Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Recap From WSI Global Conference

I'm pleased to say that it was another successful E&I Conference with WSI. Had there been any time to get outside, I would have been more upset about the weather we had while in Miami Beach, but I kept pretty busy inside with lots of sessions and networking with fellow consultants. Guess that's what you get when you're in South Florida during the start of hurricane season.

The E&I stands for "Excellence & Innovation" and it was exactly that. Thanks to WSI's global footprint, over the years I've had the pleasure of meeting fellow consultants from across the world and this year was no exception. While it was great to see "old" friends from the UK, Ecuador, South Africa, Mexico, France, UAE and various other places, this year I also met some new consultants from Barbados, El Salvador and of course numerous states here in the U.S.

This year's conference was focused in the realm of social technologies, which are evolving every day and bringing people closer together. It was evident that businesses are using these sites to build relationships and enhance the customer interaction that only a few years ago was not "technically possible" and those that are not yet considering a "social strategy" will quickly be left in the dust of their competition.

We also had a couple of amazing keynote speakers during the conference. The first was analytics "guru" and best-selling author Avinash Kaushik. He writes a blog and his books (just search for his name on Amazon) are both game-changers for anyone interested in better understanding how to use the mountains of data that is collected. The second keynote was web evangelist and social technology expert, Scott Klososky where he presented (among other things) a 12-step process to implement social technologies in an organization. His session was jam-packed with information and both presentations were awe-inspiring. As with any good conference, you want to come home with information you can use when you get home, and both speakers didn't disappoint in this area. Both gave me tons of ideas for my customers and can't wait to start implementing their ideas soon.

One of the best experiences I had during the conference was helping my good friend Francois Muscat from South Africa with his 5-hour social media seminar and workshop. Presented to over 150 consultants, Francois let us through the process of developing a social media calendar and shared with us the tools he's built over the past year to help his customers really put a system in place that makes the process less intimidating. It was really a "hand's on" experience and heard a lot of great comments from the session attendees. I plan on bringing this entire process back to my clients, so watch out for more on this coming soon.

Some of the other sessions included:
  • Ways to leverage video to grow your business.
  • Implementing social media into a small business marketing strategy.
  • Extended discussion on eFusion online business system.
  • The importance and power of online credibility.
  • Ways to get the most out of SEO (search engine optimization).
  • The "digitization" of media and how to get seen by the new consumer.
  • Education and training programs for businesses in social media and Internet marketing.
I also had the opportunity to present during one of the breakout sessions. My topic session was entitled "Blogging to Build a Reputation" and we talked about ways that I'm personally using blogs to help folks get to "know me, like me, trust me" in building an online reputation. Sites such as this one and Free Webinar Wednesdays don't really "sell" but are more about establishing my personality and sharing what's important to me. Don't get me wrong, I love to "sell" and grow my business. But I'm of the opinion that people first need to be comfortable with who you are, what you stand for and what you know BEFORE they will give you an opportunity to take care of their business needs.

For now, it's back to Michigan and given the weather we left in Miami I'm glad to be home. While not in the 80s, at least it's dry and I love fall time in Michigan. The leaves are starting to turn color and the weather is getting cooler, which means I can take down the sweaters from the top shelf and get outside for long walks in the woods with the doggies. Fortunately, we have some trips up north scheduled for this month, so we'll really get to see the color "explosion" of leaves in Northern Michigan and can't wait.

Upcoming Speaking Events
I'm excited that I'll have an opportunity in a couple of weeks to talk in more detail on blogging strategies at The Payments Authority's Concepts 2010 conference in Boyne on the 7th of October. Then, it's off to Memphis for a repeat presentation at the 2010 Bank Technology Summit (October 18-19) and another presentation to the Nebraska Bankers Marketing Conference in Lincoln on October 20th. If you're going to be at any of these events, be sure to come up and say introduce yourself. I'd love to meet you in person and say "hi".
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