On 8th and 9th June 2017, I attended CMA Live 2017.
So what is CMA Live?
It is an annual Content Marketing Academy event, led by Chris Marr and held in Edinburgh. Notice that I didn’t say “conference”. Even though you could call it that, it feels different from any other conference I’ve ever attended.
And I’ve been to dozens of them over the years.
Back in April 2017, I joined the Content Marketing Academy membership, a community full of business people who want to master the art of content marketing.
As well as countless numbers of exclusive webinars, videos and a Slack group with over 100 members, the company also hosts CMA Live.
I am not going to review what has happened during #CMALive2017 and all the talks that have occurred. I will leave that to my fellow CMA members below who have created brilliant reviews.
Instead, I will list the 9 things I learnt from attending CMA Live 2017, which you can learn from too.
1. Being Part of a Community Can Make a Difference to Your Business
I am lucky enough to be part of several different communities.
On top of CMA, I am also heavily involved in the WordPress community. Not only are there several Slack groups and countless WordCamps to attend around the world, but even the local meetups are hugely beneficial to my business and also really good fun to be involved with it.
And to some extent, I am also part of the digital marketing community online, particularly on Twitter, and I’m connected with dozens of people. There isn’t a specific platform as such, but there are a number of annual conferences to attend.
What I’ve learned is that being part of a community lends you a huge amount of support, be it for your business or personal life.
You have access to some brilliant and clever people who can answer your questions very quickly and allow you to move forward with your business.
And you can also build connections and make new friends, which can improve your mental health, self-confidence and happiness.
The negative? Well you can easily join too many communities and spread yourself too thin.
In all the excitement of seeing a shiny new membership community (and I’ve had that), it’s easy forget about how much spare time you have to get something out of it.
But I advise you to be a part of your own community, be it online, offline or both. Maybe you can join a local Meetup (something which I do for WordPress here in Edinburgh).
Or you can look online to see what works for you, like I do with CMA.
2. Being Around Like-Minded People Can Enhance Your Knowledge
The right community, events and conferences can be like a gold-mine to your brain.
You could know very little about a specific topic but just by being around the right people can really open your mind.
And even if you are considered to be an expert, you are guaranteed to learn something new by being around the right people.
There is something special in surrounding yourself with clever people. Don’t expect or demand that everyone should help you out, though. There is an element of give and take.
But more often than not, you can ask just about anything (within reason) and someone will help you out.
3. The Right Community Can Be Like Your Family
The general support you can receive from a community can provide some much needed support when things are tough.
Being an entrepreneur has its own set of challenges. But sharing that with others can provide a huge sense of relief.
Not only will sharing your story provide you with a huge weight off your shoulders and receive support from others, but you can also learn from other people’s experience.
One example is by one of the lightning speakers, the awesome Yva Yorston who shared her struggles with her business. But then highlighted her support network at CMA, which has helped her through.
— CMA (@hellocma) June 9, 2017
Thankfully, this has helped her to keep going, fight the struggle and she hasn’t looked back.
4. Chatting with Well-Known Keynote Speakers is Hugely Inspiring
One of the best things about going to conferences is to hear some well-known speakers sharing their words of wisdom and practical advice you can implement in your business.
The next best thing is the opportunity to actually have one-on-one conversation with them.
I was lucky to spend some time chatting with one of my online heroes, Chris Ducker.
Not only did he push everyone to start creating live videos, but he also made the time to talk to lots of people.
I have had a few collaborations with Chris Ducker over Instagram Stories a few times. I was making fun of him. He laughed at that and said I should keep doing it.
What a guy! 🙂
Another person who was generous with her time was Erika Napoletano.
Erika did a keynote talk about being brave when finding your voice, your branding (even if it means swearing) while allowing yourself to be vulnerable and using that fear to drive you.
I admit, I was up-to-speed with what Erika does until, in the build up to event, I started learning more about her.
And she rocks!
After spending some time chatting to her, she offered her time to help me out with clarifying my message and communication.
And boy, did she help!
At first, I was hesitant and didn’t want to take up her time.
But then she reminded me that she was offering and I should “fucking take that chance” (in a nice way…I think!).
Naturally, I quickly said yes, and I couldn’t be more grateful.
5. Membership Communities or Conferences are Better Than Business Networking Events
If you choose to join a specific community or conference, more often than not, they match your needs.
For example, if you are a fan of comics, it makes sense for you to go to ComicCon as well as being part of an online community.
Or perhaps you are passionate about food. It would make sense for you to join something akin to a local club where you have your own allotment to grow vegetables.
But joining a business networking event can be too broad, or irrelevant and may bore you.
I’ve attended a couple before…and quickly left a couple of times.
If you attend an event, you are most likely not there to be pitched.
As someone who has worked at a position for a very reputable fashion company in the past, I became like the go-to person for many agencies and software providers once they heard who I work for.
I should clarify – I don’t mind talking to those who may have something to offer. But if it’s a no, you are focusing on selling or you are being too pushy, I’m not going to say yes.
So get used to it!
6. Feel Like You Belong
Have you ever tried sharing your latest business dilemmas or current success with a group of friends or family?
Or even want to discuss something business related with them?
What do you expect the general response to be?
Pretty flat, right?
It’s not their fault. The people that are around can be supportive, but they will not be able to resonate with you, provide solutions or be excited about your achievements.
They just can’t relate to it.
