Meeting people at conferences with and without Twitter

[I think this post is a bit of departure from the usual rants and reflections found here but I felt compelled to share some thoughts and experiences from last weekend at the JALT Conference]

Here I am back in Seoul after #JALT2012. It was a wild and amazing weekend. It was also pretty much my first “wired” conference in that I already knew some people from Twitter before going. Actually, it was my first non-Korea conference as well.

As I tried to recover from JALT-lag last night I was shocked as I recalled all the great people I met in just 3 short days.  I met some by chance (and yes some of these were at the pub) and some of them I already knew from Twitter. In this brief post I wanted to share a few stories and thoughts on “The Twitter Effect” as related to meeting people at conferences.

Josette Leblanc did an excellent job of detailing our time with @Kevchanwow and the Stein clan, so I won’t mention that here except to wonder how exactly she knew the exact font size on his Ipad upon our arrival.

On Friday, I also had the chance to meet the lovely, intelligent, and inspiring @yitzha_sarwono which is something I had been looking forward to for a few months. It was so great to spend time with her and with other amazing people as well. The following video (courtesy of and created by @JosetteLB) details the “value” in meeting “Icha.”

Meeting Kevin and Icha (and others) was fantastic, as I fully expected. I also had some chances to meet some people that I didn’t expect to meet. On Friday night at the welcoming party a young looking gentleman asked me if I was Michael Griffin and I quickly figured out that he must be a certain tweeter from the Tokyo area. We had a chance to catch up and he was really nice guy and was also very funny (which shouldn’t have been a surprise considering his tweets).  This was a nice case of Twitter being a starting point and helping to already know a bit about someone, which obviously makes things easier.

At the “Best of JALT” party on Saturday evening I introduced myself to someone I followed on Twitter and that I’d  previously had a few interactions with. She was super nice and friendly and introduced me to her friends. After talking with one of these friends for quite some time we exchanged business cards and promised to show each other around on visits to Seoul/Tokyo. Good times.  My sense is that if I had not been introduced I could have been a stranger roaming around the conference but being introduced was quite helpful even if he is originally a friendly and nice guy.

Another fun Twitter-based story occurred on Saturday night at the same party. I said hello to someone that I knew a bit already and realized that he was talking to someone I knew from Twitter. Interestingly, this person had his Twitter handle on his conference ID card. That made things much easier. We had a nice chat at the party and then a pint or two later on.

I actually did meet people (mostly) without Twitter too. One such person I met in @Ozge’s amazing presentation on Saturday. We were partners in a speaking activity and had a chance to get to know each other. We shared some laughs and some boosts of confidence. After some brief conversations on Saturday she came to my presentation on Sunday (9 am!) and brought me a coffee. I was touched. My theory is that because she saw me hanging around and talking to some of my Twitter-based (mostly #iTDi) friends it was easier to have a favorable impression of me more quickly. Whatever the reasons, it was great to meet her and all the other wonderful people I met and I am sure that I can thank Twitter for some of it.

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9 comments

  1. Joanne Sato

    Hi Micheal,
    I’m so glad you had such a rich and valuable experience at the conference. I remember a similar experience at the same conference a few years ago, where I got to meet so many of the people I had first connected with through twitter and facebook. Now, especially at JALT, so many of them have become friends that I no longer need to say, “Hi, I’m Sugarjo”!
    I hope you will return next year!
    Joanne

  2. AnnLoseva

    I especially like the story about the girl/woman bringing you coffee before your presentation! I think it really is very touching :))
    No, of course I like all of what you’ve written and can totally relate to it!! It’s an incredible feeling being a part of a community (twitter and #itdi I mean here)! Having read your post and looked through some JALT albums on Facebook I can’t help imagining myself somewhere IN there)))…

    Thanks for sharing! And for the link to Josette’s post, too)

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