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How to Handle Meeting Hundreds of Colleagues

This article was written by in Career and Work. 43 comments.


My experience with the first Financial Blogger Conference

This past weekend has been a whirlwind. On Friday, for the first time I took advantage of using accrued frequent flyer miles to upgrade to first class on Continental. I will write more on that experience later. For now, I want to concentrate on what happened after I arrived in Schaumburg, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, for the first-ever Financial Blogger Conference.

I’ve never been a big fan of industry conferences. I’ve been to several in a variety of roles, but most often the role is a distant cousin to press: blogger. Bloggers at conferences, even in industries where blogger participation is reputable, there’s a tinge of being a lower-class citizen when compared to members of mainstream media. In that role, I have no editorial assignments, and am just there to stay abreast of the latest financial trends and look for material for the blog and Podcast. This conference, however, focused on information that would be valuable for bloggers specifically — in fact, all bloggers, not just financial bloggers. J.D. Roth from Get Rich Slowly started the conference on the perfect note by discussing why we write, looking past the business and monetary aspects of writing. A panel of experts assembled to discuss building relationships with mainstream media. Other sessions focused on creative ways of earning a living from writing.

The real value of events like these, particularly in an industry where most communication takes place online rather than in person or even on the phone, is getting to meet like-minded individuals and associate faces with names. For me, the highlights have been talking to and sharing ideas with people in the industry I admire, like J.D. Roth (whom I have previously met in person), Farnoosh Torabi (one of the best personal finance writers of my generation), and Tess Vigeland (one of my all-time favorite financial radio voices). The social networking aspect of a conference is often just as important as the informational aspect, and I spent a lot of time talking to other bloggers, meeting many for the first time.

I can’t possibly name the hundreds of people I talked to, but I was excited to meet FMF from Free Money Finance and the anonymous author of Mighty Bargain Hunter, two blogs that Consumerism Commentary has partnered with since the earlier days of the website. Prior to the official start of the conference, the charity event organized by J. Money and Nate St. Pierre Love Drop allowed a large contingent of bloggers to socialize while doing good for Phil’s Friends, an organization helping families of individuals affected by cancer.

The community of financial bloggers is very diverse in topic, personality, age, and just about every other dimension. Some of my favorite conversations were with Mike Piper of Oblivious Investor, Paula Pant of Afford Anything, Paul Puckett (who authored Investiphobia and appeared on an episode of the podcast), and Donna Freedman of MSN and Surviving and Thriving, Kylie Ofiu who came all the way from Australia, and all the folks from Wise Bread.

It as also a great opportunity to learn more about commercial industry products, having had great discussions with Soam Lall from Savings.com and Irene Shubladze of Credit Sesame. The conference also allowed me to discuss a little business with representatives from companies that allow Consumerism Commentary to support itself.

I was luck enough to be invited to a number of interviews, including one for Marketplace Money, the American Public Media radio show hosted by Tess Vigeland. The show should air next weekend. Even if none of my spoken thoughts and comments make the cut, and I almost hope they don’t so I would avoid any embarrassment, it should be an interesting piece about the business and the trust of blogging about personal finance.

I’m happy to say that I was able to recover from the lack of sleep over the weekend. Ramit Sethi from I Will Teach You To Be Rich was the social king, arranging meetings between like-minded individuals and arranging a floor-shaking, eardrum-busting dance party at a local Schaumburg club. After the weekend, I have enormous respect for Philip from PT Money who organized this event from scratch (and from Texas). The organization, flow, and attitude among attendees and exhibitors was more professional than any other conference I’ve attended — and this was just the first year. You’d expect there to be kinks and problems, but if there were any, they were not apparent to me or any of the other participants I’ve spoken with.

What other attendees and presenters have to say about the conference

I don’t normally write about blogging or focus on the blogosphere on Consumerism Commentary, but my participation in this conference warrants an exception. If you liked my thoughts on the conference and are wondering what other people have to say, here are a few articles from other bloggers about the conference for you to read.

What’s next?

From an emotional perspective, spending time with other creative people has motivated my own creative juices. I have a jolt of motivational energy today. I hope I can make it last long, but I’ve come away from the weekend with a lot of drive to push my business to the next level.

One key, of course, to being successful at networking at a conference like this is maintaining communication as the event fades from short-term memory. This is one of my largest hurdles, and one of the reasons Consumerism Commentary isn’t as successful as it could be. I generally keep to myself, and prefer to work in a solitary environment. I would love to maintain more relationships but I find often myself distracted, particularly when I understand that my primary focus is writing. This is an area I need to improve. I’ve already sent out a few follow-up emails, particularly to people who seemed interested in appearing on the Consumerism Commentary Podcast.

How do you organize and maintain relationships with your colleagues?

