Hallway Chats: Sharing Stories and Building Belonging

Hallway Chats is a new podcast that I launched with my friend and WordPress colleague, Tara Claeys.

As 2017 was getting underway, a colleague from the WordPress community reached out to me to ask about starting a podcast together. Independently, we had both been considering creating an online audio show, but independently we had yet to land upon an idea. My colleague, who I now consider a close friend, Tara Claeys, was eager to focus on the human side of the WordPress community. From that initial idea, we worked up the concept and name for Hallway Chats.

All the Legwork

As Tara and I held a series of conversations about the logistics of getting started, we were both confident that it was an entirely manageable project. We both have our own separate consultancies, but with organizational structure and proper planning, we were sure getting started would be pretty easy.

Wow! Were we wrong!

Let me clarify: Tara and I were not surprised by the length of our to do list. We had done enough research and spoken with enough successful podcasters that we knew our checklist was solid.

What caught me offguard was how long each item might take. I had ignored that creating a logo takes a fair amount of time – perhaps even more when making a logo for yourself. 

Going Live

All of initial conversations, research, follow-up chores, and of course, recorded shows, would all be put to the test when we went live. Tara and I originally aimed for a launch in late May or early June. We hit that right on the head: we published our first episode on 01-Jun-2017.

We lead with what we felt was a really powerful conversation with a very strong woman, Jessica Reilley.

As the number of downloads began to climb, and as words of praise came across on Twitter, I felt a real sense of reassurement: Our idea of building belonging within the WordPress (and wider) community by chatting with real people, with real lives and real stories to share was making a connection with our intended audience.

Onwards and Upwards

It's safe to say that Tara and I are very much learning as we go. We're often updating and tweaking our systems, approach and workflows as we learn more about how to deliver an engaging, professional and valuable podcast. Thus, even though our show is now "live and on air", we still very much have a list of items that we'd like to improve, refine or add to our efforts at Hallway Chats.

I'll end by thanking the many, many people who've listened to our new show, have shared kinds words of praise about it on social media and who have subscribed to our podcast. I'm so grateful for your generous embrace of this new effort that Tara and I have worked so hard to get started.

WordCamp Philly 2015: Thoughts from a Co-Organizer

A few thoughts and comments following the wonder that was WordCamp Philly 2015.

As it’s been a full month since the work, excitement and rush of organizing WordCamp Philly 2015, I wanted to share a few thoughts about my experiences in 2015.

A Good Planning Team Works Magic

WordCamp 2015 was the second year that I was privileged to be a part of the organizing team for Philadelphia’s biggest WordPress conference. This year we had a bigger team than ever before and – wow! – did it make the job that much easier and more enjoyable. The team (Brad Williams, Doug Stewart, Tracy Levesque, Jodie Riccelli, Alx Block and me, led by Reed Gustow) really blew me away by its “can do” attitude that was very much centered around “how can I help”. I’ve certainly heard nightmare tales of planning teams not working well together – and WordCamp Philly was exactly the opposite. Someone would flag up a concern, a need or a task and two others would volunteer to look into or address it. So much fun! And of course, a lot of work too.

Great Speakers Engage The Audience

Aaron Jorbin delivering a keynote talk at WordCamp Philly, by Seth Goldstein

Aaron Jorbin delivering a keynote talk at WordCamp Philly, by Seth Goldstein. Used with permission.

In the run up to WordCamp Philly, we had to review speaker applications. I was astounded by the width and depth of the proposed talks. There were so, so many high quality speaker applications. Certainly more than last year. Whether that was a reflection of the growth of – and within – the WordPress community, it certainly made for a very difficult challenge. Saying ‘no’ to people who have put so much thought and energy into their work is really hard.

On the day of the WordCamp, I was approached by more attendees than I can remember who shared their thanks about how great the talks and speakers were. It was so wonderful to hear. The strength of a WordCamp significantly relies on the quality of the presentations. The women and men who shared their skill and knowledge at WordCamp Philly 2015 did not disappoint.

