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March 14, 2008

9 Networking Tips To Use at SES NYC or Any Conference

By Li Evans

Networking_with_people Everyday we're all caught up in the world of online marketing, that we tend to forget about that real, face to face type of marketing.  Alex (my analytics guru/friend and writer here at SMG), called me the "consummate connector" in his article this morning, I never thought of it that way - however, I guess that's what I'm always striving to do.  I'm always trying to make a connection, so maybe one day I can help someone out, perhaps give someone a hand, make someone smile.

Any of the conferences are great for that.  Whether its rounding up a group of friends to go out for dinner or grabbing a bite to eat for lunch, or heading off in a group to one of the many search events, it's great to see new people "connecting" or networking - for real, and face to face.  Don't get me wrong, I love social media, Twitter, StumbleUpon, and forums, but nothing replaces that face to face connection you can make.

So if you're an online marketing professional and you are thinking "Man, I've seen these sessions 100's of times before, what am I going to do at SES NYC this time around?"  Well, maybe I can help you with a few tips to use at SES NYC:

  • Take a good look at the schedule, seriously, I mean it.  There's some new sessions on tap, and there's NEW SPEAKERS.  That means new content, new points of view, nuggets of information from another person's perspective.  It also means, the chance to go up and meet/connect with/introduce yourself to these new speakers.  Just as Gab Goldenberg what I did at his session at SMX West.
  • If you are in these sessions, take a look around the room.  Is there someone asking a question that you think you could help out?  Go up and introduce yourself after the session.  Is there someone in the room you think you know from Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, but haven't met face to face - go up and introduce yourself.   
    • Funny side note, I didn't realize it was "Chiropractic" sitting next to me at dinner in Santa Clara till I was there for a few minutes.  (Now, I refer to him as the "hot doctor" I had dinner with to my friends at home. LOL)  But on the serious side, I'd been on twitter with Michael who runs Planet Chiropratic, and it never dawned on me this is who this was until someone said "Twitter", then it was like getting a "V8 bop on the head".  See how connections can happen!?
  • Sit at a totally new table each day at lunch.  Just ask the people at the table "Is this seat open?"  Most of the time the seat's not taken and you can find yourself networking with an entirely new set of people.  It is amazing the people you can meet at lunch, and how those lunch encounters can blossom into friendships or even consulting opportunities.
  • Go to the conference's "Networking" events, and "Network". Seriously!  Don't huddle in the group you already know.  Sure, that's comfortable and in your own "zone".  Seriously it won't kill you to break out of the "guy pod" or "girl pod", and it'll do you a lot more good - other than getting a free drink (those tickets can come in handy!). 
    If you see a group of friends, and there's someone in that group you haven't met yet, introduce yourself, or have a friend introduce you. This is another opportunity to meet someone with a new perspective with new ideas, how can you pass up the opportunity to learn?
  • Networking_parties Go to the parties after the sessions.  Not only are most of these fun, they are invaluable to making new business relationships.  You never know who you can bump into at these events.  Next week at SES make sure you get yourself to:
    • St. Patty's Day Pub Crawl (map courtesy of ElixirSystems) on Monday evening
    • Best of the Web's Charity Event at Black Finn on Tuesday evening
      This is the third charity event put on by IM-NY and BOTW, if the past parties were indicative of the networking to be had, this is a must attend!  Plus it benefits a great cause.   
    • WebmasterRadio.FM Bash on Wednesday
      Daron and Brandy ALWAYS put on a fantastic time.  They understand what it means to not only have fun, but provide a good atmosphere to meet new people in.  Right now, the event location is TBA, but stop by the WebmasterRadio Booth on the conference floor, and ask about it - while you're there, INTRODUCE YOURSELF, to Brandy, Daron, Jim and John.
  • Go to the expo floor, pick out a few booths your interested in (but watch out for that annoying magician guy) and talk to the folks at the booth.  Don't just take their schwag , and be one of those "Schwag Shoppers" we all giggle about (unless you have a "schwag" blog like Tamar!). Believe it or not, you can make some great contacts with these folks. You might not be in a position right now to purchase their products or services, but one day you might be, or one day you might be able to help a friend out by putting them in contact with the person you met at that booth.   
    • Another side note, I would have never met my very good friend, Becky Ryan, had I not chosen to do this with the Trellian booth a few years ago.  Not only did I find an awesome product, and have referred many people to their Keyword Discovery tool,  I wouldn't have met such a wonderful person as Becky, had I not started doing this.
  • Hang out at the hotel bar.  No, I don't mean be a bar fly. What I mean is, this is where a lot of people come to congregate after the parties, or even before.  It's a great place to meet people and make new acquaintances.  Sometimes, if it's around dinner time and it's a good conversation you've gotten into, you could find yourself being asked to join a dinner group.  Dinners are fun, and let me tell you from experience, you can learn a heck of a lot!  (and not just that fried eggs can go on pizzas)
  • Read Stuntdbl's (aka Todd Malicoat) list of 15 Ways to Be a SEO Conference Douchebag.  Seriously, you don't want to be this!
  • Lastly, come up and introduce yourself to me (Li Evans), Brian Cosgrove and MarySue (she's new and will be hanging out with me and will probably shoot me after she reads this)!  We honestly don't bite, and would love to meet anyone who reads SMG.  Plus.... we'll have schwag, NEW schwag - hackey sacks are all gone.

So hopefully these tips will help you out.  The thing you have to remember is that its really rare to meet a "mean" person at these conferences, usually those types stay in their rooms after the sessions anyway!  The majority of us understand that meeting people only helps us to build our networks and make new friends.  So why not make it your goal to meet at least 5 new people at SES NYC?


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Thanks, I think it's great that you offer to help people network. It really is difficult for a lot of people to get out of their comfort zone, unlike you and I, but if they do they have a good chance of meeting some great people at these events.

Li, it was awesome meeting you at SMX! Honestly, I'd been reading SMG for a while, and when you came forward and said who you were, I was like WHOA!! Li Evans is asking ME a question?! Lol crazy times... Hope to see you next time I get out to bash :).

BTW, I have some pics of you singing karaoke, so watch for those on 23hq, or my site or something (and feel free to repost/reuse em here)

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