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