It was January of 2013, and I was walking down the hall at the Rio Hotel and Casino on the first day of New Media Expo.
It was my first time at NMX and my first entrepreneurial conference since I had started Mobile Mixed.
I was walking down the hallway and he recognized me.
He knew my name and shook my hand.
I was impressed he recognized me—I mean—we never actually met in person so I wasn’t expecting it.
He must get hundreds of emails a day from people just like me.
But, I know exactly why he knew me.
I had spent the last 6 months building a relationship with him. The steps I took are what I believe to be the secret to getting the most from conferences.
Identify Someone That Has Achieved What You’d Like To Achieve
You see, like many, I had gotten started in this online marketing world by following Pat Flynn.
Pat has become known for the transparency in his business that he shares on his blog and podcast, and is someone many look up to as inspiration and guidance.
I once heard that you should find and connect with individuals that are where you want to be in life.
For many that meant, “I want to make as much money as that person”, but for me that was not near the top of the list (although I wouldn’t mind making as much money as Pat).
When I started with Mobile Mixed, I had no idea what affiliate income really was or had any interest in monetizing in that way. I resonated with Pat because of the lifestyle he created for himself with his business.
I saw how much time he got to spend with his family and children all while helping many get results in their own businesses and lives by sharing his lessons and learning’s on his blog.
That lifestyle is how I viewed success when I got started.
So, I had to meet him, obviously.
The only problem was—I had no idea how I’d make that happen.
Building The Relationship Before The Event
Now, I probably could have just emailed him, but that would have been too easy right? (The little things we tell ourselves that slow us down)
In one of his posts, I realized he owned an app company. BOOM! That was my in. I’d ask him to be a guest on my show to talk apps.
I reached out and pitched the idea to him. Since he didn’t get to talk about his app company all that much on other interviews, he accepted.
I was doing video interviews then, so I think being able to see each other face to face (virtually) probably helped me in some way shape or form.
From there I’d stay in touch with him via email and through Facebook and Twitter. I’d leave comments on his blog. The emails I’d send were usually short and sweet saying what’s up and asking a question.
Finally I asked him:
If you were just getting started and wanted to attend a conference to get to know people, which would you attend.
He told me to attend NMX in January and that he’d introduce me to some cool people.
So I booked my ticket.
What Will Make The Conference Worth It For You?
I read up on conference strategies and found out how one should prepare for a conference. I found things like:
- Make a list of all the sessions you want to attend
- Make a calendar so you can add time for networking and parties (a great place to network)
- Connect with tons of people before you go
I read tip after tip, but I couldn’t help but remember something Noah Kagan said to me earlier that year at a meetup in Denver while he was visiting.
He said that when he attends meetups and networking events he always tries to focus on 1 person, and build a stronger relationship with that one person vs making tons of acquaintances and a pile of business cards.
I determined that my only measurement of success for attending my first NMX was going to be if I had a better relationship with Pat. That was it.
Real Networking Happens Outside The Conference
Shortly after shaking Pat’s hand, I met Caleb Wojcik. Caleb worked with Corbett Barr at Think Traffic (Now Fizzle.co) and we basically became conference buddies. We’d go from session to session together just getting to know each other, talk business etc.
Caleb had known Pat previously so we both went to Pat’s presentation. Following the presentation I was invited to chill at a pre-party in Pat’s suite with a bunch of other entrepreneurs.
There was apparently going to be a magic show and a game of Cards Against Humanity.
Tough to pass up right?
Caleb and I rolled to Pat’s suite and that’s where I learned the power of focusing on one person.
The Multiplier Effect
We walked into Pats room and it was a full of awesome, successful, fun, genuine and friendly entrepreneurs.
After watching Roderick Russell swallow a sword (yes a sword) I got to play Cards Against Humanity with Amy Porterfield, John Lee Dumas, Jason Van Orden, Jeremy Frandsen, Chris Ducker ( who spit a beer on me by accident which made us immediate friends), Rick Mulready, Amy Clover and more.
Being in that room added credibility for each person sitting there. It made meeting everyone else much easier because we were all friends with Pat.
And till this day, any friend of Pat’s is a friend of mine. That’s sort of how this whole thing ends up working out.
I would have never ended up in that room if I hadn’t focused on building a better relationship with Pat, which for the record I have done.
I am blessed and grateful to call Pat a good friend. In fact, we are a lot alike and have tons in common.
If you’ve ever had one of those people you met and were instantly friends with….you know what I’m talking about.
Focus On The Right People For You
Now, I know there are a lot of people out there that would like to meet Pat. Who wouldn’t he is awesome, BUT, I invite you to make sure you focus on one person for the right reasons.
I didn’t focus on Pat because of financial success or anything like that. I focused on Pat for the way I saw him show up with his family and friends and for his personality.
I literally just thought we’d be good buddies.
It was coming from that genuine place that got me in that room that night, which opened doors to some of the most amazing friendships I now have with the amazing people in that room.
I strongly believe that if you focus on one person that really resonates with you, that has achieved things you’d like to achieve, both in life and business—you’ll put yourself in a position to not only gain a true friend in someone that inspires you, but also create many other powerful connections as a result of the multiplier effect.
This is the secret to getting the most from conferences. This continues to be my strategy for every conference, networking event or meetup I attend.
Who Are You Going To Focus On?
So, now it’s your turn. Who is one person you’d like to build a better relationship with? Someone that inspires you. Someone that resonates with you for the right reasons. Someone who has achieved things that you’d like to achieve?
You never know, maybe someone you know could make that introduction if you just asked.
Share with us in the comments.
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