Jan 22, 2018

The meet and greet is great, but making long-term friendships is even better. Come to the Hot Firm conference in Dallas this year (Sept. 20-21), and bond with your peers.

The 2017 Hot Firm and A/E Industry Awards Conference in Seattle set new records for attendance, value of content, and quality of the physical environment. But among all the positive takeaways from Zweig Group’s 18th year of holding the conference, one benefit stands above all others and is captured in a comment from one of the participants in our post-conference survey:

“The best part of the experience for me is always the chance to meet, interact with, and learn from the other attendees. After all, it’s the people in my industry that make it so great, and this year the meeting was more conducive than ever to making friends – some that I fully expect to have for the rest of my life.”

There is just something about face-to-face communication that technology has never overcome. While emails, conference calls, social media, and other digital communication may accomplish a greater number of tasks more quickly, faster isn’t always better!

Oftentimes, technology is only feeding us garbage at the speed of light.

We underestimate the power of face-to-face communication, the foundation for productive human relationships which, after all, is at the root of being in a professional services firm. And our studies show that the hottest firms invariably have the most closely-knit relationships among colleagues and clients.

In context to the 2017 Hot Firm conference, that was surely the case. Consider these statistics for the Seattle event:

  • 38 percent increase in attendance over 2016
  • 75 firms participated, compared to 69 in 2016
  • 185 bottles of wine (500 lbs. worth of grapes)
  • 763 cocktails (1,700 lbs. of ice)
  • 78 gallons of coffee and tea (50 percent more than average for a large group)
  • 52 pounds of bacon (average weight of an 8-year-old boy)
  • All 50 states were represented, as was Canada
  • $54 million, the average revenue for a Hot Firm
  • 80 percent average revenue growth over a three-year period
  • Pacific region was the fastest growing region at 95 percent revenue growth over the past three years.
  • 69 percent of attendees were C-suite/principals, e.g. the decision makers
  • 13 percent of attendees worked in marketing
  • The three most common words attendees used to describe their firms were: Clients, success, and growth.

However, along with all the fun that comes from the social activities – good food and drink, and the pride in being recognized for excellent work – there is something serious and profoundly important about the relationships we form.

Face-to-face interaction at the most fundamental level is the recognition of our self in the other and the other in our self. Experiencing this gives our lives and our work meaning. At the most practical level, relationships are the basis of cooperation, the foundation for collaborative action.

But the work doesn’t stop there. We must continue to nurture our relationships. Stepping back and reviewing our Hot Firm event while it is fresh in the mind is a great way to ensure a better event next year. An attendee feedback survey is imperative, as are thank you cards for all who were there. A culmination of testimonials, sharing pictures, takeaways, and “a-ha” moments from everyone in attendance is key.

At Zweig Group, our obligation is to identify our weaknesses and improve. It is essential to the success of our future events. To do better, we must know better. And I’m telling you, the 2018 Hot Firm Conference in Dallas, September 20-21, will not disappoint. I’m looking forward to seeing familiar faces and meeting new ones as well!

Melissa Swann is Zweig Group’s events manager. She can be reached at mswann@zweiggroup.com.

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About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.