A couple Sundays back HostGator invited me to dinner at TAO on New York’s Upper East Side.
The dinner was called an affiliate appreciation dinner – as such I figured there would be several affiliates like me all butting for attention.
I was hesitant about going, I figured we may even have to give a speech!
But as is the case with many things in life – you just have to go! Once you do go, the opportunities come abound to those willing to take them.
In this post I’ll describe an unlikely encounter with a man many of us have seen on blogs or speaking events but may never get a couple seconds to chat. If you have an experience from meeting someone you’ve looked up to in blogging, let us know about your encounter in the comments!
First Person I Saw at TAO
When I got to dinner, I was pleasantly surprised. The upstairs of TAO was filled with a couple familiar faces, along with many folks from Endurance I eventually met, and some cool bloggers at HostingAdvice where I’ll hopefully write soon.
However, the first face I saw was John Chow. He was unmistakable from his “I’m blogging this” videos and training courses.
John was talking with Zac Johnson, another legendary figure in affiliate marketing royalty.
So naturally I took a huge route around the bar and talked golf with my boss and his friends, avoiding all famous bloggers.
I found myself talking to John from Endurance, and when I looked up from our in depth talking about Constant Contact, I realized everyone had taken their seats!
There we two seats left at a table that looks particularly intimidating – it was Johns table.
But John (Endurance John) lead me over and said those seats would work great for us.
So it began – an infinitely delicious prix fix meal. The table was booming with excitement – Syed Balkhi lead much of the talk with John, Zac, Zac’s Dad, John, and a nice couple from South Africa.
Of course, sitting immediately to Johns right, I was forced to either strike up convo or just awkwardly fight him for spare ribs. I took the former, and the result was incredible learnings!
10 Things I Learned Sitting Next to John Chow at Dinner
1. Always have a joke in your back pocket when introducing your blog
Why this lesson: When I was asked from all the away across our table by Syed what blog or website I run, because I was a new face, I said I ran a site called Dear Blogger where we help you guys start a wordpress blog. However his response was, “I’ve never heard of that one.” John was quick at the joking, saying how could he have not heard of it, it’s a blog about Deer, duh! So the whole table laughed, and I realized my need for a good joke next time someone puts me on the spot like that. Big thanks to John for helping me through that intro and making it memorable.
2. Keep a light attitude when dealing with big bloggers
Why this lesson: Honestly, if asked what we’d talk about at dinner with huge bloggers there, I would have guessed advanced subjects like managing huge email lists, how to beat out other big bloggers, how to rank #1 in Google and maybe even how to take over Google entirely. But the conversation was totally the opposite. These guys just wanted to talk about the food, how hungry they were and how jealous the readers would be at pictures and videos of the food. A few guys even joked about how they are starting new websites to make money off of teaching people how to make money, which I’m assuming was a bit of a light mock at John’s website (the first to truly teach people how to make money blogging).
3. Even the best bloggers create random content
During dinner John told me why he was taking videos of the food: so he’d have content for the blog! He had taken a couple videos of the affiliate conference earlier, and that made 3 videos, so he was good for the week! The videos didn’t have to be revolutionary or show us how to make something amazing, but they were clever and thoughtful, understanding of an audience that often just wants to see what us bloggers are up to.
4. Why you blog is as important as what you blog about
Several folks asked me throughout the night what I blog about. I felt that by telling folks I believe blogging answers really are hard to find and that we do really provide more answers than anyone else I was able to distinguish the blog from others. Even though just blogging about blogging is in itself a great deed! It’s just that when everyone at a dinner does this, you need to have a little edge, as many folks did.
5. How to’s are the future (in many niches)
Niches like…food consumption. This one needs a pic: here’s John Chow after doing a how to on how to get the meat of a spare rib and enjoy it deliciously.
Here’s me giving an I-don’t-know-what-to-do on film peace sign as John films our table✌️😜.
6. No question is off limits
No question is too big for bloggers who’ve experienced nearly everything online and have created a living traveling the world blogging. They’ve seen it all and heard it all. So the best way to make a personal connection with such bloggers is to ask questions which are different and even a bit risque. For example I had remember seeing John Chow on an episode of Below Deck Mediterranean when Shoe Money rented out the Yacht. Seeing as how Michelle is a big fan of Below Deck Med, I asked John to text Michelle a few little stories from the Yacht, and he abliged! You can imagine how stunned and entertained Michelle was, out with her girlfriends and a guy from Below Deck Med randomly texts her cool yacht stories from my phone.
7. Bring business cards even if they are old and goofy
I was able to hand out 3-4 and now have new guest posting opportunities that I otherwise would not have! Also I don’t have as many of those darn cards cluttering my living room now. Another neat trick I learned form my South African friends – you should give someone your phone, have them enter in their email, and send them a nice note in the moment! It’s like taking the business card step right out of the equation and gets a clever conversation going straight away!
8. People really want to network. Even those above you!
That’s it, just read that #8 line again, and remember it if you’re in potential networking space and don’t know what to say!
9. You aren’t that different from other bloggers in your niche
In fact, finding similarities and knowing them well enough to joke about them or improve on other people’s goals and agendas can be a really savvy way to talking about your business and theirs.
10. Last minute impressions are more important than first ones!
As I left the dinner, I was able to catch one more group with some really interesting folks I had met at the start of the night (on my first order at the bar). It was a group of about 5 folks in matching T-shirts, and I asked them how would a guy who runs a blog about blogging work with their company, HostingAdvice.com. I know what you’re thinking, just write a guest blog about web-hosting! It’s that easy! But I had to go up and interrupt these folks on their way out, and take the chance they would say no, we don’t work with bloggers, or something disappointing like that. But I made a strong impression at the exit, and the nicest of the crew, a girl I spoke with for several minutes, said they do blogger expert features and could maybe do one on me! Using the neat little email method from my South African friends, I gave her my phone and emailed her right there with a little joke from our convo, and now I’m applying to freelance for them, which would be a first for Dear Blogger!
Hear from you
So there you have it. One dinner, one Sunday night, leading to several new doors opening. I was so fortunate to meet bigs names like John, Zac and Syed. Now if we see eachother at a future event, we’ll have something to talk about!
Have you ever met one of your blogging idols? Where was it? Was it an expected or totally unexpected like mine? Let us know in the comments how it went meeting one of your blogging idols and how you found the confidence to get through it!