I didn't want to go. When I first heard about Charlotte's inaugural Social Media event, Social Fresh, I didn't want anything to do with it. I'm not exactly what you'd call a mingling guy. But I knew I had to attend because I truly believe in this medium of advanced communications, and there were people coming that I wanted to meet in real life. Plus, it was three miles from my house.
Except, by the time I got around to buying a ticket – the event was sold out. So I Tweeted that I tried to attend, but wasn't going to be able to go. Secretly, I was pretty relieved. Especially since I saved face in public by saying that "I tried." Whew – I was off the hook. But then event organizer Jason Keath said that I could volunteer at the event and even save a few bucks in fees.
But no, more than volunteering to standing around being nice for 8 hours (i didn't expect to *really* stay the whole time), there were pre and post parties around the event. But I don't drink, so at some point most of these kinds of things just get too loud and silly for me. I showed up late to the pre – and didn't stay very long. It was already loud – and flipping hot. But it was also kind of cool. I didn't hate it. I left early to kiss my kids goodnight, and because I knew the next day was going to be hell.
I used to be in the USAF. Back then I got up around 6 a.m. every day. Sometimes 5:30. I got up at 5 to volunteer for SoFresh. I resented it all the way to the Holiday Inn parking deck. When I arrived, Nathan Richie was pulling in and we walked to the staging area together. Most people looked stunned to be awake and actually functioning. The coffee sucked. I had a banana and tried to mingle. I found that I mingle like I Twitter – by hovering around a conversation and then busting in with a remark or two. People in real life look at you funny when you do this, but oh my Lord – people in Social Media invite random, relevant and thoughtful dialogue. It's a beautiful thing and the foundation from which I built my day on at SoFresh. So I tweeted (and mingled) my ass off. And people smiled. No funny looks. There was a lot of geek talk. A lot of business talk. And a lot of laughs.
I was going to follow up on SoFresh with an obligatory recap of how great the speakers were, how compelling the panels were and how valiantly the volunteers performed – but I already did all that from the event. Everyone was great. Everything was great. And of course I heartily approved of the sofresh icon (thanks for that Jason). A big shout out to Lyell Petersen for suggesting the shot above (of some of the volunteers.) And a big thanks to Armando Bellmas, who was a snapped off just a few amazing photographs.
In the end, #sofresh was a blast and I'm glad I went. I met a lot of smart people, and connected with smart people I've admired from afar on Twitter. It's amazing to me how a couple of hundred kindred spirits can energize each other in a way that leaves a lasting impression on everyone.
I had to rush home to my kids after the core event, so I missed out on the post-party. But yes, I stayed till the end.