Volunteers Make for Light Work

Part of my role for 2015 was to recruit and coordinate the efforts of our volunteers. I was delighted that we were able to recruit 30 people to help out on the day. Thirty people! That was our biggest group of volunteers ever. On the day, the wonderful volunteers made the registration process so fluid and easy, answered plenty of questions at the Happiness Bar, recorded presentations, ran the WordCamp Philly Twitter account, took photos and more. Thanks again to all the volunteers!

Attendees Set the Tone

WordCamp Philly, by Susan McCreadie

Photo of WordCamp Philly 2015 by Susan McCreadie. Used with permission.

The efforts of organizers, speakers, sponsors and volunteers will all be for nothing if no one shows up on the day. WordCamps are no different. In many ways, it’s the attendees at a WordCamp who set the tone. Yes, organizers can try to offer structure and the like, but ultimately, yet it’s attendees who set the tone with their level of engagement, their response and their enthusiasm about the event. As long as I’ve been attending WordCamps in Philly (2010), the attendees have always been great. I think 2015 was the best crowd ever – so friendly, so engaged, so happy to be there and with each other. The vibe was really thrilling to feel.

Location, Location, Location

University of the Sciences, by John Lauber

University of the Sciences, by John Lauber. Used with permission.

Our entire planning team was really excited when we reviewed the facilities at University of the Sciences. The space was amazing: new, open, beautiful and just about a perfect fit for the size of crowd we were expecting. Yet what made the USciences experience so great was the team of people that delivered services both in the planning stages and on the day. Of particular value was Scott Sisson, the Meetings + Events Coordinator at USciences. He responded to our every need or concern with amazing speed, patience and performance.

New Amazing People

A successful WordCamp is about people first and WordPress second. One of my measures of a successful WordCamp is now many people I met or got to know better. Here are just a few from WordCamp 2015.

Susan McCreadie: Susan and I have known of each other for a few years through a mutual client. I was excited when she volunteered to help at WordCamp Philly. She ran the Twitter account on the day, helping answer questions, share updates and feed the online buzz around the event. Susan also took some wonderful photos that day.

Joe Casabona: Joe and I have danced around a few WordCamps together for a few years now. Not literally, mind you. Just figuratively. I got to know him a bit more at WordCamp Lancaster as we hung out in the speakers lounge together. Yet it was only during this past WordCamp Philly where I felt like I could call Joe a friend.

Briana Morgan: Briana was kind enough not to walk out of the room when she learned that I would be giving the talk for that time slot. (I was asked to deliver a talk about WordPress when one of the scheduled speakers unexpectedly fell ill.) With a winning smile and a warm personality, Briana is very active in the Philly tech community. I certainly hope to get to know her better over time.

Jodie Riccelli: Although I’ve known Jodie for a couple of years now through her work with YIKES, it wasn’t until working more closely with her this year that I realized just how amazing she is. If everyone with internet access in Philly knows Reed Gustow, then everyone in the events industry must surely know Jodie. She is so resourceful, so connected, so professional, so hard working and so, so nice! The success of WordCamp Philly 2015 owes a lot to Jodie.

Can’t Wait for 2016!

I know, I know. WordCamp Philly 2015 has only just passed. Still, I am very much looking forward to getting started on planning for 2016. What wonders await us there?

The photo of me delivering a talk at WordCamp Philly 2015 was taken by John Lauber. Used with permission.

Harnessing the Power of Technology for Professional Development

A detailed list of some of the tools that I use for professional development.

In December of last year, I was fortunate enough to be asked by the St. Elizabeth Chapter of Joseph’s People to speak about using technology for professional development. When I mentioned my presentation on Twitter, there was some interest in seeing a blog post that covered the key talking points from my presentation. I meant to get this post online back in December 2013, but the Fates conspired against. Hence, I’m publishing it now, in April 2014.

I appreciate that all the apps, social media outlets and technologies shared below wont’ be for everyone — and that’s okay. I also appreciate that my approach or system might not be a good fit for everyone else. That’s okay too. Lastly, I am all too aware that my list is very short. There is a never-ending stream of new apps, websites and technologies that we can use to be more efficient in our professional development. I am listing what works for me with the hopes that it might also work for someone else.

Okay, let’s get started.

