Recently, I attended my first ever social media networking (SM) event. I checked out Social Media Day 2011 at the Tattoo Rock Parlour. Since I am new to social media as part of my communication, branding and networking strategy, I figured this would be a good opportunity to meet some amazing SM people, and learn a bit more about how I can leverage SM.
I had this crazy image of people walking around in a big room with their smartphones in front of their faces. They would meet each other, follow each other on twitter, and then start tweeting about who they just met, etc. There were speakers, and a few people who’s tweets I had followed. Given my networking expertise I thought I would do well in this crowd. Surprisingly I learned that networking at a social media function is different.
Here is what I observed and learned
- Have a twitter handle that people can easily read. The name tags they gave us were to make networking easy and the bigger and clearer you name handle was, the more likely you would be stopped for a quick conversation.
- Not everyone wants to follow you or be followed themselves. That took me by surprise, as half the people I met just said “hi’ and there was no follow-up for connecting on Twitter or other social media avenues. What this meant to me is that people seem to use social media and Twitter for different objectives. We need to be aware of that respect those objectives. That said, I think it’s a huge miss because we are limiting the conversation.
- Jokes, are fun, but make sure it’s clear you are joking. One of my tweets went sour with one person. How to deal? Just take ownership, apologize, try to do better and move on. 🙁
- If you are going to vent, be sure it’s something others can relate to. One of the challenges of the event was that half the people were not listening to the speakers, despite their excellent content. The ventings on this were actually quite funny.
- When you meet new people, ask them about their SM strategy or experience to better connect with them and understand the challenges and successes people are having. Most people in the room are hungry to talk about this.
- What you say on Twitter is public so only share what you want shared
- Tweeting has definitely changed the dynamic of public speaking, because now you have a whole bunch of people who can comment on your talk while you are talking. You can either fear it or embrace it.
- Don’t be intimidated by people with thousands of followers. Everyone started at zero tweets and zero blogs at one point.
- Take photos and tweet them. A great way to capture and share the moments. It also connects your virtual life to the real life
- Most of the people in the room are ‘newbies’ so please give them the benefit of doubt. I found several people were not as forthcoming with the in-person conversations as I would expect based on their tweets or involvement. That was a bit disappointing. Your tweets are part of your personal brand and hopefully they should match your in-person brand.
- If someone tweets you that they would like to meet you at the event, you should follow-up and try to make it happen.
- If you come up with a good tweet, it might show up on the Tweet wall and you can use that as leverage for networking.
- Lastly, if you wear a black shirt, are a big guy, and hang out by the door, most people will think you are a doorman or bouncer. I had more people engage me while waiting at the door! 🙂
I certainly enjoyed the speakers (when I could hear them) but was most impressed with Casie Stewart. I met her a couple of years ago while doing a keynote at an Impact conference. She was the one who convinced me to join Twitter! She said that as a speaker, “you have a voice and a message that needs to be heard”. So I joined the very next day. Thanks Casie for making that difference in my life and my business. Thanks also for the hug. It was the only one of the night for me, but you give great hugs regardless.
Casie’s talk this night was amazing. Most of her takeaways are above, but I most liked that we should be authentic, have the two-way conversations, and know that the only person who can most affect your personal brand is you.
I look forward to the next event. This time I will be better prepared. I hope you are too. 🙂