Whew! It's been awhile since I've updated here at Adventures In Freelancing. My apologies, but the reason I've been absent has primarily been because I was out of town this week at an AMAZING social media conference. Social Media Today was held in Rochester, NY and was organized by Ana Castro of Premier Social Media.
The Back Story
My relationship with Ana is a case study in itself, which began on Twitter as I was preparing to launch this very blog. I wanted to make the launch big, by offering prizes that freelance writers could use. So I put out the word on Twitter, asking folks to reply if they had a product or service they could donate. Ana was one of the first to respond and offered some educational courses from her social networking site for families, Family Eden. After speaking on the phone, we just seemed to click. When Ana was looking for bloggers for the Family Eden blog, she included me.
When Ana invited me to the conference, I was excited, but also a bit nervous. The nearly five-hour drive by myself to Rochester was not something I was looking forward to, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to network and to learn more about social media simply because of a little fear. I'm so glad I didn't let my nervousness hold me back! You can check out the conference site for a more in-depth list of speakers, but let me give you just a bit of the highlights.
Chris Brogan was there! Chris is well-known on Twitter as a social media guru. He's all about community and building trust. In fact, he and his co-author Julien Smith, wrote a book on the topic called Trust Agents, which is now a New York Times best seller. After his informative and entertaining speech, Chris took some time to sign our books. Here's a picture of us.
I had the pleasure of introducing Jeffrey Hayzlett, the Chief Marketing Officer of Kodak. What a knowledgeable, fun, and entertaining guy! I also got to connect with other great people from Kodak including Jenny, their Chief Blogger, and Shruti, Kodak's Community Manager. It was wonderful talking to them. I was able to get a view of corporate blogging and to have the opportunity to get involved in future Kodak campaigns, as a blogger. Very cool. Here's a picture of Jeffrey in action. You can see his energy!
There were so many other wonderful, insightful, and creative speakers. There were presentations on the use of social media in corporations, measurement of ROI, legal aspects of social media, and panel discussions giving personal answers to audience questions. Speaking of these panels, I've saved the best for last!
As a panel of bloggers was introducing themselves, I immediately recognized one of the names - Yvonne DiVita. "Wait", I thought to myself, "that's @y2vonne from Twitter!" I wanted to jump up out of my seat and shout to her. Instead, I turned to Ana's husband sitting next to me and tugged on his arm like a little kid, saying,"I KNOW her from Twitter! I talk to her all the time!"
Finally, when it was time for questions, I raised my hand. When I introduced myself to Yvonne as @marybabysteps, she got excited too. You see, Yvonne and I really connected through social media, and it was like seeing an old friend. Actually, she wasn't even supposed to be at the conference that day, but due to unforeseen circumstances, she was able to make it. You know I always say that things happen for a reason. I'm convinced Yvonne and I were meant to meet at the conference, if only for the brief time we had together. I so look forward to getting to know her more and to any future collaborations. Take a look at the marvelous conference recap Yvonne wrote on her blog and the touching things she said about me. Thank you, Yvonne!
I could go on and on about the conference, but my hands are starting to hurt from typing. I will tell you that I came away with a couple of writing jobs and the opportunity to obtain others in the future. But that's not even the biggest thrill. Having the opportunity to connect with others who get what you do is beyond words. I highly recommend attending a blogging or social media conference if you get the opportunity. If you're unable to travel to a conference, look for local events as a means of networking and meeting people. Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau events are good ones to start with. You'll be surprised at the connections you can make, and you may even end up with some leads on writing gigs.
Do you have any examples of great networking experiences? Do tell; I'd love to hear your story!