Stop Whining, Switch Up Your Network

Kim’s talking about the sour grapes phenomenon that’s been brewing in the search engine optimization community over the past few months, while Rae Hoffman is securing her 2009 SEMMYS nomination with her rant The SEMMYS Launch, The WHINEYS TBA. Sigh. Remember when everyone was friends and supported one another? Those were the days.

It’s really sad. You don’t even have to look hard to see the tension that’s been building over the past 6 months. It’s in your face whether you want it to be or not. People are using every opportunity they can to take shots at one another. And God help you if you make an innocent mistake and publish a blog post you shouldn’t have. There’s no forgiveness here.

It’s upsetting, and I know most everyone feels the same way. No one likes the evolution that’s occurred. I know I’ve personally attempted many blog posts on the subject; however, I always end up scrapping them. Mostly because while I start out with good intentions and a level head, the post typically ends up devolving into my very own rant and frustration fest about how things "should be". A post like that helps no one. Even I realize that you’re not here to listen to me complain (unless it’s about my puffy eye), you’re hear to read about search engine optimization.

So let’s bring it back to SEO and what you should be doing to grow your business.

Jeremy Schoemaker had a post yesterday telling people to get out of their incestuous circle jerk already. Colorful title aside, I couldn’t agree more. Break out of your circle of comfort and go grow your business by talking to people and finding compatible skill sets.

In his post, Jeremy talks about how rewarding it was when he attended BlogWorld last November and was able to meet and network with a whole new set of people. I had the same reaction, a reaction strong enough that it caused me to write about How BlogWorld Was Different From An SEO Conference.
And it really was different. BlogWorld opened my eyes to a whole new type of experience. It was the first time I had stepped outside of the search engine optimization box since entering it two years ago and it was an eye opening experience for me, both personally and professionally. I spent a great couple of days meeting new people, hearing about what they did for a living, learning what problems they were facing and then trying to offer advice when I could using my knowledge of search engine optimization and my experience as a writer/blogger.

And when I came back from BlogWorld I found myself re-energized about SEO and with a brand new set of friends that I could call on when I needed help. This included new blogging friends full of blogging wisdom, new social media contacts, new SEO faces, and new friends in industries completely unrelated to my own. This is how you grow your business. It’s how you find that perfect Web developer you’ve been looking for who can take your site to the next level or help with client work. It’s how you learn about new opportunities that the masses aren’t privy to yet. It’s how you grow the kind of social media circle required to push new content. Essentially, this is how you become so busy and successful that you don’t even have time to read the latest flame thread on Sphinn. And maybe if we all stop feeding the fire they’ll go away (or at least lessen). Wouldn’t that be nice?

Am I excited about going to SMX West and SES NY over the next few months? Hell yeah, I want to see my SEO friends! But I’m also psyched in a different way to attend these non-search conferences. To meet new people and change things up a bit.

I think that’s the key to this whole thing. We need to get out of our incestuous little circles and change our perspective. The more you step out, the less need you have to chime in on the latest SEO melee and the more likely you are to use your time to do something productive-like practice search engine optimization instead of just talking about it. Or dealing with clients instead of picking apart someone else.

When you live and breathe one thing its way too easy to become consumed with the community and take things too personally. Branch out. It’ll be improve your peace of mind, increase the reach of your company, help you find new things to blog and talk about, and make you more money in the long run.

I should also note that because of the positive experience I had at BlogWorld last year, I’ve already made plans to revisit in 2008 and have added BlogHer to my 2008 conference calendar. I can’t wait!

Lisa Barone is a writer, content marketer & VP of strategy at Overit Media. She's also a very active Twitterer, much to the dismay of the rest of the world.

See Lisa's author page for links to connect on social media.

Comments (3)
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3 Replies to “Stop Whining, Switch Up Your Network”

I still very much enjoy attending (and sometimes speaking at) Search Engine conferences, and I completely agree with your sentiments here, Lisa!

I love to chat with non-geeks (meaning non-Googlers, non-SEOs, even non-Webmasters) about blogs, search, web sites, etc. The perspectives are often refreshing, sometimes surprising, and the takeaways are substantial and useful.

You’re right, Kim, not everyone can afford to drop $1500 on a conference ticket, however, there are plenty of opportunities to find people outside your niche that are completely free. Like heading over to MeetUp and finding closely related subject areas. Or maybe joining a group that’s not really related at all. I know you and Li Evans have those PA-based SEO meetups, you can send personal invitations to thought leaders outside the SEO sphere to come join and share their experiences and stories. Branching out takes effort, not money.
And I definitely agree that spending time in other forums is healthy for the mind. It’s a good reminder that Google’s latest update probably isn’t as important as we’d like to think it is. At least not to the “normal people”. :)

I agree with the idea of “branching out”. However, not everyone can do that by traveling to conferences. Not every company sends their people and not every sole proprietor can afford the expense or time away from their business.

I like to spend time in other forums, other social networks and places unrelated to work industries because of what you talk about. It’s real healthy to get outside the walls and see what other folks are doing and talking about.


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