11 People I Don’t Want To Meet At SMX West


On Monday, Rhea, Rae and I will all be heading to Santa Clara to attend, speak and liveblog the annual SMX West show. I’m excited. I’m mostly excited to meet lots of new people and reconnect with old friends. If you’re only familiar with Online Lisa, you may be surprised to know that Real Life Lisa is actually a little shy. I am not the type of girl who will walk over and introduce myself. I will, however, keep looking at you until you come over and introduce yourself. I’m subtle like that.

Since SMX is a fairly intimate show, I’m really hoping to get to meet a lot of new folks. So, if you see me, please do come up and say hi. With that in mind, though, here are a list of 11 people I DON’T want to meet while at SMX.

The Guy Who Gives Last Year’s Presentation

I understand that sometimes stuff hasn’t changed that much since the last time you spoke on a topic. But, I don’t care. A new show still requires a new presentation, even if it’s just partially new. Respect your audience enough to give them something fresh. You were selected and put in the position of an Expert for this panel. You owe it to the people who came to see you. And if you do decide to rehash the exact same presentation you gave a year ago, expect me to call you out in my blog coverage. Because I have and will again.

The Guy Who Uses Overused Examples

At Pubcon Las Vegas, you could hear the collective groan in the room when Comcast, Dell, and Southwest were used as smart social media examples. The groan was actually audible. You’re not telling anyone anything new when you talk about how Zappos is rocking the social media world. We’re happy for them but we’ve heard it before. It’s time for some new examples. You had plenty of time to find them when you were creating your new presentation. And if you couldn’t, maybe you should be in the audience instead of on stage.

The Guy Who Only Talks to A-Listers

Something I love about this industry is that you never know who you’re talking to. Just because someone doesn’t have “Google” written on their badge doesn’t mean they don’t have incredible knowledge to share or that they’re not doing things right now that would blow your mind. You’re at a conference filled with smart search minds, you should talk to everyone you can. Take advantage of all the networking events and lunches and meet people. Everyone. If you do, I guarantee you’re going to walk away from SMX with some incredible contacts and a new plan for your business.

The Guy You Never See

The opposite of the guy who only talks to A-listers is the person who talks to no one. Or the guy who spends the whole week in his hotel room being anti-social and calling it “working”. Hey, we all have work to do. But you paid money to attend one of the best search conferences on the planet. SHOW UP! If you’re a conference introvert, learn the tricks to help overcome that. You owe it to yourself and whoever is footing your conference bill. There’s nothing worse than going home and kicking yourself for not making that contact.

The Guy Who Gossips

The SEO community is incredibly tight knit and it’s a place where great friendships are made. It’s also a place where gossip sometimes gets the best of us. Avoid it. The quickest way to turn someone off or lose a business contact is to spend too much time talking about others. Just don’t.

The Guy Constantly Pitching

You do SEO services? What a coincidence! WE DO, TOO! You can get us super cheap content? Awesome. You have a product that can save my life? Sweet! But… can I finish my drink first and the story I was in the middle of telling? We all have companies and agendas, and after I get to know you I probably wouldn’t mind hearing about yours. But don’t start there just because you’re proud to finally have it memorized. Do yourself a favor and listen to what the other people are saying around you. Listen to their stories, their ideas and their struggles. You may learn something. Or maybe you know something that can help. Help me and I’ll be much more interested in your pitch later.

The Guy With More Schwag Than He Can Carry

Unless you are Tamar, it is socially unacceptable to treat the exhibit floor of a conference like a Kmart. You do not need 20 T-shirts donning the logos of brands you can’t even name, and, really, what are you even planning to DO with all those Google pens? Put down the squishy frog, the five water bottles and go talk to someone.

The Guy Who Stalks Search Reps In The Bathroom

This is a serious problem that I think we need to talk about, people. If you see someone in the bathroom, I don’t care who this person is, leave them alone and let them have their peace. Search reps are people too and they deserve to have a little downtime, especially if they walked into the bathroom to get away from the swarm of people outside. Cuttlets are terrifying. A little air.

No touch!

The Guy Who Gets Inappropriate

I’m not sure how to say this other than to just say it, so I will: Don’t be creepy. If you’re a dude, don’t stalk the younger girls and make them feel uncomfortable while you stare at them. If you’re a woman, don’t make inappropriate comments about being a cougar. This is a work conference. Yeah, we get a little more informal once the sessions end, but this is still a business conference. You don’t want to do or say anything you’re going to regret in the morning. When you find out it’s on Twitter.

The Guy Who Has One Question, In 5 Parts & A Personal Story

If you are handed a mic at SMX and given the opportunity to ask a panel of experts a question, you should absolutely take it. However, you get one question each time the mic is placed in your hand. As I’ve tweeted multiple times, when you stand up and assert that you have one question, in five parts and a personal story to share, it makes me want to smack you in the face with my laptop. Because even though you paid for your right to ask, so did everyone else in the room. Don’t be a question hog. [I wouldn’t really hit you. Probably.]

