The affiliate community was out in force (more than 4,600 delegates), taking part in the mayhem that Vegas has now become renowned for – endless seminars, impromptu networking, crazy parties and casino games beyond your wildest dreams. Safe to say, you need a vacation after the show to fully recharge your batteries before you can get back to business, but it’s so worth it.
For affiliates who work independently or with a small team, a conference is paramount to maintaining their sanity and reigniting their zest for the career they have chosen. You could feel the buzz in the air during the entire show, and one can only sympathize with the other Wynn guests who weren’t part of ASW; there was a perpetual sea of bodies in every bar, restaurant, meeting area or hallway with those tell-tale Summit badges.
A quick scan of a badge and you’re instantly chatting with a super affiliate, a blogger, your affiliate manager, etc. Everyone is really approachable and down-to-earth, no superstars here.
For those of you spending your days pouring over performance metrics, having face time with your account manager is really important to be able to get a network-wide perspective of trends or opportunities you may see. Yes, much of this can be done by e-mail or IM, but we all know that sitting down with someone in front of data is a whole different experience than the sound-bites you might pick up when multi-tasking.
A Reciprocal Arrangement
Ad networks require truly effective listening skills to be able to deliver exactly what their affiliates need; is there a more efficient forum than a private meeting or dinner at a trade show?! If you’ve expended the time, energy and finances to attend, you should demand a positive return and assume the responsibility for achieving that.
Your physical presence will increase your recognition amongst the strategic partnerships you wish to develop and continue, which in turn may result in preferential treatment plus more regular attention from your AM.
Effective Time Management
Once you’ve made the decision to attend an industry event, don’t just leave it to chance to have a productive experience. Plan your time wisely to cover as much ground as possible and ensure that your interactions leave you with actionable take-aways, and you return home buzzing with fresh ideas to implement.
Some things to consider:
- Schedule meetings with your network AMs, and if possible get an introduction to their Department Head. Find out what’s hot on their network, successful campaigns with other affiliates working in your space, discuss your anxieties about testing new categories and get their opinions. Are there any product enhancements in the pipeline and how can you get advance notice of such developments? Identify some common ground, maybe a sporting interest, leisure pursuit – this will give you an edge and help put you on their radar of “memorable” clients.
- Attend relevant workshops. Identify key industry trends (blog monetization, the impact of social) or regulatory updates and see which sessions can make you more efficient and productive in the pursuit of your revenue goals.
- Networking. Whether you target some key super affiliates (maybe you’re looking for a mentor?) or just want to meet like-minded individuals to brainstorm and share ideas with, this is the real beauty of a trade show.
The next time an “Affiliate Dream Team” is assembled, use the opportunity to block out some time and consider it a worthwhile educational/networking expense; better still, include it in your personal ROI calculations and await the returns. If 2011 trumps last year’s online sales, you’ll want every tool possible to claim your slice of the pie.