Not Able To Attend A Conference

Every year there are countless conferences I want to attend and every year I have to pass up on almost all of them. It is disappointing but I find ways to follow along. If you find yourself in a similar situation to me, what might you do to still gain insight about the conference?

 

LinkedIn – Check LinkedIn events and see who is attending and begin to network with them. Some individuals you may know and others maybe not. But connecting in advance could lead to sharing of information and feedback on the conference and topics and maybe even the sharing of notes about valuable take aways.

Twitter – Find out the particular hashtag of the conference and follow along with what is being shared and follow along. See what is being shared and even participate in the conversation from your home or office. Good tools to follow a particular hashtag include:

Ustream – Some conferences, like the 140conf will use Ustream to play live video of the sessions so that everyone may see what is happening. You are able to listen to the sessions, just miss out on the in-person networking.

Facebook – Some conferences will create a Facebook Page for people to join and get upcoming information about a conference or seminar. What is also valuable about these Pages is that the conference hosts may also upload pieces of the conference after the fact in video form or transcripts or with reviews.

YouTube – Many conferences or conference attendees will take video and upload the content to YouTube to share with the masses. This is an excellent way to get information but also hear others opinions on topics that were discussed.

Blogs – Use Google and do a search for blogs from the conference name and see what others wrote about their experience. These posts may appear after the conference but they will be helpful in accumulating additional knowledge about events.

 
While all of these are good tools to use, it is helpful to follow a variety of channels to maximize the impact and knowledge of what is being discussed. Conversations even continue online after events or into the evenings. Knowing that we are all busy and following along all day is not realistic; pick and choose what makes sense for you. And chances are, you will network and meet new people along the way even though you are not there in person.

Why Numbers Alone Don’t Matter

Everyone is caught up in numbers and metrics. Some metrics are dead on and others wecan do without. Two such metrics people tend to get caught up in revolve around thenumber of friends/followers and the number of tweets.

Why are these numbers not as relevant as you may think them to be?

 

Don't Cross the Streams!

 

Number of Facebook Friends or Twitter Followers

Having a large following is a nice topic to throw around in a conversation, but does itreally help you? Many celebrities, pseudo-celebrities, industry experts, authors, and manyothers have a pretty strong follower count which helps from a message push or listeningperspective. Now, look at how many people they follow and see if you are valued in theirnetwork.

Probably not.

It is great for them to push out their information and hope you will share with yournetwork as well. Good for them. Not so great for you.

This is in no means a recommendation to follow everyone who follows you. But withall the “social media experts” talking about engagement, do they really engage or justengage when spoken to? Think about the last time someone with a high friend/followercount interacted with you off of one of your messages without you mentioning orreferencing that person.

 

Number of Tweets

The number of times you tweet should not mean a thing? Why you are probably asking.

Well, as Twitter is an unbelievable tool for conversations, learning, listening, sharing andnetworking, it also is a great tool for connecting with apparently every other social mediatool created.

You may connect Twitter with LinkedIn, Facebook, Foursquare (and other location-basedservices), Tumblr, MySpace, blogs, etc. etc. etc.

The more networks you are connected to, the more potential of redundant message beingposted, of locations being shared, of somewhat meaningless data.

Should I be able to read all of your tweets on LinkedIn or Facebook? You could argue oneither side of this and make effective cases. What I am saying is that it is some of thesemessages are redundant, auto generated and used to somewhat spam all of your socialnetworking channels.

When I view my Twitter stream, I don’t care to see all of the Foursquare check-in’s. Iknow I am not alone here but I also realize plenty of others share the opposite feeling.

But in strictly looking at Foursquare and Twitter, it is conceivable that half of your tweetsare Foursquare check-ins. That alone artificially inflates your tweets to show how active aTwitter user you are.

Other people/accounts use messageing services that auto tweet for them and possiblyrepost the same message multiple times per day (full disclosure: yes, I sometimes do thisfor my blog posts… but not every day and for everything I read).

 

In closing, numbers really don’t mean everything if value isn’t there. Isnt’ that why ROIis always an interesting discussion point!

Twifficiency Does More Than Intended

Wow, to be a 17 year-old from Scotland and create a Twitter trend instantaneously is quite a feat, but was definitely more than intended.  John Cunningham’s launch of Twifficiency was loud and effective.

Although John set out with a set parameter to measure Twitter users and how “effectively” they use Twitter, I believe John struck a larger chord on Twitter.  Not only were there positive conversations, but some people were a bit annoyed at the buzz this created.

People want to believe they use Twitter the “right way” and are effective in how they implement it each and every day.  Twitter became a funnel of how you should measure your Twitter effectiveness and that numbers do not mean everything.  Justifications came out of almost everywhere and it was interesting to read what opinions people shared on the subject.

