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My national industry conference FOMO problem–and what I’m doing about it

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SXSW.

PRSA National.

International IABC.

Social Media Marketing World.

Content Marketing World (just a few weeks ago!).

I haven’t been to a single one of these events in my now more than 20 years in the business.

Not a single one.

I think my friend Greg Swan has been to every SXSW since its inception. Many of my PR friends have been to the PRSA National Conference multiple times. And, I know a lot of people from Minnesota visit San Diego each year to attend Social Media Marketing World.

Bottom line: I have some big-time national industry conference FOMO.

I see friends hitting cool parties at SXSW, learning about innovative technologies in digital marketing and seeing first-hand some pretty interesting brand executions in Austin each year.

Damn, that looks like fun.

I see other folks attend Content Marketing World in Cleveland each year and listen to speakers like Kevin-freaking-Spacey present.

Damn, that looks like fun (and that event is in CLEVELAND for crying out loud!).

I see friends attending the PRSA National Conference each year and going out to dinners with all sorts of people I know and have met over the years through Twitter, blogging and my PRSA involvement.

Damn, that looks like fun.

But then I think, “you know what, those national conferences look like fun, but they have their downsides, too.”

You’re away from your family for a number of nights–not ideal for anyone with little kids.

You’re staying in a hotel room eating crappy take-out or Applebee’s.

And, of course, you most likely have to take a jet plane to get to said conference (which, as I get older, bothers me more and more).

Not to mention the largest downside: $. A trip to SXSW would most likely run me $4,000-5,000. Easy for agency and corporate folks to go when the mothership is paying. When you’re a solo, the four grand comes straight out of your bank account. And, it gets pretty tough to make a case why you should spend 4K to go to Austin to go to a bunch of parties.

How do I deal with this serious FOMO? I stay, and focus on, the local scene. Which, as many people will tell you in Minnesota, is pretty damn solid.

You see, I don’t necessarily benefit (from a business perspective) by networking with people in Atlanta, San Diego or Austin. I’m not looking for clients there. I’m not looking to pick up and move to a new job. I’d prefer to get to know even more people right here in my backyard in Minneapolis.

So, I choose to attend events like the MIMA Summit each year (which is an incredible event, if you haven’t been–and it’s coming up on Oct. 12!).

I choose to continue the two mastermind groups I run, and add great members to those.

I choose to continue my coffee regiment and meet-up with smart people like Jim Cuene, Kendra Klemme and Jillian Froehlich.

I’m not going to lie–going to Austin and SXSW in March still looks like an incredibly good time. But, I’m happy to stick with my local events and networking as (at least for me), it feels more focused and a better use of my time.

Curious–where do you fall on this issue? Do you attend national industry conferences? Why or why not? And, do you think they make a difference for your career trajectory?

Note: Photo courtesy of Carl Bliss (thanks, Carl!).

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My national industry conference FOMO problem–and what I’m doing about it

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