Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What role does social media play? Part III

Use the technology deliberately
We definitely should be learning the tools out there today but no one tool is going to be the answer to your brand/career/networking/product/community issue. The tools are part of your plan, not your whole plan.

I hear many conversations debating the value of what social media tool and how to use it – but very few about why do this.

Whether you’re looking to promote brand, product, person, company or concept, if you build a strategic plan around the tools then your impact will never be as fulsome as possible or flexible enough to incorporate new widgets when they arrive. The ‘why’ is your governance against which you make decisions to grow, change or even start.

Part of the ‘why’ is because to not enter the social media arena is to declare oneself or one’s company hopelessly out of date. Part of the ‘why’ is because it’s dumb to ignore another means of reaching out.

Those are the givens.

What is left to you is to ask – what do I hope to achieve and what are all the tools I need to use to get there?

If you’re trying to build a community for seniors who have no regular computer access, you may leave out social media. If you’re trying to include their families, across all generations, you might.

If you’re trying to build your career in your current company, you might just focus on one/one meetings and your resume. Maybe it’s a small community best served by a personal approach and your LinkedIn profile would add little value. Or maybe you are trying to tap into those small communities as they exist around the world to find information to help your small local one.

If you’re casting your net very wide and have created an online persona/brand/product that has no other means of reaching out then you are possibly frustrated with results. If you’ve relied on word of mouth with no online presence then possibly the calls are not flooding in.

Just realize the social media itself won’t generate the real results – the quality behind the promotion will. Good intranets are about good content that helps folks understand corporate drivers, not just process outlines or happy stories. Good websites have good product as well as cool tools and visuals.

So use the tools – learn them – make them part of your larger plan but don’t have them be your plan.

Social media is all about access to information and the people behind that information. If you know what you’re seeking you can pick the right toolset to help your find it.

More on the next post…

Monday, September 28, 2009

What role does social media play? Part II

What technology is out there?
I just read that it will soon be possible to publish 4 second video clips on Twitter. Wow. If video is your medium, then that's got to be good news.

Many of us are using the bigger, common platforms you most likely have heard of like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube and Delicious. If you haven't taken a tour of these sites, it's worth a look. It's also worth asking those in your network/community what they use - another method of coming together.

The tools available are changing rapidly. Any list I publish today will be out of date quickly. So don't focus on what's out there now, ask what you need in order to express yourself?

What technology to use?
Like anything else, it is a mix of your style and the needs of your audience.

I prefer words: blogs, emails, comments. I know that some readers of this blog have asked for podcasts (audio files) and more pictures. Many have commented that we need webinars on hot topics (audio, visual, and interactive Q&A).

Currently, words suit both my style and my audience. Eventually, we're both going to evolve.

In every case the tool should suit the desired end and the content offered. So that goes back to your style - how do you offer content? How do you like to receive it? How should your community view it? Choose the tools that reflect those preferences and needs.

More on the next post...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What role does social media play? Part I

Yesterday, the power of social media at its simplest (and therefore finest) was demonstrated. I attended an excellent webinar, hosted by the CWC and featuring Leona Hobbs talking about personal brand. Over 100 women across the country came together through a simple online tool in an effort to understand building a brand in this new technology age.

The questions from the audience were as good as the presentation - but one question/theme in particular has been under my skin all day: what role does social media play?

Whether you are one person or a team, asking from a personal or corporate perspective, looking to build brand, reputation, career or community – chances are that you’re engaged in that question across many forums.

Let’s look at the technology first
It’s simplistic of me to say “it’s just one more tool” (though it is). It’s also technology that is very new and no one has any real idea where it will all be in 10 years.

People argue about the value of Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, etc. Those are just gizmos like the Viewmaster was a toy of the 60s. Viewmaster is still fun today but it no longer is changing the way we see our photos! Nor did the Viewmaster replace the storybook – another old social media tool that is still around. And, while bands are no longer cutting vinyl, some folks still swear by their 33s.

The point is we don’t know where the tools will lead us or what new tools will be coming around. We’ve just cracked open the door.

Experiment with the tools. You don't have one colour in your wardrobe and you shouldn't still to one method of reaching out. Don't be afraid to make a mistake in learning to use it. Google definitions and demos if you're a researcher like me. Jump right in if you're able. Talk to people about what they're using and what they like about it.

