The WORLD'S BIGGEST CONFERENCE FOR PODCASTING!
I'll be honest when I first thought about conferences my mind went to technology and gaming, but when I first came across Podcast Movement the more I saw... the more I got excited!
I was lucky and won a ticket to attend, but then had to figure out how to get there/where to stay. While my podcast may have been around for over half a decade, it certainly wasn't going to pay for this trip. However I am so glad I was able to make it happen, and here is why!
My Mindset Going In
From the get go I felt like I wasn't going to get as much out of the panels as most people would. Mainly because I have spent way too much time learning every aspect of podcasting and content creation in my free time. Instead I decided to focus purely on networking as much as possible.
That is not to say the panels are any slouch either, there were some great panelists and speakers like Harry Duran, Hala Taha, Sun Yi, Donald Kelly, and more!!
I'd say I was one of the few people with THE MOST connections on the app (97% of which were all from in person). This lead me to having some really deep conversations, and that really hit me to my core more than I thought it would.
I know that was my intention, but still to have people who understand my world. To have them tell me that I'm well on my way, or I could improve in this way; Was just so refreshing.
DAY 1 - Pre-Conference
I was told that I really didn't need to show up for this day, but I was pretty motivated to do so. Not only is it wise to get your badge early, so you don't waste precious time on the main expo days themselves.
The first day party was actually the day I think I connected with the most people. Not only is everyone most energetic that day, but also it is the first time interacting with some people that week.
I did miss the pre-conference orientation due to travel schedule, but I think that was okay. Having this day also allowed me to explore a bit of the venue, hallways, and gather groceries to prepare for the week ahead!
DAY 2 - First EXPO Day
Keynotes are something special, and I walked right into that hall with eager excitement. You can feel the buzz in the air of everyone being on the same excited wavelength.
Even if you're introverted, the ease of being able to approach people in the PodMove environment makes it so much easier. I talk about this in the sense of going to karaoke. You know that people are there to sing, and so you can use that as a way in to talk to them. The same exact mindset is there for PodMove, everyone there is in the same mindset of connecting, and you can use podcasting as your connection start.
Even if they AREN'T a podcaster, and instead are networks or broadcasters, etc. They are still in the podcast mindset landscape. I used this a lot this day, as I explored the EXPO hall.
While yesterday I spent more time connecting with individuals, instead today it seemed it was more geared towards the people IN THE BOOTHS.
I left the keynotes ready to explore all of the booths, and I still think I should have given more time to some of the booths I skimmed over. Simplecast came in strong with not only great handout products, but also offering coaching for those needing a bit of guidance. I did that myself, and even let them record it. I think that helped me align my focus a lot more.
Then we had booths like Riverside or Streamyard that aimed to show their software off, and answer questions. We had bigger names there like Amazon Music or freaking Disney, that had their own quirks and offerings as well. Fun fact: Disney has podcasts, and that is super cool!
It was today I was able to meet up with podcaster friends whom I met over the last few years, BUT IN PERSON. That feeling of seeing someone you've known for a while, but actually face to face. It is uncomparable.
DAY 3 - Main (2nd) EXPO Day
You can just feeling the life in the air, as everyone is sharing business cards, exploring booths, listening to panels, grabbing a snack, and more!
I connected with ever more people today, and tried to attend some panels. However there seemed to be a lot of them that I wanted to go to, but they took place at the same time. I'm not a fan of how conferences hide the panel recordings behind a steep paywall, when that could be a great way to build up more inbound/content on their social channels. At least for previous years.
It is my hope that the opportunity costs I picked this year won't haunt me, as I had to make some quick and hard decisions on which ones I attended.
Personally I have a hard time just sitting there hearing someone talk, especially when the expo is all around you. They didn't really bring headphones (paired to the panels) in until today, which not everyone used really.
Sometimes you might listen to the first half of one, then jump to another one for that one's second half. I also only did two scheduled meetings through the app, which one of them didn't occur until the party at the end (which I'll discuss later). The other one was with Sun Yi, who is a personal branding expert, although I wouldn't limit him to just that expertise.
I had phenomenal chats with them both, and even found other people to talk to that I hadn't had a chance to yet such as Alex Sanfilippo from Podmatch. I'm pretty sure I saw Trace Dominguez from YouTube chilling with someone in the hall, but I couldn't interrupt their meeting!
Two big things that happened today, well no three! Firstly, I was able to talk to Spotify directly about some tech issues I've been facing with their podcaster platform. Secondly, I was able to get past my starstruck-ness, and ask Hala Taha to come onto the Polymath PolyCast. Which she said yes, and I'm going to hopefully set that up!! Finally, I was able to have my very first IN PERSON interview, with a friend Junaid Ahmed!
