The Real Reason to Go to Conferences Like #WDS2012

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

Liz | Two Weeks to Travel July 2, 2012 at 8:38 am

Excited to go and to see you there! Now I have to get to SXSW, I always thought everyone paid the tickets till Mike H told me the same thing, doh.


Sean July 2, 2012 at 1:15 pm

haha nope, never paid myself, and it’s worked out great every time…well you know, except for that time I drove down there with what a mistake that was! 😉


Mike July 13, 2012 at 9:53 am

Yes, HUGE mistake. 😉

Ash July 2, 2012 at 11:29 pm

Absolutely! Haha, to be honest I havent even looked at the full speaker list or the full list of workshops for WDS. I’ve just been following the hashtag and making an effort to reach out to everyone I know I want to connect with in person. Just a simple tweet I know right now will help me connect in person there.

It truly seems to me this is all about the people. More than any other conference I’ve been to. And I haven’t been to many.

Hope to see you there and say Hi too!


Andy Hayes July 3, 2012 at 9:01 am

Love the video – did I see more Scout Books? yay.

As a fellow badgeless SXSW attendee I wholeheartedly agree with all of this. Some conferences are better than others for that, but looking forward to WDS this year!


Patrick McCrann July 3, 2012 at 7:36 pm

I totally agree. I messed up last year and was too introverted, this year I’m coming back for the people not the talks. Totally pumped! Hope we can connect!


Wouter July 4, 2012 at 2:52 am

This is so true, specially on conferences like WDS . There’s so many people going there that I’d like to meet. Unfortunately I’m stuck in Belgium now, so I won’t make it to Portland this year. 🙁
Maybe next year. 🙂


Chas July 5, 2012 at 5:12 am

“I’m excited to have my garage back”~ LOL; please curb your enthusiasm. One question- why July, instead of June, this year?


Asia Gregg July 11, 2012 at 12:06 pm

I so agree with your point of view, especially since I was one of the few people in Portland for WDS but didn’t have a ticket. Even though I couldn’t attend the workshops or talks, I still had an amazing time and connected with truly outstanding people. I remember reading about how others said they were sad that they couldn’t come to WDS because they didn’t have a ticket, but believe me! – Even if you don’t have a ticket that is NO EXCUSE to miss this event (same goes for other events) and all the exceptional people that are involved. You will not regret going, I know I didn’t!


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