Orlando TweetUp: nobody told me this was a professional party

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Last Thursday night, I attended the Orlando TweetUp hosted by the Orlando Sentinel in… wait for it… Orlando.

Let me tell you about how I wanted to die.

First of all, thank GOD I was meeting Shash, Susan from EggMarketing and Melanie from ModernMami there. The three of them were the sum total of the group of People I Knew. They also, more importantly, were the sum total of the group of People Who Knew Me.

the girls

Of course, I’ve gone to blogging meetups before and have met lots and lots of new people. This would be fun, I assured myself.

This was not a casual meetup for many of the people there. This? Was a networking event. It took me about fifteen minutes to realize that I don’t do networking. The first time a woman walked by me, handed me a business card and said “let’s be friends” before moving past me, I knew I was out of my element.

Like any good Internet addict, I turned to my iPhone for comfort.

I checked my email, updated my twitter page, and verified my bank balance hadn’t changed in the last 30 seconds. I was engrossed in these coping mechanisms when I caught the fringes of an interesting conversation.

Shash, Susan and Melanie were standing around me – giving me a good disguise of someone who belonged there – chatting with a woman who apparently worked in PR. To be honest with you, I have no idea what they were talking about. Something about the clients she represents, perhaps. What I did hear was “and then there is this one mommy bloger, I don’t know, she’s just very much off in her own world and…”

“Who is it?” someone asked. It might have been me, but I doubt it.

“Oh man, I can’t remember.. um… oh yes, Miss Britt!”

I looked up from my iPhone and without thinking, the words fell out of my mouth.

“Hi. That’s me. I’m Miss Britt.”

In a rush of words, the woman who was 2 seconds earlier bitching to a group of friends about how I wasn’t attentive enough to her pitches began telling me how great it was that I did my own thing and how I was so funny and she liked that and no, really, that’s great.

(On a side note, because this little detail pisses me off: I asked her where she got the impression that I was “in my own world” and she told me I didn’t respond to email. I explained to her that as someone working in sales, I always respond to emails I get that are clearly not SPAM – even if it’s just to say no, I’m not interested.)

Needless to say, I was feeling more and more out of place as the moments ticked by.

Susan and Shash let me follow along behind them as they worked the room. They shook hands and handed out business cards and introduced their friend, Britt. They laughed at me for feeling out of place and encouraged me to just go talk to people. I desperately wished I had an angle to sell or a third arm or something that would make me interesting.

I was in a room full of Internet people and suddenly “oh, um, I have a blog” didn’t mean anything.

Let me stop for a minute and clarify that my feeling uncomfortable had nothing to do with the people there. I wasn’t surrounded by snobs or cliques. I was, in fact, in a crowded bar filled to the brim with people who were eager to meet other strangers. The difference was, it seemed like they were all there with a purpose. They had done their research on who would be attending and who they should meet. They had 30 second elevator speeches on who they were and what they did and why they were important people to know. Or they didn’t need elevator speeches because everyone in town knew exactly who the hell they were.

I was just there for a good time.

I thought I might meet some other cool people based on little more than the fact that we all “got” the idea of sending random updates to the Internet. But I spent the first half of the night lost in the details of how I didn’t fit and pinned to the wall by my own insecurities.

It’s been a really long time since I’ve felt so paralyzed by feelings of inadequacy.

The night, however, was not a total loss – thanks to a few people who were willing to look past the wall of my awkwardness and reach out to me.

I cannot say enough about the people of IZEA. The blogosphere knows IZEA as “that company that did pay per posts”, but they’re local to Orlando so I’m privy to a lot of the really cool stuff they do here. (And will be doing more with them on a new site in the as soon as I am caught up on my life again future.) They get my brand of social media – emphasis on social.

Britt and Ashley

Ashley Edwards approached me, camera in hand and a huge smile on his face, and instantly made me feel like less of a loser. He made me laugh, introduced me to his friend, and really made it OK for me to just be myself.

Carri Bright is another IZEA person who I’d never met before but was absolutely beaming “I’m a good time.” I’m sure she’s very professional and great at the job they hire her to do, but I swear I wanted to hug the shit out of her right there just for being so fun and relaxed and making me feel like it was OK to breathe. If that’s her job (and I think it might be), she deserves a raise.

