If you are thinking of going to SMX West let me try and convince you. One of the most important aspects of success is the old adage, "it is not what you know but who you know." This couldn't be further from the truth in SEO and the online business world. You know someone at TC or Mashable it is going to be easier to get a look, you know some top diggers you will front page more often, etc.
SEO Conferences and specifically SMX conferences are the best way to expand your network and grow your online "Crew." SMX has been my favorite for networking, because the feel and the structure is more geared towards just that. Danny and Chris are working hard to make sure that there is an open environment to talk, discuss and meet pretty much anyone that you want in the industry. SEO's are already cool by nature and all about networking so it makes it even better. If you are thinking of going in Feb, and whether it is your first conference or not, let me share a personal experience with you as to why you must attend.
I had planned to go to SMX Advanced in Seattle, it had been a while since we had been to any conferences, and we had a lot of huge plans in the works for 97th Floor, clients and our sites. So we figured it was the time to go and really expand on our network. We have been doing SEO for a long time and I guess cause we had gotten into it together, we really didn't network that much until this last year. We had just landed the sweetest client of all time, we had Social Media for Firefox in idea/alpha stage, we relaunched the new 97th Floor design and migrated our old blogs and we really wanted to get to know some people in the industry.
To make a long story short (you can read the rant) I ended up getting stranded in Vegas for 2 days, I missed the entire conference except the last session. I was stuck on a laptop in a terminal with 60 super angry people. Yet it still turned out to be the most productive conference I have ever attended. After the last session everyone went and got some dinner and then headed over to the SEOMoz after party. It was a super intimate get together at a sweet little billiards hall and I got to know everyone. Specifically Cameron Olthuis, he and I had been commenting on each others blogs and emailing each other, he now lives where I grew up in Cali, and I live where he grew up in Utah and there aren't very many SEO's that Surf at least that I know of, so we had a lot to talk about. As a direct result of growing the contacts and expanding the online IM Crew, we generated over a million unique visitors in the last 6 months that we wouldn't of if we didn't go. Our eyes were opened up to some new avenues of marketing, specifically making boring sites go viral. Below is some snippets of just 3 sites that had their traffic and success increased because we went to SMX.
A Site I Run
May 2007 2,086
Jun 2007 2,362
Jul 2007 2,850
Aug 2007 9,975 (this is when we started to implement things)
Sep 2007 25,736
Oct 2007 19,143
Nov 2007 18,249
Dec 2007 32,653
A Clients Site
May 2007 19,704
Jun 2007 16,008 (I called client, we are going to switch our strategy and focus on certain types of content)
Jul 2007 12,348
Aug 2007 12,721
Sep 2007 10,736 (finally got site ready and started to implement for a push in Oct.)
Oct 2007 149,586 (One of the viral articles we did this month got over 4,600 links and counting)
Nov 2007 32,413
Dec 2007 94,786
Site I Partner With a Buddy
Jun -Sept (I have an idea for a site I got from talking to some people at SMX)
Oct 2007 47,458 (started the site brand new domain on Oct. 27th)
Nov 2007 66,534
Dec 2007 76,555
Jan 2008 17,767 (so far)
Together that equals 669,670 unique visitors not 1 million plus, but this is just 3 sites out of about 10 specifically that were all greatly effected by attending SMX.
So if you are new to SEO conferences, or you haven't attended an SMX, you need to go. You will be surprised on how easy it is to meet the people you need to, in order to grow your business.
I will be speaking on Reputation Management so come and say hi. I am looking forward to getting to finally meet Chris Winfield face to face as we have emailed, and talked on the phone, but never in person. I want to sit down and chat with Rand as we have always said hi in passing and really the longest conversation I have had with him was when I emailed him and and went off cause my friends Pest Control website that I was marketing for pennies hadn't been approved by SocEngine as fast as I would have liked. I need to digg up that email, I was like, "who is this Rand guy, I paid my $7 bucks over a month ago." I also want to meet Tamar and many others, of course all of our readers.