I love answering questions I get about Affiliate Summit. But there's one in particular that I get all the time. So Now What?
This is a question that I get from newbies, maybe just like you. I get the Now What question when they arrive to Affiliate Summit, and I get the Now what? question when they get home after the event.
Funny thing is that most people won't do what I tell them, then they'll look back and tell me the next time around that they should have listened to me. Usually, the second time around they know what's up.
So I wrote this with two people in mind. I made some new awesome friends during this Affiliate Summit, but this is dedicated to two of them that are total newbs to the scene. Just like you may be a newb right now. And don't worry, we don't judge and it's not bad to be a newb. Everyone is one at some point.
So Now what?
After you arrive to the Affiliate Summit location
The first things you should do when you arrive to the hotel is settle down. Seriously, go to your room and put your shit down. You're not going to need anything except for your wallet, ID and phone. No need to be lugging your stuff around, bumping into people's ankles and making a fool out of yourself carrying your luggage, a backpack, your purse, your hair styling stuff and a bag of shoes (true story!).
While you're at it, freshen up and brush your teeth, you've been flying for 2 - 16 hours, seriously (another true story).
You're now ready to check-in to the event and get your registration badge. Depending on when you arrived there may be an early check-in schedule. Before you leave home make sure you know the schedule, once there you should see signs all over the hotel indicating where you should go.
At the checkin registration area make sure you check your badge for accuracy and if there are any problems just go to the separate section for badge corrections. But don't loose your badge, ever. It is your pass to go anywhere related to Affiliate Summit and it costs quite a bit to replace. Even when we go out, I usually just tuck it under my shirt and keep it with me. You never know what club or bar will be hosting an Affiliate Summit party and they use the badge as a way to get in sometimes, this is especially true when Affiliate Summit is in Las Vegas.
Of course, the basics of any conference apply next. Make sure you know where the events you want to go to are taking place. Find out the layout of the floor and learn the basics like: Restrooms & Water. Next, find the food rooms, this is where breakfast, snacks and lunch will be provided and find where the Meet Market and Exhibit Halls will be. Two places you should visit at least once during the event.
Now this is where I have to switch from the classic advice on the mechanics of attending a conference, specifically the best internet marketing conference in the planet and dig deeper. I want to tell you about the questions that my buddies were asking me. These are the things you can easily miss. Your first Affilaite Summit attendance can make or break your entire experience and perception of the event and even the industry so if I were you Id' follow my advice. In fact I did, and I've been back to every Affiliate summit since my first one because I love attending and I love how much I learn and grow there and for the months after.
While you are there, if I had to sum it up in one short paragraph, this would be it:
Meet people. Learn. Eat. Attend cocktail hours & parties. Rinse and repeat.
When you are a new attendee you may also be new to the industry. If this is you then you may even wonder why you're here. What can you do as a newbie? Why would any of these people care about you if they've been doing this for two years, four years or even 20 years. How can you possibly be of use or interest to them? -- Don't worry, this feeling is normal. You feel like you don't belong, and that's normal, because until yesterday you didn't belong.
You belong here. There's a reason why you're here, your sacrifice is the reminder of that. And these people you see walking around they also belong and they want to talk to you.
In case you haven't noticed, you're cut out of a different cloth. You are different from your everyday peers. So are all these people. Affiliate Summit is when we all come together to talk shop. This is when our inner geek takes over and we want to talk to everybody. This is the one chance you have to meet some of the biggest players in the industry and everybody is okay talking to each other. So take advantage of that, get your geek on.
So Now What?
So now go out and meet somebody
Really meet them, get to know them, ask them why they're here, learn about them. Make a friend, not a lead.
By the way, DO NOT offer up your business card unless asked for. Feel free to ask for theirs first.
One thing you should know in advance is who the big attendees are and identify several that you would like to meet. It's easy to do this, just look them up on their blogs or Twitter or Instagram, maybe join their newsletter. Most of them will tell you what they're up to while they're at the event so mosey on over to where they are and introduce yourself.
