I am so excited to be attending Mozcon next week...and I'm also blown away that I have been chosen to speak at Pubcon Vegas in October this year. Believe it or not, Mozcon will be my first SEO conference ever. I have questions that I'm sure other new attendees have...and I'm not too embarrassed to ask them. 🙂
1. What is the appropriate way to greet you guys?
This is probably going to sound dumb, but I am actually quite nervous to meet so many of you. Some of you guys are people whom I talk to several times a week via Twitter, email or phone. I feel like we're awesome friends. So, when we meet, can I hug you? Or is that ridiculously inappropriate? Can I just hug the women who I know and give handshakes to the men?
2. How do I respond when I don't recognize someone?
I'm guessing that quite a few of us don't look exactly like our Twitter Avatar. Unless Jason White wears a crazy red billed cap, I bet you I won't have a clue who he is. And to be honest...in my head his name is "Sonray". If some random guy comes up to me saying, "Hey Marie! It's Jason", I'm not going to have a clue who you are. Sorry Sonray!
If Russ Jones is there...will I recognize him unless he has a hand up to his head and a big smile? Apparently Melissa Fach is going to be wearing an Iron Man costume. Will I recognize her if she doesn't?
I was going to go on with this as I didn't want anyone to feel left out. (Come on...you know you've already CTRL-F'd and looked for your name.) But then this would be an obvious ego bait post...which it's not. Really...it's not. I just really really wanted to mention these cool people. To those of you like me who grew up on Romper Room, I know that you understand the pain when that darn women NEVER mentioned you. And what about people who know me, but even when I know your name I can't place who you are? I'm talking to YOU, people who use a logo as your avatar! So, should I expect awkward meetings, where people come up to me and hug me (assuming that that's the answer to my first question) and say, "Marie!!!!!!!!" And if you're hugging me, how am I going to see your nametag? Crap. I'm going to be so embarrassed. Please forgive me if I don't recognize you.
3. What do I wear?
Yeah...I know that the answer is probably to just wear what's comfortable. But what's the general attire like at an SEO conference? Do the men wear suits? Should I dress like I'm going to a business meeting? Do people wear jeans? Oh, I just had an idea...Does anyone want to organize a contest to guess the color of Annie Cushing's shoes each day? Yeah, I know I just ego-baited again. Sorry. Hey Annie! Can't wait to meet you at Mozcon!
4. Do I bring my computer? Do people do stuff online during the conference?
And by "do stuff" I most definitely mean answer business related emails and do audits where I make sure I'm displaying huge images of Google Analytics screenshots of sites that have made fantastic penalty recoveries...just in case people are looking. I most definitely do not mean checking my Facebook or Tweeting about what color of shoes Annie is wearing. Moz has suggested that we bring a dongle so that we can connect our computers to one of the 900 ethernet cables that will be there. (Oh man...I love the word "dongle" I made it my goal today to see how many times I could say the word "dongle" in regular communication. I'll buy a drink for the first person who uses the word "dongle" with me in regular conversation at MozCon.) So, does that mean that it is acceptable to go on my computer during the conference? Can I do that while someone is speaking or is that rude? Do people usually take notes on their computer? Is there a designated "live tweeter" of each talk, or do just the coolest people get to do that? These are the questions that are plaguing me.
5. What do I do when I meet SEO celebrities?
OK, So I know that Rand Fishkin is just a normal guy, but there is something insanely exciting and even nerve wracking about getting to meet him. A lot of you who are reading this are thinking that I'm nuts. But some of you get it. There are people in the SEO world like Alan Bleiweiss, Mike King and Cyrus Shepard that I learn from every day and getting to meet these people is something I'm really looking forward to! Did you guys know that Cyrus was a double for Steve Martin in Cheaper by the Dozen? That's just amazing!
Remember when Twitter used to send those messages saying, "Rand Fishkin just tweeted this!" Maybe they still send those messages and I have somehow managed to unsubscribe. Every time I got one of those I thought, "WOW! Is Rand Fishkin tweeting at ME?????" and was disappointed when I realized no...Twitter is just trying desperately to get me to spend more time there. (As if the stupid amount of hours each week I spend there is not enough.) So one day I tweeted about this saying how the Twitter messages made it look like @randfish and @iPullRank were tweeting me. Man this is becoming a long story. My point is that both of these guys ACTUALLY RESPONDED to me. I ran and showed my husband. I GOT TWEETS FROM RAND FISHKIN AND MICHAEL KING!
