I am writing this perched over a makeshift work place: a table in front of a bed. I am in Islamabad right now, for the Social Media Summit 2014 that took place at the Serena Hotel. The event lasted two days.
I couldn’t make it for the first day: I was happily busy hosting Paul Luning in Lahore (he is in the process of weaving a powerful story and I wanted to play my part – more on that below)
But to make it for the second day, I boarded the bus from Lahore at 1:15 in the morning to reach Islamabad at 5:30 in the AM. The remainder of that day was spent at the conference (which started early: at 8:30 AM).
A few years ago, I wouldn’t have gone through the trouble.
But there is a reason why attending conferences is important.
The Self, The Skill and The Network
Conferences can help you improve yourself, your skill and your – and this is my second least favorite word – your network. Consider:
- The Self: To improve myself, I must improve my surroundings. There is a lot of talk about adding variance to your “list of friends”, but variance for the sake of variance? Or because it increases your chances of getting the right kind of influence? You can read the following article on why your surroundings are so important, and how you can improve yourself by improving your surroundings:
The Secret of Self Improvement
- The Skill: conferences are usually grouped by industry. I visited the Social Media Summit because I am in Social Media. That is my field (well, part of my field at least). And what’s one way of improving your skill at anything? By meeting people who are where you want to be: people who are your experts. Meeting people like Mehr Tarar(the inimitable writer) and Danial Shah the adventurer/photographer is an example of such people. And knowing how they are using Social Media gives me a chance to further my skill.
- The Network: I hate the word “networking”: sounds so cold. A better word may be “making friends”. Networking done right is nothing more than making new friends. That’s it. Increasing the number of friends you have is one of the best uses of your time. The startup adviser, marketing consultant and author Porter Gale says that “Your Network is your Net Worth”. If you – like me – do not like words likes “my network” and “my worth!”, then try this:
“You ability to solve problems is directly proportional to the number of friends you have” [click to tweet this]
Now why wouldn’t you want to increase your ability of solving problems?
And o yeah, I also had a lot of fun while there! 😉