While presenting “She Said, He Said” at She Streams in Ft. Lauderdale last weekend was a great opportunity, the knowledge I acquired and the connections I made as an attendee at the conference were invaluable as well.
I know that not everyone can attend every conference and, when I find myself at one that really resonates with me, I like to share some of the stories and moments to the community. (By the way, Jim has his own takeaways from She Streams – and he should since he was one of the few men there – and he’ll be sharing his tomorrow.)
Make a difference
No one (at least not anyone who knows me) will be surprised when I say I was pretty active in the #shestreams Twitter feed during the two-day conference. Of course, I retweeted some of the gems that the very smart attendees (mostly women, ha!) posted. My favorite tweet, which I even brought up in our presentation, was:
“Make a difference, give back, lose the me, me, me.”
I don’t remember who tweeted it, but she happened to be at our session so I was able to compliment her on the simple brilliance of that statement. It is so easy to say, yet sometimes so difficult to do in our everyday business and/or personal lives. These are the types of statements I latch onto at conferences. It will forever be written down in my notebook as a reminder of how I want to be both personally and professionally.
The journalist in me loved it
When I attend trade shows and conferences, I love using Twitter to report and cover the events. Twitter allows me to get a behind-the-scenes dialogue going with speakers and other attendees. That’s the journalist in me that will never die.
So imagine how thrilled I was to attend Cindy Goodman’s session on social journalism. Goodman is a columnist for the Miami Herald, but she also has a national award-winning blog called the Work Life Balancing Act.
In her session, Goodman gave out some great tips on how to get journalists’ attention. However, I was most interested in her examples of journalists using social media to break news and discuss it with readers. At the end of the session, we had an intriguing discussion about how journalists’ jobs and sometimes ethics have changed with the introduction of social media.
This entire session was like marrying my two professional loves (journalism and social media) together. I could have stayed to discuss for another hour.
It’s about the people, but don’t forget the sponsors
I met too many people at She Streams to list them all or relay every conversation we had. However, I made sure to introduce myself and start those conversations. Everyone has a story to tell and the attendees at this conference all had different reasons for being there.
This conference had a strong video component so Jim and I planned ahead to highlight some of the attendees at the conference by creating a video review. We intended to let our subjects give us their 30-second spiel and then we would share it.
However, who knew that a stop by a sponsor booth would be a highlight in this planned video? We met Tracy Walsh Deforge of Burst, a photo- and video-sharing network with a focus on privacy, by chance on the first day of She Streams. She ended up being part of our video, but so did her new product.
This experience was a strong reminder to me not to ignore sponsors as you are going through the conference door. Jim and I have already talked about how to incorporate Burst into our SheHe Media marketing strategy.
No diapers here, but I’ve lived on $80 a week
I don’t have children so I wasn’t sure if I would be able to relate to keynote speaker Jennifer Labit’s story about her Cotton Babies company, which sells cloth diapers and other baby necessities. I shouldn’t have worried.
Labit told her story about how she had her three children close together and was scraping money together to feed her growing family. She started Cotton Babies from nothing in a market where the demand is large but so is the supply. But she did something different: She focused on cloth diapers. The “taking a chance and doing something different” is what made the company successful; and trust me, it’s very successful.
Her story made me think about my own journey down the ol’ career path. Two years ago, I was sitting in a cubicle making adequate money but unhappy with where I was on my path. Eventually, I decided to take a chance and do something different. During my first year, I did have weeks when the checking account dictated that I live rather frugally.
I had a chance to speak to Labit after her talk that day. I asked her some questions but the one I wanted to ask her – “Was it worth it?” – never left my lips. I could tell by casually talking to her and watching her interact with her husband and three children, who attended the conference with her, that it was more than well worth it.
I had a revelation that day that all of this – whatever this turns out to be – will be well worth it too.