Not a bad day, today, all told. I’m on the train, sipping on 1st class tea and enjoying an extra comfy seat. I’m not sure if it really is that luxurious, but the upgrade is providing all sorts of placebo effects that are making up for a slight fog of morning-after-ness…

The reason for this uncharacteristic upgrade splurging? Well, primarily an attempt to extend the feel-good factor I’m currently in the midst of thanks to UKPOD14, otherwise known as the first UK Podcaster’s conference. Yesterday was one of the most interesting, fun days I’ve had at work in a long time. To be honest, it was only a tiny little bit of work and mostly a whole lot of pleasure.

The concept of UKPOD14 arose quite a few months back when Mike and Izabela from Music Radio Creative started considering the first UK Podcaster’s conference this decade. Having worked in Podcasting since the mid 00s but never having managed to develop a decent network in the niche in nearly all of that time, I was pretty excited at the prospect of meeting a load of people with a similar passion.

To make things even better, I was pretty honoured to be asked to speak after I put in a wee proposal to them early in the planning stages. Nerves started straight away at the thought. I’ve spoken at quite a few conferences in higher education, but this was my first on Podcasting, and certainly the first at which I was the only person on at the time. Most higher ed events have a few parallel streams, which always seems to take the pressure off a little – at least they’ve chosen your topic out of a few options…

To cut a long story short, the event has now come and gone, and, to me, it was about as successful as any event has the right to be.

The content was great – thanks to Joseph Bushnell for brilliant marketing tips, Jon Buscall for strategy gold, John Colley for a launch plan to kill it in any niche, Mike Russell for pro production tips and Jason Van Orden for some of the best and most inspiring storytelling I’ve seen in a long time. Oh and not to forget some excellent MCing from the excellent Peter Billingham.

But, the feel-good factor I’m riding now isn’t really due to the content, it’s all about the people I met. I’ve rarely met such an open, honest, enthusiastic and friendly bunch of folk in my life. Mike and Izabela did a great job in enabling the networing and chats by including plenty of breaks and choosing a great venue, but it was the people there that made it happen. I didn’t spot one person hanging around by themselves in the corner (good job since Izabela promised to ‘punish’ any such behaviour) and I rarely walked more than 10 steps without someone introducing themselves.

On top of that, with just about everyone I spoke to, there always seemed to be something we could do to help each other out. There seemed to be such a thirst for contacts and collaboration in this area, and not surprisingly given the enthusiasm for podcasting in the UK, but without really any long term in person groups surrounding it. It felt like people had been looking for this opportunity for quite some time. Or perhaps that’s just the general attitude of Podcasters in general – for example ‘competition’ isn’t really a word in our vocabularly given the usefullness of swapping interviews with others in your niche, and the huge growth potential there still is in audience numbers.

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In an attempt to make this post even slightly useful, and not just a stream of enthusing about the great time I had yesterday, I’ll make that my advice to any podcasters out there that didn’t attend UKPOD14. Get to an event with like-minded people as soon as you possibly can.

Networking is a horrible word, but the concept is amazing. Call it making friends instead, I feel like I did yesterday by 11pm after probably a few too many beers.

Meet people in Podcasting and talk about the practise. Share your enthusiasm – it’ll multiply with those you talk to and fire everyone up to acheive so much more the following week.

Help people out, do things for the community, and it’ll come back to you in spades.

Oh, and offer to speak – you never know when they’ll say yes, and you might be as surprised as I was by the hugely enthusastic reponse. That was certainly one of the most rewarding talks I’ve done in a long time, and I’m still humbled and honoured by the feedback I got.

Anyway, enough of my train rambling – time for another tea. If you were at UKPOD14, it was great to meet you. And if you weren’t, you missed out. I’ll see you at the next one.