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The long-lasting digital impact of a real-life social engagement

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was killing time between sessions at Pubcon Las Vegas 2008. Next thing I know, this guy is standing right next to me:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lee Odden one of the most recognizable digital marketers in the industry. He always seems to be a featured presenter at industry conferences and he’s the man behind the well-known digital marketing portal, Top Rank Blog.

Now at this point, some of you must be wondering why in the hell I’m writing what amounts to a written advertisement for Lee and his company?

No, I’m not star struck (although I gotta admit that Lee’s a looker).

He didn’t pay me or compensate me in any way for this post.

He didn’t solicit a link or mention or anything else.

In fact, I haven’t spoken in person with him since that day and other than the occasional Twitter or Google+ exchange, we don’t really communicate with one another at all. And yet, I will go out of my way to share his content with my friends, followers, and work colleagues when applicable.

Why? Because he went out of his way to be personable with me in that hallway at Pubcon and he took a few minutes to engage in a real conversation with me (e.g. not just talk about himself and his agenda, but actually ask me questions and generally shoot the breeze).

If I had to guess, Lee probably doesn’t even remember our encounter (he likely talks with hundreds of conference-goers on a yearly basis). I can also surmise that he didn’t expect to gain any measurable, digital ROI from our encounter. And yet, over three years later, he’s cashing in on an SEO-friendly, unsolicited inbound link as well as social-friendly mention from this blog post (and any subsequent retweets, Google+ shares, etc).

And all because he took the time to genuinely engage with me in “real life.”

I spend a lot of time writing about the value of digital (e.g. social media) engagement and it’s impact on marketing ROI. However, it’s important to note that the same applies for actual human engagement. It’s something the both small-business and enterprise marketers can benefit from. So the next time you’re presented with an opportunity to engage at an industry gathering or company-organized event (or even just an informal neighborhood get-together) make sure to do so and be sincere about it. You’d be surprised at the potential digital ROI those interactions might bring.

P.S. Lee isn’t the only one that left a lasting impression from a single real-life encounter. Industry luminaries like Aaron Wall and Jill Whalen were equally cordial and engaging. And then there are old souls like Rae Hoffman (aka “@sugarrae) who actually took the time to drink beer, play pool and compare tattoos with me (and a few good industry friends) despite the fact that she likely didn’t know me from Adam.

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  • http://www.toprankmarketing.com/ leeodden

    Hugo, I am so humbled by this post – I do remember meeting you and I see you being kind with Tweets and sharing information online pretty frequently.

    I have a similar story with Andy Beal. I met him at my first SES in NY in 2004 or 5) and after reading his blog, found him to be very engaged an interested in real discussion. There are some really “good” people (and super smart) in this industry. Those first impressions go a long way.

    I completely agree with the post regarding the importance of online and offline interactions. IRL events and writing has been amazing for building solid connections. I think people forget that sometimes – too busy or focused inside instead of out. :)

    Cheers to you and Happy New Year!

    • Anonymous

      Thanks swinging by to chime in, Lee! Much appreciated. Good to know that you share my point of view on this. Thanks again and happy new year!

      • http://twitter.com/aimee_beck Aimee Beck

        Awesome story, Hugo! It’s funny, I was at the ’07 Pubcon conf in Vegas when I was working with SuccessWorks, and had almost the exact same experience. It was the first time I’d met Lee (well, only time, really, and I doubt he would recall our brief encounter either). You couldn’t be more bang on about mixing social interactions both online and in person. Great that you took the time to share your story and reinforce the importance of a good old fashioned handshake & face-to-face small talk.

        Happy New Year to everyone :)
        Cheers!

        ~Aimee Beck

        • Anonymous

          Thanks for sharing your story, Aimee! Glad to hear that I’m not the only that experienced something like this. Happy new year!

    • http://www.trackur.com Andy Beal

      I can vouch for what an awesome guy Lee is! :-)

      • Anonymous

        Thanks for stopping by to chime in, Andy! Much appreciated. Sounds like you both share that “awesome guy” quality. Makes me that much more committed to being cordial and engaging when I meet industry folks in person (or online) so that I can pay it forward and build on what you and Lee have already done.