Let Reality Infect Your Worldview

August 5, 2009 1 comment
Lots of Grads Look for Lots of Jobs

via adobemac on flikr.com. Used under CreativeCommons 2.0 license

I’d be ashamed of myself the only way I could explain no job were to sue the college I willingly gave years of my life and thousands of my dollars to because they somehow failed me. Really? I mean…. really!!??

Grad Sues College for $70,000 Because She Cant Find a Job – Local News | News Articles | National News | US News – FOXNews.com.

Even if the education was substandard, she wasn’t required to CONTINUE to give them her money and stay there to not learn. There is so much wrong with this entire picture that I’m nearly speechless… which is a rarity for me.

True, it’s a rough environment out there for job seekers, but the majority of folks out there are, in fact, still employed. Thank goodness. And I’m guessing there are jobs out there, even for her, just not the job she really wants. How many of you got your first job out of college and it was perfect? You walked in, sat down at your new (new to you, anyway) desk and said to yourself, “Yeah, man… all those dollars and time… definitely worth it for THIS job!”

I bet the internal conversation went more like, “OK… so the office smells, the chair’s hydraulics don’t work, this computer is a relic, and I have to make the coffee and deliver it to everyone else… but it’s in my field and it’s a start.” Why do people expect things to just come easily? Most worthwhile events and occasions have a serious effort quotient attached. I wish this girl the best… and perhaps the best thing that could happen would be for some serious reality to infect her world view. What do you think?

Making Social Media Matter For Business (Pt. 2)

August 2, 2009 5 comments

I shared some of what I’ve learned about making social media work for business with the Social Media Mastermind Tulsa group last week and in this post. I promised to follow up with a blog post including some of the references I’ve found helpful, and here they are:

Five Social Media Wins for Your Small Business

The Art of Business Blog Writing

Fundamentals of Facebook

Social Networking for Business on Facebook: Rules You Should Know

Twitter 101 for Business

How People Share Content on the Web

Social Network Marketing: What Works

Study: Social Media Pays

Relevance: The Digital Fabric of our Lives

Engagement: Brands Who Are Most Engaged (PDF report, lots of info)

What does all this mean? It means that marketing hasn’t changed… it’s still connecting people to other people, ideas, products and services. Social media can provide a useful, powerful platform to initiate and cultivate those connections, but it’s not an automatic event. In other words, just being on Twitter or Facebook, etc., won’t create connections. Like nearly anything else worth doing, it requires planning, effort, thought and dedication to make the best use of social media tools to help market your business. Remember that social media is first and foremost, well, social. If what you’re doing (or about to do) would be rude at a party or other social gathering, it’s rude in the social media space. Would you go up to random people at a party and say, “Hey, buy my widget!”? Probably not… you’d probably start with names, small talk, maybe some “so, what do you do?” talk and then move on to “we should get together and talk about that XYZ problem your company is having… I think I might be able to help.” In other words, you’d get to know each other before you pushed messaging at each other.

Treating social media like mass marketing is a critical mistake many businesses new to this space make. People on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, FriendFeed, blogs, and so on have chosen to hear what you have to say. Make what you say, and what you seek/hear/respond to worth the investment of their time. I say “hear” because one of the most powerful things we can do as humans is to really hear another’s thoughts, desires, wants and needs. Nothing validates us like someone really listening. The same is true online (remember, marketing is still marketing… it’s the tools that are different). Make use of Google alerts, advanced Twitter searches, third party apps (I could go on) to listen to the social media sphere…. what are people saying about not just your business, but your field? What are their pain points? What is keeping their current experience from being wonderful? Can you fix it/change it/offer them an alternative? Listening first, then engage, and you’ll be well on your way to social media success.

It’s Complacency That Breeds Contempt – For Your Audience

from photogirl7 on Flikr

from photogirl7 on Flikr

I’m preparing to speak to the Social Media Mastermind (Tulsa… @smmtulsa on Twitter) group tomorrow. It’s not going to be a large crowd nor a long speech or involved presentation. It’s material I’m comfortable with (see earlier post on Making Social Media Matter For Business). And yet I’m still a little nervous about tomorrow.
Why the butterflies? I speak often to groups and long ago worked past my formerly-paralyzing fear of public speaking… it’s not that. I am not out of my depth (I don’t think, anyway) or presenting on short notice… it’s not those things, either. After some reflection, I think the wee bits of panic have surfaced because I really admire the people I’ll be speaking to. I learn much from them every time we meet and I hope the content I share will be as valuable to them.
A few butterflies before a presentation is a good thing… it’s been said that familiarity breeds contempt but I think it’s complacency that breeds contempt for your audience. If you approach every speaking, writing, sharing opportunity with a healthy respect for your audience (perhaps they DO know as much as you do about some things!) you will prepare more thoroughly, speak or write more thoughtfully and succeed in what really matters… sharing quality content and creating connections. Real respect for your audience means you’ll be motivated to give them your best. And what better way to build your business or brand than by showcasing your best in front of an interested audience?
Though I think the butterflies are healthy… what do YOU do to quell them?

Real Writing Help and Support

I just found this new service called eduify. It helps you write faster and smarter, rather like having a writing coach by your side. It’s in beta testing at the moment. Some of the tools include:

  • Finding Quotes, citing sources
  • Creating work cited pages
  • Tutorials & writing examples
  • Checking for Plagiarism
  • Storing, Sharing, Editing documents online
  • Community & expert help

Check it out for writing inspiration!

