Almost a month ago I wrote a post on the importance of investing in yourself for optimal success in life. In the post I listed eight ways to invest in yourself today for a bright future, and one of the eight things I listed was networking. Everywhere you go, you should take the opportunity to network, especially by attending conferences. This is one of the easiest places to share ideas with others alike, gain new ideas and most importantly enjoy the comfort of being in a place with others who are in the same boat as you.
We all know that blogging, writing or any career for that matter becomes dull after sometimes. Repetition gets the better of us, and every so often we need a jolt of inspiration to get us going again. In my opinion conferences are a perfect way to gain some fresh ideas, soak in the energy and get inspired again.
To be quite honest with you, I organize, prepare, travel and attend about 12 trade shows for work annually, so I already attend my fair share of shows, networking events, and conferences. Last year was the first time I attended a conference pertaining to blogging and invested in my blog (and my self for that matter) by attending FINCON11. It was an event first of it’s kind for the personal finance blogging community, and it was nothing short of exciting, energetic, fun, and educational. If you’re interested, here’s my FINCON11 trip recap.
Recently I attended my second conference pertaining to personal finance and blogging called CPFC12 – which also happened to be in my hometown of Toronto. It would have been foolish for me to miss such an event in my own backyard. So, I attended and it was a total success. I learned a few things, observed a lot, discussed some things, networked and met some bloggers face to face for the first time.
Here’s my review of CPFC12, a little comparison, the importance of investing in your self and your blog, and some funny observations I was able to conclude while at the conference.
FINCON vs CPFC
FINCON as a conference is pretty amazing and very well organized. I have to give credit where it’s due, and Philip does a great job putting FINCON together. Even though I didn’t attend the 2012 edition, I heard a lot of great things about this year’s event and how the attendance doubled from last year. Talk about being successful! Putting on a 3 day conference for 400 people is not an easy feat, especially when the majority of the attendees are opinionated bloggers. No matter what, it’s hard to keep everyone happy. Last year’s FINCON event was successful as well in it’s own way, and was a solid way to meet new people, mingle and make friends in real life that you’ve been conversing with online for months and sometimes years. More importantly there were ample opportunities to learn from other more seasoned blogging veterans who’ve been in the game for a while, and I can’t argue the fact that all the events were solid learning experiences. I’m proud to say that I walked away from FINCON11 with a fresh mindset, more hunger and most importantly mentally recharged.
Fast forward to 2012.
The announcement for FINCON12 came out, and despite it being much further away than I had hoped, I still made plans to go. However, to make a long story short, I didn’t end up going for two reasons. First off work got in the way and secondly when I added it all up, I chose to spend a week in sunny DR instead of spending roughly the same money to go to a conference. We all got priorities, and I’m certain that if you were in my shoes – your ultimate decision would be the same as mine.
So, now that you know why I didn’t go to FINCON, I would like to take a few minutes and comment on FINCON as a whole. As great of an an event as FINCON truly is, there a few things I’d do differently. First off I’d like the option to attend more seasoned tutorials. Not everybody is a beginner, some are more advanced than others, so why sit through a session on how to setup a blog? Setting up a blog is something that I don’t care for, and something I gladly pay someone else who does care to setup for me.
Secondly, I wish the event wasn’t so heavily focused on blogging as a business. Even though I treat my blog as a business, I really don’t need to know what I can treat as expenses. That’s what accountants are for, and if you have a good accountant, he or she will happily identify your expenses for you. Furthermore, not everybody’s blog is setup as a business, and 90% of bloggers have careers outside of their blog and not everybody has the time of the day to dedicate to blogging. So, instead they blog for fun and because they enjoy sharing their opinion. Finally, tax laws in the US vs. Canada are drastically different, so the whole blog business talk doesn’t do much for me.
Instead I’d like to learn how to become a better writer, PERSONAL FINANCE, create interesting and engaging post titles and possibly how to engage the readers to keep their interest afloat. Call me whatever you want, but we’re all entitled to our own opinion!
CPFC is the Canadian version of FINCON and is a much smaller event as a whole. I however highly doubt that it will stay small next year. The event was more than successful, and the interest for next year’s conference was quite high at the end of this year’s conference. Since I was gravely ill, I only managed to attend the conference on Saturday, but got the inside scoop from my buddy Krystal, who also happens to be one of the event’s organizers. It’s no secret that compared to our American counterparts, the Canadian personal finance community is quite a bit smaller, so no wonder that the event was smaller. That being said though, CPFC was much more cozy and had that whole “at home” feeling.
Generally it was much more laid back and compared to FINCON the flow was much simpler. This benefited the speakers and the audience as well, because each presentation turned into a small open debate rather than a serious presentation. The event also featured many great names from the Canadian personal finance media world, and my favorite part about was that everyone was laid back. Nobody thought that they were bigger or greater than anyone else, and it amazed me how many of the iconic Canadian media faces knew about blogs like Finance Fox. I’m not going to lie, but if felt good when a seasoned veteran compliments your blog during a conversation.
