Sunday I’ll be leaving town to head to the Search Engine Strategies conference in San Jose. This will be my first SES conference ever and my second such Internet marketing conference. Which begs the question, how is it that I’ve been in this business since 1998 and have only been to one industry related conference?
I don’t know if I have the answer to that other than as a small business owner vacations and conferences are often hard to get away for. I’m pretty darn anal so it bugs the life out of me to not be available (or have someone available) to answer phones, respond to email and handle important client issues. Almost always vacations were scheduled to use as little work-week time as possible, meaning I’d leave after work on a Thursday and return the following Tuesday morning. Just a long weekend!
As the company has grown over the past few years, it’s gotten easier to get away. Vacations have gotten longer and now I’ll try to be getting to more conferences, should there be a positive cost/benefit ratio. That’s always the bottom line for me. Do I walk away with more than I paid into it… whether that be in knowledge, contacts, business, etc.
I’m sure I’ll walk away with plenty of good knowledge. I’ve selected a handful of seminars that I want to attend. Some is to fill in weak spots, others is just to see “how the other guys do it”. But hopefully I’ll walk away with more than just knowledge and that is friendships as well. But here’s the rub… I’m not a natural at networking. In fact, I’m terrible at it. Put me in a room with ten people I don’t know and I tend to walk away not knowing ten people.
The problem here is, and anybody who’s talked to me on the phone or in person, is that I really don’t know how to small talk. I’m a get to the point kind of person, let’s talk about something useful. It’s hard to break the ice with, “so what do you think of Hezbollah?”
Now on the other hand, if you put me in a room doing something with ten people I don’t know and I’ll walk away with ten friends. Well, maybe not all ten, but you get the point. I’m an action oriented kind of guy and doing something gives me something to talk about. But conferences aren’t exactly workshops are they?
So anyway, if you’ll be at SES San Jose, feel free to find me and say hello. Chat me up. I’d love nothing more than to leave the conference with a bunch of new friends. So look for me…