BlogWorldExpo for me was about Personal Branding

Erin Kotecki Vest and me.

While conferences and trade shows are not anything new to me, I have been attending to some professionally since I was 19 years old, but I popped my cherry in Vegas for the first-ever blogging / social media event. My initial plan for the conference was to shake as many people’s hands as I could, shoved my business card to everyone I possibly could, speak up, and spit out perfectly rehearsed sales pitch to everyone I could ping down to listen. But that’s not really me. And I didn’t even write down or practice the “perfect sales pitch”. While most people I met heard that I work for America’s Personal Family Lawyer Alexis Martin Neely as a PR / Social Media Specialist, I avoided making many sales pitches. A PR person, who doesn’t do sales pitches? Doesn’t sound very professional, does it? Let me explain why and what I did instead. Some of the dominant themes in social media are Personal Branding and Transparency. The Old School PR was building an image, and building everything in your business, and your business persona around that image. The New School PR is all about being honest, being yourself, and building your brand around what You Are. The Old School PR people also said “there is no such thing as bad PR” and even Frank Sinatra believed all publicity was good as long as they spelled the name right.

Mike Shinoda from Linkin Park and me.

One of the keynote speakers was Mike Shinoda from Linkin Park and Mike (can I just call you Mike? After all, your music has been all over the Rockies with me and my skis.) said this exact same thing, and how that is so old school. He said something like “if a magazine tells you got a groupie pregnant, and it’s not true, it’s not good publicity”. While in the world of britneyspearses anything goes for many just for the (dis)honor of being in the magazine cover, this still makes perfect sense to most of us regular people. I love marketing and PR, but it is totally different to build a brand or market a product when it isn’t mine or especially when it isn’t myself. As a marketing person, I find marketing myself my biggest pet peeve. It is very difficult for me to brag, tell how excellent I am, and do the sales pitch. So I don’t do it often. And I avoided doing it at BlogWorldExpo. And that was part of my strategy to get noticed. Since in the social media the transparency, honesty and being yourself (or you will get a kick in your nuts if you are playing to be someone else than who you are and get caught) are most important aspects, I wanted to show people who I really was in real life – the same person I am at Twitter or here in my blog. I didn’t jump in the front of Chris Brogan to tell what a fan of him and his site I was. And even when Gary Vaynerchuk, my biggest marketing and social media idol, said he was excited to meet me, shook my hand and commented because we both were wearing green (Gary would say here: “Go Jets”), I didn’t ruin the moment by pulling out my business card and giving my sales pitch, or even telling that I have a huge professional crush on his work (that would have been awkward, but I’m sure he gets it a lot). I thanked Darren Rowse for my BlogWorldExpo ticket, I won it in his blog contest but didn’t even give my business card. I danced with Laura Fitton and Pete Cashmore on Saturday night, but I’m sure he still doesn’t know who I am. (It’s OK.) I met highly appreciated website owners, and I wanted to ask if I could guest blog, or gasp, become a regular blogger on their site, I didn’t. I talked to book publishers and authors, business owners, and fellow marketing people, and I didn’t ask for a single thing for myself. I asked instead: “What can I do for you”. I talked about the conference, about Twitter, even about skiing in Colorado and shopping in New York City, but I didn’t do my sales pitch – until somebody asked for it. Relationships aren’t built on sales pitches, relationships are built on trust, common interest, and human connection. The thing is, people hear the sales pitches all the time. I was hoping to be refreshing and who knows, maybe people will remember me for that. At least Nicolas Cage will, if nobody else.

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