I came across this post on Shoemoney.com the other day that talked about the kind of behaviors that would get an SEO professional ousted from the SEO inner circle (or banned for life from ever joining). It got me thinking, why are we all so concerned with being in the “in crowd?” Whether it’s our personal or professional life, we all want to belong to these almost mythical groups of “cool” people. I think it all started way back in Junior High when no one wanted to sit alone at lunch, but this mentality that we have to be in the inner circle in order to make it has carried over into our professional careers.
This is a post for any newcomers to SEO that are worried that because they aren’t part of the mysterious SEO inner circle they will never be able to make it as an SEO professional. While being part of (or at least recognized by) that SEO inner circle can help establish your reputation in the industry as an authority figure, not being included with the cool kids does not mean that you should give up on your SEO plans!
I have never been a huge fan of SEO industry conferences. I think they are a great resource for someone that needs to learn a lot of information in a short amount of time, and speaking at a conference can help promote your company brand and build authority, but my end goal is not to network with other SEO professionals—it’s to land a new client. Very rarely are potential SEO clients attending these industry conferences and tradeshows. More often than not it’s other SEO professionals looking to connect with members of the SEO inner circle. And while networking is important, it’s not my favorite activity. I’d rather take the couple grand it would cost to attend a conference (once you factor in airfare, hotel, car rental, food, etc) and spend a little extra on my content marketing or test out a few new banner ads—things that might help get my company a new client.
Many new SEO professionals are operating on a shoestring budget as is. I remember when I first started my business that I would take any client I could find, no matter how little or how crummy of a job it was, because I didn’t have any other options. Going to an industry conference to network and schmooze and try to work my way into the SEO inner circle wasn’t a financial possibility, even if I had wanted to attend every SEO conference possible to learn from the SEO masters.
I know a lot of new SEO professionals are looking to connect with the SEO inner circle because they have a wealth of information and years of knowledge to dispense. These guys have their fingers on the pulse of the SEO industry and always seem to know what’s coming down the pipeline. But here’s the thing, almost all of these guys have blogs, personal websites and social media accounts where I can learn everything I could ever want and more from them! I don’t have to fight my way into the SEO inner circle to learn, it’s all just a quick search away. Today’s online world is so transparent that you don’t need to be in the in crowd to know what the in crowd knows.
Having a piece of your content catch the eye of the SEO inner circle is great. A retweet from Danny Sullivan or Rand Fishkin is going to do wonders for your reputation among the rest of us SEO folk—but do your clients really know who Danny Sullivan and Rand Fishkin are? While being “in” with the SEO inner circle makes you look great to other SEO professionals, unless your clients are involved in the world of SEO (in which case, why are they looking to hire an outside SEO professional?), chances are it won’t do you much good in landing that client.
Now I am not suggesting that you completely forgo any attempts to make members of the SEO inner circle respect you and your work. The SEO industry is has enough rude, ruthless and disrespectful members; we don’t need any more. What I’m saying is that you don’t have to be so focused on getting into that inner circle right from the start. Focus on doing great work for your clients, building your business and developing your own voice as an authority figure. The respect of the industry will be earned in time.