Social Mediators 8 – What do you want from a conference?

It’s conference season. And we’ve all gone to conferences that we loved – and conferences that we hated.

In this week’s episode of Social Mediators, Terry Fallis, Dave Fleet and I discuss what makes a good conference experience – and what can ruin a conference.

One good idea and I’m happy

I don’t just attend conferences because I love Las Vegas hotels (I don’t) or seaside resorts (I do.) I take time out of our schedules for much more practical and worthwhile reasons. I want to hear from leading edge thinkers and network with others who share common interests.

I’m happy if one simple need is met: I want at least one good new idea from each speaker. If I get that, the conference is worthwhile. If not, I’ll exercise the law of two feet and head out to do some work.

So, I’m easy to please. Give me great content and I’m a happy camper.

My personal hit list

Now to the other side. Things that detract from the conference experience. As a frequent conference attendee, there are some things that really bug me.

1) The conference within a conference. By invitation-only dinners and get aways for speakers and sponsors that are obvious to paying participants. We pay good money for a conference. We don’t want to feel like second class participants.

2) The conference with an unstated agenda. The worst of these are conferences that bring business together with government. You can get the feeling that you’re merely a prop in someone else’s GR campaign.

3) Panellists who think that they’ve given value merely by showing up. Conferences like SxSW which use a panel picker have seen a real slide in the quality of many panels, as a noticeable number of panelists seem to place their greatest effort into campaigning to be selected, not in preparing their presentations.

4) The biggest annoyance of all: Product pitches from sponsors who become speakers. When I speak, I rarely mention my company name. I’m there to educate, not to do a product pitch from the stage. And I don’t expect others to abuse their time on the stage.

And what about you?

What makes a conference a good experience for you?

What are the things that detract from the conference-going experience?

Eqentia – a new social media monitoring tool for enterprises

Eqentia is a social media startup headquartered in Toronto Canada. In this week’s episode of Social Mediators, Eqentia’s CEO and Founder, William Mougayar, joins Dave Fleet and me for a discussion about Eqentia, what it does, who its aimed at and future plans for it.

Eqentia is positioning itself as a team-based knowledge dashboard that can be managed by one or two users, freeing others from the need to set up and refine searches. William hopes that managers will turn to it each day to answer the question, “What’s new that I need to know about?”

Eqentia’s text mining engine promises to deliver content to users in near realtime, providing them with an up to the minute picture of conversations and references to their brands and issues of interest.

William sees Eqentia becoming a productivity tool for medium and large enterprises. Initially, power users can curate the content to ensure that the highest relevance and most valuable content is featured, saving time and effort for the rest of the team. Once the principal user has set up the tool and refined the settings so that it focuses on the company’s specific interests, other team members will have access to the data without the need to manage the sources, relevancies and advanced filters and settings that make all of this possible.

Eqentia will be most attractive to teams that have both power users and executives who don’t care about how to use the tool, but just want to see its output. The power users can publish the information in user-friendly form for the end users – via email, Twitter, RSS feeds, or by giving end users access to individual topics.

Unlike many other social media tools that focus on providing users with the ability to build folksonomies by applying multiple tags, Eqentia incorporates predefined taxonomies to standardize searches and make it easy for end users to find the same data set with a simple search.

Still to come in Eqentia’s development – a comprehensive approach to social media metrics.

The company has some potential client deals in the works and hopes to be able to begin to announce these in the near future.

Eqentia has been seed funded by Extreme Venture Partners, who also funded Bump Top, which was recently acquired by Google. William says that he had the funding to carry on with the development of the product and to explore its marketing potential.

Have you tried Eqentia? What are your thoughts about it?

Personal Brand, Personal Experience – Part 2 of 2

Yesterday, I posted part 1 of my Personal Brand Camp keynote presentation, in which I talk about my pre-social media existence and my general approach to presenting myself online. Today, in part 2, I talk about what I have learned and offer some guidelines that I live by.

If you are thinking about the concept of your “personal brand” or simply how others see you online, I hope you find these simple rules to be helpful.

There’s only one me

Personal brand sounds like a marketing concept, something where can I separate myself from my brand and my brand is a contrivance.  That’s not possible.  Ultimately, my brand is about me.  And there’s only one me.

Be conscious of my decisions, but never contrived

I make  conscious decisions about what I will reveal (I protect my privacy by thinking through my boundaries in advance), what I want to say about things and how I want to interact with other people.  Authenticity will be seen.  Duplicitousness will be seen through.

I must be conscious of my decisions, which is good, but definitely not contrived, which would be artificial and bad.

Be introspective and self aware

Before going online, I ask myself, “Who do I want to see in the mirror?” Once online, I’m mindful of how others perceive me. I must acknowledge that what other people see in me is what I am.  And I understand that if others don’t see the same person who I see in the mirror, then I have failed in communicating who I really think I am.

Lies will be found out

There’s no point in trying to construct and project a “public persona” different from the private person. And the judgment that I exercise in my personal life will reflect upon the judgment that I may exercise in your public life.

I can’t hide deception. We’re all just too visible for that. And too many of our friends are online and connecting with one another. If they see deception, they’ll recognize it and they’ll call it out. So, I try always to  be honest and not live a lie.

It’s not just about the words.  Actions speak louder.

From time to time, I have been called to account through social media.  I may not like what people tell me. But I must listen to what they say and accept that some of it may be right.  And if it is, the true test of my character is whether I act upon it.  If I’m not prepared to change the way I am, I will be a lesser person.

Be human. Be vulnerable

Vulnerability is a basic human condition. If we aren’t willing to show our vulnerability, we won’t come across as authentic or trustworthy.

I’ve learned to admit when I have uncertainties. It’s hard to do. But it will lead to  much stronger and real relationships.

“Draft” is my friend

It never hurts to think twice about something we might want to say. If I’m in doubt, if I’m writing in the heat of the moment, I save it, sleep on it and don’t hit the “publish” button until I’ve had time for second thoughts. ‘Nuff said.

Sarcasm and sniping are the refuge of the unimaginative

Why hurt someone to demonstrate how smart and witty I am? It’s harder to be original in my thinking and to advance our understanding in a positive way. Why not be kind, honest and helpful to everyone? It won’t cost anything and I’ll feel a lot better about myself when I face that moment of truth before sleep puts an end to the day.

Don’t feed the trolls

I never respond to anonymous comments. Unless I recognize truth in what they say. (See “Actions speak louder” above)

Trust is the currency and I have to earn it

You’ve heard the mantra before: Transparency, authenticity, reliability, generosity. Absorb them. Live them.

I try not to keep a tally sheet of who received how much. Instead, I simply give as best I can and then celebrate when I receive something back.

Become the person I want to see in the mirror

Put all of this together and I will thrive in social media. At least this is what I believe and this is what I try to live by.