On Saturday, I attended BarCamp Nashville, a free conference that brought together the best of Nashville’s digital and entrepreneurial communities. This was my first BarCamp, so I dove in headfirst and volunteered at the registration desk and even got roped into moderating a marketing panel at the last minute. Thanks to John Ellis (pictured volunteering with me at registration), Joey Strawn and Nicholas Holland for allowing me to join the panel!
The day was jam-packed with peer-led sessions on a wide range of topics including social media, technology, marketing and entrepreneurship. I attended a number of sessions and learned a great deal from all of the wonderful presenters. Here are my notes from three of my favorite sessions:
During his session, Eric offered a useful and simple list to help people amp up their blog:
- Write good stuff. (He used another “s” word, but you get the point.)
- Link your keywords. Don’t link the word “here.”
- Write for clever 12-year-olds to make it easy to understand.
- Give people what they want — make order out of chaos.
- Keep it short, really short. The best posts are an average of 350 — 450 words.
- Use photos and videos. Use sites such as Flickr, Picasa and YouTube to hosts your photos and videos instead of your blog.
- Use social sharing sites, such as StumbleUpon, Digg and Del.ici.cious, to promote your blog.
- Ask for Retweets on Twitter. Send a direct message to key influencers and ask them to share it.
- Leave comments. It provides good link juice for your blog and helps you reach new people. Make sure your comments are intelligent — say more than just “good read.”
- Use microsites.
- Automate. Use tools to schedule your posts at a time when people are most likely to read them (i.e. 8 a.m.).
Facebook is for people you used to know, Twitter is for people you want to know and LinkedIn is for people you want to know more about. Joel emphasized LinkedIn as a powerful tool for prospecting, developing strategic partnerships, thought leadership and job searching.
Joel also called attention to the three biggest mistakes people make on LinkedIn:
- Using seasonal, vacation or outdated photos. Instead, use a professional headshot.
- Syncing their Twitter account with LinkedIn. People don’t want to see all of your tweets in LinkedIn, so turn off the sync.
- Using the default message when connecting. Instead, change the message so people want to connect with you (i.e. It was great meeting you at BarCamp Saturday. I would love to keep in touch!)
Joel also recommended taking advantage of all of the apps that you can use in LinkedIn. Behance is an application that allows creatives to host their portfolio on LinkedIn.
This panel was perhaps my favorite session of the day. I think it could have easily lasted two hours instead of the 30 minutes allotted. It was clear there was a lot of enthusiasm for this topic.
The panel spent the entire session fielding questions from the audience. Some key takeaways included:
- Some of this had projects lined up before they quit their job, while others walked away without a plan or were forced out of their job.
- They all agreed they would turn down six-figure jobs in favor of running their own business.
- To financially prepare for the jump to business ownership, the panel members recommended developing a reserve fund, getting out of debt and avoiding business loans. They also encouraged would-be entrepreneurs to start moonlighting before taking the leap.
- The group recommended a variety of tools they use in their businesses, such as Basecamp, Manymoon, Google Docs, Freshbooks, Teamwork Project Manager and Blinksale.
Although I picked up some great tips at BarCamp, certainly, the best aspect of the event was the opportunity to connect with fellow Nashville marketers and entrepreneurs. The event gave me the chance to finally meet people I’ve talked to online and also meet some wonderful new faces.
I strongly encourage you to take advantage of similar events in your area. It’s a fantastic way to get to know your community and take away some fantastic tips that can be applied to your business.
If you attended BarCamp Nashville, which was your favorite session? What do you hope to see next year?
For those outside of Nashville, have you attended similar events in your area?