Sunday, October 02, 2011

She's Connected Conference 2011: What I Learned


I recently had the opportunity to attend the She's Connected Conference in Toronto. This was the 2nd Annual Social Media Conference, connecting Brands and Top 200 Social Media Women. While some conferences are geared towards women/bloggers, and others are mainly for agencies and brands, ShesConnected brings the brands and digital women together in one venue. This is the reason ShesConnected is the only conference of its kind.

The event is by invitation only, so I was surprised when I received an invitation from Donna Marie Antoniadis (Forbes Top 20 Best-Branded Women on Twitter, Digital/Mobile/Social Leader, CEO & co-founder of ShesConnected.com). I recall sending her a direct message thanking her, but stating that I was "just a small fish in a big pond". I felt that the blogging/social media world was a sea of many more influential digital women. I only had just over 1,000 Twitter followers, while blogging super stars had ten times that! That was how I felt. I have a piddly little blog about my life as a city girl who married a beef farmer and had a high risk pregnancy, which ultimately brought a preemie daughter into our lives. I blog about family, parenting, teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) culture, food, recipes, and products I trust and use in our household. I host giveaways and promote brands. I'm even on a few panels. That's all.

Donna Marie simply replied, "You are not a small fish. Even if you were, brands need fish of all sizes". Something about what Donna Marie said and the way she interacted with me via our direct messages made me really admire and respect her even more. She is so real, so approachable, and so knowledgeable.

Having never attended a conference of this sort, I had no idea what to expect. I imagined that we would listen to speakers, have a few workshops, network, and meet brands.

I had no idea this experience would be so enlightening, enriching, and empowering.

Highlights:
* Networking with blog friends and Twitter connections, new and old to me

* Speaking with and getting to know amazing brands and sponsors

* Listening to keynote speaker, Elisa Camhort-Page (BlogHer co-founder)

* Listening and learning from very interesting and influential panelists and speakers
-What brands want from bloggers and digital women
-Product Reviews vs. Blog Tours vs. Brand Ambassador Programs
-Social Media Rock stars: Verteran, New and rising stars
-What is a Blogger worth?
-Rate Cards, Guidelines, &; Disclosure
-The 10 Rules of the Road, putting it all together

Not only did I learn a lot about what brands want from bloggers, or why rate cards and media kits are important, but I also learned just how powerful and influential we all are. A single Tweet sent out into the Twitterverse can change the lives of many.  I saw that first hand when Julie Marshall spoke of how just $1 a day could feed a family of four in some developing countries and how just $5 could buy a stove for a woman in Sri Lanka. At our table, we collected enough money to buy 6 stoves for women in Sri Lanka and we tweeted it. I glanced up at the big screens and the Twitter feed was going crazy with so many other tables doing the same thing. Within minutes, money was raised to buy stoves! Just like that!

Imagine just a thought or word thrown out into the Twitterverse and many women doing something good for others. That's all it took.

Sherry Abbott spoke about being a 21 Year Ovarian Cancer Survivor & Woman's Cancer Advocate (Executive Director of CCTFA Foundation - Home of Look Good Feel Better & Facing Cancer Together).
The Tamara's Wig story made me cry. Just one small gesture can go a long way and impact the lives of many.

The same can be said of how love and support was spread over the internet with tjzmommy's Twitter followers. When I first heard of Zack and tjzmommy, I knew I needed to meet Heather. Their story was one that really had an impact on me. I was also so amazed at the throngs of followers who posted that special Elmo on their Twitter profile pics. It spread like wildfire.

That amazes me. 

Though I did I learn a great deal from the brands, panel members, and speakers,  I also learned how wonderful it is just to connect with other social media women. It was exciting to be in a venue that was filled with so many intelligent, influential, unique, and special ladies.

The friendships that began online (be it through the blog or Twitter) had turned into friendships I will carry with me for life. Dinner and drinks with special tweeps after the #shoesconnected after party, laughs (as a result of crazy taxi rides in Toronto #chickenwing), and tears (from sharing personal stories) make me realize how truly incredible it is that people can touch each other's lives and how we are all connected and linked somehow.

