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You’ve been thinking about going to conferences. You’ve heard people talk about these great events with awesome speaks and wonderful people.
You want to experience a conference but you’re just too shy. You don’t consider yourself a people person or at least, it’s exhausting to have to be ON for long periods of time.
You’re not alone.
I mean, chances are you probably ARE alone if you’re an introvert, but I’m speaking figuratively. All joking aside though, we made this episode especially for you.
I am the most introverted of the introverted. You wouldn’t know it. I used to stand behind the door for the entirety of class as a 6-year-old. I was deathly afraid of conferences and meetups.
Now, not only do I go to conferences and regularly speak at them, but I’m putting on my own conference at seanwes.com/conference!
This is crazy. What made the difference? What got me from there the here? In this episode, we dedicate it entirely to answering your questions about going to conferences. I guarantee the hesitations you have will be alleviated.
Highlights, Takeaways, Quick Wins
- Think of conferences as bringing a bunch of people together to accelerate the serendipity of meeting someone awesome.
- The goal of a conference is to make a meaningful connection with one or a few people. It’s not about meeting every single person.
- At a conference, you’re expending energy but you aren’t throwing it away—it’s an investment.
- No conversation is useless.
- If the person you’re talking to isn’t challenging you, challenge them.
- Listening to people and make them feel heard. Listening shows you care. When you show you care, they’ll also care about you and whatever you do.
- Get outside of your comfort zone. It’s worth it if it allows you to start a conversation and make a connection with someone.
- After conferences or events, don’t forget to schedule recharge time!
- 04:13 Sean: There are going to be plenty of things for extroverts to take away from this, but introverts especially struggle with this, so I want to speak to that.
- 10:14 Why in the world would I go to a conference? For some of us, it’s scary enough talking to the guy at the carwash. Why would be put ourself in such a terrible situation where we would have to talk to multiple people?
- 10:50 Ben: I’m more of an extrovert, so going to conferences and doing things like that doesn’t create the same kind of anxiety in me that it does in an introvert. I would need to hear a little bit more from some introverts to know a little bit more about what they struggle with.
Should Introverts Go to Conferences?
- 11:08 Sean: We have our fair share of introverts. Sarah says, “One of the things I struggle the most with is networking online. Being an introvert it is very hard for me to network in real life (events, meetups) but the fact we’re all here in the Community for the same thing helps. However, I don’t really know how to communicate online with people who share the same interests as you. Same with the Community, it’s easier because we’re here for that. But when it’s outside of those areas, I feel awkward just reaching out to people on Twitter or Dribbble. I see people do it very naturally, it seems easy for them, and very hard for me. I wonder if it’s just a personality thing or if it’s something I can work on. I would love to have your insight on this because I think I’m not alone.”
- 12:05 Steve says, “Should you go to conferences? What’s the value? As an introvert, I find it really easy to talk myself out of even thinking about conferences and instead finding other ways to create connections.”
- 12:22 Ben: That’s a good question: what’s the unique value a conference provides over other means of connecting with people that aren’t as personal or scary?
- 12:39 Sean: To me, it’s an acceleration. You can meet people online. You can reach out to people on Twitter.
Meeting people in person is an acceleration of that relationship.
- 12:52 Whether it’s meeting someone in person for the first time or just deepening a relationship that maybe started online, you can get to the same level of depth that would take six months online in a day in person. There are so many valuable things about conferences. In the last episode, I talked about how one little piece of advice can have such a huge impact on you (Related: e209 Unsolicited Advice – Recap of A Mastermind Retreat). One relationship or one connection can completely change your career. One friendship can determine the next thing that you do, keep you accountable, or help you accomplish more things. It feels like you need to justify going to a conference and its value, but once you go, you think more in terms of justifying not going because it’s such a no-brainer and such a good return on your investment.
