Brad Ruggles

The Art Of Living

2010 Atlanta Bloggers Meetup

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It’s that time of year again…time for the our 3rd Annual Bloggers Meetup in Atlanta! So many of you have been emailing or DMing asking about this so I’m excited to share the details for what is one of the highlights of my year.

A few changes this year…

New Location

First of all, the Loafing Leprechaun – a restaurant we had come to love in the two brief years we were there – has closed up shop. Fortunately though, we have a new location that is almost as close. This year we will be meeting at The Arena Tavern which is still within walking distance for those who are coming from the Catalyst Labs.

Benefiting Thrive Africa!

We also decided to change one more thing this year. I know many of you enjoyed the swag bags you got last year at the Meetup (and we’re so thankful for all the publishers and record labels who provided them) but isn’t it “more blessed to give than receive?” Of course it is! That’s why this year we’re charging $5 per person with100% of the ticket price going to my dear friend Alece Ronzino (@GritAndGlory) and her amazing ministry Thrive Africa. I’m so excited to be able to partner with Thrive and help them in their mission – all while having an enjoyable evening with other bloggers!

RSVP & Facebook Event Page

Every year so far we’ve had such an overwhelming response to this meetup that we’ve had to turn people away once we filled up. All of the details are on the  BloggersMeetup.org web page including a page to purchase your tickets for this years Meetup before we run out of spots! To officially RSVP and see who else is coming, go to our Facebook Event Page.

Here are a few pictures from last year’s meetup.

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Hope you can make it! Remember, RSVP on our Facebook Page and go to BloggersMeetup.org to get your tickets before they’re all gone!…

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Atlanta Bloggers Meetup Next Week

I’m so excited about meeting so many of you at the Atlanta Bloggers Meetup next week! Between going to Catalyst and hanging out with other bloggers, it’s going to be like my birthday and Christmas all rolled into one.

I also found out earlier this week that the Dealy Viper Shin-Dig will be taking place later that evening at the same location as the Blogger Meetup so if you hang around you’ll get a chance to meet Mike Foster, Jud Wilhite and the rest of the Deadly Viper crew. The one-and-only Anne Jackson will also be on hand capturing all the juicy details for CatalystBackstage and I’ll finally get to meet one of my favorite bloggers, Jon Acuff (StuffChristiansLike). We may even have a surprise visitor stop by!

Many of you have been asking who all is going to be at the meetup. Here’s the list of everyone who has registered so far. If you have some time before the conference check out some of these amazing bloggers:

  • Jonathan Herron
  • Josh Allen
  • Matt Simon
  • Russ Hutto
  • Pat Rowland
  • Pete Wilson
  • Jenni Catron
  • Ryan Bult
  • Chad Roberts
  • Dave Senes
  • Anne Jackson
  • Shawn Elledge
  • Shannon White
  • Adam Miller
  • Stuart Delony
  • Kevin Twombly
  • Jon Acuff
  • Mark Acuff
  • Bennett Acuff
  • Cherith Carpenter
  • Brett Carpenter
  • Shaun King
  • Dawn Nicole Baldwin
  • Keith Baldwin
  • Michael Harrison
  • Crystal Renaud
  • Lynse Leanne
  • Mark LeHew
  • Terrace Crawford
  • Dave Daniels
  • Kim Daniels
  • Aaron Dininny
  • Katie Dininny
  • Tim Liu
  • Zak White
  • Nic Burleson
  • Cole Phillips
  • Adam Black
  • Bryan McGee
  • Jennifer McGee
  • Mike Paschal
  • Ryan Detzel
  • Nick Carnes
  • Brad Ruggles
  • Lisa Ruggles
  • Aaron Foster
  • Jason Ruggles
  • Tom Hinton
  • Corbin Prows
  • Jake Miller
  • Adam Flynt
  • Travis Thompson

Remember, Twitter will be abuzz with activity during the conference as well (#catalyst08 is the hash tag to use and follow). I’m looking forward to meeting and hanging with all of you! See you next week in Atlanta!…

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5 Tips for Becoming A Social Network Butterfly

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The Internet is changing daily. In the last few years we’ve seen the rise of sites like Facebook and Twitter as millions have joined the social networking trend. But social networking isn’t just for business professionals trying to find new sales leads or socially inept computer nerds trying to retreat from the real world.

No matter what your level of experience is with blogging or social media you can expand your circle of friends and meet some amazing new people.

5 Tips To Becoming A Social Network Butterfly

Let me start by pointing out that the goal isn’t to meet so many new people that you develop a large group of shallow relationships. The key to social networking is meeting enough people so that you can cultivate deeper relationships with those you click with. Here are 5 tips for becoming a social network butterfly everyone wants to meet.

1. Make Yourself Easy To Find

Perhaps the simplest and most obvious way to get connected online is to get yourself out there! There are a host of popular SN sites that make it easy to meet new people. Some of the more popular ones include Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, StubleUpon, YouTube, Vimeo and LinkedIn (we won’t mention MySpace, I’m still trying to pretend it doesn’t exist).

However, one of the biggest mistakes I see people making on their blogs is failing to provide easy links to all their social network profiles. If you’re going to capitalize on networked relationships then make it easy for visitors to your blog to find where else you are online. Popular social media expert Gary Vaynerchuk does a great job of this on his blog. Make the most out of your online presence by making yourself easy to find.

2. Cultivate Shared Interests

As you begin to develop your online relationships you’ll find you related to some people better than others. The beauty of social networking is that it allows you to connect with people that have similar likes and interests as you no matter where in the world they live. There are several new sites and tools that help facilitate meeting people with shared interests.

Meetup is one of the largest network of local groups. Meetup makes it easy for anyone to organize a local group around an interest or activity. More than 2,000 groups get together in local communities each day, each one with the goal of improving themselves or their communities.