The Guy Hogging The Power Outlet

No, I’m serious. I will kill you if you get in the way of me and my power outlet. I have to liveblog 15 sessions. Do you? No? Then get off it. And while you’re up, go grab me something to eat. I probably haven’t eaten in 48 hours and ’ll thank you in the blog.

So, yeah. That about sums it up.  If you don’t fall on that list (and I’m sure you don’t), I really hope to meet or reconnect at West. I’m really much nicer in person. ;)

[If you’re stuck at home, Outspoken’s Fifth Beatle, Michael Streko, provides the How To Be At The SMX: Home Edition. It’s an oldie but a goodie. Also check out Todd Malicoat’s conference douchebag post.]

Your Comments

  • Kenny

    Would have been WAY better if you just listed 11 people by name.

  • Daniel Riveong

    About the power outlet, I actually ordered a smaller power strip from *Amazon (3 plugs, plus 2 USB charging ports). I’m trying to be a good SMX neighbor. :)

    See you there!


    *FYI, I ordered this one but no idea how good it is:

    • Lisa Barone

      I used to bring an extension cord but I lug so much crap with me all day already that I hate having to bring it. I do have two extra 9 cell batteries that typically get me through the day just fine but, even so, don’t be a hog. :)

  • Domenick

    Good point Kenny, nevertheless that was some classic and funny shit.

  • Steve Tait

    I gotta say you consistently post interesting and funny stuff. I’m going to tweet and link to this post on our fanpage as well.
    I look forward to your posts and tweets everyday – keep it up.
    Tourism Troy should be paying you too you make me want to visit Troy.

    Good work Lisa

  • Michelle Robbins

    Great tips Lisa! A note on being a mic hog – there is another way. We have our Q&A system that, if you have a computer or web enabled device (or can borrow your neighbor’s) allows attendees to submit questions via form. About 90% of the sessions use this system exclusively and it keeps Q&A time rolling, prevents the mic hog/meandering questions effect, and results in more questions getting answered. Please use it. If you don’t have/can’t borrow a device, write down your question and take it back to the Q&A moderator & they’ll get it in for you. Going to the mic is the last resort of the session moderator, so you stand a better chance of getting your question asked using this system instead. :-)

  • Daniel Redman

    I suppose the ‘guy who gets inappropriate’ is kinda this person, but what about the guy/girl who think’s they are on friggin’ spring break? They have a drink in their hand by 9am and can barely walk to the next preso by noon.

    • Rae Hoffman

      I’ve never drank at 9 am at a conference, but fully admit to regularly having a beer in hand before 5. The bar/drinking has always been an ingrained part of industry conferences… granted, folks should be able to walk til the sun goes down though… and most of the old school can hold their own.

    • Rae Hoffman

      And no, the guy who gets inappropriate is the guy who comes up to me and hands me my two favorite drinks and then makes a comment about how my nine year old daughter is as beautiful as me after calling my phone (listed on my site) five times to ask what I’m doing. Then he doesn’t understand why two guys are manhandling him to the other side of the room. A lot of people don’t realize there is a dark side to being “known.”

      • Daniel Redman

        Sounds like one helluva business contact; maybe put their biz card in a glass case, right next to your bloody tire iron.

      • Alysson

        Can anyone say “CREEPTASTIC”!?!? It’s no different than the Twitter stalker whose first @reply comes about 0.2 seconds after your first tweet of the day & who tweets the same damn question 6 times in 20 minutes. If you’re that dude, endless tweeting and “What are you doing?” text messages is not an effort to “build rapport”. It’s creepy.

        You may as well call up and say, “I like the sweater you wore today, but I didn’t like your hair…don’t wear it that way again.” KAPISH (or for those who know the proper Italian spelling, CAPISCI)?? While I’d like to think they’re harmless – like a the fat kid at camp that just wants more than anything to be your friend and tries WAY too hard – the truth is there are a lot of crazies out there, any one of which could be truly dangerous.

        Considering your reputation, Rae, that dude is lucky he’s just being manhandled to the other side of the room instead of out into the parking lot for an old fashioned ass beating or escorted off the premises by hotel security. :)

    • Lisa Barone

      Ha. It’s sad to watch adults try to live out their college glory days sometimes. :) If you can’t drink responsibly and in a way that doesn’t ruin you for the next morning…perhaps have a ginger ale instead. :)

    • Pam

      Drunk guy and inappropriate guy aren’t always the same. I’ve met plenty of creeptastic sober guys who have absolutely no idea that everyone is so offended by him that we’re all turning in circles trying to turn our backs to him as he sharks around the group trying to see who wants to come back to his room to “check out his site”.

  • Nick Mattern

    I never make these lists.


