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Attend Conferences Without Being There

Attend Conferences Without Being There

There are LOTS of conferences to attend, and only so much time and money to get around. For instance, I wished I could’ve dragged myself down to Austin, Texas to attend South by Southwest Interactive. But my own conference, Video on the Net is next week, and I’m busy.

So this is how I learned how to attend without being there.

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  • Live Flow- Twitter [website]– Add enough friends attending the event, as well as the official event, and you get the flow from this app. Twitter let me see which conferences were being attended by people that matter to me. It let me see which parties were where. It let me know who was hanging out with who afterwards. All of this, by the way, gives the overall sensation of what the event felt like to the people I followed, but also gave me a sense of who might be doing business with whom.
  • Visuals- Flickr [website]– I love seeing who’s there, what’s going on, and how much fun they’re having. Videoblogs can go up fast, but photos are almost instant, thanks to cameraphones and faster turnaround time to process. I just went to Flickr.com, searched on sxsw2007 (and variants), and suddenly got huge photo streams of good pictures from the event.
  • Content- Blogs- Technorati and Google Blogsearch [website] and [website]– If you want to know what was said during the events, count on the great world of liveblogging. How do you find what people have covered in the events? Swing over to technorati.com and blogsearch.google.com , and put in the tags for the event (in my example: sxsw2007). Suddenly, you get the tapestry of the blogosphere’s opinion of the event. I should also mention Techmeme, a site that captures the gestalt of the tech blogosphere, in case that’s the subject matter of your conference. (Similar aggregator sites exist for most industries, so maybe YOU can fill me in on those in the comments?)
  • Content- Videoblogs -Blip, YouTube, Google Video [Blip.tv], [YouTube], [Google Video] – More and more, conferences are being covered by videobloggers. Some conferences have rules about not covering the entire speech (after all, this content is how they make their money- and that’s important). But most of the good events allow some amount of videoblogging and off-stage interviews that help you feel there. Or, events will release all their materials after the fact onto one of the platforms mentioned above so that you can be there after the fact.
  • Content- Podcasts- IT Conversations [website] – For tech conferences, I’ve found that IT Conversations, part of the Gigavox Media network, have some GREAT coverage. I should also mention PodTech, another really great source for interesting conference coverage. You might have some suggestions for the non-tech conference circuit. If so, drop it in the comments, please, for the other lifehack types to get to see.
  • CONTACT- LinkedIN [website]– This step might not be immediately obvious, but once you know the types of people who attended the conference you wished you’d attended, you might want to add these people to your network of contacts one way or another. If you’re using LinkedIN for contacts, consider adding them to your list of contacts. With a little bit of Google sleuthing, or through some other means like their account on Flickr or Twitter, you can usually make contact and ask for a good email address to send a LinkedIN invite. This will help grow your base of like-minded people, should something of interest to discuss arise in the near future. One never knows.

There are lots of other tips I’m sure I’ve missed. I count on you to fill me in on the best stuff. But I’ve used the above to build my awareness of events, to learn some of the choice lessons I couldn’t pay to attend, or didn’t have time to visit. And I’ve found more like-minded people who then give me the buzz on the conference not to miss in the upcoming months, which is also valuable to me. I hope these work out for you. And if you can’t come to Video on the Net in a few weeks, maybe use these tips to follow the action from afar.

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Chris Brogan is Community Developer for Network2 and Video on the Net. He keeps a blog at [chrisbrogan.com].

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Last Updated on October 14, 2020

The Art of Humble Confidence

The Art of Humble Confidence

To be confident or not to be confident, that is the question. I’m not sure about you, but I’ve been a bit confused about all this discussion about the subject of confidence. Do you really need to be more confident or should you try to be more humble? I think the answer is both – you just have to know where to use it.

