I have a soft spot for a very special food event called Foodportunity. It’s produced quarterly by the fabulous Keren Brown (@franticfoodie on Twitter), and brings together a variety of restaurants, food companies and Seattle-area “foodies”.  It’s an opportunity to meet and greet, try samples of fabulous food and just generally indulge.  It’s the venue I found my very first two social media consulting clients – thus the soft spot! – and the gathering always inspires and motivates me.  And makes me very, very full.

I recently ventured back for my fourth visit to this fab event and found it my most rewarding time yet – and felt compelled to share with you the top 10 things I learned at Foodportunity this go-round:

  1. Social media relationships come to life when you actually get to meet IRL (in real life!). There were a handful of Twitter followers I had only interacted with online, albeit frequently! But Foodportunity delivered them in living color, right before my very eyes!  I finally was able to chat IRL with fab photographer Jackie Baisa (@JackieBaisa), food writer Julien Perry (@tastebud1), Seattle Times writer Marc Ramirez (@typewriterninja) and Taste director/chef Danielle Custer (@dcbites).
  2. Many of my Twitter friends had new jobs – and I had missed the memo!  But finally getting in the same room caught me up to speed quickly – one has left social media freelancing for a full-time Yahoo gig, another is switching newspapers (and cities!), and yet another has moved from her solo PR gig to helping a local cooking store with marketing and events. But remain connected through this funny little thing called Twitter.
  3. A la Mode Pies (@alamodepies) is the bomb! This amazing little company had slipped under my radar, even though I was following them on Twitter – but I am now their #1 raving fan!  Imagine fresh baked pies DELIVERED to your door (free in Seattle and Bellevue)…amazing flavor combinations…and the best, PIE ON A STICK!  Yes, the LolliPie is sure to be a new wedding/party favorite and destined to kick cupcakes to the curb. Okay, maybe not that last one, but this Pie on a Stick concept has some serious potential.  Stay tuned…
  4. You can send a beer to a friend – even if they live hundreds of miles away.  Huh??  For real – check out Beer2Buds and check out this cool and frosty concept.  There are almost 40 bars/restos in Washington signed up now – who knew?!
  5. I have a groupie (LOL!) and she is a very nice person.  Yes, it’s true – the lovely Jenn Davis (@AmateurGourmand) had told the world recently that I was her “Twitter Idol”, much to my surprise.  I was a little taken aback, yet flattered, and very curious…and when I finally met her at Foodportunity, she couldn’t have been any nicer.  And someone I am proud to boast as my groupie – and it isn’t creepy at all.
  6. Many people are afraid to approach chefs and/or authors one-on-one, even when the event is set up for that format. I talked with several repeat attendees who longed for the “old days” of Foodportunity, when the 4-5 featured speakers were on a panel and took Q&A from the entire group for 20-30 minutes.  The current set up had featured guests in a separate room and you had to be bold/brave/dumb enough to walk up and talk with them directly. I think most would prefer hearing all the questions and responses in a public way, to gather the most of the awesome knowledge/talent in the room. We aren’t all as bold as you think. Me included.
  7. Some of my “old” friends made via Twitter, that I hadn’t seen in awhile, are alive and doing well!  (as I expected…) That would be you @jeffreykingman, @taylor_tweets, @carissaang, and @yasharwinemongr, to name a few.
  8. Many foodies and restaurants are still not sure how to make the most of their efforts on Twitter – and several might be inclined to use my consulting services in the near future. I am ready and waiting for your call…you know who you are.
  9. The most popular bites of the night were the Beef Tongue Crostini from Luc/The Chef in the Hat and the Pork Belly Banh Mi from Matt’s in the Market. Hands down, no questions asked – nearly every attendee commented and tweeted about these tasty treats.
  10. Keren is taking her Foodportunity show on the road, debuting in Portland on Sept. 13 (@foodportunityOR).  I’m thinking an Amtrak kind of weekend might be in store…

So, if you were at Foodportunity, I’d love to hear what YOU learned…the forum is open below!