SOBCon08: A Conference Experienced in the Moments

Filed as Editorial on May 8, 2008 6:41 pm

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 , 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 . Maybe you and the attendees can explain it better, but I think 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.

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  1. By Liz Strauss posted on May 8, 2008 at 8:52 pm
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    We had the time of our lives and every moment counted.

    Wow! Lorelle! Reading this felt like being there again. I leave tomorrow for London. A professor from City U wrote me today to tell me what she wanted to learn. She said that she wanted to know the what and why about using blogs, the challenges we have faced and how we’ve overcome them. I’m back to that word, trust.

    Thank you, Lorelle, for reminding me that the value is in the spaces, not the words. :)

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  2. By Tammy Lenski posted on May 9, 2008 at 3:53 am
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    Lorelle, I keep coming back to this: SOBCon is like Cheers (in all the best ways). Everybody knows your name. There’s just a sense of comfortableness. We don’t want it to end.

    Reply

  3. By Dawud Miracle posted on May 9, 2008 at 9:38 am
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    Lorelle, I can’t think of a better way to describe SOBCon. And that’s what makes it so hard to share with people who weren’t there – not to sound cultish.

    Somehow we need to stretch it into another day or so. Sure, for content, but more for those moments.

    Reply

  4. By Joanna Young posted on May 11, 2008 at 3:08 am
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    Lorelle, I’ve enjoyed looking back over the moments (and the photos) too, enjoying each in its own right, but also working out the essence of the event, which was extraordinary.

    I was talking to a friend last night and said it was like being at a reunion of long lost friends… that you’d never met before.

    Hadn’t remembered Wendy’s line till I came back and read this. It captures the feeling so well.

    And I think that *does* extend to other (social) bloggers who couldn’t make it – were they to walk into the room the feeling and the reaction would be just the same. It’s the shared values that connect us together.

    It was great meeting you Lorelle and I learned so much from you

    See you soon I hope

    Joanna

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  5. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on May 11, 2008 at 8:54 am
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    @Joanna Young:

    Thank you, Joanna. And I learned so much from YOU. This is one of the unique characteristics that separated SOBCon from other conferences. Everyone was on equal ground. We all came to learn from each other. Thank you so much for helping to set the tone for the whole event for me from the start! And hope the flight back home overseas was without excitement – those are the best!

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