James and Keleigh

Do you see these two people? These two people are even hotter in real life and they were probably the highlight of the night for me. I sent out a twitter along the lines of “I’m the only person twittering at this tweetup and also probably want to die” – and James not only responded – he came and found me. He and Keleigh (who are business partners, not a couple), sat at a table and just talked to me for over an hour (I think). They listened to my jokes and didn’t run away when I got loud and babbly (which, um, I tend to do.)

They aren’t bloggers so they’ll probably never see this, but if they do – thank you. Both of you. You met and exceeded every expectation I had for the night.

Over 1,000 words into this and I still haven’t told you the most ironic part of the night.

I was featured in a video about that night.

I think my answer to “What’s a TweetUp?” compared to everyone else’s perfectly epitomizes the night.

If you can’t watch the video now, allow me to sum it up for you.

I’m the only one who said “crap”. But in the end, I’m also the one who laughed.

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  1. I would never have known that you felt awkward when we first met. Yes, I was there when that PR person blew through & laughed as well. And, geez, I didn’t recognize Susan at first, whom I’ve previously met at Doterati events. LOL!! Glad you had fun & your interview with Marc Middleton was fine. It just showed that you speak what your thinking and from the heart. What can be wrong with that.

  2. Turnbaby says:

    Someone brought their baby–to a bar—for a networking meetup???

    I liked your clip best of all. People who are constantly on the ‘make’ for how they can use any and every contact simply as a potential money making tool just wear me out.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Turnbaby, well, it was kind of a sports bar type place and pretty early into the night (started at 5:30). And there is no smoking in bars here.

      • Turnbaby says:

        @Miss Britt, still seems odd if it was business and still odd to bring a baby to a bar–it’s one of my pet peeves.

        • jen says:

          @Turnbaby, really? it’s a peeve? why? just curious. I was there, see no problem with a baby being there. It’s a restaurant with a bar. Smoking is only outside, and, at least for me, it was social (and not business) as I was meeting IRL the people I tweet with daily. Just my opinion though :) Great blog Miss Britt! Next time I hope to meet you.

          • Turnbaby says:

            @jen, because it’s a bar–it’s an adult space and babies don’t need to be in adult situations.

            It became a pet peeve when parents were inappropriate–the anecdotes are numerous– in bringing very young children into adult spaces. There are some places where very young children need not be—for a variety of reasons that have little to do with smoking —although parents who take very young children into adult spaces where smoking is allowed deserve special mention.

  3. Avitable says:

    Jesus, listening to a few people talk about Twitter like it was life or death, or their key to riches, was hilarious. You definitely summed it up best.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Avitable, nah, not best. Just more like you. You’re a blogger first and twitterer second like me. :-)

      • @Miss Britt, and @Avitable – Was going to comment at the bottom, but you guys summed it up perfectly. I’m like you: blogger first, twitterer second.

        Plus? Adam sort of forced me into twitter. There was that whole, “Join or you’ll never see this Stormtrooper helmet ever again!” thing that he was threatening.

        Fucker.

  4. Shash says:

    I was NOT laughing at you!!! I love you and had a great time hanging out with you. Now we need to have our own low-key tweetup with some if our new friends. You in?

    xoxo
    Shash

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Shash, you weren’t laughing maliciously! I know you love me, and I was so SO grateful you were there and that you guys were willing to let me tag around behind you all night.

      And anywhere you’re at? I’m always in.

  5. I had no idea you were so uncomfortable. On the other hand, we did manage to talk about non-bloggy stuff…like http://twitter.com/missbritt/statuses/1228812481

  6. Shash, It’s all part of creating our new so-defined-no-one-else-can-join mommy group. ;)

  7. You SO should have let her finish her sentence before you introduced yourself! I would have loved to have known what she was thinking. When are people going to realize, you just never know who might be standing behind you!

    P.S. If I lived near Florida…I would have gone there just for fun too! We could have stood awkwardly together. :)

  8. B.E. Earl says:

    Huzzah to you for speaking up and for even going to that event.

