May 7, 2013

Speaker Wisdom from the Southern C Summit

I know I've already mentioned my experience at the Southern Coterie Summit in Jekyll Island, but I wanted to share a little bit more about the main reason I attended. When Southern C founder Cheri Leavy asked me to be a presenter at the conference, I was pretty surprised.

I've been to several conferences before, and even been part of a panel discussion, but I had never actually done my own presentation so this was kind of a dream come true for me.  

Since my business is content marketing and I've used my blog to grow that business, I guess I seemed a good fit to talk as part of a panel. 

My fellow panel members were two fabulous ladies who are also Southern C contributors. Mary Dell Harrington and Holly Phillips. 

Mary Dell is an incredible writer over at her wonderful blog Grown and Flown and she also contributes to the Huffington Post. She hails from Texas but now calls New York home. 

Holly (The English Room) is a blogger and interior designer whose wonderful bold style was the first thing I noticed about her. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina and I just learned from her blog that we have art history degrees in common. 

Our panel was scheduled as the last session of the day, prior to the break before dinner. I knew everybody was losing steam and probably suffering from information overload from all the great presentations that day so I tried to keep my talk short and sweet. 

I spoke about how important it is for brands and businesses to tell their unique stories as a way to connect with their audience. My advice? Share stories that you are passionate about. I gave the example of the story I once shared on Facebook about my grandpa always drinking buttermilk with cornbread crumbled in it. Nothing particularly special about this story, except it means something to me and I feel passionate about it. Apparently it really resonated with folks because (at the writing of this post) it has received more than 27,000 comments! And all from people who had a similar meaningful story or memory that was worth sharing. 

I also talked about how important it is to use your blog or platform to tell other people's stories. Sometimes the best stories don't have an audience, but we can lend them one. My example of how I did this was with a post about artist Andy Saftel. By telling Andy's story on my blog, I was able to connect with him and begin to forge a relationship. He's now a client of mine. So you just never know what great connections and opportunities can come out of telling those great stories. 

Earlier that day at the Southern C Summit, we heard from Southern Living's Erin Shaw Street, who shared some great insight about how Southern Living has been able to stay vibrant and current for the last nearly 50 years. Of course this surprised nobody because it is after all Southern Living. 

We also heard from the creator of Charleston's DIG South conference and how a health scare prompted him to grab a'hold of his dreams of starting a conference and see them become reality. 

There was a wonderful presentation from Carrie Morey of Callies's Charleston Biscuits as well as her PR team at LeapFrog and the Stitch Design Company. So many wonderful folks who make the south great! 

I'm still sort of in shock that I was in their company, but I so appreciate the Southern C founders asking me to take part. And when people paid me compliments for a job well done,
I took my own advice and said "Thank You."