Publish & Prosper

Why We Love Attending Conferences (and Why You Should Too)

November 29, 2023 Matt Briel & Lauren Vassallo Season 1 Episode 6
Why We Love Attending Conferences (and Why You Should Too)
Publish & Prosper
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Publish & Prosper
Why We Love Attending Conferences (and Why You Should Too)
Nov 29, 2023 Season 1 Episode 6
Matt Briel & Lauren Vassallo

In this episode, Matt and Lauren expound on the many reasons we’re passionate about sponsoring and attending in-person events. We talk about why we love meeting new people (even as a pair of introverts), the educational and inspirational benefits, networking and community-building opportunities, and more! 

Matt’s Famous Vegas Out-of-Office:

I am out of the office Monday, November 6th, through Friday, November 10th. While dodging casino zombies and buffet browsers, my team and I will be attending The 20Books author conference in Las Vegas. I don't drink, smoke, or gamble, so you can imagine how excited I am to spend a week in a hazmat suit every time I step out of my hotel room. I will do my best to reply to your email, but please cut me some slack if it takes a few days. If it takes more than 3 days, please notify the Las Vegas PD that I may have fallen victim to the aforementioned zombies.

Dive Deeper

💡 Sign up for Ann Handley’s Total Annarchy Newsletter
💡 Learn about Content Entrepreneur Expo or CEX, hosted by Lulu and The Tilt in May 2024
💡 Read These Blog Posts

💡 Watch These Videos

Sound Bites From This Episode

🎙️[15:46] “The difference between hearing from a speaker that you could also just listen to their podcast, or read their blog. or whatever, and attending an in-person event is the other attendees there with you.” 

🎙️[26:14] “This is an environment where people are intentionally open to fostering connections with new people, which definitely takes some of the pressure off of networking and having those conversations…The type of networking that happens when you're there, in person, at an event is just different than what's going on on the internet.” 

🎙️[37:49] “Find other ways to make the trip more beneficial for you as well in terms of an ROI. Maybe there's some people you can set up meetings with while you're there that can help further along some of the objectives you might have for the year, content exchanges, things like that.” 

Send us a Text Message.

💀 Can’t wait for our next episode? Check out our Resources page for links to our blog,
our YouTube channel, and more.
💀 Find us on Facebook, X, Instagram, and LinkedIn at luludotcom!
💀 Email us at
💀 Sign up for our mailing list.

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, Matt and Lauren expound on the many reasons we’re passionate about sponsoring and attending in-person events. We talk about why we love meeting new people (even as a pair of introverts), the educational and inspirational benefits, networking and community-building opportunities, and more! 

Matt’s Famous Vegas Out-of-Office:

I am out of the office Monday, November 6th, through Friday, November 10th. While dodging casino zombies and buffet browsers, my team and I will be attending The 20Books author conference in Las Vegas. I don't drink, smoke, or gamble, so you can imagine how excited I am to spend a week in a hazmat suit every time I step out of my hotel room. I will do my best to reply to your email, but please cut me some slack if it takes a few days. If it takes more than 3 days, please notify the Las Vegas PD that I may have fallen victim to the aforementioned zombies.

Dive Deeper

💡 Sign up for Ann Handley’s Total Annarchy Newsletter
💡 Learn about Content Entrepreneur Expo or CEX, hosted by Lulu and The Tilt in May 2024
💡 Read These Blog Posts

💡 Watch These Videos

Sound Bites From This Episode

🎙️[15:46] “The difference between hearing from a speaker that you could also just listen to their podcast, or read their blog. or whatever, and attending an in-person event is the other attendees there with you.” 

🎙️[26:14] “This is an environment where people are intentionally open to fostering connections with new people, which definitely takes some of the pressure off of networking and having those conversations…The type of networking that happens when you're there, in person, at an event is just different than what's going on on the internet.” 

🎙️[37:49] “Find other ways to make the trip more beneficial for you as well in terms of an ROI. Maybe there's some people you can set up meetings with while you're there that can help further along some of the objectives you might have for the year, content exchanges, things like that.” 

Send us a Text Message.

💀 Can’t wait for our next episode? Check out our Resources page for links to our blog,
our YouTube channel, and more.
💀 Find us on Facebook, X, Instagram, and LinkedIn at luludotcom!
💀 Email us at
💀 Sign up for our mailing list.

Lauren: Hey everyone, welcome back, and welcome back to my co-host Matt, who is joining us after a week out of the office on a trip.

Matt: In my favorite place, Las Vegas. 

Lauren: I have not laughed so hard at an out of office message in a very long time. Matt wrote a really great out of office message.

Matt: You know what's wild is, I actually had several people come up to me at this event throughout the week, who I guess had tried to email me before the event or, you know, even during to either want to meet up or whatever and said something about my out of office. And I only recently started trying to write funny out of offices just because – actually I don't know why I did, but it's fun. So yeah, I think my Vegas one was probably my favorite, although my Friday the 13th one was good. I don't know if you saw that. 

Lauren: I don't think I did. 

Matt: Yeah. It was something to the effect of, you know, if you don't hear from me in three days, that means somebody has chopped me up in little pieces and I didn't survive Friday the 13th. So please call the police. 

Lauren: That would make sense. I only ever do out of offices for internal use, so.

Matt: No, I make everybody see it.

Lauren: As you should. As you should. Anyway, Matt was out at a conference, which incidentally is the topic of today's episode. 

Matt: Oh good. Perfect timing. 

