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Delicious Takeaways from Social Media Week NYC

By: Sarah Hugg Centorino, Communications Strategist

What happens when a girl with a New Orleans style appetite heads to the Big Apple for a week-long conference on social media? Mostly, a lot of digesting, both literally and figuratively. Social Media Week New York City (SMWNYC) was the first conference I attended in an official capacity, and I was advised to make the most of every part of it. Really, it reminded me of a delicious meal that you wait for all week; everyone tells you to savor it, enjoy this part or that, and in the end, they’re all correct.

So, here’s what I learned from my first conference experience (brace yourself; there will be food puns).

1. Make reservations. I’m a planner, so I get the most enjoyment out of any experience (a five-pound cheese burger The Polo Bar, a three-course meal at Lupa in the West Village or an intense 4-day conference on social media) if I plan ahead. SMWNYC not only provided a discount for attendees who registered early, it also had an app that allowed you to browse every panel and seminar, from its topics to its speakers, weeks before the event. This allowed me to plan my days well in advance and understand a little more about the conference and what I could glean from it. It also helped me plan my lunch breaks (Meatball Shop, anyone?).

2. Savor every bite. It’s trite, but staying engaged session after session was important for me at this conference, especially because it was four days long. Like a five-course tasting menu at Sugarfish, conferences require pacing while simultaneously living in the moment. I took vigorous notes in many of the sessions (like the Center for Humane Technology’s seminar on “Social Media vs. Humanity”), but others like “Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen” featuring Martha Stewart and Patrick Janelle, allowed me to soak in their personal stories and experiences without typing 60 words a minute. With influencers from around the country and the companies which help make them tick, the conference was the perfect place to try every kind of social media dish, as long as I stayed present in the conference (and didn’t post too much on, well, social media).

3. Always accept recommendations. Whenever I travel, I’m excited to hear people’s favorite restaurants, and from Shopsin’s to Five Napkin Burger, there’s no shortage of food spots in NYC. The same was true at SMWNYC, and since it was my first conference, I was happy to accept recommendations from both my #GambelGirls and fellow conference comrades. While the best piece of advice I received is actually the final bullet point of this blog, some other great recommendations include: arriving a day early to get settled and check in before the crowds descend; enjoy the city, not just the conference (read: food in the city); take notes and always be thinking of ways to tie the takeaways back to both Gambel and to our clients.

4. Sit at the community table. This is my favorite piece of advice because it’s true everywhere, not just at a conference. At Gambel, we are always encouraged to get to know the people around us, and this conference was an amazing opportunity to do so. Just like the bar at Union Square Café (its de facto community table) allowed me to meet New Yorkers, SMWNYC’s happy hours and lunch breaks allowed me to get to know people from NYC and LA to Austin and Baton Rouge (because Louisiana is never really that far away). We talked about the different ways social media impacts each of our businesses. And for someone with a never-ending appetite, the food for thought was an additional benefit, on and off the speakers’ stages.

Rosalind Hall