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Ever I Saw Your Face: The Lure of Conferences

Tue, Jan 22, 2008

Bloggers, Connections, Events, Social Media

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Conference-hopping is probably not the best use of your time, if it’s just for the sake of racking up those badges, schwag laptop bags and stacks of business cards that you’ll never look at again.

Are you stuck on a social media conference circuit, hearing some of the same speakers again and again? Why do we sometimes do this to ourselves?

Maybe it’s because you can’t replace the warmth and understanding derived from genuine human contact. Nope, not even with clever replication in Second Life (though try telling that to the Web-savvy daughter of Direct2Dell’s Laura Thomas.)

I want to see your face.  You can see mine, too — I’ll try to have a “good face day” for you.

For maximum business effectiveness in a connected world, it’s all about the face-to-face, according to Business Week:

“Paradoxically, the great work diaspora unleashed by technology is making physical connection all the more important. As companies open more outposts in more emerging markets, the need to gather intensifies.”

On a personal level, it’s very enjoyable to commune with other bloggers and online folks who understand your work (even when your dentist does not.)

Just like diet plus exercise, combining online and offline acquaintances is a “force multiplier,” to use a military term.  Online networking has the pleasant result of enhancing your face-to-face meetings at conferences.  You feel as though you already know people;  very helpful in those first awkward moments of walking into a crowded room during an event.

One drawback to geek conferences is the audience; a roomful of people pecking away on open laptops. Hey, is anyone really tuned in to listen to the speakers? They’d like some face time, some eye contact from somebody sitting out there. Don’t make them talk to the top of your head.

The danger of liveblogging, Twittering, Seesmic-ing, etc. the conference proceedings is that you spend too much time doing secretarial duties and not enough engaging your brain and listening to what’s being said.

I’m glad to see that my colleague Connie is heading to BlogHer Business and Blogger Social 08, both in April in New York, but I’m doing my bit for face-to-face as well.

South by Southwest (SXSW) InteractiveFirst, it’s a no-brainer for me to attend the Austin, Texas South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive conference March 7-11, since it’s held right where I live.   The current list of programming panels is pretty enticing, with more additions to come, and wikis are springing up to keep track of who may be coming from my Twitter group.

I also love the many evening social events/parties, but they’re usually so loud that I get tired of trying to have a conversation by shouting.

The Houston Chronicle‘s TechBlog has great advice for fitting in at SXSWi….

SOBCon08, for Successful and Outstanding BloggersSecond, I simply have to fly to Chicago for SOBCon08 May 2-4, because Liz Strauss and her cohorts did such a bang-up job last year that I know I’ll miss seeing some marvelous faces if I don’t go to her “Biz School for Bloggers.”

Unlike the SXSWi behemoth, SOBCon (“Successful and Outstanding Bloggers”) is kept small and very focused, with lots of interaction amongst conference attendees during the sessions, not just squooshed into moments in the hallways or bathroom.  Gotta go!

BlogHer08 - the theme is Reach!Finally, I’m heading to San Francisco in July to go to BlogHer 08.

I spoke at this conference last year, and had a blast meeting all kinds of bloggers and soaking up inspiration from speakers like Esther Dyson and Annalee Newitz.

Will I see your face soon?

I hope so!

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This post was written by:

Sheila Scarborough - who has written 31 posts on Every Dot Connects.

I'm a writer and speaker specializing in tourism,travel and social media. Co-founder of Tourism Currents.

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3 Comments For This Post

  1. Easton Ellsworth Says:

    See ya at SOBCon Sheila!

  2. Terry Starbucker Says:

    Hey Sheila! Glad to hear we’re going to see you in Chicago. Thanks so much for the kind words and the endorsement. It will be hard to top last year, but we’re pumped and ready to do just that in 2008! All the best.

  3. Roy Blumenthal Says:

    Hiya Sheila…

    Hmmmmm. I’m a visual facilitator. And I’ve done quite a few conference/workshop type things where I’ve had my head down, frantically making paintings of the ideas flying around the room.

    And I find that my retention of what’s going on is better than if I were just sitting there.

    I think there IS a difference between writing and drawing. They probably engage different brain modalities.

    What I do find is that when people see my pictures of the proceedings being projected on the wall as I do them, they tend to make better memory connections themselves.

    Blue skies
    love
    Roy

    http://twitter.com/royblumenthal

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