes, but from the experience as a whole.

Get There Early

While it was tough to decide on when to fly out, I knew I didn’t want to miss a single minute of the conference so I booked my flight for Thursday morning, a full day before the conference started. I am so glad I did.

By booking early, I got to spend some one-on-one time with Phil and his crew, helping with some last minute preparations for the conference. That time was invaluable. I got to know a little bit more about Phil, and when the conference got started Phil was pretty tied up and barely ever even sat down so a long conversation was out of the question.

There were other people that came in early as well so I got to meet all of them and spend some unstructured quality time with a small group of early birds. Considering how busy the rest of the conference was, these long, relaxing and stimulating conversations really put my brain into sponge mode and I quickly started soaking in everything I could from these brilliant people.

If at all possible, get to an event like this early! You never know what might happen.

Prepare, plan and prepare some more

I thought I came prepared. I thought I had everything I needed and knew my plan of attack for the conference, the classes and everything else. Then I remembered that I had some work to finish up, woops. That cut into my late night networking time. Then I realized I really didn’t know much about the city we were in, what food was around, how much cash I would need for taxi rides or tips or emergencies.

I spent far too much time pondering my next move, when I could have been hanging out with the people I came to see, or sleeping as there wasn’t a minute to spare for that.

Then when the sessions and talks started, I wasn’t sure which one I wanted to see, where they each were and who was speaking. I should have scouted out the conference rooms the day before briefly so I knew where I was going, and I should have added the speakers names, and starred the sessions I wanted to attend on my schedule so I wasn’t stopping after every session to decide.

Devour the planning material and make a schedule of what you want to see beforehand.

Make sure your plan is flexible

Creating a plan of attack would have been helpful to soak in more of the conference sessions, but even the planning I did do got pushed aside at some points because things changed. There were people I wanted to continue a discussion with and we ended up talking through sessions, or long after the structured event for the day ended. There were impromptu lunches, surprise meetings of friends, and some really good times even after the conference was all over. If I had stuck to the plan, those would not have been possible

When things don’t follow the plan, go with the flow!

Don’t forget a thing

Take amazing notes, not just during talks but after every major part of the conference. I wish I had taken better notes. There was so much going on that I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few things. The notes I do have will help me piece things together but by taking the best notes possible, you will be able to retain more of the valuable information you learn from conversations, sightseeing, classes and speeches.

Don’t let a minute get forgotten.

This conference was amazing and I can’t wait for fincon12. To everyone who attended and who I was able to meet, you guys are the best!! You make this community what it is, so strong and powerful.

To those that couldn’t attend, please make the next one because I want to meet you!!

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23 People have left comments on this post

» SavingMentorNo Gravatar said: { Oct 5, 2011 - 09:10:32 }

Best advice I’ve seen on how to approach a conference like this so far. I think I would have approached the conference in much the same way as you and I plan to do a lot of planning next year before I attend but also remain flexible to go with the flow and live in the moment of the event.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Thank you! 🙂 I guess it’s kind of like when you start a new job, be the first there and last to leave. I can’t wait for fincon12!!

» krantcentsNo Gravatar said: { Oct 5, 2011 - 04:10:22 }

Thanks for your insight. Unfortunately, I could not go this year, I hope to attend next years.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

I hope to see ya then!

» Lindy MintNo Gravatar said: { Oct 5, 2011 - 08:10:25 }

I’m really glad I came in a day early too. I felt like I had a little bit of a jump start on some of the networking.

It was great meeting you! I’m looking forward to next year too.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Exactly, and I’m better networking one on one or in a small group anyway!

It was great meeting you too 🙂

» Kay Lynn @ Bucksome BoomerNo Gravatar said: { Oct 6, 2011 - 07:10:02 }

I enjoyed meeting you IRL. I will definitely plan to get there earlier next time!

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Well I’ll be there early to greet ya 🙂 it was great meeting you as well!

» Kylie OfiuNo Gravatar said: { Oct 7, 2011 - 12:10:08 }

It was so awesome to meet you Jesse! I had the best time and am glad I too came early.

I wish I had taken better notes too, but a lot of it I am pretty sure will be up online in various places.

I am so pumped about next year, if there is only one conference I attend a year, it would be this one!

Say hi to your family too.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Same here Kylie, we hadn’t really talked too much on Twitter before so I was excited to get to know you.

I’m hoping to watch all the sessions again once they pop up online, and extract anything and everything I can from them 🙂 I can’t wait till next year either and am so curious who will be speaking!

Will do, and you do the same 🙂

» PeterNo Gravatar said: { Oct 7, 2011 - 12:10:15 }

It was awesome meeting you at the conference Jesse! I agree with the point about remaining flexible – I had planned out everything I wanted to do, only to find that I wanted to change plans once i got there to do more networking and chatting with new friends. Allowing for that flexibility in my plans was helpful.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Right back at ya man, it was a pleasure! That flexibility helps us feel like we got exactly what we wanted out of things too 🙂

» RomeoNo Gravatar said: { Oct 7, 2011 - 03:10:13 }

Hey, Jesse.

There were plenty of lessons that I learned. One was to actually take the business cards of whom I met. As the days pass, I forgetting everyone that I talked to. Mainly because I met and talked with so many people.

» CrystalNo Gravatar said: { Oct 10, 2011 - 02:10:01 }

I loved meeting you!!! And yes, next year, I will get there even earlier!!!

Mr akers.No Gravatar Reply:

Are you in debts or want to invest?Emailus:[email protected]

» Kris @ Everyday TipsNo Gravatar said: { Oct 14, 2011 - 01:10:06 }

Wish we could have met in person. I drove in to town and got there as early as I could, which was right before the bus left for the charity event Friday night.

I had been pretty sick, so I tried to sleep as much as I could. However, I did get out quite a bit and was absolutely exhausted by the time I pulled in the driveway Sunday night. It was such a fantasatic event, and I felt I got so much for the amount of money I spent.

» SamNo Gravatar said: { Oct 23, 2011 - 08:10:40 }

Sounds like you had a great time and did of ton of mingling Jesse. Hope to see you next year!


» Tony @ Investorz BlogNo Gravatar said: { Oct 31, 2011 - 03:10:30 }

I couldn’t make it. Too busy. But I’ve promised myself that I’ll go next year!

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Well worth it 😉 I’ll catch you there next year!

» ChristopherNo Gravatar said: { Feb 9, 2012 - 01:02:48 }

I have seen about this on many sites. Being new to blogging, I hope to get to next years. It is so exciting starting a new chapter of personal finance for myself and my wife.

» JohnNo Gravatar said: { Apr 25, 2012 - 03:04:40 }

One day, I’ll totally be there! You met some of the financial blogging greats! 😀

» Mr akers.No Gravatar said: { May 22, 2012 - 06:05:36 }

Are you in debts or want to invest? Emailus:[email protected]

» Derek @ Freeat33No Gravatar said: { Nov 8, 2012 - 04:11:05 }

Jesse – We didn’t meet while in Denver. It was a great city, with lot’s of great bloggers, having a great time. Catch you on the next big one!

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