Saturday, September 12, 2009

Networking 2.0 in a networking 1.0 world

Business card pile
Image of Christopher S. Penn by Christopher S. Penn via Flickr
Last night was Twestival in Phoenix. It was a rocking good time that was well attended. Props to @ChrisLee for being the local Phoenix coordinator of this national event. If you missed it, loads of photos are already on Flickr. I look forward to next year.

But I have to be better prepared. You see, I'm rather used to the new "networking 2.0" groups and the people that attend them. In these networking 2.0 events, rarely am I asked "what do you do?". Rarely does someone hand me a business card within 15 seconds of meeting them. I don't even carry business cards anymore, and it's probably because I don't have a good answer for the question.

So far, my standard answer is "lots of different things". And while that's accurate, I probably come off like an unskilled laborer or drifter. Not exactly the image I'm trying to portray. My backup reply is "I'm a digital business strategist", which is either incredibly douchey or completely non-helpful. In fact, I can't think of a single person who didn't respond with a version of "what the hell does that mean?". And not in a "please tell me more" way, either.

And it's going to happen again in less than 10 hours. I'm off to a small gathering in LA, where I'll be engaging with people I've never met. At least one person will ask me what I do, and I need a better answer.

I'm thinking of taking a radical approach. I'm thinking of picking one "thing" about me, and answering with that. But how do I pick? Obviously, I want to pick the most interesting thing I do and the thing I'm most interested in talking about. But I have lots of things I'm involved with that I think are interesting and that I like to talk about.

Guess I just have to get over it and pick one.

For those of you in the same boat, what do you do? How do you handle "the question" when you are a heck of a lot more than the title someone gave you at your day-job?

You can respond in the comments if you like, but I've got the new Echo System working, so if you comment anywhere else with a LINK back to this page, it should show up auto-magically. Cool!

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