First up is Carol Bryant, a pet owner, writer and the PR/Social Media director for FIDO Friendly Magazine. A panelist at BlogPaws 2010 West, Bryant has shaped her professional interests to accommodate the fact that she’s a smitten dog lover - she’s even choosing to drive across the country so that she can bring her cocker spaniel to the conference! Look for her there and ask how the trip was, or if you’re not going, be sure to visit the FIDO Friendly blog to keep up with the latest dog news.
Thanks for talking with us, Carol. Have you always been an animal lover? What pets do you currently have?
I grew up with a dachsund and always had a passion for dogs. Even as a little girl, I fondly remember paging through books of dogs and just gazing at the photos. I once read that you don’t pick a dog; that the dogs in your life pick you. How very true that resonated on December 19, 1993. The moment our eyes locked amidst the barking and chaos, I was hooked.
Brandy Noel ignited the passion I have for dogs in every way possible. My little girl lived 15 ripe years and we battled many illnesses together. I decided on a home-based career to be with her. Since her passing in October of 2008, little Dexter has come into my life. Dexter and Brandy are both cocker spaniels. I love them dearly and see the world through the eyes of a cocker: spunky and full of life. Oh, and I like my tummy rubbed, too.
How did your desire to become involved in the pet community turn into a career?
I'd always loved dogs and wanted to do something career-wise to make a difference in the lives of dogs. For 16 years or so, I have traveled with my dog. I loved talking to people about it, learning and reading about dogs, and then being able to help people who needed info or had a dog in need. I even started looking for lost dogs in the newspaper and successfully reunited 12 dogs with 12 grateful owners.
When the company I had worked for and was dedicated to sold out in 2009, I was part of the "let gos." I felt hurt and upset but realized it was a blessing in disguise and time to follow my heart, passion, and talents.
The magazine I work for (FIDO Friendly) did not have a strong social media presence. I came on board to create one. In addition, I am a writer, active in dog rescue, and eat, sleep, and breathe dog. My dogs rescued me. I’ve been writing as long as I’ve been speaking basically.
When did you realize social media would become such an important part of the pet community, and what are a few of the best ways to use the tools we now have?
Super question. I love to read and stay current on technology. Over the past few years, I noticed how many companies were going online, social media was growing, Facebook and Twitter were saving dogs' lives! I had to get on board that train of momentum. So I learned. And read. And learned and read some more. I took classes, applied myself, and educated myself. I talked to people in the know and made personal goals to get things done.
What you don't know: learn. Don't try to be a part of every single social media medium out there. Some may disagree with me and that's okay. What works for me is to be known in a few social media outlets than to spread myself thin in tons of them. Foster and nuture your relationships. Make connections that make sense for you and your personal and professional goals.
What are you most looking forward to at BlogPaws 2010?
Having been at April's BlogPaws Ohio, I can say I anticipate more of what I experienced and then some: networking, meeting new people and familiar faces, learning, and being able to speak at this event. It is a great opportunity for so many pet lovers to come together in the name of animals. I am driving cross country, cocker in tow, to do so!
Any tips for attendees or bloggers in general?
Absolutely. Don’t wait for people to come to you. Go out and interact. If you blog from home, that does not mean never leave the home. Mingle, network, connect, interact. Attend events. Go to conferences you can afford. Look for animal-related activities in your community. Talk to people at the dog park. Stop to smell the roses and hand out a tummy rub or two. Most of all, have a sense of humor. Look for topics daily and befriend people with similar interests. Guest blogging rocks, too. You learn a lot and expand your network. Try new things.