What Are You Investing in YOUR Business? SOBCon Comes to Colorado

SOBCon Colorado - Erika Napoletano speakingAdmittedly, I’m not a fan of conferences. I despise being surrounded by smarmy affiliate marketers and exhibit booth ants that want to give me stickers I’ll never put on anything except an arch enemy’s Mercedes. I hate feeling cheated because I forked out $X and honestly, felt like I should be on the panel instead of listening to it.

When you’re at a certain place in your business, the 101-level common conference fodder doesn’t cut it. Sometimes the 201 “next step” sessions are even a snore. While we all needed these at one point and I frequently teach them along with several of my colleagues, WE are looking for something to add extraordinary value to our respective businesses.

I was at an all-day conference last week up in Ft. Collins and during the closing session, they had us share our Likes, Improves and Favorites openly with the group. I said that they should price the conference higher, as I felt the information shared throughout the day was worth TEN TIMES the $15 or $25 I’d paid. And then a gal in the audience piped up that she’d paid $30 and that she had to really consider the investment she was making in her business at that price.

So I did The Redhead thing. I said if you have to consider $30 as an “investment-level decision,” then maybe you’re in the wrong business. And if you don’t have $30 to invest in your business, who the hell to you think is going to invest in you? Hey – I’m not saying piss money away willy-nilly, but anyone who considers themselves a business owner needs to stop thinking about the revenue and start thinking about the value.

Revenue will come.

Value is built. Earned. Layered. Instilled.

Value becomes the language you speak and the service you offer. If you don’t understand how to build value, a 101 level “How to Blog for Business” course is just going to leave you with more questions than answers.

Back in March, Shelly Kramer of v3IM told me I was going to SOBCon. Given I’ve been called worse than an SOB in my lifetime, I was still a bit hesitant as it was a “conference.” She asked me to trust her. She introduced me to Liz Strauss via Twitter. I happened upon Terry Starbucker’s blog. These were the organizers. They didn’t suck. FINE! I’ll go, you nag. SOB apparently stood for something like Small Online Business. Sonofa…who knew?

The weekend I spent in Chicago for SOBCon in April of this year was one of the best of my professional life (and it sure as hell beat my first honeymoon by a mile). And now Liz and Terry are bringing SOBCon to Colorado for a 1.25 day event.

I’m not going to try to sell you on the conference. YOU need to decide if you feel the $31 per hour price tag is a reasonable investment for your business. But here’s what you can expect to find when you walk into the room (and I’ll bet it’s different than any other “conference” you’ve attended):

  • There’s no one in the room that’s more important than anyone else
  • Speakers are designed to spark conversations, not be the Holy Gospel (heck – each panel of two only has 20 minutes!)
  • A community of business owners willing to SHARE
  • A pleasant lack of poopy penguins trying to shove their business card in your face
  • A significant lack of schwag – unless you consider a room full of people who are ready to help YOU move your business forward “schwag.” (For the record, I do.)
  • People ready to challenge you to stop screwing around and start clobbering obstacles like it’s a Whack-a-Mole game.

I’m speaking on a panel with John Cushman, CEO of Solany LLC (a Denver-based document management & scanning/consulting firm). There are people from all walks of like and every line of business imaginable. And frankly, I’d love to meet you. I left April’s annual 3-day SOBCon event with the following:

  • 3.2 million new contacts I was HAPPY to have in my Twitter stream
  • Three people with whom I currently do business
  • The understanding of where I want RedheadWriting LLC to go in the next year (and if you come to the conference, I’ll tell you about it – it’s not what you might think <insert Mission: Impossible theme here>)
  • Friends. I simply can’t have enough of them. I even met people I’d communicated with for TWO YEARS online in person 🙂
  • A new understanding of the alphabet thanks to Hank Wasiak (and if you don’t know this man, you should find a way to get that process moving).
  • Two guest bloggers who have appeared on Redhead Writing (the no-BS and beautiful Carol Roth and the Apple-addicted Doyle Albee).
  • And a boat load of things you’ll have to meet me to discover.

SOBCon isn’t about the “how to.”

It’s about the “how do YOU…”

It’s a dialogue – and I hope you’ll join us on September 17-18 here in Denver (OK – Broomfield, for the Boulder snobs who can’t bring themselves to drive to “Denver!”) It’s time for a business weigh-in.

10 comments
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mmangen
mmangen

Erika - if you tell me Shelly Kramer will be there and I can wrangle up a babysitter in a town where I only know two people, I'll be there!

Tammy Young
Tammy Young

I do try to attend webinars as often as possible. HubSpot has definitely been my go to, as of late, and I've been wrangling as many coworkers into attending as possible. (Adding insult to injury, we can't attend about half of the non-Hubspot webinars because of our firewall/security settings). You're absolutely right about Top 5 Needs for future employment!

The Redhead
The Redhead

Have you thought about exploring some of the great webinar series out there like those put out by HubSpot? Great info, top-notch speakers...and FREE. I try to attend every one they have. (www.hubspot.com)When you're in the midst of a corporate mindset that doesn't believe in getting their employees in a better place for even the company's benefit, yeah, that's a tough pill to swallow. If you ever consider changing positions, you've got a Top 5 Need for your next career home! LET ME LEARN! (and foot the bill)

Tammy Young
Tammy Young

I do think $249 is reasonable for a conference, particularly if it's local for the attendee. However, I would have a difficult time convincing my employer to foot the bill (and I work at a company of 4000+ employees). If it's over $100 or out of state, it's off the table. Seriously, the high point of my year was finding out Social DevCamp Chicago was only $30 (and I still had to wrangle somewhat because it's out of state). I spend far too much time coming up with creative work-arounds. I work in the innovation area and end up feeling behind the curve half the time simply because I have the conference/webinar/continuing ed attendance restrictions that I do. It's stifling for networking opportunities, business development, personal development, and creativity.

The Redhead
The Redhead

Cate - looking forward to spending more time with you! We barely got a fly-by in Chicago!

The Redhead
The Redhead

You think that a $249 price tag is cost prohibitive? Honestly? That makes me wonder what companies ARE spending money on. I have to say that, as a business owner, I don't get it. I'd love to hear what you feel a reasonable cost would be to share a room with up to 100 other people who are there to make your business better. And BTW, this isn't meant to be a contentious comment - I honestly want to know what you think.

Tammy Young
Tammy Young

I understand your perspective about the business investment but it's just not a realistic option for everyone. Whether you consult or work for a company with particularly tight purse strings, it can be exceedingly frustrating to be completely locked out of 98% of the conference experiences because of the associated costs. I would rather see conferences strive to have a fair, but reasonably accessible price point than for them to continue to be a privilege of only those who can afford the often tremendously steep price tags. Right now, conferences are too often hosting only the participants who can afford to have their voices heard. I have a problem with that.

Cate.TV
Cate.TV

Awesome post Erika! - sending RT to some folks who will so relate to what you said in the way you said it! - looking forward to getting to know you a little more during #RockyMountain High #SOBcon Colorado - even if it's just #DancingInTheDark :) http://www.twitvid.com/UGSEJ

Dawn Barnhart
Dawn Barnhart

Freaking bummer - I fly out for a week of work in Boston on that Saturday. Sounds like it would be right up my alley!

Doyle Albee
Doyle Albee

Great wrap-up of what I've found to be a great experience. I've been to a couple of Chicago SOBCons and am very much looking forward to the Mile High version. Like you, I'm planning on spending time with people I know to be smart and challenging, as well as meeting some new ones to add to that list.

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