Well, I’m back in San Diego after another exciting and exhausting PartnerCon event. PartnerCon is really awesome in the sense that several hundred partners from all over the world are descending on Phoenix and they all have the same goal: To help small businesses succeed. And to be even more specific, all of these partners have at least some invested interest in using Infusionsoft to do that.

You don’t get that anywhere else. Even at ICON we have thousands of people in the same place who all have several things in common, but their goals can vary dramatically. It’s for that reason that I think the energy at PartnerCon is so different, and so inspiring.

I wrote a series of blog posts recapping my experience at PartnerCon in 2015, and the feedback was really positive, so I thought I’d do it again. Also, I’ll be referring to PartnerCon as PCon from here on out, so, get used to it.

I’m going to write at least two blog posts about PCon 2016, the first (this one) is going to be about the overall experience. The second will be focused on Infusionsoft the product. And then if you guys want, I’ll write one about the networking aspect too.

And let me be abundantly clear that I can only talk about my personal experience, and the way things occurred to me. I would love to hear how your experience may have varied, or if the things I describing occurred to you differently.

To describe the experience, I’m going to talk about a few things that I didn’t really like, and a few things that I did.

Things that I didn’t love:

The Venue
PCon this year was hosted at the Kierland Westin in North Scottsdale. It’s a beautiful resort, there’s no doubt about that. And it’s in a part of town where you have easy access to dining and shopping. My issue with the venue was that it’s far from Infusionsoft, and the culture that they’ve worked so hard to create at the Headquarters.

Last year the theme of PartnerCon was “Welcome Home”, and Infusionsoft opened their doors at HQ to welcome hundreds of Partners for a week.Maybe I appreciated having it at the Headquarters more than most because I used to work there, but I also remember “we’ll be able to host PartnerCon here” being a big driving point as they designed the conference space in Infusionsoft’s second building on their Chandler campus. Now after only one year PartnerCon seems to have been moved back offsite (and to a more expensive part of town, as it happens).

The Breakout Sessions
Personally, I didn’t find the breakout sessions to be particularly valuable. Don’t get me wrong, I had an awesome time at PCon and I’m glad I went. Now, you might be asking “Greg, if the content wasn’t valuable, then why are you glad you went?” and that’s totally fair.

I just simply didn’t have any groundbreaking revelations from attending the sessions, and while it could be that the content wasn’t as strong as it’s been in previous years, but it could also be me. It could be that some things didn’t resonate with me because of who I am, or because my business model is a little different, or because I didn’t make an action plan and set specific goals for the conference.

I fully acknowledge that a big part of what you take away from any conference comes down to what you put into it, and how you prepare. And just to be clear, this is feedback that I’ve communicated directly to Infusionsoft through more than one channel, but if you want more details about which sessions I attended or what I would have found valuable, I’m happy to discuss further as well.

Event Identity
I think PartnerCon has the potential to be something massive. Like I said earlier, the simple fact that you’ve got hundreds of people in the same place who all have the same goal means that this event can be really powerful.

But, to me, I was a little unclear on what this event was for. Is it a demonstration of appreciation for the partner community? Is it a business development conference, where we get tips and tricks for growing our own business? Is it a networking event? Or is it a product event, where they teach us about the product, share the roadmap for the future, and gather feedback from partners to help shape the future? Maybe I’m alone in this, but it sort of seemed like this event was trying to be all of those things, and I think it would have helped me to have a little more of a defined direction.

But like I said, I still found the conference valuable. To me, the big value in attending PCon showed up in two ways – a) updates on the product, and b) networking.

So, let’s talk about some of the things I loved from PCon:

I thought there were ample networking opportunities. Between the structured happy hour events Infusionsoft hosted, and the informal time they provided for connecting (and all the bars across the street), I felt like I really got to reconnect with old friends, and also meet plenty of folks I had been looking forward to meeting.

I also thought Infusionsoft did a great job of having key employees available. I saw members of the product team, the partner team, the c-level suite, and many others floating around, mingling, and just generally being accessible. So, even thought we weren’t at HQ, I really respected that Infusionsoft brought so many folks up to the conference to make sure we got to connect with and form relationships with folks inside the building.

Last year Terry Hicks was introduced as the new Chief Product Officer, and I remember his message clearly: Don’t take my word for it, let me show you what we can do.

Well, my business is very focused on the product, and I feel comfortable saying that Terry has done an excellent job leading his team over the past 12 months, and the proof is in the product improvements we’ve seen.

Infusionsoft has a history of unveiling new and exciting features at PCon, and this year was no exception. They’ve taken to calling it a “Delight-a-thon”, because last year they dedicated some development resources to work aggressively to create a handful of highly requested features and fixes during PartnerCon. This year they approached it a little differently, but the result was the same – more awesome stuff coming to the product in the very near future. (Stay tuned for the next blog post detailing these changes).

Expo Hall
The expo hall was awesome this year. In years past I’ve heard that some sponsors were tucked away from people and that definitely wasn’t the case this year. I was easily able to wander the expo area and visit with the various sponsors, or chat with Infusionsoft’s product team. I thought the layout was easy to navigate, the energy was good, and that all sponsors were set up prominently (but not intrusively).

Man, this post went down a weird path.

I want to be super clear – I don’t expect Infusionsoft to cater to me. I don’t expect them to host events designed solely around what Greg Jenkins wants (though, I’d support that…). I’m just trying to share my perspective on the week, and my hope is that it’ll start some dialog that either helps me evolve my perspective, or provides constructive feedback to Infusionsoft that might help shape things for the future.

Make sense? Good. Now that I’ve laid that out there, I’d love to hear from anyone else who attended PCon. What did you think about the conference? Where did the value show up for you? Do you agree with my assessment, or did I get it all wrong

Sidenote: I think that it makes sense for every Infusionsoft user to also be an Infusionsoft Partner. You don’t have to actively sell Infusionsoft, or anything like that, but if you interact with other small businesses then you might as well be a partner.

Think about this, if you’re an entrepreneur, there’s a pretty good chance that you might interact with other small businesses. And if you think there’s even a tiny chance that you might mention Infusionsoft to someone else, well, you may as well be a partner.

They’re pretty good at saying thank you for any sort of traffic you may send their way.