The Real Reason to Go to Conferences Like #WDS2012

By Sean Ogle •  Updated: 07/02/12 •  4 min read

If you’re going to be at the World Domination Summit later this week, check out this attendees guide to Portland I had Tate put together 🙂

Have you been considering dropping a few hundred (or thousand) dollars to go to a conference this year?  It can be difficult to justify the expense, and even more difficult to quantify whether or not the investment was actually worth it.

I go to two conferences a year, and every single time, the experience has far outweighed any costs I incurred to get there.

However it hasn’t been the keynote speakers, workshops, or free parties and booze that have made the experiences valuable.  Rather it’s the other attendees just like you and me that make an event worthwhile.

Last year the World Domination Summit had an effect that I’m not sure anyone on our action team was prepared for.  People were talking about it for months beforehand, and continued to talk about it long after the final speaker ended.


Here’s a hint: It wasn’t because of the speakers.

While yes, there were some fantastic talks with very good takeaways, the fact is you can get the same message from the same speakers in a variety of other mediums, like their blogs or books.

The reason the Summit was such a big hit was because the people were such a big hit. 

97% of the people there were engaged and completely immersed in the event.  They came to meet others, have a good time, learn a thing or two, and genuinely enrich their lives – which it did for many who attended.

It changed Mike’s life. Changed Caleb’s too. Let’s not forget about JD.

When you’re surrounded by others who are so open to change, and growing as people, it’s inevitable that you’re going to create a memorable experience.

Each year I go to SXSW for the same reason.  I never purchase a pass or go to the talks, I just show up and hang out with interesting people all week – and that’s worked out perfectly thus far.

Over the last three years if there’s one important realization I’ve made it’s that meeting people in person, rather than just online, has a far bigger impact on the relationship than you think.  Being able shake hands, have a beer and talk face to face is invaluable, and helps lead to closer, longer lasting relationships.

Events like WDS and SXSW are the perfect time to do that – in fact, that’s pretty much what they’re made for. The primary goal of these events as I see it is to facilitate real interaction between others.

Yes, there are speakers and parties and such as well, but those are simply necessary attributes to kick the event off in the first place.

Is this always true? Not always. If you’re dropping G’s on a Tony Robbins event or something like that, then it’s a bit difference – although I also wouldn’t call say, Date with Destiny, a conference.

How to Prepare for WDS This Year

No doubt you’ve already seen dozens of blog posts, Facebook posts, and tweets about what to do and where to go at #WDS2012.

Well here’s the thing, if you want to get the most you possibly can out of it, put some legitimate thought into both specific people you’d like to meet, as well as certain types of people you want to meet.

Do you want to find other photographers to go walk the city with? Looking for other e-commerce entrepreneurs? Just starting a blog and need some support?

Decide who you want to meet early on and then use the Facebook group, website, and hashtag to create a game plan for how you’re going to approach the weekend.

If you just show up, listen to the speakers, and head back to your hotel room at night, you’re missing a giant part of what this thing is all about.  In face you’re missing the very essence of what makes this particular event so special (at least in my opinion).

So figure out who you want to meet, and make a sincere effort to meet them.  That’s how you’re going to get the most out of this.  If you’re looking for a place to get people together or want to experience more of Portland in the time surrounding the conference, then check out:

The WDS Attendees Guide to Portland (Written by a Local)

Also, want a sneak peek of what to expect?  Here’s a quick video from our gift bag stuffing party a couple weeks ago:

Photo Credit: Scout Books

Sean Ogle

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
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