You wouldn't buy a computer without talking to a few folk. The social media tools are an extension of the computer on which you already rely.

Just remember, like computers and Viewmasters, it's all evolving.

More on the next post…

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Young women & body image film festival

In understanding what ‘building a personal community’ can mean – I’m encountering terrific stories from across the Similar Circles members.

From the smaller action of offering 30 minutes of time for a coffee, to running events, to social media forums, to film and video, everyone is contributing to the body of expertise and thought that is changing the world as we know it.

It’s challenging. It’s incredibly personal. It’s making change large and small.

Recently, some of our circle focused their attention on how young women are influenced by body image. Soap companies explore this issue as do families every day. Sponsored by another community - The Girl Guides - the video festival used a network of like-minded folks to create a body of work on a topic that concerns us all.

I’m happy to add a post to help raise awareness.

Link to all videos and an excerpt from the press release:

Talented female artists from across Canada, including filmmakers,
writers, animators, directors and orators donated their time and joined Girl
Guides of Canada to bring the various issues young girls face to life, through
dynamic short films for the Perspectives on a Girl online film festival.

Experience the online film festival by visiting

Monday, September 21, 2009

Be remembered

How do you wish to be remembered? I don’t mean when you’re dead – but after you’ve left the room?

First, don’t confuse remembered with memorable. You don’t have to stand out and shine every time. Memorable might best be saved for speaking engagements, great nights out and a great shoe score.

Being remembered can be that
• your name is kept in mind
• your idea was considered
• your personality was noted
• your offer was mulled over

Being remembered simply means you made a sincere emotional connection with someone. It doesn’t have to be life altering. Perhaps you made them smile. Perhaps you offered sincere comments or made eye contact. Maybe you just listened with all your attention.

Part of your impression comes in your introduction, some in how you participate in conversation and some in your follow up to a meeting or coffee. You have three clear opportunities to be remembered. Plan for them. Make the most of them. Like any good habit - do it all the time.

Friday, September 18, 2009

EyeWriter is why P2P works

The power of community blows my mind.

I attended the evening portion of CaseCamp in Toronto last night. Kudos to the folks who run it. The principles by which they drew a crowd together were bang on! They crossed hierarchies, industries and levels of expertise. Artists, IT, business came together in an ‘unconference’ to talk about social media as peers in the exploration. Peer-to-peer mentoring and networking at its finest.

And then came the icing on the cake.

I went to hear presentations on social media – I saw a combination of a big companies talking about how they’re using it to make money; small companies talking about the ‘democracy’ of the web; and then one artist stood up and showed us this…

Zach Lieberman – artist, programmer and self-proclaimed preacher of the power of art to change the world – gave a demo of Eye Writer last night. A community of folks from the Graffiti Research Lab, openFrameworks and The Ebeling Group have made a low-cost drawing device that tracks the eye movements of ALS patients, freeing them to express themselves in ways that can change both our physical landscape and influence what it means to support and share in a democratic community.

Affordable to all. Developed by a diverse peer community. Shared openly. Explored creatively and without traditional boundaries. Art, science, computers and some very cool people coming together to change the world.

PS. Check out Zach’s and his communities and their other projects - the iQ font and upcoming work with Sick Kids Hospital and a renovation http://

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Take a Chance

I am known for being willing to take a chance. Whether it's speaking up or asking a question or trying a new idea without foolproof guarantees - I'll be there to help. Life doesn't come with guarantees and sometimes you just need to stick your foot in it.

Which means I make mistakes. Sometimes many.

I don't make them because I'm foolhardy. I think things through; I just try not to overthink them. And I always have a recovery plan.

Because if you spend all your time trying to avoid making a mistake, you'll only do safe, careful things where others have already ironed out the wrinkles. Perhaps, in banking, that might be reassuring. In our lives and careers, it doesn't begin to tap into who you are and what you can do.

So... deep breath... present that new idea, go after that different job, talk to that stranger in the coffee shop. What's wrong with looking a little foolish ...don't you really look sillier for not trying?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Deepen Existing Relationships!

Oh my goodness! Stop thinking of networking as meeting *new* people only. That’s constantly buying fresh fruit and letting the old stuff rot in the fridge!

