Making pod-friends is super important because as you may or may not yet know, podcasting can sometimes start to feel like this very solitary thing. It’s not like performing on stage where you have an immediate feedback loop, an immediate direct interaction with your audience. It is something that likely you are doing in a room by yourself.Andrea Klunder
If you are listening to this very close to the time that it is released, I’m at Podcast Movement in Orlando, Florida . Are you here? Have we met yet?
Either way, I am here to teach you how to WIN at podcast conferences.
You didn’t know that this was a game, did you?
The reason I wanted to share this with you is because I hear and see so often in the podcasting community a couple of themes:
- People are nervous about attending. Podcasters are notoriously often introverted and the idea of talking to strangers in person like face to face instead of over the interwebs audio-only is nerve-racking.
- People are overwhelmed. Especially with a conference like Podcast Movement where I think there’s like seven or eight sessions at any given time and, to make matters even worse, you have to decide whether you’re going to go to a session at all because sometimes you can get information overload, because sometimes things are more fun in the hallways outside of the breakout rooms and in the expo area, and because sometimes you just need to eat or rest or record a podcast…
So what’s the #1 secret for navigating all of this?
Read on for more…
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Talk to strangers. Don’t worry about your strategy. Just have a good time.Andrea Klunder
Let me tell you a little bit about my experience as a fledgling podcaster the first year that I attended podcast movement four years ago. It happened to be in Chicago because it moves around every year and I am in Chicago. So I thought I should probably go to this thing, but I didn’t really know why.
The truth is in that first year, I was one of those nervous people.
I didn’t really know many or any other podcasters. I felt like an imposter going to a conference. I mean, I wasn’t making any money as a podcaster. I was completely self-taught. I didn’t think of myself as a professional and I wasn’t even sure I was doing any of it right!
(Small note I did happen to have two other Chicago-based friends who were going to the conference, one who was already podcasting and one who was thinking about starting a podcast and we did hang out together. But none of us knew what we were doing.)
So I made an executive decision.
I dove headfirst into attending as many sessions as I could. I decided I was there to learn. All the things.
I tried to get there as early as possible every morning and I was certainly too exhausted to attend any parties, dinners, networking events, etc by the end of the day, and this was fine by me because all those situations give me anxiety.
That year I did learn a whole bunch of cool things and came away with so many ideas about my show and about how to grow my little baby podcasting business. Also one thing that I did push myself to do that I am so grateful for is that they had these pre-conference sessions for speakers who did not have official breakout sessions to come up and give 10 minute talks The person who was emceeing was Matt Marr, also a podcaster who I love and who has been on The Creative Impostor and whose show, Dear Mattie, I have been on.
Matt was inviting people in the audience to come up and introduce themselves and their show in 30 seconds. And even that makes me nervous! You would think that as a speaker, as a podcaster, as someone with acting training, that it would not, but it does.
Anyway, I did it and people were really interested in my topic and I got invited to be on a couple of other shows, specifically Mindfulness Mode with Bruce Langford and Overcoming Graduation with Brian Drury.
Year One ended up being fine, but I kept hearing about how great all of the parties were, (you know, those ones that I was too tired to attend) and how the magic happens in the hallways outside the session rooms.
And so the next year in Anaheim, I decided to focus on the parties, on meeting people, on talking to strangers. And I knew that in order to do that, I had to shore up my energy and get some good sleep so I did not set an early alarm. I did not try to make the 8:00 a.m. sessions. I arrived when I arrived each day and I only went to a very select handful of sessions to keep my mind clear so that I had plenty of opportunities to randomly start conversations with people that year.
I met so many fascinating podcasters, scheduled new guests for my show, got booked on other people’s shows and started making what I call “pod-friends” in the industry.
Pod-friends are super important because (as you may or may not yet know) podcasting can sometimes start to feel like this very solitary thing. It’s not like performing on stage where you have an immediate feedback loop an immediate direct interaction with your audience. It is something that likely you are doing in a room by yourself.
Maybe you have another person there, or maybe you have another person connecting with you over the internet, but largely you are speaking out and not always getting a huge amount of feedback back no matter how many people you have listening.
Also, sometimes you have questions and maybe you can’t afford to hire a coach or consultant like me to get those questions answered, or maybe if you post it in a Facebook group for podcasters with thousands of members, you get all this conflicting sometimes not really that great advice back and you just feel more confused and overwhelmed.
Having specific pod-friends who get what you’re going through, who have a certain level of expertise and passion in the industry can mean the difference between growing as a podcaster and pod-fading. We don’t want the the pod-fade.
Since those first two Podcast Movements, I have attended both Podcast Movement and PodFest both as a speaker and as an attendee, and I have held several different intentions for each conference all with different results. In this way, I have always found it well worth my time/money/energy investment to attend these conferences
The secret to winning at a podcast conference is not competition and it’s certainly not trying to do everything.
The secret is to choose one thing.
Yes, one — one thing to focus on, one intention to guide your decision making throughout the conference, and then align all of your choices and activities with that one focus.
Are you here primarily to learn? To find guests for your show? To be inspired? To have fun? To find potential clients for your podcasting business? To grow your listenership? To share your message as a speaker? Etc?
All of these (and more that I haven’t even listed) are great intentions for attending a podcasting conference!
Now just by choosing one, it does not mean that you won’t get all of the other benefits too. It simply cuts down on the overwhelm, placates the part of your brain that may be susceptible to FOMO, and makes for a more effective, more rewarding, more enjoyable podcast conference experience.
A few more quick tips:
- Wear comfortable shoes.
- Dress in or bring layers because conferences are often in hotels and convention centers and you cannot predict the inside weather as relates to the outside weather.
- Bring snacks.
- Have a plan for recharging (your phone AND yourself.) It is important to take some time for yourself to rest and digest, whether that means going back to your room in the middle of the afternoon for a little bit, whether that means sleeping in in the morning and not rushing to get there first thing, whether that means just stopping into the coffee shop or cafe and having a lovely little beverage by yourself. Hint: if you don’t want to talk to anyone or engage with anyone, just put your headphones on. No one will question that a podcasting conference.
- Be curious. Ask questions. Talk to people you wouldn’t normally talk to. Hint: Look for people who are standing around (without headphones on) and don’t appear to be talking to anybody.
- Follow-up. Oh, I hate conference follow-up. The best success I have had in following up with people is not through the business card. It is through making an immediate connection with them in the moment that they’re standing there face to face on a social media platform that makes sense for both of us. Another thing I like to do if the Wi-Fi is reliable at the conference is to immediately find an episode of their show and download it or subscribe to it so that I have all these new podcasts in my queue to listen to after the conference and on the way home. I just like to check out the show see what they’re doing and see if there is a connection, if there is a reason to invite them to be on my show, if there is a reason for me to see if I can be on their show, if there is a way that I can support them or connect them to someone else who may be a great fit for them.
- Have fun. Be prepared for the unexpected. Be open to things not going exactly the way that you plan them. Be open to serendipity. Say “yes!” to that random lunch invitation.
If you’re here at Podcast Movement 2019, I hope to meet you… or at She Podcasts Live in October 2019 and if not, then at a future podcasting conference where we all can win!
Resources & Episodes Mentioned
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