    I’m still in the “I don’t get Twitter” phase, myself.

  9. Dawn says:

    Good for you for going in the first place. I wouldn’t have had the guts. Then again, I don’t have a blog, nor am I on Twitter.

    I love that you said “crap.”

  10. Turnbaby says:

    And

    If the PR chick had paid one iota of attention–which is her PREOFESSION if she is in PR she would have recognized you first–what a lame ass.

  11. Turnbaby says:

    LOL–excuse my lame ass typing;-)

  12. note to self: avoid tweetups

  13. I was invited to an Orange County tweetup last week and I didn’t go. I didn’t go because I am paralyzed by fear when thrown into a group of total strangers (Which will make BlogHer an interesting experience.) Reading your post made me glad I didn’t go. Your description is exactly what I feared. Although, at some point in my life I guess I need to grow up and learn to deal with my shy, introverted self. (I know, I know … not shy and NOT introverted when I write!)

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Twenty Four At Heart, for what it’s worth, I’m still glad I went. And the people I went who knew what they were doing? Got even more out of it then I did!

  14. NYCWD says:

    I’m not surprised by your experience. Twitter has become inundated with marketers and companies looking to sell things. For a blogger without a product, then really the only thing you have to sell is yourself. I know I’d probably lose to a Snuggie seller anyday.

    Oh, and I can totally hear you saying, “Hi. That’s me. I’m Miss Britt.” to the PR person… as your eyes turned to razors and cut them.

  15. Finn says:

    Wait… is this the thing I said maybe I’d attend on Facebook? Because, while I would endure anything to come see you, there is a line. And this might be it.

    P.S. – I like YOUR world.

  16. Carri Bright says:

    Hiya, Britt!

    It was so much fun hanging out with you and THANKS for the really nice things you had to say about me (I forwarded the raise part to my boss ;-)

    From my perspective, the whole point of the tweetup is to deepen the relationships that you have already started to build online and to meet other like-minded people with similar interests. But sadly, some people don’t quite get the part where relationships depend on two people communicating.

    I am glad to see that you are going to be coming to the St. Patty’s tweetup at the IZEA offices. I think it’ll be a lot of fun.

    Until Next Time!
    Carri

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Carri Bright, to be fair – a lot of those people had taken the time to introduce themselves online in anticipation of the event. So I suppose they were deepening something.

      I have no doubt the IZEA TweetUp will be a blast. And I’m recruiting all my local peeps, just in case. ;-)

  17. Hilly says:

    I’m sorry but what the fuck? You are not in your own little world and I’ve seen you reach out way more than other mommy bloggers out there. Pfffft, no tweetups for me….ever.

  18. Maybe I’ll go next time just to keep you company.

    If you’re lucky.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing], I’m going to make a note of that.

      Except where you said “maybe” I’m going to write “Promise”, which is pretty much the same thing.

  19. Wow, been there done that, the whole insecurity thing. Used to be afraid to walk into weekly cocktail parties with the people in WORKED with and KNEW . . . but then I realized that all people are MUCH more concerned with themselves than me. Makes it much easier. Glad it turned out well! I still can’t quite figure out twitter.

  20. We want to be the blogger who is reclusive and mysterious and people have to trek through the jungles of Mexico to find, only to end up with more questions than answers about and write tomes of codifications about what metaphors mean what in which missive.

    All we have to do now is do something that would warrant that.

    We’ll get back to you!

  21. You know I’ve been a fan of yours for quite some time now! I just couldn’t wait to finally meet you face-to-face.

    While I’m certainly representing IZEA at any web-related event I will always be my true self. Trust me, I’ve tried to keep him at bay but he always manages to bust out! I’m happy to know your interaction with me was pleasant.

    Looking forward to seeing you again next month at the St. Patty’s Day Tweetup.

  22. Faiqa says:

    I feel a little homicidal whenever someone I’ve known for less than five minutes hands me a business card… I would not have felt awkward at the event, but would’ve quickly been labeled “the mean pregnant bitch.” :)

  23. Ohmigosh, I freaking love your CURLS! I have them so I’m usually, eh, but yours are so luminescent!

    Anyway, I bailed out on the Tampa Tweetup because I was a chickenshit. No matter how it turned out, it took balls to go, and you had them. Yay for chicks with scrots!

