Notes from Podcamp

Podcamp Western MassPodcamp is alive and well in Western Massachusetts! For the 5th year in a row, Valley techies and geeks and business owners gathered for a day of social media unconferencing.

I started the day with Thom Fox, extrovert extraordinaire, who gave a great presentation on taking online relationships offline. You know, take it from a tweet to the street. He’s right, there’s still a lot to be said for face-to-face networking. It’s too easy to get stuck behind the screen, to fool ourselves into thinking that connecting on LinkedIn, or getting a new follower on Twitter is enough. Face-to-face shores up trust, tightens bonds, and ultimately opens more doors of mutual opportunity.

Speaking of Extroverts

There were some surprising “out-of-the-box” sessions this year. The first I attended was by Val Nelson, a business/career coach who specializes in introverts.

Being a proud introvert I had to attend Val’s session on, “Are Introverts Better at Online Networking?”.  Because, duh.

Val got us started by having everyone stand up, and then posed a series of questions to us which we “answered” by moving to one side of the room or the other depending on “where we stood” on the question. Example, “if you think introverts are better at offline networking, stand on that side of the room. If you think extroverts are better at offline networking, go to that side of the room.”

Val Nelson Podcamp Western Ma

Once we had taken a “stand”, she then engaged us in discussions about why we thought the way we did. The attendees were a pretty even mix of introverts and extroverts. The last question was, “if you think introverts should learn to be more extroverted, go to that side of the room, and if you think introverts are fine the way they are, go to that side of the room”, or something like that.

As soon as I heard the question, I marched with purpose to the “no way I need more extroversion in my life” side of the room. I happen to like being introverted. I also happen to think our culture needs to get on board with understanding and utilizing the unique strengths of introversion. (Watch for an upcoming post on “How to be an Introvert Ninja”.)

Then it was My Turn

I practically stroked out the night before podcamp. I always get anxious before events, but considering I was presenting twice at Podcamp Western Ma, it’s a miracle I got more than two hours of sleep. (Thank you family for not throwing me to the curb that night – I was an awful grump.)

I offered a discussion session on “Stop Wasting Time in Social Media”. It’s a bit of a pet peeve of mine that people feel overwhelmed and pressured by social media marketing. We talked about taking time on the front end of things to save time later. Less on the shortcut tools, and more on laying the groundwork that will keep strategies focused and relevant.

Podcamp Western Ma Collage

Friendly and interesting input was abundant. It was Podcamp after all.

Then Paul Bogush Blew Our Minds

It was the second to last session of the day, and the session I had tentatively picked was tucked into a corner at the end of a quiet hallway. The session stickie for “Body Talk” had not named the presenter, and only a couple of people were in the room. I was starting to question my choice, but realized I was early.

Paul BogushPaul Bogush walked in a few minutes later and got the session underway. Within 5 minutes I was not only NOT questioning my session choice anymore, I was feeling sorry for the rest of Podcamp for not being there. Paul was blowing our minds with rapid fire analysis of body language and what it means to networking or to the choice of photos we use on our websites. Of course I’m wildly partial to behavior hacks, but the rest of the attendees seemed pretty blown away too.

At the end of the session, I forbade Paul from attending my next session. I didn’t want him in the audience judging my body language, thank you very much. He came anyway. :)

So There I was…

Last session slot of the day, Paul Bogush right in my line of sight, Seth Kaye snapping photos, everyone starting to lose focus with one mental foot out the door and ready for the after-party socializing. Had I thought about any one of these things I probably would’ve thrown up, or at the very least, gotten a bad case of nervous-dry-mouth.

But I didn’t think about any of those things, and that’s the beauty of talking about something you’re passionate about at Podcamp.

I presented on The Psychological Profiles of Social Media Platforms. In other words, each social media platform has a psychological context, a certain “head space” we’re in when on that particular site. So when the audience asks, “what’s in it for me?”, they are asking from within a sub-context and knowing what that head space is matters a lot to understanding what kind of content will appeal to an audience.

Jennifer Williams Podcamp 2013

My daughter found this photo hilarious. You know, irony.

And then it was over.

Well mostly, there was the after-party of course, which was great fun and I met at least 3 or 4 more people who I hadn’t met during the day’s sessions.

All in all, Podcamp 5 was an energizing, educational, and fun event. And I’ve watched that energy continue after podcamp with videos, and photos, and blog posts, and follow up phone calls and emails, and lunch dates with new friends, and even a new community on Google+. 😉

See you next year at Podcamp!

**PHOTO CREDITS – the amazing, ever-present, ever-smiling, ever-makes-you-so-comfortable-you-forget-he’s-photographing, Seth Kaye.


  1. RennataTropeano says

    Your quote “I also happen to think our culture needs to get on board with understanding and utilizing the unique strengths of introversion.” resonated with me. It really is time for this to be recognized. In a time when Honey Boo-Boo, teen moms and the Kardashians are famous for being famous, it is not surprising that a lot of value is placed on the skills of extroverts. Society today is full of similar examples.
    I have had the pleasure of watching my daughter, who is also an introvert, and the members of her mock trial team, many of whom are introverts go to the State finals for the last four years. It is the skills of these introverted children, with thier ability to think through the issues, and understand them that have amazed the Attorneys and Judges who have seen them. Almost every scoring Judge and Attorney has commented over the past four years that they give them hope for our future. It has been a pleasure to watch how my daughter has grown in an environment where the pep rallies are for the Mock Trial team, not the football team.

    • says

      Oh, don’t even get me started on the “famous for being famous”. That just makes me crazy. I’m determined to do my part to make this the decade of the introverts.

      But seriously, there’s a place for both in this world.

      Thanks for your insightful comment.

  2. says

    Jennifer, my fellow introverted friend and my trusted consultant,
    Of course your savvy take on things made me laugh out loud and warms my heart. Next time we should both get more sleep before these things! It’s like Christmas Eve and the night before a big test all rolled into one. I get it.

    • says

      So true about the Christmas Eve and night before a big test rolled into one. That captures it perfectly. I should get a massage the night before events like these. That’s a great idea for a service someone should be doing! Pre-speaking massage therapy, lol.

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