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Ottawa Networking

March 6, 2011
social networks

Photo credit: Renjith Krishnan

In my perpetual search for local business resources I recently stumbled upon the Women’s Business Network (WBN). They have monthly/ bi-monthly events and cater to business women within the Ottawa region. As a member of the association, there offer you professional development opportunities, networking events as well group insurance privileges. They also host a table at the bi-annual National Women’s Show regularly.

Connect the Dots created by Ignite Potentials Training Inc and other leading women’s networking groups, offers a great list of websites such as Girlfriend Social, Girl Geek Dinners Ottawa and She Geared. The last of which is “geared” towards young women interested in entrepreneurship. Last but not least I also wanted to mention The Fuchsia Factory whose reach seems to be growing every time I visit the site. Keep up the great work ladies!

Social Media & Other “Digital (Dia)tribe”

February 25, 2010

“Life is a Beta, you can’t be afraid of change” – Patti Church, founder of Whyhire.me

In today’s business world you need to be creative, innovative  and ultimately thrive on change. Now some may be asking themselves “what is the key to harnessing all of this successfully?” and the simplest answer is by marketing through social media.

Although the realm of social media is a place where you get to tell your own or your company’s story to anyone you want, you can limit the access to your accounts. However before you do, you should always ask yourself “why?”.  I mean if you are in the business of wanting people to see you and know you, you have to be open and transparent about your business. By doing so, you will foster a sense of corporate responsibility that is equated to your brand.

Another important factor in terms of branding is that you should never be afraid to stand out and be unique! Understanding your personal branding is key to achieving success in social media. You can’t expect others to want to read about who you are and what you have to say until you understand it yourself, can you?

The following is a list of popular social networks and tools:

  • Facebook [Keep only those who you are friends with on here unless it is a corporate/fan page that you are managing.]
  • YouTube [Great for creating free advertising and video resumes. If you are a nonprofit then there is actually a channel that is dedicated to helping charities either through fundraising, advocacy or simply awareness.]
  • Myspace [Similar to Facebook and may be used for networking but also has a developer section to build apps that will engage their users.]
  • Flickr [Pictures that can be used for your site can be bought from here or you may even find some royalty free images too.]
  • Linked in [A great tool for networking. Similar to an online resume but with the ability to get recommendations that are easily accessible to potential clients or business prospects.]
  • Delicious [Can be used for information management and professional leads. Once you have an account you can bookmark sites from any computer and be able to access them online at anytime.]
  • Wikispaces [Similar to Google’s group pages but has a little bit more bells and whistles with it’s paid version. This includes better security, single log-in and a personal domain name for your group to collaborate on projects with ease.]
  • Slideshare [Share presentations by interest or for business as well as word documents and PDF’s. Great for free online storage that can be shared publicly or with a private group.]
  • Blogger [Blogging site that creates template-based websites for subscribers. More for personal use that business.]
  • WordPress [Blogging site (wordpress.com) and CMS (wordpress.org) that offers great usability for a low cost to be hosted.]
  • Twitter [Promote events and share information at a limit of 144 characters referred to as “tweets”. Lists are a new and efficient way of organizing individuals you are following into categories for others to subscribe to.]

Patti Church and her husband  Andy Church both spearheaded the amazing website Whyhire.me. She considers it a ‘Classroots’ organization and although they are currently opening up registration to post-secondary classes only, they already have  big plans for the future with a well known textbook publisher. It appears the possibilities of innovation and creativity are endless and Patti is helping students to understand just how much the internet can help them in their careers.

Check out this media clip about the project and decide for yourself whether or not technology has the potential to create a better transition for students into the working world:

News to satisfy any appetite

January 26, 2010

Any successful news site contains great use of Content, Media and Navigation (CMN). CMN is the core of any news site because it’s what drives traffic.

Keeping in mind that the next site is only a click away, if you keep the following sandwich analogy in mind, you will always keep your readers hungry for more 😉

  1. Catchy Content: (Meat)
    The content is the most important part of the site so you should always have juicy ledes with matching but equally flavourful stories.
  2. More Multimedia: (Condiments)
    Media should always be on the top left hand side of the page as it is where your viewer’s eyes will be drawn to first. Another great way to spice up your media even more is to have your pictures located within a scrolling marquee box. Then all of the top stories from each main page (Sports, Local, etc.) will be highlighted.
  3. Neat Navigation: (Bun)
    Navigation keeps everything together, just like a bun does for a sandwich. Remember to keep it simple and user-friendly, which usually means a single, top navigation menu. However if you feel the need to provide a few more options to your readers than left-side navigation is always a wise choice as it follows proper F-shaped eye-flow. Most importantly though, your navigation should be good but it should never overpower your content.

A Tactic is NOT a Strategy

December 19, 2009

In the word’s of PR Guru Bob LeDrew you only need to remember one thing when it comes to Communications  “that strategy always comes first”! If you keep this in mind at all times, you will be  amply prepared to take on any PR, Communications or Business problem that may arise.

One important thing to remember throughout everything, a tactic (communications tool such as blog, twitter, news release) is NOT a strategy!

