Monday, September 13, 2010

New social site for conferences: Lanyrd

If using social networking tools has become as much a part of your conference-going as your name badge, the new site Lanyrd wants to make it even easier for you, whether you're an attendee, onlooker, speaker or organizer. (A hat tip to John Gruber's Daring Fireball for pointing me to the site, which he calls Dopplr-like.)

Calling itself "the social conference directory," Lanyrd is still a work in progress and some features are yet to be launched.  But you can see where it's headed, since users are already playing with what's in store now.  The site's initial blog post notes that:

Lanyrd is now listing 1,508 conferences and 5,167 individual speaker profiles. 5,637 people have signed in to the site and made 13,293 edits to our data. A big thank you to everyone who has helped populate the site — we're amazed at the response and have plenty of features planned to make the most of all of that beautiful data. We're not just interested in upcoming events — we care about events in the past as well. We currently have 683 past conferences and we look forward to this number growing as more speakers start using Lanyrd's profile pages to build a portfolio of the talks they have given.
So speakers, heads-up:  A profile on Lanyard, listing all your talks, past and future, might serve as a useful link in your other online profiles and on your website, to make sure you're sharing information that will help you get more gigs.

You can log into Lanyrd with your Twitter account, which allows you to start with a profile pre-populated with your Twitter profile and any conferences you decide to track or attend on Lanyrd, and to see conferences your Twitter friends will attend, and which of them will be speaking.  Below is one user's profile. Note that the profile not only lists where he's speaking or has spoken, and which conferences he's tracking, but also those people with whom he has appeared as a speaker:


Organizers and others, if you want to add a conference, you'll be able to search to find out whether it's already listed; add the conference website, hashtag and Twitter account; suggest related topics and books; and list conference organizers.  "Conferences" on this site can be any size, as long as there's one speaker or more.  Here's a screen shot of An Event Apart DC 2010 conference. You can see that it's easy to find the relevant hashtag and Twitter accounts, and to indicate whether you want to attend or track the meeting. Conference profiles list who's speaking, who's attending and who's tracking, offering a wealth of data:


Among the features yet to appear are video uploads, the ability to export to your calendar, adding books you've written, putting conferences into a series, and real-time updates to meetings you are tracking, such as slide or video uploads, new speakers added, and more.

There's a lot of appeal here for attendees and speakers, who might have been able to do some of these things on their own sites or on individual conferences' sites, one by one. The ability to aggregate your conference activity, past and future, means you can elevate the benefits of networking and marketing in one place, across all your conferences. Attendees and those who just want to follow conferences from afar will heave a sigh of relief at the chance to find many hashtags, conference sites and conference Twitter accounts in one place, with click-through links that let you follow easily. Organizers should note that, in a wiki-like move, anyone can upload a conference, add relevant books and resources, and so on.  You can use that option to tap the crowd of speakers and attendees, encourging them to make your meeting's profile a robust one.

I offer communications and social media strategy consultation; content development; and training in public speaking, social media and related skills--and I welcome your referrals, at info[at]dontgetcaught[dot]biz.

Check out don't get caught on Facebook, where I'm floating ideas and discussing them before they appear on the blog.  It's shaping up as a great networking community for communicators.

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