Roov is a new online community launched earlier this summer that “connects like-minded individuals around their shared experiences and passions within their church and city.” It was designed to help facilitate new relationships and build community within the church.

There are a variety of other social networking tools that allow you meet new people that share your interest, hobby, affinity or passion.

3. Discover New Connections

Just meeting and associating with people online who have the same tastes and style would greatly limit you. There are certain online “circles” you may feel more comfortable hanging in but why not leverage the power of social networking tools to broaden your interests and meet new people.

Most of the people you interact with online probably became your “friend” through another online friend or a link off of their site. The old adage, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is just as true on the web. The most successful social networkers have expanded their social circles to include thousands or tens of thousands.

One good way to make new connections online is to harness the power of Google Alerts. Simply type in the search term of your choice, such as the name of your favorite author or an area of social need you’re passionate about. Select “Blogs” in the search type to limit the alerts to just blogs that mention those keywords you chose. Choose how often you’d like to receive notifications, type in your email address and click the ‘create alert’ button.

You can create as many of these alerts as like and manage them from your Google account. You’ll be amazed as the new connections start showing up in your inbox.

You can also use Twitter’s Search functionality to perform real-time searches of what people are saying on Twitter. This is another great way to meet new people on Twitter who are already talking about the things you’re interested in but may not run in your social networking circles.

4. Go Deeper With Key Relationships

Sure, you may have 535 friends on Facebook and follow 796 people on Twitter but what fun is that? The ultimate goal here isn’t to see how many people you can follow on Twitter (even though some people take that approach) but to find new people that you can get to know better.

Most social network or blogging relationships start with the “comment exchange” – I leave a comment on your blog, you leave a comment on mine. Don’t just limit yourself to “comment relationships” though. If you’re clicking with someone then shoot them an email, forward them a link you think they would enjoy reading. You may even chat with Skype or AIM.

You’re going to develop lots of relationships online but you won’t necessarily get to know everyone on the same level. Take the time to go deeper with people you really like.

5. Meet In Person

relationships-20081002-100118The ultimate goal of social networking isn’t to be stuck behind the computer all day hanging out with our “virtual friends.” In spite of all the great networking tools that about on the Internet today, nothing beats good old-fashioned face-to-face.

Be sure to check out local social networking sites in your area to see if there are any opportunities for connecting over shared interests. Meetup.com is a great resource for this but in my area there’s also sites like Smaller Indiana that help facilitate meetups.

I’ve been blogging for 9 months and I already have a network of people that I can hook up with for coffee or lunch in nearly every major metropolitan hub in the country. You just can’t develop a network of relationships like that anywhere else.

Next week I’ll be hooking up with 60+ bloggers at the Bloggers08 Atlanta Meetup, many of whom I’ll be meeting for the first time. I’ve also had the chance to meet some amazing people in person that I would have never been able to meet were it not for my social network.

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Good luck on using these 5 tips to expand your online circle of friends. Social Networking isn’t just a trend or buzz-word, its a chance for you to make and develop new relationships with people you would otherwise never had the opportunity to meet. I’d love to hear more ideas and tools you use for your social networking.…

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3 Stories That Have Touched My Heart

Since I’ve been blogging there have been several people whose story Lisa and I have really connected with.

CJ & Andrea Mills

The first was CJ and Andrea Mills. CJ is a special blog buddy because he happened to be my 100th blog subscriber. Back in May while on vacation in South Carolina Andrea went into labor two months early and had little baby Asher who only weighed 4 pounds 9.7 ounces.

Our family checked their blog daily and prayed for Asher who struggled with health problems associated with being born so soon. My daughters knew CJ, Andrea, Jadyn and Asher all on a first-name basis as they were all in our prayers so often

I’m excited to say that God did an amazing miracle in Asher and he is now healthy, strong and growing. Our family still looks forward to the first time we get to meet this little guy we spent so much time praying for.

Adam & Karen Owens

The second family Lisa and I have spent a lot of time praying for is Adam & Karen Owens. Their little boy Gavin was born with a host of health problems including Mitochondrial disease and is TPN dependent which means he receives all his nutrition intravenously via a feeding tube.

Adam and Karen live a life that I can’t even begin to imagine. It’s not unusual for Lisa and I to wake up in the morning and read Adam or Karen’s post and find that Gavin spiked a fever overnight and had to be taken to the hospital which means living in the Ronald McDonald house for several days or longer.

Just yesterday Karen took Gavin at 12:30 am and didn’t get checked into their room until 4 am. Karen wrote on her blog, “I didn’t even bother going to sleep, instead I’ve been sitting here just wondering how much longer we can do this. I try to stay positive but on a day like today I just have to question…What in the heck is He trying to do to us?”

Honestly, I don’t even know what to say to someone who is going through something like that. The most I can do is continue to pray for them and encourage you to do the same. Add them to your blog reader, leave a comment and let them know you’re praying for them.

Matt, Liz & Madeline

Matt’s blog is one that Lisa really connected with. He shares the story of Madeline’s birth in March of this year. Shortly after her birth his wife Liz was getting up from her bed to hold their daughter for the first time when she passed out. A pulmonary embolism took her life leaving Matt to raise their first and only daughter on his own.

It’s a girtty, honest, painful look at the struggles of day-to-day life raising a child on your own while trying to make sense of the tragedy of losing the love of your life. I’ve seen Lisa read his blog many times with tears running down her cheek.

I try to put myself in his shoes but I can’t even imagine going through what he’s been through. To experience the happiest and most hearbreaking moments in your life, all within 24 hours?

These are just a few of the stories that have touched my heart and driven me to my knees in prayer.…

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