- 13:57 For someone who’s introverted, they feel like, “If I go, I’m just going to be shy off to the side. What’s the point?” I did this. That’s how I started out at meetups—standing on the side and watching people. What’s the point? The point isn’t to stand on the side, it’s to interact with people. If you’re investing money to go to a conference and you’re driving to a meetup, you’ve got to engage with people. You have to make the decision to have a conversation with someone. I think of it in these terms: the goal is to connect with someone, not to meet every single person. A lot of us assume that. We assume that networking or conferences is about meeting all of these people, and that feels overwhelming.
- 14:52 Ben: And exhausting. As an extrovert, I get a lot of energy from being around a lot of people, talking to people, and that kind of thing. Introverts lose energy; the more people they talk to and the more conversations they have, the more drains from them. Rachel, my wife, is an introvert. One of the things she appreciates more than connecting with a lot of people is to feel like she has a deep connection with a few people. If you’re thinking that you need to walk away from a conference with more than a handful of really good connections, you’re missing the point. The conference is a great place to establish those deep connections. It’s not about getting your business card in the hands of every single person there.
Conferences are about bringing a bunch of people together to accelerate serendipity.
- 16:01 Sean: It’s not really about meeting 500 people, it’s that there are 500 people here so the likelihood that you’ll meet one person you hit it off with is really high. Does that help you, Cory? I know you’re also an introvert. Do you feel similar anxiety about going and meeting people? If you don’t, did you ever, and how did you overcome that?
- 16:26 Cory: I definitely did. Overcoming it is kind of like what Sean was saying. Even with emails, I don’t think, “There’s ten thousand people I need to talk to.” I think of it as one-on-one. Find somebody and give them your full attention. I’ve always told people that, too. I don’t like being in groups of people, so sometimes my friends say, “Why don’t you want to hang out with us?” I say, “I would hang out with any one of you one-on-one any day, I love each and every one of you, but I need that one-on-one.” At a conference, find somebody and forget that there’s a lot of people. That’s where the anxiety comes from for me, from there being so many people around. Focus on that one person.
- 17:13 Sean: Conferences are where you go to find those people in the first place, but then you say, “Hey, let’s go get coffee or chat about our businesses.” Create connections where you can go deeper on a one-on-one basis.
- 17:29 Cory: It’s good to remind yourself that these people spent money to do this. These are the kind of people you want to talk to.
- 17:41 Ben: One of the excuses I hear is, “I don’t know anybody who is going to be at this conference.” For some of you, you know someone you met online that is going to be there, so you have this easier entrance point. What about the person who feels like they’re not going to know anybody there? The anxiety isn’t necessarily caused by the idea of feeling overwhelmed meeting a lot of people, but it’s really just that first introduction. At some conferences, they have mixers and events. I think about the one at Creative South. For an introvert who doesn’t know anybody, that environment was very geared toward extroverts. How do you overcome that obstacle?
Establish common ground with one person.
- 18:47 Sean: At one of my first conferences, I was not going out of my way to talk to people. I sat down and I was going to do sketch notes, and I ended up striking up a conversation with the person to my left. That was it, a little relationship starting there. Maybe something comes of it, maybe nothing does. A relationship doesn’t always form, but just striking up a relationship with one person and establishing some common ground could be as simple as establishing that you both feel awkward. Lean over and say, “Is it just me, or is it really hard to just talk to people and meet people? You’re in the middle of all of these people, but it feels really hard to just talk to someone.” They’ll say, “Yeah, totally. This is my first time here, and I haven’t even talked to anyone. I don’t even know what anyone does.” You say, “Yeah, same here. I’m a designer.” “I’m a designer, too.” And they lived happily ever after.
Building the Skill of Conversation
- 19:53 Ben: If I was a guy at a conference that you’ve never met before, how would you strike up a conversation with me?
- 20:04 Sean: As an introvert, I’d run the other way even if you look like a nice guy.
