It's funny how some people think they deserve some kind of extra-special attention or respect in our industry. Guys, we aren't amazing musicians or amazing athletes like Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods.
But, yes, we add value. Hey, we've read, tested, and are good at what we do. No magic gene makes us an MJ of our space -- at least not yet. It generally takes generations for that type of thing to develop into the species.
I recently attended a conference in Munich that most people in our space would kill to be invited to: 12 speakers, 15 attendees -- an intimate conversation and networking opportunity. Whatever you want to call it, it was a great party with some of the more outgoing and knowledgeable people in our space who cover it best.
I was there last year and have stayed in touch with a number of the attendees, though I was already friends with most of the people speaking (as I was again this year). What Marcus Tandler and Phillip Brunner (with input from the enigmatic Quadzilla) have pulled off is what everyone who attends the large conferences wants to happen: direct contact and connection to the speakers.
And that's where the rub lies. We get to the stage where we can think we're someone who people want to meet and become friends with -- and maybe they do.
Come on guys. Let's go back. Let's enjoy conferences and the work like we used to.
Aaron Wall, who is a good mate, is a great example. But I remember when we were new to the space. Guys occasionally knew something before others and spoke to each other on a daily basis about what we were seeing with our tests/work, but nothing like a natural talent.
Hey, we just had the chance to read and had friends giving us links to places even the search engines didn't know about. That's how it was then, and realistically how it is now!
The use of the term "rock star" in our industry is very misleading. Success takes diligence and persistence.
I've never claimed rock star status, or any status for that matter. I have mates in the space that have hired me to bring in the right conversion numbers, others who have grabbed me for a quick conversation, and others for some insight in where to go. Yeah, it all sounds impressive, but really I'm just a guy who loves what he does, as do most of the talented ones in our space.
I'm writing this for everyone who isn't a regular speaker at any conference or a columnist or regular writer for any of the leading online search publications. Short, but sweet, you can read and test your way 80 percent into the oh-my-god-space, but the final few steps are done from a greater distance and a bigger commitment of time.
Being involved in forums, attending conferences, and reading as much as you can is the essential way to become a skilled practitioner in this space. Make connections and engage with people on the forums or blogs. You may be surprised who you can become.
But, try and remember that our "rock stars" are just a well-informed people with great friends. After all, that should be enough.
This is a new and rapidly changing space. You need to network to stay in front of the game. What I appreciate most are my friends, at all levels of success.