As mentioned in previous post, I am really looking forward to the IIA Annual Congress. First of all it will get me out of West Cork (and my family duties) for a couple of days. Secondly, I will get to meet many of my online friends that I have yet to actually speak to face to face — and meet again others that I only get to meet at conferences and awards ceremonies. Thirdly, I will get to see if the manners of some of the other internet ‘professionals’ around Ireland have improved.
My first and only appearance at the Annual Congress was two years ago. I’m a fairly seasoned conference goer from my past lives in the business worlds of New York and London, but this was my first for my new life in Irish online marekting and I was really looking forward to it.
The main challenge was getting to the conference location, which was Killiney. I didn’t have the time or budget to stay at the venue so planned to travel back and forth in one day. I flew into Dublin Airport and decided to take the cheap route, which seemed easiest anyway. I took the Airport Bus from one end of Dublin to the other (which was probably as quick as any other way), being left off at the Red Cow Hotel. As advised by the conference venue I took a taxi from there, but it took ages to arrive and much longer and more expensive to get to Killiney then my pre-trip calls advised. So I arrived at the conference late and pretty tired out already! (I may just drive to the conference venue this year to save all that hassle and can come and go as I please.)
The conference itself was very informative, especially as I hadn’t been to any related conferences. There were speakers from Ebay and Bebo, as well as top Irish internet businesses. I really got a lot of information from the break out sessions as well and found most of the speakers really helpful. Throughout the sessions I was really looking for ways to help my clients who at that time were mostly smaller businesses in West Cork. Many of the discussions, particularly by the Email Marketing service providers, were suited to bigger businesses, but I always like to think big, but sometimes have to be pratical as the clients have limited time and budgets.
I am not great at mingling at these events, unless I have a particular question or subject to discuss, but at lunch I made a ‘friend’, a woman who was a senior person in online marketing across Europe for a fairly large, well known US company. After the official finish of the conference, we both had a couple of hours to spare and we retreated to the bar for a drink. There was a group of lads from the conference talking away. She was particularly interested in talking to one who was one of the main speakers, from Bebo, as her company were considering doing some marketing on Bebo. He was very helpful, even though some of the other lads were snickering about him coming over to talk to two ladies. One of the others in the group had been a speaker in an email marketing session and I asked him for some advice about why they didn’t provide servicecs for under €300/month as my clients were unable to pay that much on a monthly basis. He asked if I had any clients that would be interested in spending that much and when I said not at the moment, he just laughed and walked away saying nothing. My friend then laughed and said that it was unfortunate he wasn’t interested in talking to us, as her company was looking for someone to do their email marketing — and their online marketing budget was hundreds of thousands of euros. Well, that made my day. It just proves that you should at least be polite, if not helpful, to your peers at a conference — even to the ‘girls’ at the bar afterwards — as you never know who they are, or who they may grow up to be!