- 20:21 Ben: I can feel the anxiety and the fear of that. What are you afraid is going to happen? I want to get to the root of that fear. I don’t want to dismiss it or say, “You have nothing to be afraid of.”
- 20:44 Sean: I think it’s because we naturally default to charging. We’re just little Rumbas going around, and as long as all the things are taken care of, we go back to our home base and charging station. That’s our default—go back to charge. As an introvert, how do you charge? You find an isolated place where you can be alone. As an extrovert, how do you charge? You get around people and feed off of their energy and synergism.
- 21:06 As an introvert, you’re not going out of your way to spend energy. It takes a mental flip of a switch. At conferences, you’re expending energy, but you aren’t throwing it away—it’s an investment. Introverts can do really great things, make really great connections, make really good impressions, or deliver really great speeches, but they need to feel like it’s going to be worth spending that energy because it’s going to be really tough for them. See it as, “I’m going to expend this energy, but it’s going to be worth it. What I get in return for spending this currency is going to net me some kind of benefit.”
- 22:03 Ben: The fear is that you might try to strike up a conversation with somebody, it ends up being nothing, and you’ve spent all of your conversation chips.
If you’re afraid of a wasted conversation, remember that no conversation is useless.
- 22:28 Sean: Ryan was saying something similar: “How do you get away from someone trying to ‘network,’ but really they just want to talk endlessly about themselves and their terrible thing? Seriously though, this is the part of big events I struggle with. I’m not trying to be funny about it.” There are people that are just trying to talk about themselves and aren’t interested in forming a relationship or a deeper connection, and that is frustrating, because it’s sunk cost.
- 23:00 Ben: What if you can be more in charge of the conversation and say something like, “I am interested in what you do, but first I’d really like to get to know who you are.” Ask one of those deep, probing questions that makes surface level people feel uncomfortable. Then, you’re calling them to the table, too. You’re saying, “I’m investing here, and I don’t want to invest unless you’re going to invest also.” You don’t have to do this in a harsh or forceful way, but you’re saying, “I’m willing to go this deep. Are you?” How they respond to that is going to make it a little easier to lead the conversation if you need to.
- 23:52 Sean: Brien’s questions fits into this, too. He says, “One thing I struggle with is not so much the approaching and beginning a conversation with somebody, it’s ending the conversation gracefully. How can I improve my disconnection from a conversation so it becomes more than just letting the conversation die out a slow death until it’s so awkward that one of us walks away?” That’s a pretty common fear, too—“If I get into this and it ends up being bad, how do I get out of it without it being terribly awkward?”
- 24:27 Ben: One of the things I have a really hard time with is people who take over the conversation and don’t leave you any place to say, “Okay, it was good talking to you,” because they just keep going. I have a tendency to get trapped by these kinds of people, and I fear that I also might be that person for other people. I don’t want to interrupt them.
- 25:02 Sean: I want to hear Cory’s thoughts on this. I know who he’s thinking of right now, and obviously he wouldn’t say names, but I know he’s talked with people you could have an entire meal with and get out three words. I’m curious how you handle someone who’s dominating the conversation and not letting you have any input?
- 25:30 Cory: I try to ask them a question that will change things so that they have to think more rather than knowing what they’re talking about so they can go on for hours. Sometimes they just steamroll and you just listen, and they notice in the end. I got that compliment last week. They said, “You’re a really good listener.” I said, “That means so much, thank you.” For Brien’s question, you want to leave a conversation saying, “Wow, thank you. You gave me a lot to think about,” or, “I hope that helps you.” If you’re twiddling your thumbs wondering how to leave because it’s so awkward and you’re both silent, either you didn’t challenge them enough or they didn’t challenge you.
If the person you’re talking to isn’t challenging you, challenge them.
- 26:15 That goes to Veronica’s question. She was saying, “I hate small talk as an introvert.” At a conference, it sometimes goes like this: “What do you do? Here’s what I do.” That kind of is small talk at conferences. Challenge them. Say, “What are you striving toward or struggling with?” Ask those kinds of questions that will open them up to think more instead of letting them be too comfortable.