1. Our Smart Phones

In our pockets, and often in our hands, we have more computing power than that which put Neil Armstrong on the moon. As such, we really need to think about using that technology in a more productive and more efficient way. Yes, we can browse sports scores, check Facebook updates, and flip through the latest musings on Twitter but we can do much more than that. We can make better use of our downtime (in doctor’s waiting offices, while riding the train, etc.) to enable ourselves to lead a better life.

TOOLS: Your smart phone

2. Get your Tasks Done!

As a practitioner of David Allen’s GTD, I am committed to getting all of my to do list items out of my head into a system that tracks them. I use an app called ToodleDo. Admittedly, the app doesn’t have the greatest user-interface, but it is very functional, very powerful and easy to access via my iPhone, iPad and laptop.

TOOLS: ToodleDo

3. Keep Yourself Informed

Through RSS, we can find the news and blog sites that cover the topics and industries that are relevant to our careers. Spend some time subscribing to the content that we should know, we want to know and really, we have to know. By aggregating those blog feeds in a single location, we avoid having to remember which sites to check. We can then organize our blog feeds by topic, by industry, by sport … in whatever way makes most sense to us as individuals.

TOOLS: I use Feedly and Pocket, while others recommend Flipboard and Zite.

4. Turn On and Tune In

Fact: podcasts are a great way to learn a lot of information about practically every topic under the sun. Podcasts are little radio programs or shows that typically last between 5-30 minutes and cover a very specific topic.

TOOLS: iTunes, Podcast app

On a side note, I previously wrote about some quality podcasts that are well worth a listen.

5. Adding to Your Reading List

Finding, downloading and reading relevant white papers are a great way to find industry insight, practices and trends. Often, companies and thought leaders will give away white papers in exchange for our willingness to join a distribution list – or to at least submit our email address. White papers are typically distributed in PDF format so we can read them on just about any computer device we have.

If we find a particularly good white paper, we can always consider engaging with the author through email or social media. Most authors (all authors?) love feedback about their work, so by submitting thoughtful and intelligent feedback (both positive or negative), we can work to grow our network with industry thought leaders.

TOOLS: white papers, PDF reader (on a smart phone, iPad, laptop)

6. Note Everything: Evernote

Evernote is a great cross-device for capturing and storing all sorts of information: client information, business data that needs to be accessed now-again-again. It’s also great for personal information: recipes, cocktails, scans of our child’s homework assignment. Evernote allows for different notebooks (e.g., one for each project, each client, each of our children, etc.), is searchable (entries can be tagged) and can store all sorts of file types (images, Word documents, PDFs, etc.)

For great tips and advice about how to use Evernote in creative and effective way, check out the Evernote blog.

TOOLS: Evernote

7. Charge Your Pen!

Livescribe is a digital pen that records what we have written on papers and electronically transcribes that for storing in Evernote. So, what we write, sketch or note down on a paper notebook become accessible, shareable and searchable on our phones, tablets and computers.

Perhaps ever more cool is that Livescribe can audio record our conversations or the presentation we’re attending and will sync that audio recording with our notes. Livescribe enables users to capture not only our own interpretations of content we’re consuming (through our handwritten notes), but also the original content itself (through the recorded audio.)

With Livescribe, seminars, client meetings, creative brainstorming sessions can be easily and conveniently be better recorded in an unintrusive manner.

TOOLS: Livescribe, Evernote

8. Email

In an age where email seems like old technology, it’s important to appreciate that it’s a hugely powerful tool for connecting with people. Everyone checks their own email, so if we have access to that email address, then we can bring ourselves to the attention of someone who matters to us. Remember: we don’t have to know someone to email them. No, I am not suggesting that we spam people, but a well-crafted, personal note sent via email can be a great way to engage with someone.

It’s definitely worth researching how to craft introductory emails. Do your research so as to put the best foot forward.

TOOLS: Email regardless of the program or app

9. Twitter

Just like email, Twitter is not something people outsource except for maybe Justin Beiber and Tom Cruise. We can use Twitter to connect with the thought leaders, key influencers and others in our industry. We can use Twitter as a communication tool to follow and engage with those outside of our network.

