Social Media Breakfast San Antonio

With the successful launch of Social Media Club San Antonio in September 2008 and the continued growth in UnConference style events it appears it’s time for another San Antonio first.

On Wednesday, January 21st Social Media Breakfast San Antonio will hold it’s first meeting. Founder of Social Media Breakfast and recent transplant from Boston to Austin, Bryan Person will be on hand to kick off the event.

I attended a Social Media Breakfast in Austin last year and knew it would be a great fit for the Alamo City. We had just launched SMCSA so the timing wasn’t right. However, when I heard that Jennifer Milikien was also interested in bringing the SMB concept to San Antonio, I knew it was the right time.

Join us on Wednesday, January 21st at the Magnolia Pancake Haus from 7:30am to 9:00am. to help us kick off the fun in style. Seating is limited to 20. So, be sure to register for your seat and breakfast from the Magnolia Pancake Haus.

Staying Connected In A Time Crunched World

We all lead busy lives. It doesn’t matter if you are a 9am-5pm cube dweller or a stay-at-home mom and dad. From the time we wake up until we finally close our eyes, we are busy. Time is already at a premium, so how are we supposed to add social networks into our jam-packed schedule?connect-four-game

One of the great things about the social networks, Staying Connected,  can also one of the the biggest drawbacks. Sure we want to chat with folks from around the globe, get news as it happens, learn about people making a difference and even find out about amazing shopping deals but it does take time to participate on the networks in order to be privy to the latest news. If you’re already busy, it seems like a daunting task to take on Social Networking.

Here are a few tips to help you make the most of the time you do have to participate on the Social Networks:

1. Choose at least 1 but no more than 5 Social Networks. Remember each network requires your active participation in order to work for you. So take the time to investigate the networks that best suit your needs upfront.

2. Find the mobile versions or tools for each of the networks. Almost all of the Social Networks have a mobile version or integrate with existing mobile tools. Think about the time you currently spend standing in line at the bank, post office, store or waiting for a connecting flight. These are prime examples of how you can use what would be considered wasted time to stay connected.

3. Timing can work to your advantage. While all the Social Networks are available 24/7, there are optimum peak times to dip your toe into the busy conversation stream. By the same token there are also off-peak times in which your voice can carry further by interacting closely with fewer participants.

4. Participate in the conversation daily. Sure we’re crunched for time, but if we don’t take the time to at least post an update or two daily, we’re missing out on keeping our connections current. The last thing you want to do is take the time to build up your presence only to have it fade away due to anemic posting.

While there are many more techniques for staying connected these four are a way to get off to a good start. Feel free to add your tips and techniques for staying connected in a time crunched world.

photo credit: ManiacWorld

NaPodPoMo: National Podcast Post Month 2008

Last year, I was watching all the Twitter folks chat about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and NaBloPoMo (National Blog Post Month) and thought, “Oh, that’s cool.” Then I saw videobloggers chatting about NaVloPoMo (National Vlog Post Month) and thought, “Hey, if the videobloggers can create video every day in the month of November, then I should be able to podcast, too.”

So I began my search for the podcasters who were participating in the November fun. Lo and behold, I discovered there was no such group. I was astounded. How could the writers, bloggers and vloggers be participating in the November daily postings but not the podcasters? It just seems crazy to think that as active and chatty as podcasters are that we didn’t have something to rally around.

So following the lead of NaNoWriMo, NaBloPoMo and NaVloPomo I created NaPodPoMo or National Podcast Post Month. Of course I did this on October 30, 2007 and NaPodPoMo was set to start on November 1, 2007. Not a lot of advance planning or opportunity to let folks know this even existed. I’ve always been a “fly-by-the-set-of-my-pants” kind of gal, but this was ridiculous even for me.

I set out to let my peers know what I was doing by making the announcement on Twitter and posting to the Podcasting YahooGroup. Those two simple steps launched NaPodPoMo and introduced me to a whole new group of podcasters I had never heard before. It seemed so daunting at first. These thoughts ran through my head, “A podcasts in a row for 30 whole days?! What was I thinking?”. After a while it was, “Hey, I’m halfway through this and I’m having a great time.” Finally, towards the end, “It’s almost over. I’m going to miss NaPodPoMo.”