    And I better be on that invite list for the *social* tweetup ya’ll are cooking up! ;-)

    • Miss Britt says:

      @CheekySweetie, awww, how sweet are you.

      Are you on facebook? Friend me (if you haven’t already and I’m a moron) and I’ll send you the invite.

  24. Lady_VoIP says:

    I am sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy yourself, but I’m certainly glad you were there. I don’t consider myself exceptionally shy but I felt it in that pub. Setting up camp with you and Shash made my evening much more enjoyable. And while I was annoyed (but certainly not shocked) to have business cards rained down upon me, I did manage to meet a few cool people.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Lady_VoIP, oh don’t be sorry! I DID eventually enjoy myself – but I absolutely had to endure some serious feelings of social awkwardness before I got to that point. And I am not shy by any stretch of the imagination in most situations!

      It was nice to set up camp with you too. :-)

  25. “Hi, I’m Miss Britt. Oh, what do I do? I have a blog. Oh, you aren’t impressed?Where’s YOUR fucking calendar spread? I blog, and I’m an opinion-maker. Tell me about the worthless product you sell.”

  26. Selma says:

    Good on you for being you. That’s why I love ya!!!

  27. Susan Payton says:

    Britt, Britt, Britt. What you don’t realize is half the people there felt like you did. There was a guy at the bar tweeting the whole night. He didn’t speak to anyone. Not everyone there had networked or had an agenda. Many just liked Twitter. And it’s ok. I’ve been networking out of necessity for years. But I HATED it at first. Hated it. I’d do the same thing. Oh! Important thing to look at on my phone. You get over it. Don’t worry. I’ll help you.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Susan Payton, you should be like a professional network trainer person.

      If that’s not a job, it should be.

      Going to read the longer email now… xo

  28. Ed (zoesdad) says:

    I would not have lasted an entire beer. I like the perspective–”Twitter is a constant spiel of crap.” Well said.

  29. Lee of MWOB says:

    Oh Miss Britt – I would have felt exactly like you. I have always sucked ass at networking but I do like to chat with people! I just never have an ulterior motive. I just like to chat!!

    And I watched the video – the whole thing made me laugh!! I loved the guy who said we all twitter and go this tweet-up and then get rich!! And you were great too of course!!

    And yes, thank God for iPhones – always my BFF when I need it.

  30. You know, it’s also interesting, what you took away from this Tweetup. I’ve been to a handful (both here and in other cities) and I’ve never felt like it was specifically a business/networking event.

    I’m very intrigued about why this one was different. I did receive one business card, but honestly I can’t recall whose it was.

  31. fidget says:

    I thought about going to this tweetup and got the distinct business vibe coming off of it so I just stuck my head in the sand.

  32. Miss Britt,

    Thanks for coming. I’m sorry you felt uncomfortable. I didn’t plan it as a professional networking event, and there weren’t that many people who tried to pitch me. The goal was just a way to meet some of the people you tweet with. If some business relationship results, that’s a bonus.

    Hope to see you at the next one

    Etan

  33. KeithBarrett says:

    I will say that my feelings about the tweetup were very similar to yours. Everyone (except the friendly SomaCow people) seemed to only care whether I could help them make any sales, and the 3 people that talked with me did so no more than the 3 minutes it took to find out the answer was no. In hindsite I should have expected that knowing the top 10 Orlando twitters are all marking people. After being handed 3 business cards in 5 minutes, I went and stayed mostly in the front dining area, had food and a beer.

    Here’s the humorous part. Having used twitter for 2 years I was sure 8 months ago no one in the room had ever heard of it. Positive that no one was actually geeky enough to be tweeting, I tweeted that I would buy a beer to the first person that came to the front area and chatted with me.

    That beer went unpurchased.

    Toward the end I found one or two people there just to have fun. Sorry I missed you.

    Keith

  34. Al_Pal says:

    Whew! Marketing bothers me, too. ;p

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