SMPS Nation: Golden Gate Crashers

SMPS Nation: Gold­en Gate Crash­ers

Ram­blings on mak­ing (and remem­ber­ing) most of the 2012 SMPS Nation­al Con­fer­ence

By Evan Ross

For many a local SMPS chap­ter dweller, the annu­al rite of sum­mer known as the SMPS Nation­al Con­fer­ence (a.k.a. Build Busi­ness, a.k.a. thou­sands of mar­keters run­ning amok in a strange city) is the oppor­tu­ni­ty of the year to expe­ri­ence the orga­ni­za­tion we know and love on a nation­al stage and in full regalia. It’s where nation­al and chap­ter lead­ers, movers and shak­ers, and indus­try vet­er­ans and new­com­ers alike meet on neu­tral ground to get edu­cat­ed, exchange ideas, build new rela­tion­ships and renew old ties, dis­cuss trends and oppor­tu­ni­ties and, of course, stay out late.

As the week unfolds for each attendee, the val­ue of the sem­i­nars and net­work­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties begins to reveal itself and the cumu­la­tive ben­e­fit of the expe­ri­ence draws more into focus. Sim­ple intro­duc­tions lead to busi­ness con­nec­tions, par­tic­u­lar­ly poignant work­shop nuggets inspire a plan for action, and a few too many stops on the local pub tour cre­ate some last­ing bonds (if hazy mem­o­ries). And as the con­fer­ence nears its close on Fri­day, reflec­tions on the week evoke a unique expe­ri­ence, which is part of the allure that draws the believ­ers back year after year. 

It is those thou­sands of indi­vid­ual expe­ri­ences that con­sti­tute a diverse and dynam­ic Nation­al Con­fer­ence. Here we dis­cuss with a few San Diego SMPS denizens, and Build Busi­ness reg­u­lars, their thoughts on the 2012 edi­tion of the event, held July 11–13 in the City by the Bay (that’s San Fran­cis­co for the town­ies out there).

Near­ly all of the respons­es that came back were from Con­fer­ence lif­ers. No one had attend­ed less than three times and sev­en appear­ances was the aver­age. This may speak to the idea that the more you put into the con­fer­ence the more you get out, and the more you attend the more you under­stand where best to place those efforts to max­i­mize your expe­ri­ence. To that end, here’s what your fel­low chap­ter mem­bers had to say about their expe­ri­ence:

In gen­er­al, how did you feel this year’s Con­fer­ence com­pared to past con­fer­ences in the areas of edu­ca­tion, net­work­ing and pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment?

Cari­na Theis­sen (Brown and Cald­well, Incom­ing SMPS San Diego Chap­ter Pres­i­dent): I didn’t walk out of any ses­sions this year. Just kid­ding! I thought the ses­sions were bet­ter than past con­fer­ences but I think Nation­als has been rais­ing the bar for the Con­fer­ence in the past few years.

Antoinette Sanchez (South­ern Cal­i­for­nia Soil & Test­ing, SMPS San Diego Chap­ter Pres­i­dent): I was very pleased with the edu­ca­tion­al ses­sions I attend­ed with the excep­tion of one.  In my opin­ion the net­work­ing could have been bet­ter.  I’m not sure if this was due to the loca­tion, but the net­work­ing pavil­ion was not heav­i­ly pop­u­lat­ed on the three vis­its I made dur­ing breaks.    

Kel­ly Micha­jlenko (Archi­tects Mosh­er Drew, Incom­ing SMPS San Diego Chap­ter Pres­i­dent-Elect): Edu­ca­tion:  About the same. Net­work­ing: Bet­ter.  Since the con­fer­ence was in Cal­i­for­nia, there were a lot more Cal­i­for­nia com­pa­nies with which my firm has done or could do busi­ness with.

Olga Fish­er (Ran­dall Lamb, Active SMPS San Diego Chap­ter Mem­ber): I real­ly enjoyed it this year—keynotes were enter­tain­ing, and all the sem­i­nars I attend­ed were worth my time.

As it relates to the con­fer­ence (as opposed to the many tempt­ing water­ing holes about town), what was your pri­ma­ry rea­son for attend­ing? How were your objec­tives or expec­ta­tions met?

OF: Twofold: 1) To recon­nect with col­leagues I have got­ten to know from var­i­ous chap­ters over the years and 2) to refresh and rekin­dle enthu­si­asm for next year. Mis­sion accom­plished!

CT: My rea­sons were to not only get infor­ma­tion from the ses­sions but to recon­nect with peo­ple I have met and worked with on the Pacif­ic Region­al Con­fer­ence, Nation­al Staff, and my PLS [President’s Lead­er­ship Sym­po­sium] class.

KM: CEUs. Reg­is­tered, attend­ed, and earned cred­it. And to see how the big­ger firms are doing things.  The val­ue of the infor­ma­tion shared in the ses­sions can some­times be beyond mea­sur­able.  The ses­sions on Knowl­edge Man­age­ment and Com­pet­i­tive Intel­li­gence were that way for me.  They pro­vid­ed me with a glimpse of the best prac­tices that are used by the larg­er firms. 

