I started LaSalle Network 20 years ago, and I started attending conferences about 10 years ago. For the first 10 years I didn't want to spend the money to attend, and I didn't think I could learn much from peers. I didn't "get it." What wasted time!
Now, I'll preface this post with what I've learned since: there are a ton of people who go to way too many conferences and spend too much time "learning," and not enough time executing. They are looking for ways to not have to do sales. Quick fixes to find success rarely work. Everything in moderation.
So back to my mistake: my arrogance and focus on just driving, driving, driving sales kept me at home.
"I can't be away from the office."
"I can't be away from my family."
There are peers of yours going through the exact same thing. Things you can't read in books (or in columns!), and when you are with a peer group, you can look into someone's eyes and see your pain in their eyes. You speak to a competitor who tells you they have the same problems as you. You meet people who have bought software you're considering purchasing, firing a role you've wanted to let go, or opening a new location you've procrastinated on doing.
Different people, same problems. And people love to help. You meet peers who are in other markets or verticals, who you don't directly compete with, and they become your friends.
This year, I became friends with a group of four guys who have built their companies in my industry and have grown them a little faster than mine has over a similar period of time. They met at a conference 10 years ago and decided to meet on their own twice a year as a peer group. Non-competing businesses, different geographies, and together they grew.
Now I'm not saying my company isn't great, and I have other peer groups (YPO and EO) that have helped me immensely. We have won a bunch of awards, but I always feel we could have been bigger sooner. It's the competitor inside me. But aside from their growth, their friendship as industry peers is so cool.
They feel as though they've helped each other, because they have, and it all originated from attending conferences.
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