5 things Beth Kanter has taught me…..

Beth Speaking from elstudio on Flickr (click on the picture to go to the original)
Beth Speaking from elstudio on Flickr (click on the picture to go to the original)

Beth Kanter is the social media expert for non profit organisations. Last year I made this promise to pay more attention to her prolific blog output.

Today is her 53rd birthday, and in keeping with a small tradition built up over the last 3 years, she is again using her birthday as an excuse to show how social media and trusted networks can combine to help charities. She is raising funds for her favourite charity, the Sharing Foundation.

I first met Beth almost exactly 3 years ago when she visited Birmingham from her home in Boston, New England. She was  working with David Wilcox to deliver a presentation at a conference for people who provide IT support for charities and the like.  It was a time when social media had not become the generic term it is now. I was mostly thought of as a podcaster, one of the one’s who’s job it was to help with telling the story. So naturally enough I interviewed her for the Grassroots Channel podcast.

Here are 5 things things that I know a number of people have helped me understand, but I can confidently say that Beth Kanter repeatedly showed me these ways:

  1. Lead by example. Beth experiments all the time.  Just (F) Do It is ingrained in her personality.  The more I’ve done the same the more confidence it’s given me to keep on going.
  2. Don’t hog your content. Share it and move on. You should always build your expertise on the next new thing you’re going to learn, rather than worry about others getting good at one you already know. The faster you share the faster you learn that new thing.
  3. Respond. Beth has 305,000 followers on Twitter. She still gets back to you!  How does she manage it?  Discipline.
  4. Blogging isn’t a vain thing to do. It can be but, the way Beth does it, it isn’t.  She writes a great deal about the people she meets, she is very generous in describing what she is learning from them. She also puts huge amounts of effort in doing thinking for us and sharing it when it’s incomplete.  These are things Beth (and others) taught me about content.
  5. It’s about bringing people together. As David Wilcox said it 3 years ago:    “The other delight at the event was a chance to meet up with fellow UK enthusiasts for social media including Steve Bridger, Miles Maier, Paul Henderson and Nick Booth. We can’t rival Beth’s US fellow social media bloggers yet, but I think a little blog community is emerging here around social media and social network where the focus is nonprofits and civil society. Drop a comment in here if you are interested in linking up – we hope to have a get together fairly soon. Beth suggested we start tagging social media posts with nptechuk … the standard US tag is nptech.”

There is so much more I learn from Beth but these are the basics. That’s why at least once a year I donate something to the Sharing Foundation.  Not because I’m especially connected to the work of the foundation, simply because I’m am especially connected to Beth.

Thanks to Amy and Stacey for encouraging me to write this post.


  1. Hi Nick-
    I am also part of the “blogging birthday” for Beth group. (I wrote a similar post, but focused on the beauty of her blog.) I read your post and just couldn’t agree with you more. You so eloquently put my thoughts into words. I loved your point #5, that she creates community, but also would add that communities form around her. For example, that’s how I got to you 🙂


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