April 4, 2017
Hillarie Holcomb, NetVU marketing specialist, and Aartrijk’s Laura Packard on-site at the NetVU17 General Session

Hillarie Holcomb, NetVU marketing specialist, and Aartrijk’s Laura Packard on-site at the NetVU17 General Session.

By Laura Bergan Packard

Peter and I just returned from an exciting trip to Nashville, Tennessee, where we spent time with friends and clients during the Network of Vertafore Users (NetVU) annual conference.

The conference attendance was the highest it has been in a decade — a sign that our industry values the education and networking benefits that an in-person, multi-day event can provide. Though I’ve attended many insurance conventions throughout my career, this was my first time at this particular conference, and I thought I’d share some of my takeaways after an action-packed week.

Success deserves to be celebrated

One of my favorite events was the annual awards gala, where volunteers, agency principals and NetVU partners gathered to celebrate individual and organizational contributions in the past year — including carriers and agencies recognized for Automation Excellence, a leadership award, and the Insurance Technology Advocate Award, in memory of Wade S. Dunbar Jr. (which, by the way, our friend Ron Berg with Agents Council for Technology won). The special part of this event, from my perspective, is that these efforts being recognized are performed above and beyond someone’s “day job” — a true testament to the willingness of those in our industry to pay it forward for the betterment of the industry overall.

Conferences are relevant

I remember years ago wondering whether trade shows or conferences would still exist “in the future.” After all, wasn’t the internet going to replace the need to talk to people in real life? My many conversations in Nashville reminded me that an honest, open exchange of ideas happens best face-to-face (and not face-to-webcam-to-webcam-to-face). The packed-to-the-gills education sessions that NetVU volunteers coordinated and taught certainly showed why in-person learning is such a critical link in the chain of continued learning. The traffic in the exhibit hall showcased that having direct conversations with potential business partners helps solidify opinions initially gathered from a website or phone call. And the networking built in to the conference reminded me that our industry loves to have fun — and those relationships built help connect us to one another to problem-solve and build businesses in the future.

Digital touches make the difference

Even during a face-to-face event, technology is alive and well. It can be a distraction or an opportunity for engagement. I noticed that attendees relied heavily on the event app to review the daily agenda, set up meetings, and even post socially to other attendees. And of course, tools like Facebook Live can help broaden engagement among those who couldn’t attend.

Throughout the week I heard so many conference-goers comment that the experience was valuable, and that they had so many takeaways for their firms and colleagues. That brings up a valuable question: How do you get through a post-event “hangover” and maximize what you’ve learned to help your firm succeed and benefit from your attendance? Please comment!

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