This past week was the 6th year for the Blog Indiana conference, but this was the first year with the new brand and renaming it to MixWest. A good move in my opinion (and many others) as this is an absolutely great conference to attend and it should be seen as being much bigger than just an Indiana bloggers conference. It is so much more.
This year’s conference picked up right where they left off last year with more great sessions and speakers across a variety of topics. Remaining for the 2nd year on the campus of the University of Indianapolis, a great venue and host! One of the things that makes this conference so different from others is that I doubt anyone has ever walked away at the end of the two days and not had a list of ideas, suggestions or follow-up tasks that they know they’ll be working on the next week when they return to the office. Or, perhaps like many of us, even later that night once they return home and start sorting through their notes.
The other real draw to MixWest is that the topics and information shared in sessions are useful and applicable to just about any business organization interested in improving their online presence and even their overall business acumen and mission for helping their customers and audience. It’s NOT just a blogging conference. It’s NOT just a social media conference. One of the real surprise sessions for me was “Designing Meetings to Work for Design” by Kevin M. Hoffman (@kevinmhoffman). Kevin addressed what is perhaps the bane of most our work days and that’s useless, inefficient and time wasting meetings. I’ll tell you, there was so much good information and strategies for improving your meetings in this session that it really could have been a keynote address.
That’s just about the only problem I see right now with MixWest. There are so many great sessions, you just can’t get to them all. So, I believe there really should be a third day of the conference that falls over onto the Saturday, what would have been today. This year, I’m thinking specifically of sessions like the following that I missed:
- “Solve Your Content Crisis” by Chris Baggott of Compendium
- “Content Is Jack; Connecting Is King” by Rocky Walls of 12 Stars Media Productions
- “Tweeting Your Way to the Top: A Look at How to Utilize Social Profiles for Rankings” by Holly Hammond of digital relevance
- “Tell Your Truth” by Cole Farrell of Miles Design
- “It’s Not Dead, It’s Pining: The State of SEO Today” by Erik Deckers of Professional Blog Service
- “How to Have a Successful Business On Your Own Terms, Your Own Style” by Susan Baroncini-Moe author of Business in Blue Jeans
So many times I’d be in my chosen session for the time slot and I’d be wondering what was happening and being discussed in the other session I was going back-and-forth on in making my final decision of which one to attend. It doesn’t help that there’s plenty of live-tweeting from each session so you can get an idea of exactly what you’re missing in the other room.
What I’d like to see the organizers do for next year is have people identify what sessions they plan on attending during their registration process. Based on the level of interest, request and encourage the speakers for those sessions to come back for the Day 3 extension to present their same session again for anyone that missed it initially. I really think this would be a great option. If you’re reading this and attended #MixWest13, let me hear from you in the comments below. The next question is how much would this impact the cost of the conference for attendees? Would you be willing to pay another $50? $100? for a third day of superbly informational and helpful sessions from the speakers?
I don’t know how many people I talked to over the past two days that spoke about other conferences they attend having lost their spark and purpose. It seems the educational and informational benefit of going to a conference like this has been pushed out of the way by people just interested in the social after-party and picking up another bag of schwag from the sponsors to line their workspace coffers. As I’ve already said, MixWest is NOT this kind of conference. Sure, you might pick up a t-shirt or a free book while you’re here, but instead, your brain will be stuffed with more strategy schwag than you can have ever dreamed.