May You Live in Interesting Times (and Places)

Last week, the hubby and I stepped out on the town together, for “Boston’s 2nd Annual MegaTweetup,” hosted by Boston Tweetup’s Joselin Mane, at the Microsoft New England Research and Development (N.E.R.D.) Center, in Cambridge, MA.

A Year’s Worth of New England TweetUps and Social Media Networking Events

It was a great time, with plenty of opportunities to network, as well as an opportunity for the Boston community to celebrate what organizers noted as a “Year’s Worth of New England TweetUps and Social Media Networking Events.”

Lots of appetizers & beverages, live entertainment, and a generous raffle supporting the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, also contributed to the evening’s success.

So too, did a Social Media Listening Command Center, comprised of local college students and Kid Critic Lane Sutton , who tracked, monitored, and reported all the evening’s social media activity, with some help from Radian 6 and TweetReach. (At “Boston TweetUp,” stay tuned for case-studies, on the impact of the evening’s social media activities for event sponsors. You can also drop by Drew Bennet’s MegaTweetup Recap for additional links as well as his fun collection of event photos on Flickr.)

Microsoft N.E.R.D. Center’s 500th Event

Especially cool were the 500 cupcakes and festive cake on hand, in honor of  the Microsoft N.E.R.D. Center’s 5ooth event. With its accessible parking and close proximity to public transportation, the comfortable and spacious center is beginning to feel a bit like a home away from home for me.

Since June, I’ve attended the Raise the Flag Linchpin Meetup there, some Boston WordPress Meetups, and Podcamp Boston. Tue. of that week, I had visited the N.E.R.D. Center for an event on Web Personalization Strategies, sponsored by the Massachusetts Innovation and Technology Exchange (MITX).

Balancing Act: In-Person and Online Events

Of course, when I got home from the MegaTweetup, I received the full babysitting report, on what the kids had been up to, while Mom and Dad were out. (…when the cat’s away sort of thing…) As I’m sure other parents may especially understand, it’s not always possible for me to get to in-person networking events, juggling my three kids’ busy activities and other childcare issues. It’s still sure worth the time and effort to connect in person, when I can.

When I can’t, I’m always grateful for online professional development, training, and virtual networking opportunities, listed through services like Boston offers a host of virtual choices: MarketingProfs online seminars, Awareness Inc.’s webinars, and weekly installments of HubSpot TV, to name a few.

Recently, I’ve also started tuning in to the Pulse Network, for Chris Brogan’s Kitchen Table Talks, which are broadcasts on innovation for small business consultants, especially like myself, just getting started.

Through Twitter, I’m able to continue networking and extending relationships, with those I meet, at in-person or virtual events. It’s a win, win situation.

Boston: New Media Hub

To sum up, Boston offers so many great networking and professional development opportunities, available, often for free or at a modest cost, right here, in our own virtual and real backyards. We’re lucky to live not only during interesting times, but also in the location we do.

Analysts agree. For more on Boston as a center of new media innovation, see Josh Bernoff’s What’s at the intersection of marketing and technology? Boston or Brian Halligan’s Can Boston Become the Silicon Valley of Marketing?.

Networking skills a bit rusty?

Check out Joselin Mane and Justin Levy’s tips for networking events, at the MITX blog, or the Human Business Works newsletter, for Chris Brogan’s tips on personal development and business growth ideas.

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Justin Levy’s Facebook Marketing Book Launch

I’ve added another autographed book on social media to my growing collection. Last Thur. evening, I asked best-selling author Justin Levy, Director of Business Development, Marketing, and Client Relations of New Marketing Labs, to sign the second edition of Facebook Marketing: Designing Your Next Business Campaign, at a recent book launch, in Boston, Ma. Sponsored by the Massaachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange (MITX), the bash was held at Red Sky, on North Street, appropriately enough, in the shadow of Faneuil Hall Marketplace—one of the nation’s oldest marketplaces—a vital business and civic hub in Boston, for more than 250 years.

Facebook as Modern-Day Marketplace

The similarities between the needs Facebook serves today, as a virtual meeting-place, with those served so successfully, up through the present, by the historic Boston marketplace, resonated very strongly in my mind, that June evening. Fresh off my reading experience of The ClueTrain Manifesto, I couldn’t help but think that the many tweet-ups, meet-ups, and other occasions to connect across Boston and beyond, all speak to a collective, age-old longing for community. It’s just the medium that’s changed—one which enhances connection when physical barriers make meeting in person difficult, and one which ultimately leads us back to connecting directly, when there aren’t those limitations.

Markets Are Conversations

If markets are indeed conversations, as The ClueTrain Manifesto suggests, then Levy’s book launch was a great example of that principle, in motion. I especially enjoyed chatting about all things blogging and social media, with very enthusiastic staff from the New Media Labs team, including Benjamin Abrams and Erica Templeman. (Erica: As an on-again/off-again freelancer, I’ll enjoy checking out the Work-shifting site you manage, maintained by Citrix Online and New Marketing Labs.)

Building Communities

I have only just started reading and skimming Facebook Marketing, along with several other books I’m reading simultaneously, right now. So far, I’m finding it very helpful. I especially like the chapter, “Using Facebook to Develop Communities.” There, Levy captures the essence of the Facebook community.

At a basic level, Facebook represents one large community. Within that large community, a limitless number of subcommittees form. People form communities around their interests, hobbies, events, companies, products, services, celebrities, schools, or even favorite foods. We form and use these communities in the same way we would in the physical world. We engage with one another, form bonds, share interesting articles, upload photos and videos, and invite others with similar interests to join our communities (p. 143).

He goes on to offer these tips on how to build a community for your company, product, or service: uploading photos, uploading video, asking questions, providing exclusives, and more.

He also discusses building different types of communities, including internal communities, focus groups, and personal communities. Coming from mostly high tech environments, I’m especially intrigued by the use of Facebook as a way to get folks collaborating, within the enterprise, as well as a way to work on agile software development, directly with customers. Facebook Marketing’s chapter on Community, complements all these interests.