Before I forget the way to San Jose, here are some tips on my second Netroots Nation, first as a PowerThru team member.
1) If you are trying to win my support in a primary challenge, singing “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” works WAY better than Twitterspam. Like, a million times better. One of the highlights of Netroots Nation is that candidates actually treat it as a constituency to win votes. But if you are advising a candidate on social media, here is a chance to interact with people face to face who are usually behind their computer screen. Spamming them on Twitter, however, not a good idea. I started receiving reply tweets from a candidate that I don’t happen to support, who doesn’t follow me on Twitter, and who I had not engaged at all. Uncool, and a reminder of the need to be authentic on social media all the time. (They should have read our social media best practices guide.)
2) I am not the first to say this, but the most memorable parts of Netroots happen after business hours. Karaoke! Pub Quiz! and, though I left too early for it, something at a baseball stadium! What’s the applicability to online organizing? Be alert for those moments that aren’t so formal, they are what you remember. Connections with people may come in handy in the future when you least expect it. Also you probably shouldn’t give a group of teenagers bottles of $1 wine for coming in last, unless you have a really awesome legal team.
3) It’s a great chance to check in with your broader movement. It is hard to not spend most of your time during your regular life siloed in your own organization, but events like Netroots Nation 2013 give you the chance to meet folks in your partner organizations. I felt this at the environmental caucus, when we socialized with the force of a thousand cocktail parties. It’s a chance for people dealing with similar challenges to actually offer each other something, instead of just competing.
4) You can see how your movement interacts with other issues. I was already learning a lot from the fabulous MomsRising.org and thinking wow, we really need their focus on people’s everyday life in the environmental movement — when lo and behold they sponsored a climate forum, where they gave really great advice on how to do just that. And the panel I most regret missing (fortunately available below) was from people across many movements and their war on the War on Science–climate, guns, tobacco, sex education.
5) Sometimes you just need an old-fashioned training, even on a new-fangled topic. I have been a supporter of feminism my whole life, and I still had a lot to learn about avoiding “Mansplaining.” Let me tell you all about it.. Seriously, a training on a specific thing to avoid really has helped me change my behavior, which is the end goal of a lot of online organizing. And even when you already know something like the importance of visual, a great training like Resource Media’s about WHY visual is so important (the vast majority of our brain is to process visuals, text is a relatively new phenomenon in human history) can make a big difference.