When the 30 days were complete, I discovered alot about myself and met some amazing folks along the way. So, now when I think about this year’s NaPodPoMo, I think, “I can’t wait to get started!”

Cheers!

NaPodPoMo created badge created by Shawno

P.S. Below is a copy of the post I sent out to both the NaPodPoMo Alumni and the Podcasting YahooGroup.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

It’s that time of year again.

No, not Fall,

NaPodPoMo!

From November 1-30th we’ll be participating in the annual event which is the National Podcast Post Month.

The conversations are already happening on the NaPoPoMo Ning site so swing on by to add your voice. http://napodpomo.ning.com

The rules for the November 1-30th NaPodPoMo are simple:

•Post audio in any form every day

That’s it!

Feel free to be creative. You can post a traditional podcast or use Utterli, BlogTalkRadio, TalkShoe, etc… Some folks have even incorporated video into their posts.

There is no time limit. Got a one minute tip show or an hour long diatribe? As long as you post audio every day, it all counts.

The site is open for new registrations. Tell your friends and start training now for the podcast marathon that is NaPodPoMo.

http://napodpomo.ning.com

Remember, hydration is key ;-D

Cheers!

Blog Action Day 2008: Poverty

When we think of the word “Poverty” do we think of a homeless guy on a busy street corner with a cardboard sign in his hand? Or do we think of an impoverished part of town where the houses are small and the families are large? Or perhaps we think of the images we see on late night TV of war-torn Third World Countries.

When considering the Blog Action Day 2008 topic of Poverty, it occurred to me that given our current economic climate Poverty is not as far away as we might think from the average American family. How many lost jobs, lost homes and lost hope before you are in what would be considered Poverty? All to often we are finding it’s a quick road from loss of work to loss of home. Thankfully, in the US we can count on various social service groups for hot meals, warm blankets and a place to sleep for the night.

Is this ideal?

Not by a long shot.

Can you survive this way?

Yes.

But at what cost?

The true cost of poverty is the loss of hope and self-worth. No amount of hot meals and blankets can feed the soul.  For that we need faith and belief in the future.

Is there a future after poverty?

Yes.

In a perfect world, Poverty would not exist. It should at best be a temporary situation. One which we all have the power to change. However we have to believe there is a better future.

We must have hope.

Too Busy to Blog?

What happens when so many phenomenal things are happening that you just don’t have the time to write about them? Sure, I tweet about everything that is going on, but Twitter is simple. I can almost do that with my eyes closed. Writing a blog post about all the cool stuff does take more of a thought process than 140 characters and certainly more time. To give you an idea about what I’m talking about, here are some of my tweets from the last few days:

10/3/08 @epodcaster: Good Morning! Getting ready for some First Friday Co-Working fun at Firecat Studio. Topic: Guerilla Marketing for the Entrepreneur

10/4/08 @epodcaster: AIR San Antonio is off to a great start. The teams are working hard with their non-profit partners. Great job Sharon, Susan & Todd

10/4/08 @epodcaster: basking in the SMC Austin & San Antonio Mixer afterglow. Great time and phenomenal conversation.

10/7/08 @epodcaster: Good Morning! Getting myself ready for today’s Social Media Breakfast in Austin. Looking forward to chatting it up…after coffee of course”

And finally, I submit the tweet that got me thinking about writing this blog post:

10/7/08 darylcognito: @epodcaster it would be interesting if you podcasted or blogged about those events.

There is no doubt that each one of those tweets could easily be it’s own blog post. Tweeting about these events is certainly easy and can be done on the fly. Whereas a blog post takes a more concentrated effort. Given that I’m becoming more of a mobile tweeter, blogging does take a back seat.

However, Daryl makes a good point. It would be interesting to podcast or blog these events. While a tweet does give a glimpse of what is going on, it doesn’t really get into the meat of the event. I’ll compare it to eating an hors d’oeuvre at a fancy restaurant when what you really wanted was a big fat juicy burger. Sure it’s still food, but nowhere near as satisfying.

The solution? It’s a good thing to expand beyond the 140 character limit of Twitter. As a matter of fact it’s a great thing. The challenge will be for me to recognize those blog worthy tweets. Feel free to chime in, like my Canadian friend Daryl did, to let me know if I’ve missed the obvious post.

Cheers!

