We’ve attended plenty of conferences. And with Xerocon coming up, we’re sharing tips from our team on getting the best out of the event. It’s a big investment to attend a conference like Xerocon, so a little bit of preparation can give you a better return —make more connections, get more involved and access more learning opportunities—without getting run off your feet.
Get in the networking mindset
Have you ever left a conference wishing you’d met more people? Perhaps thinking “this was great, but I really wish I met X.” If you’re on the introverted side, you’d probably rather fold a king-size fitted sheet than meet people at conferences. Networking events make it easier to mingle, as everyone is in the same boat. A good technique is to identify your top three ‘must meet’ people that you CANNOT leave Xerocon without meeting. Imagine your life is riding on you meeting these three people and force yourself to approach them. And do it on day one. Like that time Homer Simpson missed out on seeing Mr T at the mall, don’t put it off. It’s a total downer to realise on day two that your hero only attended the first day and has already left the event. Once you’ve ticked off your three must meets, you can spend the rest of the conference relaxing knowing you’ve hit your targets.
Look after yourself
If you’re typically as active as a three-toed sloth, it can be quite a surprise to your system to be on your feet all day. Comfort is key. You’ll need these items:
Coffee: come see us at the AccountKit stand for a free reusable coffee cup
Water: set your phone alarm to remind yourself to stay hydrated and use the free Xero drink bottle usually provided in your delegate pack
Sleep and silence: get a good snooze the night before. Try meditating with Headspace for a calm moment in the mornings.
Shoes: flat, comfortable shoes are essential
Clothes: layers - this is Melbourne and the weather can change faster than you can do bank recs in Xero. So be prepared to rug up or cool down throughout the day.
Explore the gastronomic delights of Melbourne and travel like a local
Skip the drive in and do the Melbourne thing —get your tram on. You can find your nearest Myki outlets here. Once you have a Myki, you can easily top it up online before you go exploring.
This is a town that takes its cafe culture seriously. So even if you’re a local, take time to enjoy the scene. In the CBD, check out Degraves Street for street-style lunch spots or snap a selfie with the famous Hosier Lane graffiti. Check out Movida while you’re there for delicious tapas.
Hosier Lane Image Via City of Melbourne
South of the river (and not far from Xerocon at the MCEC), try St Ali, one of our personal favourites and a self described “temple to sublime coffee.” There’s great pizza at Stella Deluxe Port Melbourne or try the Left Handed Chef for Instagram-worthy breakfast or lunch dishes. Want more foodie inspiration? Check out The Baroness of Melbourne on Instagram for a range of local restaurant recommendations.
Maximise your attendance with extra events
There are plenty of supporting events surrounding the conference that you won’t want to miss. Spend time the week prior looking through the schedule and choosing what you’d like to attend. Blatant plug: our Accounting Practice Intelligence (#APIntel) session is a pre-Xerocon event, jointly run with our friends at Business Continuum and SuiteFiles. It teaches you how to get the most out of Xero Practice Manager data to help make your practice more profitable. Or check out the pre-event drinks hosted by Practice Ignition. Whatever range of events you choose, preparing your schedule in advance will make sure you don’t miss any important networking or learning events.
Spend time debriefing and planning afterwards
Leaving an event like Xerocon can be an overwhelm. You’ve met great innovators, you’re bustling with ideas for your practice and you can’t wait to get started. How do you harness that post event buzz into tangible action? Allocate time during the week after Xerocon to create a plan. Go through your notes again (how many times have you vowed to read over conference notes later, only to never touch them again?) and ruthlessly analyse the ideas to see if they measure up in the cold light of day. Identify your top three action points and bin the rest. Go through the contacts you exchanged details with and write personalised follow up emails, so the connections you made can become genuine contacts.
More quick and dirty conference tips:
Dress loud with a bright tie, shoes or shirt to stand out amongst the crowds of suits and help others remember you. Sally Hams from Balance Books nailed this in 2015 and 2016—we can’t wait to see what she wears this year.
Set up your email out of office reply, specifying that you’re at Xerocon and ask people to catch up with you there, if they’re attending too.
Pack your charger, band-aids and breath mints.
Register early to avoid queues.
Similarly, attend networking events early if you’re shy. It’s harder to break into established conversations if you’re arriving late.
Get Social. Use the #Xerocon hashtag, follow those you meet on social, share any interesting event-related posts and get amongst it to ensure you make the most of the networking opportunity Xerocon offers.
After the event, write a blog about the key takeaways from Xerocon and link back to the connections you’ve made. Most accounting firms are looking for blog post ideas so this is an easy win.