This past Saturday I attended and spoke at a fantastic sports media conference called Blogs With Balls 3. Massive kudos to Kyle Bunch and the crew at Hugging Harold Reynolds for what was the best conference I've ever attended (and for inviting an 'outsider' like me to speak). Do not sleep on the next time they put one of these together!
That's right - the best conference I've ever attended. Here's why, in no particular order of importance ...
No Jargon It didn't dawn on me until after the fact, but the day was refreshingly free of jargon, buzz words, insider speak and egos. Rather, it was people, talking like people, to other people. Straight shooting. Learning. Teaching. Thoughtful discourse. Very real.
Fun Likely a combination of Saturday + liquor sponsor + Wrigley Field setting, but this was the most fun I've ever had at a conference. It was loose and casual - from the colorful language, to the attire and between-sessions banter. I even witnessed my first real life Bro getting iced by a bro (@edsbs got iced, as evidenced below). Fun is not something I normally associate with a conference - BwB3 changed all that. I had a really good time. When was the last time you said that at a conference (not called SxSW)?
Great Venue The venue was perfectly conducive for interaction. It was at the Captain Morgan's club at Wrigley Field. There was a main room, which held about 200 people, flanked by an outdoor area. The fact that it was so contained made conversation easy and natural. I much prefer the tighter quarters - that containment breeds interaction. And did I mention it was at Wrigley - I mean, how much better can it get?
The People What an interesting group of sports nuts. Smart. Driven. Not even close to the same people speaking on the same social media topics. New perspectives to teach. Really interested in learning. I had great conversations with folks like Ty Ahmad-Taylor, Mike Germano and Adam Best, Ben Koo, Wayne Vore, Josh Abrams and Zachary Chapman - just to name a few. It will be my pleasure to continue getting to know these people, and understanding ways we might work together.
The Bloggers As a social media practitioner, there is nothing more important and valuable than spending time talking with bloggers - face to face (imagine that!). Of the (my estimate) 200 people in attendance, 150 of them must have been actual sports bloggers. Women and men pounding out massive amounts of great content every day. Some of them supporting themselves doing so. Others hoping to do so one day. All of them hungry to understand what it takes to get to the next level of success. Their comments and questions told so much about their wants, needs, questions and aspirations. It put a human face on these people - something that's easy to forget when Twitter and RSS feeds dominate our daily lives.
P.S. If for some odd reason you want to watch my panel, here goes. I'm the bearded, shorts-wearing Cubs fan.