How to play nice with others at camp…

DISCLAIMER:  This is a reprint of a guest post I wrote for the Philly Creative Guide.

Philly has become the unofficial “Camp Town” From BarCamp to TrendCamp, HigherEd Camp to HealthCamp, Philly has been drawing the best and the brightest in many different fields all sharing and exploring the newest and current trends, information, apps, and discussions. Whether it is looking forward at TrendCamp or looking at the now at NewsInnovation Camp, the wellspring of unconference format events in Philadelphia (21+ in the last 3.5 years – a full list is below) is a testament to the vitality and growth of the creative and technology communities in the City of Brotherly Love.

For the as yet uninitiated, an unconference is a facilitated, participant-driven conference centered around a theme or purpose. The format consists of multiple sessions of attendee generated content. The participants are the speakers, discussion leaders and sharers of information. (see barcamp.org for more details)

The central message in the tremendous growth of all of these unconferences is that the community wants to come together. They want to share. They want to learn from each other. Which brings us to the question – who gets to decide what gets shared, how it gets shared? What is the etiquette? And most importantly, how do we as a community get the most of out of these gatherings. A few tips gathered from participants at the recent BarCamp Philly gives us some insight on how to maximize the experience as individuals and as a community.

  1. Be open-minded – Realize that not everyone is going to like the same things, but that sometimes we learn best from those who have different viewpoints and experiences.
  2. Don’t hog the stage – Don’t do the same presentation at the same events over and over. Rather than present, lead a discussion and let everyone learn from each other. Better yet, encourage someone new to the community who is knowledgeable on the same topic to present. Give someone else a chance to share their expertise.
  3. Get outside your comfort/knowledge zone – Attend a session or camp on a topic you know nothing about. Expand your knowledge and grow your circle of connections.
  4. Get involved – Present, lead a discussion, volunteer, ask questions, be a sponsor.
  5. Get others involved – Be a community builder by encouraging others to get involved. One of the greatest things about the camp experience is meeting and learning from new people.
  6. Exercise the rule of two feet – Not getting what you were hoping for out of a session? Don’t sit and heckle, quietly leave and find one more to your liking.
  7. Relax – the day is not about selling anyone anything and it is not about cramming as much knowledge and networking as you possibly can in to a single day. It is about opening ourselves and our minds to possibilities, insights, information, and people.
  8. Remember the Golden Rule – Do onto others and you would like them to do onto you. Be polite, courteous and respectful to the session leaders and other participants.
  9. Make it about the Community – Show support for other groups in the community by attending and helping spread word about a camp you might not normally go to.

What would your tips be?

Alphabetical Listing of Philadelphia area Camps (If any are missing from this list, please feel free to let us know)

Top 10 Philly Influencers on Twitter?

I want to preface this post with this disclaimer – I LOVE the guys at Technically Philly.  They are smart wonderful people who are doing great things for Philadelphia and its tech community and I support them 100%.  If you are not reading Technically Philly, you should be!  Just one of the truly great things about all of the guys at Technically Philly is they are open-minded.  If someone does not agree with them, they quickly and willingly reach out to find out why and are open to lively, respectful debate.

While it is not the first time and I am sure will not be the last, Technically Philly, I respectfully disagree with you.

On 7/27/2010 Technically Philly contributed an article to their partner, Philly Mag’s section The Philly Post – ” Philadelphia’s 10 Most Influential Twitter Users“.  The premise of the article was their view of not who the are the most followed Philly Twitter users but who are the “must-follows”.  As a Technically Philly reader, an active member of Philly’s tech and social media communities and a self-admitted Twitter addict, I was intrigued.  Till I read their list.  Of the 10 people on the list there is 1 musician, 1 techie, 1 serial entrepreneur, 1 athlete and 6 newspeople/journalists. While I don’t disagree that the people on their list are influential.  I follow almost all of them myself, but to consider them the 10 MOST influential Philadelphians on Twitter.  I don’t think so.  Technically Philly and I have different definitions of influence as evidenced by our Twitter convo on the subject –

