The silver lining in the cloud of losing Macworld Expo is the rise of small, focused conferences. Macworld Expo had to be everything to everyone, and niche audiences had to carve out their own events during the mainstream show.
I’m particularly looking forward to the ACEs Conference, now in its third year of serving IT professionals, ranging from independent consultants to IT directors and CIOs. I haven’t been able to attend in the past due to scheduling conflicts, but from what I’ve heard from others who have gone, it does a good job of teaching attendees not about technology, but about running their businesses. This year’s conference is on May 31st and June 1st in Phoenix.
Most consultants I know are good at the technology side of things — they’re fully capable of solving whatever technical problems their clients throw at them. Where they tend to need help is on the business side. Just as too few doctors, lawyers, and architects ever get any business instruction during their educations, it’s easy to fall into consulting without any training on topics like management, operations, marketing, and client development.
That’s where ACEs focuses. Business coach Marcy Maslov’s session will show you how to interpret your financial statements so you can see which products to promote or discontinue, determine whether or not you should hire help, and detect if someone might be embezzling from you. Others teach you how to build your personal brand, what to do when clients don’t go along with your recommendations, and how you can convert residential clients from hourly billing to a managed services model. Consultants who are focusing on managed services will especially appreciate lawyer David Postolski’s presentation about the importance of managed services contracts. And of course, I hope you’ll come hear me talk about content marketing.
As with all small conferences, the informal networking and discussions will undoubtedly be almost as valuable as the sessions. Plus, along with a special live version of the popular Command-Control-Power podcast, ACEs offers a limited number of one-on-one business consulting sessions from keynote speaker Mike Michalowicz and business coach Jennifer Dawn. ACEs also provides a Proactive Support Professional Certification for those who act as virtual CIOs for their clients — learn more about it here.
All those extras cost more, but ACEs itself is $649 and includes breakfast and lunch both days, plus dinner on the first day. It’s held in the Sheraton Grand Phoenix in downtown Phoenix. If you run an IT consulting business, I hope to see you there!