Emilio Estefan & Lorraine C. Ladish

If it’s tough to recap even a two or three day social media conference, imagine trying to do it with a five day event, filled with back to back speakers’ panels, lunches, mixers, red carpet events, movie premiers, art festivals and all-night celebrations. That’s what Hispanicize 2013 was, and then some!

The beachside location—The Eden Roc on South Beach—was perfect, especially since most of the excursions took place in the near vicinity. I even managed to sneak in a walk on the beach and a fast gym workout during the week. Fancy that! Not to mention four hours of nonstop dancing at a yacht party, after which I was certain my toes had broken!

Collectively, it seemed that all Hispanicize attendees got a lot out of the event, whether they were there to meet old and new colleagues, learn more about blogging and social media, or sit on speakers’ panels and mentor others. Every one of us who attended surely had different experiences they valued the most, and here are my “takeaways”—the details that stood out the most for me.

Takeaways from Hispanicize 2013 Social Media Conference-Photo2THE HISPANICIZE APP
The Hispanicize event app was impressive, especially when downloaded to an iPhone. It made scheduling, following events and even people, a breeze. If a panel was rescheduled, you were alerted immediately. If you had signed up to attend a film premiere, you got a reminder. Not only that, once the conference was over, the app was repurposed due to its success, and attendees and panelists can all stay connected and updated until next year.

I spoke at two panels. The first was Your Ultimate Guide to Freelancing in the Digital Era. Francisco Cortés of Fox News Latino and I shared how we like writers to pitch us as editors, but as a lifelong freelancer I also gave tips on how to successfully freelance. I maintain that freelancing is a lifestyle and not everyone is cut out for it. Cortés said—and I know he is right—that editors are busy, so you need to do your homework before pitching, and especially, learn to write before you pitch. I added that you need to make it easy for an editor to accept your work. I was pleasantly surprised that after returning from Hispanicize, a writer who had attended that panel followed my advice to “just do it,” in reply to her question: “What if I want to write about a subject that’s out of my usual beat?” Stay tuned for her story on Mamiverse. 

The second panel I spoke at was The Book Within, along with Kathy Cano-Murillo, Alberto Sardinas and Sonia Nazario, moderated by Mamiverse CEO, Rene Alegria, former founding publisher of Rayo imprint at HarperCollins. I sometimes forget I’m a published author, as most of my work takes place online now. But that panel rekindled my desire to work on my next book and also reminded me of the great feeling of being able to tell other writers who want to publish how to hang in there and persevere. Some of the takeaways for attendees to that panel:

  • Write the book you want to read.
  • Persevere. Don’t give up.
  • Set a goal and work towards it.
  • Find a mentor.
  • Be patient.

Rene Alegria spoke at the panel Connecting with the Digital Latinas, which provided insights into what the modern Latina is looking for content-wise—which incidentally are hubs such as ours, which offer information, entertainment and tips.

Laura Fuentes, Eileen Carter-Campos and Angela Sustaita-Ruiz

Laura Fuentes, Eileen Carter-Campos & Angela Sustaita-Ruiz

Mamiverse Community Manager Eileen Carter-Campos spoke at Mama Power, the panel on online moms, along with Laura Fuentes and Angela Sustaita-Ruiz of Latina Mom Bloggers. The biggest takeaway of that panel was to be real and not sell out to brands that aren’t relevant to your blog content.

Read Related: Latism12: An Empowering Social Media Experience

I had already experienced the Adelante Movement with Nely Galán and Sandra Cisneros in Houston a few months earlier. But this time around the guest speakers included Hollywood legend Rita Moreno, with whom Mamiverse held a Twitter Talk recently, and entertainer Charo, along with Maria Elena Toraño, founding president of the National Hispana Leadership Institute. Prior to the event, I attended a press conference where the three guest speakers were open and natural as only older and wiser women can be. Some of their quotes that impacted me the most:

I was the only Cuban democratic woman in Miami. Republicans are too snobby for me. —María Elena Toraño.

We have to go farther in the entertainment industry. We have to define ourselves as human beings, with brains, souls and heart. The door is ajar for Latinos, as Ricardo Montalban once said. We have to push it open. —Rita Moreno

The day I became a mother, my life changed. I want to tell everyone who is thinking of having kids: your life must be prepared before you have them. Make a career before you get pregnant. —Charo

We are humbled by life over and over… It is rare to see an older woman with an ego. —Nely Galán.

Maria Elena Toraño, Rita Moreno & Charo

Maria Elena Toraño, Rita Moreno & Charo

I hesitate to use the term “networking,” since modern business really is built, as social media expert Ted Rubin is fond of saying, on building relationships. Some people state that once you go to one niche conference, you’ve seen them all. I disagree—not only will you miss certain colleagues at one or another event, but for relationships to deepen, you need to build on them. That happens online for a lot of us, but then there is a bond that only gets stronger the more face to face time you spend with your Tweeps or Facebook and even LinkedIn buddies. Of course another thing that can happen is that in person you may realize who you were never friends or colleagues with to begin with, so you can stop wasting your time with them in cyberspace!

A special shout out to Mamiverse content partners, Cosmo For Latinas, Fox News Latino, Celebrity BabyScoop and Los Tweens, all of whom we spent time with in Miami Beach.

A well-organized, thrilling, empowering, educational and exhausting event, all in one breath—that was Hispanicize 2013. And…we can’t wait to see what it will bring us next year!