Thoughts on Barcamp San Antonio

On the off chance you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard the news, we just held the first ever Barcamp in San Antonio this past weekend. It was an amazing success and by far the easiest camp-like event I’ve organized. Considering I’ve done two Podcamps and a Startup Weekend in the last 16 months that says a lot.

When we were planning Podcamp San Antonio in May 2007, it was a challenge to obtain sponsorship, spread the word and facilitate registrations for a first-time event. Fast forward 16 months to Barcamp San Antonio which had generous companies contacting us to sponsor, pre and post press coverage and “sold out” registration twice! So what has been the difference?

I believe it’s a combination of a few things: First, the Camp-phenomenon is finally becoming main stream. Second, because of previous events, San Antonio is more aware of camps. Third, We have been lucky enough to have increased coverage in the traditional press.

Something else which has helped to bring our participation level up is the camp-to-camp attendance within the state. By attending camps in Austin, DFW and Houston we’ve been able to increase awareness statewide of what the Tech/Creative Class are doing in San Antonio.

When I first started attending Camps and talking about San Antonio, I would hear, “Oh, you’re from San Antonio? We never see or hear from folks in San Antonio. You guys are so quiet down there. We wondered if you all had any tech geeks and if you did what you all were doing.” It surprised me to hear these comments.

While I am a Native Texan, I was not a Native San Antonian. The fact that folks outside of San Antonio were unaware of the local tech culture seemed unfathomable. By being an active part of the community at large and encouraging other to do the same, that perception has changed.  What I hear nowadays is, “Hey, it’s the San Antonio peeps! So glad you guys made the trek. When are you holding your next event? We’ll be there! I’ve got an event I’m planning, can you help us spread the word?”

I do believe folks who are part of the Camp movement epitomize the whole, “Learn, Share, Grow” mentality. We inherently want to help not just our local community but by extension the communities in our state, country and world. Camps are found on almost every continent. (If anyone knows about a Camp being held in Antarctica let me know.) There is an energy surrounding a Camp which is so powerful it’s almost a physical entity.

By attending camps around the state and organizing camps in San Antonio, I’ve found other creative folks who are just as passionate about tech, media and the community as I am. It’s both refreshing and enlightening. Most of the time we work in obscurity within our chosen medium and rarely find other like-minded folks to share these passions with locally. Sure, we’ve got our online community to inspire and motivate, but the face to face connection never goes out of style.

So my thoughts on Barcamp San Antonio really revolve around the whole growth and shift in local and state-wide interest and involvement.  With annual Camps planned in April, May, June and September, the time has never been better to be involved in the Tech/Creative Class in San Antonio.

Your Social Media Reputation

As someone who is active in the social media arena, I have found participating in the social networks  to be beneficial to both my personal life and my business. So much so that I have been espousing the benefits to several groups in San Antonio. Sharing the benefits of participating on sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube to name a few. Most folks have heard of these sites, but don’t realize the importance of participation.

In the real world you develop a reputation for yourself or your business by what you do and how you interact within the community. The online world is no different. You develop a Social Media Reputation or gain “Geek Cred” by how you interact within the community, what you do and don’t do.

I discovered just how important this is when I met Byron Van Arsdale at the San Antonio Professional Coaches Association (SAPCA). He walked up to me and proceeded to tell me the story of how he had come to be there. He had received a flier from SAPCA announcing my presentation and was excited about the topic until he saw the word “guru”. (Note: He was refering to a story in the Express-News which had labeled me a “new media guru” for an article about Podcamp San Antonio: Numero Dos) His opinion of me turned south based on that one word. He reached out to his local network to solicite opinions about this so-called “guru”.

What happened next showed me just how important my network is even when I don’t know what is happening. Read his story to find out how it all turned out. Suffice it to say, the development of my “Geek Cred” and my network made all the difference.

Green Experiment: Embracing Local Venues

This morning we wanted to go out for a walk, but we were also hungry. So, I asked, “Why don’t we walk to breakfast?” We paused for a moment to consider distance and temperature. It was early morning so it was still cool outside and the restaurant we wanted to eat at wasn’t far at all. Off we went on our morning adventure.

I knew I’d been more sedentary than usual because of various projects, but I didn’t realize how much so until I found myself out of breath while John and I were chatting. Granted we were walking up an incline, but still it made me realize just how little I’ve been active lately. Of course, John thought the solution to my being winded while chatting was for me to just not talk. Yeah, everyone’s a comedienne in my house.

