SES Swag

This is my first time ever going to Search Engine Strategies, and I have to say, I was a bit surprised. Having been to the Web 2.0 Expo, I thought this was going to be a MASSIVE meeting of techies who couldn’t wait to give out their business cards and sell me on the next big start up :)

OK – maybe not really, but you get the picture. As I mentioned earlier, my experience at the Web 2.0 Expo made me feel a bit skeptical, but I was surprised by what I encountered at SES. The first thing I noticed was that it was a lot less busy on the expo hall floor. My guess was that a lot of people were in the sessions at the time. I also noticed that there wasn’t a whole lot of intermingling of attendees. Yes, there was a lot of interaction between booth and prospects, but I didn’t see a whole lot of prospect on prospect action (that sounded a bit dirty…). It was definitely a different experience, and I’m glad I went. And I did get something big out of it.

Here’s what I took away from #SESNY:

1.) Everyone has something to sell. I don’t think there was a booth I stopped by in the exhibition hall that didn’t have something to sell, which is pretty obvious, considering that it’s a convention. But that wasn’t what I remembered most about the experience. I remember the people I spoke with and what booths they were manning. I remember how they made me feel.

Some made me feel uncomfortable and were a bit pushy. Others were polite and really laid back. Either way, it got me thinking about how when we’re at these things, we’re not just looking to peddle our products. We’re peddling ourselves. We’re trying desperately to make new connections, meet new people, and show that we know what we’re doing. In a field like SEO, it can be tough to do, especially since SEO as a whole is constantly in flux. It’s really easy to throw around buzzwords and shiny metrics and sexy-looking software. It’s difficult to have a candid conversation – even though it’s those conversations that matter most.

2.) Friendliness makes a huge difference. I can’t stress this enough. If you’re friendly, I’ll approach you. If you look miserable or have your nose in the air, I won’t. I don’t care if you’re giving away a free XBOX or not. If you’re not showing your target audience that you’re approachable, why even set up shop?

I like what the narrorator has to say in Fight Club about single serving friends, because I think in all honesty, we all try to be single serving friends when we’re at these things. I’m going to just throw this out there, but I wonder how many people actually continue to keep in touch and share things after these events end. If so, for how long?

3.) Free stuff = good. Working for free stuff = even better. Orange Soda had a really cool idea for their booth and I have to say that I enjoyed stopping by to roll the dice and put a slinky to my forehead. Yes. I said slinky. To the forehead. I won a nifty bottle opener. In my mind, I’m associating Orange Soda with thinking outside the conventional convention booth, er, box.  +1 for Orange Soda.

4.) Don’t just tell me. Show me! There were a lot of booths with fancy sales sheets and pretty banners, but the ones I got the most out of were the ones that showed me what they had to offer. They engaged in a conversation. They attempted to relate to me, even though we both knew that they were just trying to make a sale. They also demonstrated what their service/product could do. Those are the details that make things stick and make us much more likely to trust in what you have to offer.

I guess what I’m trying to say in all of this is that SES NY taught me quite a bit about sales; about what people actually remember when they encounter you. Sales isn’t a huge area of focus for me and even though I did advertising sales for my college newspaper, I would never consider myself to be a salesperson. Though I am in a way. I sell myself – my personal brand – every day. I do it by the way I conduct myself online. I do it through this blog. I also do it through being helpful to friends and family members. I’ve built up a reputation for being helpful even though I wasn’t treating every interaction as a sale…even though that’s what it is at a pretty basic level.

So. Sales. What are your thoughts? Discuss.

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