Where else can you get 5 custom social media and/or tech presentations/discussions, lunch, a t-shirt, a cool swag bag, meet new friends, catch up with old ones, and learn more that you expected for just $30?
PodCamp Western MA 4!
What a day it was!
This was my 4th PodCamp Western MA, and I'll admit that I was a bit sceptical that I would learn anything new. I've been at this social media stuff as long as anybody, and I'm a seasoned speaker and trainer. I pretty much expected that I would be there sharing, and reconnecting, but not really learning.
Was I ever wrong!
I started the day at my friend and fellow PodCamp organizer, Morris Partee's Augmented Reality session. Morriss reviewed some of the most popular apps, and I offered one of my own favorites, Historypin. It was a fun session for all and quite enlightening for many of the attendees who didn't understand the potential for things such as NY subway assistance or finding a restaurant by scanning your locale with your smartphone.
Next up, I went to another friend, Lesley Lambert's Pinterest session. I'm a pretty enthusiastic Pinterest user, so my goal was to support Lesley, and I'm thrilled that she had a packed room full of inquisitive people who wanted to learn how they can use Pinterest personally and to promote their businesses. She successfully drove home the point that Pinterest is a major driver of traffic to blogs and websites, so businesses should take notice. Lesley's slidedeck is here if you'd like to take a look.
After a very tasty lunch I attended a session that I requested, Davd Pakman's Podcasting How-To. David hosts a thriving political podcast that is syndicated on hundreds of radio and cable TV stations, so he knows how to do this right. He started with the basics of equipment and went right trough to promoting your podcast and growing a following. I couldn't tweet out my notes fast enough. If you're interested, his slidedeck is here.
Next up, I co-presented a session about Optimizing Your LinedIn Profile with Christine Parizo. The room was full of a variety of people. Some were seasoned social media users, others were beginners, and some were students. Everybody shared a common desire to improve their profile to position themselves for hire, be it employment or consulting gig. I received several emails, tweets, and LinkedIn messages over the last couple of days from happy people, so I think I did a good job for them.
I wrapped up the day with a session created in true PodCamp spirit. I was standing with Lesley Lambert reviewing the PodCamp session board, and nothing really struck our fancy, so I said to her, "How about if we grab a room and discuss productivity tips and tricks? Let's share ideas about what we're using that is making it easier to do our jobs and get through our days." Lesley grabbed a sticky and posted this on the wall, and 5 minutes later we had about 20 people ready to share ideas. Ron Miller started chatting about how he is using Evernote, and Lesley told us about how she combines Evernote and Dragon dictation to write her blog posts in the car. That flowed into talk of tools to schedule tweets, apps to backup data in the cloud, a cool app that helps your create lists on the fly, and also something to help you keep track of client time and easily invoice. Next we moved into Gmail productivity tips, lots of other things, and we wrapped up with discussion about solving one of a blogger's major challenges, finding royalty free and low cost photos that won't get us into copyright trouble.
Interestingly, throughout this session, nobody left, but we gained several additional people who came looking for us after reading the tweets that were coming out of our discussion. You see, one of PodCamp's rules is called, the rule of 2 feet. Anybody is free and encouraged to leave any session at any time, and the session leader is not allowed to get hurt feelings.
I look forward to PodCamp every year, and each year it goes by way too fast! I come away with new acquaintances, fresh ideas, and plenty of inspiration. If you have an opportunity to attend a PodCamp in your area, I recommend that you give it a shot. All of them are different, and in Western MA, our goal is to keep it small, (cap of 150 people,) and create an environment where there is room for spontaneous sessions like the one I described above. Other PodCamps run throughout a whole weekend with all time blocks pre-scheduled. That's fine too, but I think I prefer our format. We do PodCamp pretty well here in little ole Western MA!