The Moments That Made Social Slam 2013 Momentous

April 18th, 2013 | Shonali Burke | 42 Comments

at the Social Slam 2013 VIP partyIt’s been just about two weeks since I returned from Social Slam.

You’ve already heard about what a wonderful event it was, from so very many people. And I told you of how it was one of those OMG-it-finally-happened moments for me. Frankly, I haven’t written a wrap-up post because everyone else beat me to the punch.

I have a surprise/gift for you as far as that goes, but that’s at the end of the post. Please don’t cheat by skipping to the end!

But then, the other day I was reading Mark Schaeffer’s recent and most excellent post about the online-offline intersection at its best. He related an anecdote about seeing Ian Cleary (who is wonderful!) at SMMWorld:

“At the recent Social Media Marketing World event, I ran into Ian and asked him how many sessions he had attended and he said ‘none.’ At first I was surprised.

” ‘I’ve been in the hallways,” he said. “That’s where the conversations and relationships are taking place.’ “

This is really true.

Do you remember how I told you, when I was at the 2012 PRSA International Conference, what really made it special was the “off-conference” time I got to spend with people? Of course there were some sessions that were terrific, but the time that I spent outside the sessions was, as the commercial goes, priceless.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t attend any conference sessions. Far from it (and especially if you are new to the biz, then you must attend as many sessions as you can, in my opinion).

However, it’s really important to start getting to know the people who are making the industry what it is, and that means outside of the parties, etc. – or, maybe, during them – you have to find time to chat one-on-one, or in small groups.

That is networking, not collecting and handing out a bunch of business cards.

The sessions at SoSlam were terrific, but what will always stay with me are the memories of (in no particular order):

1. Brian Vickery putting me back in the hotel elevator each time we were going up in it, because I was so busy talking, I’d get out on his floor instead of mine (two floors above his).

Who has the better mustache?2. Meeting Sean McGinnis for the first time and realizing just how tall tall TALL he is. Gini Dietrich didn’t warn me! He’s really, really smart, and really, really nice.

3. Jayme Soulati and I screaming when we first met each other, at the SoSlam tweetup. She has the most beautiful sparkly eyes!

4. Seeing Adam Toporek after way too long, and getting to spend wonderful one-on-one time with him. I can’t tell you how kind he has been to me, and how much he has helped as I resurrected my business.

5. John Jantsch walking up to Adam and I as we were hanging out at the VIP party (see photo up top), and spending at least 20 minutes of his time chatting with us. He didn’t have to do that. But he did. And is just one of the nicest real superstars in our field that I have ever met. Do you know he bought some scholarships to the conference for students who might not have been able to attend otherwise?

6. Ian Cleary reaching out to me ahead of time to see if we could connect; we couldn’t because of my flight schedule, but we did later on, and had a blast.

7. Jeff Bullas laughing heartily when I cracked a joke (that I stole from Adam, aren’t you curious as to what it was?), at the after-party.

8. Rosemary O’Neill being just the sweetest person ever, just being around her calmed me down. She is killer smart too!

9. Laura Click: ditto. She actually told people to come to our session instead of hers, that’s how nice she is. I mean, who does that? Also she has the bluest eyes.

10. Dancing – yes, dancing – with Jeff, Ian and Amy Howell at the after-after-after party. We had so much fun, and I have a Vine video to prove it.

11. Seeing Kellye Crane after way too long as well, and the fact that she made it a point to find and chat with me at the after-party meant a lot to me.

12. Of course getting a bear hug from Mark himself, but I wish I’d been able to chat with him some more. Hopefully next time.

13. Gary McCormick going out of his way to pick me up at the airport and give me a tour of HGTV headquarters. I’m a DIY and HGTV junkie, so that was crack for me (did you ever think you’d hear me say that, by the way?).

Shonali, Dino and Xan PearsonThere were so many more moments – oh! Brian and I breaking into impromptu harmony! Gabrielle Laine-Peters and Sean trying to out-moustache each other! Meeting Anne Gallaher! And Karen Freberg! And Randy Bowden! And Jon Moss! And Xan Pearson! And see Jason Konopinski again! And Dino Dogan! and … see what I mean? I’m going to leave something out, and I’ll get into trouble, so I may as well stop here.

