How Social Slam 2012 Rekindled My Love of Social Media

As some of you may have noticed, I’ve been kind of struggling with the online world for the last 6 months or so. I’ve been feeling a little bit at times like I’ve been flailing about here on ye olde blog. I have been let down by some folks, and…well, I’ve just not really felt the love I had for social media when I first started. I pretty much figured that attending my first big social media conference would be a make it or break it moment. I’d either confirm all of my worst feelings about social media or…I wouldn’t.

As you might have guessed from the title, things went pretty well.

Nervous as hell

So, I’ll confess that I was stupidly nervous about meeting so many people from the online world in one fell swoop, and there was one overriding reason for that. As I’ve mentioned before, I stand at 4’5 on a good day. For most of my life, meeting people for the first time has often been accompanied by a multitude of reactions that range from, “Oh, you remind me of my Aunt Helga! She was short too!” to things that are a little less sensitive and a bit more humiliating. The online world has afforded me the opportunity to get to know people as me instead of as short me, and I’ve really treasured that, but I was worried that meeting people in real life would sort of shatter that intellectual equality I’ve enjoyed.

Turns out, I needn’t have worried at all. But I wanted to share this story because as you probably are thinking, everybody has *something* they are worried about in the offline world. Maybe there is something about your eyebrows you don’t like, or maybe you’re not as fit as you’d like to be. But it’s important, I learned, to power through those fears and go ahead and meet people. It turns out it’s well worth it.

This *is* the real world

I’ve gotten a fair amount of snide remarks during my time online because I’m nice to people and because I care about people. These types of criticisms had been affecting me quite a bit. In fact, my pal Sean McGinnis noticed that in my 2-year anniversary post, I didn’t link to any of the peoples’ blogs I was talking about. I said, “Yeah, well, people accuse me of link bait or comment bait when I do that, so I opted not to.” I’ve been told that it’s really not worth it to care about people in the online world, and friends are named too easily – yada yada yada.

But guess what? Meeting people in real life does one thing pretty darned quick. It shows you without a doubt that the people you talk to on these online platforms are REAL PEOPLE. Would you take any crap if you were “called out” for saying something nice about a person offline? I hope not. Well, saying nice things to people online is exactly the same because people is people, as the saying goes. I have no regrets about anything I’ve done online except that I let people almost convince me that what I was doing was a waste of time.

If you’re wondering if you are spending your time online with good people, have a little more faith than you might be inclined to have. They’re really there, even if you can’t see them in 3D most of the time.

Shining Moments

There really were a lot of moments during my time in Knoxville that I wouldn’t trade for all the world.

I got to meet Tom Webster and hear him speak – I’ve heard his name all over the place since I’ve been online and now I understand the hype.

I got to give Stan Smith (aka PushingSocial) a great big hug. Even though we are fellow buckeyes, we have to meet in Tennessee. Well, Stan of course abandoned Ohio for Michigan, but we don’t talk about that… :)

I got to meet the divine Laura Click, Davina Brewer, Jayme Soulati, and Gini Dietrich.

I got to hang with Sean McGinnis, Brian Vickery, and Sam Fiorella, who I at last got to thwack in real life (now that’s something that IS hard to do online).

I got to hear Mitch Joel and DJ Waldow speak.

I got to meet Billy Delaney (who also gave a great speech).

I got to meet Marcus Sheridan and watch him do his thing (wow!).

I got to finally give a hug to the awesome Jay Baer, who has been a wonderful friend and supporter almost from the time I started tweeting (poor guy).

And of course, I got to meet Mark Schaefer, who is as lovely in real life as he appears online.

There were some bummers along the way – I didn’t get to talk to Mitch Joel or DJ Waldow or a lot of other people. There wasn’t much time or opportunity to really converse with folks like I found myself wanting to do. But this is all building up to future meet-ups.

All of this has proven to me that the reasons why I loved social media so much a year or two ago were legitimate. I no longer have any doubts. I no longer feel like I’m flailing.

I hope you all get to have a similar experience, and sometime soon!