GloriaBell: @TechnicallyPHL I found it interesting that a news magazine picked primarily news people as the most influential – really?
TechnicallyPHL: @gloriabell Who do you think we missed?
GloriaBell: @TechnicallyPHL I guess who you may have missed depends on your definition of influence. I don’t consider news ppl as the only influencers
GloriaBell: @TechnicallyPHL IMHO There are a lot of influencers as defined by ppl making things happen in Philly as opposed to just reporting it
To be clear, I am not defining influence by numbers (most followers) or interaction (amount of time/effort put into interacting with their Twittersphere).  My basic definition of influence is rooted in how many people you touch on and off line, how many people you help, how many people not only listen to what you say, but are moved to action by your words – whether those words are on Twitter, some where else online or offline and mostly by whether you are, at least in part, using your Twitter interactions to help make things happen in our wonderful city.
But here is my quandary – How to answer the question that Technically Philly posed to me – “Who do you think we missed?”   I know that I disagree with their list, but to name who I consider the top 10 – I am at a loss.  I can think of so many people who are part of the Philly Twitter community that I consider influencers for different reasons that it would be difficult for me to name a “top 10”.  So I leave you with the same question – Who would you name as your top 10 Philly Twitter influencers?

Redefining social through a lesson learned

I posted this tweet yesterday afternoon –

“DO NOT call yourself a social media consultant, expert, guru, visionary – anything – if all you do is push out links & RT other ppl’s stuff”

To my surprise, I received a fair amount of negative feedback from my followers.  I was, rather harshly in some cases, admonished for “telling people how to use Twitter”.   I have to admit that the responses both hurt and made me angry, until I stopped to really think about them.

There is one clear truth when it comes to Twitter. We all use it for different reasons.  We all have different objectives, or in some cases, no objectives at all.  And there is nothing wrong with that.  Every social media platform should be used by each individual in the way they find most beneficial.  I realized that I was upset because the negative responses I received made it appear that I was trying to tell others how to use Twitter.  That was not my purpose and, unfortunately, 140 characters was not enough to explain. So, it was time to write a blog post.

What prompted my tweet was a series of new followers.  As I have explained in earlier posts, I carefully evaluate each new follower to decide if I am going to follow them back.  I want to make sure that the connections I make will be mutually beneficial.   I was aggravated by several new followers who, per their bios, were self-professed social media consultants, experts, gurus, visionaries, etc… , but when you read through their tweetstreams, they were comprised almost exclusively by links, retweets and self-promotional statements.   Go ahead and call me old-fashioned, but I still believe in the SOCIAL part of social media.  That if you are going to profess yourself an “expert” in this field, then you have to also believe its power is in its social aspect.  That means you don’t just talk to yourself.  That you understand it is not traditional push marketing.  That is a medium that allows us, possibly for the first times ever, as people and companies, to TALK to one another in larger numbers and on a wider reach.  When the supposed “experts” devalue the medium by using it to solely push information at others, I believe we all lose.  But, that is just me.  I may be alone in my thinking, I would love your comments and feedback to know if I am or not.

What I did find most valuable from these exchanges is the lesson I learned in the potential damage of a poorly worded tweet, status update, email, whatever the message form.  Failure to find a clear way to express our message or intention leaves open the possibility of misinterpretation and misunderstanding, as was the case with my tweet.   My critics apparently interpreted it much differently than it was intended.  My intent was never to tell anyone how to use Twitter, it was to express my frustration with the self-professed social media “experts” who have not embraced what I feel is the most important aspect – the social.

Twitter Tales

For her blogaversary Conversation Agent, Valeria Maltoni, asked her readers to submit their Twitter Tales.  She asked us to “write a short post describing how a connection you made on Twitter, first, lead you to an opportunity and opened new horizons”.   While I have many, many Twitter tales of deep and lasting friendships and professional relationships that have developed from chance meetings on Twitter.  There are a few that stand out as examples of how small and connected our world truly has become and how wide we make it when we reach out to those we encounter on Twitter.

Here is a link to my Twitter Tale…..

http://redstaplerconsulting.net/2009/09/14/twitter-tales/

I’d love to hear yours!

Community & the Quality of Our Relationships

This is a reprint of a post I wrote in June 2008, but I feel that the message is especially relevant for me and a lot of others right now.  So here it is again.

Sometimes things come to us in such a timely manner, that it restores our faith in the patterns of the universe.  After having ignored my GoogleReader for several days (way too many, don’t even ask how long!)  I started to wade through through the massive amount of reading I had in front of me.   As usual, when I have built it up to that lovely 1000+  (you have to love when it is so many that they will intimidate you with 1000+ and not really tell you how many there are!) that GR intimindatingly shows me I have failed to keep up on, I’m skimming subjects and titles.  In my haste to clear, I almost skipped over this particular post, but something drew me back.  Not only because it was Gary V, but something about the title resonated with some of my recent musings.

http://garyvaynerchuk.com/2008/06/05/when-do-you-know-you-have-a-community/

Gary talks about when you know you have a Community (yes capital “C”).   Now, I’m not sure that I can ever be as eloquent as Gary, but I’d like to think I share his passion.  His focus is on the social media crowd, but I think his message can be expanded to many aspects of our lives.  He reminds us all that community = communication!  If you are having a dialogue with just one person, you have a Community.

