PEOPLE are a Big Part of Conferences (Including #AdobeSummit)

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I noted in my last post that I’m an Adobe Summit greenhorn. But, that doesn’t mean that I’m a conference neophyte. Over the past few years, I’ve gone to an increasing number of conferences…and I get a lot out of them! As my fellow Summit Insider, Michele Kiss, put it:

Conferences are definitely like Christmas for nerdy digital analysts – a chance to step outside of your work cocoon, get  a new perspective on your current challenges, meet and mingle and generally talk shop.

We can break that description down into three buckets of “value” from conferences:

  • Session content — People who like to gripe about conferences if they don’t get rich, actionable content out of every session they attend. It’s almost a sport to deride the sessions as being high on fluff and short on meat. I think that’s aiming too high for a range of reasons. But, I definitely always pick up a few nuggets or a nuanced perspective from the session content itself (sometimes, I vigorously disagree with the presenter…but that forces me to think about the topic nonetheless, which is valuable)
  • Technology and Tools — no analyst uses more than 1% of all of the digital analytics tools on the market. But, conferences are a great way to get a broader perspective of what is out there and not fall into the trap of “when all you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” Web analytics, click tracking, voice of the customer, A/B and multivariate testing, attribution management, real-time content targeting, search optimization, display ad optimization, marketing automation,… the list goes on and on. The broader our perspective of the universe of technologies, the more likely we will use the right type of tool for the job when a new analytics challenge presents itself.
  • Relationships — conferences are one big community of people who speak the same language and deal with many of the same challenges. It’s energizing to talk with like-minded people, certainly. But, every new relationship I make is a resource I have the potential to reach out to in the future — for help (“Hey…do you know anything about…?”), to help (“I know you’re interesting in X, and I just came across…”), and, honestly, for friendship.

I’ve actually been doing some pre-work on that last one thanks to my last post, Twitter, and a few side comments on phone calls and side notes in emails. If you’re working on your own list, check out this Twitter list that and Nick Barron is maintaining (Just @ him with a request to be added if you’re interested).

For me, I now have two distinct lists of people I’m planning to connect with in Salt Lake City:

List 1 — Names

My first list is people who I know will be there for one reason or another, and we’ve agreed we want to hook up:

  • Michele Kiss — I still kick myself that I could have met Michele at eMetrics in Washington, D.C. several years ago, but I didn’t actually meet her until the following spring in San Francisco. I’ve since hung out with her numerous times — in person and digitally — and I still haven’t convinced her that the letter “z” is not evil.
  • Aaron Maass — I borderline stalked Aaron for years, but I didn’t actually have a conversation with him (and that was a fleeting one), until a WAW in Philly last fall
  • Guy Fish — he was a client at one point in time, which meant I met him in person once and then got to know him much better through phone calls and Twitter
  • Sergio Maldonado — I had a fantastic conversation with Sergio at an eMetrics that actually led me to write a whole post on Digital Insight Management (which I still think analysts aren’t thinking about and owning enough)
  • Matt Coen — the guy who taught me more about Sitecatalyst than I wanted to know than anyone else before or since
  • Noe Garcia — the guy on this list I go back the farthest with (well over a decade)…although I didn’t meet him in person until 5 years ago. I am 90% sure that Noe is the first person who told me to accept that web analytics data is not (and never will be) pristine.
  • Michael Shear — we’ve been in the guts of Sitecatalyst together…and, yet, have never met in person
  • Jessica Vasbinder — one of those people who got some analytics responsibilities dropped in her lap…and embraced the challenge!
  • Gregory Ng — a guy I met very briefly in person…but whom, in the years since, I’ve become convinced never sleeps.
  • The Columbus Crew (WAW folk — not the MLS team) — Sasha Verbitsky, Liz Smalls, and Robb Winkle
  • The Satellite crewEvan, Michael, Rudi, and whomever else is around
  • Adobe peopleBen Gaines (of course!), Jarin Stevens, Paul Kronenberger, and Josh Teare; and, if I can track them down, Carmen Sutter and Laurie Wetzel

List 2 — Which I Can’t Write Out Just Yet

The second list is all the people I know I will meet or reconnect with…but I can’t possibly know who they are, specifically, until I get there! The conference offers a world of opportunities to mix and mingle and meet new people, and I certainly plan to do that every chance I get!

Are you making a list?

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