Spend a little time this week deepening your existing relationships! Coffees. Emails. Thank yous. Follow up. It’s not the quantity of folks in your community; it’s the quality of your relationship with them!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Don't wait - approach!

I was at an event this week (gasp! I know) and was there to help a friend promote understanding around her product. This basically meant I talked to folks about my experience with it and quietly networked on her behalf. Terrifying - but I’m getting better at it.

What fascinated me were the other folks who were there to help her out. They clumped. They sat apart from the crowd. They waited for people to approach them and ask.

I’m not sure if this was a reflection of the old paradigm: “Information is power” or a natural reluctance to offer information that might be rejected. Were they feeling like they had a gift to bestow on a lucky few or a lack of confidence in the information?

We approach many situations the same way – especially when it comes to introducing ourselves. It can become either a ‘why do you need to know about me’ or ‘I am not sure you’ll listen’ scenario.

I deal with the former by making sure I know my own limits around what I’ll share with strangers when I first meet them. (I do have a tendency to blurt things out). Coping with the latter is by making sure I understand what I am willing to share and how to phrase it in an introduction. And I never expect that everyone will want to listen. But, surprising, more do than don’t!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Networking 101

“The way of the world is meeting people through other people.”Robert Kerrigan

Plays and films have explored the seven degrees of separation that supposedly link us all around the globe. Courses and coaches have created a lucrative industry helping you find these connections. Corporations and not-for-profits continually seek these ties through their boards and members.

And really, it all comes down to you… chatting in a grocery store or coffee line up, offering a suggestion to a friend or your time to a cause or project. Whether you’re paid or volunteered, meeting people and re-meeting people (otherwise known as building a relationship), a key to success is simply about talking together.

Building on that – the most amazing communities are those built on helping each other instead of going solo in our quests to get ahead (however you define that). Call it community spirit, manners, generosity or common sense – helping others helps you. That’s the essence of peer-to-peer networking and the true value of mentoring.

“The successful networkers I know, the ones receiving tons of referrals and feeling truly happy about themselves, continually put the other person's needs ahead of their own.” Bob Burg

Friday, September 4, 2009

Filters II

Filters can keep us from connecting. If we’re so busy sorting and discarding information in mentoring conversations, then we are not actively listening.

Of course we will filter. But you don’t have to do it immediately. You can sit and think “ah, that’s an interesting point. I should ask why she is raising it.” instead of “Interesting that she thinks so but it doesn’t apply to me.”

Take notes instead of reacting and rebutting.

A sure sign you’re not really listening? Starting your response with “But”. Or forming your rebuttal in your head while the person continues to elaborate on their point.

Listening is hard – the hardest of the leadership skills to master. I will probably be very very old before I learn to stop interrupting when I get excited during a discussion.

You can at least acknowledge your filters and use them later, rather than during, a mentoring conversation.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Lately, I’ve been having conversations about the filters we use in processing information.

It started with discussing the filters one needs to evaluate content for a website. If you don’t understand the goals of the site, then acceptance/rejection of content is random. It is good governance to have filters/criteria.

So why doesn’t it work that way when we think about how we filter information for ourselves?

On the surface it does… not a parent? Tune out the parenting advice in your coffee klatch. Not interested in golf? Not participating in social media? Filter out the commentary (maybe keep the good jokes?) We do know what we want (in general) and our interests. Good filters to have.

It breaks down when it comes to mentoring. Our filters can get in the way of listening (for both mentor and mentoree).

We all have treasured self-mythology that acts as a filter – (I am a… single parent/ good friend/ conscientious manager/ b-movie junkie/ haphazard daughter) – the stories we tell ourselves we feel define who we are. Information and advice that doesn’t fit easily into our self-parameters is sometimes discarded.

Sometimes it’s worth revisiting your filters – especially if you’re hearing information that surprises you (good or bad).

Recently, a good friend who is also a fabulous peer mentor sat me down firmly and pointed out that I had been short-selling my abilities due to the fact that I was not acknowledging my own recent growth. (She’d tried to tell me gently but I hadn’t listened) I had to rethink how I was packaging myself in the corporate world with her *new information.

On the flip side, my son gently had me revisit my conviction that I’m a great mom when I pushed a joke on him too far publicly.

I’m obviously far from my goal of being perfect.