As we were putting the finishing touches on our most recent annual conference, we were already working on how we’d evaluate our work. At the heart of this endeavor is figuring out how to provide consistent value to those who invest in attending.
We don’t take this task lightly. We rely on the expertise of every XY Planning Network team member, connections in the industry, our own member community and beyond to ensure we’re providing a quality experience.
We eagerly anticipate conference feedback, typically delivered in the form of a questionnaire distributed to attendees. We’re equally interested to hear what resonated and what didn’t. Feedback is critical to our planning for the next event, XYPN LIVE 2018.
This year, we were humbled by the comments shared with us. The 2017 conference received high marks across the board, but one trend really stood out.
Read the feedback below to spot the common theme (all commenters consented to publishing their remarks):
- "Fantastic conference! Really felt like I found my tribe.” - Steve N.
- “I am less overwhelmed than before XYPN17 and I’m amazed to find like-minded people with similar interests as me in even the most niche ways.” - Julia G.
- “I loved the conference. What I loved most about it was really the connection with fellow members.” - Tommy M.
- "The energy level I have coming back into my practice is much higher than when I left. It is great to be around like-minded professionals. I am looking forward to next year already.” - Justin W.
- "Networking was the best part. Really enjoyed meeting other advisers who have walked in my shoes already,” - David B.
- “The best industry conference I've ever been to, honestly. I really like how you created opportunities to meet the other attendees.” - Ross M.
- "Networking events and opportunities were top-notch. Everyone was so welcoming and friendly. It made a big difference!" - Tim H.
Yes! A majority of attendees who responded to the exit survey expressed how much they valued the opportunity to connect with like-minded professionals.
In fact, “connecting with peers” was the benefit cited most often and it wasn’t even close. It makes sense. For solopreneurs, a week of camaraderie can be game-changing.
Our very own Maddy Roche wrote about this before the conference in her blog, “The Hidden Potential of Attending XYPN LIVE.” Maddy was spot on (as usual) mostly because the 2017 conference was not her first rodeo. As the first XY Planning Network employee, she’s witnessed inspiring connections within our community over and over.
Maddy writes, “One of the most unique and powerful qualities of our XYPN community is that it drives itself on collaboration, not competition. Whether it’s within the member forums or on the VIP Community Facebook page, you’ll experience an unfamiliar level of comfort when interacting with the members of our movement, and there’s no better place to experience that than our national conference.” She continues, “Why? Because the power of human capital is endless.”
We aim to make that power accessible. As we build out our agenda for XYPN LIVE 2018, we’re tasked with balancing robust educational content with ample opportunity to simply connect. We structure networking opportunities in a variety of formats because not everyone loves working a room full of strangers.
On that note, our Executive Business Coach, Arlene Moss, wrote an excellent blog, 5 Easy Tips for Networking for Introverts. If you’ve had the good fortune to meet Arlene or participate in her coaching program, you are probably scratching your head wondering what she could possibly know about being an introvert. Regardless, her advice is legit: “You wouldn't put diesel in a gasoline engine; don’t put extrovert fuel in your introvert engine!” Arlene breaks it down and offers practical guidance so even the most introverted among us can reap the benefits of networking events.
We have a number of tricks up our sleeves to break the ice at our conferences. Cocktail receptions not your thing? Try a roundtable discussion. We have time set aside for study group meet-ups, small group coaching sessions, and more. However, the best opportunities are often not found on the agenda. “Don’t ignore the power of a simple handshake or a quick shoulder bump in line for some breakfast pastries,” reminds Maddy.
I recently attended a marketing conference with over 30,000 attendees. I was in it for the education and I was traveling alone. Before the event, it crossed my mind that I might go days without speaking to another living soul. What I didn’t anticipate: lines. With 30,000 attendees, there were a lot of lines. Every time I had to wait for a shuttle, a meal, or admission, I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with the people in line next to me. I got many takeaways simply from hearing how others approach their marketing roles.
Although we do our best to move things along efficiently at our conferences, perhaps an occasional bottleneck isn’t a bad idea! If you find yourself waiting in line for something at XYPN LIVE, consider it an opportunity.
“The line for the restroom was invaluable! Well played, XYPN!” – You, September 2018
About Jennifer Mastrud
Jennifer Mastrud is tasked with sharing the movement at XYPN. Her expertise is in branding, marketing, and public relations. She’s as passionate about the XYPN message as she is about innovating new ways to share it.
Before joining XYPN, Jen accumulated several years of experience representing national brands in diverse sectors including technology, gaming, TV, and education. She’s based in Minnesota, but travels frequently to warm up.