How to Meet Everybody at an Event

By Andy Crestodina

I got together with 1700 other marketers in Cleveland recently. It was Content Marketing World 2013. We were there to learn, and we were there to make connections. It was a few short days, filled with presentations and keynotes, new ideas and new faces.

The conference felt a bit like high school. Students wandered through the halls with matching orange book bags, jumping in and out of classrooms. We passed notes (mostly through Twitter) and sometimes cut class. The keynotes were assemblies and the seminars were summer school.

There were parties at night, including one with an 80s theme and a soundtrack straight from a John Hughes movie. Ah, nostalgia.

So why not have a yearbook?

The idea was simple: create a reason to meet people and create a little content. So, I bought an orange spiral notebook and wrote “My CMW Yearbook” on the cover. Over the next few days, I approached people asking them to sign. Then I took their picture. That was pretty much it.

It turned out to be a lot of fun. People responded in all kinds of creative ways.

  • Some drew pictures.
    See Hunter Boyle’s graffiti art (page 17)
  • Someone wrote a poem.
    “Roses are red, I’m in the House of Blues…” (page 43)
  • Some pretended it was a real high school yearbook.
    “I’ll always remember the yuks we had in Prof. Handley’s Class.” (page 34)

One person, Michelle Allard, volunteered to be on the yearbook committee, grabbing new people to sign, taking pictures. Thanks, Michelle! Only one person refused to sign …and he did so on page 47.

If CMW was high school, it was a short year.

It was the first day of school, followed by the last day of school. By the time it was over, I’d met and talked to more than 160 people, close to 10% of the attendees. People tweeted about it and told others to find me to sign. I had 60 pages of signatures. I also learned a few things:

  • Legibility is a good thing.
  • HAGS means “Have a great summer.” Who knew?
  • If someone doesn’t like the picture you took, let them take a selfie.
  • Cheap notebooks have thin paper and marker ink bleeds through.
  • Analog is still fun, and face-to-face communication still rules.

The big takeaway is this: a simple, collaborative idea can let people express themselves and make everyone feel like a part of something bigger. We all created something together.

Cost: $1.29
Time: Don’t ask…

Here is my CMW 2013 Yearbook.

You may see a lot of familiar faces. Sure you’ve seen their profile picture before, but have you ever seen them first thing in the morning or in a bar? Sure you’ve read their content before, but have you ever seen their handwriting after a few drinks?

Please forgive any mismatches between pictures and signatures. The process wasn’t very organized, but we did our best. Let us know if you catch any errors.

Note: When you see a note that says “lefty,” this was me asking people to make a note to remind me to add them to my Lefty twitter list. Yes, I keep a twitter list of lefties. No, I don’t have a good reason for this. But yes, if you’re a lefty, I’m happy to add you to the list.

There is more where this came from…

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