Just last Tuesday, the last day of New Media Expo (NMX) was wrapping up and I was feeling pretty good about the experience. Below is a short synopsis of what I liked, what I didn’t, and where I was wrong with my assumptions going into the event. First, let’s start out with my misconceptions.
I Don’t Know If You Know This But I’m Kind of a Big Deal
I had no idea how big NMX was going to be. Granted, this was my first conference of any sort. But I truly did not expect the number of people that attended. I don’t know what the total attendance was, but my guess it was around double of what I expected. I should have had a better grasp by seeing all the sessions on the schedule before showing up.
I knew going in that I was definitely a small fish in a large pond in terms of experience, reach, and income. It was only as I settled in for the first keynote sessions that I realized I was a much smaller fish in a much larger ocean. Everyone appeared to making a living online or had a career blogging, podcasting, or video. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little intimidated.
The main reason I went to NMX was as a fan of some of the speakers. I thought it was a good opportunity to meet some of my favorite podcasters and bloggers and see them speak live. If I gained anything significant from the sessions that would just be icing on the cake. And while I did meet almost everyone I wanted, I did not get the 10-15 minutes I had hoped for. This was completely my fault. Being an introverted, non aggressive type does not lead to success in these types of situations. Also, it was a bit insane seeing some of these “internet celebrities” not be able to walk more than a few feet before someone was stopping them. I didn’t feel I was baller enough “waste’ their time.
My last assumption was actually quite silly and naive. Throughout the conference, I would always see the more established people hanging out and talking with each other. Despite being on each others podcast or blogs, this was probably the first time many of these people had met in person. And like old friends, they wanted to catch up while time was short. Most people making their business online live an isolated lifestyle when it comes to actual human contact. Most communication is done through Skype or email. Actually getting to shake someone’s hand or give them a hug was probably a welcomed change.
What I Liked About NMX
For the most part, every session I attended was decent. I do have a gripe about how basic some of them were. My assumption was: “We’re all blogging, podcasting, and/or shooting videos. Everyone in attendance should have a certain level knowledge where we can skip over some the basics.”
The turnaround point of the conference was Chris Ducker’s session on 45 things you can outsource to VAs. This was a turnaround point for me because the first day was kind of “eh, OK”. I was hoping for more inspiration and hardcore knowledge transfer and thus far, nothing. I was actually going to attend a different session. I had listened to Chris on podcasts before and never thought about using VA. However, I knew what a passionate, honest speaker he was and felt that’s what I needed. Though the session was focused on things you can outsource, it could have been titled 45 things you need to be doing for your blog (and oh, you can outsource these too). Chris delivered with an honest, funny talk. I felt the presentation was so good that I skipped the next session (I didn’t want to be sucked back down).
The high point was Pat Flynn’s session. It really wasn’t about the content (which was pretty awesome) that made this a great session for me. It was seeing a packed room of people leaning forward. Pat had spent hours practicing and perfecting this presentation and he had the whole room captivated. This was not an inspirational speech, yet looking around the room, I couldn’t help but feel inspired.
A couple other sessions that I enjoyed were Cliff Ravenscraft’s fill in for Andy Inahtko who couldn’t make it and John T. Meyer of Inform.ly.
Cliff’s talk I had heard before on some podcasts. It was basically how he went from selling insurance to full time podcasting. Despite hearing this story before, seeing Cliff speak in person was really cool and not a let down.
John’s session on infographics was pretty solid. He appears to be a natural story teller which I liked. It was also inspiring to see a CEO of a small mostly online company doing it out of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. If you have a good idea and good execution, you can live where ever you want.
This was going to be the part where I wrote about not getting around to introducing myself to Chris Ducker. I was even sitting a couple spots down from him in one session with no one in between. However, I let my insecurities get in the way. However, I did finally nut up after Pat Flynn’s session and introduce myself to Chris. He already had a fan. Now he’s got one for life.
My biggest takeaway was that I need to be constantly creating content. It seems that most people there are always putting stuff out on a consistent basis. There was not too much talk of SEO and link building though Rand Fishkin of SEOMoz did a super session. I’ll be checking that out soon (Thanks Virtual Ticket). Everything was about getting your thoughts to text, audio, or video and getting it out so people can consume it.
A much smaller takeaway is that I need to work on my networking skills. I think an accurate count of the number of people I talked to was around 20. That’s just plain sad for this type of conference.
I plan on attending next year provided some familiar faces are speaking again. Also, I’ll have the experience of one conference under my belt and hopefully make round 2 the experience it should have been (great) versus what it was (pretty good).