The A4U Expo conference took place on 13th and 14th October 2009 and was my second ever conference – and the first one I’d paid to attend. I’d been to the Online Marketing Show in July, where I’d volunteered to fill a place on the ‘Affiliate Marketing Principles’ discussion panel. As a result, I’d met lots of interesting new people I wouldn’t have met otherwise and I’d really enjoyed it after I’d recovered from the associated nerves!
For A4U Expo I booked into the Ibis hotel for 2 nights which was straight opposite the ExCel Centre where the conference was being hosted. A hotel stay felt a little extravagant seeing as I already live in London, but I’d been told it was a good idea if I wanted to maximise sleeping time between the ends of late night parties and early morning starts! (It was also a good excuse not to have to travel home on a night bus). I thought the hotel was lovely and clean and as it was fairly cheap too, I’d definately stay there again.
My Favourite Sessions
The sessions at A4U I was most looking forward to were the Super Affiliates panel, the Affiliate Doctors panel, Dave Naylor’s SEO Strategies and Nadeem Azam’s ‘My 12 Biggest Mistakes in Affiliate Marketing in 12 Years’ talk. Thankfully I made it to all of these, and I got a lot out of all of them. My site Where Can I Buy Online? was reviewed by the ‘Affiliate Doctors’ and I came away with a lot of ideas which I’m now putting into action. I found the days a lot like my busier days at university and it made a nice change to be sat amongst other people working in the same industry who also have a passion for affiliate marketing.
On the whole I found the talks where speakers related their mistakes and best practises were most helpful to me. Some of the other talks I went to which were more educational were less help as I had studied most of the concepts already, and was looking for more practical tips I could use.
Networking and the Social Events
As a newcomer to conferences and networking, meeting new people and forming new friendships was a high priority for me but also quite a worry. While I love meeting new people, I’m naturally a shy person so I was glad I’d arranged to meet up with one of my affiliate managers at the start of Expo, and later bumped into a few contacts I’d made through Twitter.
Apart from a couple of hours where I wandered round talks on my own, I found myself with a great group of friends – most of whom I met on the first evening. A highlight was going to dinner with Zak from Prezzybox, Graham from Buyagift, Naomi from Firebox, Chris from Home and Garden Gifts, and fellow affiliates Mark Ward and Fraser Edwards.
The parties were great too although the first one in a club in the O2 was a bit too loud for talking, and we were all too tired to stay till the end. The final night was spent at the Fox pub which had been hired out for dinner and drinks. I met plenty more great affiliates here, including Keith Bond who I’d spoken to for a while on Twitter, so in all it was the great friendly atmosphere at this party that really helped me decide that I want to be at the conference again next year.
My only regret is not getting more photos!