SOBCon08 Biz School for Bloggers: Connections and Community

Filed as Editorial, News on May 7, 2008 3:03 pm

Photos from SOBCon by Wendy PiersallThe worst part of the Successful and Outstanding Bloggers Conference (SOBCon) is that I now have to add over a hundred feeds to my feed reader.

When you are in a room with over a hundred of the most powerful, exiting, socially aware and responsible, and enthusiastic bloggers, your feed reader count is going to grow. Not to mention your Twitter list. And Skype. And GTalk. And email list and all the other ways we stay in touch.

The most amazing part of SOBCon this year is the proof that lightening does strike twice. It struck twice in Chicago as and Terry Starbucker hosted the second annual SOBCon event, bringing together top notch bloggers for The Biz School for Bloggers, helping bloggers learn how the blog marketplace works and how to turn those blogging connections and decisions into money.

As both speaker and attendee, Anita Bruzzese wowed the audience on tips for being a blogging journalist and social responsibility for what you publish. She also admitted that she had no idea what people were talking about throughout the weekend (describing it as Klingon) and that she has a lot to learn about blogging.

Many were impressed with the presentation by David Bullock, especially when he blew the crowd away with:

I have the selling figured out, but I can’t get a comment. You all have communities, online families, and the comments flow in. We have opposite sides, and I want your side…

You have done the hard part. As far as I’m wired, the selling is easy. Do you know there are salespeople everywhere dying to get a sense of community and bonding that you have so successfully achieved? You have already done the hard part. I want what you have.

As Jesse Petersen summed up, we were here to learn from him and here he was, anxious to learn from us:

…he would trade the money that he has channeled by using the Internet for a community and then build up the money later. To him, doing what came naturally to us was awe-inspiring.

So, what am I going to do with this information? I’m going to concentrate on my readers more and stop trying to drive traffic as a primary goal. If I take care of them, they will take care of the rest. As Liz said with her brief five minutes, “Don’t sell your customers something they don’t need or what you think they need. Sell them what they want.” The term “sell” there applies to readers as “give” and customers as “sell.” It’s up to me to determine who my audience is and not get the two groups confused.

Photos from SOBCon by Wendy PiersallA weekend at SOBCon brought Brian Clark of to write The Snowboard, the Subdural Hematoma, and the Secret of Life, sharing his most life changing moment with his reader, putting himself out publicly on how he got where he is, stunning and humbling his readers as never before. If that’s what SOBCon can do for him, one of the most popular bloggers in the world, then think of what it could do for you.

This is an example of why SOBCon is unlike any other conference. The speakers are there to learn as much as the participants. All are on equal footing when it comes to truly understanding this new technology and the virtual global village being built on the web with blogs.

I’ve found the most amazing recommendations for an event is the comments during and after, so I’ll let others have their say and share their experiences.

A gathering of like minded individuals is a beautiful thing, a gathering of like minded bloggers gathered to learn about the business of blogging is even more of a beautiful thing.

That was a mouthful.
Karen Hanrahan of Best of Mother Earth

Photos from SOBCon by Wendy Piersall[SOBCon ] summarizes what we bloggers are really all about. Why we do what we do. Why we come together to encourage each other and learn from each other.
Carpe Factum

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the business school for bloggers, also known as SOBCon08. With an impressive list of speakers and an equally, if not more so, impressive list of attendees, there was plenty to learn.

In the coming weeks I will be sharing some of the juicy nuggets of wisdom that I took away from SOBCon08.
Derek Semmler

These People are Passionate about their Businesses, their Families, their Cities, their Pet Projects. They are Real people, just like you and me and they Love what they Do. If you had a question, they had an answer. If they didn’t have the answer, they would help you find the answer. It’s almost like we always knew each other, friends helping friends and sharing because that’s what friends do.
Joe of Working at Home Internet

We hear that cliche all the time, especially with blogging. Content is king. I know it’s debatable for some. And other factors do weigh in, for sure. But the speakers at SOBCon08 provided us with some tremendous content and we were given an opportunity right at the conference to set down some ways to apply that content to our own businesses.
Chris Cree

Photos from SOBCon by Wendy PiersallThe session Saturday was so packed full of ideas that inspired me and light bulb moments that my brain was numb by the close of the session.
Chris Brown of Brand and Market

The people I’ve met are what it’s all about. And meeting them face to face at events like SOBCon is like icing on the cake.

The really powerful outcome of the event was the personal connections. Blogging has changed my life – and I don’t say that lightly.

Throughout the presentations, everyone was posting on twitter important points and tips shared by the speakers. This enabled thousands of people who could not attend the event to get a flavor of what was going on and to participate in a limited way by commenting and asking questions.
Denise Wakeman

Of the many many things I will take away from SOBCon08 perhaps the most powerful is the sense that I am part of a community. It’s not a community of elitists as we see too often. It’s a community that is open and encouraging and welcoming. It didn’t matter that I walked in the door with a small obscure blog, SOBCon’rs still went out of their way to make me a part of what was happening.
Matt Murphy of Matt’s Cuppa

…But I did pick up a lot of ideas to riff on, and the heart of SOBCon itself is one of them:

Community Is Fundamental

Community, along with ego and family and mortality, is one of those primal driving forces. If you want to tap into something deep and fundamental in order to deliver your message, community is one of the options.
Sonia of Remarkable Communitions

Today is the last day of the “blogging biz school” and yesterday’s presenters were great – each of them had a unique slant on how to establish your blogging platform and what to expect from your blogging efforts.
Stephan Hopson – Adversity University Blog

Communities Don’t Get Built, They Grow

In other words, trust. Trust in people who trust.

