I believe the true value of connections is when online connections become in person connections. This is why I personally value attending Social Media Marketing World each year.

 

In 2018 I applied to volunteer to serve my community. The Social Media Community.

 

Just in case I didn’t get accepted as a volunteer, I bought my ticket to attend. There was no way I wasn’t going to be in San Diego for the conference if I could help it. When I got accepted as a volunteer in 2018, I was refunded the ticket price. It was like I was getting paid to be at Social Media Marketing World. The immense gratitude I had at the time, still stays with me.

 

Not only was I a volunteer for the 2018 event, I was asked to be Speaker Concierge Lead. An honour I took very seriously.

 

This meant I travelled halfway across the world ( 1 x Bus, 1 x Train, 3 x Planes, 1 x Uber) to spend the conference in an office not attending any sessions in person, with limited contact with attendees.

Social Media Marketing World 2018 - Volunteer Training with Demain Ross
Social Media Marketing World 2018 – Volunteer Training with Demain Ross

This was to be my 2nd year attending and volunteering for Social Media Marketing World. I was determined to make 2018 bigger and better. Having a unique experience and not having access to most of the opportunities that others had as an attendee, I knew I had to be resourceful.

 

3 weeks and 1 day prior to going to Social Media Marketing World, I was admitted to hospital. 8 hours later, I’d had emergency surgery and my appendix was removed.

 

Serena Ryan in Hospital February 2018
The Unexpected Hospital Visit February 2018

 I committed to study the program and activities, even more diligently than prior to being in hospital.

 

I focused on :

  • Attending as many activities before or after the day sessions were on
  • Talking to strangers (aka ‘people who weren’t friends yet’)
  • Giving as much as I could to others through support and connections

To be able to achieve these things, I followed the 3 step process of:

Review. Plan. Act.

 

Reviewing and capitalising on the success of 2017

 

Whilst I have many micro-moments of attending Social Media Marketing World 2017, 3 key things stood out to apply to 2018 were; Meet Up and Eat Up Dinners, Corridor Conversations and Exploring the Midway.

Meet Up and Eat Up Dinners

 

One of the many benefits of attending Social Media Marketing World is that you can sign up to attend these dinners. The concept is simple. Someone puts their hand up and agrees to host a table. They find a restaurant, book a table for 8 or 10 people then others can put their name down to join the table. This enable small groups to eat and chat rather than dine alone.

 

SMMW 2017 Meet Up and Eat Up Dinners

In 2017, by doing this I gained friends and discovered amazing food and restaurants too. I loved this experience so much I decided to step up my game here.  

 

For 2018 I hosted a table at my favourite San Diego restaurant, Coast Terra. It was for dinner on the Monday Night for a bunch of ‘Early Birds’. In an act of serendipity, a couple of people registered couldn’t make it and a couple of others came along at the last minute. I ended up hosting people from Manchester, Wales, Lebanon, United States, Australia, and Israel. A true representation of the international flavour of Social Media Marketing World.

 

Corridor Conversations

 

Being brave to say Hi, smile and ask people questions I found increasingly important. In 2017, this led to so many opportunities including lunch with Heidi Cohen, hanging out with Dennis Yu, Logan Young and Ben Dahl from Blitzmetrics and getting to bond over a love of shoes with Lisa Jenkins, managing editor of Social Media Examiner.

 

2018, I definitely found this more challenging, but didn’t let it deter me. Getting to meet the people I was working alongside was invaluable. Whilst I did get to chat with a couple of speakers, I focused on everyone around me and the unique opportunities presented.

 

The first opportunity came when there was a fire drill. I found myself standing next to Michael Stelzner, and Daniel Wallock, there was my first selfie, in a Fire Drill. A Fire Drill that happened during our volunteer training.

SMMW - Michael Stelzner, Daniel Wallock and Serena Ryan
Michael Stelzner, Daniel Wallock and Serena Ryan at Social Media Marketing World 2018.

