Open Letter to the San Antonio Podcasting Community

To My Fellow Podcasters:

Creating and being a part of the San Antonio Podcasting Group has been an amazing experience. It started as a way for me to find local podcasters to share my excitement about, what at the time was, a groundbreaking medium.

It’s been 4 years since those humble beginnings back in September 2005. So much has happened since then. We fired up the early adopter tech/geek crowd and have done some first time events here in San Antonio. From our small group the New Media/Social Media Community was born.

From PodCamp to BarCamp to TweetCamp we have been pioneers involved in building what is now a wonderfully diverse and vibrant community. Pat yourselves on the back for being part of the group and making things happen.

As New Media evolved to Social Media we have been using the Meetup site less and less. What was once a chatty message board has become as silent as a library. It’s not that we aren’t still interacting online, however the location for our conversations have been happening on Twitter and Facebook.

There doesn’t seem to be a need for us to continue to host the group on Meetup. As we are well aware, Meetup charges organizers a fee to host a group. As the use of the Meetup platform has become anemic, it appears there is no need to continue with the group in it’s current form.

There are plenty of places for us to host our group outside of Meetup. There is Ning http://ning.com and even Facebook has a group feature. We still have the SA Podcasters blog site which Nathan Lott and Leslie Baldwin have been heading up for the last year.

I propose we allow the Meetup group to close and continue the conversation on either Ning or Facebook. I believe Ning allows us more features as well as an extremely feature rich platform. It’s my first choice, however I know that for the most part we are all already on Facebook so adding a new group to our existing profiles would be easier. I’m willing to go either way.

I won’t miss Meetup. I will miss interacting with you, my dear Podcasting Buds. Knowing you has enriched my life immensely.

Thanks for joining the fun!

Cheers,
Jennifer Navarrete

Calling Cards as the New Business Cards

I believe there is a business card identity problem. In the modern day most folks do more than one thing. In years past you had a business card from the company you worked for and that was all you needed. Fast forward to today and folks may work for a company, have their own business on the side, be involved in groups and non-profits or even work with other freelancers in a consortium.

In the past few years I’ve become more and more involved in various unconference events, podcasting and social media groups all while running my B2B online printing business. I have business cards for my business, MyLabelNet, my podcast: Morning BrewCast, my social media groups: Social Media Club San Antonio and finally my social media consulting business: Brewing Media

Other than the fact I had to print all these different cards, there was also the need to have some of each one when attending networking functions. I never knew who I was going to encounter and which business or group I would want them to remember. There were many times I was speaking to someone about social media but only had printing cards on me. I had to then take the time to explain that this was my printing business and that the main thing was that my contact info was the same as for my social media business. Would the person remember that the printing business card was for the social media person? I doubt it. I was sending a conflicting message by giving out info that was different that what the person was interested.

So with SXSW coming up, I knew I needed to wrestle the whole business card identity issue to the ground. My solution?

No business cards

I’ve opted to go for a Calling Card. It has my contact information on the front. On the back I have three of the ten business/group/events I am involved in. I figured out that most of what I do could fit into those three categories. It certainly makes it easier to understand who I am.

I am an individual who is involved in all sorts of media. From traditional print media to digital media to social media. My hope is that my calling card will be the answer to the challenge of being someone who wears many hats.

Here are a few of the cards I have used in the past:

jens-business-card-collage

And now here is my new calling card:
jens-biz-card-pic

I invite your comments, suggestions and critiques on my calling card.

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!

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.

Meetup HQ in San Antonio

meetup.com badgeOn Wednesday evening the folks from MeetupHQ were in San Antonio. As far as I’m aware this is the first time Meetup has ever been to the Alamo City. They did come to share some of the recent site changes but mostly they came to listen. They wanted to know what we as organizers of groups needed. How could they help us do what we do better? Did we have a wish list of things we would like on the site? They were very sincere and honest about what was in the works, what they could and couldn’t do. They took notes, responded and offered their own experiences as Meetup Organizers.

