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December 22, 2007

The Year Social Media Changed My Life

Over the past few days I've been doing a personal retrospective on the year that was 2007. And it has been a really wild one. For some reason, I hesitate a little to toot my own horn, but I really think this year has been remarkable, and I think it stands as a testament to the power of social media and personal branding to transform a career. Being in the right place at the right time doing the right thing pays off. It's serendipity: I don't share this to pat myself on the back. Honestly, if I knew the details of anyone's year that was like mine, I'd share them. I can't draw a straight line from this blog to any of my accomplishments this year. But I can draw a squiggly line. There is no doubt in my mind that the time I have spent blogging and doing other social media stuff over the past three years has contributed either directly, or indirectly, to my story.

I mostly have my family to thank. I think my wife really empathizes with this video. She has become a little more understanding of the time I spend pecking at the keyboard when the successes started snowballing this year.

This will come as a surprise to him, but I am indebted to Wes Trochlil at Effective Database Management. So many of my contacts and successes have come through my participation in the Membership Section Council, and Wes was instrumental in getting me appointed to that council back in 2004.

After three years of blogging, it really paid off for my bottom line this year. Between the new job and some sideline projects, I've had a very good financial year. But it's not all about money. I have raised my profile in the association profession dramatically, and even hold down the number one Google result for Ben Martin. I've gotten into good physical condition by exercising regularly, and I celebrated my 10th wedding anniversary. Here's a month-by-month recap of my year.

January: Attended Great Ideas Conference at the Marco Island (Fla.) Marriott, which was evacuated due to an electrical fire. I live blogged the fire story from my BlackBerry using Blogger's post by email feature. I start a workout routine.

February: I was quoted in USAE Magazine because of my experience at the Marco Island Marriott.

March: Started using Twitter, became an instant evangelist.

April: ASAE & The Center published a paper I wrote for the Journal of Association Leadership. The Virginia Society of Association Executives hosted me and two others on a panel for their monthly meeting. Learned that a member's step son was among the victims in the Virginia Tech massacre. Appointed vice-chair of ASAE & The Center's Membership Section Council. My workout routine begins to both pay off (lost 15 lbs) and cost me dearly (buy a bunch of new clothes and make alterations to all my suits and slacks).

May: Started using facebook, became an instant evangelist. Discovered four new association blogs this month. Struck a freelance consulting agreement with Jeff De Cagna's firm, Principled Innovation, to become Architect of Participation.

June: Presented at ASAE & The Center's Marketing & Membership Conference. Rode an elevator with snowboarding phenom Matt White and met Andy Steggles. I set up the ASAE2007 mobile backchannel and gave blog readers nine good reasons to think twice about setting up Wikipedia pages for their associations.

July: I tender my resignation to VSCPA, post my 700th entry to the Certified Association Executive blog and get hired by McKinley Marketing on a freelance basis to publish a monthly blog roundup column for their monthly newsletter.

August: Virginia Association of REALTORS welcomes me to their staff as Director of Communications & New Media. I attend ASAE & The Center's annual meeting where the 3rd annual Association BloggerCon gathers nearly 30 attendees, the mobile backchannel gets association execs tuned into mobile social technology, and I present in three learning labs (one of which was among the highest rated programs of the entire convention). I meet Jackie Huba, author of Citizen Marketers. I start using a Mac as my travel laptop. After nearly three years with a BlackBerry, I switch over to a Motorola Q.

September: The Certified Association Executive blog pulls in its 200th RSS subscriber. I post the first review of ASAE & The Center's newest research project, The Decision to Join. I continue my workout routine and get my weight down to 150 lbs. My wikipedia post gets reprinted in Associations Now magazine.

October: Virginia Association of REALTORS Convention & Expo is the venue for three social media initiatives: Virginia Real Estate BloggerCon, Social Media Lab, and a convention blog. Co-present a Web 2.0 seminar for ASAE & The Center with Andy Steggles. Renew my CAE for the first time.

November: The Virginia Real Estate BloggerCon creates a butterfly effect, with the National Association of REALTORS hosting a BloggerCon of their own in Las Vegas at their annual convention, due mostly to the efforts of Daniel Rothamel, a Virginia REALTOR. I am the opening keynote speaker for the Kansas City Society of Association Executives' Innovation Symposium and pull down the top rating of all the speakers. I reach 200 LinkedIn contacts and 100 facebook contacts. I post my 800th entry to the Certified Association Executive blog. Quoted in Associations Now magazine's Social Media supplement.

December: ASAE & The Center select me as one of five association executives to watch under age 35, and put me on the cover of Associations Now magazine. Celebrate my 10th wedding anniversary with a trip to Cancun. Continue my workout program and get my weight down to 140 lbs. I am published in a handbook for membership professionals released by ASAE & The Center. Caulk my bath tub.

So, what's next for me? Well, I'll be in lots more ASAE & The Center stuff. Specifically, watch for part two of my Journal of Association Leadership paper on the eight super trends in Mapping the Future of Your Association early next year, an article featuring two of my members and me discussing my approach to blogger relations at VAR in January's Associations Now, a session at 2008's Marketing & Membership Conference, and some yet-to-be-determined stuff at ASAE & The Center's Annual Meeting. In addition, I'll be speaking and doing some things at Fusion Productions' Digital Now conference and presenting a seminar for the Virginia Society of Association Executives in June. And, I take over as chair of the Membership Section Council in August, so duck and cover.

Tagged: ; ; ;


Wes Trochlil said...

Ben, I had no idea I was responsible for unleashing you upon the masses. But if this is the worst thing I've done, I've done well.

Kudos to everything you've accomplished. Great summary. Had to laugh that you felt compelled to mention you moved to a Mac and ditched your Blackberry.


Jackie Huba said...

Congrats on a great year!

Maddie Grant said...

Ben, you rock. You are, as I never tire of telling you, a personal inspiration to me, and I am sure to lots of others!

Ben Martin, CAE said...

Thanks, everyone. @Wes, actually, I could write an entire post about the learning pains experienced in going from PC to Mac and BlackBerry to Q. I wouldn't trade the experiences now, but they were painful at the time. @Maddie. WOW! I appreciate you, too.

Jovan said...

Fearless Leader,

Congrats on an incredible year. You might not know it, but you were major selling point when I was shopping for employers. Glad I'm on your team. Enjoy your time off, you've earned it.

NRVLiving said...

All well deserved, Ben. Let's see - switched to a Mac, ditched the Blueberry (should've gone to an iPhone but there's time yet for that conversion), and caulked the tub. Oh, and something in there about a magazine cover or something.

Truly a full year. Awesome.

Matt Baehr said...

Ben - I am proud to call you a friend and also proud to have a seat watching the BMart show this year. I appreciate all you have done to help me out in my brief time in associationland. All the best for 08.

Ben Martin, CAE said...

@Jovan Stick with me, man, we will do great things. I can't express how excited I am to be working with you.

@Jeremy Thank you sir! Looking forward to meeting you IRL - February at the latest, I hope.

@Matt Likewise, my friend. You have an exciting year ahead!