I love teaching others. This love of teaching comes from loving learning. When you approach life as a learner regardless of experience or knowledge, you’re in the box seat to win. Attending the 2017 Social Media Marketing World was a perfect opportunity to learn.
After ‘attending’ the virtual Social Media Success Summit in October 2016, I wanted the opportunity to attend an event of this scale in person. However, after fitting out the new Serena Dot Ryan training and workshop rooms, there were limited funds to be able to attend in person. Rather than this being a challenge, I applied to be on staff. I’m proud to share that I attended as a speaker concierge.
Social Media Marketing World is in San Diego each year. Now being an annual event and being potentially on the other side of the world, you may wonder how is this experience relevant to you? I’m sharing my experiences as I can see how these learnings can be applied to almost any networking event including Social Media Marketing World. As a business owner you are typically attending networking events at least weekly and it’s important (read; essential) that you get the best benefit possible from each of them.
In addition to attending in person, the benefit to being a speaker concierge (aka speaker handler) at Social Media Marketing World was exclusive behind the scenes access and the opportunity to look after speakers. The potential drawback was that I didn’t get to see all the sessions from beginning to end. However, I was given a virtual pass to all sessions post conference. My weekends and nights are booked up for the next few weeks/months as I get through over 120 sessions of incredible content.
I can share right here and now, that the experience of being at the event in person has been life changing. With so much to share, this is the 1st of a series of 3 blog posts I’m documenting the experience. The value of documenting this experience for you is so you can get an understanding of why on earth you would attend a conference in person, let alone a Social Media Marketing one on the other side of the world.
I was drawn in by the tag line of the conference ‘Networking, Discovery and Fun. On this basis, each post is capturing the value of Networking, the value of Discovery and the value of Fun.
The value of discovery is where I’ll start. As this is where I believe it was through discovery the networking and fun happened.
As someone who is naturally shy, being at the conference in person is was a great way to develop my networking skills. Being able to break the ice, create small talk, connection were all worked hard! The best tip I can give anyone struggling with networking is to treat it like speed dating (or similar) give yourself 3 minutes to chat before excusing yourself to talk to someone else. Make sure you exchange business cards. If you’re still getting the hang of it, you will have a few conversations longer than 3 minutes, that’s okay, practise makes perfect.
Key Dot – Practice really does make perfect.
Extra Dot – No business cards? Connect on LinkedIn, Bizzabo or Facebook (your choice!).
Ask questions. You are not there for the sake of it or to be doing all the talking! Be curious and inquire. By asking
questions and getting others to speak you will learn so much more. One of the best tips I was given at the Social Media Marketing World Conference was to have a question for everyone. This means you have the opportunity to learn from everyone. The question I asked (if I didn’t already have one specifically for a person). ‘What would a successful conference be for you?’
Key Dot – Ask questions and LISTEN to the answers.
To become a speaker at a large scale event, everyone has been scrutinised and vetted to ensure quality and expertise. What I found fascinating was every speaker I encountered was incredibly friendly and open. My biggest tip here is to not take advantage of this. Be respectful of their time, definitely do approach and chat to them, but know that it’s likely another 3,000 people want to chat with them too, so ask your question and then give them the chance to move on and share the love.
Key Dot – Make the most of the access to amazing talent and share the love.
The beauty of Social Media Marketing World is that they didn’t just have one way to connect with other people attending. Prior to the conference I joined the Private LinkedIn Group, Several Slack Channels, a Facebook Group and created a Bizzabo account. Then when at the conference I focused on building connections with people I already knew and then creating new connections. This meant my aim was to go with quality rather than quantity. So whilst I did have a 3 minute rule, I did have a few exceptions that were incredible opportunities like chatting with Chris Kubby, and having lunch with Heidi Cohen. Plus signing up for networking dinners were just some of the amazing ways I created new connections.
Key Dot – Always connect. You never know who you could be sitting next to (talk to them!).
The abundance of opportunities at the conference still amazes me. I cannot stress enough the value of talking to everyone who you meet. The person you sit next to in a session might just be the game changer you need personally or professionally. Plus, a unique offering at Social Media Marketing World was the dedicated networking team. Standing out in the blue collared shirts they were only too happy to help everyone. I even gave them a business card from my Uber driver who happened to be a Real Estate Agent who needed help with his digital marketing. They were even able to help him too.
Key Dot – Always assume you are about to meet someone who could change your life.
What is important to you? I ask this question as it will determine if you would find the conference valuable to you. For me I attended to start conversations, develop relationships and build on my learning so I could grow personally and professionally within the Social Media Marketing space. Did I achieve this? Absolutely, to the point I am going to the 2018 Social Media Marketing World.
Key Dot – Before committing, be clear what you want to achieve.
When we have fun we are happy, when we are happy we have a better mindset to learn. A massive highlight was being on the USS Midway for the launch party. I decided to commit to every experience I could as a part of being at the conference. Why? Because when you are fully committed you get more out of the opportunity.
Key Dot – Life’s short, have fun!
ROI (Return On Investment) if you’re committing an investment of your time and/or money you need to see a result. Going to a conference I highly recommend you define what you want to achieve and even look at alternatives to work out if your selected choice is the best option.
Key Dot – Scrutinise every financial decision and ensure it’s the best for you.
This is your mindset. Once you have decided to go to an event (like this). You need to have a ‘Yes’ mindset. The event will take you away from your friends, family and business even for a few hours or days. This is at a cost to you personally and professionally. Your mindset will be the determining factor once you are there as to whether it’s a success or not. In case you are wondering, I had a ‘yes’ mindset at Social Media Marketing World. This is also a strong contributing factor to being on staff. I truly wanted to make the most of every aspect of being there in person.
In summary, what I discovered at Social Media Marketing World 2017;
1. Practice really does make perfect.
2. No business cards? Connect on LinkedIn, Bizzabo or Facebook (your choice!).
3. Ask questions and LISTEN to the answers.
4. Make the most of the access to amazing talent and share the love.
5. Always connect. You never know who you could be sitting next to (talk to them!).
6. Always assume you are about to meet someone who could change your life.
7. Before committing, be clear what you want to achieve.
8. Life’s short, have fun!
9. Scrutinise every financial decision and ensure it’s the best for you.