3 Tips for Connecting at The Southern C Summit

Aug 26 2016

by Emily Laborde Hines

photo: Lilly Jo Photography at the 2016 Southern C Summit welcome brunch

I’m so looking forward to the next Southern C Summit at Sea Island! Even though the conference lasts a few days, it really is a blur. A fantastic blur, but if you’re not prepared it goes really fast and before you know it you took hundreds of photos but never actually talked to anyone and have no business cards to show for it. Social media plays a big role at The Summit, but be careful not to get sucked into the hashtag feed for too long. Having attended all of the previous Summits, I wanted to share a few tips I picked up along the way to make the most of this exciting event.

Say Hello

Introduce yourself to at least one new person at the welcome event. This may seem obvious but I think the first event is a great opportunity to say hello to people because most people are traveling by themselves and want to meet people. So get off your phone and be social!

This past year at the welcome brunch I was hanging out with my friend Alesya Opelt and we happened to grab a spot next to two Summit newbies. As we stuffed ourselves with shrimp and grits, we all shared who we were, where we came from, and what had brought us to the Summit. These two were a hoot. I learned that Kendall and Dana had blog and podcast called Deep South Details where they chat about what’s going on in the South. Now that I live in the Midwest, I relish a great Southern accent, especially one accompanied with sharp wit and a dry sense of humor. I could’ve talked to them for hours.

photo: Lilly Jo Photography at the 2016 Southern C Summit welcome brunch

Put Your Phone Down

During the sessions most people are furiously taking notes, photos, and live tweeting but during the break take a few minutes to put the screen away. You’ll find it nearly impossible to eat a pimento cheese sammie, drink a cocktail, and shoot photos from your iPhone gracefully (I’ve tried and failed miserably). My method is to do one lap to survey the snackage available and snap a few photos and then put the phone up. After that you then have two hands grab some goodies and find a table. Breaks are a little like speed dating in a way. Drop by one table for a minute, say hello and when you’re finished with that snack go grab another and find a new group. I love catching up with friends at The Summit but you never know who will be in attendance so it’s good to float around. The breaks are also a perfect time to say hello to speakers in attendance. Last year I hung back after one of the breaks had ended so I could say hi to Mandy Rye and Kat Neunaber of Waiting on Martha. I’m sure I was nerdy fan girl but that’s what The Summit is for!

photo: Lilly Jo Photography at the 2016 Southern C Summit welcome brunch

Follow up

My mother has preached this to me my entire life so I’m a serial follow upper. After an extremely busy event like this though, the follow up message is crucial if you want to collaborate with others. Keep the business cards you collect in a safe place and go through them asap. The past couple of years I’ve gone through them on the plane home and take notes. I always follow people I want to work with on Twitter or Instagram so I can remember their faces as well.

After The Summit this past year I followed up quickly with Deep South Details about collaborating on a podcast. I sent them a list of topics I could discuss on the show and they picked one! We recorded the episode in early August and it is live now! Deep South Details was my first podcast but Dana and Kendall are naturals and guided me through it so it wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought it’d be.

So, moral of the story…

You never know who you could meet at The Summit and later work with so make the most of it. Hope to see y’all at The Summit in February on Sea Island!

(Photography: Lilly Jo Photography of the 2016 Southern C Summit welcome brunch with Southern Proper and Southbound magazine)


Emily Laborde Hines View More Blog Posts from this Author

Emily Hines is a Georgia girl now living in Bloomington, Indiana with her husband and two black labs. She is a freelance writer and digital media manager hooked on cruising back roads, craft beer, and snapping photos of old buidings. Follow along with my United States travels at Em's on the Road.

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