Lauren: Perfect timing, it's almost like we planned it. 

Matt: Right off the plane, right in here to the podcast studio. 

Lauren: If we were really committed to it, we would have recorded this on the plane. Could you imagine? 

Matt: No, and I'm sure everybody appreciates that we didn't. 

Lauren: Could you imagine sitting next to somebody who was recording a podcast episode on the plane? 

Matt: Probably better than the person I was sitting next to on the way home. 

Lauren: Oh, God.

Matt: Yeah. 

Lauren: That bad? 

Matt: We won't get into that on here. 

Lauren: Okay. 

Matt: I'm pretty sure this is a family program. 

Lauren: We're going to do our best today to convince you that it is worth going to in-person events. We're going to start by talking about the awful travel experiences to and from said events.

Matt: Yeah, by the time this episode's over, everybody's gonna tear up their frequent flyer cards and all that other stuff. No, we're just kidding. 

Lauren: That's true, actually. I like the travel part. 

Matt: Well, actually, in fact, yeah, I don't often have bad travel experiences. So I think that's probably what makes it even more so pronounced when I do. But normally, actually, I don't have a bad experience most of the time. 

Lauren: Oh, yeah, it's been a minute since I've had a bad experience while traveling. 

Matt: Yeah. 

Lauren: Which – knock on wood, I guess. Yeah, definitely don't want to jinx that since we're both traveling again in the next week. 

Matt: Oh, that's true. Yep. We're flying to Orlando, for Disney World. 

Lauren: That's right. Once again, one of us is – actually both of us are going to Disney in the next week.

Matt: You'll be driving down Sunday as we'll be flying back. 

Lauren: Yep. We weren't kidding when we said we're both Disney nerds. 

Matt: Unfortunately, not. 

Lauren: Definitely. 

Matt: For our significant others, and friends, and family. We were not kidding, and they often have to tag along, or even co-sponsor. 

Lauren: Yes. Both of those things. 

Matt: Yeah. 

Lauren: Oh well. They'll all have a great time on our respective trips. 

Matt: And if they don't, we still will. 


Lauren: Exactly. Anyway, instead of talking about where we're going, let's talk a little bit about where we've been. So Matt, where did you just get back from?

Matt: I just came back from an event called 20Books. It was my first time at this event. Lulu was at this event last year, as a sponsor, and it was our first time as Lulu there, and the team came back with a lot of great things to say about everybody that was there; attendees and sponsors and the people who were kind of running the event, so. And it was interesting, it was fun. 

Lauren: So what kind of event is 20Books? 

Matt: Yeah, that’s a great question, huh? I probably should have let in with that. 20Books, if you couldn't guess from the name of it, it is an author-based event and it's mainly an author education event where hundreds – if not closer to almost 2,000 – authors come, and there's sessions all week that range from any number of topics. Lots of great panels. Monday was an industry day where all of the exhibitors are set up so authors can go around and meet with all the publishing companies and the different tools, things like that.

Lauren: That's a great opportunity. That's not something that authors get. 

Matt: It's not. And I'm sure we'll talk about that here shortly. 

Lauren: We will. 

Matt: And then the cool thing is that it's kind of book-ended by Friday. The last day is really an author signing event, which is also huge and a really cool thing that they do there. So yeah, it's a pretty cool event. 

Lauren: That sounds awesome. I'm very jealous. And I'm already starting my petition to go next year. And not just because it's in Vegas. Possibly despite the fact that it's in Vegas. 

Matt: Yeah, I was gonna say that's not the selling point. In fact, I hate Vegas. Like, someone on our team, Sarah, actually had to be like, you should go to this event, because I really wasn't gonna go. I didn't want to go. I do not like Vegas, but I'm glad I went. 

Lauren: We do go to a lot of events with Lulu. We go to different types of events. Matt, definitely more so than me, goes to a lot more events. But as a team, we attend a lot of events. We attend at least a couple of events a year as attendees. And we also, are sponsors or vendors or whatever you would like to, whatever terminology you would like to use for that. 

Matt: I think the easiest way for us to describe how we break it up is we attend events that are related to our industry, so publishing and books. We attend events that are related to the audiences that we serve, which these days, are often creator-related audiences and events. And then we attend events that are related to what we actually do as marketers. So we go to marketing events for professional education purposes, to stay up on what's going on in the world of marketing to make sure that we're passing on best practices to our Lulu users and things, so. Obviously there are a lot more, and many more that we go to as well. And hopefully some of you listening have either seen us at events and came and talked to us, or will see us at events in the future and will come and talk to us. 

Lauren: Yeah, please, if you ever see us at an event, come and talk to us. We're fun. 

Matt: And we get tired of talking to each other in the booth, so. 

Lauren: That too. And we always have cool swag. We will give you for free, we will not try to con you into signing up for anything.

Matt: Most definitely, Lulu always has the best swag. 

Lauren: Our creative team goes all out with swag a lot. They also did all of the artwork for this podcast, so. We love what they do. It’s amazing. So yeah, if you ever see us at an event, definitely come say hi, get some swag. 

Matt: A lot of people go to conferences just for the swag sometimes, which is wild to me, but I know that, and so that's part of the reason why we put a lot of effort into our swag is there are literally people that will show up and just bags full of swag and they take it home, but. What's your favorite part about going to a conference?


Lauren: Oh, that's a good question.

Matt: Thank you. You're welcome. Somebody wrote it for me. 

