I attended my very first Search Engine Strategies (SES) conference last week in NYC. I learned a ton, not only about search strategies, but also about how not to act at one of these events. I spent the first 3 days trying to meet people in hopes of being invited to one of these famous after hours drinking functions that everyone raved about in the chat forums. After day 2, I still hadn’t received an invite to any social functions; I was at a loss. I’m a cool guy, why wasn’t anyone inviting me to have a drink with them??? Maybe it was the constipation-induced scowl I brandished for the first two days. Maybe the new brand of deodorant I switched to was being overworked. Maybe the blinding reflection off my ever-expanding forehead was causing people to quickly avert their attention from me. As I sit back and reflect upon the reasons I didn’t warrant an invite, I can’t help but zero in on my many unsophisticated actions that clearly screamed "NEWBIE".

So, for any of you SEO’ers, rookies and pros, who are thinking about attending one of these events, below are my Top 10 tips on how to blend in and better your chances of getting invited to a social function.

10. Stick to the Fundamentals Track!!
– It’s easy to get ahead of yourself. If you are a newbie and you find yourself in the Robots.txt Summit, the you are clearly out of place; you may even start wondering if you are at the right conference.

9. Laugh when everyone else laughs!
– When the speaker makes a joke that you don’t understand, it’s a good idea to play it safe and laugh.

8. Don’t give out your contact info to anyone on the exhibit floor if you truly don’t want them contacting you!
– I thought they just wanted to be my friend…I didn’t realize that they actually wanted me to buy something. By the time I got back home I had 24 e-mails from potential business suitors eager to sell me their goods. I hate to say it but I really have no intention of buying anything from you, I just wanted to get invited to an after hours social event. 🙂 Sorry!!

7. Bring business cards!
– After telling the 47th person that "I forgot my cards" I started to feel like a fraud. They all gave me that ‘you’re an idiot’ look.

6. Realize that lunch is provided for you!
– I didn’t read the itinerary on day 1, thus I didn’t realize that lunch was provided. I found myself wondering why everyone was rushing upstairs. I thought "this is the perfect time to hit the hot dog stand before everyone else does…suckers!!!"

5. Don’t complain about the crunchy cookies they serve at lunch!
– When I saw the pack of cookies, I expected them to be soft. I had a tourettes moment and blurted out some profanity about not getting soft cookies. Needless to say, nobody from my lunch table that day invited me to have a drink with them.

4. At the first session after lunch, be sure and leave yourself a one-seat buffer zone on each side (don’t sit right next to someone)!

– On day 1, I sat right next to a lady after lunch. I think she got a little scared when I started doing the head-bob, funky chicken between bouts of consciousness. The lecture was interesting and all, but why did they have to schedule it during my normal nap time??

3. Don’t carry around that sweet, and oh-so manly, canvas bag after day 1!
– The conference organizers issue you a "gift bag", which turned out to be a bag full of advertisements. You’re expected to carry it on day 1, but after that you just stick out. I think the NYC investment bankers were a little jealous of my canvas tote…so feel free to use it outside of the conference.

2. Don’t try to impress the SES ladies by attempting to form a rap circle outside one of the session rooms!
– This one is self-explanatory really. I thought it would be cool to make up a rap about search strategies. Talk about your all-time worst backfires.

1. When attending the Danny Sullivan open discussion forum, don’t stop clapping until everyone else has!!
– I stopped clapping after the first 3 minutes (a carpal tunnel thing) and the girl next to me shot me an evil ‘how dare you disrespect him’ glare. I promptly put aside the pain in my wrists and continued clapping. Who knew he was so popular?? 🙂

Follow these simple rules and you will fare better than me!! See you all at SES in San Jose.


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