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Ok, so one of the joys of having a big mouth and a popular blog is going back and looking over the posts that I have been right and wrong about. Few months ago many of you questioned why I dropped certain events, after all, I’ve been to pretty much all of them now and I enjoy writing about the good times and valuable business building experiences. Nearly every review is disliked by someone – either because the event is too expensive, or too Microsoft focused, or too far away from home, or too commercial, or too ____. The part of being a grownup and a business owner is considering your training budget, looking at where it is best spent and where you’re likely to get the most for your time and money.

So a few months ago when I explained my reasons for not going to what used to be a very good SMB event, I got beaten up, mostly by people who were either given free tickets or were paid to present. You can look through the comments for the evidence of this hypocrasy, the fact remains that everyone looks at the quality of content AND the quality of attendees when going to these events. You should learn at least half of what you paid for from the content sessions alone, the other half from the hallways, parties and vendor sponsored get-togethers. Which are a blast by the way – but remember, this is a business trip. You’re paying to go somewhere, you’re sacrificing your time to learn something… and if you’re just going somewhere to drink or are doing it for social or community service reasons I suggest looking for a park that needs to be cleaned instead.

So here is the feedback so far:

  • Pre-conference sessions were great.
  • People had a really, really good time.
  • Sessions by Dana Epp and Jeff Middleton were the best. Two people actually said they could have listened to Jeff all day.
  • The crowd was mostly SPFs that are just getting into the business
  • Nearly everyone I spoke to seemed to get more out of the hallway than out of the sessions

The SPF part was something that was brought up over and over again. Now aside from St. Susan Bradley, the pope of the SBS community and the savior of all who can’t Google for themselves, the impression that most veterans I spoke to so far got was that this was much better than last years but because of the quality of attendees they won’t be back.

I said that I am staying home and that I feel there are much better events out there to spend your money on. And hey, if I am wrong I can just buy the ticket next year. Given the feedback above, I don’t think I was wrong and I feel its safe to close the book on what was once a great SBS event and now merely a gettogether of startups and companies trying to enter SMB.

There is no shame in either of the two, neither is a negative. There is a real need for this type of a conference, it just isn’t for me. Don’t think I’ve overgrown it either, its just that I prefer to network with SMB professionals, not people that have never heard of the SBS Migration or are trying to figure out a way to get terminal services to work on SBS.

As for the dozens of you that said “I should have listened to you” – you live and you learn. I don’t have a crystal ball, this could have turned out to be the best IT event ever.

For more SPF Nation coverage: Eric Ligman, 1, Susan Bradley 1, 2, 3, 4, 5Anne Stanton, 1Wayne Small, Karl Palachuk, Mark Crall, 1, 2.

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