Categories: Writing

Making Social Media Matter For Business

July 28, 2009 4 comments
Photo Credit: (c)Tomo.Yun (www.yunphoto.net/en/)

Photo Credit: (c)Tomo.Yun http://www.yunphoto.net/en/

I attended the recent OkieSMart conference in Tulsa, where Peter Shankman, aka @skydiver, provided the keynote speech. He was funny, blunt, high-energy and inspiring. A nearly perfect keynote in my opinion.

Peter took on the concepts of transparency, brevity, relevance and self-promotion via others leading to top-of-mind awareness. Why do these things matter for business? How can social media make a difference? Social media is about creating connections, and real connections create relevance. To me, relevance is the key to making social media matter for business….  Your business can’t “be relevant” unless someone out there chooses to make it so. You must impress, connect, promise & deliver at a level that allows those connections (be they clients, friends, colleagues, etc.) to share your story.

Let’s say you’re in the tire business. Everyone who drives needs tires at some point, and there are lots of places to purchase them. We go to Robertson Tires… because every time we’ve had a tire problem (say a slow leak we can’t identify) they’ve fixed it… pulled the nail, patched the hole, at no charge. Regardless of whether or not the tire in question was originally purchased from Robertson, or how long it had been. Whenever someone asks my husband (who is “a car guy” so he gets asked a lot) about tires, he recommends Robertson Tire. His recommendation makes Robertson relevant to the person he’s talking to. His recommendation is also self-promotion via others: Robertson did such a good job that other people are talking about it (promoting them) and therefore increasing their relevance to the potential market. Most business owners get the concept of referrals and recommendations; they’re not new ideas.

Add social media to the mix: I see someone on Twitter complain about a tire leak. I tweet my recommendation of Robertson Tire. That recommendation is now part of the Twitter stream for my 2,380 (as of 7/28/09) followers. Social media amplifies the basics of business. The good and the bad press matter more because they can be seen by so many more people, more immediately.

This is where transparency and brevity come into play. I’ll be talking more about those two concepts along with more on the idea of relevance and how to use social media to grow your business at the upcoming Social Media Mastermind – Tulsa meeting. Hope to see you there!

Immediate Response Required!

NOTE: this post was first published over at @techpr’s blog. Thanks to Marivic for giving me some space to write until I had this one up!

During a Social Media Mastermind (@smmtulsa) meeting recently, the group collectively tackled a member’s questions, ones that are nearly universal these days: “Should my business be involved in Social Media? If so, how? On which platforms?” There are lots of posts and information out there geared toward lists of questions, tips and guidelines to answer these questions. Some of my favorites are here and here. That (a list of tips or pithy answers) isn’t the focus of this post.

The situation discussed at our meeting involved an upcoming product launch that represented a new, distinct market & accompanying brand for an established parent company. One thing that struck me was that though every member of the group was active (and I do mean ACTIVE) on Twitter, none of us felt that it was an appropriate platform for the new brand to utilize yet.

Why? Simply put, Twitter is an immediate-response mechanism. Case in point… Did you notice the way #iranelection dropped off trending topics, replaced by all things Michael Jackson or Farrah Fawcett on the day they both died? It wasn’t that the Twitterverse stopped caring about the situation in Iran. It was just that more immediate news happened. As the dust began to settle, #iranelections trended again. People and brands, outside of celebrities, who build large, active followings on Twitter are ON Twitter frequently. It’s the platform of immediacy. A one-way conversation (I post to you, you answer a week later when you check in on Twitter, I’ve posted 300 tweets since then…) isn’t a conversation. It’s an unthreaded bulletin board.

Our advice to our group member, and my advice to you, is don’t tweet until there is something to tweet about (a full website, a product demo, etc.). If you do your job and pique potential customers’ interest in your product but give them no outlet for their interest, it will quickly fade, like my recollection of our “conversation” that started 300 tweets ago. We advised her to start building LinkedIn contacts and start a Facebook page where she can connect with current clients of the parent company, and begin to seek referrals and do other prospecting to build a base of people interested in news about the upcoming launch. Since Facebook and LinkedIn conversations are threaded, there’s no danger that posts and answers a week apart will be tiny voices screaming in a wilderness of status updates.

Personally, we all hope she gets on Twitter right away and spends the next few months learning the ins and outs, the spoken and unspoken rules, and connecting with people. Then, when her company’s product is ready… activate another account and start to share the good news. Interested persons can then take immediate action via the links or shared info in her tweets. So, as you consider whether your business should use social media, and if so, how; remember that Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Digg, Reddit, etc., are NOT equal. If the nature of the platform is real-time and immediate, your approach better reflect that nature.

Project Convergence

It’s Sunday, but my weekend is suffering from a case of project convergence. It’s what happens when all your project planning goes awry (sometimes through no fault of your own) and multiple project deadlines converge. I work well under pressure; in fact, some of my very best work & ideas happen under the threat of imminent deadline. However, I can still only get through X amount of work in Y time. When a serious case of convergence happens, it can be paralyzing… Where to start? I can’t get it all done in time!! The planning for failure starts: who to e-mail or voicemail asking for an extension? Are there any shortcuts out there? And so begins the “research” into working & planning to work instead of actually working. Rather than spend time planning how to come up short & disappoint, I’ve learned that
my only way forward is to quickly prioritze based on what I think I can accomplish and start tackling that list.
Usually, I complete far more work than my panicked, convergence-resisting self thought possible.
Don’t paralyze yourself with a complete project list of all the things you can’t accomplish (in the time you have, anyway). Just start… Creativity has a momentum all its own and you’ll likely amaze yourself.

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