First-Time or Return Attendee: How to Successfully Navigate QuickBooks Connect
Two years ago, if you would have asked me to attend an accounting convention, I would have probably stared at you with a blank expression and politely asked, “Do I have to?” Then again, two years ago I would have only seen the trip as a business expense instead of an investment into my company. That all changed for me last year when I attended my first QuickBooks® Connect and every preconception was blown away! The biggest mistake that I made was trying to fit the entire event into a single day, a mistake that I will not be repeating again this year.
As this year’s event approaches, memories of my favorite experiences from last year’s QuickBooks Connect began to play through my mind and I started to think about the tips and tricks that I thought would make this year’s visit even more successful.
It is my hope that everyone’s first time at QuickBooks Connect is a memorable one, so I wanted to share Parkway’s suggestions to make the most out of QuickBooks Connect this year.
Unexpected Treats at QuickBooks Connect
Free Wi-Fi: While you would think this would be automatic at most conventions these days, most conventions I have attended do not offer their attendees free wi-fi. QuickBooks Connect did last year!
Coat Check: One of the hardest things to plan for is what you need to carry around all day and what you can do without. This task was even more difficult since I was only in town for the one day for the event. Thanks to the unexpected coat check, I was able to leave my heavy bag and only carry with me the items I really needed.
Free Headshots: The moment I saw that they were setting up for free headshots to be taken, I immediately got in line. Intuit hired a great photographer to capture everyone’s good side. Then, after the event the photos were made available to download.
Website Review: Thanks to the special marketing team, I was able to set up a time for one of their team members to sit down with me and review my website. Many of the suggestions they made helped me increase my website traffic over the last year.
The Survival Pack
If you are like me, you probably get stuck on what you should bring and what you should leave at home. Here is a list of the items that I strongly suggest that you bring with you:
Pad of paper and multiple pens: You may make a great friend when you offer one of your pens to someone who forgot one.
Rocketbook: There are digital notebooks that allow you to handwrite notes that can later be synced to cloud storage applications such as Google Drive and Microsoft One Drive. Check out Rocketbook, a unique note taking device that is gaining popularity with accountants Gina Rodkey and Sara Laidlaw.
Laptop or Tablet: This can be in place of the paper and pens, but only if that is your preferred method of note taking. Using the Note recorder function of the device is great to review later, but please check permission before recording anyone sessions.
QB Connect Bookmark Folder: Before you get to the show, create a new bookmark folder and have it located on your bookmark bar. This way if you hear about a cool application or a suggested link during a session, you can quickly pull up the page and save the bookmark to review at a later time.
Cell phone with additional power pack: Your cellphone can double down as your camera to take lots of pictures and videos while at the event. The backup battery pack will keep you charged longer throughout the day. The cellphone is also great for setting time reminders for the must-see events. This will keep you from missing them by accident.
Speed Dial to the Rescue: Program your phone number or the number of a travel companion to your speed dial as a polite exit from a bad conversation.
Business Cards: Pack twice as many as you Expect to give away and then bring a good handful each day to the event. I always believe in giving people three cards at the same time, you never know if they connect with someone else during the event they think should connect with you and that extra card you gave them just might come in handy!
Forget Me Not Pictures: When you can, take a picture with a person and then immediately follow up that picture with a picture of their business card. This will help you put the conversations back together at the end of a long day!
Really Good Shoes: The more you are talking to people, the less walking around you will be doing, so wear some comfy shoes to keep a smile on your face all day! If comfy shoes do not go along with your planned outfit, pack a second pair of shoes to change into and leave them with your other items at coat check. I cannot explain why, but just changing one pair of uncomfortable shoes for a new set of uncomfortable shoes still feels like at win after a couple hours!
Make the Most of Your Trip
The QuickBooks Connect experience is different for every type of attendee, below are suggestions of how to make the most out of your trip!
The Small Business Owner
One of the best team building and group motivation exercises is to attend a specialized training event together. Back in my car audio days, when we would notice sales starting to slip, we always had one of our manufacture reps come in and provide a product training to get everyone all pumped up!
If you are fortunate enough to know an area of your business that you feel could be improved, define the issue with your team and discuss ideal ways that it could be improved. Write those ideas down in a notebook that each team member carries and tell them the be on the lookout for any apps that might help improve the trouble area in the business. You can even offer a prize for the best suggestion.
Think of a couple questions you may have about business, or even about QuickBooks and write them down. When you write them down write one question per sheet of paper, leaving front and back for answers. During your conversations, try to ask at least one of those questions why speaking with people and write down a summary of their response.
Most likely when the event is over, you will have collected multiple answers to each of the questions. Review all the answers you heard and recreate your own version of the solution that you like best!
As a small business owner, your instinct may be to check in with your team every chance you get to ensure that the “Business has not burned down while you were away.” Do not do it! Instead schedule specific call in times or pockets of availability with your team. By sticking to a schedule, you will be able to focus on the opportunities in front of you while also building the trust with your team.
The Bookkeeper & The Accountant
There are countless reasons why you should attend QB Connect, which is why it is important to decide what you wish to accomplish by attending. Here is a list of some of the common answers to help you but, it is up to you to decide the primary reason:
- Learn a specific skill or trade that is being highlighted at the event
- Meet new clients
- Meet like-minded accountants
- Gain knowledge to grow your business
- CPE Credits
- Research a lot of apps all in one place
- Share your knowledge with other people
- Keep up with the technological times
Accomplishing your Personal Goal: Whatever your personal goal is out of attending QB Connect, write it down in a notebook and leave the rest of the page blank for future notes. On the following three pages, write down one activity per page that when accomplished and combined help you obtain the goal you previously wrote down.
QB Jeopardy: Play it like the small business owner. See explanation above.
Recapturing your Time: Evaluate your current workflow of your company and try to pinpoint one task that is really eating up most of your time. Now that you have defined the challenge, write out how you think this problem could be solved if money was not an issue. In other words, if you had a blank check to resolve that issue what would the solution look like.
On a new page in your binder, write the problem at the top of the page and then about ½ way down, write your solution. On the back of the page, write down possible solutions and then leave the rest of the page blank. Before your trip is over, I will bet you will have a couple ideas that have been added to that area to investigate further later.
The App Developer
If you are an application developer focused on an accounting-based application (especially anything Intuit related) you must attend this event. For startup app companies, it can be very difficult to spend money on a booth, buy promo goods to hand out all in hopes of grabbing a couple accountants’ attention, BUT THIS SHOW IS WORTH IT!
Small Business Hackathon: This annual event provides you a direct connection to the people in Intuit responsible for the Intuit® Developer Community. Even if you do not participate in the hackathon, you will be presented the opportunity to meet other thought leaders in the developer sphere that just might be able to help you overcome any obstacles you face along the way.
Meet with Bookkeepers and Accountants: Depending how far you are into your application development, you may have already created your user stories, or you may still be trying to create them. Either way, bring some of your User story worksheets and connect with accountants to get their feedback directly! As an accountant who is also developing an application, I am always willing to help answer some questions from the accountant’s perspective especially if it will help your take your application to the next level!
Find A Mentor: One of the best things that I have gained from attending different trade shows has been the conversations I have had with different app companies such as Chata.ai, AutoEntry, Ledgersync, MoneyThumb, Armatic, and many more. Each person spent real time with me answering my questions and providing me guidance that continues to fuel my decisions every day. There is plenty of business for all of us app companies, why not enhance the entire app ecosphere by working together instead of against each other!
Good luck at this year’s QuickBooks Connect! I’ll be there, so let’s connect.