TOOLS: Twitter

10. LinkedIn

So much has been written about how all professionals must be on LinkedIn. I won’t rehash those conversations here, but I can state that I have picked up work projects through LinkedIn. It has been worthwhile to make sure that my profile is updated and that I use LinkedIn to post the occasional status update.

TOOLS: LinkedIn

11. Blog it, Baby!

As I discussed with Joe McGonigal on The Dental Sales podcast, a personal website or blog can be a fantastic way to grow an online brand or reputation. We can use a blog to share our own thoughts on an industry trend, to discuss a hot topic and to share other content that we feel our network would find interesting or of value.

TOOLS: WordPress (either WordPress.com or WordPress.org)

12. Going Old School: The Phone

If email is considered an old technology, then the telephone is absolutely ancient. Yet, few communication tools enable such a strong connection like a telephone. The human voice with its inflection, its tone, its unique sound, has a way of making itself understood in ways that the written word cannot. Sometimes, a quick telephone call can do more to build trust, deepen a relationship and strengthen a business relationship than an email, tweet or online status update.

TOOLS: Telephone

13. Skype and Google+

If the telephone is the tried and true medium of communication for the human voice, then Skype and Google+ are the ones to take us that much closer to an in-person meeting. With the ability to speak over our computer, to use of webcams to see each other and to share our computer screens (for online collaboration), these two applications are profoundly changing the way that we can connect with each other remotely. Each technology has its own set of rules of etiquette, so it’s worth spending some time to see how others are using them. (When in doubt, Google it first.)

TOOLS: Skype, Google+

Harnessing Technology: The Slides

If you’re after the slides from my talk about technology for professional development, they are below.

What did I miss?

Lastly, please take a moment to let me know what technologies I missed. Do you use something else? Do you use one of the technologies listed above in a particularly cool or efficient way? Let me know!

The Power and Importance of Perseverance

Thoughts on the value of persevering towards one’s goals in light of Diana Nyad’s amazing swimming feat.

A map of Diana Nyad's swim

On Labor Day 2013, long distance swimmer Diana Nyad achieved one of her life’s goals. In case you missed all the press coverage, the 64-year old long distance swimmer swam from the shores of Havana, Cuba to Key West, in Florida. That’s a 103-mile swim through the shark and jellyfish infested waters of the open sea. It took Nyad just under 53 hours to complete the swim.

While I followed the story on Twitter and on the news outlets, I was very, very excited for Diana. I was so impressed by her willingness to work so hard — she trained for years to make the swim — to achieve one of her life’s goals.

What really got me was when I learned that Nyad’s successful swim this month was her fifth attempt. She had first tried to complete the swim in 1978. She was unsuccessful and was forced to give up.

She did not try again until 2009.

Then it took her four more attempts before she completed that journey. An astounding 35 years passed between Nyad’s first attempt and her successful completion on September 2, 2013.

When Nyad dragged herself out of the water, after 53 hours of swimming in the sea, she mumbled the following:

“I have three messages. One is, we should never, ever give up. Two is, you’re never too old to chase your dream. Three is, it looks like a solitary sport, but it is a team.”

Whoah! Those three messages are intense.

Let’s look at each one separately.

(1) We should never, ever give up: Nyad worked towards a major life goal for 35 years. 35 years! That sort of determination, if we could work it into our life, would undoubtedly push us farther than most, if not all, of our competition.

(2) You’re never too old to chase your dream: Chasing our dreams as we get older can be increasingly difficult, but it’s still possible. The focus and drive that Nyad showed in completing her swim is the same that can bring us success regardless of our age. Chase down those dreams with vigor, energy and focus and they will happen.

(3) It looks like a solitary sport, but it is a team: If that is not also true of life, I don’t know what is. In life and in business, we are never completely on our own. We’re constantly relying on our family, friends, colleagues and others for help and support. When chasing our dreams, we need to be mindful and grateful for the support we get from the team around us.

I am so pleased for Diana Nyad. More so, I am so grateful to her for sharing those three simple, powerful thoughts as she exited the water in Key West. I am inspired.

