When you sign up for a big SEO conference such as PubCon, you pretty much know what topics you’ll be learning about and have your pick of up to eight sessions at any given time. Attending is easy. You just get a good night’s sleep and avoid drinking too much alcohol the night before so you can take good notes while at the conference and make it to Matt Cutts’ 9 am keynote speech on-time so you can get a good seat. But for some people, the most unpredictable and scariest part about attending SEO conferences is networking.
It doesn’t matter if you are shy or the most outgoing guy in the world, it’s always a little nerve-wracking and somewhat awkward to mingle with complete strangers. But I’ve found networking to actually be quite easy while attending PubCon this week. Here are some things I’ve learned this week that you can use while attending SEO conferences.
- Say hello to the person sitting next to you and ask for their opinion on the session you just attended.
- Strategize several different ways of introducing yourself to people and rehearse in your hotel room.
- Find the one empty seat at a crowded table during continental breakfast or lunch then introduce yourself to the group. If you don’t, they will probably introduce themselves to you so have your canned intro ready to go either way. If anyone sounds like a potential client or vendor, exchange business cards and contact them the following week at work because you want to stay fresh in their memory.
- Find out where the attendees are from and if they have been to Las Vegas (or insert another conference host city) before. For example, I met an in-house SEO at the in-house SEO training session yesterday and we exchanged contact info so we could meet up at the PubCon open bar later. He sent me a text after the conference and we ended up meeting for dinner before the open bar. Once the open bar ended we ended up sightseeing along The Strip for several hours after since it was his first visit to Vegas.
- Approach the exhibitors in the exhibition hall and ask them for more info. Ask them how they can help you. Wrap up by exchanging contact info and ask if they have any plans following the conference. If not, then invite them to dinner with yourself and the other people you’ve met at the conference.
- Twitter hashtags. The #pubcon  hash tag has been very active starting on Sunday night so @davidcarrillo  and I have been making great use of this to find out where the different networking events are and sharing info with other conference attendees. You might just find out the guy tweeting the latest hash tag might be sitting right next to you at the bar.
- Follow the 80/20 rule. People are generally interested in talking about what they are passionate about. So seek out people you want to learn from and befriend them. The bigger their reputation, the more likely they are to brag about their accomplishments after a few drinks. Use that to your advantage and show enough interest to keep them talking without getting too nosy and revealing too much about yourself.
I’d share more tips and experiences from PubCon but I have to go back to the conference now and do some more networking! I’ll have more to share after I get back to the office.
- Which PubCon SEO Conference Sessions Should I Attend?  - November 15, 2011
- Networking at SEO Conferences. #pubcon  - November 9, 2011
- Viral Social Media Campaigns for SEO  - July 8, 2011
- Five Tips for Building SEO Best Practices Decks  - July 22, 2010
- Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall!  - October 28, 2009
- Take Your SEO Knowledge to the Next Level  - September 17, 2009