# Am I Coming To Your Conference (or ‘Consultant Math’)

A pattern than I unwittingly did and have noticed in others is that you need to work out what your variation of ‘consultant math’ is for yourself. No matter how many people tell you, you need to blunder through to your own understanding of it. Often by going *waaaaay* overboard on conferences the first year or so after going independent.

Here is my variation of ‘consultant math’ around whether I will attend your conference or not. Not that anyone will listen to this and not thing ‘hey! I’m different!’ — no, no you are not. But anyways…

The first part of the equation is whether or not I am getting paid to be there. This can either be in term of an honorarium, or flight or hotel (or all three!). Consultant math is pretty easy when this happens … in most situations. But there is the whole problem of Opportunity Cost. Let’s say you are giving me all three of these variables to attend your conference [presumably to speak] but I have to spend a complete day flying there, and a complete day back. That is really 3 days I could be billing people to work on their stuff. If the honorarium only covers 85% of a single day’s worth of billing, well, things start to break down a bit.

Fear not though, the math still might work in your favour if there is a good chance I am going to get new business from attending an interacting with the other attendees. This actually has two parts to it. First, you need to know who your target demographic is. After 3+ years at this, I have a pretty good feel on who I am targeting and the sorts of things they need to hear in order to get them to sign on. (New consultants are unfortunately at a disadvantage and I think this is a large part of the reason why they go to so many conferences in the shotgun approach.) You, as a conference organizer need to convince me that there is a match between my target demo and your audience. (Tip for consultants: check their sponsorship packages, they often include this information in there.) If there is a match, I might eat the Opportunity Cost and turn it into a Marketing Cost.

There is another variation of Consultant Math I have been tinkering with a bit recently, and that is the Sponsorship Option. This is advanced level math and should only be employed once you know your audience since it often requires more risk [in terms of outlay of money]. Upon successful completion of this math you end up sponsoring a target conference [or event association with it]. For instance, the Consultant Math with Sponsorship Option looks quite favourable for Pycon or php[tek], but is pretty abysmal for CAST, Star*, STPCon or even, ironically, Selenium Conf.

I explained Consultant Math to a could non-consultants today [including ish a conference president] which is usually a sign I need to blog about [my variation] it.