As some of you may have noticed, I’ve been kind of struggling with the online world for the last 6 months or so. I’ve been feeling a little bit at times like I’ve been flailing about here on ye olde blog. I have been let down by some folks, and…well, I’ve just not really felt the love I had for social media when I first started. I pretty much figured that attending my first big social media conference would be a make it or break it moment. I’d either confirm all of my worst feelings about social media or…I wouldn’t.
As you might have guessed from the title, things went pretty well.
Nervous as hell
So, I’ll confess that I was stupidly nervous about meeting so many people from the online world in one fell swoop, and there was one overriding reason for that. As I’ve mentioned before, I stand at 4’5 on a good day. For most of my life, meeting people for the first time has often been accompanied by a multitude of reactions that range from, “Oh, you remind me of my Aunt Helga! She was short too!” to things that are a little less sensitive and a bit more humiliating. The online world has afforded me the opportunity to get to know people as me instead of as short me, and I’ve really treasured that, but I was worried that meeting people in real life would sort of shatter that intellectual equality I’ve enjoyed.
Turns out, I needn’t have worried at all. But I wanted to share this story because as you probably are thinking, everybody has *something* they are worried about in the offline world. Maybe there is something about your eyebrows you don’t like, or maybe you’re not as fit as you’d like to be. But it’s important, I learned, to power through those fears and go ahead and meet people. It turns out it’s well worth it.
This *is* the real world
I’ve gotten a fair amount of snide remarks during my time online because I’m nice to people and because I care about people. These types of criticisms had been affecting me quite a bit. In fact, my pal Sean McGinnis noticed that in my 2-year anniversary post, I didn’t link to any of the peoples’ blogs I was talking about. I said, “Yeah, well, people accuse me of link bait or comment bait when I do that, so I opted not to.” I’ve been told that it’s really not worth it to care about people in the online world, and friends are named too easily – yada yada yada.
But guess what? Meeting people in real life does one thing pretty darned quick. It shows you without a doubt that the people you talk to on these online platforms are REAL PEOPLE. Would you take any crap if you were “called out” for saying something nice about a person offline? I hope not. Well, saying nice things to people online is exactly the same because people is people, as the saying goes. I have no regrets about anything I’ve done online except that I let people almost convince me that what I was doing was a waste of time.
If you’re wondering if you are spending your time online with good people, have a little more faith than you might be inclined to have. They’re really there, even if you can’t see them in 3D most of the time.
There really were a lot of moments during my time in Knoxville that I wouldn’t trade for all the world.
I got to meet Tom Webster and hear him speak – I’ve heard his name all over the place since I’ve been online and now I understand the hype.
I got to give Stan Smith (aka PushingSocial) a great big hug. Even though we are fellow buckeyes, we have to meet in Tennessee. Well, Stan of course abandoned Ohio for Michigan, but we don’t talk about that… 🙂
I got to meet the divine Laura Click, Davina Brewer, Jayme Soulati, and Gini Dietrich.
I got to hang with Sean McGinnis, Brian Vickery, and Sam Fiorella, who I at last got to thwack in real life (now that’s something that IS hard to do online).
I got to hear Mitch Joel and DJ Waldow speak.
I got to meet Billy Delaney (who also gave a great speech).
I got to meet Marcus Sheridan and watch him do his thing (wow!).
I got to finally give a hug to the awesome Jay Baer, who has been a wonderful friend and supporter almost from the time I started tweeting (poor guy).
And of course, I got to meet Mark Schaefer, who is as lovely in real life as he appears online.
There were some bummers along the way – I didn’t get to talk to Mitch Joel or DJ Waldow or a lot of other people. There wasn’t much time or opportunity to really converse with folks like I found myself wanting to do. But this is all building up to future meet-ups.
All of this has proven to me that the reasons why I loved social media so much a year or two ago were legitimate. I no longer have any doubts. I no longer feel like I’m flailing.
I hope you all get to have a similar experience, and sometime soon!
PS – No, I didn’t link to everyone I mentioned here, but that’s because it would just be an obnoxious amount of links. I’m not THAT much of a flip-flopper 🙂
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/basykes/55491077/ via Creative Commons