Prior to speaking at Show Me the Blog St. Louis I saw a few tweets and blog posts from other attendees offering advice on what to do, what to bring, and what to expect out of a first blogging or social media conference.
In the last year, I’ve found myself in front of audiences at conferences like Show Me the Blog more and more often. Something I find myself saying when I’m in front of those audiences is to remember that social media is social.
Attending a conference is social, too. People do business with people they know and like, and conferences are a great place to get to know people in your field or in your city. Call it personal branding or call it old fashioned friendliness, if you’re attending a conference, you should come ready to meet people and share yourself with them. The relationships that you form will pay dividends later.
I’d like to take a minute to shine the light on a few folks who I’ve come to know in real life largely through conferences that we’ve mutually attended and connected socially through.
@elmayuga Ed Mayuga and I met in the spring of 2010 at Market St. Louis Interactive Marketing Conference, bonding over social media and communications strategies for nonprofits. Ed owns AMM Communications, specializing in public relations, marketing , sales and social media. I look forward to continuing to cross paths with Ed.
@russhenneberry Russ Henneberry and I also met for the first time at Market St. Louis in the spring of 2010. Russ gave a presentation on generating quality content in social media, and I sat in the audience, grappling with what at the time were new ways of talking about things I didn’t realize that I was already doing. Russ knows his social media marketing, and he’s another of the St. Louis-area social medialites who I feel comfortable turning to for brainstorming or coaching. In fact, Russ and Ed offered me some pretty amazing support and conversation during the Show Me the Blog lunch break this weekend. Thanks guys!
@rizzotees Where to begin? Chris Reimer is one of the most influential people in St. Louis where online entrepreneurship and social media are concerned. No, really, he is. Besides being a social media rockstar, Chris is one of the only people I know whose career has successfully spanned non-profits and for-profits. He’s a family man, a t-shirt-seller dude, a marketing expert, and a really nice guy. Chris has been quick to offer me support and advice in my time back in the St. Louis area, and his kindness carries further than he knows. Thanks Rizzo!
@stltransit I met Courtney Sloger for the first time when we were both invited by Scorch Agency to volunteer at Social Fresh, a nationally traveling marketing and social media conference that came to St. Louis in the spring of 2010. Court is a native St. Louisan who, like me, chose a coastal life (Seattle was her home) for several years before returning to the ‘Lou a few years ago. Court is a free-thinking, bright woman who put St. Louis Metro on the social media map. Court navigates the social media world gracefully, exhibiting excellent judgment in her tweets and blog posts for @stlmetro. As if she wasn’t already rad enough, Court is determined to live life in St. Louis without a car. I really respect the choice to ride a bike, walk and use transit to travel our sprawling metro area.
@guavalicious and @jessicathinkies: I met Kate Canterbury and Jessica Kohler this weekend at Show Me the Blog St. Louis, and I’m so glad that I did! Kate writes the hyper-local Missouri blog Capturing CoMo, where she features all things interesting and notable about Columbia, Missouri. Her approach to writing about Columbia is similar to my own approach on A Small Town Girl’s Guide, so I hope that she and I are able to collaborate on projects in the future.
Jessica and her husband, who are also based in Columbia, write Kohler Created, a blog dedicated to running, racing, camping and “nomming”. Sound familiar? As I read their posts, I thought of my own experiences over and over again. Their writing is compelling, their subjects are interesting, and their photography is outstanding. I can’t wait to read more about their adventures, and I hope that we can get together sometime for some backpacking and camping in small town Missouri.
There are many wonderful people who I’ve me through twitter, the St. Louis Social Media Club, St. Louis tweet-ups and St. Louis-area meet-ups. As important as those relationships are to me, its the relationships I’ve built through conferences that I hope you’ll remember after reading this post.
The next time you prepare to attend a conference, ask yourself if the way you’ll introduce yourself, the questions you’ll ask, and even what you’re wearing are true to you, your personality, and the way you want others to remember you. Authenticity is key when you’re trying to connect with people and built lasting relationships with them based on a quick meeting at a mutually attended conference.