SOBCon09 Biz School for Bloggers – Prelude, Postlude, Futuredude

Prelude written on May 1, originally titled “SOBCon09 takeaways”

Reader One: Uh, wait a minute – doesn’t SOBCon09 start today?

Me: Yep, it does.

Reader Two: Then, uh, what’s up with this post called “SOBCon09 takeaways”?

Reader Three: How can you takeaway before you even get start?

Reader Four: Wait - isn’t that completely premature?

Me: No, not really. Let me tell you why . . .

SOBCon09 started when I talked to Liz Strauss about bringing SOBCon09’s speakers and attendees to our Social Media Club Chicago event the night before her event starts. That was last night.

But, maybe it started even before that.

The first night of SOBCon08 was a tough one for me. My in real life personality met my online persona for the first time. I could tell this might be difficult so before I talked to any of the people gathered outside at a cafe waiting to go on a boat ride, I had to have a drink. After slaking my thirst with a cold San Pellegrino at Corner Bakery, I waded into the group not as Barbara Rozgonyi, founder of CoryWest Media, but as “wiredprworks on twitter.com.”

This alone was enough to shake me up, but things got a bit more turbulent on the boat. After the rainstorm passed, we went to the upper deck to view the skyline from a vantage point that was new to me. Chicago gliding by appeared more like a dark, twinkly foreigner than the gritty, but glamorous city I know almost by heart.

Walking down the stairs back into the boat I turned to look at someone and missed stepping up and over into the cabin. I tripped and flew forward into the crowd. “I’ll say one thing: I’ve never seen anyone make an entrance like that,” someone said. It was one of my most painful and embarrassing networking moments ever. [From a public relations perspective, it is okay to attract attention.]

During the conference, I took notes [SOBCon08 coverage] – some almost direct transcripts of each speaker’s presentation. I was too focused on capturing information to loosen up and get to know people. After going blog-less and twitter-free at a recent conference and experiencing the joy of taking notes only when I wanted to, I’m tempted to tether technology outside of the room during SOBCon09.

A few pictures from SOBCon08

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Liz Strauss. . . naturally irresistible.

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Chris Brogan in a jacket.

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with Denise Wakeman

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with Wendy Piersall

[Wendy, we missed you this year.]

Now, about those takeaways. I really don’t have any real ones just yet. But, I am thinking about what I want to walk away with before I walk in. This time, I won’t need to stop for a San Pellegrino before I greet the group. I did that last night at our Social Media Club Chicago event. Thanks to Liz and Terry for letting us combine with their crowd for one night.

Postlude: written May 6-7

I supposed it’s time to write down and broadcast my SOBCon experience. And, why not? Lots of other people are doing it. I commented on their coverage, conversed on twitter and talked about it in our SMC Chicago call yesterday.

As soon as I sum it up, it goes away to be packed up until next time. I’m finding this year I miss the people more. As I told someone at SOBCon, "When I set out to meet people in real life that I first knew from the internet marketing, blogging and social media spheres, I didn’t expect that these people would become the friends I look forward to seeing so much.” Thanks to Liz Strauss and Terry Starbucker for a phenomenal experience.

Starting at 5:00 on Thursday and wrapping up for me at 5:30 on Saturday [for me], this year’s SOBCon was so different than last year: an even more irresistible Liz, major sponsors, less blog talk, more twitter, tight focus on business, accessibly interventions,  renewed relationships and fresh perspectives.

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Check in at the SMC Chicago-SOBCon soiree

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The sophisticated and irresistible Liz Strauss

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with Debba Haupert, Amy Derby, Liz Strauss,

Denise Wakeman and Beth Rosen.

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with David Bullock and Brian Clark – double brilliance

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Chicago friends, including Amy Koran, Melissa Pierce,

Leah Jones and Chris Brogan in Batman’s bedroom

I took technology with me – alternating between live blogging and tweeting - and I learned lots.

Wired PR Works SOBCon09 Twitter Coverage

Trust Agents: Chris Brogan and Julien Smith

Power Positioning: Brian Clark

Barack 2.0: David Bullock

SOBCon 09 Images by Barbara Rozgonyi 

Not as much about blogging as I expected, but more about crafting a persona, place and presence that people can relate to. About how two contrasting ideas that intersect can form a crossroads. About how you need gather groups of 150s. About how it’s cool to drink drinks that match your clothes [no, I didn’t plan that one. I just like green Gatorade]. About how I’ll pace my energy better next time. About how incredibly interesting and fascinating people can be. About how passion for life can play out in multiple channels all at once. About how there is a chair for me when I need one. About how it’s better to wait until the Bulls win the game until you start broadcasting [thank you, Jason Falls]. About how dazzling Chicago looks at night. About how glad I am that I know so many of these people so well. About how this time SOBCon will stay abuzz and regenerating.