The point is, very few of these were moments that happened inside the sessions; there were great moments that did happen inside the sessions, and that sparked wonderful conversations, but the true connections happened outside.

Mark, if you’re reading this, I can’t thank you enough for inviting me to speak (“What’s that you say? Come back next year? Why, I’d love to!”), and to each and every person who was kind enough to spend time with me – thank you so much. Social Slam truly is remarkable, not just because of the high quality of conference content at an amazingly reasonable price, but for the stratospheric quality of connections you make there. So if you haven’t been yet, you should put it on your calendar for next year.

I said I had a surprise for you earlier on. Here it is. I made a Listly list of all the posts I could find that both previewed and reviewed Social Slam. So this should be a really easy way for you to catch up on all of them, and save them for future reference (because there are some great lessons learned in many of them). And if you find any I’ve left out, please do add them to the list.

Social Slam 2013

Shonali Burke Social Slam 2013

Shonali Burke | 22 items | 146 views

Blog posts previewing or reviewing Social Slam 2013.

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  1. 1. Social Slam 2013 Recap: From the Eyes of an Organizer

    Social Slam 2013 Recap: From the Eyes of an Organizer

    (Pyxl blog) Last week was my third (and final) time serving as lead organizer of Social Slam, an annual social media conference that's turned into one of the most talked about social media conferences around.

  2. 2. My Second Social Slam a Splendid Success

    My Second Social Slam a Splendid Success

    (Brian Vickery) If budget limits you to one social media conference, then I encourage picking Social Slam.

  3. 3. SoSlammed: 11 Takeaways from Knoxville

    SoSlammed: 11 Takeaways from Knoxville

    (Anne Deeter Gallaher) @MarkWSchaefer is a Superconnector and a man in high gear. My brain is still trying to optimize the conversations bursting from an 8-hour event that produced more than 9,700 tweets and more than 344 pictures. I was thrilled to connect with friends and meet new professionals that I've engaged with online but never met in person.

  4. 4. Listen up! Here's 10 top snippets from Social Slam!

    Listen up! Here's 10 top snippets from Social Slam!

    (Jonathan Barrick) Social Slam 2013 has concluded, and that makes me sad. However, Social Slam 2013 was awesome, and that makes me happy.

  5. 5. A tribute to the "engine" behind Social Slam - Social Slam - April 5, 2013

    A tribute to the "engine" behind Social Slam - Social Slam - April 5, 2013

    (Mark Schaefer) Social Slam has come a long way in a short period of time and is often cited as one of the top conferences in the country. It represents thousands of hours of work from dozens of volunteers.

  6. 6. Marketing 101: Surviving Social Slam

    Marketing 101: Surviving Social Slam

    (Marj Kirchner): After surviving the 14-hour drive, six hours of which were in a freak spring snowstorm, I made it to Knoxville, Tenn., to attend my first Social Slam conference.

  7. 7. Top Three Takeaways From Social Slam

    Top Three Takeaways From Social Slam

    (Liz Reusswig) Why I Love Social Slam I just returned home from attending my second Social Slam conference in Knoxville, Tennessee.

  8. 8. The Most Important Thing that I Didn't Hear at Social Slam 2013

    The Most Important Thing that I Didn't Hear at Social Slam 2013

    (Chuck Kent) They Were Preaching Passion at Social Slam Friday - But A Tennessee Preacher Summed it Up Best on Sunday.

  9. 9. 12 Actionable Tips for Social Engagement #SoSlam

    12 Actionable Tips for Social Engagement #SoSlam

    (Dawn DeVirgilio) This week I head to Knoxville to attend Social Slam and participate on a great panel discussing strategies to attract and energize an online audience.

