The Legal Marketing Association‘s (#LMA10) annual conference is over. Moving on to #LMA11 … Orlando, April 4-6. In fact, I’m off this morning to the #LMA11 conference planning committee kick-off meeting.
First off, this isn’t a conference recap post. I just want to share a bit about my overall experience from this year’s conference before moving on. If you’re interested in reading the transcript of the conference, you can read it here.
Social media made my conference. I was part of a community within a community via Twitter. In 140 characters or less, I was connecting with people I really didn’t know too well. We were having a “conference within a conference” and we were growing as the hours went by. The absolutely incredible part is that the Twitter community wasn’t limited to those in Denver, people were joining in from their desktops across cyberspace.
By inviting others to join the LMA Tweeters, individuals from across the country (and Canada) self-identified themselves and were starting to connect before getting on that airplane. At the conference, we were able to easily connect, meet and continue our conversations off line.
I think this story about Laura Gutierrez speaks volumes to the value of social media and social networking:
By Wednesday Laura was tweeting away, and I got to meet her face-to-face on Thursday. Big hugs were exchanged, because we were truly excited to FINALLY meet (mind you, it had only been a couple days since we “met” on Twitter).
Laura’s been a legal marketer for three years in Minneapolis. This was her first LMA conference. Through social networking, she was able to identify a group of people to meet upon her arrival at the conference. By joining in on our conversations, she was able to establish a relationship with us, prior to meeting us.
Laura joined a group of us for a dinner Thursday night which included Gina Rubel, Adrian Lurssen (better known as JDTwitt), Jayne Navarre, Aviva Cuyler, Rebecca Wissler, Lindsay Griffiths. Not a bad crowd to hang with, plus the meal was one of the best I have ever had.
By Friday afternoon, Laura was hanging with us after the conference in the hotel lounge. Our group had now expanded to Tim Corcoran, 2010 conference co-chair David Freeman stopped by, Adam Severson – 2011 conference co-chair, Nancy Myrland, Ross Fishman and several others who came and went as they waited to leave to catch their planes home.
Why am I so inspired by this story?? Because I remember being new in my legal marketing career and seeing so many movers and shakers running about and feeling insecure and awkward, and on the outside looking in. I remember walking into rooms, not really knowing anyone, wondering how to break into conversations without feeling like an interloper. Everyone seemed to know each other and were so friendly, with each other. How was I going to tap into that?
Before social media, it took a lot more work and effort to meet people. I got involved in LMA at the national level because Merry Neitlich was looking for volunteers for the Education Committee. We were asked to make an 18-month commitment and it was on those monthly conference calls I began to get to know other members of our community … slowly. It took me YEARS to build my presence in LMA. In fact, I was still blown away that Roberta Montafia knew me by name THIS YEAR!!! I keep feeling like I have to introduce myself to her and other LMA-lifers.
I am so excited for our newest members, like Laura, who are able to tap into a resource of people so quickly. We, of course, have already volunteered her for a committee …