Wanted to say a huge thanks to Shawn Collins for helping me to attend the Affiliate Summit East 2012 Conference. Not only was that the most fun I’ve ever had at a conference, but the connections I made were absolutely invaluable. The sessions were full of far more information than I could absorb in a sitting, so I can’t wait to go back and watch the videos. Thank you so much Shawn and Missy for such an incredible experience.
I was consistently surprised with how nice everyone was at the conference. Everyone I met was eager to help people around them, whether by introducing them to someone that would help grow their business or by sharing a tip about a great resource. There was no pervasive sense of competition that I’ve experienced at conferences in the past.
I felt extremely awkward when I first walked in to the conference and observed that everyone was already in groups talking as I checked in. I didn’t know a soul, beyond chatting with Shawn via twitter and email. While waiting in line to speak to Shawn, I was immediately approached in line by Jen Goode, who introduced herself and the entire group with her. We quickly realized we lived a few miles from each other and that we were both missing our daughter’s first first day of school!
Shannon Vogel was part of Jen’s entourage, and not only did I meet my new conference bestie, but I met someone who I have no doubt will help change the future of my business. She’s one of the most brilliant social media experts I’ve met. Her social media strategies are less strategy and more of an extension of her beautiful bubbly personality. Her intuition on how to build a business using Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter would be a huge asset to any company. Jeannine Crooks did a fantastic thing by snagging her and Jennifer Myers Ward to speak. Mike Allen, the third on their panel had wonderful brilliant things to say, but Jen and Shannon’s comparison of Social Media to… um… Real Life scenarios stole the show. I can’t wait not only to colloborate with these two on business ventures, but also to hang out with them again!
Next I got to meet the famous (infamous?) Stephanie Lichtenstein, aka MicroSteph. She gets credit for introducing me around to the greatest people I got to meet, and therefore getting me in to the best parties Both Heather and Daniel Feinberg knew the best places to hangout, or how to create the party if it wasn’t already happening. Stephanie’s presentation is one I can’t wait to go watch a second time so I can perfect my strategy in becoming friends with famous people over twitter. SO impressed with Steph’s social media ingenuity and creativity.
Steph, along with Trisha Meyer, also inspired me to dress up for the disco party, which turned out to be quite entertaining while I was out to dinner with a large group of people that were not dressed up. Trisha was another inspiring woman I met at the conference, who blew me away with her knowledge about each of the big affiliate networks. She’s obviously going to be a big influence on how things change in the networks, as she was willing to step out and be honest about some of the issues that exist. She also happens to be a phenomenal rapper.
I tried to take Shawn Collin’s advice about not making the sessions a priority since I could watch them later, so that I could focus on making necessary connections while I was at the conference. However, there were just a few I could not miss. In addition to the few I’ve already mentioned, I heard that Wil Reynolds was someone I just had to hear speak. (which meant, sadly, that I had to miss Sabrina Malone‘s talk, someone I was VERY excited to meet. I plan to go watch her talk now!) Wil was not only an incredible speaker that kept us all laughing and interested, but he also got me riled up and defensive of my SEO strategies. Not that I’ve ever been a spammer, but I’ve taken a lot of short cuts in my years as an SEO. It’s easy to justify most anything when trying to achieve high rankings. I’ve justified less than amazing comments on .edu blogs, or purchasing expired high pr urls. Those strategies don’t make me excited about my job, but they work. He reminded me that if I wouldn’t do what I do for free, if I don’t love what I do, then someone else is going to end up taking my place in the rankings because they do love it. They will produce something superior to me because they are proud of their product, and I will soon be lost in the shuffle. I guess I might as well start doing things right now. Thanks a lot Wil.
I also attended the session by Zac Johson, John Chow, Lisa Picarille, and John Rampton. I love checklists, so I enjoyed that John R. spelled out exactly what he does in a day. I felt pretty silly meeting the speakers after their talk, I think I acted like a teenager meeting Justin Beiber. I know I acted that way when I had the opportunity to follow the advice written on Jeremy Schoemaker‘s blog and got to buy him a drink. (“buy” meaning that my abundance of little pink tickets came in handy)
The roundtables with experts were great. Bhavik Modi called attention to the fact that we often immediately fix problems when they come up, rather than asking ourselves why the problem is occurring, and fixing that issue (or the “why” that is causing THAT issue). I’ve thought about the talk numerous times during the past week, and it applies to everything in life. What a great reminder to drill down to the root of issues instead of opting for the quick fix!
Finally, Dave Cupples gave an awesome keynote closing speech. This guy is wonderfully entertaining to listen to (and not just because of the accent) and had a TON of great resources he shared. Fortunately, he’s written them all down in his book, The Four Year Old Entrepreneur. His book not only has become a great resource for me, but has inspired my daughter to continue in her dreams of starting her own business as a kid.
Even though I didn’t get to attend their sessions, I got to meet some of the people whose businesses I’ve followed closely (that’s how I would phrase it. Really, I’m an internet stalker.) I was very excited to meet Eric Nagel (who I would like to refer to as Shaggy), Todd Farmer, and especially Rae Hoffman-Dolan, or sugarrae, even though we weren’t able to talk. Literally.
I feel like I’m making a speech at the Academy Awards thanking everyone who has helped me, and I’m running out of time to mention everyone by name: “I would also like to thank Kim Rowley, Liz Gazer-Proudfoot, Liz Fogg, Daniel M Clark, Trisha Lynn Fawver, Kim Salvino, Michael Buchele, Deborah Carney, Justin Rondeau,(deep breath) and Dina Ricobono, who happens to be the best mentor a newbie could have, Shawn Dolan, Leslie AND Sharon Nazarian, Cindy Mikulandrich Ballard, and Ashleigh Ball, for making my first experience at Affiliate Summit East such a blast.”
I can’t wait for the next conference, I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again, making new friends, and learning a lot more.