Four years ago, a good friend and business associate of mine, Ed Keay-Smith from OzDomainer.com, called from his home in Perth, Australia and wanted to know if he would see me at The System Seminar. He was a little dumbfounded when I said “What’s that?”
“You have to go,” he said. It’s a top-tier seminar on internet marketing hosted by the man who pioneered the business, Ken McCarthy. (He’s the fellow who hosted the first conference to explore the viability of commercializing the internet in 1994.) Every year it features speakers who are the best-of-the-best in their respective fields and is held in beautiful historic Chicago.
Judging from his enthusiasm (and the fact that he was flying all the way from Australia) I figured maybe I ought to attend. In fact, I bought my ticket and booked my travel arrangements that night.
I was so impressed with my first visit to The System Seminar that I’ve been back every year since (and have been fortunate enough to speak at two of them.) I can’t recommend this seminar enough for anyone serious about building a career in internet marketing or publishing. It’s such a great conference because Ken personally picks all the speakers so you’re really getting the cream of the crop without having to worry about the annoying sales pitch at the end of the presentations.
As you can see in the photo to the right and above that all sessions are held in one room so you never have to worry about missing a session or speaker.
Perhaps even better is the fact that The System Seminar (with an average of 300 folks attending every year) is small enough that you can expect to get one-on-one time with a few of the speakers yet large enough that you can easily meet several folks who can help you expand your business. Also you won’t have to worry about picking and choosing which sessions to attend and which to skip (hoping that you won’t miss some excellent tidbit while you’re listening to something completely boring) because The System Seminar is set up in such a way that everyone attends every session.
Did I mention the seminar is held in Chicago? It’s one of my favorite cities in the US. I’ve heard a lot of folks describe the Windy City as New York but cleaner. I couldn’t disagree more. Chicago has a vibe all its own. The social scene is vibrant and completely unique, there are tons of cultural exhibits from museums to art galleries to shows. There are hundreds of world class restaurants and bars and even beachfront activities along Lake Michigan. And the architecture ... It’s spectacular.
I’m attending again this year, but I want to give first time attendees and those who are still on the fence about attending a few tips about how to make the most of this one-of-a-kind conference.
Before You Hit The Road …
1.) Book a Room in the Hotel at Which the Conference Is Held – Not only will this save you a ton of time getting to and from the conference every day but the Westin O'Hare Resort is a beautiful hotel with excellent amenities and beds that are just about as comfortable as I’ve ever slept on. Not to mention it’s only ten minutes from O’Hare Airport. They also offer special discounted rates for conference attendees.
2.) Plan To Stay At Least A Full Day After It’s Over – Rushing out the door right after the final speaker wraps up his presentation just to get to the airport in time to struggle through security and catch your return flight is not fun. Chicago is a beautiful city. Stay on an extra day, maybe even two, so you see the city, hang out with fellow conference attendees , and face the rigors of travelling rested and refreshed. One of my favorite things to do is take a boat tour of the city’s architectural gems with a bagged deli lunch from one of the incredible little bistros you’ll find just about everywhere.
Come Prepared . . .
3.) Bring A Nice Notebook – I use a spiral bound. You may prefer a Moleskine. Whatever the case, keep a nice notebook handy. It will save you from constantly searching for something to scribble on and may keep you from missing that little nugget of truth that is just what you needed to hear.
4.) Get Connected Ahead of Time – Ken McCarthy is a very prolific author and web publisher. Follow him on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/KenMcCarthy), subscribe to his excellent newsletter (http://www.kenmccarthy.com), and check out his System blog (http://www.thesystemblog.com/). These resources will not only give you a preview of what to expect from the systems Seminar so you can come prepared, they’re also just plain great resources. After all, Ken really did write the book on internet marketing.
5.) Prime The Pump – Ken loves to get industry leaders to give up “the good stuff” in his audio and video interviews. Give yourself a jumpstart before you get to the seminar by checking out his free pre-system training. In it you’ll find the following audios you can download right to your mp3 player. They make excellent travel listening!