Random people-encounter snippets . . . numbered in no particular order, just numbered

1. Exaggerate a personality trait. In my case – believe it or not – it would probably be goofiness. “You come across as very professional online,” said a friend who knows me, slightly. But she’s right. I’m much more starchy and formal here than I am in person. I am not above sending my live audiences into goofy giggles at my expense. It is me or you? I had to ask Becky McCray– she loves to laugh. The more you’re around her, the more you want to crack up, too. Becky McCray – there’s something about farm people. Yep, Becky’s one of them. So is my husband – well, not anymore, but he wishes he was.  I do, too.

2. Breakout fashion session with Liz Strauss and Sheila Scarborough at the coffee bar. Turns out Sheila and I were each fashion-challenged, which kind of surprised me. We both had our shirts tucked in – fail. Out they came, sleeves got rolled up and suddenly we were city chic just like Liz.

3. Note-taking and tweeting with Richard Reeve. Lucky for me, Richard was leaving the hotel the exact same time I was on Friday and Saturday, giving me an opportunity to spend a few minutes with the bright mind who publishes Catskill Cottage Seed. Late as we were on Saturday, we wound up sitting together. Richard, if you’re reading this, I’m offering you one last sincere aplogy for my laptop jumping off the table while I wasn’t there. Guess it went into twitter overload.

4. Talking with Chris Garrett while overlooking Millennium Park – discussing business models with Chris was like being seated at the center of the blogging and social media universe. Who would want to move – especially when there’s an English accent on everything?

5. The $2800 tablemate – or how ever much Doyle’s Macbook costs. Now I really want to buy one. It is so rude to talk while speakers are speaking. I hate that. But, I couldn’t resist watching the Spud Bros video with Doyle Albee, a PR master from Boulder who remembered me from our first meeting in Las Vegas last fall at BlogWorld Expo. Chicks Who Click is Doyle’s production.

6. Dinner with two divas - was I dreaming or did I really have dinner with Gail Lynne Goodwin and Duong Sheahan? It was sooooooo late Friday night and I’m afraid I didn’t fully participate in hearing their magical stories. They seemed too real to be true at the time, but when I woke up and wandered into their sites online, I found the stories were deeper than the ones I heard. What an honor to be in their company that night.

7. Being friends with the Homecoming Queen, aka Beth Rosen. Beth is everywhere. That’s why I’m convinced that there must be at least four Beth Rosens. We met last fall. Beth is one of the more dedicated and interesting people I’ve met in this space. On the surface, she’s amazing, but she’s astounding when you consider she has four – count ‘em – four teenagers. I only have three.

8. Jen Knoedl is the filmmaker who live streamed the event. Last year at this time, Jen was brand new to Chicago. It’s been fun to watch Jen over the year and even more intriguing to see her interact in a group with her zen-like observations and event-enhancing live video.

9. Lunching with Denise Wakeman, founder of The Blog Squad, was more than engaging – it was tradition. Wish I would have had my video camera recording her smart business blogging insights. Lucky for me, this was the third conference that I’ve seen Denise at in the past year.

10. Brad Shorr is one of my favorite go-to guys for business advice. Once again, he helped me confirm blog and business decisions and directions.

11. Lorelle Van Fossen wins a few awards: most helpful guest from SMC Chicago, best introducer and most passionate about finding ways to help people change the world. As an aside, Lorelle told me people crack up watching me in this video [live from the ladies’ room] about how WordPress changes lives. Lorelle’s post about Glenda Watson Hyatt’s presentation on accessibility includes a video.

12. Mary Lynn Foster and George Krueger of Bigg Success interviewed me for their radio show a few months ago – so good to sit with them in the business session and compare notes.

13. Kristin King, another writer – whose work I admire – and a conference buddy who’s always great to see again.

14. Phil Gerbyshak – mega watt personality from a guy who knows how to Make it Great.

15. Michelle Lamar – met her for the first time. She thinks women in Chicago look really young – who wouldn’t love her just for that? Looking forward to seeing Michelle at BlogHer in July.

16. What a pleasure to meet Vicky H who was the friendly SOCBOn twittter greeter – and to welcome her to our sold out SMC Chicago party.

17. Chicago folks: Hope Bertram, Theresa Carter, Kurt Scholle – fab SOBCon photo collection, Daniel Honigman, Bruce Montgomery, Amy Koran, Daniel Hindin,Collin Canright, Jason Tews, Amy Hesser, Carter, Amy Derby, Leah Jones, Melissa Pierce – finally got to meet her!, Francine McKenna, – coolest outfit on Friday night and Amber Naslund

18. Huge thanks to Jeff Willinger of RightPoint Consulting, my co-leader at SMC Chicago, who got the space for the Thursday night pre-party – Kimball Office and stayed to clean up afterwards while I wandered off to CityScape. Jeff talked about entrepreneurism at SOBCon: “It’s all about the W-2 and having fun.” And on that note. . .

Futuredude – Ramsey Mohsen’s SOBCon video sets the tone for 2010

At the end of day  two, a  high energy young man named Ramsey introduced himself. We talked for about 10 minutes, but I could’ve listened to him talk about his projects, like the Ugly Christmas Sweater party, for hours. His infectious passion for life was the punctuation point that closed SOBCon for me. Here’s his video – Ramsey personifies SOBCon’s future, dude.

What do you think we'll be talking about at SOBCon this time next year?

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