In the early spring of 2009, I began a love affair that has proved enduring enough to now no longer be considered a fad within my household. I can pinpoint the exact date that I fell in love with and married social media.
April 9, 2009 (I recall this date without even having to look it up) I
registered for a Twitter account as @linzlinzlinz and tweeted a generic
and cliche statement for all the world to soak in:
“I am going to convince myself that I am interesting enough to have this twitter account.”
Genius, it’s not, but almost 6,000 tweets later I’m still trying to convince myself of that interest level and still passionately love social media - maybe now more than ever.
to my Twitter account going live, I had a family blog and a Facebook
account that I used primarily for my own entertainment but hadn’t put
much thought into the future of these mediums in relation to business
strategy. At the time, I was working in the frequent flier (TrueBlue)
department for JetBlue Airways and was sought out to assist the
company’s Corporate Communications team (specifically @MHJohnston) with
their young @JetBlue Twitter account. Twitter for business was still
relatively young and the trails and precedents were still unpaved. It
became quite evident once I was contacted for this project and had set
up my own personal account, that I had a huge learning curve ahead of
leave out the gooey love story, but I fell head over heels. Hard. I was
only scheduled to work part-time but I poured over the @JetBlue Twitter
account (there were only 4 of us on the team at the time) for hours and
hours and hours, easily doubling (maybe even tripling) the hours that I
was technically “supposed” to be working. I couldn’t tear myself away
from the constant feed. I adored answering customers, making cheeky
comments, and solving real-time issues. I felt as if I was making a
difference (even though it was partially indulgent) and could see it all
unfolding in front of me each day.
wasn’t long before our follower count grew from a few hundred thousand,
to close to a million, then over that milestone. For a few years I
don’t think I spent more than 10 minutes thinking about anything else
and my passion was insatiable.
passed and the demands of an audience that never slept and an
increasing recognition of our platform and approach definitely took a
toll on our small Twitter team. Along with our other “real jobs” and
responsibilities from JetBlue, we were all carrying a heavy load.
a bittersweet shift, our small tight-knit team of 4 grew into an entire
department at JetBlue and shortly thereafter I was on my way to new
Why the sappy journal entry? What’s my point?
then, even up until the present time, I’ve been attempting to redefine
my place in social media. It’s obviously not going away, nor is my
intense devotion to it. It has very clearly proved it’s importance in
business, marketing, and overall commercial strategy, as well as the
opportunity it presents as a unique engagement and relationship building
platform. I’ve watched from afar as peers and associates attended
conferences, classes, meetings, and events. Because I was no longer
associated with any one particular brand, I didn’t necessarily feel I
had the ‘right’ to attend these events. I was just ‘the little guy’ -
without any sort of name for myself - how did I fit into these things?
watched from a distance (which is easy to do these days via Twitter,
Facebook, and Instagram) and wished I could justify the involvement.
Luckily, semi-recently I had a lightbulb moment. I remembered something!
Social media is still NEW. It’s still growing, evolving, changing and
we can each still step in with something to offer and because of the
nature of the medium, it’s easier than ever to learn and influence each
other. Our backgrounds are all over the board. Our motives and
intentions vary just as much, BUT the one thing we do all have in common is that, in the grand scheme of things, we’re all somewhat new at this.
I’ve come to grips with the fact that I can’t separate myself from
social media, I’ve had come to grips with the fact that I need to get
involved - most specifically - to connect with others like me. It
doesn’t take long, if you’re in those social media circles to hear
mention of the “life changing” nature of conferences - the pinnacle
I’ve already come out and admitted that I don’t necessarily know
exactly where I fit into all of this, the conference scene concept is
exciting but also incredibly intimidating. Because I’ve committed to Evo
this year, I need to put on my ‘big girl pants’ and find a sensible
approach to dealing with my anxiety. After some thought, I decided that
I’d do exactly what the 5th grade version of me would do - I’d interview
someone with much more experience than myself in order to learn the Evo
conference tricks, tips, and advice of someone much wiser than myself.
new friend Jenny Eckton (@formerlyphread) graciously agreed to give me
the skinny on Evo. I hope that her answers are just as helpful to you as
they are to me.
1. How many years have you attended Evo? Why do you keep coming back?
attended evo since its first year. It’s convenient for me (because I
can drive there), but more than that, it’s the best conference I’ve been
to. From the speakers, classes, and workshops to the activities and
accommodations: it’s world-class, all around.
2. How were you introduced to Evo?
saw people talking about it on Twitter (this was in 2010) and knew of a
few people who were going. I carpooled and roomed with locals whom I
didn’t know until Evo, and we’re all still friends today.
3. Why do you think it’s important to attend? Do you have a goal for attending?
think it’s important for anyone who needs help or inspiration in any
realm of social media to attend. The creativity and support found at Evo
are outstanding. My goal for this year? Well, I get to be one of the
Ignite speakers, so my goal is to make my contribution to that session
up to par with everything Evo represents.
4. Give us three amazing ‘mingling’ tips that have proven to work for you:
1. During a meal, look for a table with people you don’t know; approach and ask directly if you can sit with them.
2. Find a few people that have influenced you and tell them about it. Don’t be afraid to approach them to share that.
There are obvious times to connect but utilize extra times like those
times you’re in shuttles, elevators, and on chair lifts. Put your smile
on and open your mouth. Connection opportunities abound.
5. How do you make real connections there?
seems obvious, but it’s so important to be genuine. Once again, open
your mouth. Take your time, whether it’s talking to other attendees to
or the sponsors.
5. What’s something you’d never ever see on a packing or prep list that you absolutely recommend an attendee bring?
Extra space in your suitcase.
6. In addition to that, name 3 of your “must haves” for Evo?
1. Business cards, business cards, business cards
2. Lotion, sunblock, and a water bottle - Park City is high and dry. Stay hydrated!
3. A light jacket - because Park City is so high, it can get chilly at night, even if it’s scorching in the day.
7. What advice would you give to someone that’s never attended a conference before?
proactive! Like I mentioned before, If you see someone who has made an
influence on you in the online realm, tell them. Reach out to others,
including the sponsors. Make a point to spend time in the Sponsor
8. Is there any unspoken conference etiquette that we need to be aware of?
Not necessarily, but there are a few things I’ve observed. When
you’re interested in getting someone’s business card, simply ask them
for it. In reverse, simply ask, “May I give you one of mine?” Don’t just
dole out cards like playing cards to a group of people around the
table. Be conscious of the approach you take in handing them out.
visiting the mentioned Sponsor Suites will certainly provide you an
opportunity to score some swag. Be sure to mind your manners. Don’t just
grab all the free stuff you can manage. Be conscious of your fellow
9. Tell us three phrases that describe Evo for you?
Top of the line
Welcoming and Inclusive
Incredibly worthwhile (worth your time, worth your money, worth your travel)
you’re anything like me when reading through these insights, you’re
feeling a bit less nervous about Evo already. Prepare yourselves now to
engage, retweet, reply and respond. Make a goal to meet new people and
step out of your comfort zone. Do your homework. Join in the pre-Evo
Twitter chats and take advantage of the Evo pinboard designated for the
2012 Evo Attendees: http://pinterest.com/evoconference/2012-attendee-blog-roll/
These are great methods we can all use to break the ice before we even
arrive, but most importantly, do what Jenny says: Mind your manners and
open your mouth.