If I am that stupidly obsessed and easily impressed by a tweet from an SEO celebrity, what on earth am I going to do when I meet these guys? So, what's appropriate? Do I immediately go for the "me-and-a-celebrity" seflie? Or do you guys get tired of people whipping out their phones every time they are near you? Can I hug you? I know that was covered under question #1, but it might be different for you guys. I mean, if people just kept hugging you all day would that be weird? Should I buy you a drink? Again, if everyone did that you'd be a blubbering intoxicated mess. But then I've heard that that's kind of normal for most SEO conferences, and especially MozCon. Do people regularly buy drinks for each other? <COUGH>Gin and soda water with lime<COUGH><COUGH>.
Can you help answer any of these questions?
If you've been to an SEO conference, can you help me by answering some of these questions? It's totally ok to just answer with "You're completely nuts Marie." Please leave your words of wisdom in the comments section below. Also, if you feel left out that I did not ego bait you, let me know and I will make it happen.
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1. For me, hugs are great. I suggest reaching your arms out first in the universal symbol of “want a hug” and make sure the other person reciprocates before actually hugging. Some people don’t like hugs, and non-welcome hugs can be creepy and potentially violating. Some people may be more comfortable with a handshake or a “hello”
2. Nobody looks like their avatar. Nobody. It’s like a dream where people only kinda look like their real selves.
Don’t sweat it if you don’t recognize someone. Happens 100 times per day. That’s what the name badges are for 🙂
3. Clothing. The two rules are to dress 1) comfortable and 2) fun. Certainly, if you work at an agency and trying to attract clients, or a vendor, you might want to up your game.
Most dress is office casual. Jeans are common. Not too many suits. But “fun” is always appreciated.
4. Lots of people use computers. That said, some of our best conferences took place when we had no wifi. I kinda wish we had no wifi at all, because it helps people engage. But realistically, everyone will be online.
5. There are no celebrities at MozCon. Seriously, it’s all very egalitarian. You’ll be bowling and having lunch with these folks. We’re all just online marketers working together to learn and improve. Asking for photos is great. That said, folks like Rand and other ‘popular’ speakers are often busy, and seem to know everyone, so don’t be offended if they don’t have time to stay and chat for long.
These are only the views of one person (me). Looking forward to seeing you Marie! Be sure to give me a hug.
Thanks Steve! I mean Cyrus! That was great. See you soon!
If you close your eyes while Cyrus is up there emcee-ing at MozCon you will learn that he sounds just exactly like Steve Martin too.
1. I usually hug everyone.. 🙂 That has got much worse at Pubcon New Orleans when MBG got banned: EVERYONE hugged me with so much emotion that I was even overwhelmed! So hugs are good: You will know when one is needed 🙂
2. I often look at badges: Sometimes feel bad about that (happened with me once with Larry Kim) but I guess everyone does 🙂
3. I try to be somewhat official but still confy… I am usually in the booth as well helping ninjas (See you there at Pubcon!) so I feel better when I look a bit official.
4. I can’t afford not to check my mail a couple a times a day… so I always have my laptop
5. Well, they don’t look like celebrities, so it’s easy to behave normally
Thanks so much Ann. Great advice! Can’t wait to meet in Vegas. I’ll be the one with the badge that says “Marie Haynes”. 🙂
Dying laughing.. This is awesome! I will just pretend I dont know you for the whole conference..teeehheee..
Haha! You may regret travelling with me. I’ll try not to embarrass you too much! But now that there are free drinks at MozCon you may want to be a little bit on the worried side.
BRING IT!! GOOGLE GIRLS GONE WILD 😉
1. Personally, as a recovering addict who gives and gets hugs by the thousands in recovery, hugs are pretty much baked into my psyche though I know, as Cyrus said, everyone has their own preference. I don’t assume everyone would want
a hug. So I go with my intuition as best I can. It reduces the awkward
2. I can remember spending hours before my first couple conferences studying avatars, searching Google images, and thinking I could even memorize those with their names. Forget it.
You’ll either recognize people, or you won’t. If you don’t, just peeking in on sessions where you know one of the speakers is someone you want to meet IRL, can help – gives you the ability to look up on the podium and see the real faces. Alternately, like Ann, it’s sometimes a badge look for me.
The reality is, with so many people, so much activity at a conference, the brain can get frazzled.
Another reality in this is this- as people who are vocal in our industry, especially as we speak at more conferences (or in my case also do things like #EpicDinner) more people tend to recognize us than we do them. I’ve had people introduce themselves to me who are followers and quite often, I’ll recall their Twitter name, but not the face, let alone their real name. Yet even then, that’s only if they’ve ever interacted with me more than a few times online.