  • Dawn Wentzell

    What about the guy who stalks ME in the bathroom? I’m pretty sure you don’t want to meet him, either. #creepy

  • Carla

    How about the people who come into a presentation late, laden down with a laptop, a coffee, a laptop bag, a sandwich, an iPhone, a rucksack and another 10 things they really could have packed away IN the rucksack beforehand who sod about for 5 minutes trying to find an empty seat, then sod about for another 5 minutes setting up the laptop or trying to find their notepad and pad at the bottom of their bag and then leave 5 mins before the end thus disrupting everyone twice.

  • Michael Martin


    I seriously looked to see if you specifically put my name on this list, phew, made it past the one this year ;)

  • Stuart Foster

    Damn it. What about the guy who isn’t going?

    Then again…you’ve already met me…

  • Ross Hudgens

    Haha.. definitely expected to see some name listed here, but I should’ve known better. I would include the “guy who makes up for his entire high school/college career” in three days as an addendum.

  • Bob Thompson

    Haha… squishy frog. Actually, if you see one, would you grab it for me? That’s a fantastic office projectile.

    Oh, and you might want to carry a brick or something. Laptops are expensive.

    Enjoy the conference!

  • Todd Mintz

    I don’t think there is enough good Schwag at these conferences anymore to burden down anyone…other than that, spot on!

  • Wesley LeFebvre

    Ahh…too funny. Your posts usually are. I agree with Kenny, though. I was hoping for 11 names. But that would have been too easy, and mean.

    P.S. The Cuttlets photo made me quiver.

  • Andrew Shotland

    The guy who tweets every. single. thing

  • David Mihm

    Lisa, pay no attention the inappropriate guy talking to Andrew in jeans and tennis shoes that stares at you the whole time he’s talking about Local Search. He doesn’t mean anything by it :)

  • Andrew Shotland

    The guy who flirts with the hot blogger while he’s talking to me

  • john andrews

    $3 at Home Depot, hardly weighs anything and doesn’t take up much room. it makes the urgent live blogger who simply must have the power outlet, a lot less annoying. http://bit.ly/dzL7ry

    I’ve been wondering for years why no one as branded these things with a logo and given them away as conference swag. Way better than clicking oval-shaped magnet things, no?

    • Lisa Barone

      I usually go with the extension cord because I can’t always get that close to the outlet and still be able to see the projector or hear that well. I’m telling you, this blogging thing is harder than it looks. :)

  • Danny Sullivan

    I have one of those exact blocks in my computer bag at all times. And it was conference swag, too! But I agree, never understood why more companies don’t hand these out.

  • Alysson

    Since I won’t be at SMX, here’s a piece of advice for those who will be: bring Lisa a cookie or a piece of chocolate cake and you’ll have a friend for life. My work here is done…

  • Rick Glaser

    So basically the Cougar Saleswoman, who consumes a lot of electricity should not introduce herself?

  • Nathan Hangen

    Two things:

    1) I like cougars

    2) Thanks for not including the guy that drinks too much :)

  • Richard


    I look forward to the day I can attend a conference and follow your good advice.

    Chicago, IL

  • George Bounacos

    I won’t be at this one, but the BS artist is in there somewhere — usually around lunch. That’s the guy who sits down, asks everyone at the table what they do, probes *hard* for details and offers nothing in return. Invariably someone at the table attending their first conference talks too much to this person.

    Oh, and the invariable “I Know Everything In These Sessions” person. Not as annoying, but worth a quick head nod while you seek out someone who wants to chat, network, whatever and not be fawned over.

    True story: Several years ago, I was sitting next to Tamar in a session and we introduced ourselves. When she said, “I’m Tamar”, I replied “I know”. I honestly didn’t mean to sound creepy. It’s just I knew her stuff online and sounded like a stalker. So give some of us webgeeks the benefit of the doubt. We’re not all stalkers.

  • Victoria

    Ok, Lisa your blog posts from start to finish are GREAT!! Not only informative and amusing but the comments section are exceptional too and at times I am LMFAO…. and I mean ALL OFF. Have fun and looking forward to your live blogging sessions as I will be unable to be there. Cheers!

  • Paul

    Love it! How not to stalk Lisa Barone? Bring a sandwich

  • Brent D Payne

    Yes, yes. I read this just to make sure I wasn’t one of the 11 people. Whew!

    You, seriously, are one of my favorite writers in the industry at this point though (if not THE favorite). Engaging (I read the whole damn post and usually do) and with a witty tone to it.

    Nicely done . . . as always.

  • Christopher Hart

    I personally love that you took the list to 11 and didn’t end at 10 – just because you could!

  • Craig Mullins

    Great post Lisa. I especially liked the park about the Bruce Clay thing for conference introverts…

  • John

    Thanks. This was great. I shall take great care in avoiding those same 11 types in the future.