Like a Fish Put Back into Water at My First SXSW Event

Last week I went to my first SXSW event – GR2L (Get Ready 2 Live! ) I’m somewhat of a newbie to the whole social media thing and if I can be completely honest there were times I felt like a fish out of water – challenging for an organizer who likes to be in control. For starters, I don’t even have a Smart Phone.

To shed some light, here’s my social media story. I guess you could say that my social media skills started a few years back when MySpace was cool. I moved on to Facebook and reconnected with friends, family and made new friends along the way. I was excited when I started to see even my grandparents catching on to the idea. I have a LinkedIn account and if you request a connection with me I’m more than happy to oblige, but my skills on that social media service don’t go much further than that. Then there’s Twitter. About 9 months ago I opened up a Twitter account. I was hearing the buzz – “Social Media is where it’s at, and it’s where you need to be!” But after setting up my account I was clueless. What was I supposed to do? What was I supposed to say? And who really cares what you just ate for breakfast right? Fast forward about 6 months (December 2009) and I am about to make some serious changes with my business. I was blessed and found an amazing small business coach, Alicia Arenas, but more than that, she was deeply involved and invested in social media. Not only was I getting top-notch small business coaching, I was getting a much needed “shove” into the social media world that surrounded me. For the last three months I have been working to build relationships, make connections and share my knowledge through certain social media outlets. I’m no pro, but I’m starting to get the hang of this.

Bring this full circle, I signed up for my first SXSW event last week. With no idea of what to expect, or even a clue of what to wear (yes, I’m human), you could say I was overwhelmed. I was sitting in a conference with nearly 100 other folks and I’m pretty certain I was the only one in the room without a Smart Phone. All the SA folks around me carry their iPhone and they carry them with pride. Me? I was happy to finally have a phone that had the capability to text easily. It’s the simple things right?

In addition to that, I am fairly certain I was the only business organizer at this event. Heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were no other business organizers at the whole SXSW event. Typically, you will find a business organizer at an organizing event or conference. So, was I wasting my time? I had great intentions when I signed up for the event, but now sitting in a room full of folks who have been submerged in social media for years I was feeling a bit out of place. That is until Chris Brogan got up to speak. I was taking notes furiously, but regardless of my notes there’s one thing that Chris said that has resonated with me since – “People need more time!” My first thought? Well, duh! This of course is no news flash. But, Chris’s message wasn’t about creating more time, or even managing time, it was about listening with intent to what people need, and what they want. Rather than push a product or information onto someone because we think they need it. Instead, start listening with intent – what are you hearing?

No longer did I feel like a fish out of water. I felt energized and encouraged. Do you want to embrace the future? Do you want to keep your business growing regardless of your profession? Then it’s time to make some changes. Listen intently, give people what they really need and want and stop wasting their time with the rest! If you’re really listening intentionally you might just get that next great idea you’ve been waiting for!

P.S. I am now the proud owner of an iPhone!



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2 responses to “Like a Fish Put Back into Water at My First SXSW Event

  1. Congrats! It was also my first SXSW and I’m in the HR industry. I was one of two or three HR peeps who were there. The good news is that you own the organizing industry in the new media space so be proud!


    Jessica Miller-Merrell


    • Hi Jessica! Thanks for the comment! Congrats to you as well on your first SXSW and also congrats on being one of just a few HR peeps there! I’m listening carefully to the small business folks around me and doing my part to keep up! Thanks so much!

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