In mid-January, I published a fairly long blog post summarizing the results of attending the New Media Expo January 6-8 in Las Vegas.
The New Media Expo, formerly known as Blogworld, is a conference for “new media” types – i.e. podcasters, bloggers, web video producers, etc., as opposed to the New York Times or NBC (otherwise known as “old media,” although they probably wouldn’t be too fond of the term.)
In case you didn’t read it, my last review basically said that I had a blast and I had met a ton of interesting people. And that I wanted to go back next year.
But I also said that what I really wanted to know was would the conference be worth my while in the long term? In other words, would the conference make sense from a financial perspective in addition to a personal perspective?
I’m a strong believer in tracking the time and money you spend on your business so you know (a) if you obtain any results, and (b) whether it’s worth continuing to spend time and money on particular efforts, such as conferences or advertising or networking groups.
Personal gratification is great, but we don’t take on the many inherent risks of entrepreneurship unless there are financial rewards as well.
My hunch was that attending NMX would be a wise investment that would pay off in spades, but I didn’t know if that would be true when I boarded my Southwest flight to McCarran airport in Las Vegas.
Since that time, I have been very curious how much business benefit or “payoff” I could actually directly trace back to my attending the conference.
Recently, I sat down to write down all the “benefit” I got out of the conference. I highly encourage you to do the same thing for any conference you attend regularly. You can also do it for other efforts such as networking gatherings you attend regularly.
Before I get to the five ways I benefited from NMX, here is the system I use for tracking money and time I devote to my business:
How I Track Marketing Efforts
I actually track all new business that comes to me. I do this for two reasons. First, you should be thanking anyone who refers business to you, by at least sending that person an email.
There have been other professionals who I’ve referred business to but who never acknowledge the referral with so much as an email. I have to say it makes me think twice about whether I should be referring new business their way. It sounds shallow, but it’s true.
Secondly, over time, you can see trends and patterns which might not ordinarily be evident. You may notice that you’ve gotten 3 or 4 good referrals from someone over the past 3 or 4 months.
This information tells you where you should focus your efforts. For me, it tells me I should probably do something special to thank them, like take them out to lunch or send that person a gift basket.
I track all this information using a spreadsheet saved in my Google Drive (formerly ‘Google Docs’) which I title “Conversations list.” On that spread sheet, I have categories such as “Name” (of the new client/customer), “Referral Source” (i.e. how they heard about me), Date Contacted, Email Address, Date by which I will take the next action, what the next action is, and any miscellaneous notes.
In the “Date by which I will take the next action” column, I put down a date I will follow up, and in the “Next action” column, I document how I will follow up (i.e. email, phone call, etc.).
I do not use these columns for timely matters, which I actually put on my calendar.
You can also use a Microsoft Excel file to track all this information. I have mine saved on Google Drive because I want to be able to access it from any computer.
Here’s what it looks like:
The important point is to not make it too complicated, or else you won’t do it. If you have an assistant working for you, you could delegate this job to them.
If you are religious about following this format, you’ll identify great opportunities for your business.
Now, here are the five ways in which I benefited from going to Las Vegas.
How I Benefited From Attending NMX
1. I Made Numerous Great Connections
The greatest value was in the people who I met. As I wrote in my prior review, I met a great number of impressive entrepreneurs with a wide variety of backgrounds.
I won’t name them all here, as I already mentioned many of them in my last review. But I do believe my relationships with those who I met in person at the conference are far stronger than relationships I have with people who I’ve not met face to face.
And I know those people I met at the conference can’t pull a Manti Te’o on me.
I can’t say I have gotten any one particular client in the past two months who came directly because of someone I met at NMX, but I have been referred by people I met at NMX a number of times already.
I’m sure it is only a matter of time before I do get a client who came directly as a result of the conference, in which case the entire trip will have been worthwhile, even without looking at all the other benefits.
2. I Have Been Interviewed Multiple Times
Within a month of attending NMX, I was interviewed three times – once for a podcast about what it was like working at the White House, once for a radio show and podcast on the topic of “mistakes entrepreneurs make,” and one interview for an innovative iPad-only magazine. I have other interviews lined up as well.
I was very excited about these interviews because I love talking about how entrepreneurs can set up proper systems so they can focus on growth and skip easily-avoided (and costly) mistakes.
Here are the three I have done so far:
Inspiring Innovation: The Entrepreneur Kickstart magazine
Meron Bareket, Founder and Editor
You can access the magazine for downloading on your iPad here.
KDRT-FM Radio (Davis, CA)
Interviewed by Koren Motekaitis about Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make
Over 6+ years of hosting her show, Koren has interviewed a tremendous number of very impressive leaders, speakers and authors, including Michael Gerber, Dan Pink and Guy Kawasaki.
Personally, it was a big thrill to see my picture and name right next to Dan Pink’s on the How She Really Does It website (Dan is appearing on the show a few weeks after me). You can see the screenshot from Koren’s website to the right.
