Last fall I attended Event Camp Twin Cities as a registered virtual attendee, and then repeated that experience at PCMA 2011. Both experiences had their benefits, heightened by the level of engagement of both the f2f and the virtual attendees sharing ideas and knowledge together.
Both provided opportunities to see that there is a community far beyond the limitations set by geography, finances, or time to meet people and share thoughts, ideas and concrete data on moving our industry continually forward. As our participants become more connected and more knowledgeable via multiple streams available to all of us at the touch of a keyboard, mobile device or tablet, it is incumbent upon us as meeting and event professionals to create environments that are most conducive to engagement, contribution, relationship building and higher learning.
All of this led me to the decision that I MUST attend Event Camp National Conference in Chicago, and what a great decision that was. Here are a few of the things I learned. These are not even the "real" take-aways - for that I will refer back to the twitter stream and remind myself (and so many others) of all of them!
1. Engaging in social media with #eventprofs and #engage365 among others provided a sense of community prior to attending - I could not wait to meet my new #ecnc tweeps!
2. When you already have a sense of who is attending, there is a sense of anticipation that cannot be duplicated - you are going to meet friends, and that awkwardness of attending a conference alone is non-existent. This can obviously have applications for many.
3. It takes a community. Thank you @mizcity @jessicalevin @mmcallen @heidithorne @michaelmccurry and others across all the event camps who have taken the responsibility to make these great.
4. You meet people with hugs not handshakes - I arrived to meet at least 15 friends, but had only met one before f2f (@glennthayer you are even more interesting than I could have imagined - thank you for the fantastic stories)
5. Virtual hosts, or as we are about to call them Hybrid Event Concierges (yes you heard it first at #ECNC @EricaStAngel) such as the role Glenn Thayer brought to ECNC are an integral part of a hybrid experience
6. Catalyst Ranch - just google this - very cool, very thought provoking, very inspired venue when you are seeking solutions, innovations or just plain happiness (they will outsource their design ideas too). Plus, the food was great - awesome selection, lots of nutritious choices, and enough "play" food that it offered a great balance.
7. It is good to share - I had the opportunity to share my room with the most lovely young lady @lizkingevents and this was one of the best parts of my experience, and another community builder (yes Liz you will see me in New York!)
8. The ability to capture information and to extrapolate learnings in real time through a combination of lecture, discussion and the ongoing ubiquitous twitter stream adds a depth to understanding that cannot be replicated
9. Involving virtual attendees and presenters via Skype adds dimension to what we learn and provides alternate perspectives that could not otherwise happen
10. There is no longer a separation from real and virtual - social networks - whichever you may choose to engage in (or not) are going to continue to grow in strength and numbers, and embracing it opens up doors you can't yet imagine
11. There are people in the world who are scared of pickles. Really.
12. Virtual presenters when added via Skype are an excellent way of sharing and thank you to @lindydreyer @GreenA_V and Klososky (see below) for taking the time and making this work
13. Your own community will have great presenters - and using crowdsourcing to narrow down presenters and topics ahead of time can help drive sessions people want. @brandtkrueger @glennthayer and @psalinger among those I saw - thank you for bringing it
14. @chrisbrogan @lizstrauss are both as nice and as smart and as funny as you would expect - I remain impressed
15. @kikilitalien - you are the sweet spot - of social media and more
16. You can change the world one teen at a time. Their perspectives are incredible and thank you @hankwasiak for your incredible, inspiring stories
17. Mullets are still in fashion. Right @ScottKlososky ?!?
18. Social media crosses all boundaries of age, gender and experience. This is a very, very good thing.
19. Social media may be the bane of privacy and legal departments but it is here to stay so learning how to use it to your advantage, is to your advantage.
20. An engaged virtual audience adds depth - thank you to so many of you who shared - check out the on-line archives to see all that everyone had to say - some amazing takeaways.
21. On - line archiving. ROCKS. Thank you Event Camp for continuing to keep the messages alive. Follow the #ecnc tag or Event Camp
22. The Velvet Chainsaw and Mid-course Corrections @velchain @jeffhurt - you are as relevant and engaging in real life, ok, maybe more.
23. Event Camp West Coast. Please.
24. You never know where the next great idea is going to come from (as in the above). One great (unrelated) idea I see coming is from @tracibrowne, trade show maestro and @asegar (Conferences That Work, a totally excellent read) is Exhibit Camp - which looks to me like it will be a most unique opportunity for exhibitors who want to maximize their opportunities that drive revenue. Oh how I love awesome ideas!
I look forward to seeing what else people have to share.