Thursday, August 8, 2013

Cliques vs Tribes: How one hurts and one helps in networking Part 1

Worse Than High School? Sign Me Up!

After the mammoth blogging conference BlogHer wound up last month and people were posting posts, tweeting tweets and flooding Instagram with visuals of speakers, swag and sponsor parties I noticed more than the usual detractors. "The cliques! It was worse than high school" was one comment that summed up the sentiment of many an attendee.

Alone in a Crowd or Who The Hell is in My Photo?

There were the standard complaints (hey can't please everyone) about food, the swag, the speakers, the sessions, but the chief complaint I saw was because of the conference's 4000 attendees some people didn't connect with ANYONE. They had brief encounters with some of their favourite bloggers, brought home handfuls of business cards that were shoved into their palm after a very brief introduction,their Instagram photos photo-bombed by strangers and a head full of faces.

Introverts vs Extroverts

Some were upset and overwhelmed by the whole experience, some were upset that they failed to get a party invite and when they did get an invite were too intimidated to attend because they didn't know a single person there. The word 'cliques' kept coming up again and again. They ended up in their hotel room. Alone. Crying. I felt for them. I've been one of them.

Some people are introverts and conferences are just not their thing, the thought of spending an entire weekend with 4000 people just doesn't do it for them - so they avoid them all together or spend the weekend with their face to their phone trying their best to look very busy. They spend their time waiting for someone to approach them. They will gladly retreat to their room by themselves or with a few close friends. I understand that. I'm introverted, it takes me awhile to come out of my shell and I had to work at networking and making small talk to meet sponsors and clients. If you see me at a conference don't be afraid to say hi, in fact I tell you what, if I see you sitting alone I'll come over first and introduce myself.

Others it seemed, were very excited to go, determined to get out there to mix and mingle, got there and just couldn't fit in anywhere. Not even a brief conversation about something they have in common with another blogger, not to make a new BFF, but start discussions about possible partnerships that would benefit both of them. They were basically ignored or ditched the minute the other blogger's bestie or popular blogger arrived. Networking fail.

Is This a Mommy Blogger Thing?

When I was discussing this with another blogger she asked me if this was a "women in general or a mommy blogger thing"? I can't say with any authority, but from a personal perspective dealing with other bloggers and professionals, both male and female I will hesitantly say I think this might, to a slightly larger extent be a "mommy blogger" thing, but i won't say it never, ever happens anywhere else.

I don't mean to pick on blogging conferences, I see it happen on Twitter and Facebook and Google+ everyday as well.

Huddling in your own group of friends is probably a very safe spot for most bloggers. They know each other well enough, they more often than not are from the same socio-economic and sometimes religious background, have very similar likes and dislikes and support each other no matter what. They see their social and business circle as being one and the same. This view stifles their professional growth and is determental if they are aspiring to be something more than just an online journal.

Tomorrow I'll dive into why having a clique is not the same as networking and actually hurts your growth as a blogger.

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