DAY 4 - Last Day/Post Conference
I had a really hard time at the end of the week. The lack of sleep, dry air, altitude, and the pure social battery usage. PHEW I was a zombie on Thursday!!
I woke in the hotel, so I needed to get back to my airbnb before I could tackle the day. After getting back I realized I no longer needed the last night on my schedule, so I was able to pack up and get a partial refund for the last day!
Note to people going to Podcast Movement you don't have to stay in the hotel they have it in. I'm sure it is SO MUCH MORE convenient, but if you can't afford it. Then look for a nearby airbnb! They can often be a lot closer than other hotels.
Despite getting some coffee and shower, that doesn't really take away from the fact I was lacking sleep. I went back to the venue as I had a couple more events I wanted to attend, such as a breakout by Sun Yi, and I wanted to try the afterparty.
Although even for both I was barely able to stay away, and the only reason I was able to for the breakout was because of how good of a speaker Sun is. His liveliness, and energy!
After the conference I went and stayed with family for a night.
My Thoughts on the People
It was really amazing to see just how open people were to networking. A CEO who might not even look at you on a normal day, instead greeted you with a friendly handshake. It has nothing to do with whether or not they are nice, but rather they actually had the time to be able to do so.
I'm sharing this point ^ because of an empathic understanding of their role. They just literally don't have the time to spend on meet and greets. However in a place like PodMove that is what we are there for.
On the opposite end you have the lone creator like me, that has pretty much all the time to meet people. However finding the connectinos that count, and the ones that are deeper it is hard.
Everyone that I met seemed to be in a great mood, even if they were tired, and they always were happy to say hi. I only came across one person who was a bit firm, but not in a bad way. I had unknowingly sat down on a couch that he was saving for a meeting. He politely mentioned that, and I got right on up!
My Thoughts on the After Parties
They had one each day, and I highly recommend going to them. I met more individual people the first night on the pre-conference day party, than I did I think the two expo days combined. As on those days I was talking to the people in the booths, and the companies themselves.
When you go to these events it seems that there are 4 people you will meet. The individuals like me, the panelists, the booth people, and then the people who are all three in one. Depending on which level they are, that would dictate just how busy they can be. Meaning you won't get a chance to talk to them.... except well for at the afterparties.
I found the first day's party to be quite enjoyable, and everyone was ready to go. The second day party was actually kind of lame, there wasn't as many people for some reason (maybe they were tired from the expo? or just came in from travel).
The third day party is the biggest of the year, and it was wall to wall packed. I almost wonder too packed. Although I met some great people, and I also realized that I couldn't really be my floaty butterfly self in this one. I'd have to anchor down more than I usually do, which might've been a good thing!
Finally, for the last party I was so exhausted I basically went in, met one guy, and then sat down until my ride arrived. I can't give an accurate rating or analysis since I missed most of it. From what I hear the food was good, and there was a mechanical bull!
How to Network
This part may only be useful to some, as some of you perhaps already know how to do it. However I've spent a ton of time teaching myself how to approach strangers, and this may help some folks.
First and foremost, find a bit of common ground. Now at a conference like this, you can always safely ask "Hey do you have a podcast?" or "what is your podcast about?". Before you ask though be sure to check their badge, and make sure it isn't like COO or founder, or sometihng like that. As they may be there for a different reason. Although even if you ask they will more than likely correct you politely, oh I run a podcast network, or something like that.
The point is to find an entry question, it could be as simple as "what brings you here?", and then you are off to the races. I can't quite tell you how to keep the conversation going, that just takes practice. Though it is also good to know when to end a conversation as well, as you only have a limited time at these kinds of things.
I also want to mention go to EVERY booth. I made the mistake of only going to around 90% of them, and while that may be good. I think I could have missed out on some good connections, even if I didn't use their tool or product anytime soon, if I just ventured to ask them what it was about.
Well this post took a bit longer than I wanted it to, to make. However I think you'll get a unique point of view from it, so it is well worth it.
The idea of a conference like this is sure to share new ideas and tech, but I think more than any of that it is to: network. I went in solely to do that more than anything. I'm so glad I did. It was really hard for me to make it happen. I wouldn't have gotten a ticket if it wasn't for Riverside.fm, and I had no idea how I was gonna get over there if it wasn't for Opus.pro for getting me a plane ticket.
I was already partnered with them, as I had used them both since their alphas basically. However I am so grateful that I was able to do this. I even got to meet people I never expected, and I got to do my first in person interview!
This conference in particular had a life to it, that I can't fully articulate!
Here is an accompanying Micro-PolyCast episode, that I thought up after attending the conference.
Going to the #PM23 conference is actually making me change the Polycast itself!