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Sunday, September 23, 2007

NYC Blogger Meetup: Night of the Iguana

It truly was the Night of the Iguana. Well, not that Night of the Iguana - although I've been to that one's location in Puerto Vallarta. Nonetheless, there absolutely was an iguana, as you can see from the picture.

This Night of the Iguana took place in NYC, and - in true blogger meet up fashion - was outstanding! Naturally, CK got it going.

First, Curious George - The Age of Conversation mascot - made it. Here he is in Kofi Annan's hands surrounded by Carolyn Townes - the Wild W Wiki Woman, CK, David Reich and Steve Woodruff, the "father of George" [as Toby Bloomberg describes him].

If you remember, I first met Steve for the Curious George hand off back in mid August. Here it is September and George hasn't yet left the Northern New Jersey/Manhattan area. In fact, even though he made to it the NJ outskirts of Philadelphia, he hasn't yet made it into Philadelphia, let alone Pennsylvania.

Nonetheless, he's having a good time, and -- I'm happy to report -- still holding on dearly to his own copy of The Age of Conversation!

What made the evening so spectacular resulted from connection, conversation and community.

Connection: Given the scope of The Age of Conversation project, it was a thrill to meet more of the contributors. In addition to CK, David Reich, Steve Woodruff and Toby Bloomberg, I got to meet: Kofi Annan, David Berkowitz, Greg Verdino and Ann Handley. [This photo below/right is of Carolyn, CK and David Reich.]

Conversation: No wonder MarketingProfs is so wonderful! Ann Handley is a delight.

We talked virtual worlds, from Second life to Webkinz. My daughter recently sweet-talked her grandparents into giving her her first Webkinz. As a result, I've gotten quite involved in the Webkinz.com experience, and Ann's article about Second Life: Clunky, Complicated... and Yet Compelling absolutely resonated with me! [Also check out BL Ochman's MarketingProfs article onWebkinz: A Second Life/My Space Mashup for Grade Schoolers.]

This was made even more relevant because Knowledge@Wharton has just published this article titled Move Over, Beanie Babies, Webkinz Are Coming to a Store - And Virtual World - Near You. [Ann, have you seen it?]

Speaking of Second Life, what a treat to meet Greg Verdino for the first time! I experienced him - beyond his blog - during a smashing MarketingProfs seminar several months back that really helped me put Second Life into perspective. Definitely read his article on Welcome to Second Life, Marketers [and check out his blog!]

[Here are: Diva Toby, Greg and Carolyn + Big George. Note the boa courtesy of Toby.]

By the way, anyone dismissive of virtual worlds: beware! You should definitely reconsider.

As I am rapidly realizing, thanks to Webkinz, our children are intuitively absorbing what to us may be science fiction or simply a Hollywood reincarnation of the Star Trek Holodeck. Virtual worlds are here to stay and will only become more real and more relevant to our lives.

For example, did you know that Second Life is successfully being used in university curricula? [see Educators explore 'Second Life' online and Second Life University], for corporate training, for press briefings and even to parallel Congress opening its 110th session in Second Life.

[Here I am talking intensely with the Marketing Diva herself, Toby Bloomberg.]

Community: I love talking with Toby as she is warm, intense and fascinating. She has wonderful observations and ideas relating to community building and social media with a strong practical bent that I appreciate tremendously. A conversation with her always has me re-examining assumptions and pre-conceived notions.

What Toby also does so beautifully is graciously welcome additions to the community. If it hadn't been for her, I never would have met Carolyn, the Wild W Wiki Woman, who may join the Bathroom Blogfest '07! Stayed tuned for more on that.

She also invited Dana VanDen Heuvel and Bill Flitter, co-conspirators in the AMA Hot Topic workshop that Toby was involved in. I didn't get to spend much time with them, but intend to learn more about them through their blogs so I'm ready for the next meet up.

Of course, the other woman who creates and builds community endlessly is CK, pictured here with me. She included the anonymous blogger Tangerine Toad [Blog name: ToadStool]. I didn't get to talk much with him either, but am intrigued with his anonymity and point-of-view!

Here, you have a handful of Wild W Wiki women present: C.B., Toby, C.K., Carolyn and Ann.

In thinking over this memorable Night at the Iguana, and the role that connection, conversation, and community played, I urge you to consider the following.

Create community with your customers, your employees, your suppliers. Develop it, nurture it, invite new members to join. You'll be amazed at the strength and vibrancy of it. Your community will lead to connection. It will also lead to valuable conversation.

And, before dismissing all of this as blogger nonsense, consider that we are all consumers - and we talk [or blog]. Those of us who aren't blogging, are still talking, and also reading - especially what others are writing about everything.

In case you'd like other blogger takes on the evening:
+ Steve Woodruff's Iguanas, Monkeys and Bloggers
+ David Berkowitz' hilarious Celebrity Sightings
+ Toby Bloomberg's Blogger Night at the Iguana
+ David Reich's Night At The Iguana
+ Carolyn Townes' Blogs, Iguanas, France, Passion and Purpose

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