Conference Season – Behold The Power of People In Large Numbers
Summer is over, and in the credit industry, that means conferences, conventions, meetings and dinners are on our calendars. I’ll probably attend about 8 of these events before the end of the year, and it’s time very well spent. What boggles my mind are the companies that don’t participate in their community.
We are not company names, or logos, or Power Point decks of slides – we are people, with our own unique outlook and personalities and approaches to business. It takes a phenomenal amount of effort and finesse to broadcast personalities across the internet, and we all can’t be Richard Branson or Warren Buffet.
I’ve written about this concept in general terms before – networking and meeting people outside of your industy. However I’d like to share some personal experiences with you.
Anytime Fitness Conference 2014
Two of our team flew down to Scottsdale Arizona and attended the Anytime Fitness Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. What I immediately learned about, upon arrival, was the culture of their brand – not their spreadsheets, recovery metrics, or credit policies. One of the founders addressed a room of 2,000 people decked out in a kilt at the beginning of the conference, and for the next four days I was immersed in their community, and made a part of it. People we deal with all over the US were meeting us face to face and socializing. I don’t just work with them as a client -- I understand them as a group. I was able to learn more in those four days than I have in six months, because a personal conversation is way more dynamic than email or a telephone call.
Really, the thing that summed up this experience is that one of the people I work with inside Anytime Fitness came up and hugged me. When is the last time one of your clients hugged you?
The Credit Association of Greater Toronto
Every fall/winter/spring, the first Tuesday in any month is a dinner conference by the Credit Association of Greater Toronto. It usually hosts a fairly high-profile speaker, and certainly there’s a lot to learn by attending these, but in my opinion the best advantage to attending these dinner meetings is the personal connections I make and establish there. Sure, a great number of these folks are competitors, but we all face the same challenges, and if we can stand around and talk about how we do business, we can learn a great deal.
Aside from learning where my colleagues in the credit industry are as some of them inevitably switch job roles and companies, I can talk to representatives from Trans Union and Equifax, I can ask the opinion of lawyers, I can learn more about the debt settlement or bankruptcy industries, but most importantly I can build relationships with face-to-face meetings. In the last month one government official and one executive at a national financial institution have called to ask me for advice – they wouldn’t even know who I am if I hadn’t taken the time to have a conversation with them at the CAGT.
If you are interested in attending the next CAGT meeting on October 7th, their website is www.cagt.ca
The Receivables Management Association of Canada
This is the one event I’m very excited about – it’s on November 19th and 20th,and it is hands-down the most interesting gathering of credit professionals I have attended to date. I’ve heard human resource experts talk about the process of hiring effectively, I’ve heard gold medalists talk about their struggles for success, I’ve heard government officials come and reach out to our industry to work with us in a harmonious fashion, and share updates with us. But again, it’s the personal interactions. Last year, at the conference, I was able to have a conversation with the Director of Fair Trade from Alberta, who made the effort to come out and talk about his province’s regulatory processes. I’ve sat with a national creditor and between our two smart phones and a little internet research, found him $11,000 in lost recoveries. I’ve learned about social media from folks such as Jesse Hirsch and Paul Nazareth. And this coming conference looks like it’s going to be even better.
Here’s their schedule: http://www.rmaconference.ca/agenda.html
Here’s the website for registration: http://www.rmaconference.ca . I understand the discounted rate for registering early ends on Tuesday, September 30th, so I’d register sooner rather than later if I were you.
So why, whether your company makes $100,000 or even $20,000,000 in revenues a year, would you not invest the time and effort to come out and see what the rest of your industry is doing? If you aren’t part of the ongoing conversation, you aren’t part of the community. If you aren’t part of the community, how will you learn and improve yourself and your company?
I would encourage all of you to reach outside your four walls and the comfort of your smart phone and make the effort to be seen, and see others, to engage our industry and make a difference.
Come see me at the CAGT or the RMA Conference – I’m happy to meet with you in person and learn about what your business is about, and I’ll share whatever I might know. Looking forward to seeing you there.
KINGSTON Data and Credit