Tag Archives: San Antonio

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.

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.

Social Networking Tools = Employment?

At the recent Co-Working event held at Firecat Studios the discussion came around to what employers are looking for now in new hires. As a self-employed gal who gladly left Corporate America years ago, normally this type of talk has me going through my grocery list while tuning out. However this time was different. What I found fascinating about this was that one of the new criteria for employment consideration is familiarity with Social Networking Tools. Things like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn to name a few.

I had to stop the conversation to make sure I had heard right. You mean the stuff that most folks get into trouble doing at work is now what could get you hired? The answer surprised me. While it isn’t the only criteria used to make an employment choice, it certainly can put an applicant on the short list.

Now let me clarify this point a bit before you go off and amend your resume. It isn’t enough for someone to say they have knowledge of the Social Networking Tools. Nope. Having a Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn account is all fine and dandy. Sure, signing up is easy. The real test is how you have used the Social Networking Tools.

Do you participate?

For example, if you signed up for Twitter back in March 2007 during SXSW and haven’t used it much since, it might be time to dust off your account and rattle off some tweets. Thought Facebook was for college kids? Not anymore. You’d be surprised at who and what you’ll find there. Wonder about the value of LinkedIn? It’s where you’ll find some of these new hires that not only get it, but love it.

Don’t know where to start? Friend a few folks and get to know the community. Slowly but surely you’ll find yourself not only understanding the value of these tools, but having a good time in the process. Still not sure if this is for you? Well let’s take it one step at a time. You can always start with me.

Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed

Amazing what an early morning can feel like after a couple of days of sickness. I’m walking around the house with a silly grin on my face. I feel great! No really, really great! Let me see if I can paint a picture of just how I feel this morning.

You know when your kids are little and they wake up at the crack of dawn so happy and chipper everyday? You wonder how can they be that happy so early in the morning? Well guess what? I now know how that feels. It’s super cool!

What a difference it would make if waking up felt like this everyday. Just imagine all the things that could get accomplished. I might even become a morning person if it is always like this. Wonder why it isn’t? Is this amazing bright-eyed and bushy-tailed feeling reserved only for the very young and the recently ill? Hope not.

When was the last time you woke up feeling like a little kid?

NaBloPoMo Day 16 – Rock-n-Roll Marathon San Antonio

As you may or may not know I have participated in two Half-Marathons (13.1 miles). The first was the Inauguaral P.F. Chang’s Rock-n-Roll Marathon in Phoenix, AZ 2004 then it was off to the Greater Hartford Marathon in Hartford, CT 2006. Since the pattern so far has been to do one of these every two years then it should come as no surprise that with the recent announcement of Elite Racings newest Rock-n-Roll Marathon San Antonio 2008 I’m set to go again.

I have a personal goal to run the Big One (Full Marathon 26.2 miles) within the next 2 years.  Since we typically use the runs as an excuse to get in shape and travel the RNR-SA doesn’t qualify to be the Big One. Being in my backyard will make this a fun event. With no travel involved it will be a great way to get in shape for my Full Marathon goal.

Want to join me? Race Day is November 16, 2008.