get out of the social hamster wheel and connect Getting out into world, learning from new perspectives, enjoying the company of others is the spice of life.

So why in business do we find this so hard to accept? Why do we think we'll accomplish more if we stay inside our corporate and virtual home offices as we fervently turn in our social hamster wheels of marketing strategies, business plans, engagement approaches, audience research, websites, Facebook pages and suites that hoot?

Yes, the economy stinks. However, that doesn't mean we need to work the hamster wheel 24/7. It actually should drive the opposite behavior.

In a tough economy differentiation matters more than ever. The right products, partners and knowledge can zoom you right past your competition.

Sitting in our silos of individual thinking is a recipe for disaster. We lose sight of our positioning in the market, our partners and most importantly our audience and clients.

I recently attended the SocialFresh event in Tampa. I had struggled with the decision as to if it was a good decision. We are slammed with major client projects, several big upcoming keynote presentations to work on and the list goes on. Stepping away for two whole days is a lot of time as most of you can relate to the words, “time is money.”

As I put some “feelers” out there via tweets to find out who was attending I had immediate reaction and confirmation that the right thing to do was attend. There was already a community building and connecting as the excitement built. The founder of Social Fresh, Jason Keath replied immediately and inspired me to go!  So, I purchased my ticket at the last hour for the last round of discounts. I even found a coupon via a Twitter search that still worked.

I am glad I made the decision to attend. It refreshed me, inspired me, educated me and validated we are on the right path.

My Big (and a few little) Social Fresh Take-Aways:

1. Most people I have met on Twitter are taller than me. Seriously, I had forgotten I am only 5'3″. Guess I got use to the avatar photos where we are all the same size!

2. Happy hours are good stress relievers. Justin Kistner, Kelvin Choi from Webtrends threw a good happy hour even though Justin couldn't be there.  Justin, you owe Josh and I for next round! Oh and you owe your back-up,  Justin Levy of Citrix Online too as he rocked it! Kelvin, we must get together soon since we're practically neighbors. We have no excuses!

3. Paula Berg inspired me to rework my entire pitch. Thank you Paula. You truly knocked it out of the ballpark and were a major dose of reality and inspiration. I am the keynote  for Hernando County New Media Series tomorrow and will be delivering and testing a brand new deck thanks to Paula!!

4. Hubspot still rocks! They taught me social media from my early days. They are authentic, real people who share the best of what they got. Thanks team. I would still be questioning the difference of SEM, SMO, and PPC if it wasn't for your content several years ago.

5. Argyle Social doesn't wear Argyle sweaters. Yes, they may be geeks but they're cool geeks. So happy to finally meet at least a couple members of your team. Tell Adam he's still not off the hook! Looking forward to double clicking on your product this year and strumming up some collaborative and good stuff!

6. I love my fellow geeks! I immediately walked in the room and felt right at home. I sat down between two fellow geeks. As we tweeted, did our day job, kept an eye on email and listened to the speaker of the moment we instantly connected. We didn't have to say much. We all just “fit in”.  Love it!

social fresh twitter buddy Deana Goldasich7. Online relationships taken offline rock! I finally got to meet some amazing peeps like Deana Goldasich of Well Planned Web in Tampa. We saw each other, screamed, embraced in a super size bear hug and of course proceeded to take a fab photo with our iPhone so we could tweet about it instantly!  I also finally met @MissDestructo and although we have little in common from the outside (she's much taller, thinner and has cool blue hair) we connected even more offline. I am so looking forward to hanging out with peeps like her, Deana, Antony Francis, Andrea Gorder & many others over the coming weeks.

8. People really do get to know you through an authentic brand and transparency. I was amazed how much some people who follow me knew about me, my life and my business. A bit awkward a few times but it's all part of the transparent, social world we live in. From awesome peeps in Texas such as Danita Maldanado to our own back yards we connect on Twitter first! I simply love it!

9.  My clients, partners and family benefited from my participation and attendance at Social Fresh.

10. I learned we are on the right track in many ways. This is mostly because of continuing to learn and craving knowledge and insight of others on a daily basis.

11. I learned I have had great mentors. As most attendees ooohed and aaahed at some Facebook features and other cool geek stuff (like sending a text to become a fan of a Facebook fan page) was news to some but my mentors taught me such well over a year ago. Hugs to them all!

12. I was reminded the intellectual capital we have within our brains, laptop hard drives and collaborative efforts of our team. As I saw so many thirsty and hungry for more knowledge it was inspiring to keep pumping it out! I have since put some turbo zoom sauce on our member education programs.

13. I was reminded how blessed I am that I am an entrprepreneur doing what I love to do. I met many people who are stuck in an organization that isn't ready to adopt social media. Yet, the individual has or is learning the skills and wants to live a life doing such.  It's easy for us to say, “well just get a job and go do it.” For some not able or willing to assume such risk it's not so easy in a bad economy.

14. We must not forget who our audience is. It's easy for me to focus only on thought leadership, business models and the like. However, I was reminded a simple tutorial for how to setup a Twitter account or do a Tweet chat can do wonders in the right hands. After the Social Fresh event I did a quick Tutorial on setting up a new Twitter account and posted to my Facebook page immediately. I was at the ball field this weekend with the kiddos and two people came and thanked me. They both told me it was perfect timing as they had been following me and were now inspired to get on Twitter. Point proven.  Use what's in your head to benefit others! Remember, we were all there once too!

social fresh panel day 215. There is always something to be learned from a fresh perspective. It was wonderful to listen to different approaches to explaining community, engagement and even Twitter or Facebook. Perspective is what removes our hamster wheel glasses and gives us life both online and offline.

16. Reminded once again the opportunity that exists for any business with the power of social media. There are many businesses that have barely or haven't started to step a foot into social media.

17. Social media brings us closer. Although the big wide world exists with social media, we are closer to one another because of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. One example is I met a guy from Africa, Jesse Oguntimehin a week or so before the show. By the time SocialFresh began we were tweet buddies. Jesse was able to tweet into the show, follow the hashtags and even stated himself he felt like he was there! Wow, now that to me is a great example of the power of social media!

18. Watching others be inspired with knowledge inspires us to do even better. I was inspired to keep on inspring and connecting with others. It's all a big fat, happy circle of inspiration. We are truly in the inspiration age and the more we can acknowledge and help others understand it's about the people, the conversation and what we can do for others the more we will all thrive both personally and professionally.

19. Yes, you will pay for the time out of the office. As nice as all this sounds, the reality is you will still pay. However, it's worth the value it brings you personally and professionally as well as the benefits your clients and partners will earn based on your sacrifice. It's worth a couple extra late nights when you deliver a new dose of inspiration to your audiences!

20. I want more! Getting out of the office, hugging, touching, communicating, connecting, laughing, sharing and learning from others in a fun environment is simply good for the soul. I am looking forward to Blog World in May and the other shows we'll be attending this year!

Thanks to the team who made Social Fresh possible. Thanks to those who replied to my Sunday tweets inspiring me to go. Thanks for being geeks with me and making me feel comfortable and connected from the moment I walked in!


Your Turn

What was your favorite thing about Social Fresh? Do you attend events? What are you favorite events and why? Are you guilty of staying cooped up inside your office, running tirelessly on the hamster wheel of tweets? Come on, isn't it time you too get out!?