The Money 20/20 conference – the largest global fintech event—wrapped last week and it was certainly one for the books. For many, it was also the first in-person conference since the global pandemic began in March 2020. This meant shaking the cobwebs off our networking skills after being accustomed to a primarily virtual environment that consisted of trips to the kitchen for coffee refills and Zoom fatigue. While we’ve all done an extraordinary job adapting to the unprecedented circumstances of the past year and a half, it was an important reminder of the value of in-person connections.
Bring the noise
After almost a year of lockdowns and working from home, it was exhilarating to touch down in Vegas with over 7,500+ attendees who all have a passion for the fintech industry. The energy was contagious and led to a number of passionate conversations, many of which focused on bitcoin, blockchain, and NFTs. As mentioned in our previous blog post, a big topic of discussion was the importance of financial inclusion. Being back in person made that topic resonate even more, as it brought attendees together from across the country, from startups to well-established public companies, all in one place.
Establish real connections
Despite having adapted to a virtual environment, there is nothing quite like being in person with colleagues, clients, industry experts, and journalists again. It’s difficult to replace a handshake with an introductory email, or a laugh over a joke or having something in common with a Twitter ‘like.’ Being back at in-person events allows us the opportunity to build genuine connections and removes the impersonal feeling of making an introduction from behind a screen.
For PR practitioners specifically, who spend so much of our time emailing back and forth with clients, it was refreshing to meet in person and put faces to names. It was also exciting to connect our clients with journalists for interviews, videos, and podcasts and to see their media training chops in action! In speaking with journalists at the conference, who are also often inundated with impersonal pitches that have no relevance to their beat, they noted it was enjoyable to receive connections to sources that were of particular interest in an organic way, without feeling the pressure of responding to an email.
Bring it all back
According to research from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, 93% of companies consider hosting in-person events a priority, and over half of marketers believe events to be the most effective marketing channel. Money 20/20 was certainly proof that many people are feeling more comfortable returning to in-person events again, and we hope that mentality is here to stay. Events and conferences offer us the opportunity to form stronger emotional connections, network and engage more freely, and establish a trust factor with clients and journalists.
We are looking forward to many more events in 2022 and hope to see you and your teams there!