I believe that in the midst of all of this, Twifficiency hit on something.  Although the metrics are not perfect, the idea behind measuring Following, Followers, Tweets, @ Reply’s and Lists can provide some value.

My score was 49% and yes it bothered me at first.  I wanted to justify why it was average and not higher.  But once I thought about this, metrics are just that – a measuring tool.  I do not post 50 microblog posts per day, I read a lot of Tweets, I click on a lot of links, I respond when I feel necessary, and I make good connections within my network.  Isn’t’ that what we should be doing anyway?

Some tools are better than others and some metrics are better than others.  But a 17 year-old computer entrepreneur launched something that got people interested and talking.  Kudos to Mr. Cunningham for keeping the rest of us thinking about what we do and why we do it.

LinkedIn and Twitter… Not Perfect Together

Social media is integrated and is becoming more so every day.  One of the more recent releases was that LinkedIn now allows you to connect your Twitter account and feed into your LinkedIn profile, and vice versa.  Also, since both sites allow you only 140 characters to post a message, it is even more of a natural fit.

 

 On the surface, this is a great move for LinkedIn.  But upon a deeper dive, I’m not so sure that it is in every instance.

 

 Twitter is an outlet for you to share information on any topic whether it is personal or professional in nature.  LinkedIn is very much a professional networking site and where business related topics are discussed.  With the introduction of Twitter to LinkedIn, the conversation may change and probably not for the better.

 

 Members on LinkedIn who are not currently neither active nor accepting of Twitter are now getting your “noise” on any topic, including the non-business variety of message.  This could be viewed as a negative within your network and could result in the loss of connections.

 

Personally, I have linked my LinkedIn and Twitter accounts because I felt this was a fantastic merge from a business perspective.  I am now able to communicate with two, potentially different, networks.

 

If you are like me, my strong recommendation is to not allow every “tweet” into your LinkedIn profile.  LinkedIn was smart in how they allow you two choices as to what “tweets” are connected.  You are able to select either the “all tweets” option or the “only tweets with #in within the message” option.  The first option has a high probability of drowning out your audience and potentially damaging professional relationships simply if you “tweet” often or not always on business topics.  The second option is much better and appears to be more realistic for each audience.  Simply by keying “#in” within your “tweet” will post to both Twitter and LinkedIn.  This provides you a greater ability to stay on the course you have chosen on Twitter but increases your ability to post business information on multiple sites.

 

Not perfect but it definitely can work well depending on how you choose to use it.  What this integration continues to reinforce is that you must be very smart with what information you choose to publish online and to what audience.  But the business application can be highly leveraged in how you communicate to both audiences.

Twitter and Facebook Friends

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I began using Twitter and Facebook for two different activities; Twitter for more professional use and Facebook for more personal use.  That seemed to be a very logical course of action.

 

 Over time, after lots of thought and many, many conversations I have changed my strategy.  I am using both in a more professional manner and interjecting the personal side along the way.

 

 My wife is one of “those people” who don’t completely understand social media and isn’t happy when I post personal information about our family.  So while I do have Twitter and Facebook on my Blackberry, I rarely use them when I am with my family.

 

 And while I strongly disagree with her on the use of social media, she caused me to take pause about the personal sharing aspect.  Are my “friends” interested in big family updates or in minor happenings?  Maybe.  Do my “friends” really need to know that I am watching Manchester United with my sons?  Do my “friends” need to know what I am doing, even in general terms?  I didn’t think so and this began my transformation.

 

Since everything has been/is/will be about your image, or personal brand, I began to take a stronghold on “me on-line”.  I chose to continue with a more serious me.  My friends/followers will get to know me and my personality through my communication and hopefully, as is my personal goal, to speak with many of them in real life to develop stronger relationships.

 

Plus, social networking is not a numbers game.  I don’t care if I have more followers than you or if you have more followers than me.  I care about how we interact, about learning and about sharing good information (hopefully).

 

I am inviting my Twitter friends into Facebook and connect in what I hope becomes the beginning of stronger relationships.  Take these relationships and watch how your connections grow.  It is truly amazing that value (which an over used word in my opinion) will add both credibility as well as meaningful connections into your world.  It is how you grow your friends and followers that is ultimately most important.

 

So, please join me on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and let’s pass it forward!

How I Landed My Dream Job

clouds-2Have you heard those stories about people who follow their passion and they end up finding their dream job?  I have heard these stories as well, and I never truly believed it would happen to me (although I always kept hope and kept chasing that passion).

Well, it did happen to me!  And I want to share my story with you in hopes that it will help you to chase your passion.  The best part… the job I have didn’t exist within most companies as short as 6-months ago!

