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What I Learned About Myself by Attending MicroConf

This was my third MicroConf and I learned more this time than ever before. Some of the things I learned I’m going to try to remember for all future conferences.

And some made me question myself.

Relationships Matter

When things go right, it’s great to have your friends around you. When things go wrong, it’s essential to have your friends around you. I was delighted to see so many old friends at the conference. I missed a few people (I’m looking at you, @harisenbon79, @msmithstubbs) but I also met some new, fascinating people who are doing incredible work.

People Are Awesome

The people off stage are as valuable as the people on stage. When you buy a ticket, you’re paying for much more than just the talks. You’re joining a wonderful, kind, educated and helpful community.

Come Prepared

It can be mentally exhausting, particularly for those who don’t like large groups. It can be exhausting just because you’re learning so much. Prepare as much as you can ahead of time – so that you’re focused and ‘ready to go’ when you get to the conference.

Bring Gifts

You might only see people once a year; a small chocolate bar goes a long way to say ‘Hey, it’s great to see you again, I wanted to give you something to let you know that even though we don’t see each other frequently, I like you and respect you.’

I wish I’d brought more gifts for the people that I respect. I’m humbled by the gifts from others.

Bring Something to the Table

I set up a chat room to forge relationships and discuss meet-ups for dinner/drinks during the week of the conference. This was a great ice-breaker to people I’d never met before. Think about what you can do before the event to help people.

Ask Questions

You learn an enormous amount by asking people about what they do rather than ranting about your own ‘next big thing’.

Help

Offer your advice or help to everyone you meet. If you can’t instantly see a way to help, ask them how you can help. Follow up with them in a few weeks to see how they’re getting on.

Follow Up

A week after the event, send an email to those who you connected with. Follow up on any promises you made. Express your gratitude to those you found helpful or interesting.

What I Learned

  • Don’t get drunk and say the wrong things to the organiser’s wife – sorry!
  • If the conference doesn’t have it’s own code of conduct, make your own. Make sure that you treat others better than you would want them to treat you. Stick to it, even if you’ve had too many beers.
  • Lots of people ‘know’ me. I didn’t realise this until about a week after the conference when people started emailing me or mentioning me on twitter.

The Biggest Thing

Most people who I talked to at the conference don’t know anything about my ‘accomplishments’. This could be because I’m British and we prefer to keep things under our hat and not be boastful and brash. Perhaps that’s just an excuse, I’m not sure.

I much prefer talking to others to see if there is anything I can do to help them. I don’t really like talking about what I do.

Almost nobody at the conference knows that I run a SaaS doing almost $10K MRR. Or that last year I launched a product in a week that was generating $1000 per week until I shut it down after 20 days because I didn’t like the ethics of it. Or that I’ve built a Top-25 category iPhone app. Or that I’m writing a book. Or that I’ve got a side-project that I’ve used to double my open rate and click rate of my emails. Or many other things.

/me takes deep breath.

I like people, I love talking to people about their ideas and projects, I love helping in any way I can but I’m not very good at talking about my own accomplishments. Many, many people have suggested I change my ways. Perhaps this is a start.

Huge thanks to @uibreakfast, @alinajaf, @itengelhardt, @msmithstubbs, @Georgio_1999, @blairwadman, @zenfounder and many more of you for the encouragement. Thank you to @TheDaveCollins for the relentless sarcasm, to @Castro4Prsdnt for the beer, to @mijustin for the beard, to @marckohlbrugge for the IOU, to @benediktdeicke for the live launch jollity, and lastly to @singlefounder and @robwalling for another incredible event.