Lauren: Yes, I did. I love how inspiring conferences are. Even when i'm not attending as an attendee, I guess, when we're there as vendors or when we're there as attendees, the environment there is just so inspiring and so…all I want to do is go home and try some of the things that people have talked about. Or creating content or, you know, maybe even just looking more into something that somebody talked about in a session that I'm like, wow, that sounds really interesting, I'd like to learn more about that. I find them to be very inspiring.

Matt: Yeah, that's really cool. Especially when you go to events that actually allow for that to really happen in a large scale, you know, when you're sitting in a little breakout session, yeah, you get some of that creative runoff. But when you attend events that allow for some of that creativity to really flow in a large scale, in a big room, where they've got a pretty dynamic speaker or…yeah, it's really cool.

Lauren: I agree. What is your favorite thing? 

Matt: I think one of my favorite things is that – and this is going to sound stupid and cliche, but – I do enjoy talking to authors and creators that have used our platform, or are considering our platform. That feedback I often bring back here to the team for you guys, or for our developers or anybody else who it's pertinent to, to better inform what we're doing. And I do think that actually is – for anybody out there listening that is on a marketing team or runs a marketing team and you're not heavily reliant upon customer feedback – you absolutely should be. And getting feedback at events, in my opinion, is just as valuable, if not more valuable, than those quick little one or two question surveys everybody puts out that really only feed into your Net Promoter Score and that's it. I love getting feedback and talking about the pros and cons and the wins and the losses. 

But I also – which often sounds weird coming from me or people that know me, it seems counterintuitive because I am very introverted, but – I do like meeting new people. I find it entertaining at times, but I just love meeting new people, mostly because I like hearing about what they're doing. We run into some really, like you said, creative people who sometimes we learn about ways they're using Lulu that we didn't even think about. And then we can turn around and take that back and turn that into an educational piece of collateral for other Lulu users, to use Lulu in a way that we hadn't previously thought of, that might be beneficial to them or what they're doing. So I like meeting new people. I think maybe as an introvert, I like meeting new people at events because it's a fairly quick interaction, but those are my two favorite things. 

Lauren: So I genuinely outlined this episode without knowing what Matt was going to answer in response to that question. The point that he just made is actually one of the points, one of the selling points for why I think people should go to conferences. Thanks for setting me up for that one. 

Matt: Sure. It's what you pay me for. 

Lauren: That's so true. I'm definitely the one signing the paychecks in this room. 

Matt: Still waiting on it. 

Lauren: For sure. I pay you in Disney souvenirs every time I come back from a trip. 

Matt: This is true, and that works.

Lauren: It's a great trade-off. 

Matt: Fastest way to my heart. 

Lauren: That's so true. 

Matt: That and pizza. 

Lauren: I cannot provide you with pizza. 

Matt: You're Italian. 

Lauren: I am a born and raised New Yorker. So other than bringing back fresh hot pizza from New York, I cannot be providing you with pizza in North Carolina. 

Matt: All right.

Lauren: That is one of the great things that I love about going to conferences. Getting to travel to all these different cities, places that you might not go to. I don't know that I ever would have felt inspired to travel to Cleveland, for example. I don't know if anything ever would have brought me to Cleveland. 

Matt: Same. 

Lauren: But I love it. We've been there a few times now for different conferences and it's one of the cooler cities that I've ever been to. Same with Boise. Boise, Idaho. Awesome city. Some of the best food ever. 

Matt: Yeah. 

Lauren: Like, oh man, I still think about some of the food that we ate. 

Matt: Cleveland was one of those places that I made an effort to – Ohio in general. In most of, most of my life I've been fortunate enough to avoid it other than driving through it on one or two occasions, but I will agree with you. Cleveland, I've changed my mind about Cleveland, especially downtown Cleveland. So shout out to Cleveland and Joe and Pam Pulizzi. Same with Boise. I didn't necessarily try to avoid Boise. I just had no reason to go to that part of the country, but Boise has a really cool downtown area as well, and we always have a good time when we go there, so. 

Lauren: Yeah. Absolutely. The first year we went to Craft + Commerce, it was kind of a last minute decision to go, and Matt asked me like very last minute. He was like, ‘hey, do you want to go to this conference in Boise?’ And it was a week before I was leaving for a week-long cruise, and I was like, ‘oh man, I don't know. I don't know if I want to do that. And like basically back-to-back trips, but also when else am I going to have a reason to go to Boise? And it was worth it. I'm so glad. 

Matt: Yeah. We always have a good time there. So.

Lauren: Yeah.

Matt: That's right. The travel component can be a lot of fun because I mean, oftentimes these events are sometimes in cities that you wouldn't normally go to. So I agree with that too. Yeah. 

Lauren: So we'll see what this winds up being once I've edited it and tackled it a little bit, but right now we've just spent 17 minutes talking about how much we like conferences. Hopefully it's not 17 minutes long when the final episode airs. You know, it’s fine.

Matt: It might be.

Lauren: It might be. But I think the TL;DR on that one is that we both really like in-person events. We're both generally pro attending in-person events, whether it's attending for educational purposes or attending for promotional purposes. So maybe let's spend a little bit of time now trying to convince anyone who's listening why they should also like and attend in-person events.

Matt: If we must. 

Lauren: We must. 