I have been a recruiter for over 10 years, both on the agency and the corporate sides.  I love networking and connecting with people, so this profession is a great place for me.  I also like to keep updated on the latest trends and stay on top of great ways to connect with people effectively.  I never needed to change any of my search strategies or methodologies, just added new techniques to the list: mainly surrounding social media.

I was an early adopter of social media within my team and I used it to connect with new people, globally, in order to exchange ideas on a variety of topics but I really focused mainly on HR and recruiting.  I found this to be a way to expand my network and learn from a much broader population.

So, what do I do on social media?  Pretty much the same as most of you out there.  I am active on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn as well as reading blogs and posting blog entries.  I am on other sites; however, I do not spend as much time or focus on them right now.

One blog post that really energized me was from Jessica Lee, that she posted just over one year ago.  Jessica referenced an online article she read about a recruiter in Silicon Valley who was interviewed at a job fair.  The purpose of the article was to allow the readers to learn more about her job search as well as how the job market was changing.  Jessica Google’d this particular recruiter and found it extremely difficult to locate this person within the returned results.  What I took away from this post was Jessica’s resounding recommendation that all recruiters need to be in social media in order to be found… especially in recruiting!

That day I went out and began to sign up for a few new social networking sites, which I was not already on, in order to:

  1. connect with others more efficiently
  2. to become more active in the conversation
  3. to be found

I put forward a more conscious effort to discuss with others to learn more about what they do.  I took time to connect outside of social media (either on the phone or in person if the ability was there) to further develop these relationships.  And through these relationships I directly impacted open positions I was working on and did make a hire through Twitter.  I continue to leverage all social media resources today to supplement my recruitment activity.

Over time, my company investigated social media for our messaging, our ongoing branding, recruitment activity, and as a new channel for us to grow as a company.  As this direction was being considered and decided upon, I was approached to help lead our global recruitment social media strategy, implementation, and execution.  This truly was a dream job opportunity for me and it is something so new that I am finding myself directly impacting my company’s message into the market.  Yes, I did say dream job even though this position did not exist just a few months ago.

I read about companies creating this type of position and thought to myself that this role would be a phenomenal opportunity for me to expand my experience and knowledge.  Also, it would be a lot of fun and a lot of hard work.

Yes, as a recruiter I have always worked to positively impact my company and convey our brand and message in my daily recruitment activities.  But now to be able to do this on a much broader scale is completely energizing and humbling – that I was selected to help lead this effort.  For a relatively short time, I was thinking that one day I would like to move into this type of an opportunity and determining how might I position myself best for this type of career progression.  The results of my personal decision to expand into a relatively untapped medium was that I was rewarded for thinking outside of my teams current strategy and I am now able to directly impact my company in the social media space.

The best part, I am still with my same company and expanding my experience and responsibilities!

My recommendation, to all of you, is to follow your passion.  Identify what it is that motivates you and will allow you to do your job better and more effectively.  Also, determine how it may impact your day-to-day activity in a positive way so that it is not distracting from your objectives.  You may even want to approach this passion with your manager to discuss how you might involve it into your productivity.  In hind sight, I wish I approached my managers directly but it did end up for the best.

Don’t wait for something to happen, make it happen.  Your dream job is waiting for you as well!

Do You Have A Twitter Strategy

As you are on Twitter and communicating with your followers, I have on question for you to seriously consider:  When you type a tweet, who is it for?

Your answer will vary but will be in one of these main categories:

  1. I tweet for me only
  2. I tweet trying to be funny/sarcastic/witty
  3. I tweet to convey interesting information and insight
  4. I tweet to interact with others

Let’s talk about each of these.

I tweet only for me

My short answer is to get off of Twitter now.  I don’t mean to be harsh but really you are not here for social networking (yes networking… connecting with others).  I have seen people tweet what they are eating or drinking, what they are doing, or a simple statement “ah refreshing”.  Obviously these messages are not doing anyone outside of you any favors and you are not providing value to your followers.

Recommendation: review your strategy to improve it or stop tweeting

I tweet trying to be funny/sarcastic/witty

Twitter isn’t a comedy club or an episode of Seinfeld.  Again, it is social networking… connecting with others.  You need to engage in conversations and not try to be a one man stand up act.  If you are naturally funny/sarcastic/witty in the course of these conversations then that is adding to the value of your followers.

Recommendation: interact and use your personality to the advantage

I tweet to convey interesting information and insight

This is a great place to be.  You are pushing information out there so that others may learn from your insight or information that you find.  This is a most helpful person but they do not always interact.  They are too busy pushing information out that they cannot manage the two way conversation.

