Last night, I went to the Lo Pub in downtown Winnipeg to meet with a group of creative individuals whom I have been following on Twitter but had never met in person. And man, am I glad I went! :D
Secret Handshake is a group organized by Leanne Havelock and Christopher Lobay specifically for the purpose of getting creative industry people, especially freelancers, to get together, meet each other, network, and ideally have a good time. The group is still relatively young and tries to set up a monthly Meetup at local pubs, two elements that I, for one, find very appealing.
I am not a person who has an easy time meeting new people and I certainly do not "network" well, but if you gather a group of people who are all interested in the same topics and subjects in a casual environment, everything smooths itself out.
I met several web developers, both on the PHP side of things and the Ruby side of things. I met several designers, visually imaginative people who I'm extremely jealous of. I met a brilliant woman who specializes in content strategy, an area of the web I still believe not enough companies put enough focus on (she probably dies a little inside, seeing me champion her career in a blog that's probably rife with grammar errors and writing atrocities). I met photographers, cinematographers, iPhone developers, special effects artists... I even met a fantastic woman who does laser and light shows on buildings, houses, and offices. She described some of the work her group had already done, some really cool displays they are working on for in offices in Toronto, and even something they have to get approved for an upcoming festival that will blow people's minds... and, if I remember correctly, she wasn't even originally part of the evening's Meetup; she just dropped by :D
Though I had to duck out at ten, apparently missing a brilliant set by Shuttle, I had a great time. Before crashing for the night, I made a note to log on and twitter follow, facebook friend, online stalk, etc as many of those fine folk as I could. I was just so charged from being able to talk about things that so interested me with people who were also so interested in these same things!
I only had two disappointments.
One, I'm embarrassed to admit that though I met a lot of very cool and very interesting people, I do not remember most of their names O_O I apologize to everyone, and hope to rectify that with future meetups. Someone made the suggestion of sticker name tags with our real names, twitter tags, and twitter avatars on it... we laughed, but we were all thinking it was also not a bad idea.
Two, I actually really felt like working on something, some project, with some of these folks. I was just so motivated coming out of that pub. If I didn't have to crash, I think I would have tried to rope some of them into pulling out our laptops and slamming out something amazing right there amongst the fries and beers :)
There were a couple people that, due to sickness or schedules, could not make it out, but have assured me that'll they'll be at the next one. I am already looking forward to the next Meetup, or any opportunity to just share a pint with many of these creative folk.