- 26:45 Sean: I like either saying, “Hope this helps you,” or, “You gave me a lot to think about.” That’s a courteous way to exit. You have to be genuine about all of these; if you aren’t genuine, they’ll see right through it. You could say, “I don’t want to take up all your time.” If you’re really being genuine, that could introduce a point of exiting. If there’s another event or an item on the agenda at this conference, you could say, “Hey, are you going to be at the thing later?” When they say, “Yeah,” you can say, “Awesome, I look forward to seeing you there,” and you can get out at that point without making it seem like you don’t want to see them or talk to them.
- 27:41 Ben: As human beings, we should be natural conversationalists, but it really is a skill, and it’s something that some of us really have to practice on. It would be worth writing down some of these ideas, whether it’s something that will help you end a conversation gracefully or something that will help you break silence if you reach an awkward silence and you want to continue the conversation. Be armed with things you can say and questions you can ask, even conversation starters. Don’t feel like you’re failing as a human being if you need to write some of these things down and practice them.
Be a Good Listener
- 28:30 Sean: This is more advanced, but learning about Meyers-Briggs and personality types has been huge. I’ve gotten really good, to where within a few minutes, I can type someone. The thing that’s really beneficial about that is that there are certain ways people behave as a certain personality type, and once I know what that is, I also know how they process things. I know how to engage and interact with them. If I identify someone as an INTJ or an ISTJ, I try and ask really thought-provoking questions that are non yes-or-no questions, because that’s going to bring about a lot of insight from them. If someone is an ENFJ or an ENFP, I ask them what they’re excited about, what they’re working on, what they’re looking forward to, and I engage with them on the thing they enjoy and the way that they process. That’s a bit more advanced. Even if you don’t know personality types, be mindful of that. See what excites the person you’re talking to and go deeper there instead of asking random questions.
- 29:48 Ben: This is something the introverts don’t need to hear as much as extroverts do, but when you make the conversation more about the other person, it leaves them with a better impression of you just from a brand perspective. They walk away from that feeling heard and understood, and they associate those feelings with you and having met you. Hopefully they’ll ask some questions, too, and try to get to know you a little bit, but your job is not to try to establish what you do and get in the door. Your job is to try to establish a meaningful first impression with them, and the best way to do that is to be a good listener.
Listening to someone is going to make them feel heard.
Because you listened, they’ll care about you, and then they’ll care about whatever it is that you do.
- 30:43 Sean: If you’re just saying, “This is what I do,” they’re thinking, “Cool, I don’t really know you.” Cory Miller says, “Even as an extrovert, I struggle with going out of my way to introduce myself to people that I’m not directly sharing an experience with. For instance, sitting at a table with a bunch of people helps to bridge the gap between me and the other person, whereas just walking up to someone and saying, ‘Hi what do you do?’ can be pretty uncomfortable. Should I try and create those situations that I find comfort in, or get over myself and take a risk in discomfort?”
- 31:49 Ben: Comfort is the enemy of many great things you’re supposed to experience. If comfort is the thing that’s holding you back, definitely fight against that and go have an experience. Even if the experience turns out badly, you learn from that experience. If you let comfort be the wall that keeps you from that, you don’t walk away with that added value.
- 32:20 Sean: You don’t have to be overly extroverted and try and meet everyone; just meet a few people. Don’t focus on only being comfortable, but also don’t feel like you have to overcommit, go meet a bunch of people, and be uncomfortable. Yes, go meet people, but you don’t need to meet everyone. Don’t overwhelm yourself. Get outside of your comfort zone if it allows you to start a conversation and make a connection with someone. Someone asked if you could just insert yourself into an existing conversation that’s going on.
- 33:08 Ben: Ryan Magner in the chat room said that he stands outside of a circle of people, and when they start laughing, he starts laughing too?