There are 200+ meetup groups in San Antonio. Out of all of the Organizers that are running these groups only 9 folks showed up to spend time learning and sharing with Meetup HQ. I was glad to be able to represent San Antonio and be part of the Think Tank. We offered ideas, suggestion and a wish list which MeetupHQ will take back to their headquarters.

It was great to have the opportunity to exchange tips with my fellow Organizers. There was plenty of conversation regarding venues, RSVP’s, group participation, keeping a group active, even the pay or no-pay option organizers use to help fund their groups.

The biggest bomb shell that came out of this was that for the single monthly payment each organizer uses to fund a group you can actually run three groups. When I heard this I was stunned! I asked how long that had been in effect and their response was, “Oh, it’s always been that way.” I asked the other Organizers if they were aware of this 3 for the price of 1 feature and the resounding answer was, “No”. As a matter of fact there was one gentleman who was organizing 3 groups who was paying for all three groups. His annual payments for all three groups was $432. However he could have been doing the exact same thing for only $144! I’ll admit to having been upset when hearing about this apparent long time feature that no one knew about. When I pressed them for a reason this their response was, “We have found that when a person runs more than one group the failure rate for their groups increases.” My response was, “Well if I’m paying my $20* a month and want to create three groups and they all fail, I’m paying for the right to do it.” Now granted, I certainly don’t encourage folks to create a bunch of groups and then allow them to languish, but you get my point.

*Disclaimer: The actual amount you pay on the site is dependent on how you prefer to be billed. $19 for one month, $45 for three months or $72 for six months. Obviously the more months you pay for in advance the less expensive the per month cost. They had a $120 per year price, which was great, but they’ve done away with it since it was their least used plan.

The thing that restored my faith and good humor happened at then end of the evening. Meetup HQ gave the Organizers of San Antonio a check for $500! They called it Seed Money. It is meant for us to use in any manner we see fit to promote our Meetup Groups in San Antonio. Talk about a “WOW!” moment. We decided to create a “San Antonio Organizers Meetup” and use the money to promote Meetup with a monthly business card size ad in the San Antonio Current. The goal is to reach the hobbyist or enthusiast who may not be internet savvy but would enjoy connecting with like-minded folks. In other words it is a way to bring new blood to the San Antonio Meetup Family.

I can say it quite the informative event. As someone who has been organizing a group since 2005, I had a few hard hitting questions and plenty of suggestions. They took what I gave them and were sincere in their responses. I respect that. It was apparent they enjoy and love what they do.

While I have been utilizing the Meetup.com services for a while I haven’t followed the company inner workings. If the four people I met this past week are an indicator of the corporate culture of Meetup, I can say they’ve got passionate employees who not only care about the company but are it’s biggest fans.

Thank you MeetupHQ for being willing to come down to the grass roots level to really find out about the local Meetups.

Live Online Audio Interviews

I struggled a bit with the title of this post. I started to put “Online Radio Shows”, but then thought better of it. I mean, if it’s not actually on the radio is it still a radio show? So then I started to put “Podcast Interview”, but it’s more than that, too.

Since it is going to be live and folks will be able to call in to ask questions that brings it back to being more like a Live Radio Show. So, I opted for “Live Online Audio Interviews”. Sounds kind of generic, but it does seem to be more of an all-encompassing term. I’m curious what your thoughts are on the subject. Am I reading too much into the terminology?

So what does this have to do with anything?

Well, I’m going to be interviewed on two live audio shows this week in anticipation of an online class I’m teach at the end of this month Social Media for Entrepreneurs.   As someone who is an entrepreneur and active in social media, I find business owners often jump into social networking ill-prepared.  Which negates any personal and professional benefits which are possible in the social networking arena.

