A Search Summit for the “Hidden” Experts

First published May 8, 2008 in Mediapost’s Search Insider

In just over a week, I’ll be the emcee at my third Search Insider Summit, on beautiful Captiva Island, Fla. This time around, I also lent fellow Search Insider, David Berkowitz, a hand in putting the program together. We started by asking some past attendees what they liked and what they’d improve about the shows. With the search show calendar as jammed as it’s becoming, it’s important to find a niche that attendees find valuable.

In these conversations, the almost unanimous response was “more conversations!” The size, scheduling, location and intimacy of the Summit are among its best features, in that they allow attendees to actually talk to each other. So this time around, we’ve allowed for more conversations than ever, by bringing attendees together for roundtable brainstorming breakouts on topics ranging from local and universal search to social media and cross channel optimization. Each table will be hosted by one or two experts in the area.

Search conferences are usually crawling with “hidden” experts who have just as much to add (maybe more) as the people presenting up on the panels. Often, these attendees lurk, remaining silent, and, if you’re extraordinarily lucky, you might sit next to one at the bar after the official show shuts down. This is when many attendees’ real education begins. These sessions are valuable because you can ask specific questions and get relevant and targeted answers. This was the value that our informal research uncovered.

At this Summit, we want to facilitate as many conversations as possible. Rather than vague generalities, we wanted to drill down to real-life scenarios, involving the people that are executing within those scenarios on a day-to-day basis. We’ll have plenty of the high profile experts at the summit, the ones who speak at the big events, but I encourage you to seek out the hidden experts as well. Talk to the people who are executing large campaigns for some of the big brands. Their sophistication is often amazing. Swap tales of tactics that have worked. Ask questions and generate discussions. This is what the Search Insider Summit is all about.

I’ve mentioned in the past that some of the best conversations I’ve ever had in this business happen at the Search Insider Summit. I’ve had great talks with many whom I’ve since stayed in contact with. I’ve been pretty involved with both the SMX and SES shows in the past, and I think both show organizers do a great job in providing packed tracks full of information. I’ve also presented at a few PubCons. But the size of these shows makes it difficult to facilitate conversations. They happen organically (most search marketers are not shy) but it can be tough to connect with people. I think the size and atmosphere of the Summit helps encourage that.

I hope I’ll see you there. I’m sure we’ll have some great conversations!

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