It’s been called “the Coachella of accounting,” and it’s easy to see why. Last year’s Xerocon in Australia ended with Daryl Braithwaite playing “Horses” live onstage as accountants and bookkeepers waved glow sticks and bounced giant beach balls across the crowd.
Nevertheless, Xerocon is a professional event that draws attendees from great distances, and it helps to have a game plan when you arrive. Here are some tips from Australian, New Zealand and Asian partners on how to make the most of your time at Xerocon in Brisbane.
Jonathan Fryer, a partner at the Bangkok office of international accounting firm Mazars, is flying to his third Xerocon next month. What interests him most is spending time with exhibitors and app partners.
“It’s the best few days you’ll get to meet these people and have in-depth discussions,” says Jonathan. “In Asia, we’re far from most add-on partners; many are based outside our region. We’re interested in what they’re building, and they in turn are curious about what Mazars needs.” Globally, Mazars has over 20,000 professional staff.
It can get crowded at Xerocon exhibitors’ stands, so Jonathan’s advice is to visit some of them during presentations when it’s quieter and you can get some one-on-one time.
His other tip is to be social.
“If there are people you want to meet from another accounting or consulting firm, make a point of finding them and introducing yourself,” says Fryer. “And ask the people you speak with for recommendations; they’ll mention a particular person worth meeting or an add-on worth looking at.”
It’s a 10-hour flight to Xerocon from Bangkok. “In each of the last two years, I’ve asked myself ‘Is it worth the trip?’” says Jonathan. “And each time, the answer has been yes.”
Tara McGowan, director of 5 Star Admin in Auckland, has a shorter trip to Xerocon and offers three tips for newbies:
- Use the Xerocon app to connect, plan your sessions and take notes. It offers a timeline of what’s coming up and where to find it. Xerocon is huge and an important investment. You don’t want to miss something important.
- No high heels! While it’s not quite a marathon, the days are long and the time spent on your feet is considerable. Wear flat shoes, or at least comfortable ones.
- Bring a charging cable so that your phone doesn’t die from the endless notes you’ll be taking during the great speaking presentations. There will be charging stations on site.
For some attendees, the speakers are the clear draw.
“We’re looking forward to learning about new functions in Xero and attending founder Rod Drury’s talk.” says Matthew Li, co-founder of NOVA CPA Limited, who’s traveling with a contingent of four people from Hong Kong. “Rod was really inspiring last year.”
Xerocon can also be an opportunity to grow your practice, if you’re alert.
“Attending Xerocon massively increases referral work and my bottom line every year,” says Heather Smith, a Brisbane-based chartered accountant, consultant and bestselling author of Xero for Dummies. This will be her sixth Xerocon.
At a past Xerocon, chance conversations led Heather to 70 new clients. An app provider lamented that many of his customers still hadn’t converted to Xero, and he wished they would move away from managing their accounts in Excel. Heather recognised that as an opportunity for a savvy cloud-based consultant, and she followed up.
“How much would you have to spend on advertising to gain 70 new clients?” asks Heather. “Xerocon is certainly a better place to direct your marketing budget.
“Whether it’s over drinks, a shared Uber, a Melbourne coffee or a keynote session, you get the opportunity to discover how other accountants, bookkeepers, integrators, solution providers and developers can help you be your client’s hero.”
“Few accounting or bookkeeping practices have the capacity to do everything well and offer all services,” says Heather. “But the people who do have that expertise collectively will be at Xerocon.”
Xerocon Brisbane is being held at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre this September. Get your tickets, and join the fun!