PS – No, I didn’t link to everyone I mentioned here, but that’s because it would just be an obnoxious amount of links. I’m not THAT much of a flip-flopper :)

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/basykes/55491077/ via Creative Commons

26 comments
JBBC1
JBBC1

 @margieclayman  I absolutely loved this post - thanks for being so honest and truthful..and well just damn inspiring. So happy to hear you are feeling the love again ;-) 

Marcus_Sheridan
Marcus_Sheridan

Margie...you are so truly awesome...and real...and inspiring.

 

Thanks for being you,

 

Marcus

brandcottage
brandcottage

Your honesty and vulnerability are very endearing and frankly very rare.  You stand far taller than most people in the world.Hope we have a real life meet-up someday. Also, I am thrilled my son is going to college in the midwest. I LOVE the values of people in the midwest. You represent those very well Ms. Margie. xoxo

KristaKotrla
KristaKotrla

Your vulnerability is so inspiring, Margie. I would've never guessed that you had big fears going to an event like Social Slam. I mean, you're a VIP! But I love what you said about powering through your fears and it paying off in a big way with wonderful new friendships. I experienced the same thing and I am so thankful for the wonderful people that social media has introduced me too online... and now offline too!

Sean McGinnis
Sean McGinnis

You captured a lot of moments from Social Slam that I agree with Margie. Most people view  me as this guys who "networks a lot" or who "knows a lot of people". Ironically, I looked around Social Slam and realized I had only ever met THREE of the people in person before. THREE!  You, Gini and Jayme Soulati. Everyone else was a new acquaintance, and like you I'm glad I attended.

 

And yest despite all the awesome people I got to meet in person, I felt a bit of a nagging sensation. There was one thing that bugged me a bit about the way I was behaving personally at the conference and that is this - I was hanging around my online friends a bit too much.

 

Specifically, at lunch I caught myself thinking that I should have deliberately asked to sit with a bunch of the attendees and not hang with all the speakers - but I took the easy way out and grabbed lunch with Mitch and Jay and DJ and others. Next time I'm speaking at a conference I'm going to try to focus a little more of my networking time on making NEW friends, rather than ONLY getting to know existing online friends better.

bywordofmouth
bywordofmouth

Ack, you made it out into the public eye and I wasn't there. Something so very wrong with that picture ;)

ckburgess
ckburgess

Margie,

 

Wish I had the opportunity to meet you!  Hopefully, someday I will. 

 

Cheryl

 @ckburgess 

ProfessorGary
ProfessorGary

Nice to meet you Margie. Although I already knew you weren't a  BOT!

 

- Gary

JoelFortner
JoelFortner

Yay! This was fun to read, Margie! As a loyal reader and proud supporter of you, this was indeed fun to read!

RaulColon
RaulColon

Can't wait to meet you in person also.. Glad you had a good time! 

TheJackB
TheJackB

You didn't even say hi to me. I was shocked, dismayed, disappointed and downtrodden. In fact, I felt like I was invisible. Well, that is because I was in a way- wasn't there.

 

But I heard that it was great.

margieclayman
margieclayman moderator

 @Sean McGinnis Well, you were just really stuck with that VIP sensibility, Sean. :) You knew that was coming, right?

 

I did learn how the development of cliques can get pretty easy if you see people in person. I can imagine how it would be easy to want to hang with the same people at the next conference I go to because that's a known quantity. That's how we get stuck though. I was super happy to meet Davina because I don't talk to her as much as I should online, and talking to her in person was a great way to get to know her better. 

margieclayman
margieclayman moderator

 @TheJackB Man, you scared the heck out of me! There is no way I would not have hunted you down. Well, you're gonna get a thwack when I do meet you :) 

Sean McGinnis
Sean McGinnis

 @margieclayman I think the thing that struck me was my individual drive to take relationships that began online and solidify them in person. I'm not certain that's a bad thing necessarily...especially in the context of that specific event.

 

However, if I were to ever set up a conference like that I might consider a mandatory requirement that speakers spend time surrounded by paying attendees - it might even be fun to create a sort of assigned seating where speakers get first dibs on food and then go assume their seat at a lunch table with signs about their expertise so attendees can settle in around them and pick their brains over lunch,

 

I saw a similar setup (without the food) at last year's SES Chicago conference and it seemed to be quite a hit as Chris Boggs (and many others) held forth with about 20 people sitting at a round table peppering him with questions.

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