- 33:17 Sean: He goes, “Haha, yeah,” and then he’s in the circle. One thing you can do is to totally acknowledge it, be blunt, and say, “I’m just going to rudely insert myself into the conversation here.” Everyone kind of has an awkward laugh, but then it breaks it up enough for you to be introduced. They forget, and now you’re a part of the circle.
- 33:56 Ben: Even as an extrovert, I just want to stay away from groups. Think about the panther or any of those hunting wild cats—they don’t go after the herd. You don’t go after the herd, either. You find the one that’s standing outside of the herd, and that’s the one you sneak up on, stalk, and pounce on.
- 34:33 Sean: I did this at Circles conference. I overheard someone talking about something, and I said, “Oh, it sounded like you were talking about this,” and I would lean in a little bit. I’d interject and share a relevant anecdote, and that got me in. It’s a little uncomfortable if you’re an introvert and you haven’t done this, but it just takes trying one of these tactics. It’s going to be a little bit awkward, but you just have to get over yourself, because you’re going to get so much out of it.
- 35:13 Ben: The thing I’m afraid of is people thinking, “Who does this guy think he is, coming in here and breaking into our conversation like he’s so witty?” Is that just me being too worried and self-conscious?
- 35:31 Sean: Probably, but maybe they will think that. What are you going to do about it? Maybe you can be like Cory and help them. Amy asks, “As a way to actively go outside your comfort zone, do you recommend going to meetups and conferences solo? I find that when I go with a friend, I end up not going out of my way to meet other people.” If you go with a friend, your natural tendency is going to be to stay in your little clique. Try and get more and more friends until you have a mob, and then mob people. Pick them off one at a time.
- 36:52 Ben: Become that big group, and as you go around the room, the group grows as it brings other people into it.
- 37:13 Sean: Don’t you think they should break up at some point? Say, “Hey, I know we’re friends, we’re at the same hotel, we’re going to see each other later, we’re already going to go to dinner, so let’s go meet other people and reconvene.” You have to do that, otherwise you’re going to default to that clique.
- 37:31 Ben: Let it be a game and say, “Let’s see who can bring the most interesting person back to whatever meeting place.”
- 37:41 Sean: Damien says, “Should I only try and attend conferences that are within my niche, or go to all conferences for networking purposes? Do I have to go to conferences to network? What are some other good ways to practice connecting with people outside of conferences?” This is something Matt and I talked about in Lambo Goal, where we talked about traveling to network and all other forms of networking besides conferences (Related: e027 Part 1 of 2: Create Connections & e028 Part 2 of 2: Deepen Relationships). It’s a really good compliment to this episode. Say you’re a designer or videographer—go to a real estate conference, because you’re going to be the only videographer there and you’re going to stand out. You’re going to be really memorable there, and guess who’s going to hire you to do the video work for their real estate business? It’s brilliant.
You have to be brave and go outside of your element, but go to conferences outside your niche.
- 38:52 Otherwise, it’s an uphill battle. You’re trying to make yourself distinguishable and memorable in this sea of other similar people. Brent says, “I think it’s safe to say most feelings we as introverts get is extreme anxiety. Whether it’s meeting new people, talking about yourself, or even traveling to the event. Have you experienced crippling anxiety before? If so, what helped you overcome the fear of stepping outside of your comfort zone?” I’m going to open that up to the chat room, so if you have experienced that, share, and I’d like to read it.
- 39:39 Ben: There are some practical things you can do to alleviate anxiety, things like meditating, doing breathing exercises, exercise itself is a form of stress relief and can help you work through anxiety, and seeking out community and talking with other people. The seanwes Community is a great place to talk about some of your anxious feelings and have people help you work through them if your anxiety is keeping you from committing to going to a conference.
