Hands On Network’s LEAD Summit

UPDATE: Ok, I thought that maybe I ought to figure out this YouTube thing.

Today, I’m not in the office.  Instead, I’m down in The District at the Newseum attending the Hands On Network‘s LEAD Summit.  It’s an opportunity to hear how different organizations are using different social media tools, and other strategies, to change what service looks like.

I’m always excited to meet fellow soldiers in the Army of Dogooders, and I was especially excited to find a code on the AmeriCorps mailing list that would reduce the cost of registration from $125 to free.  So, off to The District I go to hear Allison Fine and James Brown speak.  I’m hoping that the morning session I’d signed up for, “How to Use Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to Mobilize People to Take Action” emphasizes “Mobilize” and doesn’t focus on engagement and conversation.  I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on how Twitter works, and while I don’ find Facebook too useful personally, I understand how organizations can use it – and use it well.  As for YouTube, I understand how it works, and I’ve used it to find videos of narcoleptic dogs and songs about elements, but I’ve never uploaded anything because I don’t have anything to record video with.  I hope it’s not an hour and a half session on how to sign up for accounts.

The afternoon session that I’m attending is “The Business of Self-Directed Volunteer Leadership,” which looks like it’s going to talk about how volunteers can help to build the programs that they’re a part of.  It seems to me that having a strong and supportive volunteer program will make your volunteers want to get their friends to come and volunteer too, because they’ve had a really awesome experience.  I’m interested to find out what I’m missing from my “be awesome” hypothesis.

There are two events after the Summit, too.  The Inspire… Serve… Solve reception celebrating National Volunteer Week and the Serve America Act, and a Tweetup after the reception.  At the first conference I went to in undergrad, I learned that a lot more happens at conferences than just information sharing.  Important networks get built not only during the conference, but at the closest bar after the conference, too.  I was offered a spot in a graduate program that I really wanted to get into – two years before I graduated.  I thought the offer was a joke, so I turned it down.  I later learned that more work gets done at the bar than gets done at the actual conference.  My bad.

I’m hoping to make some good contacts at the reception, and at the Tweetup after.  For those of you who don’t know, a Tweetup (or, as I affectionately call them, “nerd meetings.”  Hey, I’m going, I can call it that.)  Networking at Tweetups works a little differently than it does at a traditional event.  A lot of the time, people at a Tweetup have some level of interaction with one another already – they’ve already “met” and shared information.  They’re just doing it face-to-face now.  One of the best things about the tweetups I’ve been to is that people genuinely want to help out.  It’s a lot different than the business-based networking events I’ve been to where people seem like all they want to do is seill their business to you.

I’m excited to be attending the LEAD Summit and the after-events.  I hope to get some new ideas that I can bring back to Volunteer Maryland and our AmeriCorps members.  If you want to follow the back channel from the LEAD Summit, just look for the #volwk hashtag.  You can also find out about events going on across the country for National Volunteer Week by looking for the hashtag.

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