Conferences – Spend your ticketmoney on building your own

There are some amazing conferences that are on around Ireland, the UK, europe, the rest of the world and some of them have some amazing prices too. Le Web this year in Paris is €1,495.00 – €1,794.00 depending on how early you register. The O’Reilly Web 2.0 moneyfest in Berlin was a few grand too. Even in Ireland you see conferences ranging from €250 to over a grand for a day or two-day event. That’s a lot of dough these days to pay to be lectured to isn’t it?

I do often wonder for the specialised but expensive conferences whether you’d be better off just hosting your own day-long event in Ireland without having to fly in the big names or the big guns. They’re certainly great to see and draw a crowd but when some charge from 10k to 100k for a speaking gig, it’s no wonder that the cost of a ticket to some conferences can be up to 3k per person.

And then these big guns don’t mix. They hide out the night before in their hotel room, maybe talk to the others presenting and then are probably protected from the mad crowds during the event. It all seems very mercenary.

Wouldn’t it be great to see some expert talk and give them live feedback? Not by one of those boring “backchannels” things but by someone putting up their hand and saying something. Not that it’d be allowed in a large conference. The speaker (not converser) is there to make a few points without engaging, ta very much. I’m not talking about Barcamps but a model like that. Highly targeted speakers and audience members and small too so that information circulates, not just flows from the powerpoint to the scribble pad of someone in the audience.

Second International Conference on Dengue and Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever
Photo owned by molecularck (cc)

I guess it’s the “brown bagger” model in American companies where people to lunchtime training modules while everyone eats food supplied by work.

It’s ironic that many of us network better at big and international conferences yet there is so much shared knowledge in our own island and so many people we should be meeting and talking to who are only a few miles or event a few feet away from us. A strong local base is probably good for individuals and companies alike. That’s why those old school business networks like BNI do well, because they have the basics right. The delivery is probably all over the shop though and silly rules like having to give business to the person in your chapter is bad for you and them. Your rep and their weak business, if that’s the case. Focused conferences where everyone going brings something with them and contributes would be of extreme value I should think.

Think of it. You’re at a conference and some flown-in expert says something and you think “excellent, didn’t know that” and then they say something else and you think “D’uh, heard that ages ago” or you might actually be ahead of where they are. Now imagine everyone else in the room are like you. Does the room need the person at the front in this case?

Heading to the keynotes
Photo owned by DBegley (cc)

Renting a room for a day costs anywhere from 500 euros to 2000 euros and charging people a modest sum to go would cover all costs. In fact there’s probably a business in “buying” off-the-shelf conference packages from hotels for a standard fee. Ciara too has a guide on running a conference on a shoestring.

What conference would you want to have for your specialist area, do you think you can run it? I bet you can.

9 Responses to “Conferences – Spend your ticketmoney on building your own”

  1. Damien,

    I think you are basically right. The only thing is that if you aren’t bringing in some thinking from outside of the usual circle of PLU’s (people like us) the conference doesn’t have enough difference from everyday life. Also, you need somebody to stir things up and show a different way. That’s the whole point of broadening your mind.

  2. Ciara Feely says:

    Hi Damien,

    Great food for thought and of course I am available to find the perfect venue for all of these conferences….

    But I have to pull you up on the BNI comment – no one “has to” bring business to a fellow BNI member. It is up to each individual to build the trust of each member so that they will open up their contacts to each member. That takes time and trust and a lot of givers gain… if you are committed to helping a fellow member find business then they will be a lot more committed to finding business for you.

    I am going to do a post next on “finding business at conferences” at the BNI event I attended last week I got 2 leads for conferences and I got an introduction to a target client – I am half way in the door there and I was knocking for a while by myself!

    All the best. Ciara Feely

  3. Damien says:

    @Ciara That’s interesting, I had thought it was a requirement for BNIs that you *had* to recommend the services of a fellow chapter member and couldn’t give business to a competitor. That’s much more open than the impression I had of them, which is great, I prefer that model.

  4. Ciara Feely says:

    You refer your fellow members if you know and trust their service/product etc. It is up to you to gain that trust and work your network to be your extended sales force. If relationships are built in the correct way, then the referrals will come. But if you never refer any BNI colleagues and they are refered and trusted by other members of BNI then yes, there would be questions asked as to why as they aren’t contributing to the group. – this is the official explanation.

  5. An arrangement with other businesses requiring you to recommend their services or preventing you from recommending the services of people outside the ‘circle’ would probably be illegal. I am not talking about BNI at all, but every so often, the rules of trade and business associations stray into a very bad place.

  6. Mike says:

    You read my mind Damien

    I think Barcamp is and excellent idea especially in terms of exchange of ideas.
    Ultimetly I aim to set up a confrence on Business & Video Blogging

  7. Trevor Cullen says:

    Hi Damien,

    Ciara is correct in that BNI has no expectation on its members to recommend one another. It may be in your interest to do so in building up a trusted network but this Island is too small to put your own reputation on the line for anyone that you cannot stand over.
    I work with BNI myself growing and supporting Chapters within the North East region and would welcome you along to any of our Chapters. These are interesting times and networking effectively will generate more business than attending a conference without having really done your homework in terms of who you want to talk to.

    Best Rgds,

  8. Larry says:

    Host it online – cut out the crap.
    Much cheaper.
    Hugely successful conference – – done just this over the weekend.

  9. […] wrote a post over five years ago suggesting people put on their own conferences. As conferences and events get bigger, they end up putting off an awful lot of people who would […]