On January 20th 1997, while I was holidaying in The Netherlands, I started my adventure into the corporate world with a new job at IBM, as a Customer Support Representative for the Mainframe. 16 years later that adventure continues, and big time!, still having just as much fun as I did in Day One. So much so that later on this week I will begin tasting the Joy of Business Travelling, once again, and that this year is going to take me to a good number of countries and continents I haven’t visited just yet, for which I am really excited about, as you can imagine. But, for now, I’m starting to get things ready for IBM Connect 2013, which kicks off on January 27th till the 31st, and which surely promises to be one of those events difficult to forget around the space of Social Business. Are you ready?
Well, before you answer that question, and while you may want to go ahead and check out the superb agenda put in place, I would like to ask you to go and have a look into the wonderful short article put together by the one and only, Seth Godin, on the topic of “When a conference works (and doesn’t)“. What a delightful read packed up with plenty of helpful tips on how to build, perhaps, a new strategy, in case you haven’t done so in the past, when attending face to face conference events, like I am about to do later on this month.
I thought perhaps for today’s blog post I would go ahead and highlight a couple of those tips that I thought would be worth while sharing across and which match, somewhat, some of my own experiences attending face to face conference events in the recent past. As a starting point:
“[…] someone is going to say or do something that might just change everything. Something that happens in the moment and can’t possibly be the same if you hear about it later […] In the digital age, if I can get the notes or the video later, I will“
Indeed, this is what I have been telling folks over and over again. Focus on the face to face conversations, the networking aspects of the event, specially, with those folks who 1. You may not know just yet, so you can keep expanding your network beyond your usual suspects or echo chamber(s) and 2. You may not be able to see them F2F again throughout the remaining of the year. Think of it as your last chance in the year to catch up with them F2F. Don’t waste that opportunity. Seize it and make the most out of it. The notes, and video streaming, indeed, you can always get them later. No doubt. The conversations, you won’t.
“[…] If there’s vulnerability and openness and connection […]“
This is something that I am going to be trying it out myself quite a bit in numerous other conference events this year, but certainly going to kick if off at IBM Connect 2013. Actually, not just me, but two of my co-presenters and myself, when on Tuesday 29th at 5:30pm local time, we will go up on stage to kick off our session on “Pardon the Interruption at IBM Connect 2013” around Social Business, Adoption Techniques, Enablement, Collaboration, Online Communities and Social Networking for Business in general. Perhaps even a bit on Open Business as well, why not?
Yes, that will be the time when “The Three Louie” (Louis Richardson, Luis Benitez and yours truly) will throw themselves into the lions living through that vulnerability, openness and connection in chunks of 3 minutes at a time with whatever the question folks in the audience may well have around all of these topics related to social networking for business. We are currently gathering questions over in Twitter under #ptisocialbiz so if you happen to attend IBM Connect 2013 as well and have got a burning question you would want to share with us, drop it over there and we will grab it for the session. If not, take them with you and ask them live while we are all there. Perhaps even more fun to show how vulnerable we may all well be with the unexpected! After all, what are the chances for you to see The Three Louie on stage at any given conference event? It’s a rare occasion, I can tell you that, since it will be the first time we are all three on stage on the same session. That promises to be plenty of really good fun, I can guarantee you that! Even more if you look into the time of the day for our slot and what we may be bringing up with us along the way … 😉
Following further along on Seth’s reflections about face to face events and how to get the most benefits from them, here’s one of my favourite quotes from the entire post:
“(At most events, competitiveness born from insecurity trumps mutual support)“
And you know why that happens in most cases? At least, in my own opinion? Well, mostly because, due to that competitiveness flair going around, people who attend face to face conferences don’t have a tendency to be generous on the information, knowledge and experiences they share. Quite the opposite. They are always a little bit reluctant to share openly what drives their passion, their interests and their motivation to attend the event, just because they feel they need to protect something: their selves. Well, not really. This is pretty much what I have been saying for years around the well known mantra of “Knowledge is power“. Yes, it is, of course, it always has been and always will be. But make it square, please! It’s “Knowledge SHARED is power”.
Indeed, the more you share generously about what you are doing, what you know, what you are good at demonstrating your thought leadership, the much more powerful you become, because it’s that visibility at conference events that clearly highlights how you will continue to build those strong personal business relationships. So get out of your comfort zone a little bit. Throw yourself into the lions, once again, of those who are thirsty for your knowledge and share it across generously. What’s the worst thing that can happen? That they now possess your knowledge? So what? You are the one who knows the most about that piece of knowledge or information in the first place and you would just need to remember that we, human beings, are just so bad in documenting and transferring our knowledge across through oral or written forms that no matter how much you share openly you would still be the one who knows the most about that particular subject. Always. Do remember the brilliant KM principles from my good friend Dave Snowden on Rendering Knowledge that would still apply and very much so. Don’t forget that tidbit that most people seem to ignore time and time again since they decide to go the easy way out: hoarding their knowledge. Don’t! Share it generously. For your own benefit and for the benefit of your networks. They will remember you for that.
As Seth mentions in a rather smart and succinct manner on his blog post, you will become their hero because you have finally realised, at long last, you don’t have much to lose, but a lot to win.
[Really looking forward to seeing everyone at IBM Connect 2013 and, please, don’t be shy. If we bump into each other, say “Hi!”. It’s the greeting that kicks off the magic of serendipitous knowledge discoveries from conversations you may have with your networks and other people!]