You had me at hello, and hi! and (squeal) it's you!

I've just come home from a conference. I felt like a rock star. No, I'm not famous, wasn't even a guest speaker and had nothing to offer but my bum on a seat, my open mind, and flapping ears ready to learn. Not exciting at all.

So why was there an air of excitement when people met me?

Because I had jumped off the pages of social media and into real life! Before we met, my conference buddies felt like they already knew me, and here I was in the flesh!

Let me explain. The convenor of Copycon18 (the illustrious Kate Toon of The Clever Copywriting School, there's a plug) created a simple Facebook group before the event and invited attendees to join, rabbit on with other members of the group, overshare and basically, hype themselves up before the conference weekend.

And so, by the time Copycon18 came around we were very familiar (possibly over-familiar in some cases? Nah) with each other. I walked into a room of very recognisable faces, each with their own social media persona. It was like walking into the Oscars but without the Botox. So many 'famous' cyber friends!

Here's how it all went down. "Hi! How was your holiday/is your new baby/has your writer's block cleared up/did you go with that challenging SEO copy?"

Months of cyber friendships spilled out into real life.

Before the event, many conference goers (delegates, but let's keep this more casual) even posted warning messages. "Hi, just to prepare you all, I'm so shy I may be sitting in a corner, just ignore me." Or, "Hi, I'm such a hugger don't take offense if I'm overly familiar and bear hug it out with you when we meet." This led to one big amazing meet and greet without the need for small talk. "Come out of that corner!". "Give me a hug!".

In cyber Copycon18 even the sponsors and speakers got into the act. Within the group, they had time to scope their audience, make connections and take some feedback about what we wanted to hear. If I felt I had rockstar Delta Goodrem status then surely they were in the Beyonce category (let's think, that would be Guy Sebastian and Justin Bieber for the boys?).

There's always supposed to be one clear take-out message from any conference.

My takeout was this. If you're hosting a conference, pump your energy into social media and build the best community before you bother putting out the peppermints! You'll present the best concert (ahem, sorry) conference ever!

Wanna join in next year and feel like a rockstar?

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