 

One of the most powerful moments of the conference was getting to know Tabitha Philen. Tabitha and I shared desks in the office. I discovered we also share a passion for Financial Literacy, is a blogger and passionate advocate for family education.

 

Serena Ryan and Tabitha Philan at Social Media Marketing World 2018
Serena Ryan and Tabitha Philan at Social Media Marketing World 2018

 

I had the joy and opportunity to interview a wonderful Speaker Concierge  Kristin Arilus who created Monetized Mama to help Mothers create their own businesses.

 

 

I met Jo Saunders, LinkedIn Expert in the corridor. Later on she shared with me I would be featuring in her presentation.

Social Media Marketing World 2018 with Jo Saunders and Serena Ryan
Social Media Marketing World 2018 with Jo Saunders and Serena Ryan

 

I literally ran into Andrew and Pete in the corridor, it was an honour to be able to personally thank them for being on the See Digital Clearly podcast.

 

Social Media Marketing World 2018 with Serena Ryan, Andrew Pickering and Peter Gartland
Social Media Marketing World 2018 with Serena Ryan, Andrew Pickering and Peter Gartland

 

Wendy Marrow Grubbs has one of the biggest hearts I know. She’s an integral part Social Media Marketing World and is an Assistant Manager of the Social Media Society and to see her again was truly exciting.

 

Social Media Marketing World 2018 - Serena Ryan with Wendy Marrow Grubbs
Social Media Marketing World 2018 – Serena Ryan with Wendy Marrow Grubbs

 

Carlos Gil and I have been connected online ever since he was working at LinkedIn. We finally caught up in person briefly at Social Media Marketing World 2017. it was great to catch up again in 2018. I mentioned I would be going to Austin, Texas after Social Media Marketing World. He then gave me some of the best advice ever, go to Lambert’s BBQ Restaurant.

 

Social Media Marketing World 2018 - Serena Ryan with Carlos Gil
Social Media Marketing World 2018 – Serena Ryan with Carlos Gil

 

Being able to personally thank Justin Brown for his 2017 presentation and for opening my eyes to video editing on my phone was truly a highlight.

 

I shared with him I have saved hours of editing by simply editing more videos on my phone. I cannot recommend Justin’s training highly enough.

 

Social Media Marketing World 2018 - Justin Brown and Serena Ryan
Social Media Marketing World 2018 – Justin Brown and Serena Ryan

 

After the 2017  Social Media Marketing World I reached out to Lisa Jenkins. This led to me becoming a writer for Social Media Examiner. The priceless opportunity in 2018 of personally thanking Lisa Jenkins for her guidance and mentoring as a writer for Social Media Examiner was very special.

 

Social Media Marketing World 2018 - Serena Ryan with Lisa Jenkins
Social Media Marketing World 2018 – Serena Ryan with Lisa Jenkins

 

I was incredibly fortunate to serve with Connie Albers. When we had the opportunity to chat I then realised how much we have in common. She is passionate about family, finance and education.

 

Social Media Marketing World 2018 - Serena Ryan and Connie Albers
Social Media Marketing World 2018 – Serena Ryan and Connie Albers

Exploring the Midway

 

In 2017, I jumped at the chance to get on board the Midway with 3,000 others, to experience the unique opportunity and network. I took a tour to in the bowels of the ship and got to go into the control room and learn about when the USS Midway was in active service.

 

Serena Ryan at Social Media Marketing World 2017
Serena Ryan at Social Media Marketing World 2017

 

In 2018, I decided this time I would go to the flight deck. On the flight deck I ran into Reena from the Mummy Project and Shawna Allen from iFamilyKC. We discussed our passion for being Mum’s in business and supporting other Mum’s and women in business.

Then, back on the main deck I met Lisa Monks from Chipmonk Media and had the opportunity to interview her.

 

Rather than sit and lament what I didn’t do or get access to, it is about what I did have access to and where best I could provide value. This incredible experience reinforced to me how there are opportunities everywhere. You will find them when you review, plan and act.

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