Almost two years ago, a friend who used to teach at Mizzou introduced me to a mom who was connecting with other professional moms. We both happened to know a lot of the same women in the mom blog world. Not long after that, Hollee Schwartz Temple asked me for a favor: to review her new book, Good Enough is the New Perfect. She wrote it along with Becky Beaupre Gillespie and focused the writing on research that helps us all better understand where many women are finding success and failure with work/life balance. The book looks at research that finds type-a moms or “never enoughs” tend to be more stressed and unhappy than moms who allow moments of imperfection. The “good enoughs” are okay with store-bought food or skipping a soccer practice.
I enjoyed the book and blogged about it on Born Just Right back in 2011. After the blog post, Hollee and I became Facebook friends. We would talk there and on Twitter from time to time.
Fast forward to this week. Our local women’s network invited Hollee to speak about her book and research. We finally had a chance to meet! We had breakfast together, I helped shoot video of her speech and I quickly discovered I’m SO glad we had a chance to meet online because we were meant to meet in person. Moving a friendship that starts online and moves into the real world is one of my favorite parts of being in the social media world. I’ve met people from around the world who I would have never known and when we can actually meet in person, the relationship just grows. It is never awkward for me because the person I appear online is exactly who I am in person.
I’m looking forward to my next chance to meet up with Hollee… and many, many more people as I move into my next career.
Today’s the day for my yearly HUGE Real World Homecoming Lunch – if you want to join in on the fun but couldn’t get into town, you can keep up with the discussion and pitch in your thoughts inside these live blogs:
We have two different tracts of discussion… Content producers and content managers. You can also pitch in using the #realworldlunch hashtag.
There are SO many people who have blogged about QR codes and have used them a LOT more than me. But this evening, I spoke to a group of young journalists who were really interested in how I put together my current business card. My QR code that takes you to the About page of this website. I use a WordPress plugin that helps mobile users view this site in a phone-friendly format. My business card gets a biographical enhancement for anyone who has a QR code reader on their phone. I’m including a look a portion of my card to give you an idea of how I it looks.
The Missouri School of Journalism’s student association held a really smart event last night. Professors and professionals from the area met with students for a “Networking Social.” The idea was to meet and greet and get experience talking to people you don’t know. I spoke to a number of freshmen, sophomores and juniors from the journalism school. We had all kinds of conversations. I loved it. Everyone introduced themselves, gave me solid eye contact and seemed to pay attention to what I had to say. Somehow, my experience turned into a mini-career counseling session to the many students I met.
After meet and greet time ended, the “pros” sat on a panel and gave tips on how to network.
My main tips:
Don’t stare at your phone all the time during conferences. I’ve made more contacts walking in the hallways and meeting areas by looking up and making eye contact.
Don’t travel in packs at events. Separate. Don’t see the people you know during a conference until at the end of the day during a conference. That way you have no choice but to meet new people during sessions and hallway wandering time.
Find creative ways to meet people. I bring power strips to conferences that eat up battery power. So why not share? During the SXSW10 conference, I came up with one simple rule: If you plug into my power strip, you need to introduce yourself. No requirement to trade cards, no further networking required. But by the end of the conference, I was using the #powerfriends hashtag on Twitter. Anyone who happened to use my power strip could network with me on Twitter thanks to the hashtag. It was fun. And nerdy.
Follow up. One you’ve made all kinds of contacts, follow up with an email. Make notes on a notebook or even the person’s business cards so you remember who they are when you send that note. You never know when one of those new contacts can become your new best friend. (By the way, I don’t always successfully follow through with this tip. I wish I was better at this. I honestly think I need to schedule full days away from the newsroom just to focus on networking.)
The big question at the end of the event was: How the heck did you make that QR code on your business card?
Here’s how I did it. First I searched “QR code generator.” That’s how I discovered Kaywa‘s generator. All you have to do is type in the information you want added into the code. (In my case, it’s a link to my website.) You can choose which size QR code you would like to create. Once you create it, you can embed it into a website. Or you can just save the image. Once I had my image, I went to Moo to create my new business card. The site lets you give it whatever look you want and you can attach an image on the details side. It isn’t that complicated, but it makes a clean looking business card that has a talking point the moment you hand it over to your new contact. (Plus it’s just fun to compare QR code readers and talk about tech tools that I like.)
I am constantly trying to find ways to bring the knowledge I have to my community. Any time I talk to someone who I don’t work or teach with on a regular basis, I end up talking about a little tool or tip that I find is a easy way to use technology in a more efficient way. Twitter lists, little tools like Seesmic or coTweet.
That’s why I tried to launch a Foursquare Day in Columbia last week. It was worth the try to create a “swarm” and get 50 people to gather in one place. It didn’t work – but it was fun to have an excuse to visit spots in my town where I don’t normally hang out. Plus, I had an excuse to bring a bouncy ball and chalk downtown and start a game of foursquare. Silly? Yes. Fun? Certainly. And I hope it shows I really do want to find fun ways to bring the social media community together.
