10 things to bring, know, and do at #QBConnect

🎼Sing it with me, y’all… 🎼

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

No, not Christmas, I’m talking about QuickBooks® Connect 2022, Dec. 7-9 to Las Vegas at the Aria. For the first time since 2019, QuickBooks Connect is happening live and in person. And to quote Lizzo (because, why not?), “It’s about damn time!”

For many bookkeeping and accounting professionals, people in fintech, or the countless number of us who are accounting adjacent, QuickBooks Connect is the highlight of our year. It’s a rare chance to all be under one roof—learning, collaborating, and partying like only accountants can.

If it’s been a while since you’ve gone to a conference, don’t fear! Here is a handy list of 10 things to bring, know, and do when you attend #QBConnect this year.

  1. The importance of layers. Layering isn’t just for the great outdoors! This rule of dressing applies to freezing hotel convention centers, too! If you’re donning a super soft logo-T (perhaps nabbed from your favorite vendor in the exhibit hall), don’t forget to pack a hoodie or light jacket, and keep it on hand for those moments that the AC goes full blast.
  2. Your phone is a QR code reader. QR codes are everywhere! And they’re a great way to quickly take information—everything from a web address to an entire contact card. Don’t be confused by all the QR code reader apps, which likely want to show you ads or bloat your phone. Unless you’re working with a very outdated smartphone (we’re talking 2017 or earlier), your iPhone or Android can use its built-in camera as a QR reader. Just open the camera and point it at the code!
  3. Prepare for sucky “not the best” Wi-Fi. The hotel and convention center Wi-Fi is notoriously bad! It’s not that they aren’t trying; it’s just that almost any network would be overwhelmed by thousands of people, each connecting to it with their phones, laptops, tablets, watches, and who knows what else. So, for one thing, I recommend upping your data to unlimited, if your mobile plan isn’t already, or bring a portable Wi-Fi hotspot, so that you’re not relying on the same network as 5,000 other people, at the exact moment you need to access a vital work email or text from a friend, wondering when you are going to get to the next session.
  4. Apps, apps, and more apps. Like an Oprah giveaway, QuickBooks Connect has an app! The Aria Resort & Casino has an app! Everyone has an app! These apps can be convenient and helpful, but the last thing you want is to be waiting on them to download with that sucky “not the best” Wi-Fi that I just mentioned. This is why the best thing you can do is preload and test each app that you want to use before traveling. Make sure that you’ve got any login info already set up, if needed. Also, check that your Uber or Lyft apps are working and tied to the right credit card before you need to use them. According to Tripadvisor, Uber’s standard rate is a little cheaper than Lyft, but they’re quick to put a surge charge on. Both are fine options, and there isn’t much difference between the two.

**Accountants, isn’t it time that kajillion finally becomes a standardized unit of measure?

  1. Don’t forget your swimsuit. Even if you don’t think you’ll want to, I can’t overstate the benefits of relaxing in the hotel pool or hot tub, after you’ve walked approximately 4 kajillion** steps! After-hours at conferences can be valuable relationship-building, networking, or self-care time, so don’t leave the swimsuit at home and miss out on the opportunity to connect with your community in a more casual atmosphere, or to just take some time for you. You will likely see me at the hot tub Friday night, Saturday morning, Saturday mid-day … well, you get it!
  2. Pack more charging cords than you need. Obviously, you’ll want to pack a charger for each device you bring! I’ll likely have five things to charge each day. Actually, six if you count my portable charger. Not sure if I should count the battery backup attached to my phone—that would make 7.OK, you see what I am going for here, and once I am packed, I’ll circle back to how many cords, cubes, and batteries I will have this year. But the bigger point is that packing spare charging cords is never a bad idea. It’s a great way to be someone’s hero and make a new friend/ business connection, when you’re sitting in a communal area and the person next to you is freaking out because their phone is on 3% and they can’t find their own.
  3. Respect the vendors’ time. Vendors come to QuickBooks Connect to show off their products and services, and connect with potential customers! We also know they bring some sweet SWAG! If you’re looking for a T-shirt or water bottle, or want to get a “passport” stamped, but you honestly don’t need their offering, I recommend just saying so.

As someone who has worked with vendors at conferences several times a year for the last decade or more, most vendors are happy to give you branded gear without spending time on their sales pitch, if you’re not a potential buyer. Be cool, though, by giving them a shout-out on social media, and be sure to tag them. You could also like their page or account, and pass the word on to a peer who needs their solution. We are all in this together, so show them that you value their time and let them spend time talking with the people they need to. And you get your time back, too.

  1. Prepare your elevator pitch. Think about this in advance! Write it out. Practice it. You’ll have limited time to introduce yourself to people, so having a 2-3 sentence elevator pitch that you know by heart saves you from awkward silence, or fumbling through your introduction when you first meet someone. The idea is to get a longer conversation, so it just needs to pique someone’s interest.

For example, mine is: “Hi, I’m Richard Roppa-Roberts with Roundtable Labs. We’re a cooperative community of accounting professionals.” Then, if they ask me to tell them more or comment that it sounds interesting, I follow up with some variation of this: “Bookkeepers, CPAs, and EAs in four countries. Just about every niche. We come together to solve real-world problems of the moment. Our members are all different—some have super specific niches, some work in large firms, and some are solo. You could even say that our defining feature is embracing our similarities and differences, as we share our knowledge and experiences. Collaboration without competition is our core principle. And we have 10 active cohorts that bubble into a much larger community. We share nothing externally, and we never record meetings.”

Even though I have rehearsed it, I change it occasionally to keep it natural. I will be straight up with you—and I am not ashamed to admit it—I still mess it up from time to time, and you may, too, but almost no one will care. The hope is that your introduction will invite more questions and interest, ultimately facilitating meaningful conversations. Jump in and say hi!

  1. Prepare some conversation starters. Don’t forget, it’s not just about you! People love to talk about themselves. Things like their area of expertise, if they’ve attended QuickBooks Connect before, what session they have enjoyed the most, how long they’ve been practicing, or even go rogue: favorite TV show, pop culture icon, Elvis or Beatles, or even if they gamble. Pro tip: Stay away from politics and COVID.
  2. Our biggest tip: Make a plan, but go with the flow. QuickBooks Connect is an enormous conference, with more sessions, vendors, and activities than any one person can take in over the course of three days! I highly recommend reviewing the schedule and noting what you want to see and do before diving in. But (and this is equally important) don’t be so tied to your plan that you miss out on the unique opportunities to connect with people that arise on the fly. Some of the most valuable conversations will be ones you didn’t plan on having, and you’ll miss them if you’re always in a rush to get to your next scheduled activity.

In conclusion, a quick request. Shahram Zarshenas, the CEO and all-around good guy of Financial Cents who wrote this Firm of the Future blog article earlier this year, would like to invite you to their booth to tell him (or anyone on his team) your favorite conference tip. And you may see it in next year’s update! And while you are there, check out Financial Cents.

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