- 40:14 Sean: There are a lot of things we take for granted, like being onstage, going to meetups, going to a conference, striking up a conversation with people and talking to them, or being in an online community and talking with people in the chat. We take all these things for granted, but there’s a huge percentage of people in the Community right now that only come around for live shows, and there’s a subset of that group that sticks around in the chat throughout the week even when there aren’t live shows, but they still just observe. That’s how introverted they are—they’re on an online community in the safety of their own home, and they’re still not engaging in a textual conversation. Some people are still really feeling that reservation or anxiety. Is it good advice to say, “Just try it out, dive in, and say hi to one person”?
Fear and anxiety are two separate things.
- 41:13 Ben: Fear is an emotion we experience either from a bad past experience or some idea we have of the way things might go. Fear is something that is most easily overcome by confronting the thing that fears us and doing that consistently. Over time, that can help us deal with our fear. Anxiety, in this case, can be linked to fear, but it is a separate thing. It’s something that happens to you physically. I don’t want to treat those two the same way and say that going is going to help you overcome your anxiety, but once you make a decision to go, that puts you on the road to overcoming your anxiety.
- 42:27 Sean: It’s normal. It’s okay for you to feel anxious. If you signed up for a conference, you paid to go, and it’s the week before and you’re feeling anxious, there isn’t anything wrong with you. It’s your first time. We all experience this. I still feel anxiety before I start a Periscope, a live stream, or speak on stage. Try it; do it. Give it a shot once. For me, that’s what it was. I was very, very reserved. I never talked to people, I was very quiet, I didn’t go out of my way to go to any kind of events, but once I did, I’ve seen so much benefit from it. I felt that same anxiety. You’re not even on a flight or at the event yet, it’s days before, and you already feel anxious. It seems silly, but it’s normal. It’s not a normal thing for you to go to a place with a bunch of people and be expected to hold a bunch of conversations.
- 43:54 It is a normal reaction to feel anxious about that. It’s okay; don’t be afraid of it. You’re going to get a lot out of it. It’s like, “Dive in, the water’s great!” Initially, it’s going to be cold. Initially, you’re in the air above the water jumping off the ledge and you’re thinking, “Oh my gosh. What have I done? What am I doing—” Splash! You’re in the water. You think, “This is freezing! This is cold! This is great.” You start swimming around and splashing your friends. Now you think you can do this again. You climb out, go back to the ledge, and you look over and feel a little bit of that anxiety because you know what’s coming. You feel a little tinge of it, but the more you go around in that pattern and keep jumping off the ledge, the more accustomed to it you feel and the more joyous it is, because you know the benefit that’s coming. You know that it’s going to be a good time, that it’s going to be something fun.
- 45:00 Ben: Samantha shared something in the chat that I really agree with. She said, “Someone once told me, if you’re not nervous or it doesn’t scare you even a little bit, it doesn’t mean that much to you, and it won’t help you grow.” The things we feel anxious about, the things we want to do and see some value in but all those road blocks are in our way, allowing ourselves to experience those things despite discomfort is so good for you. It helps you develop the kind of relationship with your anxiety and discomfort where it’s like a gauge. You think, “I see that this is a valuable thing. How uncomfortable do I feel? I feel pretty uncomfortable, so that means it’s going to be good.”
If you practice facing it over time, anxiety can create positive expectations.
- 46:13 Sean: I wonder if people could warm themselves up doing things like recording a podcast, doing a Periscope, or they could Skype-video with one friend. That can be kind of scary, so they could do those things to warm themselves up a little bit. Maybe they could go to a smaller meetup, meet one person in their city for coffee, or do a small group before going to a conference. There are ways you can acclimate yourself.
