There are multiple ways to engage with others in the marketing profession, from summits to symposia to meet-ups.
It's a lonely job.
You're pretty much the only one at your company who does what you do. You try to explain it to your family. You try to explain it to your friends. You try to explain it to your boss and coworkers but you just get that glazed look...right before they check their email on their BlackBerries.
Very few people understand what you do and nobody wants to talk to you about how you do it.
All they want are regular reports and insights based on the data you and your team are able to magically pull out of that big-data, real-time, black-box thingy you mess with all day.
But take heart! All is not lost! You do not have to count on LinkedIn, Twitter, the Yahoo Web Analytics Forum or the Digital Analytics Association Open Forum to be your only connection with other, intelligent, like-minded individuals!
The online marketing analytics industry is in full swing and that means there are lots of opportunities to get out there and meet your peers. And meet them, you must.
The first eMetrics Summit in 2002 was very exciting. Everybody was thrilled to discover that they were not the only ones who understood the language and the possibilities and the difficulties. It was a whole room full of people who shared the same hopes and fears and battled the same dragons. We had finally found kindred spirits and have been gathering regularly ever since.
Web Analytics Wednesday
Have you ever been to a self-service, open-source, distributed event? Web Analytics Wednesday is a brilliant way to gather together in a casual, social environment of your own choosing. And it doesn't even need to be Wednesday! Go on -- be a community organizer. At last glance, I found get-togethers planned for Amsterdam, Ann Arbor, Canberra, Houston, Krakow, London, and Portland.
Digital Analytics Association Symposia
The Digital Analytics Association (DAA) shows up big time at each eMetrics Summit, where it was born. But the DAA's local chapters have been producing inexpensive, half-day symposia all over since 2010. Great speakers and networking, and really, really great teamwork by locals. That's the very best way to make tight connections in this industry.
I lost count somewhere around 100 when I got to the bottom of the screen for Analytics Meet-Ups. It was when I hit "Show More" that I realized I needed to get more geographically specific. Suffice it to say that you can find some meet up you can drive to...or just create your own!
We're also seeing a lot more interest bubble up in Europe. The eMetrics Summit has been running over there for 10 years, but now there are more opportunities than ever to get together.
The Digital Analytics Hub is the continuation of the X Change conference hosted by Semphonic before they were acquired by Ernst & Young. Founder Gary Angel will be on hand in Berlin (June 2 to 4) to help run the "huddles;" an amazing format that puts a couple of dozen people in a room for a discussion.
London's MeasureCamp was the brainchild of Peter O'Neill, a classic "unconference." You show up, you decide what the topics of conversation will be. Oh, and it's free...but good luck getting a ticket.
Just want some fun, wherever you are? Host a MeasureBowling night! Another creation by O'Neill, along with co-founder Nicolas Malo, this event has no discussion groups, no keynotes, and no PowerPoint. Genius.
More Than You Can Count
The DAA keeps an event calendar that lists dozens of meetings, seminars, and training sessions of interest to digital analysts.
Every online marketing conference out there now includes sessions or whole tracks on analytics. If you're anywhere near New York at the end of March (March 31 to April 3), every other session at the ClickZ Live conference includes analytics.
The real value in getting out of your chair and into a conference center, a pub, or a bowling alley is not just that you will become a smarter, more informed, more valuable, more promotable analyst; it's that you will become better connected to your fellow analysts.
When you get hit by those tough questions, tough technical glitches, or simply face a problem you've never seen before, it's good to have friends.
So join in and be a member of your community. It is so refreshing to know that there are real, live people out there who know what you do, do what you do and can sympathize with you about those glazed looks you get from your boss, your coworkers, and your mom. I promise those lonely days will be behind you.
Jim Sterne is an international consultant who focuses on measuring the value of the Web as a medium for creating and strengthening customer relationships. Sterne has written eight books on using the Internet for marketing, is the founding president and current chairman of the Digital Analytics Association and produces the eMetrics Summit and the Media Analytics Summit.
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