IFP 2011 - My first conference

Posted Oct 7, 2011 | ~4 minute read

Better late than never, I thought I would share my thoughts on the IFP conference earlier this week.

Those of you that follow me on Twitter would have seen that on the run up to the IFP (@ifp_uk) conference, I was getting rather excited. It was my first conference where I was attending as me; the [codepotato] man.

My motives for attending the conference in the first place were simple; I wanted to meet the people I talk to every day on Twitter. It wasn't to sell, or to fill my IFP bag with swag (thanks to everyone who provided swag!) it was purely to put real, analogue faces to digital identities!

When Jenny Smyth (@jenny_smyth) and I finally parked up and walked into the Celtic Manor, we were lucky to come across Nick Cann (@nickcanncfp) walking back to the main exhibition. Our drive into the hotel hadn't quite revealed how HUUUUUUUUGE the hotel was! A short walk later, we were in and amongst the action, and picking up our rather awesome looking lanyards.

Nick Cann was (and is) a very lucky chap! He was the first person to receive a "I've met @cssgareth" sticker!!! I was armed with 52 of these for the conference and gave out nearly all of them over the course of the day. At one point, the Incisive Media chaps tweeted about the fact my stickers were becoming a bit of a talking point on twitter. Thanks to those of you that mentioned them!

As some weird coincidence, many of the people I wanted to meet were outside, or were found lurking inside near the food. Within about 20 minutes, we had the majority of the twitter crowd outside, chatting like we had known each other for years. It was weird, but nice. Twitter meant we already knew the person before we met them in real life. It gave us a platform on which to start conversations. As each member joined the table, it was apparent I wasn't the only one who felt like this. Mark Loosmore explained this feeling in this blog post too.

Once everyone was fueled and ready to go again, the sessions started. I sat in on the session where Mark Loosmore was talking about technology in an IFA practice. Three of the four sessions were captivating, one unfortunately wasn't..

I listened carefully to what the presenters were saying, as I knew that the messages being pumped out were messages relevant to my clients. I made about six pages of notes from the four presentations and walked away from the session feeling like I had learnt more than could further my appeal and usefulness to my clients.

The rest of the afternoon was packed with meeting more people that i've only ever met in the twitterverse, including the great chaps at threesixty services and incisive media. I even chatted to the Morningstar girls, as they knew of the project I worked on for them about a year ago.

To finish off a great day, we had the awesome curry night organised by Richard Allum (@theparaplanner) and a bit of a stint at the bar back at the hotel.

So what did I think of the IFP conference?

Personally, I feel like I gained enormous value from attending the event. I've not only learnt more about the industry, but i've made real-life friendships with those I met.

Looking at my goals before the event, I think I made the most of the day and met so many interesting people in the process. My crazy sticker idea went down a treat and broke down the barriers even more with people I may not have spoken to otherwise.

To those of you that I met at the conference; thanks very much for making it the most awesome event. To the team behind the event at the IFP, thanks a million for laying on such a well planned, relevant conference!

I now can't wait until next years' conference...