The Search Conference Survival Guide
It’s that time of year again. When the top minds in the search industry gather to share their wisdom with future pros. It’s conference time! The time when the major search industry conferences bring people together and provide a wealth of knowledge to unsuspecting netizens everywhere that decide to attend. It can be stressful for some, but thoroughly enjoyable for others. For some it can turn into a 14 hour plane ride trek from the east coast. Others can take advantage of the networking opportunities and really boost their recognition by live blogging. Here, I wanted to discuss how to get the most out of your conference time and build lasting relationships in the years to come.
If you’re traveling from out of state or far away from inside of your state, book your flight early. Nothing can be worse than finding out that all of the flights are not available or going to an out of the way airport to get a flight to your scheduled conference. Arrive early, the day before the conference if possible and funds allow. You’re going to be extremely busy over the several days the conference is going on, and if you want to get the most out of your conference, you want to get plenty of sleep the night before.
Not getting that sleep will mean a day as a zombie while meeting your favorite conference goers. You don’t want that to happen. This also applies to getting your tickets and reserving your hotel room for your search conference. This is SO important – make sure to get your tickets and reservations handled early. Some of the larger conferences like SMX West or Advanced provide early bird deals which can save you money on tickets so be sure to keep an eye on ticket sales. Grab your tickets as early as possible to ensure a successful conference trip.
Grab a cab!
Your out of the gates in a strange city. Where am I? You may wonder. Where is this conference? How do I get there? Taxis are great, efficient, and an amazing method to get from point a to b. If you don’t know the surrounding area as a first time conference goer, a GPS can still make mistakes. While it costs a little more, it beats going through the stress of trying to find where you are that compounds the stress of getting to the conference on time. When it comes to getting where you want to go, get a taxi and save yourself the aggravation of navigating a new area on conference day.
Have a Game Plan
Plan the sessions you will attend in advance. The agendas for conferences are posted well in advance of the conference date. If you are new to the conference game, it is important to read the session descriptions thoroughly, and get an idea of the background of the speakers who are presenting at the session. This will help you make an educated decision regarding which sessions will be most valuable to you. If you have a buddy coming along, they can help rotate sessions with you and attend sessions that you can not (especially in the case of track based conferences like the amazing SMX West and ever more awesome SMX Advanced). That way, you can have notes from both sessions and be able to discuss what you learned that you can apply to future projects.
But what if I don’t know anyone there? No problem! Approach people you would like to meet at the conference on Twitter, Facebook conference groups, or through the private social networking area that’s usually set up by the larger conferences. That way, if you’re entirely new to the search game, you will already know a few people. And unless you’re an outgoing social person, you will be able to have a common ground to build a relationship with those people when you do meet in person.
The search industry is filled with some of the brightest minds on the planet, and they do tend to be very sociable and outgoing people who won’t hesitate to meet fellow search geeks. Take the approach and see what happens. You may just be pleasantly surprised.
Knowledge is Power
Aside from sessions, networking is one of the more compelling reasons to attend search conferences. You get a chance to meet and interact with the top people in the field, some who deal with SEO for fortune 500 companies. There is a wealth of knowledge you can gain by asking the right questions.
If you’re a new SEO geek and it’s your first conference, a wealth of knowledge can be gained just by talking to the right people. Therefore, it’s important to also read about and review all the speakers who are going to be speaking at the conference and in the sessions that you attend. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to get your out there and take advantage of the wealth of networking opportunities available at search industry conferences.
Well… Off You Go!
These are the most valuable SEO conference survival tips I’ve found. They benefitted me tremendously when attending a search conference as a newbie. Even as a more seasoned conference attendee, I’ve found myself using these methods in order to get the most from the conference sessions. The more I apply these tactics, the more information I find that I can use in my own SEO website projects, and new ways of looking at old ideas.
Keeping up to date on the latest search trends, knowledge, being able to apply the new nuggets of information to your work projects, and seeing them flourish as a result is one of the best parts of attending these conferences.