Matt: But, you know, again, not just attending, like for anybody listening, that's a small business owner or even mid to large size business, and you haven't thought about potentially taking the chance on adding in-person events into your marketing mix. Or, you know, sometimes that spend is a little scary because it's hard to measure the ROI on events, too. But I think Lauren's right. I think we would agree that the ROI that we're able to measure, and the relationships that we form, and some of the things that we come away with from these events by way of user feedback that inform things that we put into the market, I think it's all worth it. 

Lauren: Yeah, that's a great point to highlight before we get started on here too. When we're talking about attending events, much like when we're talking about our own experiences, the whole tilt of this episode is focusing both on attending it as a conference attendee – that you're learning something from the experience – and also reasons that we think that you should consider attending events as a sponsor, or bring your small business to an event as a sponsor. No matter what your interest in potentially going to events is, this is relevant for both attendees and sponsors. Hopefully. Hopefully it's relevant. If you disagree, you've probably stopped listening by now. So it doesn't matter.

Matt: That's true. Or hit that fast forward button. 

Lauren: Also understandable.

Matt: Yep. 


Lauren: Anyway, let's talk about one of the main reasons that people attend events. And that's education. 

Matt: I do think that at the core of it, that's often why we're attending a lot of the conferences we go to as well, whether that's industry-focused, audience-focused, or professional development-focused, even if we're sponsoring, even if we have a big booth, we are still spending time in some of the sessions that are going on. We're still spending time listening to a lot of the speakers because undoubtedly, you know, one of the takeaways or the ROI that you can gain from an event is that education component. I think that's really important. And I do think that yes, you know, you can get most of that online probably, if not all of it, from one source or another. But, I will say, at least for me and for a lot of people I know, that something hits differently when you're in person and you're listening to somebody explaining a concept, or talk about certain tactics to put in place, or ways that you can promote your books on different channels or…it really doesn't matter the topic, but I think when you are in the presence of somebody in person, with other people around you of like mind who are also learning, that's an environment that I think it's much easier to focus in, and really absorb what's going on, than if you're just sitting at your laptop on your couch and you got five other things going on too, and then you pause it and you're like, ‘oh, I’ll come back and you never do.’ When you are at an event you are in a mindset of learning, of absorbing. And so I feel like you actually will absorb and learn that stuff a lot easier and faster. That's kind of my take on it. And I know that other people sort of echo that sentiment. Some would probably just hear what I said and go, ‘that dude is crazy. I'd rather sit on my couch and my socks and my PJs and just watch it online.’ And hey, hats off to you. 

Lauren: You know, we've both made this point on this podcast before, Matt already said it once in this episode. This is coming from two hardcore introverts. Like, this is – I want to be very clear that if anyone's listening to this and it's like, ‘ugh, well obviously you guys like events if you're extroverts you like events,’ like no. We're not. Neither one of us is an extrovert in any way, we like events in spite of being – or despite being – introverts, not because we are, like, interested in being surrounded by people on a normal basis. 

Matt: We like events in spite of the fact that they're events.

Lauren: Yes, exactly. But I do think that's a great point. Actually, the educational experience that you get at an event is not just limited to the people that you're learning from, because yeah, there are gonna be some incredible, like, thought leaders and experts at events – any good event, any event worth going to has put some time and effort into putting together a high quality agenda and list of speakers. The difference between hearing from a speaker that you could also just listen to their podcast, or read their blog. or whatever and attending an in-person event is the other attendees there with you. And I think that's something that you can't recreate when you're sitting at home on your couch in your pajamas reading a blog on your laptop or your phone. 

Matt: You could have all your cats line up in front of you, kind of like you do.

Lauren:  I have one cat, thank you very much. 

Matt: That's one too many.

Lauren: That's…okay. All right. We're not going to start that fight on air. 

Matt: You could line up all your Pop Funko dolls, and then feel like you're in a room full of others learning. 

Lauren: I am surrounded by the Funko Pops when I'm sitting at my desk at home. 

Matt: Pretty sure you had to get a bigger apartment to accommodate all of those Funko dolls, if I'm not mistaken. 

Lauren: I did need to buy several new bookcases. So. 

Matt: Yeah. Anybody listening to this might want to buy stock in Pop Funko, just knowing Lauren's habits alone. 

Lauren: I have stock in Funko. 

Matt: I believe it. 


Lauren: It's fine. Anyway, the point is other people attending the event with you are contributing to the educational experience that you're getting. In some obvious ways and some not. Whether that's just, you know, listening to the questions. There are so many sessions that I've been to that somebody has asked a question from the audience that I wouldn't have thought of until they asked it. And as soon as they ask it, I'm like, ‘wow, that's such a great point. I never would have thought about doing this that way or approaching this that way or thinking about that.’ And then you're learning from them, in that case. I've had some of the best connections and like learned some of the best little tips and tricks that I've learned from people at conferences, by just striking up conversations with people between sessions.

Matt: Yeah.

Lauren: Or sitting in the hotel lobby before or after the conference. And people are in that mindset of, ‘oh, I'm here at a conference. The other people here are probably also here for this conference.’ You're probably all wearing lanyards and name tags and look a little bit like a cult. You know, that's fine. And people will just strike up conversations with you and talk about what you both do that brought you to this conference. And now you've learned something new that you wouldn't have learned if you were just reading an email newsletter. 

