Wednesday, June 13, 2012
What I Learned At BlogWorld 2012
That was the tweet I sent as I entered BlogWorld and New Media Expo 2012 last Tuesday. I admit that I did not start the conference with a lot of enthusiasm over the prospect of spending three days sealed away with no windows. While the distance I traveled was much less than those who came on planes and trains and crossed oceans to get there, I am a very typical New Yorker in that I wince when trying to figure out the path of least resistance to get to that most inconvenient of locations that is the Jacob Javits Center. So, yes, I was a little cranky upon start and yes....feeling a bit jaded.
I am no longer a newbie blogger. I can navigate social media better than most people I know. And now being a self-published author, the lure that my BlogWorld ticket was also giving me access to the floor of Book Expo, was just not as appealing. And so I wondered, why was I here and what was I going to learn?
Sounds strange to be coming from me, the person who advocates that every step we take is a learning experience, but I already admitted I was not having a good morning. I reminded myself what I have always done since early in my work life. If I learned even one new thing the next few days, met one new promising contact or got even one new idea, it would be worth it. I entered Room 1A12 and it all started to change.
Jonathan Fields reminded me that to be a writer today one must be willing to be an entrepreneur. It's an advantage I have that I tend to forget.
John Falchetto, in a thought provoking session on Tribes asked those questions that made me go Mmm. How do you know when you are in the wrong tribe? And what do you do about it?
There was that moment of synchronicity when on line met off line and I discovered the woman sitting next to me was Nina Amir, whose guest post I had just read on Jane Friedman's blog that morning!
I learned that just because a conference is all about New Media, does not mean cutting edge technology is going to include a consistent WIFI connection.
I seemed to be fed that constant reminder, that with all this fabulous new technology people still want to deal with people. Integrity still counts, maybe more than ever. If you put yourself out there, people will be able to sniff out, sooner or later if you are anything less than authentic.
And perfection. It was a resounding chorus of not trying to be perfect. Things are moving too fast right now to worry about it all being perfect. It reminded me of that old sales adage: you snooze, you loose. Failing is not a problem with this group. Not trying is.
Everywhere I turned I remembered why going to conferences is important. They are incubators for thinking new stuff. Even when you know the information, someone will say something that gets your creative juices flowing and suddenly you have a new idea that hits the passion button.
Take podcasting. The word has been on the periphery of my thoughts a lot. It's been suggested I should podcast chapters of my books. And of course every time I start to shake at the thought of doing videos, I think how much easier it would be to stay in my yoga pants, not worry about putting on lipgloss and podcast instead.
It was the lively Women in Podcasting Panel led by Katie Davis that got me thinking. The time to start podcasting was now. It hadn't occurred to me until then that podcasting was really just radio for the entrepreneur. Another opportunity to mix what I know from my past work experience and do something new with it. I was here to learn something I didn't before and I had found it. Like a sponge, I spent the rest of the Expo soaking up everything I could on the how tos and benefits from podcasting pros like Dan Lyons.
I met many new friends, like Laura Rubinstein of the SocialBuzzClub and got to spend quality time with my dear friend and fellow blogger, Suzi Banks Baum of Laundry Line Divine fame.
But the big moment of learning was when I ventured upstairs to the BEA floor. That room I had aspired to be a part of for so long. The event I had imagined I would first attend as an author published by a Big Six legacy publisher. There was a marked difference in the energy. The enthusiasm and willingness to connect, no matter who you were, that I felt downstairs at BlogWorld was missing. It had been replaced with an air of aloofness and inaccessibility and denial that the publishing world, like so much else, is changing.
It really hit me that my career as a writer is unfolding as it should. My intention when I left the corporate world was also to leave that tribe's way of thinking. The one that is too caught up in the way things are to move to the ways things can be. The one that pokes holes in what is new because they are too afraid it might affect their market share. The one that is slow to move because they are too caught up in meetings and red tape to effect real change. I had coveted a tribe that ultimately was not going to serve who I am. Maybe one day that will change. But for now, my tribes are elsewhere.