Gary’s words reinforced things that have been occurring to me lately.  I’m in the process of making a Major move and Major changes in my life.  In preparing to make these changes, I have been evaluating the roles that various people play in my life. When Gary talks about needing to remember that it does not matter how many Twitter followers or blog readers, it made me remember that it does not matter how many friends I have collected, how many colleagues admire me, how many business associates I have contacts with.  It is about the quality of these relationships. Now, I will admit that sometimes I get lost in believing that the more people I am able to surround myself with, the more people there are to make me happy, to reinforce the positives about myself, in general just to affirm my existence.    Occasionally it is nice to be reminded that I don’t need anyone to affirm me.   What I need is myself and the positive power of a good Community.   And Gary has reminded me of that. He has reminded me that I not only need myself, I need good dialogue with a single person and I have a solid Community.

I’m one of the lucky ones, I’ve realized that I have a lot of people in my Community, good people, solid people, smart people, caring and inspiring people.  From the people I love, my family, my close friends, some business associates, my Twitter  peeps and the sweet people who take the time to read this, I’m blessed with this Community.

My first ride at Blog Carnival!

I was extremely honored when a lady that I respect immensely, Lani Rosales (@laniar), co-founder of New Media Lab,  approached me to be a “judge” for this week’s edition of Social Media Blog Carnival.  Of course, I accepted immediately!   For anyone who is not familiar with Blog Carnival, it is a compilation of blog posts submitted over a set period of time (usually a week) and then a selected “judge” is invited to review all of the submissions and chose their favorites for the week and host them on their blog. (I encourage you to click the link and explore not only the Social Media Blog Carnival, but all of the other Blog Carnival categories.) SMBlogCarnival

Over the last week, multiple submissions appeared in my email inbox.  I poured over them, reading most at least twice, some more than that.  I wanted to make sure that I not only gleaned as much information as possible from the submissions, but that I gave fair consideration to the efforts of all of the participants. I wish I had room on my blog for all of the fantastic entries, but time and space make that an impossibility, so I chose the two entries that “spoke” to me the most.  I hope you enjoy both of these articles as much as I did! Your comments are welcome and encouraged.

How Twitter is Teaching Business the Lost Art of Conversation

Monday, June 22, 2009 Posted by Isaac Yassar

So it’s happened. Twitter has gone mainstream. As Twitter users, we knew instantly when Mumbai came under terrorist attack. We laughed at the photo of Stephen Fry stuck in an elevator when he tweeted his predicament, we were there when Ashton Kutcher beat CNN to 1 million followers, we caught the first glimpse of passengers being evacuated from the ditched plane on the Hudson River and we all suffered the lag time when Oprah Winfrey sent her first ever tweet on live TV.

Industry pundits and bitter journalists regularly diss Twitter as a time-wasting, “look at me” fad, destined for Forgottensville in 2 years. In fact New York Times reporter Maureen Dowd is quoted as saying to Twitter founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone:

“I would rather be tied up to stakes in the Kalahari Desert, have honey poured over me and red ants eat out my eyes than open a Twitter account.”

So is Twitter really just an emergency beacon and “a toy for bored celebrities and high-school girls” as Dowd gleefully claims?

Thankfully, no. The latest wave of Twitter users are business executives. They range from home business owners, SME’s, middle and upper management, marketing executives, brand evangelists and CEOs. Take a look at ExecuTweets and you’ll see some well-known names with very active Twitter accounts: Richard Branson of Virgin, Lisa Stone Co-founder of BlogHer, Tony Hsieh CEO of Zappos and Steve Case Co-founder of AOL, to name a few.

It’s not just individuals either. Some of the world’s most recognized brands are Twittering. I found a number of super brands on Twitter and asked my followers which of these they were following:

Read more here

Re-defining ROI in the age of social media.

Posted by Matt Stigliano on 06/20/2009 06:27 PM

What’s the return on your investments?

After attending, the SABOR Town Hall Meeting and listening to Sean Wood and Rich Teplitsky of KGBTexas speak on the topic of social media, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about some of the things I noticed while I was there as well as some of the snippets of conversation that my ears overheard from other people’s small groups as they were gathering and getting ready to go.  Some of the audience was there to get an idea of what social media was, some were there to get more out of it, some where there just to see what the craze is all about.