An incredible experience is built on trust. Trust yourself. Trust the people around you. Trust that when things don’t go perfectly other folks will understand. People do the most amazing things in a community filled with trust. They change, grow, learn, connect, feel, and communicate. They smile at the drop of a hat.

It’s that easy.
Liz Strauss

We shared – learning, laughter, fresh air, excitement, joy, a hug, the skyline of Chicago, we broke bread together, and shared a beer. What better ways to know a man.
Todd Jordan

People, if you’re not here, you are missing out big. I’m so, so serious about this. SOBCon is one of the least expensive and most valuable conferences I have attended to date, and although it’s only one day of official sessions, it has been nonstop learning since I got to my hotel and connected with my first fellow blogger here.

From meeting people I recognized from their Twitter avatars to hearing URLs and throwing my arms around folks I’d been reading for more than a year but had never known their names, it’s been both emotional and incredibly educational.
Kristen King

The fascinating finding here for Cubicle Warriors is that the principles for business, whether physical at work or online, are very similar. There are customers. There is the purpose of your work for your customers. There is efficiency for the work being done to make ourselves better. And there is personal development to make ourselves (and our careers) better. There is an international group of speakers providing great input to what we do. A great way to spend the weekend.
Scot Herrick of Cube Rules

The subtitle of the conference should have been “Hugfest 2008?. I have never had the quantity and quality of hugs from so many people. This will be one of my enduring take aways and I am deadly serious. Until the internet can deliver a hug experience, ie. an unmistakable and deep human connection, we will need to keep going to events such as SOBCon (especially SOBCon).

Photos from SOBCon by Wendy PiersallLiz told me what to expect but of course the reality can never be done justice with words, it has to be experienced.

As far as learnings, my head is still buzzing. Every single person I met gave me a new, fresh and invigorating perspective. There are people using this social media stuff for everything from adversity, to parenting to health. We had an expert on making sales coming from the other direction and wanting to make community, and we had the guys with community asking how they can make sales without losing the trust of their audience. A lot to process. I am sure there are lots of reports popping up all over and I will try to link to some in a future post.
Chris Garrett

You can read more about what people had to say about the event in SOBCon08 Devoured; SOBCon09 in the Oven, and check out the non-stop stream of Twitters and blog posts from the Technorati tag for SOBCon08.

Much thanks to Wendy Piersall and her SOBCon Flickr set of photographs.

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  1. By Kristen King posted on May 7, 2008 at 3:14 pm
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    What a great roundup of quotes and photos, Lorelle. This is so cool, all of these posts about SOBCon — it’s like a giant scrapbook we’re all making together. I love it.

    Reply

  2. By Todd Jordan posted on May 7, 2008 at 3:18 pm
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    Woot and wow! What a post Lorelle. I was just saying on Utterz, not half an hour ago, that someone should put together a post linking all of us who wrote posts about SOBCon08. For me, there are more posts to write to go with the ones already.

    So much goodness all in one place, and I can only echo what was said above.

    Thanks.

    Reply

  3. By Joe posted on May 7, 2008 at 4:05 pm
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    Hey Lorelle,
    Nice job. The problem is that no words can really describe the atmosphere of actually being there.
    I loved seeing you and Liz and Terry and… again and expecially sharing the whole thing with all our new friends.
    Will be there for the ’09 experience. Looking forward to seeing you all again.

    Reply

  4. By Stephen Hopson posted on May 7, 2008 at 5:00 pm
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    Lorelle:

    My new best friend! When I read Chris Garrett’s quote, I let out a loud, hearty belly-laugh when he suggested that perhaps the conference should have been named “Hugfest 2008.” Oh Good Lord, he was absolutely right.

    You and I know it was a most incredible experience for many of us, myself included. The sense of community that was present was incredible. Never before did I feel like I truly belonged! It goes to show just how powerful a blogging community can become because not only does it attract positive and enthusiastic people but it also creates an atmosphere of unparalleled trust, the likes of which I’ve rarely seen at conferences.

    Hugfest it is! LOL.

    Reply

  5. By Liz Strauss posted on May 7, 2008 at 6:02 pm
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    Hiya!
    Just like last year, I came home a different person. Every thought that contributed and made something that was bigger than all of us. We had an extreme incredible experience. I plan to make another one. I sure hope we all come together again!

    Thank you, Lorelle, for all that you contributed. You are a glorious and wonderful part of all of this.

    Reply

  6. By Easton Ellsworth posted on May 8, 2008 at 12:22 am
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    Dad gummit, Lorelle. Awesome awesome stuff here.

    How’s that for eloquent? :P

    Loved SOBCon08. I hope to go to SOBCon09 and get as many others to go as I can.

    Reply

  7. By Chris Garrett posted on May 8, 2008 at 5:29 am
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    That is a fantastic writeup, I am glad you did it because now I don’t have to put the work in to create a summary, it’s all here! ;) It amazes me how the buzz from the event is still going on, people are telling me just from articles such as this one they are feeling bad for missing out. Can you imagine what next year will be like? :)

    Reply

  8. By Anita Bruzzese posted on May 8, 2008 at 6:42 am
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    OK, I wasn’t TOTALLY clueless…just at times. (I caught all the “a’s” “and’s” and “the’s”.)
    Seriously, it was an amazing experience, and one of them was meeting the real person behind Lorelle at WordPress. Thank you for being so giving of your time and energy. (Personally, I think you should bottle and sell that energy thing. That’s a real money-maker, in my estimation.)

    Reply

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