Monday, May 16

Social Conferencing

Last week I went to two industry conferences (OTC Perspectives and PRSA Counselors Academy) and an awards show (Sabre Awards) -- it was a big networking week.  My friend Mike Brown from Brainzooming, who I met at the AMA conference last year, opened my eyes to how much conferences have changed since social media came into the picture.

Well the conferences haven't changed much at all, actually, but the way we network and share at them certainly has.  Now it's all about "social conferencing".

I "know" so many more people now going into these events.  It's not that I really know them, but since I'm following them on Twitter I feel like I know them.  So when we do meet in person, it's like we already have a common bond and a reason to strike up a dialogue.

And in the old days when we would say "let's stay in touch", it rarely happened.  We'd all get back to our offices and get caught up in deadlines and never reach out again.  Now, our Twitter stream keeps us together and keeps us connected.  It's wonderful.

It's funny too when speaking at these conferences, when I look into the audience, so many people are on their smart phones and iPads.  At first it appears rude, but then I realize that they are tweeting my discussion -- word for word!  And I've been doing the same when I'm in the audience.  Sharing what we hear with the rest of the attendees via a Twitter hashtag (which then goes to all of our followers too).  Social conferencing allows people who can't make it to the conference to see all the action via Twitter -- how awesome is that!

Perhaps the biggest change I've seen, though, is our willingness to share.  I think in some ways our competitive spirit used to prevent us from sharing too much information.  Now in the age of social sharing, we all seem so much more willing to discuss what we are going through and to share solutions that we have seen work.  From an industry standpoint it's very productive as we all look to advance our craft.

Social media has made going to these conferences so much more meaningful -- I've got the Twitter feed to prove it!

What's your experience?  Jim.


  1. Jim -

    Thanks for the shout out!

    I love the point about how the interaction and experiences of conferences have changed even though many (most) of the actual conferences still appear pretty much the same.

    My initial dive into a new type of conference experience was at the 2009 Business Marketing Association national conference. It was the first time where it became apparent that simply tweeting an event could open up opportunities to meet and network with people I'd have been reluctant to ever approach and talk with one-on-one. The tweet stream became a way to create an initial "conversation" with speakers and audience members I didn't sit next to at a presentation or lunch/dinner.

    For an introvert, this new way to connect at a conference (plus people already being familiar through pre-conference tweeting and blogging), has made these events much more valuable professionally and personally!

    Great insights, Jim!


  2. So true, makes it so much easier to approach people --- just can't look like a twitter stalker! Jim.