But I’m not sure if my town is comfortable with instant gatherings. We live such a scheduled and busy life juggling work and life (and our kids’ lives). But I’d love to find ways to create social meetings that are fun and I could offer skills and knowledge that I teach daily with my students and employees in my newsroom. The knowledge we have translates on so many professional and personal levels and I want my community to know more. The end result is a bit self-centered. A more savvy community will participate in sharing with the journalists in our community. It would help our changing newsrooms transition into using a more socially-minded and sharing news process. Is that greedy? Or am I just trying to move our town a little closer into a vision of community I expect will happen naturally just in a longer time frame? These are the thoughts that ramble through my head at times.
Yeah. I love this stuff and as I’ve said before, I want to find more ways to bring the social media users in my community to meet face-t0-face more often. So I stumbled into Foursquare Day. It’s a celebration of the location-based tool and since the square of 4 is 16, why not hold Foursquare Day on 4/16? So I’m poking around on Twitter to see if the Foursquare users in my community want to play.
They might! Our last minute goal is to try and earn a swarm badge. That’s what happens when 50 or more people check into the same location on Foursquare.
So… We’re going to give Foursquare Day a try here in Columbia, Missouri and see if we can get enough people out to try a swarm. If we don’t have enough Foursquare users, we’ll teach enough people to attempt the swarm. If we don’t get it Friday, we’ll try it another time!
I’ve had some wonderful conversations about my community before and after our local Twestival event… And it makes a number of us think that we have something growing in town. There’s a level of understanding that social media is a key to improving our town and our relationships inside and outside of our town. The success of Twestival is just proof that we have a diverse group of people who care about doing good and care about taking our conversations online and putting them offline and in person.
So that had me talking to my Twestival partner Scott Wendling about what we can do next. During my time in Austin for SXSW, a number of people were encouraging me to bring Ignite to my town. The idea is to let people pitch their favorite topics five minutes at a time. The premise is sharing the thing that gets you motivated and out of bed each day… What lights your spark? What ignites you? You have 20 slides and five minutes to run through it. The more I read about it, the more I really want to do this in Columbia. I met a bunch of folks from Arizona who take part in Ignite Phoenix. They had an event last week. Check out their site to see the fun topics presented. Their events are HUGE. I’m thinking a little less produced for my town… But if it grows, and I think it could grow, it could get as big as Phoenix.
I’d love to hear from folks who put together Ignite in their towns… And what people in mid-Missouri think. This could be fun!
Speaking of fun. I forgot to share a fun conversation I had during the last night I was in town for SXSW. It’s on the RenMen Show about the “Cool Kids” of SXSW. I had a blast chatting with everyone that night and I recommend checking out the RenMen – Very cool ideas on cutting down your work load so you can spend more time with your family.
A little more than a year ago I stumbled into an event called Twestival. It’s a social media-based international event that raises money for a good cause. Last year it raised money for an international charity called charity:water and this year it raised (and continues to raise) money for Concern Worldwide. When I first read about it a year ago, I knew my small community of Columbia, Missouri needed to join. I’ve used Twitter for a long time in this community (at least long for mid-Missouri – I joined in June 2007 and quit and then rejoined in October 2007). Many of the Twitter users were trying to get me to create a meetup in town so we could meet face to face. So that pressure convinced me to put it together. In 2009, I had two weeks and coordinated it solely over Twitter. This year I had more time and had a group of students and a local supporter of bringing Google Fiber into our town to help make this event shine.
I sat down with the owner of one of my favorite restaurants, Shakespeare’s Pizza, and got his permission to host the event in the back room. I got to explain how Twestival is really just a chance to hang out and have fun. I got the thumbs up and had a chance to move forward with looking for donations. We were lucky to raffle off a Nexus One phone, hand out a door prize of a Wii gaming system and a number of other items donated by local businesses. With the help of word of mouth, social media and a couple of mentions of the event on TV, we had an amazing turnout. Kids were playing Wii. Little kids could watch DVDs while the adults and big kids got to hang out, talk and enjoy pizza. We had so many people, we ran out of name tags and I had someone go out to get more! We didn’t set a fundraising goal for Twestival, but I think it exceeded our expectations. We raised $735! Last year was just under $300 so we made a huge jump. I also think this was the first time I really saw a big variance of attendees for a social media meet up. It wasn’t just coders and college students. We had parents, business owners, employees of local businesses, college students, coders, professors and members of the media (covering the event and not covering the event). I’m proud to see how mid-Missouri’s social media culture has expanded in a year. I can’t imagine how big a party we’ll have next year!
(Thanks to Justin Willett/@willettjf for the Twestival picture. I was so busy I forgot to take pictures!)