I made a realization the other day. There are a ton of us who travel across the country (and sometimes the continents) many times each year to travel to the same SEO focused conferences. Not one or two, but all of them.

I’m not saying there isn’t value in these conferences to people who wish to learn SEO or feel that their SEO skills can use improvement. There definitely is value. Right now, I’m talking to the highly experienced search marketer who attends all of them. You know who you are.

You go to all the conferences, never or rarely attend a session and hang out with the same small crowd of people you do at every other SEO conference you attend. You don’t mingle and let’s face it… these conferences have become vacations with friends more than they are business trips.

I’ve made the decision this year to cut back on the number of search specific related conferences I attend (no worries, I’ll never miss PubCon and plan to do one SES a year). I certainly don’t plan to cut back on conferences in general. I’m just… bored. I need to attend some events where I’ll be forced to mingle, where I’ll actually be getting information on a topic that I may not be highly experienced on and actually gaining knowledge and contacts outside the SEO sphere.

It’s easy to forget sometimes that even as SEO veterans, there are still a lot of sectors in or surrounding the online marketing arena that we can learn from. I plan to step out of my conference comfort zone this year and below is a listing of conferences I came across that have a different sphere they’re encased in.

I can’t attend them all, but I will be attending some. And if you want to grow your contacts, your knowledge and your business, you might want to consider attending at least one conference outside your comfort zone too.

The Web 2.0 Expo
eMarketing Association EM Events
Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition
The Atlantic Internet Marketing Conference
International Word of Mouth Marketing Conference
Gnomedex (I’ll be attending)
Podcast and New Media Expo
Nielson Norman Group Usability Conference
Affiliate Summit (I’ll be attending – yes I’m a veteran affiliate, but virgin to this conference and it is really about time I attended one)
Blog World Expo (I’ll be attending)
Blog Business Summit
PostieCon (I’ll be attending)
Community Next Conference
BlogHer Conference
Woodstock 2.0 Expo (new and looks promising – hat tip to dogballs)
International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media
Digital Hollywood (so wish I could do this one – bad timing, next one for sure)
Forrestor’s Marketing Forum
Word of Mouth Marketing Association Conference
Emetrics Summit
Public Relations Society of America Conference
Online News Association Conference
SMX Social Media
SMX Local and Mobile
Kelsey Group’s Interactive Local Media Conference
iMedia Connection Summits
PPC Summit
Streaming Media East Conference and Exhibition
Supernova Conference
Where 2.0 Conference
Inbox: The Messaging Industry Event
Interactive Media Conference and Tradeshow
International World Wide Web Conference

So get yourself out of the SEO sphere a bit – learn something new this year, make some new connections and find some new creative ideas.

And if you’re looking for someone to blame for starting the whole “Internet marketing conference phenomenon” or like being nostalgic, here you go: