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A Tweet. A blog post. A status update. How can these brief and casual modes of communication truly make an impact on a business?

If you ask any of the 300+ people who attended Seattle Summermash, the first of five summer networking events put on by Mashable, they’ll probably tell you it can make all the difference between connecting with your audience and getting lost in the depths of internet clutter.

The Summermash five-city tour kicked off in downtown Seattle on July 10, setting the tone for the annual event series. The appreciation between the prolific blog’s representatives and the city’s social media-advocates was mutual.

As digital storytellers and marketers poured into the Hyatt’s Olive 8 banquet room alongside reps from companies like Seattle startup Intersect and local bakery Cupcake Royale, it was easy to see the importance of not only understanding, but mastering the art of social media – or at least talking to those who have.

The event’s agenda was simple: mingle with social media experts (and novices) and hear their philosophies, techniques and big ideas for sparking discourse with target audiences online. And maybe grab a cocktail at the open bar between chats.

“Social networking requires an enthusiastic effort to stay on top of trends,” said Tim Fry, executive vice president and general manager for Weber Shandwick Seattle.  “Brands are what people make them, so it’s vital that businesses embrace social media, and evolve as rapidly as the medium does.”

Embracing the value of actual face-to-face conversations, Summermash has provided a place for that evolution, not only among peers but also with the entrepreneurs and early-adopters of social media like the Mashable team.  With open admission to the public, the tour (and others like it) allow fellow business owners to talk Facebook strategy, while college students suggest blog ideas to the Microsoft marketing team and communications firm executives meet the best and brightest in the industry, often uncovering job opportunities.

“As one of the tech hubs of the U.S., Seattle was a natural choice for Summermash and the enthusiasm of the city’s social networking community made it the perfect kick-off location,” said Karen Hartline, events director of Mashable. “It’s a testament to social media as an industry to see representation from global firms to obscure startups connecting and learning how to leverage their place in the online conversation.”

Aligning with Mashable’s value of digital communication, Weber Shandwick Worldwide is a proud sponsor of the tour—and the only ‘public relations’ firm sponsor at that.

“Every day our clients are looking to us for an informed digital strategy, so we have to stay on top of emerging trends,” says Wade Rockett, a senior digital strategist at Weber Shandwick Seattle. “Events like the Mashable Summer Tour help keep us connected to people who are on the cutting edge in social media and tech.”

The opportunity to join forces with Mashable in meeting and greeting the city’s social networking community was invaluable in our efforts to keep our team at the forefront of digital trends and strategy.  With a cardboard Pete Cashmore cutout in one hand and an overflowing prize package in the other, we chatted the night away and could not be more pleased with the ideas, relationships and experiences we walked out with.

See more photos from Seattle Summermash here.

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