Matt: Yeah, I agree. Being surrounded by peers, by like-minded people trying to learn and accomplish some of the same things you are is massively beneficial, as well as, you know, what some of the speakers are talking about. I think for some too, for me, for example, there are some people that I follow that…for me it might be not a fanboy thing, but you could sign up for Ann Handley's Total Annarchy newsletter, and it's great, but to see Ann Handley on stage dancing and doing what she does, that's kind of a…you have to experience that. So there are certain people, speakers, thought leaders, just people that you follow, however you want to categorize them. It's one thing to read their newsletter every week or every, every month, or to watch a video or listen to their podcasts, but to see them on stage and their personality coming through, like that's a whole ‘nother thing. And oftentimes that just adds to the whole experience. Oftentimes you come away with a different opinion or sort of love for what that person does and what they say, in most cases. 

And then, you know, there's also the idea that there's a lot of people that don't have newsletters and podcasts and big social media followings, that you really do want to get in front of because they have a lot of knowledge to share. And in the publishing industry, that might mean people like editors or agents or things like that. And you might not get that experience or that knowledge otherwise, because they're not incentivized or motivated to put that stuff out into the world, but they do have knowledge, things that you really should know as somebody who might be exploring that opportunity or that avenue. 

Lauren: Yeah, you're getting not just access to speakers and thought leaders and educators that you can access pretty regularly. Like Matt said, Ann Handley, wonderful example. If you are not already signed up for the Total Annarchy newsletter, please do. And she is a delightful speaker in person. So I am absolutely an Ann Handley fangirl. 

Matt: So this year at B2B forum a few months ago, her whole thing this year was Barbie related.

Lauren: Oh, bless. 

Matt: So she was in all pink and they had these huge Barbie boxes. It was wild. Like, you won't get that just from her newsletter. That is totally worth the trip there. 

Lauren: Well, and even that, you know, that's a great example that that was her thing this year. Last year I saw her at Content Marketing World and her presentation started with…she was putting up screenshots from season four of Stranger Things with closed captioning on, because that was like the very notable, like they really went hard on the closed captioning. And she did a whole presentation on voice and copywriting. And the way she started the presentation was by showing these screenshots from season four of Stranger Things that you really, like none of the characters were in it. You could just tell kind of some like muted background stuff, but it would have like the very descriptive caption for the sound effects at the bottom. And we all knew right away exactly what it was. And I am also a huge Stranger Things fan. So just immediately, like she immediately won me over, had my attention, and then created a memorable session. This was over a year ago, and I still remember the topic of the session, which I don't remember what I read last week. 

Matt: Yeah, that's fair. 

Lauren: It creates a very memorable experience. It's a way for you to connect with these content creators and their educational content that you wouldn't normally have from just looking at your laptop or your phone.


Matt: No, I agree. Again, a way to connect with that content in such a fashion where you might not do that, just reading through it 100%. And again, great examples. One of the other things that I think is really cool at conferences is oftentimes the content will be forward-facing. Talk about certain ways to future proof what you're doing. And there's almost undoubtedly always a couple of people there who are following the data, who are looking at the trends, who are looking at what's coming. And whether you're a marketer or an author or anybody else, you know, having somewhat of an idea, no matter how opinionated that might be necessarily, but sparking thought about what's coming is extremely helpful and being able to potentially prepare for that. And you can read these articles online, you can find this information elsewhere in many cases, but there's just something about that in-person connection where, you know, you really absorb that information and you can process it there and really think about how to take it back and put it into action.

Lauren: I went to a conference in March of 2020. It was literally the first week of March of 2020. It was the last thing I did before everything shut down. I went to Social Media Marketing World and I came back and I looked at Matt and I said, ‘I don't know anything about this yet, but the number one topic at Social Media Marketing World was that if we are not already on TikTok, we're doing it wrong.’ And you know what? It's three years later and everyone is still on TikTok, and it's still a massive social media platform. So those people at that conference that were looking at industry trends and predicting – I mean, I, you know, none of them could have predicted where we were gonna be in two weeks after that conference. 

Matt: That's true. Which might also contribute to why TikTok took off. Wow, say that 12 times in a row fast. 

Lauren: No, thank you. But yeah, no, you're probably right. But still – 

Matt: And to those listening, we're still doing it wrong. And so are about 70% of the other people on TikTok. So don't feel bad. 

Lauren: That's fine. That's fine. But yeah, you know, you never really know what you don't know.

Matt: That's right. 

Lauren: So getting this opportunity to hear what's coming, hear what other people are predicting about the future of your industry. It's a great way to stay on track and keep an eye on the future.


Matt: Yeah. For me, another thing that I like to see, or it makes me feel good, is when we go to conferences, oftentimes there's some validation that happens. We're there as a team, or several of us from the team, and oftentimes what's being talked about are things that we're already doing and maybe some variations on what we're doing. Sometimes it's nice to just get outside of your bubble, your little world, and go out there and see that what you're doing actually is right. It doesn't always feel that way. So it's nice to see and hear that and get some of that validation.

Lauren: It's really actually very helpful. Every single one of us has fought imposter syndrome at least once at some point. If you're a creator of any kind, you have struggled with that at least once. 

Matt: Daily. 

Lauren: Having somebody validate you by saying, ‘no, you are doing it right.’ That's helpful. Having somebody come in there and say, ‘hey, this is the best practice for doing this.’ It's a great way to be like, ‘okay, great. I am doing this. I don't have to stress about this anymore. Let me move my focus and attention onto this other thing instead.’ And it's also a great way to come back to your boss and say, ‘hey, yeah, that thing we argued about last week, I was right.’ I've never done that though.

Matt: I'm gonna plead the fifth on this one. 

