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Since 7 seems to be a lucky number in Las Vegas and I consider myself a pretty lucky person for having attended Affiliate Summit West 2013, I figured that I would wrap up my favorite 7 experiences for my readers. In reality, I could probably have included at least 50 different things that made the conference worth it for me this time. But I don’t have all day and some of you don’t need to know all of them anyway!
(These are definitely in no particular order. And I don’t take many pictures, so you will have to create mental images for yourself.)
1. The Daniel (Rudy) Ruettiger Keynote and Meeting Him
Historically I have not attended more than about half of the keynotes. The more Affiliate Summits I attend, the more likely I am to go to the keynotes despite how busy I am because 1) they are truly motivational, and 2) you often get to meet the speakers after their presentations. I had been looking forward to hearing Rudy since the moment that it was announced. And he did not disappoint! As a fellow Hoosier, I appreciated his stories about our state. As a big football fan, I loved seeing the clip of the movie. But more than anything else I was moved by the story of someone who was a true underdog in every way but managed (more than one time) to see his dreams come true. When I met him for a picture afterward, he was incredibly personable and gracious with everyone. It’s a moment that I will never forget. And we’ll be watching the movie as a family again this weekend for sure!
2. Presenting On My Panel
You would think that after presenting year after year it would get boring or that you wouldn’t get nervous every time. Not so for either! My presentation was entitled Coping With Affiliate Marketing Challenges and we addressed some major issues that our fellow affiliates are facing to stay in business. It was my second presentation with my dear friend Todd Farmer and my first with my mom, Cindy Ballard. I felt a little badly that our moderator Sandrine Thompson got stuck with us because we are a bit like wildfire when we get together! But she managed to keep us on task. I love sharing what I know and learning from fellow panelists and consider myself fortunate that I was allowed to bring this idea to fruition and present it.
3.The ShareASale Party
So many people say that they do not attend the parties because they are at the conference to work and not play. I think in affiliate marketing it all blends together. Yes, I enjoyed my drinking and dancing time immensely on the rooftop of the Paris Hotel. But I also 1) introduced some new affiliates around to get them connected to helpful people, 2) spent time reconnecting with the ShareASale staff, 3) met new affiliates and merchants (including HootSuite and BookIt), and 4) strengthened bonds with affiliate marketing friends. All of those add to the value of the conference. And it was an awesome party.
4. Breakfast and Lunch
That’s weird because it just sounds like I like to eat (which I do). But in reality those are two of my favorite times of the day because I always end up spending an hour or so with both a couple of old friends and a couple of new friends. I make sure that I am never at a table by myself or with all people that already know each other. It’s great to bring just 1 or 2 new people into the group so that we can all get to know them in a quieter, low-key setting. It’s a HUGE benefit of the VIP pass.
I’m just going to create one big category here for everything awesome about Tim Ash. I had never met Tim before but had heard that his closing keynote should be very good. I am so glad for those rumors! Tim gave a presentation that hit every important point–the big picture of how things work, how they apply to affiliate marketing, and what we need to be doing to take advantage. He used fun images and was charismatic. Later that night I had the chance to meet him and he was just as sweet and smart as he had appeared to be on stage. Now this morning I am seeing all the pictures on Facebook that apparently he took the time himself to take during the conference. I appreciate it because, as I mentioned before, I took so few myself. Find Tim. He’s awesome.
6. Networking Time
It doesn’t actually count as a “moment,” but it’s my list so I can include what I want. Where else in the span of 48 hours can you meet with your mom (Cindy Ballard), your best friend (Ashleigh Ball), your absolutely-fabulous-in-every-way business partners (Todd Farmer and Eric Nagel), a rep from Disney, hundreds of old friends, hundreds of brand new friends, the inventor of Baby Einstein, the author of a new best-selling book, the Executive Director of the Performance Marketing Association, thousands of business owners, and multiple Elvis impersonators? You may only get in a quick hug or might have planned a half hour meeting. The people are there. You just have to put yourself out there to spend time with them.
7. The Inside Jokes
A big part of attending Affiliate Summit is in the memories that are made that you just can’t explain to everyone else (and for the most part do not want to). We will talk about some of them on Twitter and Facebook for months to come and at conferences for years to come. Some of my favorites this year included: Captain Stubing, Tainted Love, people who wear flesh-colored body suits, Schweddy Balls, Fun Fact!, Smack…and Rub, dirty beer pong…what am I forgetting??
Wrapping It Up
I can’t say that I spent much time in the Meet Market or the Exhibit Hall, but it was not for lack of trying. There was just too much to do! They were both very busy, however, which means there must have been a lot to see in there. The Twitter hashtag for the show (#asw13) was both useful and entertaining. There were countless other parties, happy hours, and events going on both private and open to everyone. If you go to Affiliate Summit and find yourself with “down time,” you are not looking hard enough for things to do.
Here’s to planning for ASE13 in Philadelphia!