Las Vegas, as everyone knows, is the city of Sin. However, I choose to live a life of personal responsibility and accountability, no matter what the odds. I even manage to have a little bit of fun doing so.
I believe the only way to truly make a difference in this world is to lead by example, like the famous Jonathan Livingston Seagull. I hope you enjoy my journey of life and self-discovery.
Monday, October 18, 2010
"If You Wait To Write, You're a Waiter... Not a Writer"
I am officially overwhelmed.
I wasn't exactly sure what I was getting into when I signed up to attend the 2010 Blogworld and New Media Expo that took place at Mandalay Bay this past weekend. I knew that I was, most likely, going to get some good information on what it was like to be a "blogger" and was hoping that I could get a little bit of direction as far as where to take my blog. Having a background in sales and marketing - and specifically convention sales - I knew that there was going to be a lot of opportunity to network with others. This was the part that I looked forward to the least.
Don't get me wrong, I know how important networking is. The only way you can learn from other people as well as share your own knowledge is to get the initial "hello" out of the way. However, it's specifically the networking events that I find so obnoxious. Mostly, it seems to me that it's just a lot of people walking around, hoping to give their business cards to anyone who is willing to take them. They spend a few minutes pitching their services and how they can help you, but ultimately, the intention is to make money and, therefore, they are really just trying to get you to become their next client.
Of course, this isn't always the case, but by and large, this has been my experience of networking events. Mostly, I just go for the open bar.
I feel that certain people come into your life for certain reasons and those are the relationships that really deserve the attention. For example, I have already divided my stack of received business cards into two piles - those that I remember the interaction and those that I don't. I will further connect based on if I remember the actual content of the conversation, what the person was trying to achieve and if they spent any time at all trying to sell me something.
With that said, I have an even smaller pile of business cards - the ones that belong to my new friends. I didn't meet these ones at networking conventions or while walking through the exhibit hall. The first I met because we both decided to take the stairs up to lunch instead of the escalator. We had a brief conversation that included what each of us blogged about and discovered that our content was very similar. She invited me to sit with her and a few of her friends at the luncheon on the first day of the event. So I did. And by doing so, I met another person who is already my Facebook friend, we've texted back and forth, I have pictures of him hanging out with Jeremy and I at the after party events and we even played craps together and made a little money. All of this because we sat next to each other at lunch.
The third person I remember was someone I took a class with. It was not a well attended class - only 8-10 people in the room - and the instructor was all about interaction. So, he asked everyone to partner up in the beginning and, as it happens sometimes, the person in front of me turned to the person to their left and the person behind me turned to the person on their right. So, I had to get creative. I looked around and saw a woman sitting back a few rows, head down, clearly not concerned whether or not she had a partner, but just wanted to interact as little as possible due to a shyness that I picked up on, not because she was uninterested in the class. So, I got up, walked back and asked her to be my partner and we spent the rest of the session engaging with the information to be learned and then finding out that we had a little bit in common when it came to our blogging. After the class, we exchanged blog cards and her husband took some pictures of us together. I am definitely looking forward to being her follower as well.
Finally, on the last night's after party, following an unbelievable karaoke session where I got the crowd going with a live-band version of U Oughta Know by Alanis Morrissette, Jeremy (being my faithful wingman for all after hour parties), absolutely blew the audience away when he got up and belted out the best karaoke version of Journey's Separate Ways that I think has EVER been done. Seriously. It was amazing. I keep checking on YouTube to see if his performance has made it up there as many people were by the stage filming him. Awesome… anyhow, afterwards, we decided to get away from the crowd and went to play some more craps. It was there that we met three more people who came to our craps table because they wanted to play with us. They had no idea who we were, but they were at karaoke and loved our performances so, when the woman saw us at the table, she said she knew she wanted to play there. Jeremy proceeded to welcome them in, help them with their bets, and we all won money. We had drinks afterwards and one gentleman in particular offered to help me out with future blogging endeavors in exchange for having such a great time with us.
These are the contacts that are useful and the ones that make a difference.
Along with my new friends, I also found the content of the conference to be very, very helpful. One of the speakers in particular was so relatable and genuine that I have pretty much already become his stalker online. It took me three days to finally work up the courage to tell him in person how much I enjoyed his sessions. He had said that public speaking was the one thing he had been working on as he was very shy and nervous and openly admitted to being scared to death of all the eyes that were upon him. I told him that it was this vulnerability in his speaking that made him such a pleasure to listen to. As someone who wants to get into public speaking as another way to communicate and connect, I can only hope that we can perform in the same speaking arena one day.
Back to being overwhelmed… there is SOOOO much work to be done in order to get my blog noticed and make a career out of my writing. Before the convention, I was sort of being aimless about the whole thing, knowing that my content was good and that I had talent as a writer, but not knowing if I wanted to try and write a book, do freelance writing or just be a famous blogger with a gazillion followers. What I learned is that no matter which path I choose, I have to approach this entire process much more like a marathon, not a sprint. It is simply not going to happen overnight. Especially because I didn't realize how far behind in social media I already am. I just signed up for Twitter! I was going to do it during the convention but was completely embarrassed that someone would see me signing up and wonder what the hell someone like me was doing at a new media conference when I wasn't even involved with new media! Ugh… however, I am happy because I am a new blogger, having only been doing so since July. I feel so grateful that Jeremy found this convention while reading the paper one day. It has helped put things into better focus for me and given a bit of direction to what I want to accomplish very early on in my blogging career.
I have a lot of ideas that I'm knocking around and while I'm still not sure exactly how everything is going to play out, I have decided to really commit myself to this in a way that I haven't committed myself to anything before. It's so different when you are spending all of your time busting your ass so that someone else becomes successful. Everything I do, or don't do, directly relates to my own success. This takes personal responsibility and accountability to a whole new level!! Count me in!
Also, I wanted to acknowledge everyone who takes the time to read my blogs. I realize that I tend to write more so in "long form" which may be why Twitter was so unattractive to me. 140 characters? Really? Do you know me?? But, honestly, I am excited to be in this new online world. I don't know nearly as much as I should - building websites, linking pages and online communities, oh my! - but I'm willing to learn as it seems like this kind of "networking" is a lot more fun than trying to force business cards into the hands of people who don't care unless they can make money off of you.
I have also made a change that anyone can leave a comment on my blog now - I hadn't realized that I was limiting it only to those that were signed up with gmail or whatever the restriction was. Contrary to my very first post, I am definitely looking for feedback of all kinds as I continue on this journey.
And to Jeremy, who booked a room on the strip during the convention so it would be easy for me to get back and forth, was my right hand at all social networking functions, was the best karaoke performer of the WHOLE night and also won my friends some money gambling, please know how deeply I appreciate everything you do from me. Yes, I want it all and I know that I am not always easy to please when it comes to my expectations in regards to this relationship… but I am so grateful for your generosity, outward focus and love. You are truly amazing and even if our path through this is rocky and not always easy to navigate, I would choose it over the clearly marked and paved road any day. You make life interesting, and that is not an easy attribute to come by.
In closing, I have posted some pictures of the convention below (well, the social part of it at least) and as my life in the blogworld begins to evolve, I can only hope each and every one of you comes along for the ride.
It's going to be a good one.
View from our room at Planet Hollywood
By far, my favorite thing to see in Vegas
At Haze Nightclub
Jeremy and new friend, Rodney
at Liquid at Aria
Rodney is part of a t-shirt design company. Surprised?
Yeah... didn't think so