It happens sometimes when you don't expect it. You're in a new place, a new situation and then, you find them. Your people. Those who get you, understand what you do. It can happen in any context or situation - personal or professional.
I've been a member of the SoloPR Pro community, a professional resource established by Kellye Crane, for a couple of years. I think I discovered SoloPrPro.com via a tweet. One click and I discovered a wealth of information for the independent communications consultant. Membership, as they say, has its privileges, and mine has been getting to know such a smart, clever, caring group of people through the members only Facebook group - a safe haven for fellow communicators to ask the stupid question, vent, or just bounce around ideas and best practices.
Last week's 2014 Solo PR Summit in Atlanta, Georgia was made that much richer because I went into the experience already familiar with many of the attendees. Not only did I depart ATL with a re-energized brain and spirit, I also made new friends and colleagues.
Here are just a few takeaways:
Thanks to Chris Craft for encouraging me to be courageous in my work, professional networking, and life in general.
Diane Rose's presentation, "Solo Success with Subcontracting (and Free Yourself from Biz Dev Hell)," conveyed that there's a big world of opportunity out there and also shared terrific tips on making the most of a subcontracting experience - including avoiding potential pitfalls.
Shelly Kramer kicked butt and kicked our butts (in the best way possible) during her session on Content Marketing. It was great to be called out on our "cobbler's shoes" mentality - I always go with "the mechanic's car" - and come away with a renewed sense of purpose about my own business blogging. Also? "Being 'awesome' isn't enough. Be useful instead." Preach.
Continuing the spirit of accountability, Kami Huyse and Fran Stephenson shared how they helped each other brainstorm and develop strategies for their own businesses through "virtual lunch hours." I am also grateful to them for the in-session exercise asking "What Do I Need to Leave Behind to Grow My Business?"
Shonali Burke's presentation on Real World PR Measurement for the Solo PR Pro was hugely helpful. As a solo practitioner, providing solid measurement can feel overwhelming. Shonali broke it down brilliantly and reaffirmed that yes, we can provide solid guidance to our clients using a good CRM system + Excel + Our Brains!
Daria Steigman spoke on the value of strategic partnerships, pointing that there is an important difference between being "fair" and "equitable."
Arik Hanson inspired me to be more diligent about checking my feed.ly and the like first thing in the morning, which will help to get rid of that whole "mechanic's car" situation.
Kellye Crane and Jenny Schmitt led us through helpful role playing on having those awkward and difficult conversations with colleagues and clients.
Mary Deming Barber's presentation on why "Why?" is the most important question we should ask solidified the PR pro's role as counselor to a client.
Jason Falls closed the Summit with a perfect wrap-up leading us to consider What We Are as communications consultants and PR practitioners and What We Aren't. It's a basic premise that all too easily gets lost in the day to day and yet, has Jason shared, "we owe it to ourselves and our clients to define who we are."
Ok, I said just a few takeways - there were many more from all of the other presentations - each one terrific (and I'm not just saying that). The sessions themselves were enriched by great participation from the attendees, speakers included! It was surprising - and very cool - to notice that the speakers attended the sessions and participated. It was a true time of learning from each other, which is a gift.
Many thanks to Kellye Crane and Karen Swim for working so very hard to make this Summit a success!
If you'd like to get in on some of the smarts shared at the 2014 Solo PR Pro Summit, click here for an Eventifier summary!