From the Left: God and the Devil: one night, two events

Alexia Tsotsis (LA Weekly) and Tony Adam (Yahoo!)
Alexia Tsotsis (LA Weekly) and Tony Adam (Yahoo!)

It was bound to happen one of these days: one night but two events that I wanted to attend. You know the old saying, “When it rains, it pours.” Well, lately it seems to be pouring networking events. In Los Angeles, this can spell disaster since distances between places can be huge. But luck was on my side and both events were in Santa Monica and only 5 blocks from each other.

The first event, the Digital Family Summit was due to start at 5 pm, while the second event, MarketingProfs Tweet-up, was starting at 6:30. The MarketingProfs had a distinct advantage in that it was a free event and as a thrifty Jewish publicist, I can’t resist free. As an added bonus, I had seen on Facebook that day that Peter Shankman of HARO fame was going to attend and I had to meet him.

Running on Jewish standard time, I arrived at the Digital Family Summit at 6 pm, pretty good timing for me. The event was held at the Wokano restaurant in Santa Monica and was somewhat pricey at $50. However, there were several discount codes that could get you in for $30. It event was co-hosted by Women in Technology International (WITI) and I was greeted at the entrance by David Leighton, the president of WITI. Ironically, the president of WITI is a man but he does have long hair if that’s any consolation and he made a great host.

So what did your $50 (or $30) get you? Well, the place had a good showing of digital media executives with actual jobs, appetizers, including sushi, and Jason Calacanis, CEO of Mahalo, was there taping his show “This Week in Start-ups” from the venue. There was a stage set-up on the patio for him to do the talk show which was streaming on the Internet in real time. His guests were Peter Hirshberg, CEO, The Conversation Group; and Mike Jones, chief operating officer of MySpace. Deciding that I could watch that from the Internet later and headed out to my next event.

Since I had valeted my car at the restaurant, I actually walked to the next event at the Bodega Wine Bar, a very un-LA thing to do. Slightly out of breath, I spotted my prey from across the room. Shankman is a very recognizable figure from all his Internet activities and if you still didn’t get it, he was wearing a HARO patch on his blazer — like a country club sport coat. Being the seasoned PR exec that I am, I walked right up to him and introduced myself.

Shankman was in Los Angeles speaking at 140 The Twitter Conference that we couldn’t get press access to earlier in the week. In fact, most of the MarketingProfs were coming from the conference that day and while they were not tweeting it up there, they were still not the friendliest folks. Shankman, on the other hand, was great. He chatted me up and allowed me to take a pic with him, like the true groupie I am.

He even showed me his Poken. Poken is a technology that utilizes Near Field Communication to allow the exchange of online social networking data between two keychain accessories. (Wikipedia) He’s so into Poken, he’s an investor! I had also heard that Serena Ehrlich @serena (formerly from BusinessWire but now with Startup Army) was going to be there but I never saw her.

As I was leaving, I told Shankman that I was heading back to the Digital Family Summit. (I had heard that he may be attending that one as well.) He asked me who was there, I mentioned Calacanis and asked him if they were friendly.

“We’re friendly in the same way that God and the Devil are friends,” he slyly responded.

Yes, but which is which? (I should mention that I have never met Jason Calacanis, and now probably never will.) Instead of coming over to DFS, Shankman met up with an old friend from college and departed with her, while I headed back to Wokano.

I had only been gone an hour and when I returned the sun had set and the show was over. But the networking was still in full swing. Many of my old agency bosses were there including Michael Terpin of Social Radius (@michaelterpin) and Tony Winders from ValueClick (@tonywinders) who is one of the founders of the Digital Family Summit. I also got to meet the tech/social media writer from the LA Weekly, Alexia Tsotsis (@alexiatsotsis), and as luck would have it, I had retweeted her that day. By the way, she’s not reading any of your emails and she doesn’t take pitches. Though, if you tweet her something appropriate, she may check it out.

The next day, I saw on Ehrlich’s Facebook page that I managed to miss her at both events. Like me, she made it out to both places. So you can try to be everywhere but still miss some people. I guess that’s where social media fills the gap. I’ve never even met Serena but we’re still “friends” on Facebook. On Facebook, you never have to worry about your aching feet or getting mugged in Santa Monica either, but it’s sure nice meeting people in person and you might even get Poken-ed.

[Editor’s Note: Any opinions and ‘groupie-ism’ expressed by the author are her own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of or any of the other writers or contributors.]

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