I’m back from PodCamp Boston 3, and full of renewed excitement for the future of the new media community. In honor of the Boston location, allow me to say this: You guys are all wicked smart. Big congrats go to Chris Brogan and Chris Penn, along with their extensive team of volunteers (who had to sit out of the sessions in order to be available at the registration desk for questions and other possible issues), for an incredible two days in Boston.
Sophisticated Sessions: I think there was more focus on the informal nature of the unconference at the last PCB, which is always a good thing. But the sessions I attended at this one were downright slick. Good use of PowerPoint, but not too much, interesting and/or inspiring videos that focused in on what the presenter was driving at, and a real “show me” mentality. At one session I attended run by Nate Burke (my Blogstring co-blogger), he frequently responded to the audience’s questions by bringing up the page on the projector and pointing them directly to what they were looking for. All the presenters were well-prepared, sparked good discussions, and always offered to stick around after their session ended for anyone who wanted to continue the discussion.
Venue: The PCB2 venue was more compact, which did make session-jumping a little easier,
but the Harvard Medical School building was far preferable, and the campers made use of every square inch. The building boasted an
auditorium for big sessions and the keynotes, classrooms and smaller
rooms for more intimate sessions and panel discussions, plenty of
alcoves, nooks, crannies, sofas and chairs and places for “hallway
Most important? On two of the steamiest days of the year the building
featured some frosty air conditioning!
Community Spirit: This may be cheesy, but the enthusiasm for learning as much as possible in these two days was pervasive and contagious. Everyone in attendance was truly excited about using the social media space to their best advantage, and threw themselves into this learning opportunity. This is a passionate, smart, driven community. Furthermore, I was delighted especially to notice many attendees who were probably my parents’ age–anyone telling you that new media is just for digital natives is flat out wrong.
New Friends: The real highlight of this and any Podcamp is the opportunity to make new, face-to-face, connections. Whether you’re looking to expand your business horizonsI was able to reconnect with many folks from my online network that I see frequently, while meeting others for the first time. Just a few new contacts I met (either in person or ever) for the first time included (and I definitely will forget some people, for that I apologize): Shelley Greenberg, Kabren Levinson, Greg Verdino, Steve Coulson, Suki Fuller, Greg Demetrick, James Connors, Rebecca Corlis, Amy Greenlaw, Adam Broitman, Jody Gnant, Chris Herot, Karen Cardoza, and Keith Burtis.
No-Pitch Zone: One of the rules of PodCamp is “community first.” That is, feel free to wave the company flag, but don’t make it all about hunting for new business leads, and value the conversation and community first. If you make a new relationship happen, the business benefit may follow. Everyone stayed true to that mindset, which led to creative, insightful conversations rather than boring old sales pitches.
My biggest takeaway is one that Shelly Greenberg pointed out in her excellent blog wrap-up of the event. As she put it, “participate, participate, participate!” So many people might think that all they have to do to achieve success (which, by the way, can have myriad definitions in this space) in social media is to sign up for a blog, Twitter and Facebook account, and the hits will just start rolling in. CC Chapman pointed out in his session, that it’s not that easy, you’ve got to work at forming relationships, finding your niche, and developing a community; and you’ve got to work hard. Comment on blogs, reach out via a variety of networks, find your audience, and eventually you will find success.
Luckily, events like PodCamp are there to help you find your way.