Updated February 6, 2012 and originally published October 3, 2011. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar KyleAAA

I was a bit over-whelmed, myself. I’ve started by going through all the business cards I received and trying to initiate contact in some way, if only by following them on Twitter. I figure if I can cultivate just two or three relationships with people I met this weekend, that would count as a massive success. It was a pleasure meeting you and everyone else and I can’t wait until next year!

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avatar Suzanne

I myself just returned from an industry conference where I was blessed to be in the room with 1000 coaches at the International Coach Federation Conference in Las Vegas. One of the best ways to stay connected with your colleagues is to be active and join the board of your local professional organization. I served on my industry’s board for two years and made lots of great friends that I’ll always cherish.

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avatar Andrew @ Money Crashers

It was awesome seeing you this weekend. As always, we had some insightful conversations and it’s neat to hear what you’re up to these days. And great work with the Plutus Awards!

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,490 (Platinum)

Andrew, I’m glad we had some time to chat again. I still want to pick your brain about your business, and I imagine I’ll be in touch with you.

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avatar Beating Broke

I think that Kyle is pretty close here. It was an incredible event, and was incredible meeting you and so many others. But, we can’t expect to establish and maintain a relationship with everyone we met this weekend all at once. Better to connect with them in some way so that we can keep contact and build on those contacts.

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avatar FMF

Great to meet you as well! Hope you’ll be there next year too — I’m planning on it. Perhaps we can get Nickel, Jim, and JLP there for a full-fledged reunion. ;-)

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,490 (Platinum)

I will be there next year, with another batch of Plutus Award trophies to hand out. I agree it would be great to get more of the “old-timers” involved. Nickel, Jim, and JLP — and Trent from The Simple Dollar, too — would be great additions to the cast of characters.

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avatar Briana @ Prairie EcoThrifter

I didn’t get to meet you one on one Flexo but it was cool to put a face (human, not Simpsonized haha) to the blogger!

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,490 (Platinum)

Hi Briana! I will be looking forward to meeting you in person at next year’s conference!

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avatar Glen Craig

The conference was awesome and as you said, it was great meeting up with some of those PF writers who started it all, like yourself.

I’m still getting my head around all that went on and I’ll be going through my notes and business cards in the next week.

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avatar Ryan

Phil put together a great conference, and I’m definitely looking forward to next year’s event! It was great to finally meet you, Flexo!

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avatar Amber

Like some of the other commenters, I was a bit overwhelmed this weekend! I met a lot of great people, but didn’t get to really sit down and talk with many of the people I wanted to talk to (like you!). I was also a little star-struck and shy, but still had so so so much fun! Can’t wait til next year!

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,490 (Platinum)

I’m glad you had fun! I did too, but I would have liked to have had the chance to get to know you better. That will definitely be a goal of mine next time.

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avatar MMarquit

It was fun to meet everyone! And definitely the best conference I’ve ever been to as well. I, too, will be going through business cards and making sure that I’m at least following everyone on Twitter. I’ve already received follow up emails on convos had over the weekend, though, and it’s still kind of making my head spin. :)

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,490 (Platinum)

Well, you’re about to receive another email (if you haven’t seen it already). It was great to talk to you this weekend!

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avatar DonnaFreedman ♦85 (Newbie)

I loved meeting people whom I’ve been reading: “So YOU’RE Tight-Fisted Miser!” “Wow, J.D., I thought you’d be taller!” Etc. etc.
I also loved being in the same room with so many people who do what I do. You can geek out about writing all you want without feeling constrained, vs. enduring the polite smiles of friends/family.

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avatar Maggie@SquarePennies

I hear you Donna. Friends & family don’t ask any more! lol Hope to meet you next year! Will it be at the same place? I couldn’t make it to this one & haven’t heard about next year yet.

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avatar DonnaFreedman ♦85 (Newbie)

Rumor has it that the location will be in Texas. However, the post-conference survey asked us for input on where we thought it should be. (I voted for “Flexo’s house.”)
If you see me there, please come up and say hello.

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avatar Maggie@SquarePennies

I will! I vote for Flexo’s house too. Actually TX would be great for me as I have family living there. Crossing my fingers. Thanks for the rumors!

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,490 (Platinum)

My apartment could comfortably hold fifty people if everyone stands shoulder to shoulder in every room, hallway, and staircase. So if held here, I might have to limit the registration somewhat. I was thinking about doing that for one of my DoctorWhoFests.

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avatar Soam @ Savings.com

Flexo! Awesome getting to dive into some details about what’s happening in this industry how how we make it better. It’s great to engage with the best of the best get a true pulse whats going on. I look forward to connecting with you on a few other projects – and would love your feedback.
If / when you’re in LA, please let me know!

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avatar Krantcents

Sounds like you really benefited from the weekend.

