SMC Chicago Turns 3 with Sushi and Improv


Hard to believe, but October is SMC Chicago’s third anniversary. Three years, 30 meetings, thousands of attendees – not to mention hundreds of slices of Ramon DeLeon’s pizza later, here’s a look back at our first event and an invitation to join us October 19. Thanks to everyone who’s ever attended, tweeted or watched one of our events. The passion and energy that springs out of this group is astounding!

SMCChicago-Social Media Club Chicago

Thanks to Facebook, we have the original October 2008 SMC Chicago Kick-Off event RSVP list. Take a look at who was who then. We miss you Allan Schoenberg!

[Disclosure: I am a founding SMC Chicago board member and am honored to be working behind the scenes with these talented board members: Jeff Willinger, Tim McDonald, Amy Ravit Korin and Jeannie Walters.]


Here’s how I covered marketing the first SMC Chicago event on wiredPRworks.

Nine days after posting the event on Facebook, the Chicago Social Media Club kick off site recorded 88 confirmed guests, 53 maybe attending, 65 not attending, 67 awaiting reply. Over 60 guests crammed into the Pepper Canister.

In July, the group created the Social Media Club Chicago Facebook site. To promote the kick off, we invited all the members to attend and added a link to the home page.

It was definitely worth the few minutes it took to set up the event site. We found that the Facebook [and accompanying twitter] connections added an automatic ice-breaking element to the event.


Heidi Sullivan, a former SMC Chicago board member, who blogs for Cision wrote ‘Tweet-ups’ become organic networking events for new media mavens.

The night before Halloween was the first official meeting of the Social Media Club of Chicago. As dozens of Chicagoland bloggers, Tweeters (those who microblog on Twitter) and other social media enthusiasts descended upon the bar the Pepper Cannister, I wondered how many other Social Media Club events and Tweet-ups were occurring around the world.

And, Heidi Miller wrote about the event on her blog TalkitUp

Tonight was the first meetup of the Chicago Social Media Club, and River North’s Pepper Canister was packed solid, full of over 200 social media folks hungry for face time. Did we spend a lot of time exchanging Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn profile names? Um, well, yeah, of course. We want to keep in touch, after all. But most of the time we spent doing what communicators do–sharing stories about life in South Africa, commenting on the drinks and the great job the harried waitress was doing, sharing opinions about the newest industry tools from Twitter to Qwitter, discussing the elections and the value of dogs versus cats and asking questions to see if we could help someone else out with a link, a recommendation or an introduction.

And I’m jazzed. I’m energized. Pumped. Excited in a way I just don’t get from typing or texting. The contact, the shouting across the noisy bar, the tasteless jokes–these are things only real face time can provide.

I think Heidi’s count of 200 measured the spirit more than the people. 🙂

How did we get from there to here?

Back in July 2008, a few Chicago social media folks decided that it was time to explore starting a local Social Media Club chapter. A small group standing under a street light at night in front of Monk’s Tavern debated the need for an organized group.

With so much already happening on the social media scene, including the 2016 Olympics meeting we’d just left, we wondered if there was room for a club. Besides with all the tweeting and Facebook going on, who had time to set up something like that?

Someone set up a Facebook page anyway. And, people started to join the group.

A few months later at BlogWorld in Las Vegas, Social Media Club’s co-founder Kristie Wells asked me if I would put the Chicago stake in the ground. “All you have to do is find a place, set a date, and see who shows up,” Kristie advised.

She made it sound so easy. Amber Naslund offered to create content and find a meeting place. We settled on the Pepper Canister. Little did we know that our crowd would push the restaurant way past its capacity limits. Thanks so much to Amber for being there at the beginning and helping us get the lift we needed to take off.

Gratitude goes out to everyone who’s attended an event, joined our Facebook page, tweeted about social media and follows SMC’s motto: “If you get it, share it.”

And now, here’s your invitation, copied from the SMC Chicago eventbrite site.

Celebrate Social Media Club Chicago’s 3rd Anniversary with TweetLife Improv, a Sushi Chef and of course Social Media!

Social Media Club Chicago turns 3 and what better way to celebrate that to take a look at what social media and improv have in common and what we can both learn from each other. And if you love Little Debbie and/or sushi, you won’t want to miss what a sushi chef can create!

October 19, 2011 at Kimball Office located at 325 N. Wells

5:30 – 6:30 Check-in and Networking

5:45 – 6:30 Little Debbie Sushi Demonstration

6:30 – 7:30 Playground Theater’s Tweetlife

7:30 – 8:30 Socialize and Network

Tickets include Little Debbie’s Sushi creations, Dominos Pizza; drinks; and the program.

SMC Chicago SPONSOR Little Debbie

Little Debbie is providing a LIVE sushi demonstration with sushi chef, Little Debbie and you! Be ready to take pictures and taste sushi like you’ve never had before!


Ramon DeLeon, Domino’s Pizza

Ramon is a valued sponsor of Social Media Club Chicago and we look forward to pizza and lava cakes along with some #RamonWOW.


Kimball Office

Create productive work environments with our broad line of quality casegoods, seating, and systems products. An exciting mix of wood, metal, laminate, paint, and fabrics, our office solutions will enhance your distinctive image and provide exceptional value and flexibility for years to come. A culture of caring and a history of building warm, friendly relationships complete the package. The Kimball Office name stands for stability and reliability, and we are committed to providing the ultimate combination of excellent service and superb product solutions. Kimball Office. A place that works for you. 325 N. Wells, 1st floorChicago, IL 60610

Social Media Club Chicago

Social Media Club [SMC] is a worldwide organization, with local chapters, that serves as connecting organization for anyone interested in social media. Membership is free and open to all levels, including beginners. Chicago’s SMC chapter, launched in October 2008, presents events that mix socializing, networking and learning. Barbara Rozgonyi [@wiredprworks], founder and Jeff Willinger [@jwillie], president, lead the Chicago SMC chapter. Amy Korin [@interactiveamy] coordinates volunteers; Tim McDonald [@tamcdonald] manages communications; Jeannie Walters [@jeanniecw] oversees logistics; and Alex Levine [@alexklevine] student/young professional outreach. Event attendees include entrepreneurs, corporate communicators, journalists, business professionals, publishers, marketers, media creators, citizen journalists, students and technology types. For more information, visit, email, follow @smcchicago on twitter, or call 630.207.7530 or 312-970-0846.

Remember this song from 2008? What do you remember most about what’s been happening in social media these past few years?

Image: Barbara Rozgonyi for Y7ESZGHWKZAZ

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