I went to my first ever web conference today.
I know, working on/with the web for over 10 years and it’s taking me this long to get out and meet people!
I met some fantastic, funny and smart people, not to mention some friends who I’ve been talking to online for as long as I can remember. I got to meet the utterly wonderful @missrachilli who introduced me to everyone she knew (which was basically everybody); I briefly spoke to @KirstyBurgoine who I’ve known of for as long as I can remember but never met despite living about half an hour away from(!); chatted with @snookca who is a bit of a hero of mine and whose blog I’ve been reading since 2006, possibly even earlier; @laurakalbag who is as pretty in real life as she looks on t’interwebs and just as smart too; @dafyddbach who deserves a medal just for associating himself with anything government ;) and who’s work with and on gov.uk has changed some of the ways in which I approach projects … the list goes on.
Two things I really took away from today’s conference though:
1. It’s impossible to maintain any anonymity when you attend a web conference – if you’ve ever wondered what I look like, prepare to see my face in about a zillion of the conference pics in the upcoming days.
2. That there doesn’t need to be two of ‘me’.
One thing I’ve always really struggled with, especially as a long-time blogger and earlier adopter of social networking (compared to some anyway) is how to keep my professional and personal lives separate. It was important to me as an employer that I didn’t do or say anything to affect the reputation of my boss, his company and the people I worked with, and as someone with no shortage of opinions the easiest way to do that has been to a) never mention work in any detail and b) keep who I work(ed) for private for quite a long time.
After going freelance, I continued to struggle with that balance between personal and professional, and having lost so-called “friends” and followers because I dared talk about boobs or poo or any number of unsanitary child-related things (which aren’t everyone’s cup of tea and I’m fine with that) I decided to reinstate my “professional” account @JemTurner
Except, @RobertMills‘ talk on ‘tone of voice’ today and how you present yourself and your business through your tone made me realise that I try and be uber-professional through @JemTurner and that’s actually really hard to maintain, doesn’t come off well because it’s not who I am, and ultimately that makes me NOT tweet at all.
This was further underlined by the talk later on by @Joel_Hughes, who was discussing the mistakes he’s made since he started freelancing and that journey onwards from that. One of his slides, talked about how your business IS personal. Long story short, in which I would just massively stroke Joel’s ego anyway, I’ve come to realise that actually… I can be the mum who wipes butts in the morning and creates awesome websites after 2pm. I can be a great web developer without undermining the fact that I am a parent. I don’t have to hide either one of ‘me’ because those who don’t like it, those who vocally object? They’re probably just assholes anyway.
I don’t know how I will go about merging my two separate identities & no doubt it will start with some sort of re-retirement of @JemTurner, but I do know that I built my reputation on being just ME and nothing can or should change that. Even if I do talk about poo occasionally.