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10 Things I Learned at #10NTC

May 1, 2010

I recently attended and presented at the NTEN Nonprofit Technology Conference in Atlanta, GA from April 7 – 10. Here is a comprehensive recap of all the things produced from the conference.

Wow, I’ve been traveling so much and working so hard that I haven’t had a moment to sit down and write this until now. Wish I would have started it sooner!

These are the 10 things I learned at #10NTC:

10. Ask Unanswerable Questions – I asked a question at the conference that couldn’t be answered. The first session I attended was “Trouble with Slactivism” which examined the trend of low-involvement activism. The panel talked about the dangers of nonprofits setting up ways for people to get involved by simply clicking a button online or buying a pink toaster to support breast cancer. I disagreed with most of what was said in this session – I’ll blog about that later. The interesting part was when I asked a question at the end couldn’t be answered by even the most progressive nonprofit thinkers. I asked “Isn’t slactivism a product of overwhelming competition and choice among causes. Doesn’t this offer a opportunity to collaborate and merge nonprofits to make involvement more meaningful?”  Some of the panelists didn’t even want to touch the question.

9. Roomies Rock! – Rooming with Laura Whitehead was my best decision of the conference. We had such a great time together. We ran around in pajamas, always had a friend to hang out with and we giggled well into the night. I’d recommend taking a chance on rooming with a stranger at at conference – it is well worth the risk! We got away on the last day to so some sightseeing at the Georgia Aquarium and took some fabulous photos – Dawn’s & Laura’s.

8. Never Get in a Cab When You Don’t Know Where You Are Going – There is nothing more terrifying than being in the back of a cab doing illegal u-turns trying to find a bar in the suburbs of Atlanta. Glad I was in the back of the cab with Janet Fouts and that Blackberries can map faster than iPhones.

7. I ❤ Public Speaking – This was my first national speaking gig and, wow, was it FUN! I presented on three different subjects. By far my favorite was my Ignite presentation that shared useful tips on dealing with social media meanies through the allegory of Star Wars. It was so invigorating to have everyone’s attention for 5 solid minutes speaking from memory (thanks to my hubs Brian for pushing me to be a great speaker). The best part of speaking at conferences is having people come up to your later and talk about their experiences. It’s great to hear feedback and talk about their challenges and successes.

6. Community Organization is a Gift – I attended a session “Building Online Communities Without Losing Your Sanity” by some personal heroes including Manny Hernandez. I learned a new title for my passion – online community organizer. Seeing these speakers talk about what they do for their online communities was like looking into a mirror. They had all the same priorities of compassion and inclusion online. They have rules, stick to them and enforce them. These are great people to listen to!

5. Webinars Can Be Good – I’ve struggled giving and attending webinars and now, thanks to a session “How to Design and Present Online Training People Will Love” by Kivi and Beth, those days are over! My biggest take-aways from this session were two-fold:

  1. People don’t pay full attention on webinars
  2. Present like it’s a radio talk show

Both great tips for listeners and presenters!

4. IRL is Worth Every Penny – Going to conferences are a great way to refresh and center your professional view. I paid for this trip with my own funds because I knew it was important for my professional development. It was worth every penny. Granted, living like a rock star for a week, staying up late and getting up early is rough – makes me wish I was just a few years younger! I met new friends from all over the country, discovered a depth of things about myself and wouldn’t have traded this experience for anything.  Better yet, thanks to social media, all my new favorite friends are only a Twitter List away!

3. Find Real-Life Heroes – I had a goal of meeting some of my real-life heroes at this conference. I made a mental list of the folks that were important to connect with. This is a very short list and is the tip of the iceberg of the wonderful people I met:

  • I got to meet Beth Kanter and see her present. I’ve been following Beth for years – reading her blog back when her profile pic was just her in a t-shirt. It was great to meet someone who I’ve idolized for so long. Her approach to nonprofit technology is revolutionary, smart and worth reading.
  • Meeting Kivi Leroux Miller was like reuniting with an long-time mentor. We’ve been Facebook friends for a while and she’s been hugely helpful in my dream of moving to North Carolina. We got to get to know each other at #10NTC and she was so encouraging and sweet after my Ignite presentation. Uggh, I love her and can’t wait to see her more often in NC!
  • I also met some new friends from North Carolina – Melina Pearce, Nancy Shoemaker and Heather Valli each of them are making amazing things happen in the nonprofit field in NC. Can’t wait to be state-mates with these ladies.
  • My new friends and partners in crime for the trip were @colinbolye, @peterscampbell, @franswaa, @tjcook, @johnmerritt, @steveheye, @erin_mchanon, @ch1xOr and @chemaha.

2. My Cross-Roads is Tech and Communications – This conference has reinstated my confident that my career path is the right one. I love talking to techies about the possibilities of good technology and smart communications. I enjoy pushing the conservative minds of IT staff to embrace the conversation and art of communicating via social media. This is my sweet spot.

1. This is My Community – I’ve found my people. The people at this conference are passionate, smart and ready to change the world. If you ever meet someone who’s been to this conference be confident in knowing they are a good egg! In this community you can be yourself, dance when you want to, laugh at geeky jokes and have a ton of fun. I can’t wait to reunite with all my tribe at #11NTC in Washington, DC.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 3, 2010 10:15 am

    Personally I think it was operator error on the iPhone vs Blackberry battle… Such fun to meet you, and you’re 100% right, meeting IRL is the best part of these conferences. NTC is an inspirational place to meet so many amazing and passionate people. It gives a girl hope for the future.

  2. May 11, 2010 2:27 pm

    Was awesome to meet you, Dawn. May I get your autograph next year? 😛


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