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.
Pictured in the photo above: @sethjwyatt, @crystaldempsey, @tinkhanson, @93octane, @smashadv, @katiemarie, @loricollins, @underoak (kneeling) @tonyabishopnc, @brianbaute, @lizvinson
Jim is a father, husband, copywriter and founder of smashcommunications. You can find him on Twitter @smashadv
5 CommentsLEAVE A COMMENT
Sep 2, 2009
Jim, I feel the same way. I’m not a mingling type guy either. I always enjoy meeting new people and talking smack, but I find it hard. It’s something I’m not that comfortable with and blame it on being a loaner as a child.
The problem with these types of events is that no matter what the intentions are of the attendees little cliques seem to form. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t see this as a bad thing. I see it as a sign that everybody is most likely just as uncomfortable as I am to a certain degree and are more comfortable talking with those they know. Busting into a conversation is not something I am good at, but I am trying. I always take the safe route. Wait for them to finish their conversation and see if I can make contact with someone. Doesn’t always work.
I didn’t really know what to expect coming down from Michigan because I never really get much out of conferences. The main reason I go is to meet people in person. Then I get stage fright once I’m there.
I attended the pre and post parties and that was the best thing I did. I met some awesome people. Including you, of course. The conference was very well done and the speakers were awesome.
I am glad I went.
Sep 2, 2009
Thanks John. Meeting you IRL and was one of the highlights of the event for me. I am really glad you made it down. I think these things are necessary – to a degree. I mean, I don’t want to go to another event that says anything like what I heard at SoFresh. I want new, now. And I’m damn sure not going to any future events that don’t offer me a real opportunity to learn something, or bust in on conversations with prospective clients. 😉
Nov 29, 2009
Do: Be nice // Don’t: Be an asshole
I think a lot of it is common sense … or more precisely common sense that people seem to forget much too often. There’s a book (or blog?) out there that says everything I needed to learn about getting along with people I learned from my 2nd grade teacher. Well, maybe not 2nd grade, but for me it was second grade. Anyway. The point is it isn’t that hard, it is just sometimes hard to remember.
Loved this post, btw. 🙂
May 19, 2010
Jim, first, I really enjoy your writing style. Totally honest. Very transparent (reminds me of Donald Miller…love it). Your experience with SoFresh is probably not unlike many, but your observation a the end and willingness to BE social is awesome. I am a social person by nature and love people. On the flip, I also allow my personal insecurities to get in the way or initiating face to face interaction. I love it and I struggle with it (most people don’t know that about me, haha!). I am a walking contradiction in those terms for sure. What I have found, with the exception of one “head fake”, is that the people I enjoy engaging with online are the same IRL. It speaks to the transparency I find and hope to reveal in the Twitter world. Great post Jim…Thanks for sharing!
May 19, 2010
You have personal insecurities, Summer? I find that hard to believe. 😉 I haven’t decided whether I’m going to this year’s event in Charlotte, but if I do – you’d better show.
My novel – Minor King
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