Why do people keep coming back to Intuit’s® QuickBooks® Connect conference in San Jose year after year? Of course, everyone experiences QuickBooks Connect in his or her own unique way, but as a three-time attendee, I thought I’d share what I have learned.
QuickBooks Connect year 1: Deer in the headlights
At my first QuickBooks Connect, my focus was on learning. I wanted to squeeze the maximum value from every hour. I filled my schedule with training courses. I had no idea there were so many apps. I stopped into each booth, watched each demo and filled my bag with brochure after brochure.
The parties were incredible. I met tons of new people. I was surprised at how easy it turned out to be to start conversations. I had never before been in such a large group of people who spoke my language and were so willing to share.
Even though I was new to QuickBooks Online (QBO), I was already established in my niche, so I tweeted often, focusing on the nonprofit perspective. As a result, I picked up a lot of followers.
- When talking to vendors, have some key qualifying questions. For example, I always ask whether the app works with the Canadian version of QBO. It helps me prioritize apps, as well as letting the developer know what people are looking for.
- Don’t rely on having copies of presenters’ slides after QuickBooks Connect. It’s easy to forget exactly what you wanted to implement. Make a note of your plans while the material is still fresh in your mind.
- Pace yourself. Focus on apps and techniques you can implement immediately, instead of trying to take it all in.
QuickBooks Connect year 2: Recognizing friends
By my second QuickBooks Connect, I had met more people in the QuickBooks ecosystem. I knew several of the local developers. I had attended bookkeeper lunches, joined a Facebook group and worked with some of them. I had also gotten to know some of the thought leaders, so I had a better idea of which sessions I needed to attend, and which were about subjects I had already covered.
The events continued to be spectacular, but I realized that some of the most important conversations happened over a quiet drink in the hotel lobby. By then, I was advocating for a new QBO feature for Canadian nonprofits. People at QuickBooks Connect were really helpful in telling me who to talk to, so I was able to get a face-to-face meeting during the conference.
- QuickBooks Connect is a perfect place to have deep conversations with product managers and developers. They are there to talk and you get their perspective as well. It’s a two-way discussion, rather than just logging your suggestions online.
- Leave space in your schedule for less formal discussions. “Let’s talk about this at QuickBooks Connect” is a great way to have a deeper conversation, away from the distractions and interruptions of daily life.
- Cheer on the home team. It may seem odd to go all the way to San Jose to talk to people from your hometown, but great strategic partnerships have been born at QuickBooks Connect.
QuickBooks Connect year 3: Bigger picture
With QuickBooks Connect spreading internationally, people have the choice of going to San Jose or to a closer, local QuickBooks Connect. For me, this is an opportunity to get involved. In San Jose, I am a participant, but in my hometown QuickBooks Connect, I am a presenter. I didn’t take anyone with me to San Jose, but I’m actively encouraging colleagues and clients to come to Toronto.
I think San Jose will always be special because of the number of Intuit team members you meet, as well as the opportunity to tour the Mountain View campus. There are also developers who will make the trek to San Jose, but who might not go to the other locations. At the same time, a local #QuickBooks Connect helps you increase your profile in the local community.
As you develop your business, QuickBooks Connect becomes more about strategy and longer term planning than immediate training. There are opportunities to collaborate with the peers you have come to know, whether in the same city or across the country. You have a deeper knowledge of the apps you support and can talk strategically to the developers.
- Think of QuickBooks Connect as part of your larger plan for year-round engagement and business development, rather than a single event.
- Consider sharing your knowledge by leading a session. It will help establish you as an expert in your niche.
- Use QuickBooks Connect to motivate staff. Have team members make a presentation to the rest of the team about what they learned.
Accounting is all about analysis and focus, rather than dreaming and creating. And, yet, as a business owner, that is exactly what you need to do to plan your next move. So, at QuickBooks Connect, sit back and allow yourself to be inspired. Follow an idea just because it’s interesting, whether or not it fits in the strategic plan. As you take in the keynote speakers, attend sessions, watch demonstrations of cool new technologies or spontaneously meet colleagues in the hall, let your mind wander a bit. I asked a veteran QuickBooks Connect husband and wife team what their plans were for after QuickBooks Connect. While so many of us are rushing back to tackle all the work that has piled up in our absence, they decided to rent a convertible and drive along the California coast. That’s the spirit!