Well I managed to get a couple of hours’ worth of sleep at least.  Showered, dressed but not really refreshed, I took the time to nip across to the Walgreens across the road from the hotel to do a little present shopping before jumping on the shuttle to the conference with everyone else.  It wasn’t even 9am yet, but it was HOT!  The biggest thing I took away from the whole thing was just how hot it was the entire time.  Remember, just a day before I was in the UK where temperatures were hovering around the 0 degree range.  Hot weather and I do not get along.  Anyway, the journey took about 20 minutes, and I got to check out the area as I went along.  Miami is a really pretty place.  It’s very colourful for sure.  Lots of pastel colours everywhere.  I’d only seen it on TV and read about it in books before, so it was a real experience.  The conference center was huge.  I didn’t even realize there was a room being used upstairs for a while.  Most of the morning was spent talking to people about what we do.  There’s always a “speed conferencing” session on the first morning, and that gave me a chance to speak to other people who likely wouldn’t usually have approached me.  Imagine speed dating, but with company owners instead of people looking for love.  Cards were exchanged, introductions made and lots of people were left confused by the fact we’re not about making money but helping people for free.  This is a conference for the industry to exchange ideas on how to bring more people to your site and increase revenue.  We’re there saying “nah, we’re all about giving out free advice” and it leaves them scratching their heads.  Some people though did get it and commended us on what we do.  If you ever do visit an iDate conference, then this session is definitely worth attending.  After that, it was back to pressing flesh in the lobby until lunch.

Lunch was amazing.  Really really good.  The weather was so bright that it was done outside.  Too bright for me, not helped by the fact I’d left my glasses in the hotel room, so I took mine indoors and was joined by a few other people.  Most people did enjoy their lunch outside, but it wasn’t for me.  By this point I’d already made some pretty good new contacts and caught up with some people I’d met at previous events so the morning was very good for us.  The afternoon was pretty much the same – shaking hands, exchanging details, discussing what we do and attending talks.  This isn’t our first time, so we know how it goes.  We were even offered a few suggestions on what to do to help increase our outreach that we hadn’t thought of before.  That alone made it worth it and we’re looking to implement them in the very near future.  Partway through the afternoon, Steve Baker from the Federal Trade Commision walked in, saw me and immediately came to chat with me.  We’d originally met in Vegas the year before, and we’ve been exchanging emails ever since.  He told me he’s retiring this year, and I really hope we can have the same kind of relationship with his successor.  He’s also considering either writing a book or starting a blog.  If he does, you can be sure we’ll be checking it out.  Did I mention he’s a really nice guy?  No?  Well, he’s a really nice guy.

So day 1 was over, and we all got back to the hotel to freshen up before the iDate awards which were being held in the hotel.  This year I was presenting an award for best new technology.  Time to put on that suit I own but practically never wear.  Before the ceremony there was free drinks and finger food.  How can I put this politely – the food at the conference was much MUCH better.  The meal itself during the awards was better, but still not brilliant.  The ceremony itself though was a complete blast.  I missed out on it last year, but I’m glad I attended it this year.  There were also plenty of photo opportunities to be had.  All in all, a good night, and our friend Svetlana Mucha won an award, so I’m really pleased with that.  After the ceremony, I skipped the party and went back to my room to catch up on a few things before getting to bed.