We do not remember days; we remember moments.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Successful and Outstanding Bloggers Conference (SOBCon) in Chicago last weekend was a collection of moments I will remember for a long time.
Throughout the weekend, people kept asking what was different about this conference from all the other conferences they go to. It was clear it was different, and different from the first moment. Why?
Was it because it was a group of bloggers? I’ve been to blog events and while that was part of the reason, it wasn’t the whole reason.
After the first pre-conference party, Joanna Young of Confident Writing made an attempt to explain it. She said that so many business conferences are filled with attendees that arrive with an agenda. It’s all about them and what they can get. It’s all about grasping the opportunities. Admitting she hadn’t been prepared for the openness, she struggled to make sense of it. I told her that there is something special about social bloggers. They don’t arrive to such events ready to grasp and grab. They arrive with open hands, waiting for whatever drops in.
As fans of Liz Strauss, the leading expert in the art of the blog conversation and online community building and producer of SOBCon, the people within the room in Chicago read each others blogs. Even if they didn’t, they had some notion of the type of blogger they were, and cut to the chase. Unlike other conferences, conversations didn’t start with “How do you do. Nice to meet you. What do you do?” There was no need to explain what blogging is or why it’s easy to get so passionate about it. We knew all that. We got right to the point.
“Tell me about you.”
It wasn’t about me. It wasn’t about preconceptions or assumptions. These people were here for the connections, not the surface stuff. As showcased in the post-conference reactions, there was a level of honesty and sincerity that was extraordinary. People didn’t want to play the typical social games. They wanted to get right to the heart of the issues. No holds barred.
In her presentation, Liz Strauss made these important points that might help define the difference:
Customers: Is your traffic a reader or a customer?
Don’t sell your customers something they don’t need or what you think they need. Sell them what they want.
Make it about them.
How to be irresistible. They are all about Frosted Mini Wheats. The fiber appeals to the adult in me. The sugar appeals to the kid in me. If I don’t want breakfast, you need to tell me something to make me want them. Tell me they make a good snack or that they are good for me.
Head, heart, and meaning. Make the connection.
Make it about them. Sound familiar? For these bloggers, it wasn’t about them. Having learned that the strength in a successful blog is making the blog about the readers and giving them what they want, the conference attendees understood how to connect in person, too. Make it about them, not you. When you do, you’re more interesting, and they want to know you better. You make them want to come to you.
A lot of business connections were made this past weekend. And a lot more will develop over the next year or two. These connections will be stronger as the courtship dance was over before they ever met.
I’ve been to a lot of blog conferences and events, but there is something special about SOBCon. Maybe you and the attendees can explain it better, but I think Wendy Piersall of Spark Plugging summed it up very nicely:
SOBCon is like walking into a room of your best friends you have yet to meet.
We weren’t there for the day. We were there for the moments. And we got them.