- Success is a system
Perry Marshall reveals the nuts and bolts mechanics of successful marketing
- Traffic is the easy part
- Mobile marketing: realities and opportunities
Kim Dushinski, System Grad
- The real secret to success in Internet marketing – and any other field
Affiliate marketer Ben Moskel
- Success is not a mystery – it’s a system
Copywriting veteran Bob Bly
- Two pros talk about the REALITY of Success
Glenn Livingston and Ken McCarthy
- Pay-per-click: The Secret Weapon
- CPA Marketing – Fact, fiction and profitable reality
- The Master of Marketing
Direct marketing legend Drayton Bird
- Traffic Beyond Google
Mike Mindel, Greg Davis and Ken McCarthy
- How to make a small business hugely profitable
- CPA Marketing – Fact, fiction and profitable reality
6.) Set Goals For Your Time at the Seminar – Know why exactly you’re going, what you hope to learn, and who you want to meet before you go. This will make getting every last bit of useful information that much easier. Trust me, the seminar may be smaller than some but it’s jam packed with tons of great info. You’ll have a hard time absorbing it all and if you don’t go in with a game plan, it’s extremely easy to get lost in the sea of facts, figures, and techniques.
7.) Plan on Expanding Your Network – It’s not all about learning, it’s also about growing your network. Set a goal for yourself of getting to know 3-4 people. There’s no sense going in thinking that you’ll be able to remember everybody you meet—you won’t. It’s better to really spend some time with a small handful of folks.
While You're in Chicago…
8.) Build Relationships – As I said before, the seminar is not just a great place to learn, it’s a great place to meet new people with new ideas and new resources you may not have heard about before. There will be hundreds of people in attendance including many great speakers and service providers. Single out a few and get to know them, what they do, and how they can help you grow your business. (Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are excellent times to meet up with these folks. Food always eases the social awkwardness of a first meeting.) Bring business cards to trade, take down names and contact info, keep notes. They’ll help you remember who was who when you get back home. Be sure to follow up with them after the conference, even if it’s just a quick email.
9.) Pre-Order The Conference Recordings – The seminar is so full of info that it would be hard for anyone to retain even most of it. Thankfully, Ken goes to great lengths to record all of the sessions. Even better, he offers a deep discount to attendees who pre-order the audios and videos during the seminar. Take advantage of this great deal so you can go over what you learned any time you like in order to cement it in your brain.
10.) Do Some Sightseeing - Some of the best networking happens the evening following the event ... after things have wound down. Plan on an extra day, get out and mingle, then sleep in the next morning and do a little sightseeing. Like I said, I love Chicago. It’s really a very beautiful city. From the O’Hare Resort, the Blue Line subway is only 3 blocks—easy walking distance. The trip into the heart of the city only takes 45 minutes or so. You’ll really kick yourself if you spend the whole seminar cooped up in your hotel room.
Some of my favorite locations are the Sears Tower (with 110 stories with an observation deck), the architectural boat tour I mentioned before (it’s great for history buffs as well as you learn a lot about the growth of the city), and some of the famous eateries and watering holes like the Billy Goat Tavern (of Saturday Live Fame).
Once You Get Home ...
11.) Hit the Ground Running – Take what you’ve learned and put it into practice immediately. There’s no time like the present, and by tackling the work first, you’ll ensure that it’s still fresh in your mind. Don't let your enthusiasm fade!
12.) Review Your Notes – Sit back and read through your notes again. It’s easy to lose some small details in the sea of info so take time to single those gems out again.
13.) Put Your Plan Into Writing – There’s something magical about putting your plans on paper, almost as if seeing the words there makes the actual work easier. So dig out that trusty notepad and jot down a plan of attack. Chances are you’ve had some new and exciting ideas rattling around in your head you’re just itching to put to use. Write them down and “what’s begun is half done” as the old saying goes.
14.) Review The Conference Recordings – If you purchased the conference recordings (which you should have) listen through them once or twice. Key in on the stuff you may have missed or the stuff that wasn’t immediately clear the first time round. If you’ve made some contacts (which you should have again) get in touch with them, see what they think about what they heard. Go over these audios more than once and be sure and save them for later reference.
If you would like to learn more about The System Seminar or book your trip today, you can get started here: http://www.thesystemseminar.com/
Have a great flight.
All the best,
President, Net Guides Publishing Inc.