East VS West – Confidence, It’s a Cultural Thing

In typical Western countries, the answer to the confidence debate is obvious – more is better. Our heros are rebellious, independent and shoot first, ask questions later. I think this snippet of dialog from The Matrix sums it up best:

Agent Smith – “We’re willing to wipe the slate clean, give you a fresh start. All that we’re asking in return is your cooperation in bringing a known terrorist to justice.”
Neo – “Yeah. Well, that sounds like a pretty good deal. But I think I may have a better one. How about, I give you the finger”
[He does]
Neo -“ …and you give me my phone call.”

In Eastern countries, the tone is often considerably different. Elders are supposed to be revered not dismissed. The words ‘guru,’ meaning a teacher, and the philosophy of dharma, loosely translated to mean ‘duty,’ come from here. In Eastern cultures humility and respect are more important than confidence.

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These perspectives are generalizations, but it shows how the confidence debate goes back deep into our culture. I think that both extremes of pure confidence or pure humility are misguided. Instead of rectifying this situation by simply blending the two: becoming somewhat humble, somewhat confident all the time, I believe the answer is to know when to be confident and when to be humble.

Humble Confidence – Know When to Use It

I’m going to make another broad generalization. I believe that virtually every relationship you are going to have is going to fit into one of two major archetypes, either master or student. In peer relationships this master/student role may switch frequently, but it is extremely rare that the relationship never leans to one side.

In the master role, you are displaying confidence to get what you want. This is public speaker, leader or seducer. Being the master has advantages. You have more control and ability to influence from this role.

The student role is the opposite. You are intentionally displaying humility. This is the student, disciple or follower. Being the student has advantages too. You can learn a lot more in this role and are more likely to win the trust of the other person.

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Know When to Shut Up and Learn

If you are a typical Westerner, you are probably already thinking about which role you prefer. Being the leader is great. You get respect and a higher status. Most of all you get a greater degree of control.

But the problem is that you can’t and shouldn’t always try to be the leader. Trying to assume that role without the skills, resources or status to back it up will lead to conflict. More importantly, there are many times when you purposely want to display humility. Some of the benefits to the student role include:

  • You learn more.
  • Smooths relationships.
  • Makes others more willing to lend a helping hand.

Knowing when taking the humble route is to your advantage. It is far easier to get mentors and advisors if you use humility rather than arrogance. A small sacrifice to your ego can open up the potential to learn a lot.

Confidence to Persuade, Humility to Learn

In reality almost no relationship is as clearly defined as master/student. Within our connections, people have overlapping areas of expertise. I might be an expert in blogging to a non-blogger, but they might be an expert in finance. In each area there are different roles to take.

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Before any interaction ask yourself what the purpose is. Are you trying to learn or persuade?

Persuasion requires confidence. If you are trying to sell, instruct or lead you need to display the confidence to match your message. But learning requires humility. You won’t learn anything if you are constantly arguing with your professors, mentors or employers. Taking a dose of humility and temporarily making yourself a student gives you the opportunity to absorb.

Persuade Less, Learn More

Persuasion is great for immediate effect, but learning matters over the long-haul. Instead of washing over all your communication with pure confidence, look for opportunities to learn. Persuading someone to follow you may give you an immediate boost of satisfaction, but it doesn’t last. Learning, however, is an investment for the future.

Whenever I make a connection with someone and realize they have a skill or understanding I want, I am careful to express humility in that area. That means listening with what they say even if I don’t immediately agree and being patient with their response. This method often drastically cuts down the time I need to spend on trial and error to learn by myself.

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Confidence/Humility Doesn’t Replace Communication Skills

This approach of selectively using confidence and humility for different purposes doesn’t replace communication skills. Humility isn’t going to work if the other person thinks you’re an irritating whiner. Confidence won’t work if the entire room thinks you are an arrogant jerk. Knowing how to display these two qualities takes practice.

The next time you are about to enter into an interaction ask yourself why you are doing it. Are you trying to persuade or learn? Depending on which you can take a completely different tact for far better results.

Featured photo credit: BBH Singapore via unsplash.com

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