Don’t be afraid to actually be honest – I do my best to be respectful when I need to ask for a name, though sometimes I’ll pass by someone in the conference hall five times trying to see their badge before I go up to them if I recognize the face but not the name. And yeah, that’s a crap-shoot method 🙂
3. I’m a casual person by nature. I ONLY wear a dress shirt on days I’m speaking usually. The rest, I’m a t-shirt and jeans or cargo pants wearer even when I go to meet most clients for the first time. So that’s how I show up at conferences.
4. I used to lug my laptop everywhere at conferences. The handful of times I live-blogged sessions, it was vital to do so. I still bring it sometimes, however as a speaker, I can leave that in the speaker ready room and cruise all day without lugging it around. Some days, if I’m not speaking that day and thus don’t need to polish / re-read a presentation deck, I’ll just show up with my iPad or only my phone.
5. See answer #1. Celebrities in this industry, at least the ones who aren’t just arrogant douche asshats, are real people, and you don’t need a pedestal to step onto to communicate. it’s awesome.
I remember the 1st time I saw Rae Hoffman at a conference – she was with friends hanging out in a hotel pool. I avoided going up to her thinking “she’s with her friends – want to respect her space”.
She called ME over. Floored me. Changed my entire understanding of how this “celebrity” thing works.
Go with your intuition here too though. Every once in a while it can get a bit intense with so many people wanting to say hi, or to get a photo, or to rant about whatever. So just be respectful and you’ll do great. However in my case, if you see me and don’t immediately come up to me, and hug me, even if I’m in mid-sentence, I’ll be like MARIE!!!!!!!!!!!!! from across the room if I spot you…
Can’t wait to finally meet in Vegas!
Alan this was awesome! You made me cry and laugh at the same time in your comment. For real. 🙂 Can’t wait to meet you and also to hear you speak in Vegas!
I’ve enjoyed so much of your content on the MozBlog and in Q & A that I really look forward to the opportunity to meet you. I took my computer the first year and took a lot of notes. I didn’t last year because I thought: “Hey, I’m getting all of this on videos so I’m not going to worry about taking note.” That was a mistake. The videos weren’t available until 6 months later and there was a ton, ton, ton of stuff that I wanted to start doing right after MozCon and I couldn’t remember half of it.
Whether it’s via computer or just pen and paper. I recommend taking a lot of notes (Beth Anderson – @JadeEJF – took what she referred to as a “crap ton” of notes last year and saved my ass – http://www.slideshare.net/kanejamison/moz-con-2013highlightsday3) – Take notes, even if it’s tempting to Tweet instead. Cheers! I’m so excited!!!!
Thanks for the kind words Dana. I feel the same way about your Q&A answers – always very helpful! Looking forward to meeting you soon!
I agree that taking notes is always helpful regardless.
We’re aiming to get the videos out by August of this year. Unfortunately, last year, we ran into a staffing resource issue where all our efforts/prioritization went to our product and upgrading our payment portal instead of posting those videos.
I was kind of imagining that we would see each other from across the room as an invisible orchestra strikes up, both throw our arms open in that universal gesture Cyrus mentioned and run in slow motion toward each other for a hug… lol
I’d be willing to bet that you’ll have been spotted by a good number of people before you even leave the hotel and will be well settled in before end of breakfast on Day 1. (Yes, that is a hint that I’ll be keeping an eye out for you at breakfast on Monday 😉
It never ceases to amaze me when people I think of as super smart and real thought leaders in this industry recognize me and say hello. That can make your day.
All of the Rockstar Marketers are awesome REAL people and Mozcon is one of the most uplifting experiences you’ll have in your life. The most important thing to know is that you should stop every now and then, take a breath and soak it all in, because you are going to want to relive some of those memories for a long time to come.
See you in a little over a week 🙂
Bahahahaha. So…when I start to hear an invisible orchestra in my head then I will know that SHA IS IN THE BUILDING! You will definitely be getting a hug! See you soon!
Just a couple of things to add. MozCon has always been a very friendly and welcoming conference. It has grown, but Moz organizers always find a way to preserve the feeling of a small conference where you know everyone. My suggestion is to go up to people and introduce yourself. Let *them* recognize you. 🙂
I always bring my iPad with me, not my laptop because my laptop battery runs out faster. However, unlike many other conferences, Moz usually has outlets everywhere by the tables – you might be ok with a laptop.
When you arrive in Seattle, monitor Twitter. People get together before the conference and it is great to meet new people by joining in. Ask people you know if they are doing anything for dinner or drinks. Usually, there is always a gathering you can join.
MozCon is always a lot of fun. Be prepared for a great experience.
Thanks Lyena! Great tips!
I’m totally wearing my hat just for that reason! Looking SO much to seeing you and everyone else I’ve met on the twitters this year!!