Building a network stronger than steel and more powerful than a locomotive

A few weeks ago, I agreed to participate in the PodCamp Nashville “Blog Tour,” and ever since, I’ve puzzled over what I could write about PodCamp. Not for lack of material, mind you: I have a somewhat deep and storied connection with the BarCamp and PodCamp unconferences in Nashville, and so, by extension, does [meta]marketer. But any decent writer knows that telling the most interesting part of the story is more important than telling all of the story.

So here’s the part I most want to tell you. The unconference scene in Nashville — meaning both BarCamp Nashville, which takes place in the fall, and PodCamp Nashville, which is coming up this April 14th — have sort of been my secret superpower. I don’t think it’s in any way a stretch to say that my involvement in attending, organizing, shaping, sponsoring, and speaking at both BarCamp Nashville and PodCamp Nashville over the years has been instrumental in providing me with the network and the confidence to launch and grow [meta]marketer.

The unconference idea was interesting to me from the get-go: I attended and live-blogged the first BarCamp Nashville at Exit/In in August 2007, when it was sweltering and miserable outside, and perhaps even more so inside.

Liveblogging

Here’s me live-blogging (which was how we all made short, snarky comments online before Twitter was popular) BarCamp Nashville 2007 for the now-defunct “Music City Bloggers” website, with my buddies Newcastle Brown Ale and Treo 680 on my right side and my other buddy Jim Reams on my left.

I remember feeling really strongly that day that this could be the start of a really important momentum in Nashville. (Of course I was also pretty hammered by 3 PM, so y’know, take that with a grain of salt.) And sure enough, some of the folks I met that day remain central to my network, and some of the people who continue to inspire me to get beyond talking about new things; to get off my ass and get stuff done.

So in March 2009 I got off my ass and launched [meta]marketer. And many of this company’s early associates, referrers, and clients were ‘Campers, both Bar and Pod.

The next tipping point occurred when, while I was serving as the marketing chair for BarCamp Nashville 2009, the crew agreed that the website needed some revamping. I ended up working closely with Josh Oakes and Brad Blackman on sketching out the user experience for the website. We spent considerable time and detail on diagramming how each area of the site should function:

flow-cases of BCN09 website

and what we came up with is still the underlying design for the BarCamp Nashville and PodCamp Nashville websites today:

wiremocks of BCN09 website

A few months later, I offered Josh a role with [meta]marketer, and he has since grown into our Director of Optimization. (We also continue to work with Brad on design projects as they arise, and refer work to him as often as we can.)

There’s really so much more to tell. But what I most want to convey is how integral a role the ‘Camps have played in stringing together this company’s history, and how possible it is that they’ll be a catalyst for you too. If you’ve been wanting to meet more people who are bright, forward thinkers, who aren’t constrained by traditional definitions of technology (after all, the term “geek” can apply to almost anyone in any field), and who may share your hope for a more connected future for Nashville, then, well, this is your place.

So be at Tequila Cowboy (formerly called Cadillac Ranch) on April 14, 2012, or you’ll miss out on one of the best secret superpowers around.

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3 Comments

  1. Posted April 4, 2012 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Kate,

    Great post. I couldn’t agree more. I large portion of my current business stems from my involvement in the Nashville camps.

    -John

  2. Posted April 4, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    Great story, Kate.

    Two things…..

    First, I had no idea you’ve only been in business since 2009. I thought it was longer than that! You had me fooled. :)

    Second, since when is Cadillac Ranch called Tequila Cowboy?!?

  3. Posted April 10, 2012 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    I love this Kate! It’s always so encouraging to hear of success stories from BarCamp and PodCamp.

    It’s a good reminder to anyone who seeks new clients, staff, sales leads, and most important, friends. These are community events by the community for the community.

    I’ll be toasting all of the organizers and volunteers at PodCamp this Saturday. I’m excited to see who steps to the plate next time too.