Lauren: But yeah, I think that's really the very long-winded way of saying there's a lot that you can learn at a conference. So whether that's learning directly from the thought leaders and educators and experts that are there, learning from your fellow attendees and the other people that are there, learning about what's coming, or just learning that you're on the right track. They're obviously really, really helpful learning experiences. 

Matt: Yeah, 100%. 


Lauren: But that's not all they are. But wait, there's more. 

Matt: Yeah, it started feeling like a commercial there real quick. You know, one of the other things that we find events are great for, and we've touched on this already and again, counterintuitive to how Lauren and I particularly operate, it is a great opportunity to network. And so, you know, I said, I do like to meet people when I go to these events, and I do. Whereas in my daily life at home, like I go out of the way to avoid probably having conversations with random people. Like you won't catch me in Trader Joe's just talking to anybody random. Whereas at an event, constantly trying to meet someone or talk to them and just again, find out what they're doing and how it's working for them. The ability to have a concentration of like-minded people, you know, or at least of similar interest are there for the same topic or reasons, where you can have that amount of networking going on, and conversation happening, I think is really beneficial and important. 

Lauren: You're in a position too where everyone is kind of having that experience, no matter how introverted, extroverted, whatever they are. We're all kind of approaching the event with this mindset of ‘I'm here to connect with other people, I'm here to have conversations with other people.’ A lot of people that are attending them are attending them by themselves. There are times or there will be groups together where people are attending with their team, maybe it's a small team of a couple people or a larger team from a company, something like that, but there are very, very frequently attendees there by themselves.

Matt: Yeah. 

Lauren: People are looking for that connection. So it's not like the kind of situation where you're sliding into someone's DMs on LinkedIn, or tweeting at somebody and hoping that they see your tweet and respond back to you, and you're kind of cold-contacting people. Like, this is an environment where people are intentionally open to fostering connections with new people, which definitely takes some of the pressure off of networking and having those conversations.

Matt: Yeah, no, I agree. For me too, that's a big part of it. When I'm here, I'm often living in my inbox and it's a nightmare. And when I'm at events or conferences, I'm not living in my inbox at all. And as you said at the beginning of this thing, I'll typically try to write some sort of out of office for my email so that people get the picture. Like, I'm at an event, I'm not answering my email right now. And it again, forces me to be sort of in the moment and to be accessible. And I think it forces other people to be accessible too. And facilitates all that connection, that networking. The other cool thing about networking is you have the opportunity to set up some collaborative activities. So you meet somebody, maybe you kind of knew who they were, maybe you don't, but then you look at their content or see what they've been doing and you might be able to facilitate some cross-collaboration. And, you know, maybe you can appear on somebody's podcast later on as a result of meeting them at an event, or have them on your podcast, or guest blogging or things like that.

Lauren: Yeah, we've talked before about the importance of networking with your peers, if you're publishing a book. We will talk about it again, undoubtedly, the importance of having not only a community of readers and fans, but also a community of your peers and your fellow authors and creators. This is one of the places that you get to meet those people. And this is one of the environments that are designed for you to get to make those connections to people and give you those opportunities. Even if it's something as simple as like, ‘let's follow each other on Instagram and post a story and we tag both of us in it.’ And now our followers get to see each other and go like, ‘oh, who's that? Like, what do they know?’
Matt: Yeah. 

Lauren: If I follow this person because they're really into books and they posted this picture with this person at a book conference, maybe that person's really into books and I wanna follow them too. It doesn't have to be a big opportunity, but any opportunity is an opportunity. 

Matt: That's right. 

Lauren: Say that five times fast. 

Matt: No thanks. 


Lauren: We're not just talking about networking with other attendees though, or other vendors, which we have done. We've absolutely connected with other vendors at conferences that we've been to and wound up fostering relationships with them because we've met them in the downtime when there's no one – when it's just the vendors all hanging out in the showroom together because it's in the middle of a session, and we're all bored because we've been there for four days. But it's also a great opportunity to get to connect either directly or indirectly with those experts that we talked about. You know, we've talked again about the importance of finding communities, but it's also not always the easiest thing to do, is find those communities. And this is one of the ways to do that. We've talked about Ann Handley, we'll use her as an example. I don't know how I would have come across her newsletter if it wasn't at a conference. She was a speaker that I really liked the first conference that I saw her at. I really liked her. She had great energy. She wears great suits. Love the suits. She did a great presentation. I really liked her. And the last slide on her presentation was, you know, sign up for my newsletter. I said, okay, cool. You know, I liked the speaker. I want to hear more from her. I'm going to participate in this community in some way by joining her newsletter. 

Matt: Yeah. And I think that to take it a little bit further, sometimes getting the opportunities to meet in person, obviously, and talk with peers, uh, other people sort of in your space, they will often lead to, as you were getting to, other opportunities that might not be something that would be put out there in such a public, large-scale way. It might lead to a quick introduction to somebody else that's standing there, and then, before you know it, two weeks later that somebody else turned into maybe a paid sponsor for your newsletter. The type of networking that happens when you're there, in person, at an event is just different than what's going on on the internet. Unpopular opinion – maybe not – a lot of the networking that's going on on social media, and just on the internet is, it's all fake. 

Lauren: Yeah. 

Matt: A lot of it's just lip service or it's just for show. And when you're in person, when you're shaking someone's hand, when you're talking to them, when you're sharing experiences, that is wholly different than what's happening when you're trying to fit everything into 140 to 200 characters to make somebody think a certain way about you or what you're doing.