Some shocking revelations were made: 1) BewilderedBug and I somehow got to talking about ethnicity and discovered that not only do we share Trinidadian roots, but her mother is best friend's with my uncle!
2) AskMamaMOE and I chatted about how we were both from Montreal and somehow discovered that we were both from the same part of Montreal and knew some of the same people! We were in the same cegep/college and same university. Not only that, but we were in the same program and at the same time (only I was a year ahead). She's friends with my brother's friends. Crazy or what?

I'll be posting photo highlights soon. In the meantime, please check out:

The Brands I love and got to chat with at SCCTO
FordCanada
ToshibaCanada
MapleLeafFoods
JanesFamilyFd
Christine Cushing
Purdy'sChocolate
MolsonCanadian67
AdultEssentials
Sobeys
Parent Tested Parent Approved (PTPA)
Life Choices Food
PepsiCanada
ConAgraFoods
and more!

The blog super stars I was finally able to meet
Julie Cole 
Mabel's Labels (via Julie Cole)Listen2Lena
SassyModernMom
tjzmommy
Mom vs. the Boys
PTPA Sharon

The tweeps I love and have become great friends with
Gingermommy
BeachMama
GoodGirlGoneGreen
AMotherhoodBlog
WhispersInspire
_littlemisskate
BewilderedBug
SweetMamaBrady
AaricaMakeUpblog 
MommyMomentBlog
AskMamaMOE

New friends I met at SCCTO
SoberJulie
CouponMomCanada
orangeheromama 
UpperCanadaSoap
EtobicokeMoms
LittleMsSave
JustNikiV
MadeByHandShow
FabFrugalMama
MapleLeafMommy
milkandcoco
and so many more!

13 comments:

Gingermommy said...

I am so happy we had a chance to meet irl. You in person are even sweeter than ı imagined. I look forward to meeting again :)

Nancy said...

Glad we met m'dere, you are great and one of the sweetest people I have the pleasure of knowing. ((HUGS))

Lena! said...

Love this post! And loved meeting you!!! xo

C said...

Gingermommy:
It was wonderful meeting you too! So glad we had the opportunity to do so at SCCTO! I am really, really glad we met! I'm sure we will see each other again! xo

C said...

Nancy:
You were exactly as fun as I thought you'd be! Your personality and humour translate through your blog. I wasn't expecting how petite you'd be though! Yay! :) We were the shortest ladies at SCCTO! Haha!

C said...

Lena:
You absolutely blow me away! You are so amazing, so wonderful, and so gorgeous! Great job, Ms. ShesConnected Community Manager! xo

Alyssa said...

So happy we finally got to connect IRL :)

BeachMama said...

So great that we finally got to meet after all these years! You are so lovely and just how I imagined you would be.Let's not wait another 5 years to see each other again!

Katrina Brady said...

If there had to be #chickenwing, I'm glad it was with you :) Looking forward to the next time we see each other!

Did you know Canada said...

So happy to have met you :) A great time!!

Fab Frugal Mama said...

It was really wonderful to meet you! I never did get any of that Manitoulin chocolate though... ;) LOL

It's amazing how an event like ShesConnected is able to inspire us and nurture fab friendships... so happy we could connect!

Deanna T. said...

Awesome recap. So glad to have met you!

orkids said...

Great post...thanksf for sharing! So glad to hear about your experience at ShesConnected! Will be in touch soon!

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City girl moves to the country, falls in love, and marries a farmer. She tries to incorporate her city ways with her new country lifestyle and blogs to keep in touch with friends, family & students who live far, far away :) Can this city girl go country? Watch as she learns all sorts of exciting things about life on the farm and in a small rural community. *UPDATE* We are now parents! Our baby girl was born on Nov. 11, 2008 (at 28 weeks gestation- 12 weeks premature, but she's quite the trooper)!!!
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