If CONSTRUCT 2010 in Philadelphia was getting my feet wet (with an exhibit hall pass only) and 2011 in Chicago was jumping in head first (with a full education package) then I would view CONSTRUCT 2012, held in Phoenix from September 11th – 14th as a leisurely paddle down a stream, even if it did host my first Gala.
The week approached incredibly fast and passed just as quickly. Looking back now, 2 weeks after returning to PHL from PHX, I can summarize the week with one word: comfortable. This would certainly not be the case without the people that make up the Construction Specifications Institute – CSI. Without these people the conference could be clunky, lonely, perhaps even boring. However, it is none of the above because of what the members bring to the Institute and to the Conference.
From the greeters at the Phoenix Convention Center, to the team members of Hanley Wood, to the presenters and exhibitors at CONSTRUCT and most importantly to the attendees of the Conference, my week in Phoenix was like slipping into your favorite sweatshirt during the first chill of fall – comfortable. From seeing old friends (those that I know from way back in the day in Philly 2010) to meeting new friends that were just an avatar in my Twitter-based world until recently, CONSTRUCT has become the CSI water cooler for me – the place that I go to connect with everyone IRL – in real life.Social Media, while seemingly having “taken off” in the last year, has been an important part of my life for the past 3+ years. However over the last year the relationships have certainly “taken off’ with roots being firmly planted on a laptop screen, or on my smartphone or tablet. PHX CONSTRUCT was all about meeting some of these people IRL. From Kaitlin Solomon (@KaitlinSolomon3), Paul Gerber (@PaulDGerber), J. Peter Jordan (@JPeterJordan), Paul Treanor (@CONSTRUCTshow) and Liz “Don’t Call me Sullivan” O’Sullivan (@LizOSullivanAIA) to new Fellow John Guill (@SpecMonkeyNorth), Carol Hagen (@CarolHagen), Brok Howard (@BrokHoward) and Cherise Schacter (@CheriseSchacter) and more, it was like an instant reunion, despite having never met any of these people before. Social Media may be the new cold call, but it’s also the new water cooler, bar stool, message board, and “blind date” all mixed into one. As a relative introvert, I have found it becoming increasingly more difficult to meet people as the years progress. Having been a lone employee who works from a home office over the last four years in Pennsylvania, CSI has become my neighborhood bar, coffee shop, library and grocery store. It doesn’t seem to matter the persons occupation, economic status or firm seniority, by just being a CSI member, you have something immediate and important in common. So I could continue and talk about the wonderful city that Phoenix was – how the food was great, the people were terrific and the amenities were fantastic or about how great the CONSTRUCT presentations and exhibit hall was and it would all be true. But to me, PHX was about the people. The incredible crew from CSI Allentown that were there with me – now Fellow Mitch Miller, our current President Tina Montone, Lee Ann Slattery, Rob Sarnowski, Tim Sisock, Sal Verrastro, Dave Fenstermacher to fellow PA CSI folk John Groff, Bill Brightbill, Jan Meyers, Charlie Beauduy and Mike Lechleitner there were plenty of now local friends that I got to see over 2000 miles from home. Factor these folk in with the previously mentioned Twitter folk that I got to meet for the very first time and top them off with being able to spend some time with Joy Davis (THE woman behind the CSI Social Media community) and I deem CONSTRUCT PHX 2012 an absolute success. Nashville 2013 is on my calender (as it should be with yours – September 24th – 27th) and I’d hate to make time go by any faster then it already is, but I can’t wait for it to get here! Between now and then, I hope to see you at a meeting.