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What to Expect at eBay Live!

An eBay insider offers tips to help you get the most out of eBay's annual conference.

In a previous column, I asked readers to write to me and let me know how they were dealing with the eBay fee increase that took effect earlier this year. Admittedly, I have a bunch of savvy readers: Most everyone took the rate increase in stride, made adjustments and went on with their business. Interestingly, since I applied my changes in February, my combined eBay and PayPal fees now hover at around 9 percent of my total sales. Not bad!

Kudos to one part-time eBay seller who decided to close her store. She waited a few months and then reopened her store--getting the first month free. She figures now she's even with the eBay fee increases.

As I write this, I'm planning my annual trek to the eBay Live! community conference. It's the annual eBay extravaganza that every eBay user should attend. This year it's to be held in San Jose, California, from June 23 through June 25. I know of no other event that's a nonstop, full-tilt, fun and education fest rolled into a few crazy days.

If you've never attended an eBay Live!, here's the type of thing you can look forward to doing:

  • Classes, roundtables and seminars. These are designed for all levels of eBay user, from beginner to Titanium Power Seller ($150,000 in gross sales per month). There's always something you'll find interesting. I used to teach the Basic Selling classes, but now I'm firmly ensconced in instructing on "How to start your eBay business." I'm also moderating a panel discussion on marketing, which should be of benefit to all eBay sellers.
  • Keynote events. There's always a "main stage" set up at the event, and exciting things happen there at different times. Meg Whitman, eBay's CEO, gives a keynote address on the first night. Other events on the main stage usually include chats with eBay nobility such as eBay's founder Pierre Omidyar and startup eBay employees Jeff Skoll and Jim Griffith. In previous years, we were also treated to special events as exciting as a live performance of the "eBay Song" by "Weird Al" Yankovic.
  • Trade show expo. I just can't get enough of the eBay expo area! It's aisle after aisle of booths filled with eBay, supplier and vendor exhibits. There's nothing more fun than learning about services that can help you grow your business on eBay. You get to talk to the people who understand your eBay business and have invented ways to make your life easier. eBay also has a large portion of the exhibit area that's filled with their own exhibits. Here you get to meet the category and department bigwigs.
  • Closing night gala. eBay plans at least one evening event that's free to all eBay Live! attendees. The closing night gala includes music, dancing and lots of good food and friendship. Here's your chance to meet and talk to other users and eBay employees in a casual setting and maybe get some "off the record" gossip.

One of my favorite features of eBay Live! is the camaraderie you feel with other attendees. Everyone's so friendly that all you have to do is start talking to the person standing next to you and you'll often find you've got plenty in common.

Besides the events and features I listed above, I thought I'd include some special tips from those in the know:

  • Don't miss the eBay games. Here you'll find eBay employees manning carnival style games. The only difference between the eBay games and the carney versions is that the prizes awarded by eBay are actually worth something.

To get ready to play--or even if you're not attending eBay Live!--visit eBay's new secret "game area" and play Flippy Cards.

  • Pins! Pins! Pins! One of the top attractions at eBay Live! is pin collecting, and this year promises not to disappoint. eBay employees will once again be giving away pins to attendees. It's always fun to trade with others to complete a full set. And I bet you wouldn't be surprised to here that once veteran eBay sellers collect full sets, they start acquiring duplicates to sell on eBay (for those who couldn't make it to the convention).

Also, many savvy exhibitors in the expo area will have special custom pins made just for eBay Live!, and they give them away from their booths. Often, these pins are in higher demand than some of the eBay pins.

  • Bring an extra bag for goodies. Think about bringing a roller-style bag with you to the event. So many goodies are given away at the show you may quickly fill up a shoulder-slinging tote bag. Or your tote will become too heavy and you'll stop picking up some of the fun giveaways.
  • Talk to the experts. Be sure to get into discussions with the eBay staff, especially the ones manning the booth that represents your favorite category. They're there to listen--they want to improve the site for sellers and they can do that based on your comments. So speak up! Engage!
  • Visit the new eBay Live! blog. In the community area of the eBay site, members can get constant updates by checking out the blog. The "Chatter" staff, with the help of other eBay employees, will be reporting online to provide event highlights. There'll also be lots of event photos to view. So if you can't attend, be sure to read the blog daily--it'll be almost as good as being there.

In next month's column, I'll fill you in on all the exciting things that went on at the 2005 eBay Live! I hope to meet many of you there, so please stop me and say hi. This year's eBay Live should be the best ever!

Marsha Collier, a successful eBay PowerSeller, is the author of the bestselling eBay references, eBay for Dummies, 4th Edition and Starting an eBay Business for Dummies.

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