- 46:53 Ben: I really like the jumping in method, because I know what it feels like. In our neighborhood at least, the deeper part of the pool isn’t deep enough for you to dive in. They still have the sign that says “No Diving,” but you can jump in there. At the other end of the pool are the steps where all of the kids are playing, and you can ease in, but around the middle area it gets complicated. You keep on going, and from the middle area to the chest is difficult, but from the shoulders up, you think, “I’m already in this deep end anyway.” Think about how much time it takes to go in that way. You experience all this discomfort anyway, almost more discomfort than if you would just jump in. Your body doesn’t have time to register all of the discomfort you’re feeling at once, so finally it’s like, “Well, we’re already in here.” I’m a fan of that.
- 48:28 Sean: Amy asks, “What are some general questions I can keep in my back pocket to fall back on if the conversation is waning? As an introvert, my biggest fear is the awkward silence!” Here’s a few you can use:
- What are you working on right now?
- What’s one of your biggest challenges with what you’re working on?
- What are you most excited about?
- What’s next for you?
- 49:02 With any one of those, you can follow along and dig deeper. If it ever gets to the point where nobody’s talking and it’s awkward, ask, “So, what are you excited about? What are you working on right now? What’s the most challenging thing right now?” Then you can relate to them from there. Kristen says, “I’m always glad I’ve attended some sort of networking event after (having overcome fear, and especially when I’ve made a connection), but before I’m all nerves. What tips do you have for preparing, knowing that the nerves will come? And do you plan any type of self care/reflection after the event?”
After conferences or events, make sure to schedule recharge time, especially if you’re an introvert.
- 49:57 You don’t want to have an expensive event in terms of energy that you spend and then have an event planned immediately after that’s going to require a lot of your energy. You’re going to need more time than you realize to decompress. Give yourself a few days, ideally. It’s nice when conferences end at the beginning of a weekend because you can relax a little bit rather than going through the end of Sunday so you have to go straight back to work. That’s a lot. What about the first part, Ben? She says, “Before I’m all nerves. What tips do you have for preparing, knowing that the nerves will come?”
- 51:01 Ben: Use some relaxation techniques. There are some things you can do. One meditation practice I like is to lie on the floor and focus on each individual part of my body, working my way up from my toes all the way up to the top of my head. Try to relax each one. It does two things: it physically relaxes you, but it also causes you to focus on something else besides the thing that you’re nervous about.
- 51:35 Sean: Cory Miller says, “I think seanwes Conference is going to need to have a re-charge room with beanbags and low lighting, talking prohibited.” 11 introverts starred that one. 13, 14 introverts. Look at them coming out of the woodwork! Seanwes Conference—why would I start a conference as an introvert, unless I believed in them so much and saw so much value out of them? Conferences are very taxing to go to, let alone put on, as an introvert. It takes so much energy, but it’s so rewarding. We keep having these meetups, Ben. Even the LA meetup we had with just eight other Community members was just so good. Robert was saying that it was better than an actual conference he went to. We keep seeing these things, but not everyone can be in these places and go to these little meetups. We want to facilitate something where everyone from the Community can plan to come together and interact.
- 53:13 My vision for it is to have something like three speakers a day, so it’s not jam-packed to where your 15 minutes break becomes a five minute break because it’s running late, try and talk to someone on the way. That sucks, because it’s all about those connections. I like the idea of having several speakers a day. It’s like in the Community; there are live shows every day, but the chat is always available. You can get on the mobile app, you can talk to people, but having those live shows interspersed brings people together around a shared topic to discuss and go deeper on. I like the idea of having these speakers come together on a topic throughout the day, but then doing breakout sessions or group things, facilitating more of that in-person interaction.
- 54:14 One of the things that came out of my retreat was a really good idea for seanwes Conference. As I’ve mentioned on the show, seanwes is putting on a conference. Seanwes is a brand, it’s a business. It’s a name I made up by merging my first and middle names. My middle name is Wesley, and when I got online, there were a bunch of Sean McCabes—photographers, designers, musicians, all these creative fields, too. I thought, “I’m never going to stand out if I try to compete with them, so I’ll make up a name that doesn’t exist anywhere.” I made up seanwes, and eventually I ended up ranking for my own name, but seanwes is the business name, the brand. As a person, I am Sean McCabe. I’m not seanwes.
