The Importance of Networking & How to Do it Best for Your SEO Program
This post was authored by Jessica Bowman, workshop coordinator for In-house SEO Exchange @ SMX West, a pre-conference workshop taking place March 14 in San Jose.
Everyone says networking is highly valuable, and it is. Today let’s focus on networking for SEO – why it’s crucial and how to do best to help your SEO program.
Why Networking is Crucial for SEO
The best, most juiciest SEO tidbits come out of candid, private conversations with other SEOs. The reason is twofold: (1) the person with the tidbit doesn’t want everyone to know their SEO nugget of gold, (2) the person with the tidbit doesn’t want Google to find out about it because Google may do things to combat it.
This means to stay ahead of everyone else you need to stay on top of public SEO discussions, but you also need to have 1:1 conversations with innovators who are behind the scenes doing things that will make you salivate.
It can also save your in-house SEO budget and save a lot of time troubleshooting because when you build up your network, you have people you can call when you need a quick second opinion. I know several in-house SEOs who met at the In-house SEO Exchange (discussed below) who are still friends today and call each other when they see anything suspicious happen. I have known SEOs at competitors that keep in touch and check in when traffic trends change dramatically. I also know an in-house SEO who presented all of their testing and results at the In-house SEO Exchange and someone else in the room said, “It’s funny, our charts look EXACTLY the same, and we did nothing.” These are things that wouldn’t have happened without networking.
How to Do it Best for Your SEO Program
Now that you have the realization that you must scour your way around the SEO community to find the people with nuggets they are willing to share. Let’s talk about the great opportunities to do this:
In-house SEO Exchange (for In-house SEOs only) – The In-house SEO Exchange is in-house only event with an open-the-kimono environment that fosters candid conversations in a way that causes the industry’s leading in-house SEOs to give up their best tidbits, with the caveat that the information discussed at this event isn’t shared publicly. It attracts the biggest brands as speakers and attendees (IBM, Adobe, AT&T, Business Week and more). There are four In-house Exchanges scheduled for 2013, with the next In-house SEO Exchange happens on March 14, 2012.
Find Someone on LinkedIn and Meet them for Coffee – There is nothing more flattering than when someone reaches out to you on LinkedIn for a genuine, no strings attached, “let’s connect and talk about search.” In-house SEOs in particular have nothing to sell, making it obvious you just want to connect and talk search. I find in-house SEOs love talking to each other (which is why the In-house SEO Exchange works so well). LinkedIn is a highly valuable resource for building your network with “real” relationships when you take the “connections” offline.
Local SEO Meetups – Many cities have a local SEO meetup and some lucky cities have local SEMPO working group with regular meetups and presentations on all aspects of search marketing. These are usually a combination of mixer/happy hour and a presentation. People who attend these events want to talk search and build their network. Meet people and then connect with them outside of the meetup to build a relationship rather than remaining acquaintances from the local SEO meetup.
Search Conference Parties – At a search conference people are very open to meeting new people, and conference organizers know a great way to meet people is at the parties. If you’re nervous about reaching out to people you don’t know, find the people who look like they don’t know anyone, because they probably don’t (yet) and you can be their first SEO friend. I always wish conferences would find a way to delineate people who want to talk about SEO vs. Social vs. PPC on their name tags – maybe in 2013! At SMX West, a little-known gem event is the mixer the night before the conference. The speaker-to-attendee ratio is huge, which means you could probably scope out the speakers and have great conversations with them there while they are fresh off the plan, just starting their conference high, and not yet worn out from the conference festivities.
Social Media Friendships – People on social Twitter and Facebook really do forge bonds. More than once I have been talking to someone and his or her social friend recognizes them and comes over with an excited, “It’s you! So glad to finally meet you in person!” I’m always amazed at how you can see the instant connection as though they’ve known each other for years. This means even if you are in a small community with no in-house SEOs to network with and no budget for travel, you too, could have a network of SEO contacts.
There you have it. Why you need to build your network and five ways to keep your SEO Social calendar busy so that you have people who really do care about the success of you and your SEO Program in 2013.
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