My top 6 takeaways from Big Digital Adelaide

My top 6 takeaways from Big Digital Adelaide

Or, what you REALLY learn at business conferences

“I don’t like events, and I don’t do networking.”

This was me a couple of years ago. A committed business hermit whose only concession to getting out there was a rampant Facebook addiction.

But recently I’ve started to do a bit more humaning—shaving my back hair, getting out of my jim jams and heading into the real world of business.

In fact, I just got back from the Big Digital Adelaide event. And it’s completely changed my view of events and networking.

So while I could have done a round up of the excellent digital knowledge I gleaned from the conference, I thought  I’d share some of the business lessons I learned instead.

(But if you scroll to the bottom you’ll also find my downloadable notes from the event).

Lesson 1: We all have imposter syndrome

There were some big names and experienced speakers at Big Digital. But there were also a lot of first-timers and relative newbies—including me.

While I’ve run countless training events for clients and my own workshops, I’ve only spoken at a few big events.
I was nervous. Worried my content wasn’t pitched at the right level. Worried about overlap with other speakers.

Worried I’d fluff my lines.

Worried I didn’t look the part.

But after talking to the other speakers, it quickly became apparent that everyone feels that way.

Even the big guys get that twisty tummy feeling before they hit the stage.

And although it does get easier, public speaking is never easy.

I learned that I LOVE public speaking, and that this is definitely a direction I want to head in.

So hey, if you’re reading this and thinking, “We want Kate Toon at our event”, check out my speaker page. #shamelessplug

Kate toon speaker

It was a dark room, but I was grateful for that.


Lesson 2: In person (generally) beats online

I have a lot of online work buddies. Some I’ve been talking to for five or six years, but we’ve never actually met. I rarely meet my clients or my students. Instead, I live in the world of Zoom and Skype and Blabbing.

At the conference I met several online buddies in the flesh.

And the majority were effing awesome. I can’t mention everyone I saw at the event—it would take way too long. But here are some of the extra special ones:

Tony McCreath, Dan Petrovic, Aaron Agius, Chris Burgess, Peter Mead, Karen Dauncey, Reeva Cutting, Sha Menz, Joel Klettke, Bryant Garvin, Dawn Anderson, Nicole LeedhamWoj Kwasi and Natasha Kwasi.

* If you were special and I failed to mention you, I apologise profusely.

On the flipside, a few people who I’d been following for yonks (and sharing their content like a raving loon), were seriously standoffish in person.

Note to self: It only takes a few seconds to give a ‘fan’ a smile and a kind word.

At networking events, I believe, it’s better to be a hot cod than a cold fish.


Dan from Dejan #seo

A photo posted by Kate Toon (@katetoon) on

Hangin out with cool #SEO dudes like @aaronagius1 A photo posted by Kate Toon (@katetoon) on



Lesson 3: Don’t judge an American by their whoop

I was keen to see most of the presenters at Big Digital. But I’ll admit I’m not generally a woo woo type of person. So when I saw Melanie Spring  in the line-up, talking about Rocking your Brand, I didn’t think it would be my thing. But it was so my thing. This lady has an infectious energy and enthusiasm that could make even the dourest grump smile. She makes the Chewbacca mask lady look like a manic depressive. And thankfully her woo is backed up by smarts. She gave me some excellent speaking advice, we shared some giggles, and I ‘accidentally’ groped her thigh. #WIN

Hanging out with the gals @melaniespring @natashakwasi

A photo posted by Kate Toon (@katetoon) on


Lesson 4: People want you to succeed

I was cray cray nervous about speaking in front of my peers. I was terrified of being called out and heckled.

But the overwhelming vibe I got from the event was encouragement.
It was the embodiment of that classic quote:

“I’m not interested in competing with anyone. I hope we all make it.”

Even though many people at the event were doing similar things, each had their own way of doing it. 

And I left feeling there was room enough for all of us.


Lesson 5: Events inspire action

I went to Big Digital to present, get my brand out there, and learn from other speakers.

But the truth is I got so much more out of it than that. Here are some of the unexpected outcomes I’ve had so far:

  • Booked two new guests for the Hot Copy podcast
  • Found a new potential AdWords partner
  • Agreed to possibly co-create a series of SEO webinars
  • Persuaded six guests to join my SEO video interview series
  • Was offered an introduction to the organiser of another event for a potential speaking role
  • Was interviewed for a blog post about the event (thanks Peter)
  • Was kinda asked back to present at Big Digital again next year

Not bad, huh?


Lesson 6: The devil is in the detail

I went to another event just a few days before Big Digital. And despite being twice the price for just one day (Big Digital runs over two), I was less than impressed.

The vibe was depressing, the venue was drab, some of the speakers were a little flat, and the biscuits were appalling.

If I’m paying top dollar for an event I want Ladurée Sydney macaroons, not stale Jammie Dodgers.

So while great content and great speakers are important, I think an event lives or dies by the quality of its biscuits.


And what else?

You’re probably thinking,

“That’s great, Kate. But what digital marketing tips did you learn? And why aren’t you sharing them?”

Well, here are three things that stood out to me:

  • Google AMP is a THING, and will likely be rolled out to all content
  • Optimising for featured snippets is a great way to outrank competitors
  • You can’t optimise for RankBrain – it’s just Hummingbird’s assistant

You can download some of my preso notes here:


And how did your preso go down?

It went awesome, thanks for asking. Heaps of positive feedback, including a few who said it was the highlight of the event. Swoon!

It was so well received that I’ve decided to turn it into a budget-friendly webinar. BLOG LESS. BLOG BETTER!

You can register for your spot here:

blog better


So in summary I’m now a confirmed networker, and setting aside a big fat chunk of my business budget for events.


Book your tickets for next year

And if you’re keen to head to Big Digital next year, early bird tickets are already on sale.

Psst: There are only 100 available, and I suspect they’re going to sell out lickety split, so get on it!




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