Diana Nyad is online at diananyad.com.

The Professional Value of a Personal Recommendation

A professional contact’s post about his favorite podcasts has led me to consider the value of making recommendations to others in the marketplace.

This past spring, a professional contact and friend published a blog post listing a few of his favorite sales-focused podcasts. After reading that post, I checked out the recommendations and have since become a regular listener of three of them.

Networking = Offering Value

Every time that I listen to these podcasts, I think of my contact — the guy who recommended them. I find myself feeling grateful all over again that I heard about these great professional resources from a trusted source in the marketplace. And that always gets me thinking about the value of making recommendations to professional contacts.

The basic premise here is that sharing knowledge, insight and skills is the most valuable way to approach networking. Don’t ask what a potential networking opportunity can do for you — ask what you can bring to that opportunity. The personal recommendation is the same. Consider what tools, resources or guidance you can offer to your contacts as a way to help them get ahead. (Tip of the hat here to Dan Kowalski, a management consultant who delivered that key message in a presentation that I attended in April 2013.)

Since my friend, Joe McGonigal of SCC Partners, shared that post, I’ve taken the following actions, some consciously, and some less so.

  • Paid more attention to Joe’s Twitter feed looking for other recommended gems,
  • Become a regular reader of the SCC Partners blog,
  • Made a point of recommending Joe and SCC Partners to other professional colleagues and friends.

Of course, I’ve also been learning from Joe’s recommended podcasts and have been taking actions from what I’ve learned in those podcasts. (In fact, I just implemented something I learned while driving and listening to a podcast on Tuesday of last week. That step, asking a question of a client, paid a return by Saturday of that same week.)

Joe’s blog post about recommended podcasts — The 7 Best Podcasts for Sales People — has delivered so much value to me that I know I owe Joe at least one favor, and probably a handful of them. I’m constantly on the look out for a chance to give back to Joe.

And that’s how networking works …

Recommended Podcasts

Getting back to the recommended podcasts, I’ll share my favorites from that initial list.

The Advanced Selling Podcast:

advancedsellingpodcast.com
Every week these guys cover some aspect of selling. While their audience is, strictly speaking, sales professionals, their messages, ideas and suggestions hold true for any professional. (Also, we’re all in sales anyway.)

HBR IdeaCast

blogs.hbr.org/ideacast
A wide-ranging podcast that covers all sorts of matters within the field of business – everything from being efficient in the office to growing your brand globally.

The Accidental Creative

accidentalcreative.com
A mix of tips, ideas and strategies to drive creativity, these short podcasts pack a lot of value for any listener looking for ways to up their professional game.

Related Posts

WordPress Plugin: Feed Anonymizer

A shout-out to a local developer who put together a simple WordPress plugin in between finishing his breakfast and getting his kids to the bus.

Feed Anonymizer plugin

As a co-founder and co-editor of chickenmonkeydog, I have a story to share with you. I want to share this story because it demonstrates a certain business savvy, a dedication to community and a professionalism that stands out from the ordinary.

On chickenmonkeydog.com, we publish anonymously. We think it’s part of our appeal. Our readers don’t know which of the writers shared which quirky observation. However, WordPress adds author information to the RSS feeds by default. Then Google Reader comes along (and perhaps others will in its wake) and picks that up, highlighting which author wrote a specific piece.

Historically, I’ve just hacked the WordPress core to override that functionality. Admittedly, that’s not an ideal approach, but it was for my own site and it was a single, simple hack.

Over time, my impromptu approach meant that I always had to remember to hack the core every time we update WordPress on the site. On at least a few occasions, I forgot to do so in a timely fashion, allowing our readers to circumvent our attempt at quirky anonymity.

This past spring, I emailed a web developer that I knew, asking if he’d be up for coding a plugin or an addition to the functions.php for me. I believe that my initial email made it clear that I was more than willing to pay for the help — I was not seeking a freebie or favor.