The event featured roughly 100 faces consisting of media, bloggers, and sponsors and in the end there was only one session that focused on the monetization for blogging. The rest of the sessions truly focused on personal finance as a primary theme. And I enjoyed that. How often do we get to sit in a room of professionals and talk personal finance? So, no doubt it was nice.
By the way, there was a lot of tweeting that went on leading up to the conference, during and after, so Stephen from Saving From Scratch was nice enough to put together a timeline of all the tweets from the conference, before and after. Check it out!!
Friends & Networking
My favorite part of blogging conferences is connecting with old friends, networking and meeting new friends.I’ve only been in the blogosphere for two years now, and I’ve known some of these financial bloggers for nearly that long, and others I’ve connected with more recently. Either way I’ve been able to develop deeper relationships with certain bloggers outside of blogging – sort of on a more deeper personal level. While with other bloggers it’s been nothing more than a business relationship – something that I’m totally fine with as well.
I landed back in Toronto on Friday at 2am from my trip down south, and by 930am I was sitting at the Doctor’s office waiting to be called in. A few hours later, I drove into Toronto’s downtown core and had lunch with Krystal (GMBMFB). We caught up about her time in Germany, the preparation for the conference, blogging, and other opportunities on the horizon for both of us. I suppose you can say that this has become an annual thing with her, because we had a great dinner and conversation in Chicago at FINCON11. After our lunch, we took a short walk down to the Ivey ING Direct Leadership Center where we met up with Preet. This was my first time meeting him, but he was exactly how he sounds on his blog Where Does All My Money Go (even though he hasn’t written in over a month), and looks on TV – easygoing, well dressed, outgoing, and very down to earth. We hung around the center for a little while putting together name badges. Eventually we parted ways with Preet, while me and Krystal headed back where we came from at which time we parted ways, and I headed home. The downer out of all this was it took me 90 minutes to get home (typically 15min), but that’s downtown Toronto traffic for you at rush hour.
Later that night the CPFC social was happening. I had planned to attend, but didn’t make it. My nap got the better of me, and I was still getting over my flu, so I passed on the event. Next year though, I promise!
Eventually Saturday morning rolled around, and I was the first to arrive at the conference. There I was greeted by Krytal, and Preet joined us a short time later as attendees slowly started to pile in while I was stuffing my face to a pretty luxurious breakfast. OK! I’ll admit it, the breakfast was delicious! Finally the conference start rolled around, and everyone piled in slowly. Glen Cooke threw a very informative and fun presentation on Life Insurance. Adam Mayers (editor of the Moneyville blog) threw a straightforward non BS approach on writing as a whole and the future of MoneyVille. Some were shocked by his straight-up approach, but having met him in Chicago almost a year ago it was no surprise to me.
All presentations were great, but the presentation that stood out for me was Kerry Taylor’s of Squawakfox called; How to get millions of people to read your blog. I enjoyed her sense of humour, and was glad to see the operation of her blog behind the scenes. And by no surprise, it’s no wonder she’s quite successful.
Rather than dragging this on, I’ll conclude with a few quick shutouts. Stephen from Saving From Scratch was a cool dude, and had a great conversation with him. He also lives in Toronto, so I’m certain we’ll be having beers sometime in the near future. I also had an awesome conversation during lunch with Dan Bortolotti about personal finance and blogging, he also just happens to be the author of nine books and the owner of one of the most recognized Canadian investing blogs called Canadian Couch Potato. Mark, who’s the owner of My Own Advisor is one cool dude. Steve from Grocery Alerts Canada sat one row below me, and we had an opportunity to catch up over the break. He also threw a bomb conversation, even though I missed it, but got the full review from someone.
I enjoyed the conference, and glad I attended the conference, even if it was for a short time. Truly, I’m looking forward towards next year, as I’m certain that 2013 edition of CPFC will be even bigger and better than this year’s edition.
Side Notes & Personal Observations
- Some bloggers are exactly in person as they are on their blogs, others not so much.
- For the most part, everyone is easygoing and outgoing. This makes it easier to approach and be approached.
- Know your shit – I sorta embarrassed my self when I thought someone was from a certain province/city, and they ended up being totally from elsewhere. Talk about an embarrassing moment.
- Media icons are human and have daytime jobs, homes and responsibilities. Not sure why some bloggers get shy to walk up and say Hi.
- Even introverts can benefit from conferences such as CPFC. It’s smaller, more intimate, and easier to socialize. You’re not just a number.
- Being at an all Canadian conference, I was certainly able to relate more to other bloggers and personal finance as a whole.
- I’m going to go out on a limb and say this……..Canadians are much warmer than our American counter parts. Just a general observation. Please don’t shoot me now!! :) I know not everyone is the same! :)