Confessions of A Conference Stalker

Posted by Dr. Pete

It’s officially August, and that means that the SEOmoz PRO Seminar is less than a month away! For a group of people so dedicated to the pursuit of living and working online, it’s amazing how important conferences are to the search marketing community (and to your career, if you’re a part of this community). That can be tough, since so many of us started working on the web specifically to AVOID human contact. Even if you work for a big company, you may only see people when your manager opens the cage door to throw in some Skittles and Red Bull. If you’re not sure how to relate to your fellow humans in person, than this post is for you.

White-hat Stalking

For legal reasons, let me start by making one thing perfectly clear. This post is NOT about Jerry-Springer, whose-my-baby’s-daddy, the-judge-says-you-can’t-get-within-500-feet-of-me stalking. The purpose of any conference, beyond the learning, is to meet new people – all I want to do is give you the tools to make that a little easier. Attending your first couple of conferences can feel a bit like a job interview, so why not prepare the same way?

Know People’s Real Names

Here’s a hint: "Randfish" and "Oilman" are not written on anyone’s birth certificate. While it’s true that most people in our industry won’t get bent out of shape if you call them by their handle, knowing their real names shows, bare minimum, that you’ve done your homework and have some clue about what’s going on out there. Oh, and don’t make the mistake of referring to Rand as "Randy" – that’s how I ended up with only one good eye.

Know People’s Real Faces

I don’t mean to pick on anyone, but it may surprise you to know that you will never see any of the following faces at a conference:

SEOmoz member avatars

Now, I know you’re a savvy audience, and I don’t have to explain what an avatar is, but just because you know someone uses an avatar doesn’t mean you have any idea what they actually look like. This is where I’ll sound like a stalker, but frankly, you can’t introduce yourself to someone if you don’t recognize them. So, click on a few profiles, check out Facebook pics, and click around the friend’s lists of a few SEOs over on DailyBooth.

Know What People Do

If you walk up to an "A-lister" and, in the first 10 seconds, it’s clear that you only want to meet them because you heard they’re an A-lister and think that meeting them will benefit you somehow, don’t be surprised if you get the cold shoulder. On the other hand, almost everyone likes to talk about what they do. Be informed, know the kind of work people do, and most of all: try to meet the people who you sincerely want to meet. Don’t just shake hands and kiss babies because you think it will sell you a consulting gig.

Announce Yourself Early

The easiest way to meet people at a conference is if they know to look for you before you even arrive. How do you pull that off? Easy – tell them. In our industry, Twitter is a great place to announce yourself, and it can be as simple as this:

Fake announcement tweet

Bam! – conversation started. Odds are, if your online networking is any good at all, someone will notice, and you’ll have a few friendly faces to look out for before you even leave the house. Better yet, arrange to meet up for a pre-conference drink or dinner if you’re coming in early.

Keep One Eye on Twitter

Once you’re at the conference, always keep one eye on Twitter and monitor the hash-tag, if there is one. That way you’ll know where to be, who will be there, and most importantly, who’s buying the drinks. For example:

Fake conference tweet

Ok, Will never actually said that, although I like to imagine that he would. Actually, he’s English, so he probably would say "pissed" instead of "smashed," as well as whatever word British people use in place of "totally." Of course, don’t just show up at other people’s semi-private events, but Twitter can be a great source for finding people you’d like to meet but keep missing.

Let Us Know You’re Coming

There’s no time like the present. If you’re a regular Moz reader or even just a comment stalker and are coming to the SEOmoz PRO training seminar, leave a comment and let us know. Don’t be afraid to say "hi" in person – I’ll be there and, sadly, that picture is really me, not some kind of Japanese cartoon character or CGI movie monster.

If you haven’t signed up for the PRO seminar yet, it’s not too late. It’s just 9 for SEOmoz PRO members. That not only buys you 2 days (August 30th and 31st) of amazing content, but the networking opportunities are built right in. Rand will probably break-dance or do a puppet show or something. You won’t know unless you show up!

Do you like this post? Yes No


SEOmoz Daily SEO Blog

August 2, 2010  Tags: , ,   Posted in: SEO / Traffic / Marketing

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.



TechNetSource on Facebook




TechNetSource » Confessions of A Conference Stalker