Last year I learned about propinquity.

Then I came home and revamped my Web site.

The Solo PR Summit really is the best conference of the year. It’s a business conference that’s laser-focused on the content that helps independent consultants and other small business owners get results and compete with the big boys (and girls).

The conference is also about community. Arik Hanson has a terrific recap of how you can’t come to the Solo PR Summit and sit on the sidelines.

Wildcards, snowballs, and zones of excellence.

I have pages of notes and lots of ideas spinning in my head. Some of them will become action items for my business in due course. For now, though, I wanted to share a few takeaways.

1. There are wildcards and snowballs. I love the concept of wildcards, a phrase Chris Craft uses to talk about the small, random opportunities that can lead to “snowballs” (growing opportunities). It’s why good business owners nurture their networks and start conversations without first considering whether the person in front of you is “important enough.” Craft’s session focused on his keys to entrepreneurial excellence (opportunities, passion, education, and networking). Yes, passion matters too.

2. You have to know when to walk away. Several speakers touched on the importance of letting go. Fran Stephenson and Kami Huyse, who paired up to hold each other accountable as they went through separate business evaluation and planning processes, talked about figuring out what you want to leave behind (e.g., a client, a line of business, a column). Diane Rose talked about walkaway terms in subcontracting agreements so you have an out if the relationship isn’t working out. And I mentioned adding a dissolution clause into your partnership agreement.

3. Create competitor walls and messaging word clouds. Mary Deming Barber’s session focused on strategy and the importance of asking “why” (you know I loved this). In her remarks, she talked about creating a word cloud for clients of their key messages (versus what they think they say they’re saying). Jenny Schmitt added that she sometimes builds a competitor wall of visuals of all the PR that a client’s (or prospect’s) competitors are generating.

4. Identify your zone of excellence. Jason Falls talked about understanding who you are and focusing your business on what you’re best at doing. It’s not always easy to walk away from revenue, but understanding and sticking to your zone of excellence is always a smart strategy in the end.

Finally, you can read some highlights from my session on building partnerships that bring in business.

Did you attend the Solo PR Summit? What were your top takeaways?

Photo by Kami Huyse.