Being part of the right group of people can make you feel as if you belong.
That you are not a freak or weird because you get excited about your new printed t-shirts from a recent conference (guilty!)
7. Action Speaks Louder Than Words
It’s all well and good learning, listening and reading all the words of wisdom.
So, after soaking in some knowledge and making notes, it’s time to put it into action.
Unless you are like Karen Reyburn, where you just want to look at your beautiful notes all day long:
— Karen Reyburn (@karenlreyburn) June 9, 2017
But there is a quote by Chris Marr which I love: “If you are not creating content, you don’t exist”.
And that is so true!
You’re not doing anything unless you apply your knowledge and start creating content.
Which brings me to my next point…
8. Stop Procrastinating and Get Moving
Similar to above, the longer you dwell and “think” about doing what you are meant to do to grow your business, the more you are holding back your business.
So stop thinking about it and get going.
What if someone else has started creating something that is exactly like you? How would you feel if that person is ahead of the game because he/she has actually moved forward with an idea that is exactly like yours.
It’s not a nice feeling, right?
So after making your notes and soaking in all the information, get moving.
9. Be Social and Have Fun Too
The word “hustle” has become such a glorified word but as Jeff Goins has stated, “success isn’t a mad dash”.
Enjoying the journey is also part of the experience.
If enjoying the journey is working at least 16 hours per day, then you go for it.
But part of the experience of entrepreneurship is to celebrate the success, collaborate with other people and also socialising with them too.
You can be successful but still enjoy yourself with social events too, just like the brilliant duo Andrew & Pete.
Not only have they built up a successful creative content marketing membership community and shared their stories at CMA Live 2017, but like the other speakers, they also fully immersed themselves in the social events too.
CMA Live 2017 Review
Instead of writing my own reviews, I thought of sharing reviews that other attendees have written and created so brilliantly.
- John Espirian, a technical copywriter but also a very clever and brilliant person, has written an extensive review of the event on his blog: https://espirian.co.uk/cma-live-2017/
- The brilliant Anne Johnston, who is a wedding photographer, has written a review about her first experience attending CMA Live. Needless to say, she loved it: https://annejohnstonphotography.com/cma-live-2017-review/
- You don’t have to write a review (or content in general) just on your site, like Russ Haworth who has written about his experience on LinkedIn:
- Ross Caverdale (otherwise known as Rad) who helps with creative editing, design and distribution talked about how this event has changed his life: http://www.radcreatives.co.uk/cma-live-changed-life/
- During CMA Live, another event was held in the US, which was also called CMA but stands for Country Music Award, much to David Withington’s amusement: http://davidwithington.com/what-is-cma-live/
- Gudrun Lauret has written about her own experience too:
- A different way of writing a review is to do some live blogging during the event, like Claire Brotherton did: https://www.abrightclearweb.com/cma-live-2017-liveblog/
- Cathy Wassell has been to many boring conferences. But things changed when she went to CMA Live: http://sociallycontented.com/social-media-management/youre-going-attend-event-make-good-one/
- The same with Simon Godrey, who has expressed his enjoyment of his experience: http://www.simonsocialmedia.com/i-went-to-cma-live-2017-and-it-was-amazing/
- Another brilliant review is by Danielle Walton, who has gone into detail about the individual talks as well as highlighting the value of having the right people around you in a community: https://www.colintonfurniture.co.uk/blog/experience-best-content-marketing-conference-uk-cma-live-2017/
- One of the the unsung heroes of CMA Live 2017, Vicky Gunn (aka Vicky Beach Hut), was an essential part of the team who helped make sure the event, as well as CMA, ran smoothly. Vicky has chosen to write specifically about keynote speaker Erika Napoletano in a personal yet passionate way:
And there has been a few videos/vlog reviews on the event too:
- Colin Gray, the go-to guy for podcast advice, has created a brilliant round-up video about his experience and takeaways from attending the event:
- Colin also did a live podcast on the day, interviewing many attendees about their experiences, including myself:
- There are is also a dedicated vlog by Gavin Bell, who did a brilliant job of capturing the essence of the event:
- Roger Edwards, who was one of the speakers (and a damn good one too), has vlogged his way around and talked about his takeaways and how they will improve his (and your) brand:
- Popular CMA member and regular attendee Col Gray, a graphic designer, has given his takeaways plus a review on his YouTube video:
- Another one by Andrew Bond who was so inspired by the event, that he decided to do his first vlog:
- One of the lightening speakers Yva Yorston has done a brilliant Facebook Live video and blogged about her experience at CMA Live:
- And something different to showcase are the beautiful sketch notes that Karen Reyburn doodled during the event: https://theprofitablefirm.com/cma-sketch-notes/
The main lesson I want you to take from this is to find your own community and be part of a network that you are passionate about.
You just never know how it can impact your business and your life.
So I urge to find your own community, whether it’s for fun as a hobby, or for your business.
Have I convinced you? Are you thinking of joining a community or attending a conference?
Or do you have any other reasons why being part of a community can, and have, made a big difference to your life?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Latest posts by Ahmed Khalifa (see all)
- ‘Tools of Titans’ by Tim Ferris – Book Review [Video] - 26th November 2019
- ‘Atomic Habit’ – Book Review on How to Create Good Habits & Remove Bad Habits - 5th October 2019
- Why is My WordPress Site So Slow & How Can I Fix it? - 1st October 2019