After attending over 15 Affiliate Summits, you would think that I would not be surprised at anything. I’ve attended sessions, networking events, parties, and more for over 8 years. And yet every time I leave a show, I end up coming away with things I didn’t anticipate.
- I benefited a lot from my own session. That seems weird, but I probably benefited as much from the work I put into my own session as the people who attended did. First, I learned from Vanessa and Eric. They are both really smart, connected people. But second, I had to “practice what I preached.” You can’t be an expert on networking without actually DOING it. Over the last 4 months as we put together the presentation, I found myself really upping my own game and trying new tactics to see how they worked. I feel more connected now than ever before.
- I actually like raw fish. I know that’s really random. But someone suggested at a dinner that I try it. I was skeptical but trying to be a good sport. And it was good.
- People still are not taking advantage of some of the best opportunities at the conference. I sat by myself at a table in the VIP Snack on Sunday for almost 45 minutes. I was completely ready to meet new people, offer advice, make introductions, etc. Yet hardly anyone came in compared to the number of people with VIP passes. Even if you aren’t eating, it is a nice, quiet place to network.
- A lot of people still don’t understand the benefit of networking before selling. They go right in for the pitch of their company without really having a conversation with you. If it were speed dating or a pitch session, I would understand. I’m talking about places like parties and meals. I am immediately turned off by people who sit down next to me and start pitching me right off the bat.
- There are some REALLY awesome karaoke performers in our industry—including harmonica duets, back-up dancers, and Al from DealTaker’s wife!
- After almost 10 years in the industry, I can still walk in a room and know almost no one. I attended a dinner with probably 50-60 people and I only knew around 5 of them. These were people in my same niches who worked with the same networks I work with. It just goes to show how much the industry continues to grow and how vast it really is.
- Booth babes still exist. I thought we were past that. Apparently not because 2 cute girls approached a group of guys in the Exhibit Hall and awkwardly said to them “Do you do..um…internet…uh..marketing?” (Like they didn’t even know what that meant) The guys replied that they did and started to hit on the girls. The girls shoved flyers at them and took off for the next unsuspecting group of guys.
- Giants Stadium is really cool. Even when your team loses the game. And people who take you to the game just to be nice are even cooler.
- Too many people still do not know what the Performance Marketing Association is. Ask any lawyer what the American Bar Association is and they can tell you the basics. Ask performance marketers about the PMA and most will look at you funny. I know we are a young organization, but we still have a long way to go in educating and getting buy-in from the people in our industry. If you do not know what it is or are not involved, please talk to me!
- No matter how many Affiliate Summits I attend, I still learn something new, meet new people, and come away energized after every single one. You may think that there is a point of diminishing returns on attending, but there shouldn’t be if you make the most of everything that is available to you there. I’m signing up with a new CPA network, picked up a few new merchants, made some new friends, secured commission increases for the holidays, and secured some PMA memberships. That’s on top of solidifying current relationships with OPMs, merchants, and fellow affiliates. Not to mention coming home ready to kick some butt in the 4th quarter!
Was there anything about Affiliate Summit East 2014 that was surprising to you? Did anything unexpected happen for which you are grateful?
(photo credits: Thanks for the random pictures, Kim Rowley, and for tagging me in them on Facebook from FMTC!)