First of two event recap blog entries...the other will be shortly about last week's BLUG event.

Last night, I had the opportunity to be part of a panel discussion at the Social Media Club of Chicago. The topic happened to be "What Happened at South by Southwest", and it happened to be that IBM exhibited/sponsored/participated at SXSWi in a big way. But it also happened to be my first opportunity to participate with the Chicago edition of Social Media Club, and I was honored to be part of the panel - even though I personally had not been part of the IBM contingent at SXSW. My point was, I didn't really need to be there in person to capture some of what happened, we used social channels to share our message and the feedback. The good news is, those attending last night got the point. They also seemed to really appreciate the IBM point of view, our story of transformation into a social business, and our thought leadership in areas like social, cloud, and mobile.

Presenting at Social Media Club was very different for me, even though being on a panel in front of 100 people is a relatively normal activity in my external communication. First, I felt a bit of an age gap, especially when someone called me "sir" when they asked to sneak by and grab a chair in the auditorium. I also sensed a bit of deference to the fact that I was representing IBM; perhaps I should have come in jeans and a sweater like BLUG.  Further, this event was my first chance - though I have several more in coming days - to discuss Opting In with an audience outside my usual IBM bubble.

It was therefore very encouraging to see people almost fighting over the ten copies I brought with me, and several questions about the book and IBM's social business transformation directed to me during the panel Q&A. This audience was exactly what I needed to validate the decision to write the book -- that there is an audience in the social media arena that will benefit from reading it. I hope to see some feedback from the tweeters and readers I met tonight!

Thanks so much to #SMCChicago for including me in the event, and to all the new Twitter followers and friendly faces that were part of the crowd. I gave out a lot of business cards, which should lead to some good follow-on conversations. I'll certainly be back for more events in the future.

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