This was my second year to attend the Tulsa Social Media Conference, put on by the effervescent Cheryl Lawson, aka @PartyAficionado and her team of hard working social mavens. Last year’s conference exceeded my expectations. There was national as well as local talent. I got to meet some people, both far away and local, that I’ve kept in touch with over the last year.
I registered again for this year’s conference and drove to Tulsa last week, (March 20-21, 2014) full of expectations. The prep work and all the on-line advance information rivaled that of NMX. It was very easy to find and get information on my device, on-line or for print. There were Tweet chats and opportunities to engage with our speakers before arrival, all things one should do to really get the most from conferences. We had our own hashtag #SMTulsa – go take a look at the tweets – being social, there was a steady stream of tweets with speaker quotes, links and just great information.
Last year, we were at the historic Mayo Hotel and this year at the downtown Aloft Hotel. Loved the Mayo historical feel, but the Aloft was cozier, warmer and more intimate. Upon arrival, there was coffee, tea or water. Lunch was included both days and the parking was free in downtown Tulsa – can’t ask for more than that! My registration fee was discounted at $150 because I registered early. So if you’re at all interested, put a calendar reminder together for October/November this year and look for the early-bird pricing.
The mix of people there was interesting – I met social media interns, business people who knew they needed to be ‘social’ and came for instruction, social media managers and corporate business people. It was great to have this mix and there was something for everyone.
There were keynotes throughout the day and then there were breakout sessions, so often it was difficult to chose which session to attend. Luckily, we have links to the presentations to review. Here are some of the photos I took at the conference (apologize for the poor quality). There are more here and here.
Importance of Attending Conferences
If you’re a small business, fledgling business or established, it’s important for all to get out of our offices and meet and network with people. Then when you go, you must talk and meet people. Yes, I know this is hard for some of us, but that’s why you’re there – right! I’ve been to enough of these conferences that it’s now pretty easy to strike up a conversation with someone.
I knew of some folks attending SM Tulsa, but there’s no guarantee I’d run into them right away. So when I got there, I found a table with a few people but plenty of space and introduced myself and chatted.
When we had a meet and greet at the beginning of the conference, I got to meet Cynthia Hendershot, an Officer from Citizens Bank in Edmond. I was delighted to meet someone from Edmond and knew that Citizens Bank is very active, both socially and in the community. I ended up sitting at her table and getting to know her and some other people from Tulsa and Vinita. Then the next day, I got to meet the President of Citizens, Jill Castilla, who is pretty much a social legend around the Edmond/OKC area. I have plans to have coffee with them soon and visit some more!
As you meet people, try to be helpful and if there is a tip you can pass along, an introduction you can make for someone to help their business, that’s the right thing to do!
I listened to Allison Griffith from Refunk My Junk (also from Edmond). I enjoyed both her talk and her engaging style of speaking. The next day, I introduced myself to her and asked if she might be interested in being on the local Becky Ivins Real Estate radio show. It happens every Saturday morning on 1000 KTOK, 8 AM. Becky has guests on most weekends and just had an HGTV star on. I thought with Allison’s local ties, her presence on the show might be more interesting for the local audience. Since I know Becky, I emailed her and was happy to facilitate Allison’s upcoming appearance on the show (April 26, 2014, 8 AM).
At any conference, there are the scheduled sessions where learning occurs and ideas exchanged, but often more important, there is that undercurrent of energy going on in the halls or at the tables or perhaps in the lunch line where you get the opportunity to help or be helped by someone there.
Most people say it’s the people they meet more than the sessions, that make a conference worthwhile. So, if you’re in a small or solo business, it is so worthwhile to search out and then attend conferences in your area of interest. Share your experiences in the comment section!