Missed SXSW, but found the networking anway.
Last week, 14,000 interactive geeks flocked to Austin, Texas for SXSW, the industry’s biggest conference, noted not so much for the content of the sessions, but for the fantastic “networking” that happens there. During that same time, several of us who did not attend the conference joined forces on Twitter using a “not” conference hash tag.
While content of the posts were in jest, I started to realize that …
- I was connecting with and meeting new people.
- I was engaging in conversations with people about things ranging from personality traits to industry news and trends.
- I was exposed to new ideas and resources.
- I was being inspired and thinking about ideas for projects and future blog posts.
- I was … networking … much in the same way that I would at a conference.
Well, sort of …
I’m an introvert (an INFJ, to be exact). Networking at a conference among strangers with whom I’ve never before connected requires an incredible amount of self-discipline. And, even when I’m most “on my game,” I often find myself walking away from networking events realizing missed opportunity. (“Why didn’t I tell her about …?” or, “Oh, man, I really should have asked that guy … ” or, “I really spent too much time on the sidelines again.”)
For me, social media breaks down this barrier to entry. And, it was so apparent this past week when my colleagues (with whom I typically chat on a daily basis) were in Austin, and I found conversation, creativity, and excellent connections via Twitter, while not attending a conference.
Social media tools have become a platform for many people who, in any other environment, lack the confidence or comfort to participate in conversation or contribute ideas. From a sociological standpoint, more people are engaging, more ideas are being shared, and our collective intellect is advancing more quickly than it was, say, 100 plus years ago when intellectualism belonged to an elite class of people and publishing ideas took time.
But, we can’t live in a cocoon.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that all introverts should just hole up in their basement and bask in the glow of their computer monitor and online connections. I’m a big proponent of getting out (however uncomfortable it may be) and bringing that online relationship to life, offline. But, for the time being, I found that by “not” attending SXSW, I ended up richer in connections, ideas, inspiration and, of course, cash — all great resources I can bank upon until next year.Image courtesy of @NotAtSXSW
I agree with many of your thoughts here, Kary, and having the #notatsxsw hashtag going certainly brought a lot of people to each other that you might not have encountered otherwise.
As I mentioned last weekend in conversations, this is an amazing marketing oppoertunity for SxSW; how many brands do you know that have people wanting to be associated with it for NOT being a part of it? That’s powerful stuff. They should consider doing events around the country next year that are merely networking events, but brand them as “notatsxsw” events. Take hold of the movement and make it something interesting.
And glad we connected!
Thanks for your comment …
KaneCo is no stranger to the “not conference” brand. (When the MIMA Summit that we were producing grew in popularity, the “UnSummit” developed and took place on the same day.” Looking at this as opportunity is essential. In our case, we joined forces where we could, recognizing that not only did this strengthen the brand, but provided greater service to the audience. As the SxSW interactive conference swells (and with that, “not” attendance increases) it will be interesting to watch events develop, online and off. More telling, however, will be to see how the event planners of SXSW engage with the “not” conference brand.
Kary, this is definitely one of the reasons I love Twitter – serendipitous meetups. The number of people that I’ve met first on Twitter and eventually in real life grows almost every day and it’s great to have many of the barriers to initial meetups out of the way.
One of my favorite examples is when I was in Amsterdam for a conference and met up with somebody I had only followed on Twitter that lived in Amsterdam. Since he was a local, he knew the good places to go, could speak Dutch and introduce me to people, and we had a great night. All because we had previously networked on Twitter.
Great to meet you at #notatsxsw – you made not being there pretty fun and it was great to share our fake misery. 🙂
Thanks for sharing your story, Damon. I can totally relate. It’s awesome to walk into a strange room and get a warm hello (even a hug) from someone who you’ve already “met” online. You get to skip the formal introductions and get down to business.
Awesome meeting you #NotAtSXSW and look forward to connecting with you (and your awesome white boards and mad API skillz) again.