The true value of industry conferences is that they create networking opportunities that cannot be gained in any other forum. Even though I am a strong proponent of social media, you cannot replace the dynamic interaction between two people who are sharing view points and ideas passionately. There is such a tremendous value in hearing ideas, tips and suggestions from those who either work at the ground level or are valued partners. Not every industry-related conference is for everyone, although every good marketer wants to believe it. The best industry-related conferences showcase presenters from a variety of sources and not just ones who have products to pedal or are footing the bill of the reception. Look for sessions that include economic-relevant data, have well thought out breakout sessions or time for mingling (and not just at the bar). It is very important to make sure that attendees are not lured to the education based on location.

The most important take away for me are the business cards of the credit union professionals that I have met who are willing to continue the conversations after we return home. I bring back economic, legislative and regulatory insight as well. And I am very cautious about being swayed by the “flavor of the month” presentations. In my opinion, those are the ones that promote some unique or special way of generating business or creating a process flow that are newly formed. I am not opposed to new ideas, but when I go to a conference I am expecting there to have been a level of success that comes with a program that works longer than a few months. 

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Peter Westerman


Credit Union Times

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