Last week I had the opportunity to co-present a panel at AussieCon 4, which is what WorldCon is called when it’s in Australia. WorldCon, for the uninitiated, is the World Science Fiction Convention. An annual event held at a different location somewhere in the world.
I was there in my capacity as one of the hosts of Boxcutters. We were presenting and recording a panel. It was wonderful to meet a lot of people who already enjoyed the podcast and those who seemed interested in downloading it.
Actually, it was just wonderful to meet a lot of people.
My experience at SxSW earlier this year was similar.
These conventions are not just about learning things. In fact, and let’s be honest here, they’re not really about learning things in panel sessions. They’re about being around like-minded people who might be interested in what you do and vice-versa. They’re about meeting people.
I went to a few “networking” evenings arranged by various “small business” groups back when I ran my first business a few years ago. There was too much pressure on those nights. People would be busy sussing other people out, swapping business cards and big-noting themselves. It felt really sleazy and desperate.
Networking is not about desperation. It’s just about meeting people. Some of them will be useful to you, some of them will find you useful, some will become actual friends and others will be forgotten.
The point is, though, that actual physical exposure is what is important. These are people who would not have heard of you if you hadn’t been there.
As a result of my time at AussieCon and SxSW, a lot more people have heard about Boxcutters and Soupgiant. In turn, I’ve been exposed to some podcasts, blogs and services myself that would never have come into my radar if I hadn’t been there.
It’s that simple point of mutual exposure that makes going to conferences and conventions worthwhile.
Also sometimes the parties can be really good.