What did you hope to take away from the con­fer­ence? Upon return­ing to the office, were you able to imple­ment any learned tech­niques, strate­gies or process­es?

KM: I love the ses­sions that give tools!  Charts, tem­plates, sug­ges­tions, tips, lessons learned.  I sched­uled time with the own­ers [of Mosh­er Drew] to debrief them on sev­er­al key take­aways and shared some of the handouts/presentations.  By doing so, I also received buy-in for a cou­ple of my ideas about how to incor­po­rate non-own­ers into the mar­ket­ing process.  The owner’s men­tioned my rec­om­men­da­tion at an all staff meet­ing and the next step is now on my “to do list”.

CT: The rela­tion­ships I have made with local peo­ple at Nation­als and oth­ers through­out the U.S. and the knowl­edge and sto­ries that they share. 

OF: “Water the Bam­boo”. Love that Anal­o­gy. I espe­cial­ly enjoyed “[Fat Free] Gracewrit­ing” by Jen Heb­bleth­waite and “TRUTH­Selling [An Uncom­mon Approach to Increas­ing Your Prof­itabil­i­ty]” by Ter­ry Whitak­er. The for­mer dis­cussed writ­ing effec­tive­ly with few­er words; the lat­ter being your authen­tic self in busi­ness devel­op­ment.

What stood out to you at the con­fer­ence this year?

AS: I noticed ses­sions had preferred/reserved seat­ing for CPSM’s. 

OF: I enjoyed the per­son­al tes­ti­mo­ni­als of the SMPS Lead­ers; each so dif­fer­ent yet the enthu­si­asm for the indus­try so sim­i­lar. This was par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant for the new­bies – hear­ing the impor­tance of SMPS for its mem­bers and the life­long rela­tion­ships made.

KM: Was there a jug­gling theme? Ok, that’s not impor­tant. But it was fun­ny.

If you are a San Diego Chap­ter Board Mem­ber, what sort of ben­e­fi­cial infor­ma­tion or prac­tices can you extract from this con­fer­ence and apply at a local or (con­cern­ing some­thing like the Pacif­ic Region­al Con­fer­ence) region­al lev­el?

KM: I spent a lot of social time talk­ing to past pres­i­dents of oth­er chapters…about the chal­lenges they faced and how they man­aged those chal­lenges.  In doing so, I was able to gain a lot of sup­port from oth­er San Diego chap­ters before com­mit­ting to the Pres­i­dent Elect role. 

Favorite SF moment not relat­ed to the con­fer­ence?

CT: Late night sight­ings and run-ins at the hotel bar. 

AS: For sure it had to be those scrump­tious drinks at the Ton­ga Room!  OK, maybe not.  Actu­al­ly it was drinks at Bour­bon & Branch – very cre­ative cock­tail menu with a tran­scen­dent atmos­phere.

OF: Hav­ing Din­ner with Friends, old and new.

KM: Attend­ing the open house for Hin­man Con­sult­ing Engi­neers.  Good Peo­ple, Good Times!  Cal­i­for­nia Acad­e­my of Sci­ences – the birds and but­ter­flies in the bio-dome are beau­ti­ful and amaz­ing!

What would you like to see changed, expand­ed, added or omit­ted at next year’s con­fer­ence in Orlan­do?

OF: Not a fan of the annu­al gala – to long and too for­mal. It would be just as effec­tive as a lunchtime event; leav­ing the evening for atten­dees to enjoy the city they’re in.

CT: Maybe hav­ing Nation­als go out­side the box and solic­it to oth­er indus­tries and the cut­ting edge tech­nol­o­gy, pro­grams and ideas they are using.

AS: I was extreme­ly dis­ap­point­ed that Nation­als had a work­shop enti­tled,  “The Basics of Busi­ness Devel­op­ment in the A/E/C Mar­ket­place”, which they charged a sep­a­rate reg­is­tra­tion fee of $345.00 for ear­ly bird mem­ber reg­is­tra­tion.  The amount com­pa­nies pay to have Marketing/BD staff attend the con­fer­ence, with­out tak­ing trav­el and lodg­ing expens­es into account, is already dif­fi­cult to jus­ti­fy.

KM: Omit the humid­i­ty. Add Mick­ey.

Well, there it is. As illus­trat­ed above, just as each indi­vid­ual is unique so are their Build Busi­ness expe­ri­ences. And whether it’s mak­ing that last­ing con­nec­tion, learn­ing a strat­e­gy that rev­o­lu­tion­izes your BD process or sim­ply dis­cov­er­ing the best craft beer City in the U.S., the Con­fer­ence offers some­thing worth­while for almost every­one.

Oh, and if your moti­va­tion to attend is actu­al­ly to dis­cov­er the best craft beer city in the U.S…well you’ll just have to wait until 2015. That’s when the con­fer­ence will be held here in San Diego. Cheers!

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One comment on “SMPS Nation: Golden Gate Crashers
  1. Sharon Smith says:

    Thanks for yet anoth­er great arti­cle! I’m sor­ry I missed the event, but hope to attend next year and espe­cial­ly make it to the one in 2015!

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