This is a topic I feel so strongly about that I partnered with Rhea Perry of Educating for Success to teach a 3 week online course. This class is meant to help entrepreneurs, small business owners and organizations navigate the nuances of Social Media.

I’ll be talking about this in more detail tonight.  Join me at 7:00p.m. CST when I speak with Shaine Mata on BlogTalkRadio (<–There goes that radio thing again ;-)  Shaine is a Social Media dynamo in the Rio Grande Valley. Feel free to call in with your questions at (646) 716-8227.

On Thursday, June 19th at 2:00p.m, I’ll be chatting with Leslie aka Springanew on her Homeschooling Open Chat show. Leslie is an entrepreneurial homeschooling mom who does a daily show on TalkShoe. Participation is welcome (724) 444-7444 Call ID: 21854

As you know, I’ve never been one who is at a loss for word. So I’m looking forward to chatting with both Shaine and Leslie about Social Media. Log in and join the fun!

Startup Weekend San Antonio

Startup Weekend San AntonioOn May 16-18th 40 people gathered together to create 3 companies from scratch. It’s a new phenomenon that is sweeping the nation: Startup Weekend. It was created by Andrew Hyde in Boulder Colorado with events held all over the country and Canada.

I knew some of the folks who had thrown Startup Weekend Houston in September 2007 and heard more details about the experience from Erica O’Grady at Barcamp San Marcos in October 2007. I immediately thought it would be a great concept to bring to San Antonio.

I started discussing this with my network of podcasters, entrepreneurs and social media folk to gage the level of interest. Todd O’Neill, Organizer of Co-Working LaTaza, suggested the person I needed to connect with was Dean McCall of Ideagin. Todd introduced us on Twitter, we met in person at First Friday Co-Working at Firecat Studio and Dean jumped aboard. Since it takes a team to make first-time events like these happen, Dean knew that Celeste Diaz Ferraro was the perfect person to round out the Startup Weekend San Antonio Organizers.

Erica O’Grady, of Peanut Butter Media, was Startup Weekend’s Representative and helped us kick off the amazing 2 1/2 days of fun. She was phenomenal! Having been at the Andrew Hyde’s first ever Startup Weekend in April 2007, attended four other weekends including organizing the Houston event she was the perfect person to offer her soft guidance throughout the weekend.

Twenty-one ideas were pitched and by the end of Friday night it was narrowed down to three:
iDre.am: A dream interpretation site
ForceXchange: an auction and community site for folks in the security forces from border patrol to military
RentEscapes: a second home/vacation home community site.

By day two, with company names chosen and domain names purchased the programmers were busy creating the architecture for the sites. Those not programming busied themselves with logos, business plans, marketing plans, video scripting, social media strategies etc…

The San Antonio Technology Center
was abuzz with all the planning but there was time to wind down with afternoon chair massages and evening musical entertainment by Matt Barker.

On Sunday morning although folks were sleep deprived they were still energetic and ready to see all three companies launched. Philip Wheat of Microsoft stopped by on Sunday afternoon to give away goodies from Halo 3 Xbox games to Vista Ultimate software. By the time it was all said and done two out of the three companies had live sites: iDre.am and ForceXchange RentEscapes has plans to launch within 30 days, are staying in touch with one another and have had subsequent meetings since Startup Weekend San Antonio.

Overall, I would say my personal experience with Startup Weekend was a complete success. I met some of the most innovative, entrepreneurial and tech savvy folks in San Antonio. Not to say there were only San Antonians at Startup Weekend. There were folks from the Rio Grand Valley, Austin, Houston and Raleigh, NC. I’ve made some fast friends that I will stay connected to via Twitter and Skype.

Where do we go from here? All three teams are moving forward with their respective projects. I’ll keep you updated as things progress. As for Startup Weekend San Antonio, we’re fielding requests from folks who were unable to attend but caught the UStream of the fun. I’ll be meeting with Dean and Celeste later this week to recap the event and discuss when to hold the next event.