Hey, I'm Alexandra White.
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December 20, 2014 Social MediaSpeakingWork

Fusion RiseUp: NASA Builds Community and You Can Too

Back in November, Jeanne Brooks (fellow member of Tech LadyMafia) reached out to me to ask for me to speak at an upcoming hackathon for Fusion RiseUp. Though I’ve spoken at events before, for the most part it had been through JCC Association and JCC events. I had never been asked to speak as me, as a professional.

To be honest, I was surprised. I couldn’t help but wonder, in the pool of amazing women that we belong to, why would she ask me? Of course, that may have had something to do with a bit of my own confidence issues in the moment, but what came back was a list of reasons as to why I was indeed more than qualified.

As nervous as I was, I said yes. This was not an opportunity that I could miss. And boy, am I glad I did.

Instead of speaking about development or hacking in a traditional sense, I spoke about building community. Back in November 2012, I attended NASA Social Final Journey of Atlantis. As you may (or may not) know, even getting to Orlando was an adventure (thanks Hurricane Sandy). Community building carried on long after the event ended, and there is now a group of individuals that are a part of my extended network with a shared love for all things space.

We had a wonderful and engaging discussion about why community building is important, and how it can extend beyond the people at micro-events (that may be exclusive or cost-prohibitive) and into the greater world through social media.

The slides below are minimal and supplementary to the conversation. Peruse at your pleasure (and open the speaker notes for a better sense of what I spoke about).

The Big Takeaways

I wanted everyone to leave the talk knowing four things:

  • Know your audience, what they want and what they will share, to build an effective content/communication strategy.
  • Community building does not take place just in the physical space, though it may start that way.
  • Maximize sharing opportunities, where the community is empowered to deliver your message to their own networks.
  • Every company has an even playing field as far as available social media tools, but it takes a dedicated person or dedicated people to do so effectively

My personal take away was you can never be over prepared. I came with slides, with a lot of speaker notes, and most importantly with complete enthusiasm for the topic. Speaking to this group gave me a chance, years after the event, to reflect on what I learned and how it changed me. Though I no longer am a community manager professionally, I am still a writer and still believe it’s an important part of my personal brand.

Plus, I got to meet people who otherwise may never have been a part of my life. And for that, I am incredibly greatful.

Hopefully, my next speaking gig will be just as personally fulfilling as well as beneficial to the audience.