Don’t do this if you want to speak at a conference

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Putting on conferences is increasingly harder, so organizers are resorting to trading speaking slots for sponsorship dollars.
The result is that most conferences devolve into pitchfests, where vendors shamelessly sell, like above.

Here is one example of where they reached out and I replied asking for more information:

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So my assistants reached out 7 times over the course of 3 months and never got a response:

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In fact, each time I’ve replied to WBR folks, they have trouble responding, even though they initiated conversation or called me first.
Here is one of many:

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In fact, over the last couple years, they’ve sent me 110 emails and phone calls:

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Attendees smell the foul odor and don’t come back the next year, creating increasing pressure to rely on sponsors to make ends meet.
Do you see this happening at the conferences you attend?

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“I agree that many are becoming a pitchfest. I think those conferences who limit the numbers of exhibitors do better from an attendee’s point of view. If I wanted to see what people have to sell, I’d go to an exhibition. I go to conferences to learn, network and share what valuable insights that I have myself”

says Facebook Marketing Professional, Jenny Brennan. She continues,

“On the other hand, I think most organizers would argue that they need the revenue – I don’t know what it’s like to be on that side of things so I am unqualified to give an opinion – I just know that for me, it feels sort of slimy to be sold to at events and I avoid the booths as much as I can.”

This problem is only getting worse, since the big networks like Google and Facebook actually have the upper in producing content on how to use their platforms.
Same is true for Adobe Analytics, Marketo, Infusionsoft, and other vendors that are now putting on their own shows.

HootSuite has their HootSuite University and Facebook has Facebook Blueprint– plus Google has their certifications.

There is only going to be more technology, not less of it.
And the inevitable result is that you’ll see increasingly more tool-focused presentations, but less independent speakers.

Back to the original issue, if you’re good (I mean really good) at what you do, you’ll not need to pay to speak at a conference.
They’ll pay your travel expenses and give you a modest speaker’s fee.

I hear Guy Kawasaki gets $50k to speak and Seth Godin is over $100k.
You don’t see these guys or even the smaller guys ever paying– we certainly don’t.

Paying for content is like paying for sex— it’s dishonest on multiple levels.
You can see this sales guy’s message offering up the audience like raw meat– encouraging pitching.

In the last year, I’ve been hit up every week for paid speaking gigs– I turn them all down.
Some conferences have aggressive sales guys that offer “free” passes if you buy a discounted booth.
The booth is supposedly $10,000, but if you get selected (everyone gets selected), then it’s only $2,000.

We have to be picky about what conferences have alignment with our mission so we create joint value– helping young adults get jobs.

Consider your opportunity cost in addition to any hard costs.
Pay to attend a conference to learn, but never pay to speak.

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