We got to our destination, ordered our breakfast and coffee, sat outside and talked about how easy this was. Instead skipping our walk to stay home to eat breakfast or jumping in the car to pick up breakfast we opted to do both. We walked to our meal, enjoyed it and proceeded to stroll back. I say stroll because with a full belly it is best to stroll.

The idea of doing something like this on a more regular basis came to us over coffee. It would be a way to get some exercise, save on fuel and really get to know our local venues. We have access to many restaurants and businesses all within walking distance of our neighborhood. Even my favorite coffee roasters are easily accessible. It really got us thinking about making an effort to conduct this Green Experiment. One thing is for sure, I’m glad I live in a somewhat hilly part of town which does offer more of a variable workout just by walking. I’ll keep you posted.

The Social Networking Short-Cut

Social Sites Social Networking is all the rage right now. There are those who have been a part of it in some form or fashion since it’s inception. There are others who are just hearing about it today. I became involved in Social Networking through podcasting in 2005. For me, it was about finding people who were as interested and passionate about podcasting as I was. It turned into more as the online relationships developed. Attending conference events like the New Media Expo and unconference events like Barcamp Austin led me to even more online social networks. It started off as a way to continue the conversation with folks I had met at events.

Over the years it has progressed to first meeting folks online and later meeting them in person at an event.  Even though I was meeting them for the first time, it felt as though I was visiting with an old friend. It was great! I was connecting with folks who had the same interests. It didn’t matter that they lived in Florida, Connecticut or even Canada. Our relationships were as real as any in my own town. More so, because we interacted with one another on a daily basis. I don’t do that with anyone in town with the exception of my family.

So by doing what came natural to me, chatting about stuff that interests me, it turns out I was Social Networking. Who knew?

Fast forward to 2008 and Social Networks are all the buzz. You can’t open a magazine without hearing about Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, YouTube and so many more. There is a lot of socializing going on in the Social Networks. So much so that Big Business has started to pay attention. Southwest Airlines, Comcast and Zappo’s are not only on the networks, they are actively participating in them daily. Ford just hired Scott Monty as their Social Media Strategist. Other companies are taking a serious look at Social Networking.

What does this mean for someone who wants to get involved but doesn’t know the first place to start? There are so many networks out there it can make your head spin. Which ones should you join and which ones should you avoid like the plague? Oh sure, there is always the old standard method of trial and terror. It does work. However, it can be time consuming and fraught with Social Media faux pas. If you are a business owner you may not have the time to learn the ropes. And there is a learning curve. There are folks who jump in with both feet and in their excitement proceed to get blocked or ignored.

While Social Networks can be beneficial for your business, organization or group, there is a right way and a wrong way to participate depending on the network. I highly recommend you take the time to learn about each network to see which one best suits your personality, interests and goals. In this case it’s okay to be a bit of a lurker. It’s one way to learn the nuances and ensure your acceptance into the community at large.

Another way to jump into the social media landscape is to participate in one of the unconference-style camp events which happen periodically around the country. They pack informative sessions on podcasting, videoblogging and social media all into one day long event. Here in San Antonio we have PodCamp San Antonio and the upcoming Barcamp San Antonio. Check for an event in your neck of the woods on the various camp wiki’s. Here is the Podcamp Wiki which shows future and past events.

And still another way would be to participate in a workshop or hands-on class. These are meant to be small and intimate affairs where the goal is to not just learn but to do. One of my favorite sayings is, “It’s all about the DOING”. It’s fine and dandy to have plans but if the actual DOING of the plans isn’t carried out then the plan was for naught. This could apply to just about anything but it certainly is applicable when it comes to Social Networking.

You could also hire a Social Media Consultant or Strategist to help you navigate the ever changing landscape that is Social Networking. This would be considered the most personalized method for introduction into the world of Social Networking. Each facet is highly customized to the particular organization. Having a guide to help you maneuver through the nuances of each particular site certainly makes participating less daunting.

Out of the four options I listed above, I consider the last two Social Networking Short-cuts. By hiring a Consultant or participating in a workshop you are able to shorten the learning curve considerably. The margin of error also goes down and your adoption rate goes up putting you on the fast track to Social Media Nirvana. Which is the perfect blend of real world and online world interaction with folks who are passionate about your business, brand, cause or even you.