Return on investment (ROI), is the ratio of gain or loss on an investment relative to the money invested.  In real estate, you often hear the term ROI being referred to around the hours and/or money we spend on any particular activity in order to generate business.  In terms of social media, I have heard many people question what the ROI is on it.  Whether it be blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, or even ActiveRain itself, social media is all around us, but there has been some serious conflicts over the quantifying of the actual returns of using it based on the investment you put into it.  There are plenty of success stories of transactions closed thanks to the many different forms of social media, but I think there’s something else to look at.

Interaction.

As agents we spend much of our time looking to get in front of people.  To talk to them, to share our experiences, to tell them what we do, and to hopefully make them our clients (or at least a great referral source).  Agents are doing this all day long.  The girl at the grocery store, the guy pumping gas, the small business owner that you know through BNI – no matter where we go, we’re interacting and building relationships which we work to turn into business.  Occasionally, the business falls in our lap – “You’re a Realtor®?  I have a house I need to sell, can you stop over tomorrow?”  Other days, it takes a growth process of going from “that agent guy” to “my Realtor®.”  We hear the word cultivation a lot when referring to the people we meet.  Cultivate the relationship, build the trust, get the business.

Social media is really no different.  Strangers will talk to you, friends will tell others about you, and building a sphere of influence is the name of the game.  As many people discuss over and over again, the trick is not to sell.  I definitely believe this to be the case, but this is not the point of this post.

So what is the ROI on social media?

Read more here

One of the reasons Twitter has become such a huge part of my life

This is a great post from Laura Fitton at Pistachio Consulting, Inc.  I am privileged to have her as part of my Twitter "village".

Twitter is my Village

Posted by Laura Fitton under Twitter , social media
 

Village?
For me, connecting on Twitter with someone I’ve just met in person is inviting them to live in “my village.” Follow-up won’t be limited to the “nice meeting you” email cul-de-sac. On Twitter, we’ll cross paths incidentally and without pressure. I may bump into them “around town” for maybe a word or two at the “coffee shop” or “post office.” Over time we may discover common interests (aka social objects) in each others’ tweets, and connect more deeply as neighbors or friends.

For a contrived, weird and techy way to communicate, Twitter’s “passive conversation” fosters very natural, gradual relationship-building. I explained about the village to Dan Bricklin, who immediately connected it to the chapter on “taming” and the Fox in The Little Prince.

The Village Mind
New to Twitter, it makes no sense. Post 140 characters into the ether? Stare at the public timeline’s chaos washing over me? Why the h…?

How does Twitter shift from idiotic to amazing? It takes a village – a critical mass of interesting people – to read and write to. When my brain started to connect with the brains (and hearts) of others, it got really, REALLY cool for me. You may be looking for like minds, or you may want to be totally shaken up by new ideas. Both work. One day I suddenly realized this was, for me, tribe-finding. For arguably the first time in my life I didn’t feel as weird and different.

Everyone connects to a different array of tweets and tweeters, so there aren’t discrete villages per se. But, the degrees of separation and connection create layers around each individual that hint at a very sketchy (and Twitter-specific) “social map.” (Often highly removed from who you actually know).

The Village Heart
Right in “my” own village (yours too?) @susanreynolds‘ breast cancer fight and the Frozen Pea Fund bubbled up as a lovely grassroots social movement to rally around and raise support for one of our own. (If you missed it, the story is in today’s Washington Post.) With Twitter though, the “village” feel of intimacy is profoundly global. Her story’s been blogged hundreds of times including Scoble, Loic, TechCrunch and even a link on the BBC home page.

This week in a nearby village, a car crash stole well-loved young mother. Ashley D. Spencer left behind baby Lucy (2 months old), toddler “Sproglet” and her loving husband. She’d shared her pregnancy on Twitter as @ashpreggo, switched to @AshDMama after baby Lucy’s birth and is the only person I know of who permanently added PEA to her Twitter ID in honor of @susanreynolds. She died, tragically, and FAR too young, as @AshPEAMama. Ashley once sent me this hearty laughter on a very dark day. In her village, her humor and caring touched many lives deeply.

And so our eccentric archipelago of Twitter villages is mourning, and struggling to try to help Ashley’s family. @Mosqueda set up this memorial fund to help with funeral expenses and childcare.

If you’re not on Twitter yet, I don’t blame you if all this seems unrealistic or hyped. But lives and communities are changing, profoundly, over here in this funky little Twecosystem the guys from Obvious built. You might want take a look sometime. I’ll probably see you in the coffee shop.

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