In looking at my sent items, I see that I sent the first email at 5:08 am. At 7:18 pm, I received an email from the developer with a link to a plugin on the WordPress.org repository:

http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/feed-anonymizer/

My initial reaction was ‘How did I miss this plugin earlier?’ Then, after some gentle prodding from the web developer, I saw that the plugin has just been posted that same day and it was written by the developer. Whoah! I later learned that the plugin was actually written in between the time that the developer finished breakfast and saw his children onto the morning school bus. Double whoah!

In thinking about the story, I think we can draw a number of interesting conclusions:

  1. Good web developers are doers. They see a problem, they quickly assess a reasonable solution and they write the code.
  2. A quick favor is a solid business move. Since this plugin was created, I’ve involved this web developer on a number of small projects, and I continue to look for ways to involve him in others.
  3. The WordPress community is a giving one. As I mentioned above, I was prepared to pay for code. Although chickenmonkeydog.com does not generate income, I thought it fair to pay for web development to improve the quality of experience for our readers. That this web developer not only wrote the code for free, but did so in a single day, shows just how generous and giving those within the WordPress community can be.

By now, you’re probably asking yourself “Who is this famed web developer?” He is Owen Winkler, @ringmaster on Twitter and a regular contributor to the Philly ‘burbs WordPress Meetup. In fact, you can watch Owen develop and launch a custom WordPress site in 30 minutes at the July 2013 meetup.

The Value of Interpersonal Marketing

A little story that highlights the value of interpersonal marketing — no brand is too big not to benefit from person-to-person promotion.

Wendy's in Exton, PA

I have thinking about in-person networking lately, and I have a little story to share that highlights the importance of interpersonal marketing. This experience was a perfect reminder to me of the value of face-to-face marketing, and of how every single person in a company is involved in building the brand.

Let me set the scene.

It was a Saturday morning and I was in the Reading Terminal Market in central Philadelphia for breakfast. I was seated at a table at the Down Home Diner, eating with family. The diner uses long tables and so smaller parties end up sharing the table with other guests (which is fun). As we worked our way through breakfast, the diner hostess seated a gentleman at our table. Over the course of fried eggs, bacon and coffee, I got to talking to this fellow.

A morning chat

As it turns out, this gentleman was the Chief People Officer at The Wendy’s Company. A senior vice president. He was in town for Wendy’s annual franchise conference. His name is Scott Weisberg. A really intelligent, gregarious and insightful guy, Scott told me about how Wendy’s was working to be a leader in the restaurant business, creating dining destinations rather than in-and-out food service outlets. It was a great conversation — I learned a lot.

During the course of the conversation, I mentioned that there was a new Wendy’s opening up near me: the first one in my immediate area. Before meeting the chap from Wendy’s, I was not excited about the new opening. I was not against the new restaurant, but I had no feelings about it. Where I grew up, there were no Wendy’s restaurants. I don’t have memories from childhood of going there with my parents; my high school friends and I didn’t hangout at the local Wendy’s on slow weekend nights. I had no connection with the brand.

Yet during my conversation with its Chief People Officer, I learned a lot about Wendy’s. I got to peer into its ethos, values and vision for its future. It was exciting! I was given a window into a major global brand. Suddenly, I couldn’t wait for that new Wendy’s to open! I wanted to share in the Wendy’s experience.

My first experience

Last Thursday, my new Wendy’s opened (note, I feel like I can call it my Wendy’s now) and it has been rocking ever since. I’ve driven past the new restaurant on at least five occasions and the parking lot has always been full, the drive-through line a few cars deep. The sign out front reinforced what Scott told me over breakfast about Wendy’s commitment to its local customers: “Proud to be part of your community”. That was a nice touch.

Two nights ago I managed to get into this new Wendy’s for a meal. I loved the whole aura of the place as I drove into the parking lot. There was a sharp looking outdoor seating area. Through the windows, I could see a couple of people sitting in front of a fireplace eating burgers. (Well, a mock fireplace, but still … it was amazing to see. It certainly shook my preconceptions about fast food chains.) Stepping inside, I was welcomed by a friendly and personal staff. I was welcomed by loads of friendly staff. In chatting with a few of the managers, I learned that they have been racing since they opened. Looking over the counter, I could see what looked to be 15-20 employees hustling and bustling to fill orders.

