Finally, I get to sit down and contemplate a week without a trade show, or some other major disruption to my schedule. I have recently completed trips to PubCon in Las Vegas, and Search Engine Strategies in Chicago. In reflecting on these trips, I started to think about what the value was of going to these shows.
At this point, I don’t go to learn the basics of SEO or blogging. Sure, I can still pick up the occasional new tidbit about something, such as a neat new tool, or a specific detail about search engine behavior. Our field is complex, and no matter how advanced you become in it, there is always something else to learn.
But the real value is in the networking. The Search Engine Marketing industry is small, and quite social in nature. People share ideas readily, and building relationships is easy. In addition, you can meet representatives from the search engines themselves, including people of surprising seniority.
Meeting the search engine folks can provide you with real insight and value. People like Matt Cutts who is simply a very nice guy, but who is also happens to in charge of Google’s web spam team, and is extraordinarily knowledgeable about Google’s algorithms.
I have also had the chance to meet Tim Mayer, who has been involved in search since the early days of Inktomi, and is now Director of Search at Yahoo.
In addition, I have also had the chance to meet Eytan Seidman, the program manager for search at Live.com. Eytan has been very friendly and offers plenty of intelligent and thoughtful commentary during the panels he sits on.
Then you get to meet your peers, both working in-house, and also at competitive SEO firms. I enjoyed (on no particular order) meeting Liana Evans, with her innovative Hatbait.com site – make sure you vote for me (actually wearing a gray hat – who would’ve thunk it?), Matt McGhee, David Temple, Todd Malicoat, and scores of others that I am forgetting …
Point is that these relationships can (and do) turn into business relationships. These relationships can help grow your business. As always, this works best if you remember to give (at least) as good as you get.
So I guess that means I am in it for the long haul, and will keep attending these shows. The actual travelling s**ks, but the rest of it is quite worthwhile.