SXSW is like Burning Man with Laptops and Bathrooms

I am attending SXSW for the first time this year. If you have never heard of SXSW, it is one of the largest film, music, and media conferences in the world. Held every year in March in Austin Texas, it’s been described as Burning Man with laptops and bathrooms. I am attending the interactive media segment, which lasts for five days. I am so excited to meet some of the business and social media bloggers, thought leaders, and best-selling technology authors I have been following for over eighteen months now. I am ecstatic to see and hear some of the key-note speakers like Ev Williams, CEO of Twitter. I feel like a kid riding my bike without my hands on the handle bar…HAPPY! For the last year and a half, I have immersed myself in social media, internet marketing, SEO, and learning online software tools, all for the purpose of growing my own company’s presence online. In my former life, I was an outside sales person. Today, I sit in front of a computer connecting with the online world. And, surprisingly I’ve realized that I have a knack for it. Perhaps that is why Hewlett Packard contacted me a few weeks ago and asked me to review their new HP iPAQ Glisten SmartPhone, which I am giving away on March 17th. Perhaps that is why  oftentimes, I have to peel myself away from my computer, even though I have been in front of it for 16 hours. I know it sounds obsessive and unhealthy. I am working on finding that balance. But, the point is that who would have thought a non-techy gal like me has found LOVE and PASSION for internet technology! I have transitioned from an off-line business model to an online business model and now I am going to meet the very people whose content and guidance I have used to help me make that transistion.

What is Your ROI Formula for Attending Conferences?

There are literally a gazillion conferences to choose from and obviously a small business owner cannot attend every single one. So, how does a small business owner choose the best conference for their specific needs? It starts with the ROI (Return on Investment). Simply put, the ROI is the amount of time, money, resources, opportunity costs, you put into attending the event (which is the investment). After you add up all those expenses, costs, etc., you then subtract it from your return or your gain.  Whatever amount is left is your ROI. Recently, I got into a fairly big discussion with my biz partner, Chuck on this very subject. He is the left-brain of our business and I am the right-brain. He wanted to tie the ROI of my time spent at SXSW to the sell of a product. I wanted to tie the ROI to the networking, relationship building, as well as the sell of a product. In other words, I should gain not only social equity from SXSW, but financial gain as well. In addition, that gain should be tied to a specific timeline. In a future post, I will give you specific examples of the ROI formula I used for attending SXSW.  In the meantime, here is my question for you. How do you measure your ROI when attending conferences?  I think it is hard to measure relationship building because you are not always sure how that relationship is going to evolve. The sell of a product or service is much easier to measure, but honestly, that’s never the main reason why I like to attend conferences. Everyone has their various reasons for attending a conference. Authors attend to promote their book. Speakers attend to gain more exposure. Companies attend to expand their brand.  Attendees attend to learn, network, and build prospective strategic alliances. What are your reasons and how do you justify your investment? Please leave your comments on my post! Thanks!

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