Who knew there was so much to say about convergence? Steve Etzler, the founder of the conference and career fair producer Business Development Institute (BDI), did.
Thanks to Social Media Today's Robin Carey, yesterday, I attended BDI's Convergence 2008 conference at The Graduate Center/CUNY. I was pleased, which, gentle reader, is a feat in and of itself. I attend and speak at many, many conferences throughout the year and I know a thing or two about these shindigs.
There were plenty of marketing and PR professionals and everyone there was honestly interested in learning more about social media. There were no egos - if there were, they were mingling in coat check unburdened by their owners bodies.
What definitely helped set the open, honest tone was the conference delivery format. Keep in mind, I attended last year and while there were different tracks, delivery was speaker/audience style. This time there were 17 roundtables, each with a different topic and an experienced moderator - not a speaker talking at you. Lov-ah-ley.
We all got to chat and get to know one another. The "musical roundtables" was really effective in making sure that we didn't just hang around the people we knew and that attendees had multiple opportunities to meet a wide variety of people. We bounced ideas and shared results - both good and bad. With Steve as our "dance card" announcer, we made our way from table to table. You know a conference is good when you don't want to leave the table when the session is done. That happened again and again. I admit that I was a ninja interloper at one table. I sat at table 5 when I was supposed to be at table 17. (Sorry, Steve!)
One of the themes that ran through the conference is that many companies really are still finding their way with social media. There were questions and comments about compliance, legal and crisis communications. Many organizations hadn't started one single social media effort and still others had just hired their first community manager. Either way, people were relieved to find out, "it's not just me!" and they were encouraged by one another's efforts.
Thumbs up. Do it again, Steve.