  10. 10. 10 things I learned at Social Slam 2013

    10 things I learned at Social Slam 2013

    (Rosemary O'Neill) We interrupt our regularly scheduled "Social in the Wild" Monday post for a wrapup of the excellent conference I just attended, Social Slam 2013 in Knoxville, Tennessee. Sponsored by Mark Schaefer of the {grow} blog and Social Media Club Knoxville, this big little conference is a can't-miss.

  11. 11. #soslam: Great Talks! Live Networking!

    #soslam: Great Talks! Live Networking!

    (Gary Schirr) What is so special about Social Slam? The presentations are excellent and motivating. Attendees have the opportunity to speak with social media luminaries, online friends they have never met in person before.

  12. 12. That Moment When Your Social Media and Real Worlds Collide

    That Moment When Your Social Media and Real Worlds Collide

    (Shonali Burke) Ever wondered if or when your "real" and "social media" worlds will collide? It happened to me at #soslam 2013.

  13. 13. Strategic Storytelling, Inspiration, & Communities: #soslam Reflections & Highlights

    Strategic Storytelling, Inspiration, & Communities: #soslam Reflections & Highlights

    (Karen Freberg) I had a wonderful opportunity to be part of the SoSlam Conference in Knoxville this past weekend. I had a chance to attend this event back in 2011 when it first started, but this time I was not only able to attend the event, but also present.

  14. 14. Top 10 Social Slam Tweets for Bloggers - Let's Talk and Walk

    Top 10 Social Slam Tweets for Bloggers - Let's Talk and Walk

    (Glenneth Reed) As I mentioned yesterday, I was at the Social Slam conference all day. I have many ideas for blogs (both for here and my work blog), but I wanted to share the Top 10 Social Slam Tweets for Bloggers that I came away with.

  15. 15. Three dazzling examples that turned online influence into offline results

    Three dazzling examples that turned online influence into offline results

    (Mark Schaefer) There has been a lot of talk about finding powerful word of mouth influencers who can help your business. But once we have identified these influencers, what do we do about it?

  16. 16. 20 tips on Search Engine Optimization from SEO Pro's at Social Slam

    20 tips on Search Engine Optimization from SEO Pro's at Social Slam

    (Jeremy Floyd) On April 4, I moderated a panel at Social Slam entitled The New Realities of Search Engine Optimization with Rosemary O'Neill, Sean McGinnis and Eric Pratum.

  17. 17. Soulati Media On The Street With @RhoGroupee |

    Soulati Media On The Street With @RhoGroupee |

    (Jayme Soulati) Rosemary O'Neill is a special guest from Social Slam 2012 after her SEO panel. She shares 3 tips and lets Jayme Soulati banter about her Twitter ID.

  18. 18. #Social Song Saturday No. 17: Social Slam 2013 Preview

    #Social Song Saturday No. 17: Social Slam 2013 Preview

    (Chuck Kent) This week's Twitter Love Song goes out to the Speakers at Social Slam 2013. I am jumping on the social media conference bandwagon and going to in Knoxville, Tennessee.

  19. 19. A Strategy for Attending a Conference Like #SoSlam

    A Strategy for Attending a Conference Like #SoSlam

    (David Schwartz) I recently attended the Social Slam Conference in Knoxville, TN aka #SoSlam if you are following along on Twitter. Most conferences attendees go with different goals in mind. As for me, I went to gather with like-minded individuals, pick-up some new information and to network.

  20. 20. Gearing Up For Social Slam 2013

    Gearing Up For Social Slam 2013

    (Shonali Burke) What I want to get out of a conference is to be intellectually challenged, emotionally refreshed and professionally inspired.

  21. 21. The best marketing value in the world?

    The best marketing value in the world?

    (Mark Schaefer) Each April something magical happens in Knoxville, TN. Yes, the city tucked into the Smoky Mountains has the most beautiful spring in the country. And the weather is mild and the people are happy.

  22. 22. 13 Tips for Getting Started with Social Media - Blue Kite Marketing

    13 Tips for Getting Started with Social Media - Blue Kite Marketing

    This past weekend, I attended Social Slam for the third straight year. This year was extra special because I had the distinct honor of joining the stage as a speaker! I was thrilled to participate in a panel discussion with Chris Craft, Kerry Gorgone and Valentina Escobar-Gonzalez about getting started with social media.

