Conversation starter

May 16, 2010

A few weeks ago, with Erin’s approval, I was able to carve out an evening away from the house (this in the busy weeks before Oliver’s birth), and so I drove to Isaac Hunter’s Tavern for the Media Leaders Raleigh meetup. There’s been a steady stream of such meetups and tweetups and conferences of late, and I’ve fretted over not being able to be among the crowds, tweeting and blogging and snapping mobile-phone pictures. But, the last months have focused my attention on important priorities — my health, my family, my work, and so I’ve had to slow down, stay close to home and attend the meetups vicariously through the online postings of Bora and others.

In Raleigh, I found myself standing among a lot of enthusiastic individuals happy to be meeting in real life, or eagerly trading business cards and Twitter handles (I exchanged my mistersugar card for a Gregory Ng Freezer Burns card). This was a good example of how we make connections these days, our fast-growing online networks fueling meetspace events leading to larger lists of followers and friends. For a brief moment, I stood in the corner savoring the sight of the crowd, thinking about our early Tar Heel Bloggers (2002-2004) and BlogTogether (2005-ongoing) gatherings — they were smaller, slower affairs, leisurely conversations over coffee and dessert. Even earlier, when I first arrived in the area, I’d been introduced to the Triangle Bloggers Meetup, a monthly lunch of programers and early bloggers — Sam Ruby, Ken Coar, Mark Pilgrim, Dave Johnson and others.

As I looked around at Media Leaders Raleigh, I noticed Wayne Sutton ducking out of the tavern, his iPad tucked safely in his coat pocket. I hustled out to catch up with him, and walked down the street talking with my friend. We had much to catch up on, and the City of Raleigh conveniently had placed a bench at the end of the block, so we sat side by side and chatted for a long time. I listened mostly, for Wayne has been on a whirlwind of a social media tour over the last two years. He’s become a star speaker and conference draw, sharing his ideas about marketing, networking and community building, all the while promoting people left and right. “I’m really proud of you,” I told him. I also expressed my gratitude for the privilege of having a one-on-one conversation with him.

I’m hungry for conversations these days, prompted by my reorientation back in February. Sitting on the bench with Wayne crystallized the notion that I should facilitate more, and more regular, conversations. I’m looking at the calendar now to schedule more BlogTogether meetups, LongTable dinners and drinks on the patio here at my home.

Let’s keep talking.

Anton Zuiker

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