They say you should face your greatest fears head on and public speaking has been one of mine since I was a kid. Being shy didn’t help during those school speech assignments one bit. Anyone with me on that one?
Having worked in the search marketing/web dev business since 1997, it was only 2 years ago or so that I began to speak at events about SEO, marketing with blogs and online public relations. I think there were 3 speaking events that first year. This year it looks like 16 and there are already 8 events booked for 2008. Things can change quickly in internet time.
My first presentation on SEO was in front of a local interactive marketing group (thanks to Kristina Halvorson) 2 1/2 years ago and now it’s a situation where decisions need to be made about which events to do and which to turn down. The number of paid speaking engagements has risen significantly as well.
Providing companies a 1/2 day workshop on search marketing and online PR is literally a brain dump of information. The goal is to give as much practical advice and value as possible. People often ask, “Why give so much away?”. First, that’s what they’re paying for and second, nearly every one of these situations has turned into a long term consulting engagement.
This good fortune can in part, be attributed to the kindness and risk taking by people like Heather Lloyd-Martin for including me in DMA events and Brett Tabke for Pubcon. Even Danny Sullivan warmed up after a few years. Peers and friends in the industry like Greg Jarboe, Jamie O’Donnell, David Berkowitz and Peter Himler nudged a few doors open as well.
Speaking publicly about various aspects of online marketing in combination with blogging, social networking and developing good distribution channels for messaging has been instrumental in building our credibility and visibility. This combined effort accelerated what might have otherwise take many years to achieve. That is the power of the web and social networking – both online and offline, something TopRank does both internally and for clients.
However, there’s still a ways to go. We have many goals to reach as an organization including staffing. Right now we’re hiring for several positions including an Online Marketing Manager, viral marketing specialists and a web designer/developer position. The way our teams are developing and stepping up to the plate when they need to is really amazing.
One of the exciting things in development is a project and contact management system for scaling search, PR and email marketing campaigns through a single application. No more about that – at least for now. There’s a lot changing in the way we do online marketing and that’s reflected in the systems we’re developing and the topics of the remaining conferences this year.
Speaking of conferences, coming up later in November and the first 2 weeks of December is a short marathon speaking run. Things start out with the Advanced PR Technology workshop in San Francisco on November 30th with a panel on driving search traffic to corporate web sites with myself and Bill Barnes from Enquiro. Then a session at the same conference with Jamie O’Donnell and Sally Falkow on press release optimization.
After San Francisco it will be Pubcon Dec 4-7 with the “Search and Blogging Reporters Forum” which includes Andy Beal, Michael McDonald, Rand Fishkin, Loren Baker and moi. Now THAT will be a fun session. This will be followed by the “Press and Public Relations Campaigns” session with Robin Liss and Joe Beaulaurier from PRWeb. Due to the time conflict I won’t be at SES Chicago, but many people will. In fact, there are quite a few people trying to go to BOTH!
Pubcon is a great way to end out the year but MediaPost is hosting the Search Insider Summit in Park City, Utah at the Stein Eriksen Lodge. Part conference, part networking event and part fun in the snow, I’m looking forward to doing a panel session on Universal/Unified Search. Lots of brands and top level agency execs at this event make it a perfect mix of smart networking and strategic insight.
Facing fears and taking risks is part of growing with your business and without that, there’s little reward. Being able to work in such a dynamic industry that keeps moving, changing and evolving is very satisfying especially with the new and interesting problems we get to solve for clients. Thanks to tackling the public speaking thing, (but certainly not mastering it) the rewards have been far more than I anticipated. Have you faced any fears in the search marketing biz and realized unanticipated rewards?