I had a blast at the MarketingProfs Digital Marketing Mixer, held in Fountain Hills, Arizona. 300 of marketing’s most dedicated people flew, drove, and walked out to the middle of the desert to talk shop on social media, email, and search marketing, and my hat’s off to MarketingProfs for throwing yet another successful event. Some highlights:

Speaking to an overflowing room about the prerequisites of social media. I got a real kick out of seeing so many people so eager and energized to learn more about social media and how to get started. Conversely, whenever the conference organizers have to make an announcement that extra chairs are being brought in and it’s STILL standing room only after more seating is installed, I know as a speaker I have to bring my A game up to an A+, to live up to the trust and energy that the crowd brings.

Email and Social Media Panel– Speaking on a panel with Gary Vaynerchuk and Greg Cangialosi. Great fun, some powerful takeaways from Gary (including stuff I’ll be trying with the Financial Aid Podcast), and intense energy. If you don’t watch Wine Library TV and read Gary’s blog, you’re missing out, even if you don’t care a whit about wine. Gary’s that passionate and engaging about a subject he loves and deeply cares about. Fun trivia fact that Greg Cangialosi pointed out at the beginning – Gary and I attended the same high school, 1 year apart.

– The HubSpot booth. The folks over at HubSpot, in case you don’t know, have a great little tool called WebsiteGrader.com, which does some very basic SEO assessments of any web site. What made their booth fun was them letting spectators stand around and chat with other participants about their sites. At the conference, there was a representative from a prison management software firm, a virtual mortuary firm, an executive dating firm, and many others, all of whom I wouldn’t have learned about if I hadn’t just hung around and chatted. Really interesting to see how people perceived the relevance of Internet marketing to their industries (so many people say, “But my industry is different because…”) and then watch their eyes light up when you show them how to Google prospective customers and partners.

– Late night discussions with Julien Smith. If you don’t know or follow Julien, you should. He and Chris Brogan are writing their first book, Trust Agents, slated to come out in mid-2009. We chatted on everything from trust to marketing to conspiracy theories.

Arizona Sunrise– Sunrise over the Arizona desert. There’s nothing quite like watching the sun peek out over the horizon, illuminating the landscape. The Arizona desert is beautiful, if hostile.

– Meeting some great new people. I’ve got a pile of business cards to go through, but I had some fantastic and funny conversations with old and new friends alike. Big shout outs to Kati Ryan, Becky Carroll, Bryan Rhoads, Paula Drum, Ace Bailey, Rohit Bhargava, Chris Glenn, Pam Martin, Maly Ly, David Alston, Ron Ploof, Leslie Banks, Sonny Gill, Sharon Philippart, Mandy Clive, Frank Eliason, and the many, many others whose conversations made the conference terrific.

– Being on vacation. I actually booked the MarketingProfs event as vacation time away from the Student Loan Network. It helps me to separate out the vitally important work at SLN from time when I allow myself to just sit back and enjoy an experience. Ironically, I’ve got more potential business partners and business from vacation than I’ve gotten from some financial aid events, and I hope to be able to bring those opportunities to Financial Aid Podcast listeners and readers in the near future.

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