Whether you’re an experienced veteran of the show or a first-time attendee, Affiliate Summit is a high energy event that can grow your business if you go in prepared. Longtime attendee Adam Riemer would like to help you with this by sharing how he maximizes his time and gets the most out of each show. This post is split into three parts. They go in order so you don’t miss any opportunities. Choosing sessions Setting up meetings Events and solidifying partnerships Choosing Which Sessions to Go To Although the show is known for its networking, you do not want to miss the chance to learn from experienced professionals within your niche. The topics change each show but there’s always valuable information about SEO, monetization, success stories from 6 and 7 figure affiliates as well as keynotes to help inspire you. When planning your schedule, start by thinking about what you want to learn and then look at the sessions grid that can be found on the website. First look for the topics you want to hear about. Then scan through the descriptions and the titles to look for people covering the topics. Next, write down the speaker’s names and do a quick search for them to make sure they can cover at a level you want or need. If you’re a mid-level SEO but need advanced tech SEO, visit the speakers’ blogs or where they contribute content too and see if they can help troubleshoot or speak at a level where you’ll learn. If it’s recruiting bloggers for your program or removing adware, click on the relevant categories on their sites and see if they provide the content that can help you. This way during the Q&A portions you can have a better chance at getting responses that will help you. Now open the calendar on your phone and add the sessions into it. Make sure to include: Time Room # or Name Session Title Speaker you’re most interested in and the question you wanted to ask *Pro tip - if you’re changing time zones, make sure to update for the time zone of the show or your calendar may not give you the reminder. The last thing to do is to try and connect with the speakers. LinkedIn and sometimes Facebook are great ways. You can also reach out through their company website, personal blogs or other places they’re active. Just make sure you are personal with it. If you’re sending a request on LinkedIn, don’t just say I’m attending Affiliate Summit, say something more customized and personal like Hi, My name is XYZ and I’m looking forward to your session at Affiliate Summit called XYZ. My goal is to learn more about blue widgets and I’m looking forward to seeing you cover it. If you have some time beforehand, and you’re open to sharing some info, I’d love to connect at the show as well. Remember, the speakers are there to build business, many are happy to share some knowledge for free and within reason, but be respectful of their time if you do not plan on hiring them. Setting Up Meetings This seems easy, right? Well maybe, until you see how many people are attending. This is where being strategic comes in. But before we go into how to pitch and prepare, make sure you gather these things and place them with the time into your phone’s calendar with a reminder. The person’s mobile phone number and email What the meeting is about Where you’re supposed to meet Any talking points that you don’t want to forget A link to a social profile with a clear headshot image so you can recognize them First, go to the attendee’s list on the website. You won’t find any names or contact info, but you will see which companies are going to be there. If it’s a brand or a store, chances are it is an affiliate manager or marketing manager/director. Try finding them on LinkedIn or through the affiliate email on the website. LinkedIn can be good too. If it’s an affiliate, look at their website and write to see who will be attending. If you’re looking for networks, agencies or vendors, try the general marketing email or PR email and ask who will be attending and if they can connect you. There’s always a way to reach the person who is going to the show. *Pro tip - The show has an app and a networking platform. Although not everyone is active on it, you can find lots of the people you want to connect with. Make sure you download and use both. Once the show gets closer, you’ll see a lot more activity. Now it’s time to prepare for your meetings. These ones are not like your normal and should be handled unique. Below you’ll find ways to prepare based on meeting type. Affiliate pitches - If you’re pitching a new partner, do not talk about yourself. Talk about how your program or network will benefit them. Go to their website first and look for relevant content that matches your products and services. You can also ask your SEO team or agency to pull a traffic and keyword report. This gives you places to mention which products are a fit on their site and why. Here’s a post I did on how to pitch an affiliate so you can see how mine are organized. Merchants - The goal here is the reverse. It is up to you to show how you add value to their store. If you’re an affiliate, show them stats on I have XY,000 visitors on