5 questions with Nancy Swanson

Swanson familyMost days I share some time in an office. It’s small, enough for two computers, two desk chairs, two plastic floor mats, and not much else. I share the office with my social media partner.

Nancy Swanson and I have been social media partners since we said we were completely committed to each other 26 years ago last March 12. (For the people who think I am too indirect, that was the day we got married). Long before the term was invented–and before many people using social media were invented–we were learning how to connect with each other and together, with other people.

When I started asking some other people 5 questions, I knew I wanted to ask Nancy, too.

1. How do you use social media tools to stay connected with your kids? How is this different from and how is it an extension of how you relate to them off-line?

I love being able to have quick conversations with my kids via Facebook or text messaging. Andrew used Twitter to keep us informed of his location and experiences while he traveled the country last summer.

Some people think that social media tools are quite impersonal and cold, but we probably talk more often (or at least have touches) than we would by making phone calls. Of course, there’s nothing like a face-to-face conversation that ends with a hug, but we all agree that we’re communicating well this way.

2. You have become a social media advocate. You got the Fort Wayne Children’s Choir using a blog for a tour this summer (FWCCNotes.wordpress.com). You got your mom on Facebook. You have resisted tweeting yourself, but you have your husband’s account open often. What do these tools let people do, especially in your non-profit and family settings?

The FWCC blog came about as a way anyone could read about the choirs’ tour to Newfoundland in July 2009. Traditionally, the tour manager has written long emails just to the families of the singers on tour. With the blog, linked to our website (fwcchoir.org) anyone who looked at the website had access to the daily reports written by several people on the trip. Two other children’s choirs that are considering going on the same tour have called us asking for our advice, and we have directed them to the blog posts. One of the chaperones used Facebook to share photos and video of the singers.

My kids calls me a stalker on FB, because I keep track of them by following their status updates….and I make comments. I also know what’s happening with my niece and nephew’s families. It’s nice to be able to encourage my family and friends by commenting on their posts.

Recently, the choir joined twitter (@fwcchoir). I’m using it to announce concerts, fundraisers, special events, and rehearsals for the choir. We also have a Facebook fan page where we share more details about concerts. In June, I used it to announce a special performance to be given by the touring choirs, and several people came to the concert as a result of seeing it on Facebook.

We’re just getting started, but as other FWCC staff members begin to see the value of marketing/networking through Twitter and Facebook, we hope to increase our presence in Fort Wayne.

3. You have moved been a milk maid, secretary, community theatre pianist, dental assistant, missions major, bookkeeper, accounts payable clerk, gardener, cook for groups up to 120 people, college admissions office manager, children’s choir volunteer coordinator, and a couple other things. What are the common threads the run through all of those things you have done?

Most of my jobs have been about people–relationships. (Even growing up on the farm–there is a relationship that develops between the farmer and his animals.) I’m a listener and helper. I’m also a detail person, making sure everything is done correctly and on time. I’m usually managing things behind the scenes, rather than being the person on stage getting all of the attention. I like to help others be the best they can be.

4. You started meeting online people about three years ago when Chris Brogan spent the night. Has it been scary meeting people? (@robhatch, @megin, kat, @lizstrauss, @suzemuse, @g_reg)

To clarify, Chris Brogan came to Fort Wayne to attend a conference (an excuse to meet Jon) and needed a place to sleep. He visited a Children’s Choir rehearsal, stayed for supper, and we showed him around Fort Wayne. It was delightful to finally meet Jon’s “internet friend,” as Andrew described him. Just tonight at dinner we were bragging about, now famous, Chris Brogan sitting at our dining room table. I’m glad we get to call him friend.

Meeting Jon’s on-line friends has been delightful..and a bit scary. I am not a professional blogger. I don’t have a business blog. I only occasionally write posts for my own blog. Those mentioned above all had spent time conversing with Jon through blogging, email, Twitter and even over the phone. They didn’t know me, other than what they read about me in Jon’s blog. But, it’s been wonderful to meet some of those on-line friends and to be able to know them as off-line friends.They are as delightful in person as they are on Twitter! There are a few more I’m anxious to meet.

5. You are a careful writer (gnmparents, the hopeful gardener). You think and weigh and revise. As you write, who do you have in mind? How large or small it the audience you are seeing?

Most of my writing is just for me. It’s a way of getting my thoughts out of my head. It’s not a professional blog and isn’t about me being an expert at anything. My audience is small (unless someone Tweets a post), and when I started blogging, I was really scared of who would read it. I think that’s why I’m so careful. I want my words to convey the right message. To be encouraging. To be thought-provoking. I don’t expect to ever have a large audience. It’s gratifying to know that there are a few special people who appreciate what I’m saying.


Nancy writes at The Hopeful Gardener and makes pies at home.


4 responses to “5 questions with Nancy Swanson

  1. I’m waiting for your book, Nancy. Always a joy to be part of the audience when you speak, Jon AND Nancy.

  2. Nancy strikes me as someone unaware of her own perfection! How fortunate for the two of you that each of you is married to someone you are crazy about.

    Related or unrelated–you decide. That pie definitely looks like a man pleasing pie!

  3. Lovely glimpse into the woman who is your partner. Thanks!

    Looking forward to meeting Nancy in real life one day!

  4. Having had the pleasure of meeting Jon, I look forward to meeting Nancy one day.