My vision for the seanwes brand is like Disney—you don’t think of the person Walt.
You think of the things they do, what they’re about, and what they create.
- 55:19 Ben: So, when Sean says, “Seanwes is putting on a conference,” he isn’t talking about himself in the third person.
- 55:25 Sean: Exactly. It’s the business. We’re putting on a conference October 2016 in Austin, Texas. It’s a three day conference. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s for Community members. We’re not all about numbers here; we don’t just want hundreds or thousands of people at the conference, we want people who are serious. We want people who are dedicated, who care about quality, and who want to facilitate these meaningful conversations and relationships. Previously, I had been saying, “Join the Community and we’ll let you know about it.” I was planning on having this private landing page for the Community where you can go and register for the Conference and get your tickets. I got a really great piece of advice on the retreat I was on, which was: “Why don’t you bundle conference tickets with membership?” I said, “That’s brilliant! I’d never even thought of that.”
- 56:27 This allows us to publicly announce seanwes Conference. We can say, “If you want to go to seanwes Conference, if you’ve been enjoying the past 200 plus episodes of the podcast, it would be awesome to have you. You can go to seanwes.com/conference and sign up.” People will be able to register for the conference, and that will also be bundled with membership. Previously, I had this limited thinking, where I thought, “Someone would want to sign up for the Community, experience it, see how great it is, and want to meet those people.” That’s the only path I imagined, that they would sign up for the Community first and understand how great it is, and only then would they want to go to a conference. I thought that was the only way. I’m realizing now, there are plenty of people for whom the amount for membership isn’t the hurdle here, it’s that they don’t know what it’s like. They haven’t experienced it. For people who haven’t joined, it’s not about the money—they just aren’t sure it’s worth it.
People don’t know that the seanwes Community will change their lives.
- 57:54 We keep doing these meetups, and people are seeing how incredible these like-minded people getting together are and the conversations that are happening. It’s changing lives, and people are getting incredible feedback and seeing results in their business. I know there’s a lot of people who listen to the podcast and feel that way, who maybe haven’t pulled the trigger on the Community, but they would go to a conference. For some people, that might be their entrance point.
- 58:30 Ben: On the Community landing page, there’s that video that has clips of us actually hanging out together at Creative South. I think about the person who wants that experience, who says, “The online stuff is great, but I really do want to be in the same room with other people.” It’s one thing to let people know, “This is the kind of thing that happens all the time with Community members,” and another thing to say, “Sincerely, we want you to be a part of that, and that’s part of what the seanwes Community is.”
- 59:09 Sean: I’m really excited. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but we want to open up super early bird tickets by the end of the year. Those will be available for a few months and then the price will go up to early bird and then, eventually, full price at the door. More details on that as we get to it. Whether it’s going to be 60, 80, or 100 people, I’m stoked about it. We’ve seen how incredible it is when we get just 20 or 50 of us together. This is going to be life-changing. It’s not about the number; I’m getting a little bit giddy thinking about the fact that we’re opening this up now and the public can go to this page and sign up for the conference if they want to. As an introvert, this is the conference you want to come out of the woodwork for. If you’re enjoying the podcast and the topics we’ve been discussing, there’s a whole lot of other people that are, too.
- 1:00:25 I wish I could just say, “Go to one of our meetups and you’ll see.” Matt and I are going to San Fransisco at the end of October for a meetup. We’re not going for an event, a conference, or because we have a consultation, we’re going there just to go there and meet people. That’s how much we get out of those interactions. We’re going there just to say, “Hey, we’re here. If you’re in San Fransisco or anywhere in the California area within driving distance, we would love to meet with you. Come to this place.” We’re going to rent out a place, get drinks or food or something, and connect with people. The people who go to those meetups, they get how incredible this conference is going to be, because that’s just a taste of it. I am so excited.