This summer I submitted a proposal to speak at the 2011 SXSW Interactive Festival coming up in March.
The “panel picker” voting process, which the conference is using to whittle down the 2,300 proposals they received, opened last week.
Yes, you heard me right … there are TWO THOUSAND, THREE HUNDRED proposals I’m vying against to get a spot.
A lot of those people are launching full-on promotional assaults in pursuit of votes for their session. Industry thought leaders are blogging about their top picks. Tweets, retweets and Facebook pleas about sessions are bouncing across the interwebs like maniacal pin balls.
Quite frankly, the whole thing feels a bit like a popularity contest and is giving me some serious high school flashbacks.
I’ll let you in on a little secret here … I’m not popular.
Never have been.
But I’m quickly realizing that, in order to have a shot at this, I’m going to need to lobby to get people to vote for my proposal too — something I look forward to about as much as getting a colonoscopy in the rotunda of the Mall of America at Christmastime.
So, I’m just going to give it to you straight as to why I’d like it very much if you would …
- Click on this link
- Set up an account (sorry about that … I know that part sucks)
- And vote for me to have a shot to play with the big kids in Austin this March.
Here’s the pitch …
I don’t want to speak at SXSW because I think it will make me famous (it won’t), or because I have a book coming out
that I need to promote (I don’t) or even to get a free pass to the event (I’ve already paid for my registration).
I want to speak at SXSW because I have a business to run and it’s gigs like this that help me do it.
The reality is that small business owners like myself need to hustle.
And the hustling never stops.
I suck at new business development, and I’m an introvert who is exhausted by networking.
But, I’m in my element on a stage. And it’s there that I most often reach potential new clients and company supporters.
Problem is, it’s hard for people like me to get national speaking gigs.
In order to sell registrations at conferences, organizers need to book people from big companies or agencies. They can attract more people to pay to see, “So-and-So from Home Depot,” than some chick from the Midwest who has a firm named after herself.
The irony here is that, when it comes to social media, most of the presentations from big companies that I’ve sat through in the past couple of years have been pretty ho hum. (In a year, all you accomplished was gaining consensus to launch a Facebook app? And I just paid $500 to sit here and listen to you talk about it? Awe. Some.)
In social media, it’s not the giant corporations that are doing the interesting work. It’s the little guys like me who have the room to innovate, iterate, fail and experiment, simply because there is no one to tell us that we can’t.
And that leads me back to you (assuming you’re still reading this).
And a promise …
It takes a village to support a D-lister and I really need you to be part of mine right now.
If I get this gig, it would mean a lot for my company. And I can promise you that …
- I won’t forget the favor.
- I won’t show up for the speaking gig hung over (trust me, this happens a lot at SXSW).
- I won’t suck.
I totally get that my proposal is a long shot and chances are, come March, I’ll be listening to yet another big agency Twitterlebrity talking about authenticity. But, you know what? It never hurts to try.
(What I lack in popularity, I make up for in moxie).
So thank you for reading this post and throwing a vote to an underdog. I really appreciate it.