Last month, I shared how face-to-face meetings still matter. You might assume that the realm of social media — which by it’s very definition encourages online community and relationship building — wouldn’t really gain much through real life interaction. You’d be dead wrong.
Social Media in the Real OC
Here in Orange County we are fortunate to have a thriving social media community, supported by a number of regular, live events. Bryan Elliot’s LinkedOC leverages LinkedIn and holds monthly networking events with great speakers such as Scott Stratton and Seth Godin. These are big events, but you meet a number of interesting people who are building their tribe. LinkedOC lies somewhere between a social media group and an old school networking meeting.
My favorite event remains Bob Watson’s Social Media Masterminds of Orange County — or simply SMMOC. This group meets nearly every week on Saturday mornings from 9-11am in Costa Mesa, and draws a wide range of people with an interest in social media — from consultants to mommy bloggers and real estate professionals to enthusiasts.
The agenda is flexible. There is no projector or monitor, but there is wifi in the room. Attendees are free to use the whiteboard to write down discussion topics or share their Twitter handle. Bob is a terrific facilitator, deftly leading the group through two hours of fantastic interaction and learning. There are just three rules: no self-promotion, no acronyms (at least, not without a definition) and there are no dumb questions.
This group is up on the latest happenings in the social media realm, so whether you’re new to social media or an old pro (what defines someone as an old pro in social media??), you will learn and grow from the discussion. But the real value is in the relationships that are made and bonded through the face-to-face interaction.
I’ve met and developed connections with a number of local social media mavens, mavericks and masterminds through SMMOC, including Bob (The Man) Watson, Mel Aclaro, Carina Zimmer, Scott Schang, Kirsten Wright, fellow San Clemente local Doug McClure, Matthew Gallizzi, Stacey Harmon, Chris Van Dusen, Eric Stegemann, Michelle Lecours and too many to list here.
There is also a fair amount of crossover between this group and another of my favorite groups, the OC WordPress Meetup. Steve Zehngut and Jeff Turner of Zeek Interactive are sometimes in attendance, as are regulars Loren Nason, Cindy Ronzoni, Ross Teasley and Joan Ganter.
These people have helped me refine how I use social media, encouraged me to improve my blogging and helped me stay on top of the ever-changing social media landscape. My life is richer for the relationships.
Can you develop community and relationships entirely using social media alone? Certainly, but real-world face time strengthens those connections and accelerates the process.
How are face-to-face interactions helping strengthen your social and professional network?