4 Reasons I am pumped for Mozcon

I’ve decided to head back to Mozcon for the second year running.

I try to head to the USA for one conference a year to keep up with the latest developments in the industry. I realise there are Australian conferences too, but you just can’t get the same value and learnings in terms of quality of speakers and the networking opportunities.

I have previously been to Pubcon, Las Vegas for around 4 years running, and really enjoyed all aspects of it, but last year decided to make a change and ‘upgrade’ to Mozcon – and wwas not disappointed!

There are so many reasons I cant recommend Mozcon highly enough and I’ll try and reel off a few:

Speakers

Mozcon is a little unique where speakers don’t apply, you have to be asked. The speakers at this event are hand picked for the value they can provide to the entire SEO community, so you never have any fear you will end up listening to a sales pitch.

Some of the speakers I’m looking forward to:

  • Rand and Wil (Obviously!)
  • Oli Gardner – Unbounce
  • Daniel Russell – His talk “What We Learned From Reddit & How It Can Help Your Brand Take Content Marketing to the Next Level” has me listening already

Honestly, I just picked out a couple, but last year I don’t think I even had one session I tuned out on last year – the content is that great.

Networking

I am not super big into networking as a general rule. When we head to a USA based conference, networking is great to meet new people, but its rare for anything to turn into real business opportunities (Which is totally fine!)

Mozcon does a great job of having fun networking events, that are so well organised its unheard of at a convention.

Last year we had:

  • Pubcrawl
  • Ted Talk style event with food and drinks
  • Big end of conference celebration with drinks and bowling to finish off

To illustrate just how well they were put together, and it may seem like a tiny detail. but they had even organised different beer coasters at every location for each night of the conference. How is that for ATD!

Travel

One of the best things about attending a conference in an overseas country is the ability to combine my two favourite things – work and travel. Last year I was lucky enough to visit Portland on route to Mozcon. In addition Seattle was a city I had always wanted to visit, and one it turns out I loved. The opportunity to see places like this is something I am very lucky to experience.

This year, I am adding some family travel to the end of the conference and will be joined by my wife and daughter for a few weeks in New York and LA. What could be better!

Followup actions

Every conference we attend we come back with a huge list of things we want to start doing. Like everyone though, we NEVER do them all. What’s important though is we come back to a few very actionable things we can immediately change in our business, and without fail I can say that happens every time. While it may not always be something specific that is said at the conference, being out of our own office environment gives us time to sit back and think which always leads to productive ideas.

Will I see you there?

Guide to Pubcon for Overseas Visitors

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I now consider myself a Pubcon veteran after attending the last 3 events (Not sure if this has earned me that title, but I’m running with it)

The reason I make the LONG trip from Australia each year, is for the quality of speakers, the people we meet, and the chance it gives us to focus on our SEO knowledge, to improve our product for our customers.

So if you are headed to Pubcon from a far away place like I am, below are some tips that will help to make your trip just that little bit better:

Pack light and load up.

Don’t overdo the packing. You will end up wearing lots less than you actually take, and you can buy anything you need over there (As well as wear some of the swag you get throughout the conference if you run out of clean shirts)

A few t shirts, shorts, dress pants, few shirts, and a jacket will have you pretty much covered for all occasions that arise. The other pro to packing light, is you can then do some shopping to fill those bags on your way home.

Adjust to the time difference as soon as you land.

This is a general travel tip I use everywhere I travel. As soon as you land starting adjusting to the time difference. If you land at 4pm, it’s 4pm so do what you would normally do, and hit the hay at your usual bedtime.
This is the quickest way to adjust on what is sometimes a short trip.

Only pre book accommodation, flights, & conference tickets.

Don’t go crazy with organising every detail, but ensure you have your hotel, & conference pass. Everything else you can wing it once you get there. Shows, tours, dinners, can all be booked easily and often cheaper when you land at the last minute, and you want to allow yourself to go with the Vegas flow.

Keep an eye on twitter for events.

Before and during your trip, stay on top of the Twitter hashtag to ensure you don’t miss out on formal and informal networking events, which are always the highlight of every event.

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Network online with people from your own country attending.

Meeting people from all over the world is one of the huge draw cards of Pubcon, but it’s equally as beneficial to networking with your fellow countrymen. These events can often lead to great business partnerships, and long term relationships with people very relevant to your business.

Pubcon generally has a decent attendance from Australia, and we’ve met some great people in the industry that we still catch up with to this day.

Get a Sim Card before you arrive.

This is my personal preference, but a must do for me. Order a US based Sim card before you arrive and have it shipped to you (Plenty of options on ebay). Doing this will be easy (You can have the phone live 10 minutes after you land), and will save you the hassle of hunting down, and signing up in a cell phone store, which can sometimes take over an hour.

Having a working local phone number and data is a massive plus in Vegas as it will allow you to use Google Maps, make bookings, and stay in touch with your new friends, just like back home.

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If you forget something, you can get it in Vegas.
Don’t be at all stressed if you forget to pack anything such as clothes, medicines, & toiletries, can all easily be purchased at any of the local CVS stores or drug stores.

If you are flying home on the Thursday night after the last day of the conference, check your bags at concierge in the morning.

I usually give ourselves a few extra days either side to enjoy our trip, but if you are on a deadline and have a late flight on Thursday night, check your bag with the concierge and checkout in the Thursday morning before you head to the last day of the conference.

That way you can enjoy the last day of the conference, the last night networking event, and then have a seamless trip to collect your bags and get to the airport.

Don’t be afraid to take an hour or two off during the day to see some sights.

Not interested in every session block? Don’t worry, it happens. If you have a quiet patch in terms of sessions you would like to attend, don’t feel guilty about taking a few hours out to do some shopping, hit the tables, sit by the pool, or even go see the Grand Canyon in a helicopter. It’s all part of the Vegas experience.

Be prepared for the weather.

If you are coming from colder climates like me, October in Las Vegas is generally the opposite of your current season, nice and warm! With some cooler nights at times so bring shorts, t-shirts, as well as some long sleeves and pants

Grab food when you can…

Pubcon never really stops, and you will be pretty busy the entire time. Don’t forget to grab some food when you can. A quick bite before the conference starts, or a couple of tacos on the way to the next networking event, will ensure you stay on your feet through the day, and long into the night!

The place literally never sleeps, but make sure you do (At least a bit)

The conference runs from 8.30pm till 5pm each day, and to keep up that pace you do need a little bit of sleep. But you’re in Vegas right, so it’s a bit tougher to get to bed early. Just remember pace yourself, and catch some shut eye when you can – you are here to learn!

And a few quick tips:

  • You can drink booze on the street and it’s totally fine (If you are out walking, grab a beer from a local store or CVS to save some money)
  • Carry small change for tips with taxis, drinks, meals
  • If you want to catch a show or visit one of the buffets, visit halftix.com boothes on the strip for a great deal
  • A monorail ticket will set you up for a good week of getting around, and is by far the best way to the LVCC. Other options are taxis (everywhere), and more recently, Uber.
  • Don’t forget your conference pass for the networking events. It’s what will get you in, and acts as a nametag.
  • Stay at a hotel on the monorail. We always stay at the MGM as it’s got a monorail stop inside the casino, which gives us an extra 20-30 minutes sleep each morning.
  • Easiest way to pay for things is on Credit Card, so try and get one without international fees if you can.
  • Avoid taking out cash from the casino ATM’s, they will sting you $5 + for each withdrawal.

I hope this list of tips helps a few of you out there, and I look forward to seeing everyone there in Las Vegas.