I just attended Mary Furlong’s What’s Next Boomer Business Summit in Washington DC last week (May 28, 2012). For AgeTek members—or other interested businesspeople—who weren’t able to attend, I thought I’d share my thoughts on what I experienced and the business value I took away from the show.
First of all, if you don’t already know, in my book Mary Furlong is THE nexus of the boomer business world in the U.S. She has had a twenty-year career focusing on this market segment and is a well-known author, speaker, conference organizer and business consultant to companies and organizations, large and small. More importantly, Mary has a singularly unique quality of being able to connect people from disparate parts of the industry in order for them to discover mutually beneficial business interests. Mary is hardwired to be a “connector” of people, like the ones mentioned in Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point. Being inside of Mary’s tractor beam can sometimes be a wild ride, but most assuredly it will be enjoyable and also provide significant business value along the way.
From my perspective, it is highly valuable to become part of Mary’s circle. Here are a few different ways to accomplish that: 1) engage her consulting services on a project, 2) become one of her private clients, 3) become a sponsor of one of her conferences, 4) become a sponsor of one of the supporting events at one of her conferences, 5) attend one of her conferences and meet her, or 6) take one of her graduate marketing courses at Santa Clara University. As someone whose business has benefited from the relationships I have gained through an association with Mary, I recommend that you do not overlook the business value that can be gained here.
At this year’s Boomer Business Summit, I went there with the express goal of meeting executives from a particular company. I also was looking forward to strengthening existing relationships with friends across the industry whom I hadn’t seen in a while. I was also honored to receive an award, I was asked to introduce the conference keynote speaker, and to moderate a conference panel discussion.
In terms of results, not only did I meet the executives that I was hoping to meet, I was able to have enough social time with them to start forging personal friendships. Receiving the award at the Italian Embassy, introducing the keynote speaker, and moderating the panel also gave me an opportunity to gain awareness for AgeTek, the trade organization that I head, for Presto Services, the company which I lead, and to position myself as a thought leader in this industry. I don’t write this to brag, but to inform others as to the business value that I received from attending and participating in this conference so that they can do likewise. I think of Mary’s events as one of the “best practices in the boomer market.”
One other note of interest, I’ve been trying to gain an introduction to a key person at a large organization. I didn’t even think that they might be attending What’s Next in DC. During one of the conference sessions I wanted to listen to, I found the room full so I found myself standing outside checking email. Someone I didn’t know walked by and seeing my badge asked me if I was from Los Altos, her home town. She started to talk with me about Presto and we had a nice conversation. It almost ended there, but then I asked her, “Who do you work for?” I then came to find out that she was exactly the person I was looking to meet within that company and after an in-depth conversation, I am now scheduled to have follow-up meetings that I hope will bring great business value down the road. The point being, conferences like these can produce high quality interactions during planned events, but one shouldn’t underestimate the value that can be gained by the randomness created when businesspeople of like-minds are thrust into the same town on the same day.
Of course, my viewpoint is biased strongly towards Mary Furlong and Associates, but not only because I enjoy Mary and her team personally, but also because of the business value which I gain as a result. Being in the position of leading a trade group in this space, I felt it important to report out to others in the boomer space with this blog post so that they could better understand this key asset for marketing, business development and research.
If you are interested in participating in the ecosystem that has been created by Mary Furlong, you might want to consider her next event which is coming up in June 2012 in Santa Clara, CA: the Silicon Valley Boomer Venture Summit & Business Plan Competition ( links: Web site – Facebook page ). The website for this year’s event hasn’t been updated as of the writing of this post, but I’m sure it will be soon now that the March Boomer Business Summit has concluded.
I hope this post has been valuable to those of you who weren’t able to attend the What’s Next Boomer Business Summit. I’d appreciate any comments you would like to leave below.
Co-founder & Chairman, Aging Technology Alliance
CEO, Presto Services Inc.
P.S. One final remark. Although the What’s Next Boomer Business Summit conference occurs on only one day, there are a plethora of extremely valuable and, dare I say it, FUN events in the days before and after that are where the meat of the business value occurs. The only way to participate in these is to engage with Mary Furlong and Associates on a strategic level. It’s something to consider.