Lauren: It also adds that element of humanity that we've talked about too, where you're reminding yourself and everyone else that you're connecting with that you're not just a follower on Instagram. You're not just connecting with a business account on Instagram or following somebody who wrote a book that you've divorced the author from the book, you know, or something like that. You're actually connecting with the person. And this is a great face-to-face opportunity to remind yourself that you're connecting with a person and that you're fostering those connections. 


Matt: Yeah. Probably one of the last things we'll touch on here, that we find fun at events, or things that – at least I do, I won't speak for you, but – there are many times where we've gone to a conference or event, there's the particular company or platform or technology that's there exhibiting, and it's not something we've seen before. Sometimes it is, but in many cases, we've come back from conferences and had the idea or, ‘hey, saw this booth there, they were talking about this. Let me hop on and check out what they're all about.’ And it turns out to be something that really makes our life easier by way of software or platform or service or things like that. 

Lauren: Yeah, not only are you being presented on a silver platter with a group of people that thought their services or software or technology were valuable enough to this specific audience that they literally paid money to be there. So they've curated already like a tech stack for you basically where they're like, ‘hi, here are things that we think are useful to you.’ They're also there to explain to you why they're valuable, and why they're going to be able to help you. And you might not even have known that there was a tool in place to help you with this specific task or something like that. And now you do.

Matt: Yeah. And it goes back to that whole idea of being present and in the moment and open to opportunities, those opportunities extend to things like this. And I can be here in the office on my laptop doing work and yeah, I might see an ad for this particular software or platform, but most of us are trained not to really pay attention to ads these days. 

Lauren: Yep. 

Matt: A lot of us have pop-up blockers on or things like that. So it's not even an option in many cases, but when you're at an event and you're talking to somebody, and it turns out they're with a particular service or platform or software, and somebody's able to really explain to you, then you might actually find value in that. You might not, and that's totally okay, by the way. But when we're conditioned in our daily lives to avoid ads for the most part – and we can tell their ads by the way on Instagram; it's, it's no use trying to fool us. But at an event, it's a whole other story. And again, I think in most of the situations where I feel like I've discovered a new tool that has helped me streamline my day to day or whatever that might be in most situations, I feel like I learned of that at an event because I'm one of those people that scrolls right past the ads. If I don't know what I'm looking at, I keep going.

Lauren: Same.

Matt: I've got blinders on. 

Lauren: Same. I completely agree with that. And we have absolutely kind of conditioned ourselves to filter those things out. I spent so much time researching ahead of us launching this podcast, trying to figure out what software to use for this. Things that I hadn't even thought about, like we need to look ahead for all these tools. And I'm already really looking forward to – we're going to a conference in January that's a podcast-focused conference. And I'm really looking forward to specifically the vendors that are going to be there, and learning more about the different tools that I might not be aware of right now that will make this process better. 


Lauren: So, all right, hopefully we have convinced you at this point that conferences are worth going to. At the very least, we've talked for a while about why we like them. So hopefully that was convincing in some way to you. But now it comes down to the question of how do you choose the right event to attend? Full disclosure, like totally understand that it's really easy for us to say, we love going to conferences and events and traveling to all these different places and going once a month to somewhere new, because we're not the ones paying out of pocket for that experience. 

Matt: Well, I have a budget to watch out for. 

Lauren: Yes, you do. 

Matt: To a degree, but you're right. 

Lauren: You do. But it's, you know, for a small business owner, for a content creator that is getting their business off the ground, that is being economical with their budget throughout the year – 

Matt: That’s right.

Lauren: Is it still valuable to them to attend these conferences? 

Matt: Yeah. 

Lauren: And if it is valuable – hopefully we've made the case that it is valuable – you probably can't go to one every month for an entire year, because they do get to be pricey every now and then. So how do you choose one or two events that are the right event for you to go to?

Matt: I think that's probably one of the greatest points made so far is that, hands down, I'd say the pros list for why you should go to in-person events is so much longer than the cons list. But one of the cons, if it's a con, is the fact that it costs money. So, you know, as you alluded to, if you're, if you're trying to be fiscally responsible for yourself or your business, then yeah, you should figure out what are your goals, you know, what is it you're trying to accomplish? And that's going to help you pick which conference or event – or plural, if you're able to – that you would attend for the year. And it's going to involve things like doing your research. And so if your goal is to network as much as possible with like-minded peers and industry people, then you're obviously going to look for an event that is geared towards that, and set up in such a way where you're going to be able to maximize opportunities for networking. They'll have things like roundtable discussions, Q & A's, maybe even, if this is your thing, you know, certain conferences and events have lots of parties and cocktail hours that are focused on everybody being able to come together and network in a little bit less formal environment as well where you're not, you know, watching somebody on stage or listening to somebody. So if networking is your thing, look for an event that's really geared towards that.

Lauren: And if education is your thing, you know, then you're going to want to focus on that. You're going to want to look at ones that have – if there's any particular experts that you're a really big fan of, that you want to keep an eye out for what conferences they're at, so you're going to want to pay attention to something like that. You're also going to want to pay attention – if education is your main focus, how niche are you trying to get with that education? You know, are you looking for, for example, a general content marketing event, or are you looking for something that's more specific on social media marketing? Or even more specific than that, are you looking for a Instagram-focused event? 

Matt: AI. 

