When I entered the Hyatt Downtown hotel to find the registration area for the Social Media Tulsa 2011 Conference, I was running a wee bit behind, had parked (and trekked) two blocks carrying my very heavy laptop, iPad, charging cords and cable connector laden bag, and was mentally rehearsing the presentation I would shortly be giving on New PR: Beyond the Press Release. In short, I was not really focused on the people or environment around me. Don’t we all get that way? A little wrapped up in our own to-do lists, pressing work, writing, whatever?
Then I rounded a corner about five people said, almost simultaneously, “Hey! It’s Mandy!” I had kind of “Norm!” moment. (If you don’t get it… here’s a YouTube vid to help you, first minute will do it.) And yes, five people mildly excited to see me does equal a “moment” for me. Don’t judge.
The point is I snapped back to the present… engaged, listened, conversed, became social. I left the mental gymnastics and the day’s earlier frustrations behind and settled into the moment. I met lots new people, learned some new information, witnessed other professionals sharing what they knew with the audience. And I presented my session on Public Relations and how to use social tools to get better results. It was a blast… not just because speaking, teaching and interacting like that energizes me, but because the audience rocked. They had great questions, and didn’t wait until very end to ask them. That meant we had the opportunity to branch out and explore a few topics like negative comments, corporate versus personal voices and other aspects of the world of socially enabled public relations. People in the audience were connecting with each other, too, which means more knowledge-sharing and learning per capita than what would have happened if it were just me talking up there.
I left at the end of the day reminded of why I love what I do… I love finding the (sometimes hidden) stories in a company or personal story and helping to tell them through public relations, marketing or even traditional advertising. But, if you don’t get out there and meet people, listen to what they wonder, what they question, what they believe, what they want… you miss out on lots of great stories. Even if they aren’t the kind that need to be told to a wider audience.
I like to speak because I like to connect, listen, learn and share. I like to speak at events like Social Media Tulsa and last month’s Spark and Hustle because the audience they attract is top notch, and that elevates the conversation and connections to a place where the time spent preparing, delivering, and attending the whole conference is totally worth it.
Thanks, SMTulsa people, for making the day such a vivid reminder of why I love what I do and for sharing your day with me and the other speakers… and most especially thanks to Cheryl Lawson for putting the whole thing together. Can’t wait till next year!