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Networking Online and Offline

Networking is a topic near and dear to my heart. Every single opportunity I’ve had in my lifetime to date has been born out of a relationship initiated by me or someone else. You can probably say the same. In my case, maybe it was a connector who introduced me to my former employer. Maybe it was me extending my hand for the first time and finding the next person I would decide to work on a project with. Maybe the relationship was born out of small talk waiting in line somewhere. Those of you that read this blog, and know me in real life, probably have an interesting story about how we met.

I found myself thinking about the topic of how networking has changed in my recent trip to SXSW Interactive. Think about the startups generating the most buzz coming out of SXSW the past couple of years. There’s Highrise, GroupMe, Twitter, Forecast, Plancast and Foursquare (this list could easily be 50 companies long, but you get the point). What do they all have in common? In one way or another, they help us to connect easier with one another. Isn’t that what social media is all about?

For the social media-savvy group, which I consider myself a member of, it’s helped us to develop hundreds (if not thousands) of new connections that wouldn’t have been possible using traditional networking. By traditional networking, I mean getting out there and meeting people in real life. It would take a lifetime of traditional networking to make the connections we can make in a few months using social media. Would you have known that the woman you work with went to school with your best friend’s fraternity brother? Nope, not without LinkedIn. How about the dozen or so people in your city you know through Twitter now? How long would it have taken to meet them the old fashioned way? You probably would never have met them. [Read more…]

10 Things I Love About SXSW

It’s that time of year again. No, not time to spring ahead… well, actually, it is time for that on Saturday, but I’m referring to the annual nerd pilgrimage to Austin for the mega conference SXSW Interactive (eh hem… Spring Break for grown-ups, disguised as a interactive marketing conference). This will be my third trip to the conference and while I’m no longer a SXSW virgin, I’m hardly giving lessons yet. However, I am entitled to an opinion, so here is my list of the top 10 things I love about SXSW:

1. The Energy – there is such a good vibe at this “conference”. Maybe it’s the free booze everywhere – but I’d prefer to think that the people who go share a passion for learning, and they realize that comes from meeting and talking with people.

2. The Friends – there are people I run into at SXSW that I can’t manage to catch up with in Atlanta or San Francisco (where I spend most of my time). Despite my efforts the past few weeks to broadcast my intentions to attend SXSW this year, I know I’ll see a dozen or so people there that will surprise me. I can’t wait.

3. The Content - if you can’t find sessions you’re interested in at SXSW, you shouldn’t be going. There are always three things going on at the same time – the conference forces you to make tough decisions every hour. [Read more…]