these pages in this niche or about this topic. I want your product/service because it is a match and I feel it can convert. If you’re a network, bring examples of top partners and case studies that show similar companies or services and how they grow by listing their program or offers with you. Customization here is the key. If you take that extra step, they will remember you and you will get the advantage on follow-ups. Networks and Vendors - When pitching a network, unless they are very niche and selective, go in knowing what you’re willing to spend, what you’re looking for from them and any additional features. Include questions about compliance including adware, returns and not allowing your own traffic to be poached. Do not settle for generic answers and ask for specifics. This is what they do for a living. Then ask them how they can implement things like cross-device tracking, video links, cross-channel attribution and when the pixel fires vs. shouldn’t fire specific to your website and your shopping cart. If they can’t answer on the spot, don’t worry, they can research and give it to you after the show. The goal here is to know if they have the capabilities that meet your needs. OPMs, Agencies and Marketing Firms - This is where you need to be diligent. If the agency or network rep acting as one says we work with 100,000 affiliates, ask for specifics on how many are in your niche, active and driving sales regularly. There may only be 2 or 3. You also want to ask how they can add value and prevent traffic interception so your program adds value. That means not allowing sites to rank for your URL + phrases like coupons in Google. At the same time, some stores want this (I still don’t know why) so have them answer the pros and cons of it. You can also talk to them about how they interact and benefit other channels like email, PR, influencer, and SEO. See if they’ll follow your guidelines. For example, if its SEO, you’ll want to send a list of sites which they are not allowed to reach out too because they have backlinks to your store. By replacing the backlinks with affiliate links, your site’s SEO will get hurt. Challenge them on this as well and ask questions about ensuring CAN-SPAM compliance, nexus laws, and other things. It’s important to make sure your agency knows their channel in and out and will have you and your affiliates’ best interest in mind, not their own. The recurring theme for meetings is to be prepared. Time is valuable here and you only have 15 to 30 minutes to make a lasting impression. Make sure you not only customize your pitches to show how the other party will benefit but make sure you ask the right questions and get exact answers so you know you’re selecting the right partnerships and solutions. Events and Solidifying Partnerships Now that you’re schedule is filling up, it’s time to also plan some fun. There are numerous awesome events from network parties to the Affiliate Ball. See, even work can be fun. Start by reading the Affiliate Summit blog for event and party announcements and look to see which need invitations and which are public. If you need an invitation and you work with the company, write to them directly. If you work with partners who work with them and you know they’re invited, you may be able to tag-a-long, but check first since you don’t want to be turned away at the door. Sometimes there will be a list of attendees at the event, so look to see if there is someone you wanted to connect with but couldn’t get in contact with. This is the perfect opportunity to get them in a more relaxed setting, but be respectful as they may be ready to relax and not talk too much about work. Last make sure you leave time for dinner. Many attendees will forget breakfast or lunch, but you need to eat and keep your energy up. Schedule at least an hour long break before the evening events to at least grab a slice of pizza or a burger. You can also look for attendees that you want to connect with an offer to buy them a meal. It’s a great way to get one on one time or build a relationship with a small group. If you’re treating, then you get the recognition and a chance to really make a positive impact. This is how I’ve personally built some of my most important relationships. I invited a friend to dinner who was also friends with the person I wanted to meet. That person joined and we were able to build the relationship we needed. Affiliate Summit is an amazing opportunity to grow your business. The trick is to maximize your time and make a lasting impact. Most attendees are not going to take the extra step and customize why they’re a match. By doing this you’ll be in the top 5% and you may get more from the show and build long-lasting relationships that help you throughout your career. Adam is a two-time Pinnacle award winner for Affiliate Manager of the year who has attended 20+ Affiliate Summits. He helps companies from startups, bloggers and influencers to the Fortune 500 with affiliate management, SEO and monetization strategy. Contact him through his blog AdamRiemer.me and see how he can help you with your digital strategies today.