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« Participating In the Market | Main | Women & Leadership Cont. »

October 18, 2008

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Beth Dunn

It does feel that way, doesn't it, like we have reached a tipping point here in Boston. I'm now in the city full-time, too, and it seems I run into somebody from the social media world at every turn -- or like I just missed them around the next corner.

I agree about the importance of attracting and retaining students -- I'm in the MBA program now at Simmons, and I talk to undergrads (and future MBAs) all the time about their future plans and preferred destinations.

There's a lot of fear in schools right now, about what sort of world and job market people are going to be emerging into when they graduate. Innovative, social media-driven start-ups in the area have a real opportunity to go in to these schools right now and get these kids thinking about alternatives to landing the Big Job With the Big Corporation -- since those jobs are pretty few these days, and getting scarcer.

If you are a local SM-focused business in the Boston area, now is the time to get in touch with Career Services at local colleges and universities, start planting the seeds and getting rising graduates excited about opportunities right here, doing interesting work, with some of the coolest people around (if I do say so).

The biggest selling point? That very thriving social media community you are talking about above. How can we draw in more new people, get them involved, encourage them to raise the stakes for all of us?


Phil Fersht

Rachel,

Very insightful piece - and you seem to be onto something here. The amount of "twitter-meets" I keep hearing about in Cambridge and the number of thought-provokers emanating from the techies, acadmic Bostonians, analysts etc seem to be polarizing the city as the new social media hub. Definitely seems more active that Silicon Valley in this area. Might also be something about the strange DNA of Bostonians who aren't the most social people, but stick them on a virtual network and all hell breaks loose -:)

Phil

Rachel Happe

Doh - Beth, Phil - I missed you guys in my post - see more people popping up all over!

Beth - absolutely agree - for those looking for fulfillment and impact, there is nothing better than a smallish company focused on a mission that is about something bigger than just making a buck. And there is nothing more exciting then that.

And Phil...I think you've hit on something...Bostonians are just a little more introverted but want to be social so online social media allows us to get to know each other before we have to actually talk to each other :) We finally found a tool to help us network!

Thanks for stopping by guys - here's to Boston!

Joe Cascio

Hi Rachel,
Having never worked in Silicon Valley, I've never experienced the tech culture there, but I'm guessing another factor in the relatively low activity in Boston is simply the difference between New England and California vis-a-vis strangers. New Englanders simply take longer to get to know people. Maybe it's because we experience society from a different vantage point; a longer view, you might say. We're typically surrounded by old friends and family that live within a few miles. We've no need to reach out constantly to strangers. We're in no hurry. We've been here a long time, and we're going to be here a long time, too. But friendships here, perhaps, are deeper and closer, and longer lasting.
When I lived in the Los Angeles area, the joke was if you struck up a conversation with someone in the checkout line at the supermarket, by the time you reached the register, you'd know all about their divorce and child custody battle. Not so in New England, typically.
But social media is helping to change that insularity. Through vlogging, blogging and Twitter, I know so many more great people now than I did 2 years ago. Maybe we're actually experiencing the best of both. We get to meet more people now, and we still get to know them better.

Laura

I'm glad you wrote this Rachel, it's true we need to keep momentum going on this. I've also been excited to see groups like MassTLC and RI's Business Innovation Factory reaching out to the social media community. I hope we can continue to connect the people who built this region's amazing technology history with those working on today's opportunities and innovation.

To anyone reading the post and not quite sure how to jump in, don't hesitate. You can be totally new on the scene and just dive in and start a lot of us named in this post are pretty new around here ourselves. Don't be shy!

Josh Fialkoff

Great post!
One great aspect of the Boston online community is the Web Innovators Group (http://www.webinnovatorsgroup.com/).
While it's not solely social-media related, it does provide a wonderful forum for social-networking "types" ;-) to meet.
Thanks,
Josh

Rachel Happe

Hi Joe, Laura, Josh - thanks for stopping by and yes, we should make sure we keep this all going. I forgot to mention events run by Mass TLC, Business Innovation Factory, the Berkman Center, Web Innovator's Group, MIT's Enterprise Institute, and Social Media Breakfast - all important in keeping us connected, active, and growing.

And I'll second Laura's comment - it is a very friendly bunch so don't be shy!

Doug Haslam

Hi Rachel-- thanks for the shoutout here! ("Leader?").

Boston is definitely a very parochial city, as mentioned above- old connections endure and rule, but that is a little less so in the social media groups here.

also, Boston is not built solely on tech (not that SV is "exclusive" but you catch my drift). I think that makes the vibrancy of the social media community all the more impressive.

Great, thoughtful post more thoughtful than my Tweet last week taunting n SF/SV as less of a social media town than Boston (I was not so explicit actually, but I did mean that ;P)

Last point-- I now work for SHIFT Communications, a PR agency that is also very active in the events
locally and beyond. I would have my pom-poms confiscated if I did not whine about our omission.

Christine Perkett

Rachel,

Thanks for including us in your post. PerkettPR has been very active in getting the Hub to be excited about its own successes, get together to celebrate them and to continually recognize all the fantastic innovation that happens in one of the greatest cities around.

Last year when we worked with TechCrunch to bring the MeetUps to Boston, we had a similar conversation with Mike Arrington, which you can see here: http://perkettprsuasion.com/2007/11/20/thanks-boston-techcrunch-meetup-success/

He talks about how Boston should self-organize more. As a community, we've improved over the last year but you are right - we need to continue to do more. The PerkettPR team looks forward to continuing to work with the Boston business community to market and promote our collective successes, rich history and innovative future. Thanks for the additional incentive!

Christine Perkett

PS - to Phil's point and your follow up, Boston is introverted and conservative in nature. We need to cut loose a bit more and show our confidence. I noticed this even last week at the New Marketing Summit. I spoke on a PR 2.0 panel and it was one of the only panels where we asked the questions "live" instead of on Twitter... and we received the least amount of questions. Many folks believed this was because no one wanted to raise their hands and speak out loud!

Come on, Boston, speak up!

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