What will it be like when you share coffee with folks all over the country over a Social Network like Twitter? How much of a boost will your career take once you engage with the LinkedIn community? Who will your dog connect with on Dogster?  Yes, even dogs and cats (Catster) are doing it. So, just how telling is it when dogs and cats have their own Social Network?

In case a workshop is more your style, I have partnered up with Connie Reece and Sheila Scarborough to conduct several workshops on Three Web 2.0 Tools. There are two in July. One is on Friday, July 18th in Austin, TX at the Hilton Garden Inn Northwest.  The other workshop will be held one week later on Friday, July 25th in San Antonio, TX at the San Antonio Technology Center. These workshops will be hands-on and highly interactive. Get ready to roll your sleeves up for an indepth introduction to three of the best ways to start your social media journey.

Regardless of the method chosen to engage in Social Networking, I do believe participation is the key to sucess. I hope you find Social Networking as informative and fun as I have.

Independence Day +1

Today is July 5th. One day past the official holiday in which we here in America use to celebrate our Independence. We became our own country and by doing so in control of our own destiny. I’ve titled this blog post Independence Day +1 to highlight the “Now what?” that inevitably follows such a declaration.

You’ve declared your independence from Corporate America or from a bad habit or maybe from a not so healthy relationship or yes even a British King named George. It took a lot of courage to take this big step. And let me tell you it is a big step. You agonized over it and finally got the gumption to put your foot down and declare your independence.

” I will be in control of my own destiny!”

“I will not do this anymore!”

“I am not going to be a part of a something that isn’t good for me!”

You did it! You feel great! Fantastic even. The world is your oyster. There is nothing that can stop you now. The sense of freedom is intoxicating. You feel powerful and in control of your life for the first time in you don’t even know how long.

“Now what?”

It’s the next day and you wake up still feeling good, but the future which looks so bright you’ve got to wear shades also looks uncertain. If you’ve left Corporate America to strike out on your own what do you do next? You realize that the money that is in your bank account is going to have to last until…….well…..um…..until you get a paying client.  How long will that be? What if you don’t get a client before your money runs out? What will you do? Images of you and your stuff being out in the street begins to flash before your eyes. Panic starts to set in.

“What have I done?!”

Sure your boss was a meany who stifled your career at every turn. Yeah, you haven’t been happy in that line of work for years and the thought of going to work every morning was like having to get a root canal every day. But at least you got a paycheck every two weeks. Rent, groceries, gas and the occasional vacation all from your miserable and life-draining job. Having a place to live, food to eat, gas for the car and especially vacations are wonderful things.

“What was I thinking?”

Before you go crawling back to your boss, take a moment to read the following words:

Don’t panic.

When things start to feel as though they are overwhelming and careening out of control. Stop yourself in mid-spin and tell yourself those words, “Don’t panic”. Take a deep breath in and hold it for a few seconds while thinking of your imagined doom and gloom scenario then release the worst case scenario thoughts with your breath. It may take more than one cleansing breath to do this, but once you’ve reached a state of calm it’s time to review. Recap not only the reasons you declared your independence but also what you plan to do with this new found freedom.

Write it down on a piece of paper. Make a list. I’ve always found it helpful to see things rather than just think of them.  Something about the actual words written down where I can see them gives me a sense of control over them and their meaning. I put them on that piece of paper. Before that they didn’t exist. I have the power to do that and so too I have the power to make these things become a reality.

Independence not only means freedom it also means responsibility. You are free to pursue your destiny but it is also your responsibility to make it happen. There is no Employee Handbook, HR Department or systems set up to guide you on your independent journey. It is your responsibility to create your own guidelines and best practices. Sounds a bit daunting doesn’t it? Once again, let me remind you, “Don’t panic”. Take an appreciative breath for the freedom you now have to lead your life as you see fit.

The Founding Fathers helped to create and shape an entire nation based on a list. By writing down that list they put into place the first steps of what was to became our Nation’s reality. Take the time to write your own Declaration of Independence. Frame it and refer back to it often. Who knows how important it may be in the future? Two hundred and thirty-two years later the original is still having an impact on the the world.

Remember, we have the power of creation within us. When you get to Independence Day +1, all it means is that now it’s time to create your destiny.