A Frosty from Wendy'sWhat really surprised me when I ordered was that the manager asked me my name. Simply thinking him friendly, I introduced myself and thanked him for greeting us so pleasantly. A few moments later, I was surprised to hear my name called, as my order was ready. It was not “8314, your order is up.” It was “Liam, your meal is ready.” A subtle and classy touch.

By the time I sat down to eat my burger and fries, I was really excited to eat. Even more than the decor, the burger challenged my preconceptions about fast food. It was juicy and piping hot. The bacon looked, smelled and tasted like it just came off the griddle. Moreover, the fries were the hearty type: thicker than those served at most chains. Of course, I had to try a Frosty.

That face-to-face marketing value

As I finished up and sipped the last of my soda (Diet Caffeine-Free Coke, if you must know), I thought back to my conversation with Scott Weisberg. I would never had gone to this new restaurant if the HR guy had not so enthusiastically, genuinely and effectively convinced me to be excited about Wendy’s as a brand. His time, his thoughts, his willingness to interrupt his own breakfast to get a potential customer excited about his company is a brilliant example of the value of interpersonal marketing.

5 Marketing Reasons to Attend In-Person Events

A list of 5 reasons why attending in-person events is valuable marketing for small businesses.

Matt Mullenweg at WordCamp Philly

Earlier this month, I attended WordCamp Philly for the second year in a row. As what I learned about WordPress and web development could fill my blog post publication schedule for the next six months, I walked away from the event feeling energized to implement the techniques I learned, excited to have met in person those with whom I only had online relationships and eager to attend to WordCamp Philly next year.

As I drove home from WordCamp, I mulled over the value for small businesses in attending real events, in person — in the meatspace — as opposed to limiting marketing efforts to online. During this mental review, I recalled a great piece that I read about the value of holding offline events in connection with online marketing efforts, published earlier this year by our friends and colleagues at Philly Marketing Labs. The blog post, entitled 5 Reasons to Boost Your Marketing Efforts with In-Person Events, set down a very clear and formidable list of reasons why small businesses (and others) would benefit from holding their own events.

In pondering the weekend in connection with that blog post, I thought it worth exploring the value that small businesses can achieve from attending in-person events. In response to Philly Marketing Lab’s post, I came up with 5 Marketing Reasons to Attend In-Person Events.

1. Tell People Who You Are and What You Do

In-person events of any kind are always a great way to talk to people about our work. Of course, it needs to be done with savvy, but people expect to talk about their jobs, their careers, their companies or their employers at work-related events. Small business owners should take advantage of that expectation to promote themselves.

2. Find the Help You Need

While attending local in-person events, let’s make sure that we don’t just talk about ourselves. Listen first. Ask others about themselves and their work. It’s a great way to form a network of professionals whose own services complement ours. By actively inquiring about the skills and services that others offer, we can develop a network of suppliers to support our own small businesses, both internally (helping us run our own businesses) or externally (providing services that benefit our clients.)

3. Put a Face with a Twitter Name

Nothing beats the connectivity power of a face-to-face meeting. This is as true in business as it is elsewhere. Many small businesses rely on personal connections with clients for their steady stream of work. In an age when we have dozens, if not hundreds or thousands of Twitter “friends” and contacts, it’s important to seek ways to deepen that initial online connection.

4. Have Fun!

A great part of getting out to networking events is that we choose the events we wish to attend. More often than not, getting in a room full of people who are as excited as we are to talk about the same topic is fun. It’s invigorating. It can renew our excitement and focus about the topic of discussion.

5. Learn That Little Something Extra

We can always stand to learn a little about about our professional fields or industry. No matter how expert we are, there is undoubtedly some area within that field that we are a bit weak, or where our knowledge is slightly outdated. In-person events can help fill in those blanks.

On a related note, but not directly on point, check out Coreen’s Tossona’s Plan Your Next Event With Inspiration from Philly WordCamp if you’re looking for more articles about WordCamp Philly and In-Person events. (Disclaimer: Coreen and I are friends and colleagues; we co-organize the Philly ‘burbs WordPress Meetup together. We did not discuss or coordinate the publication of our two blog posts at all.)