I love the web. Despite being somewhere in Italy, I’m able to follow many professional conferences like SMX West through session write-ups posted online. After all, it isn’t always possible to attend conferences in person. Yet even when the post quality is high, there’s something missing, something that can’t be replicated virtually. Above all, its the human dimension, the networking experience. If you haven’t had the opportunity to attend professional conferences (or you’re a bit shy!), you might think, “what’s he on about?“.
As I reflect on the various breakfast, lunch and cocktail chats I had at SMX West, I think about the breadth of interesting people I met.
There’s excitement in being around so many bright and curious people– digital novices to seasoned veterans, those who practice search marketing to those who know that understanding search is a key to their company’s (and their own) future.
Some of those people were:
Charles Meyer and Robert Payne of 7Search, were the first people I met at the Meet and Greet pre-conference event. We probably conversed more about Italian cars than search! At that same event, I spoke with multilingual Oscar Pico, who holds his own in Italian along with English and Spanish.
Breakfast, lunch and break tables provided countless opportunities to strike up new acquaintances. It was informative to speak with people like Eileen Scharenbroch who represent traditional “nuts and bolts” companies, in this case Briggs & Stratton. Marcie Baetcke is with Gannett, a company for which the web presents both opportunities and threats.
Robert Riggs, a veteran TV journalist, and Arthur Coleman are looking to apply search marketing to new projects. Arthur and I discussed if Flash is really the right solution to many web problems. (I owe him a public apology for missing a later appointment – hopefully he’ll forgive me!)
Jonti Bolles might be a Search Engine Marketing Manager, but like a lot of people at SMX, she has a wide range of expertise, from architecture to Livorno. Dante Monteverde radiates his enthusiasm for the web; I’ve got to make Website Magazine a reading habit. Jeremy Rivera collects languages the way others collect links.
David Szetela is a fellow New Englander with an excellent PPC podcast. I also had nice chats with some of his regular (Thomas Rasinen) and occasional (Marty Weintraub) cohorts. I found James Zolman‘s unvarnished candor on being fired after an early PPC learning experiment to be refreshing.
Chris Elwell probably worried more than an expectant father that the show would go off without a hitch (these Third Door Media people are really passionate about what they do!). Arif Gangji has a company name, neonrain, I really like. Chris Bennett first popped on my radar screen with the web analytics package Blvd Status. I appreciated finally meet him in person.
Up to this point, I’ve deliberately avoided mentioning stars of the Search Marketing world. After all, SMX is as much about the unsung heroes as it is the SEO Rockstars. Yet I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention how happy I was to meet a woman who can pull rank.
Ask.com is the underdog that many in the search marketing industry really want to succeed. Yet some management missteps can be frustrating, to put it gently. When I read that Keith Hogan of Ask.com was going to speak at SMX, I sent him an e-mail asking if Ask had stopped crawling the web. He kindly clarified the situation. When we met in person, he seemed open to reviving the Ask API. A new year, a new start? I hope so.
Danny Sullivan opened SMX describing his children… including the search engines. If you follow Danny’s personal blog, you’ll know that Danny cherishes his extended search family, as evidenced by a very personal story shared at SMX West… the human dimension that makes a conference a must attend event.
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