I have already written my detailed Think vis round up on the State of Search Blog complete with speaker overview, so I thought I would use this post to write about the stuff that you only really experience if you stay for the whole weekend and embrace the culture that ThinkVis has to offer (and why it kicks the pants of the larger events in many ways).
This was my third Think Visibility conference and yet again, Dom and the team didn’t fail to surprise and delight. The format changes ever so slightly each time as Dom tries out new ways to entertain the SEO folks, and I am always impressed that the first time speakers get just as much support and exposure as the circuit regulars.
ThinkVis is pretty unique to the world of confences so support it, love it, be a part of it, and promote it because you would miss if it suddenly decided to leave us!
Why should you include Think Visibility in your annual budget? Here’s 5 reasons why!
#1 – ‘Spare Part’ Syndrome is minimal
When you first start going to conferences you don’t know anyone and you can feel like a spare part – especially if you are a one man band and you are going on your own (which I do quite often). I have also had experiences where I have tried my hardest to network but have been met with brick walls due to the fact that many people are on a ‘work jolly’ so aren’t really interested in networking at all, or they are with their office ‘mates’, so they only really want the beer and to talk to each other!
I am a firm believer that you get out what you put in when you go to events so if you feel left out and don’t feel confident enough to just talk to people, at ThinkVis – entertainment is put on to include everyone, get people talking, and to give people something to talk about.
Dom is one of the most generous hosts you are going to encounter on the circuit, and he will introduce you to the people that would put you at ease IF YOU ASKED! At many larger conference hosts don’t mingle with the delegates in the same way! The ThinkVis team go to all the trouble to let you customise your lanyards and connect in forums before you get there, so if you go away feeling you haven’t connected at all or haven’t arranged to meet anyone over coffee – the phrase ‘you can take a horse to water’ springs to mind!
#2 – You don’t have to give up valuable work time
The fact that ThinkVis falls on a Saturday means that people are giving up their weekend voluntarily as opposed to bunking off from the board room. This means that you don’t have to take time out of your work week that you may need to run your business. You also don’t have to worry about the reports you need doing for Monday, or putting on a shirt and tie to meet people as Think Vis is a laid back affair.
Most of the delegates have had a hard week and are geared up for ‘holiday mode’, so the atmosphere is much more relaxed and friendly.
Business cards are handy but ThinkVis is more of a get together than a hardcore networking event so don’t be disappointed if you go home with just as many as you came with. Expect to collect more memories though
#3 – It’s cracking value for money
The conference has been priced so that even the most poor marketeer can afford a ticket (if you can’t afford £125 for a conference once or twice a year, but you can afford £60 a month for SEOMoz or Sky Movies – something is wrong!). Granted, you do need to pay for a hotel for the weekend but that is the same for any conference. London Prices are wildly different from Leeds prices and if you come with a mate, the room is actually pretty cheap and has the BEST BREAKFAST EVER.
Let’s face it, to see speakers of the calibre of Pierre Far (TV7), Dave Naylor, (TV6) and Karl Blanks, (TV5), you would normally have to be forking out £300 – £500 a day in ticket prices at a much larger conference. Think Vis is not pretending to be something it is not, which makes it totally unpretentious.
The Saturday after party also offers FREE BEER with a whole bar tab as opposed to one ticket one small glass. This combined with good company, and a heck of a lot of ‘Off Duty’ CEO’s makes it money well spent
#4 – The networking opportunities are HUGE
…and you can learn a lot too! Small is beautiful and also a lot more intimate. Seasoned conference speakers and delegates alike go to this event to relax and have fun for a weekend. They are there to catch up with friends and hang out in an environment that they enjoy being in. Do not underestimate how much more accessible this makes things for people that want to network or ask questions that would not normally be answered at a larger more formal conference!
ThinkVis is not about flashing business cards (or credit cards on the expense account), it is about community, being sociable, joining in with the fun, supporting people, supporting the industry, going with the flow… oh and making sure that you meet Dan Bell from Manual Link Building as that man seems to have VIP passes for everything!
I have met most of my new SEO best friends on Facebook or Twitter before or after going to ThinkVis thanks to the warm fuzzy glow that fills the room when it is mentioned. As Andrew Burnett says on his wee posty “ThinkVis feels like a family gathering in many ways.” Aye – the place is just a comfy place to be – after only going twice previously (one to speak) – I now feel totally fine just turning up on my own and hanging out.
Disclaimer: new friends and contacts are not guaranteed – I put the effort in to get to know people offline as some of you are starting to find out! (cue hashtag #SEOWorldTour!)
Want to start getting to know the crowd? You could do worse things than write an appreciative blog post like this one!
#5 You get looked after better than your mum looks after you when you visit home
OK so Dom doesn’t do your washing and isn’t standing over you with a cup of tea ‘Mrs Doyle’ style when you wake, but seriously, the hospitality is generous to a fault. I’ve been to a lot of conferences this year. The pre-event tends to be people wandering round, and the networking breakfast is apricot pastries and ropey coffee whereas from the minute you step into the hotel, Dom provides an evening of entertainment (This year a Disco Dance Off Machine), followed by a full on bacon sammich fest at the venue event on the day – if of course you’re still hungry after the amazing breakfast you get at the all inclusive hotel.
Then it’s tea, coffee and biscuits on tap, more sandwiches than I’ve ever seen at lunchtime, more afternoon biscuits, and all throughout the day you are surrounded by the now world famous ‘Click n Mix’ sweetie selection. Each speaker has a sweet named after them – and that just doesn’t happen anywhere else.
Once the day is over, you get a discount at the Alea Casino restaurant ‘The Bird’ or 20% off at Pizza Express for a quick tea, then you are invited back to take part in the evening entertainment which this year was a bouncy castle with a ball pool, a car racing game and Al Carltons unofficial Poker tournament which fills the time nicely – topped off with a wind down Sunday of GoKarting courtesy of Dixon at Majestic SEO.
If I have a complaint it’s that there aren’t enough fluffy pink games for the girls – but thanks to the free bar – as the evening goes on – I see rainbows and ‘my little ponies’ everywhere anyway
The end Bit…
Obviously the speakers need a mention and I have always found that they are second to none. An eclectic mix of seasoned pros and noobs – which you shouldn’t ‘diss’ BTW as people have to start somewhere and at larger conferences that just wouldn’t happen!
As I stated earlier in this post, I have written my full round up at State of Search, but I have to repeat my sentiments about ThinkVis being a special little conference that gives so much. Unfortunately due to duplicate content issues, I have to repeat this in a different way – so here is an infographic – well sort of… it’s an image with words on!
For photos of Think Vis 7 go here:
For more deets on the conference generally visit: www.thinkvisibility.com