Recommendation: get a Twitter application (TweetDeck or Seesmic) to respond quickly to responses and be more interactive

I tweet to interact with others

This is where you need to be, in the Web 2.0 world.  Push information and discuss with others on a number of topic levels.  You have the ability to follow people all over the world who share similar interests and may provide unique insight to you.  Why stay within a particular geography?  Recommendation: connect with others and get broader insights to any topic

The real use of Twitter is in actions and not in just pushing out information.  If you don’t interact, you are lost and need to revise your plans.  Do it now before your value and trust are questioned by your followers.

How To Leverage Your Network When Looking For A New Career

So you’re looking for a new position.  What is your game plan?  Where do you start?  Do you know?

Time to go and post my resume.  Wait!  You’re going to what?leverage

Take a second and think for a moment.  Have you thought about your network on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or any other site?  No.  Well this should be your starting point.

To be more specific, LinkedIn is probably your best place to go first.  Regardless of your perceived safety in your current position, you should update your online profile/resume 3-4 times a year.  Why, to let people know what you are doing.  Why is this important?  Networking.  You never know when you will connect with someone that you maybe able to help… or that might help you.

Facebook is a great next step.  Here you can network with friends and family; those people that tend to have a personal interest in helping you in your search.  You may need to follow up with them and make sure they are thinking of you but a good place to build from.

Twitter is great to connect with your followers and let them know your skills and what you are looking for. (but you network really well so your followers already know what you do!)

Sure, along the way you might check out the job boards and see what is out there because that is only human.  Did you know that the majority of jobs are not posted externally?  This is why networking and referrals become so vital in your search.

Work with your social network to let them know more about you, professionally speaking, so that you are in their mind at any given moment.  Also, get to know your network better.  You never know when you both might be able to assist each other.

Twitter: Make It Meaningful

thumbs upDo you feel you add value to your followers?

This is something I ask myself and strive to achieve each and everyday.  Yes, some days are better than others, but by making it a goal each and every day I do my best to eliminate the “fluff” that most of my followers could care less about.

Of course you need to have a personal side, otherwise why would anyone follow you?  But if you have goals such as adding good content and share your knowledge, then you will be able to connect with a greater group out there than those whom you are already connected to.

Expand your presence.  People want to read interesting, inspiring, shocking and insightful information so provide them with your unique value.  Spend a few minutes each day reading articles on what YOU like and then share those with the Twitterverse.

To borrow a word from Scott Stratten (@unmarketing), all this will do is make AWESOMESAUCE to your value!

Be Positive in Social Networking

It is so much easier to be happy and positive than it is to be glum and down.  Seriously, it takes more muscles to make a frown as opposed to a smile.

What I have noticed on social networking, especially on Twitter, is that I enjoy following and engaging with positive people over someone who is negative.  I want to stop following and block that negative person so fast but I still give them another chance to redeem themselves… this is my being positive and maybe I can help them (wishful thinking).

If you are now disillusioned with your industry, profession or peers then this is not the place for you (or me) to listen to your negativity towards every generality you can think of to expose your soured soul on the rest of us.

I asked a 30-year HR professional why he is so negative and, amongst other information, he gave me a quote from General Patton basically stating that tough and direct communication is better than any other approach.  While this may work in the military, this does not work in business.  (THIS IS MEANT WITH THE ABSOLUTE RESPECT FOR THE MILITARY AND I LOVE WHAT YOU DO FOR ALL OF US EACH AND EVERY DAY !!!)  In the military, you are trained to listen to your superior to execute a plan and to successfully achieve and live to the result.  In business, you need to question others.  If you go with what has worked for 30 years then way too many people will pass you by as you stay rigid in your ways.  The world and business has changed extensively so get off your high horse of “I am holier than thou” or “know-it-all” mentality and accept that things are better… like it or not.

I have connected with so many positive people on Twitter that it is completely contagious and impossible to not be inspired throughout the day.  This is almost better than coffee (I’m still mentally debating this comment).

There are too many people to individually acknowledge for daily injecting positive, inspiring, thought provoking, inspirational, interesting and educated micro-blogs to me and the rest of the community who choose to follow them.

I learn every single day and thank each of you for your positive influences.

Some simple rules/guidelines for me to follow and interact with everyone:

  • Watch your language – is swearing really necessary and it may be more negatively received by your followers
  • Be positive – you will reap rewards more from a positive influence rather than showering negativity down on everyone
  • Follow @unmarketing advise – take 5 minutes to engage, re-tweet, reply and interact with others without doing anything self serving
  • Don’t inundate me with your product/solution – work it throughout the day but don’t make it every single post
  • Let people know if they impact you – a simple thank you or reply to a great post will get someone to smile and make their day… pay it forward

Keep it positive and let’s grow this puppy into something that others can only be jealous of… but remember to welcome them to the party as well.