View more lists from Shonali Burke

Have you had any “aha!” moments when attending conferences, or after returning from them? What other tips can you share on relationship-building? Please do share, you know the comments are yours!

Shonali Burke
Head honcho of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke is President & CEO of Shonali Burke Consulting, Inc. Based in the Washington, D.C., area, she loves helping for- and non-profit clients, both small and large, turn corporate codswallop into community cool™. She also loves ABBA, bacon, cooking, dogs, and Elvis. Wouldn't you like to be in her kitchen?
Shonali Burke
Shonali Burke
Shonali Burke

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Adam | Customer Experience
Adam | Customer Experience

Shonali, what a great way to sum up #soslam. I had a great time seeing/meeting most of the people on your list, but what I enjoyed most was having time to really deepen some relationships with people I had known before (you, for one, of course!) 

Also, I do believe @ducttape deserves a special shout-out -- he is truly down to earth in addition to being really smart!


Thanks for the kind words, @shonali! It was so great to finally meet you - I think we could have talked for hours and hours! As I've send before and I'll say it again, the content at Social Slam was good, but the people made it great. I think @iancleary is on to something with the "spending time in the hallways" concept. It's hard to forge relationships in the minutes between sessions. You've got to find time elsewhere and that's why the before and after parties were so important. Just hate that I missed out on the dancing!!!

Sean McGinnis
Sean McGinnis

My only problem with Social Slam is there's never enough time to get to spend with all you awesome people! Each year I'm left wanting more.

I say next year we all fly in a day early and do our own version of 30 minute speed dating or something... ;)

Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes
Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes

Forgive me, but "putting you back in the elevator" is the kind of expression that would make for a great euphemism.


I think I already told you that meeting you was one of my true highlights of the conference! Your wrapup perfectly captured the spirit of the event and some of the great personalities colliding in "protein form." And I already went and bought my own set of those foldup flat shoes :)


Hey Shonali,

Your post brought a smile to my face and brought back some happy memories.  It was a special event!  Ian

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

Hey @shonali did @Adam | Customer Experience have his cell hone with him? He still has me on hold since February! I refuse to hang up because I heard if I get through my experience will be amazing! 8) Hope to meet you one day Adam!

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

@lauraclick what @shonali wasn't told is that your session was booked solid so you felt she should get the overflow? 8) Don't worry my jokes get better as I go down the comments!

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

@Sean McGinnis funny when I first got to know @shonali i expected her to be 5'! Then I met her and she was taller than me! But the @ginidietrich was disappointed to learn I was under 6' because she hoped I could take you down Sean when i got to Chicago. My friend is a stilter you wait I will be taller when we meet!

Shonali moderator

@dbvickery It WAS comic relief. You were so patient each time, LOL!

Shonali moderator

@rosemaryoneill "Protein form" - HAHAHAHAH! Aren't the shoes great? I think I should buy a set of them and give them away as tchotchkes. ;) I so loved meeting you, Rosemary. I feel like we should do periodic Hangouts or something - you, @lauraclick@dbvickery ... any of the gang who want to join - this is a very special group and I'm privileged to be a part of it.

Shonali moderator

@markwschaefer OMG, the dancing was AWESOME. If you haven't seen @jeffbullas cut a rug, you haven't lived. ;) Thank you again so so much, Mark!

Shonali moderator

@iancleary It really was. And I hope timing works out for us to meet in July - I would love to see you (and your wife) sooner rather than later. We have to plan some kind of family trip back to Ireland, to visit the old homeland, so that would be one way of starting it. :)


@HowieG @lauraclick HAHA! Hardly. I was talking about social media for beginners. Naturally, most of the folks here are NOT beginners. They definitely needed to see @shonali instead! Heck, I wish I could have been in her session!

Howie Goldfarb
Howie Goldfarb

@Shonali @dbvickery actually you did stay on his floor Shonali! He just knew you were so drunk, I mean not paying attention he could send you two floors up! 8)


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