Bob’s survival kit is as follows:

  1. Strategy first
  2. Situation & Analysis
  3. Goals
  4. Tactics
  5. Evaluation

Damage Control for bad PR:

  1. Ensure accuracy with Executives about message and methods
  2. Don’t hide (always address the public within 6 hours… Tiger are you listening?)
  3. Be honest about the facts (even if you don’t know, admit that you don’t know)
  4. Say what you need to say but know where your limit is (just because someone asks a question does not been you have answer it)

Quick Blogging Tips:

  • Don’t say anything you aren’t willing to defend
  • Be genuine
  • You are never anonymous online
  • Be judgemental of what you write and what you say before you say it
  • If you go over the line be willing to step back and/or apologize

Stories/posts that usually get more hits focus on:

  • Human tragedy or triumph
  • Community coming together
  • Weirdness
  • Conflict
  • Great visuals

Please remember to check out Bob’s blog “Translucid Communications” for more great tips and information.

Branding: What’s In a Name?

December 19, 2009
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Your company’s name is your brand and the value of that name is only as good as your last client. However your brand is also your reputation as a business owner. You will need to remember this in case you ever feel uncomfortable about a client. Remember they are requesting your work and not vice-versa.

Another key point to make  is that  in order to maintain a good reputation, you need to remember to stay consistent across all mediums. Knowing your brand will immensely help you in the long run because your brand is ultimately a decision tool.

A brand is the sum of:

  • Messaging
  • Visual elements
  • Personality
  • Promise of value
  • Ongoing actions and behaviour

Selling your brand:

  1. Keep in mind the sales funnel (some opportunities always get missed) and unfortunately there really isn’t much you can do about it. The best method is to learn how to analyze what got funneled and use it for your next sales pitch.
  2. The initial contact can be a great way to catch people off guard but always in accordance to your brand. A great example is a company called Green Melon. They have a great branding strategy (one that is too great to give away mind you) but the least I can say is to check out their “fresh” appeal!
  3. You need to have the mindset of “we can help each other” rather than simply trying to impress your potential client. Working together to address their problems will change the way they respond to you. Ideally you should see them as a partner rather than a vendor.
  4. If you go into the meeting with the mindset of “impress them” there is often a tendency to get defensive.
  5. Don’t be a standard – you need to stand out in their minds. However, don’t be fake! Authenticity always pays out in the end. Would you really want to represent or work with someone who has the complete opposite set of values as you?
  6. If you don’t follow-up, then you have wasted your time. In an interview situation, always follow-up. Send an e-mail with “I did some research on that question you asked and here’s some of the latest tools I found”.

Business Networking 2.0

December 19, 2009

Here are a few simple rules to follow when networking for business purposes.

Networking 101:

  • Don’t print your business cards yourself. Never cut it out and expect people to take you seriously.
  • Do not seek networking to get a job, be genuine and use it properly.
  • Always follow-up but don’t be aggressive, you need to know your timing.

Vary your relationships:

  • Career advisor’s should not be the same people who you ask to line you up with a job. They usually give you advice on how to enrich your career and may help guide you by giving you resources and advice, not an interview.
  • Endorsements are from people who will give you reviews. A great example is the website Linkedin. The connections you make on here are your personal and professional connections. However, remember that almost everything online is in the public eye. If you don’t want to be connected with someone, don’t accept their invite!
  • Support people are those who help you and get you through tough times. They may also be the ones to help you realize your true potential as either an entrepreneur or an individual.

Do your research:

  • You never want to be that person who forgets half of the people’s names that you have already met. If there is a list of speakers or attendees to a networking event listed ahead of time such as the recent TedX or Connect the dots, look them up. The more prepared you are going into a situation, the better the outcome.
  • Find out which website works best for you. If you are of a certain demographic, you may not necessarily feel that Facebook is a good business networking tool (which it really isn’t – more social), however you may like a site like Ecademy.
  • Find out if the dress code for the event ahead of time. It’s always wise to dress up regardless of the situation when it comes to business but remember that you want to be real and project who you are as a person. Being different and standing out in a crowd is what makes you memorable!

E-Commerce: A lesson in vocabulary

December 18, 2009

E-Commerce or “electronic commerce” (and sometimes even “electronic marketing”) refers to the buying and selling of products or services over electronic systems such as but limited to the internet (Wiki).  To make things just slightly more complicated there seems to be a whole separate vocabulary around the subject.  As a matter of fact we might as well just call it “E-cab”. With everything From “e-tail” (electronic retail) and “e-tailers” to “Electronic Data Exchange” (EDI) and “Electronic Funds Transfer”  (EDF) it’s a wonder that people don’t get lost in the E-insanity!

An important thing to remember though is that e-Commerce is not solely about online shopping, although it does play a rather large part! Other business applications are:

  • Email
  • Instant Messaging
  • Online offices (virtual assistants)
  • Payment systems
  • Teleconferencing

And although I’m sure that there are many more applications to list, these are just a few that come to mind.

Keeping in mind the “E-cab” lesson that I promised you, there is one other rather important component of e-Commerce, B2B & B2C. I know, I can hear everyone now… “enough with the acronyms” but I hate to say it, but that’s the internet for you! So B2B simply stands for “Business to Business” transactions (trade for example) and B2C stands for “Business to Consumer” transactions (online shopping).

Now, more than ever, e-Commerce is an important part of almost any business. Especially if they have any type of online presence. From offering premium content on their website  to selling e-books or merchandise, it’s hard to ignore the lure of “e-funds”.

If you are planning on offering a service that requires an e-Commerce platform, make sure that you use a verified and secure company like Paypal. Which is a great alternative to providing information by credit card. Paypal, which is now owned by the makers of Ebay, provides world class fraud prevention  and low interest rates (some with no monthly fees).

If you get a chance I would highly recommend checking out their site as they have great tips on how to sell securely as well how to protect yourself from identity theft and spoofs.