Communication Diva podcast
Host Jennifer Swanson
Topic: Speechwriting and working in the White House
3. I Joined a New Mastermind Group
A few days after the conference, I got an email from JV Crum, who I had met at the conference. JV wanted to see if I wanted to put together a mastermind group.
Here’s a defintion of a Mastermind Group from The Success Alliance:
Mastermind groups offer a combination of brainstorming, education, peer accountability and support in a group setting to sharpen your business and personal skills. A mastermind group helps you and your mastermind group members achieve success. Participants challenge each other to set important goals, and more importantly, to accomplish them. The group requires commitment, confidentiality, willingness to be creative and brainstorm ideas/solutions, and support each other with total honesty, respect and compassion. Mastermind group members act as catalysts for growth, devil’s advocates and supportive colleagues. This is the essence and value of mastermind groups.
JV and I put the wheels in motion and put together a great mastermind group. We’ve met twice already and will meet monthly in the future.
I can’t talk about it too much because we’ve all pinky-sworn a privacy oath, but I can reveal who is in our group. The group includes:
- JV Crum III, The Conscious Millionaire: JV made a fortune by turning around his family business, and now he’s a coach and business advisor who teaches others how to make a fortune and a difference. He’s a whirling dervish of energy. He’s also releasing a book later this spring called The Conscious Millionaire which will cover his philosophy on how entrepreneurs can maximize their profits while also focusing on creating a greater good.
- Antonio Centeno, Founder of A Tailored Suit and Real Men Real Style: I really got along well with Antonio, who has a fairly typical story: former Marine turned business school grad turned style expert who lives in rural Wisconsin. His incredibly popular blog teaches men how to dress sharp.
- Ken Canion: Ken has been a professional speaker for 15 years and was a contestant on The Biggest Loser. He is working on moving some of his coaching and training online.
- Ryan Masters: SEO Consultant and Founder of The Workout Corner. Ryan is awesome, not just because he’s a Redskins fan or because he has abs that would make Ryan Gosling jealous, but because he turned his failing family furniture business around using new marketing techniques. Having recently sold that, he’s rapidly expanding his online fitness training services.
I love being in a mastermind group. I love the collaboration and mutual support.
One of the coolest parts about being in the group is we’ve actually all helped one another in many different ways. I helped Antonio with getting testimonials onto an ebook he offers – something he wanted to do for more than a year but hadn’t gotten around to.
And in return, Antonio had a member of his team make some improvements to the back end of Business Profit Academy – something I’d been wanting & needing to do for about 7 months, but I hadn’t gotten around to. In both cases, it was easier for us to do the thing the other person needed to do most.
4. I Have Gotten Great Interview Guests for my Podcast
- Bestselling author Guy Kawasaki, who had been one of the NMX keynote speakers. He agreed to an interview, which I did earlier this month. Watch out for that interview on my podcast soon.
- Hollis Carter & Jonny Andrews of Velocity House Publishing Partners. I didn’t meet them at NMX but I did meet Hollis a week later because I had met Andy Drish at NMX, who introduced me.
- Dorie Clark, author of the forthcoming Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future. I met Dorie at NMX, although we had actually met once ten years earlier as we both previously worked in politics.
There are many more people who I met at NMX who I hope to interview over the next few months.
5. I Am Helping Others Succeed, and They Are Helping Me
“It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.”
— Gore Vidal
One of the things I was so impressed about at NMX was the spirit of “mutual success.” Everyone wanted everyone else to succeed.
As a lawyer, one of the most rewarding aspects of the job, above all else, is the feeling of gratification when I help someone or a business in some way, and they are grateful. It’s the best feeling in the world.
That’s why I loved the spirit of cooperation at NMX.
Here’s a perfect example of that spirit in action: One of the people I met was podcaster extraordinaire Cliff Ravenscraft of GSPN.TV.
Without Cliff’s guidance, I could not have gotten my podcast up and running last year. Cliff also put on a fantastic presentation at NMX about how to be a great podcaster.
Cliff is organizing a four-day GSPN Community cruise in June on the Disney cruise line. If my son weren’t just 2 ½, I would take my family.
If you are interested in podcasting, I highly recommend you check it out. It’s a great opportunity to join like minded individuals while having a relaxing vacation.
If I hadn’t met Cliff at NMX, would I be telling you about his cruise? Probably not. If I need help in the future, will Cliff help me out?
Well, he’s a busy guy and he lives in Kentucky, so he’s probably not going to show up on my doorstep to help me move a couch on the weekend. But I’m sure he’d help out in some way if I needed something not quite so exhausting.
As you can see, a lot has happened as a result of my trip to Las Vegas. While it hasn’t resulted in major dollars in the door yet, I recognize that for me, 2013 is about meeting more people and building a network. In that regard, NMX was a hit.