If you totally don't know who is who, you can start by reading visiting the Affiliate Summit website, or Feedfront, Affiliate Summit's official magazine. Start by finding out more about the authors of the articles and go from there. From there, you'll find blogs, social media, and you'll be able to find people that resonate with you and that you'd like to meet.
I almost forced one of my new friends that was facing this paralyzing question of "so now what?" to go and meet Sugar Hoffman from sugarrae.com. He wanted to know why, who is she? what does she care about meeting me? I told him to shut the f*ck up and go meet her, she's one person that has overcome huge difficulties and is an icon in the industry. Grudgingly, probably more because he wanted me to shut up, my buddy went to meet her. She was giving a talk and was about to finish.
Several hours later, I ran into my friend and he thanked me for making him go out to meet her.
See, my buddy didn't have anything to offer and didn't need anything from Sugar. This is the best time to meet people, and even better when you're at a conference like this. People want to meet people and we are all under the understanding that we're here to do business and grow; that is a given so don't rush to it.
The fatal mistake I see all the time can best be represented with a few lines of dialogue:
Hi, I'm Mike from Mike's Amazing Marketing Solutions for Everyone but Especially People just Like yourself, How are you?
... other person responds...
Awesome, let me tell you about me and how I can help you because you need me, clearly you've been missing out in all that I have to offer you today. (very sly, extends his business card...)
... other person looses interest...
So what do you do?
... other person is desperately seeking a way out of this or already left.
So don't do that. Be human and get to know somebody. In contrast to my friend meeting Sugar, I went to a cocktail party with one of the big sponsors and there was this guy floating around the tables pitching his shit. I mingle, and so I talked to several people in the room. As you mingle in a party, you move around, but this guy could not help himself from pitching and telling his god-awful story to everybody that was either too naive or too busy chewing their food to interrupt him. If you could have heard the comments from other attendees each time he finished his pitch and left.
Believe me, very few people if any will be calling that guy back. He forever will be remembered as "that guy."
You don't want to be "that guy."
Go and Learn Something
There is so much to learn that even if you could attend every session, you would not be able to retain or apply all of it. After the event you'll have access to the videos of all the sessions (select passes only). So you can always go back and review a session you really liked or one that you missed.
I say this because I don't want you to make the mistake of going to ALL the sessions you possibly can. There are several tracks and levels of sessions. Some are panels between experts, some are live reviews of your product/site/email etc, some are success stories. But all of them are announced in advance in the website. They are also listed in your welcome package in the schedule.
Take some time to identify the tracks that most can benefit your business a few days after you come back home, or the track that is most interesting to you. Then pick the sessions you want to attend but leave yourself a break between each one or every couple ones.
It's good to have breaks to catch up with yourself, maybe meet somebody new or just touch base back home. You can always review your notes and videos later after the event. Stay alert and fresh and ready for a full day of activity. I really can't emphasize this enough, don't burn yourself out attending sessions and stressing about rushing to each one. You'll miss out on half the fun.
I know that ideally this would require a few days of planning, but if you're there now and are asking "what now?" Grab the schedule and do the best you can for the rest of the event. Identify 2 sessions per day then network and mingle. Find out where the parties are and attend as many as you can.
The best time to network is at the parties. Why? because there are many people like "that guy" on the floor and usually they don't attend the parties. It is a lot easier and nicer to network at a human level than with the pressure of making a lead or closing a sale.
And last, after you got all these tips down... make sure you
Rest and Hydrate
You'll need as much rest as you can so catch a few naps when you can and always keep water with you at all times --but never sacrifice an opportunity for networking for a nap. Trust me is not worth it. Staying hydrated is one of the keys to surviving any conference.
Continue reading the second part: Your First Affiliate Summit. Back Home. So Now What?
I hope these help. Would love to hear your feedback too!