Lauren: There you go. I thought you were about to correct me for saying a Instagram instead of an Instagram. 

Matt: No, no, no. 

Lauren: Which is going to live rent free in my head. 

Matt: That's your job. I was, I was making a joke. It didn't come off as a joke but it seems like this year everybody –  

Lauren: Yes. 

Matt: Whether last minute or not, switched up the focus of their conferences. And there was so much more AI related content, whether it was a publishing event or a marketing event, it doesn't matter. Yeah. Everything just kind of shifted towards AI. There's an actual marketing AI conference, which was great. And you know, previous years, they would get a couple hundred attendees. This year they had upwards of, I think like 700. So, um, yeah, but again, look for events that tend to focus on the topic you're most interested in. 


Lauren: Also, you know, if you are budget conscious, if you're trying to be considerate of that, set a budget in advance as you're looking into different conferences, factor all of the things into that. Some conferences include meals in the price of the ticket. Some conferences you are responsible for your own meals. So that's an additional expense that you're going to have to consider. Are you flying somewhere? Are you driving somewhere? Are there conferences that are local to your city? Is that an option for you? Do you live somewhere that there's going to be a conference, that you could maybe cut down on the travel expenses then, if you're just staying locally? Set your budget ahead of time. 

And if it's something that you're really, you know, you're not 100% committed to, you're not 100% sold on, you don't want to bite the bullet on this big expense. Most conferences, if not all conferences these days, do offer a virtual ticket. So maybe test the waters with that. If you’re saying I don’t want to commit the full expense of going to an in-person event, consider a virtual ticket to try it out. 


Matt: Find other ways to make the trip more beneficial for you as well in terms of an ROI. Maybe there's some people you can set up meetings with while you're there that can help further along some of the objectives you might have for the year, content exchanges, things like that. So ahead of time, you can really try and set yourself up to have a more fruitful trip depending on location and things like that, what your goals are. 


Lauren: In general, we're always going to recommend doing your research. I feel like that's a phrase I've said at least once every episode so far. 

Matt: Yep.

Lauren:  I'm including that in this episode and including that in when it comes to choosing conferences that are right for you. Look at years past, look at hashtags from the event, try to find out what the hashtag was from the past years and search the hashtag. It's a great way to get like an on the ground perspective of the different conferences. Um, look up to see if anyone's done write ups of the events, whether those are attendees or even like local news, sometimes, depending on how big the event is, that that could actually be a thing. We've done a couple. I'll link in the show notes, a couple of blog posts that we've written that are like post event write ups and stuff like that. Try to get a feeling for the vibe. Even if it's something as simple as is everyone attending this event, wearing business suits or are people dressed more casually? 

Matt: Yeah. 

Lauren: You know, I think that Matt would draw a hard line at attending any event that he had to wear a tie or he was expected to wear a tie.

Matt: wouldn't happen but I also draw a hard line at any event where the majority of the attendees are wearing ties. It's just not an environment I'm comfortable in. So yeah, absolutely. I think that's a great point though. Try to get an understanding of what the crowd is like, what the vibe is like of the event overall. Again, understanding the topics or main topics and what you're hoping to get out of it. I think in doing enough research, I think you can come up with which event is going to be right for you – or events, plural – conferences, whatever that might be. 

Like everything else we talk about, I think one of the best ways to find out information is word of mouth. And so, if you're still drawing a bit of a blank when it comes to researching a particular event, or events plural, go out there to LinkedIn or something and just throw it out there like, ‘hey, has anybody attended this particular event? I'd love a little bit of feedback. I'm considering it.’ In many cases, people love to give their honest opinions of things like that, especially if they think it might save somebody some money or some time. So don't be afraid to go out there and ask your peers, or if you have an audience, ask them. You never know who's been to that event or who hasn't.

Lauren: Yeah, this is a great opportunity for you to create some conversation within your own audience, your own community, whether that's a community that you are responsible for yourself, or if it's a community that you're a part of, that you're just looking for a reason to have a conversation with people within that community, this is a great jumping off point for that conversation. Because, clearly, if you've gotten this far into this episode, you've understood that Matt and I will sit here and talk about events that we've loved all day. And I think that is a pretty common experience for people that like events. People tend to become, like a little bit evangelists about events that they love. We're really going to sing the praises of an event that we had a good time at. And to the same effect, if you didn't have a good time at an event, people will tell you that too. So they'll tell you if an event is not worth your time or if maybe you should focus – if there's one event, if you can only go to one event this year, this is the event to go to.

Matt: Yeah

Lauren: So don't be afraid to ask.


Matt: That's true, yeah. All right. Anything else you want to add to that? 

Lauren: I don't think so.

Matt: Any more events for the rest of the year? As we record this it's November, so we're getting towards the end of the year here. 

Lauren: Yeah, no, I think that's it. I think our next event is the January one.

Matt:  I agree. No more events. If you do attend any events next year and you see Lulu there, please come up and talk to us. Even Lauren and I, we love to joke that we're introverts, but at events we are extroverts. So.

Lauren: Totally different. We are two completely different people. 

Matt: Yeah. I don't know if that's good or bad, but come by and say hi to us anyways.

Lauren: Please do. If there are any events that you are looking forward to next year, that you are considering and maybe want some info on, or any that you think that we should go to next year, let us know. We'd love to learn about more events and whether or not we'll see you there. 

Matt: Yep. Thanks everybody for listening. We'll see you next time. 

Lauren: Thanks, everyone.