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Why Advanced Attendees Can Benefit From Basic BlogWorld Sessions

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Scott Stratten's Epic Opening Keynote at BlogWorld 2010 in Las Vegas

At BlogWorld, I’m considered kind of a buzzkill. You see, I make it my mission to help stock our conference with such great content that it keeps attendees from hallway networking. Now, that isn’t to say I have something against this type of networking. In fact, at other conferences you’ll probably catch me chatting up others in the corridors as well. But as Conference Director, I like to see more butts in the seats. When you’re the person tasked with creating the educational experience, the best compliment you can receive is to have empty-ish hallways during the sessions.

“I already know this stuff”

So at BlogWorld ’10, I asked attendees why they were standing out in the hallways instead of listening to the speakers. I mostly asked this question to famous bloggers or the folks with several years of experience. Many told me the only sessions they attend are those where their friends are speaking or if the keynote looks interesting. They also told me that they feel that the sessions are too basic. Too few “advanced” sessions was a common criticism on the surveys we sent to all of our attendees as well.

Thus, a new mission was born. The BlogWorld team and track leaders are now tasked with ensuring at least one advanced session per track.  However, that’s not what this post was about. This post is about why you should attend sessions that may be beneath your realm of expertise as well…and it’s all Becky McCray’s fault. On Twitter yesterday, Becky brought my attention to a comment on her blog by Carl Natale that said:

Pay attention to the questions that people ask – especially in the sessions.

These questions are insights into what your market needs. This is why I often attend sessions that cover subjects I’m very familiar with. I want to know what other people don’t know.

That information helps me choose what to write about and what services to offer. It’s market research.

Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner!

Basic Sessions Have Something to Offer Everyone

Here are some points to consider:

  • The people who are attending the basic sessions are there to learn. They’re possible blog topics, customers and clients. If you’re not in the room you won’t know who they are or why they’re there. If they’re asking questions, you have the ability to pinpoint their needs and follow up with them later.
  • By watching attendees you can learn of the topics that interest them the most. For example, watch the folks who have the gadgets out. At what times are they paying the most attention? When are they more focused on the gadgetry? Gauge the interest to figure out blog topics and educational needs.
  • Questions provide fodder for discussion later. Perhaps you’d like to network with someone but you’re shy or not sure how to approach that person. If he or she is asking questions after a presentation, you have a good starting point.
  • Perhaps the speaker didn’t touch on a very important point during his or her talk. This can be your opportunity to share your expertise. When it’s time to open the floor to the public, offer the audience another point of view. (Without being a know it all tool, please.) Now you’ve shared your expertise with others and you’re on their radar.
  • You may learn something new anyway. If the speaker truly knows his stuff, you’ll end up walking away with a new tip or point of view. Do you really know every tool, app and technique out there?

Even though a session may seem a little too basic, or you feel it covers a topic you already know, there are still benefits. You can walk away with new topics to write about or a new client. You might even have ideas for a presentation of your own.

What are some of the reasons you can think of to attend basic and intermediate sessions, when you’re an advanced attendee?


Feedback

6
  • Becky McCray

    Wonderful! Thank you so much for expanding on Carl’s comment. I know you really are serious about offering more advanced sessions, but I appreciate this reminder that we can always learn. You may pick up a new analogy or a new way of phrasing something. The best teachers always have multiple ways to explain each concept.

    I think it may come down to this ancient advice: you get out of a conference exactly as much as you put into it.

  • Antonio Centeno

    Good points Deb,

    You could also point out that if it’s so bad, well, you can just get up and leave or quickly spend the time on your iPhone or BB.

    I feel in most things, whether it’s blogging, exercise, or life – the fundamental principles can always be improved upon and need refreshing.

    Thanks for the great read,

    Antonio

  • Carl Natale

    I’m glad you expanded on my tip. These are good reminders for all of us.

    BTW, I do have a question I hope you can follow up on. How do I add my two cents without sounding like a “know it all tool?” I have a bad habit of starting sentences with “Actually….”

    Thank you for the ideas.

    • Deb Ng

      Carl,

      I think tone has a lot to do with it. As long as you’re not walking up to the mic, arms crossed, saying, “well I’m an expert in this stuff and you guys are way off base and stupid….”

      Rather say, ” Thanks for a really information presentation. I hope you don’t mind if I expand upon a point you made earlier…”

      I think if you’re nice and not insulting you’re not a know it all tool.

  • Allison

    We all have something to learn from one another! Even someone who’s only been blogging for a few days could teach me something new. Sometimes a fresh perspective on an old topic really helps. Plus, it’s a really quickly-changing industry. Just when you think you know the basics, the basic rules start to shift a little. Just a few short years ago you *had* to have a blogroll, linking for SEO purposes was really different, and the donate button was all the rage.

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