Meeting Jill Whalen

Jill and KalWell after nearly 8 years of communicating online, I’ve finally met Jill Whalen in person.

We’ve always talked about meeting up at one of the search engine conferences in the U.S. but I can never quite get my act (or budget!) together to make the long trip. When I heard that Jill was speaking at Webstock 2008 here in New Zealand, I figured it was my best chance to catch up with her so I registered and booked my flight from Christchurch to Wellington.

Originally I was planning on surprising Jill by just turning up to her session and tapping her on the shoulder, but then I thought that if I didn’t tell her I was coming, her schedule would be booked out and we wouldn’t have the chance for a major catch-up. So I emailed her to let her know I was coming. Turns out that she didn’t have any plans apart from the speaker’s dinner and was glad to find a playmate!

The day I arrived we had a brief chat over a drink at her hotel (The Museum Hotel) and then on Thursday night we had dinner at a Chinese restaurant. We originally planned to go to Restaurant 88, a well-known Vietnamese place but being Valentine’s Day, the place was booked solid and turned us away. So we went next door to a little Chinese restaurant instead. The photo above shows us at the restaurant Thursday night. As you can see by the empty chairs behind us, we stayed way longer than any other patrons and I think they were about to kick us out! Apologies for the grainy photo but my digital camera was playing up the whole trip.

It was great to chat to Jill and gossip about this crazy industry we work in. We talked quite a bit about the personalities in search and about the generation gap that is developing between SEO experts of our era and the new generation of SEO young guns climbing the charts. We also talked about the opportunities that conferences and events can provide for people in this industry and how it can make the difference between an SEO and what I call an SEO Rockstar. While talking to Jill, I realized that I had probably let quite a lot of opportunities for Search Engine College and my consulting business slide in the past because I haven’t really embraced the conference scene.

Anyway, it was just fantastic to meet Jill and be able to give her a real hug instead of a virtual one. She’s always been an inspiration and it was great to pick her brain and have a good old gossip. Maybe the next time we are both on the same continent we can meet up again eh Jill?

Spread the joy!