Brian Solis, Chris Heuer and Jason Falls networkingIf there’s one thing I’ve done well professionally through the years is network. A year ago, no one in the social media space, or among national thought leaders on public relations (the basis of my professional discipline) knew who the hell I was. Two years ago, no one in the Louisville market did. Granted, much of that is because I spent 11 years a sports information director and existed in the parallel college athletics universe, but my experience connecting with people professionally through personal interaction has served me well.

Next Friday, I’ll touch down in Austin, Texas, for the 2008 South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive conference. It will be the third major conference of social media and internet thinkers I’ve attended in the last six months. And each one gets better and better.

I’ve written before (here and here) about the benefits of networking socially – my term for off-line social networking – and how my previous two events like this specifically benefited my blog. The more people that know who you are, the more come read what you’re doing. Each event has resulted in dozens of Twitter followers, Facebook friends, Digg/Stumble/Mixx vote helpers and more. SXSW will be no different, for sure. But my excitement for this conference takes on a different perspective now that I’m not a nobody anymore. And I don’t mean that from an ego perspective, just that I’m going there with already established relationships with folks.

Here’s what I’m excited about:

Parties

It’s no secret I do work for a spirits company. And I’m a spirits guy. There’s nothing more fun to me than hanging at a cocktail party telling war stories and getting to know interesting people. I’ve had the honor of hanging with Brian Solis, Chris Heuer and others before. I’m looking forward to it again. Maybe I can catch Stephanie Agresta for two seconds this time. Chris Brogan will probably give me hell for taking him to a mall bar in Vegas and we’ll both try to behave this time to avoid a repeat of the drunk Utterz (Talk to Chris. He deleted it.)

Panels

While the networking is my thing, I genuinely do try to learn from the presentations. I’m excited to have the chance to glean knowledge from folks I’ve admired from a far for a while. Andy Beal, Rohit Bahargava, C.C. Chapman, Mack Collier, Jeff Jarvis, Beth Kanter, Charlene Li and Brian Oberkirch come to immediate mind. Of course, there’s Kawasaki, Ferris, Israel and Scoble, not to mention Jeremiah Owyang, who I was able to meet and chat with at BlogWorldExpo, but I’m a mere speck on their windshield … and if you’ve seen me, that’s saying something. Of course, if I play my cards right, I could really just go for the Conversation Starters segment:

Over drinks and appetizers, you’ll have a chance to share ideas with a number of people who have volunteered to start conversations: Shel Israel, Robert Scoble, Jeremiah Owyang, Charlene Li, Chris Heuer, Mack Collier and Lionel Menchaca, as well as several Federated Media authors.

Maybe Heuer will introduce me to folks.

But there are tons of folks I’ve either met or want to meet who will be there but aren’t speaking. I’d love to find time with Maggie Fox, Solis and Heuer to chat about the social media release. Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell of Citizen Marketers and Church of the Customer are going to be there. I need to buy them a Maker’s Mark. I hear Scott Monty, will be there. He and I have some red wax to remove. As a Communications Overtones reader and fan, I’m stoked about the chance to chat with Kami Huyse. I’d love to see Erin Kotecki Vest again. Erica O’Grady and Connie Reece are folks I’d like to meet. Jane Quigley is someone I have who I’d like to see again. And I’ve delayed tossing out this name until now because I know it will torture her, but it’s been too long since I’ve seen Tamar Weinberg.

Pals

The best part of the SXSW experience for me will be going there with my homies. Todd Earwood, Shawn Morton, Nick Huhn and Melissa King (You need a blog, damn it.) are representing from the ‘Ville. There may be others going, too, but we’re all fairly close and actively involved in the Social Media Club Louisville, so it will be nice to have some time with hometown friends, even if we have to go a few hundred miles to get it.

Needless to say, the opportunity to meet and greet these and dozens more fine folks gets my blood going. If I didn’t mention you, it’s not because I don’t want to connect. Find me and introduce yourself. If we’ve met before, smack me on the back of the head real good for not linking to you. (Except for you Dave … You’re from West, By God, Virginia. You won’t do it lightly.)

Please jump in the comments and let me know if you’re coming. I’d love to connect and network socially with you. If you are, go check out The Daily Idea’s guide to SXSWi.

And don’t be offended if I didn’t mention you above. I almost left out Tamar and I love Tamar. (Heh).

Perhaps I’ll even whip out the camera and do a future episode of SME TV with you, too! See you in Austin.

Other Posts You’ll Find Interesting:

  1. SXSW News & PARTAY Info
  2. Geek Spring Break – 2008 SXSW Party Central
  3. Going To SXSW?
  4. A Don’t Miss Event During SXSW
  5. SXSW Wordwide Flickrite Meet-Up

IMAGE: Brian Solis, Chris Heuer and me at BlogWorldExpo. Photo by Todd Earwood and on my Flickr.

[tags]SXSW, South by Southwest, social networking, networking, social media, Jason Falls[/tags]

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is the founder and chief instigator for Social Media Explorer's blog and signature Explore events. He is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for CafePress, one of the world's largest online retailers. His opinions are his, not necessarily theirs. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://everydotconnects.com Connie Reece

    I’m looking forward to meeting you too! I will definitely be at the Conversation Starters party, so be sure and look for me — I’ll be the one with the bright pink hair. :)

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  • Melissa King

    Ok ok, I’ll go ahead and register BecauseFallsSaidSoDamnIt.com – look for a post soon!

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  • http://www.socialmediagroup.ca maggie fox

    Hey Jason – really looking forward to the chance to meet you as well. Only five more sleeps till Austin… :)

  • http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com Jason Falls

    Connie — I won’t miss you and look forward to chatting.

    Mel — That’s a damn good domain name. Gobble that up before someone gets it.

    Maggie — I can’t wait. Love to chat about the SMR and more.

  • http://www.internetgeekgirl.com Stephanie Agresta

    Hi Jason. I promise – you’ve got way more than 2 seconds. I couldn’t agree more with this premise. I’ve built my career by building relationships with colleagues, live and in person! I really look forward to catching up at SXSW. Feel free to follow @sxswbloghaus on Twitter. I’m the hostess. I’ll be there every day from 3 – 5 videoing guests. Here’s the Facebook page as well:
    http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=8557568964

    See u soon!

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  • http://chrisbrogan.com Chris Brogan…

    I heart you. Truly.

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