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avatar J. Money

And it’s kinda like we’re having another PF Conference all over again w/ all the roundups now! haha… two for the price of one ;) Pleasure meeting in real life my man – if there’s anything I can ever help with, just holler (but I can’t promise I won’t try and get you to SXSW!).

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avatar Jessica

As a realtively new PF blogger, it was great to meet all the wonderful people I have been learning from and to meet so many more to add to the list. We didn’t get to chat much more than the bus back from the afterparty (throat lollis anyone?) but it was a blast. I look forward to spending more time on your site.

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,490 (Platinum)

Heh. “Throat lolly” will live on, I fear. I loved your tiara, by the way.

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avatar MD

It was super cool to meet people that I’ve been chatting with for years. You were just as cool as I thought you would be and I appreciate you taking the time to speak with me.

I’m also hoping that the both of us can make our first appearances at SXSW in 2012. No excuses!

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avatar KNS Financial ♦404 (Nickel)

It was an amazing event, and I’m glad that both my wife and I were able to attend. We didn’t get a chance to talk, but I’m sure we’ll get together soon. I agree that Phil did an amazing job putting all of this together, and it was worth it just to meet everyone there, let alone, the information!

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avatar Paula

Flexo — you rock!! I loved meeting you this past weekend! It’s impossible to stay in touch with everyone — there are just too many people! — but I really hope you and I can keep in touch. And if nothing else, this weekend was a great reminder to get out from behind a computer, as you say, and be more social!

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avatar Ben

I talked about this with several people over the weekend – for whatever reason, I’ve been somewhat dysfunctional when it comes to making and keeping relationships online (I guess it’s a good thing I met my wife in college and didn’t have to try out online dating).

I feel like meeting you and everyone else helped to change that, putting a face with a blog has made a huge difference for me. I agree, keeping that momentum is what will be key!

I didn’t even know Tess was going to be there, that would have been fun to meet her. Let us know when the interview goes live.

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avatar DonnaFreedman ♦85 (Newbie)

Also: I’m with you on the NPR interview, Flexo. Tess got me to speak directly into the mike, too, and I think I sounded like a buffoon. At least the listeners won’t be able to see the spinach that I’m sure was in my teeth.

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,490 (Platinum)

I attempted to hold the microphone, almost taking it out of Tess’s hand. That was awkward. Obviously, I had no idea what I was doing.

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avatar shellye ♦107 (Cent)

Sounds like a fun event. Almost makes me wish I were a PF blogger (not really…)

Thanks for sharing!

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avatar Kelly

It was a stellar conference. I’m was completely blown away by the content, and Phil’s laidback attitude. I would have been running around in circles but he seemed to have it all together. I still don’t know how I ended up at some of the tables I did for lunches and dinners, but was grateful that I got some time with some of the people I most admire, including you. Thanks again for the ride back to the airport it was nice to wrap up the conference with some conversation with you.

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avatar Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager

Flexo! It was so great to meet you this weekend. Thanks for coming and volunteering with the Love Drop and for doing such an amazing job with the Plutus Awards!

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avatar Peter

The conference was a ton of fun – getting to meet my blogging heros like you and JD, meeting friends for the first time that I’ve known only online for 4+ years, and just hanging out and chatting with a ton of new and old bloggers alike. It was humbling when some folks had even heard of my blog and mentioned a post they liked.. Putting faces to names and URLs was very cool. I just hope that I can keep in contact with at least some of the folks – although like you Flexo – I’m usually a solitary blogger off in my own corner.. I think this will help in that respect some

Great job on the Plutus Awards, and hopefully someone besides ING, Mint, JD and JMoney will win next time! :) jk. They deserve to win.

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avatar Mike Piper

Hi Flexo. I quite enjoyed meeting you as well. The insights you shared have already been helpful. :)

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avatar Investor Junkie

Unfortunately could not make the event. Maybe next year.

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avatar DonnaFreedman ♦85 (Newbie)
avatar Luke Landes ♦127,490 (Platinum)

Thanks, Donna! I added a link to your conference post.

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avatar DonnaFreedman ♦85 (Newbie)

I appreciate that. Wonder if people will expect Klingons EVERY year?

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avatar Bucksome Boomer ♦236 (Cent)

It was a pleasure meeting you in person and having a few moments to talk. Your support to smaller blogs is very much appreciated.

Don’t forget to let us know the next time you’ll be in California!

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avatar Paul Puckett

Flexo, great meeting you too! I’m still recovering from a great conference and from meeting so many people I follow online. Enjoyed our conversation and meeting Mike Piper, Oblivious Investor, too. So many people to list, but your column summed up my experience as well.

Looking forward to next year and keeping in touch online.

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avatar Rob Bennett

It was great to be able to meet you (and many others) in person, Flexo.

Rob

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