Another step down the path

'Follow the winding path' by erikaemergency As in all endeavors, there are many steps involved in accomplishing our goals.  In transitioning from corporate social strategist to independent consultant I had a number of directions I was hoping to go.  It’s finally time to launch one of those directions – I am now offering training courses through Social Media Breakfast.

While I’m working on additional courses, I now have the initial training session that SMBMSP is offering: Social Media 101 – Where to StartSMBMSPWhile a large number of the Social Media Breakfast – Minneapolis/St. Paul members are beyond this level, we have a host of new members in the last several months from multiple disciplines.  I think this course will be a good place for these folks to start, and subsequent training sessions will provide more in depth information as they grow and develop in the social media environment.

It’s been an interesting path to follow these last few weeks as I’ve been getting started on multiple initiatives – many taking more time than I had anticipated!  Watch for more new things coming in the next few weeks.

Photo credit: erikaemergency

Changes & Opportunities

Rick MahnIt’s been a long time coming, but there are significant changes taking place here this week.  The first change being a new look* and updated layout here on the site.  The current design was done almost two years ago by Mykl Roventine, a great designer & creator of things ;-), and has served this blog well during that time.
The next evolution of this site, needs to support the evolving needs I have online and in working with clients and organizations.  More information on resources, ideas, offerings, services, and such are part of that plan, and I think the new design is going to fit those needs nicely.  In addition to that, it’s just time to freshen things up a bit to go along with that new direction.
The other portion of the refresh is around opportunities.  The growing Social Media Breakfast community here in Minneapolis & St. Paul is one part, but also the national organization is working together as it grows.  The education needs of our communities are growing, the number of businesses both large and small in need of advice & direction is expanding along with the opportunities to mentor folks who need it.  All these things are part of my thinking in this redesign and direction for the future.
So when you ask?  This week I say!  Much of  the new design is ready to go and I’ll be working into the wee hours here & there to bring it live, but it will be done by the end of the week.  Gotta go now though, still much to do, and still more to share later.
* New design now live, the old one looked like this.

Learn From The Truth

Truth by slowdevil Sometimes its hard to listen to someone telling you the truth.  Deep down you know they’re right, and that’s why you don’t stop them in their tracks.  You know you need to hear it even though you don’t want to.  It’s good for you.

The reality is that we often need to have our perceptions reset, and that means we need to listen.  It also means that we need a network of closely trusted peers that can tell us we’re full of it, and be able to remain close because of it.  If you don’t have that kind of network, then you haven’t been working hard enough in your personal social networking efforts.

Learning that the great idea you have is crap, or simply needs a few easy tweaks is as important as the ideas themselves.  The ability to listen to people who care about your success and take that knowledge forward to make what you do better is a learned skill that true professionals embrace at every opportunity.

One of the things I learned from SXSW this past week was that I had been neglecting a portion of my network.  Many of the people I had connected with years ago, I hadn’t kept up with and my future has been impacted because of it.  That was my realization of truth, pointed out by a friend while in Austin.  It’s not a mistake I’ll make a second time.

Now, what have you learned this week from a friend?

What have you done to help a peer succeed?

Picture courtesy of slowdevil.

Personal Branding Magazine – Issue 9

Personal Branding Magazine - Issue 9There’s a magazine I’ve been contributing to for almost three years, and if you’re looking for a great resource on personal branding and career growth, I highly recommend it!

Summary: Volume 3, Issue 3 is about becoming so important to your company, your customers and the people around you, that they can’t live without you. When that occurs, you’ll be making more money, have better relationships and wield a powerful personal brand. In this issue, Seth Godin reveals his hope for career revolutionaries who want to remain relevant in a world that is being transformed by the internet. Also, in this issue we explore how Guy Fieri has built his personal brand as a television personality on the food network and how NFL football player Jarvis Green has taken the leap into entrepreneurship.

If you’re simply curious and would like to sample the magazine rather than a full subscription, check out the sample issue here:

Full subscriptions ( 50% of the proceeds benefit the American Cancer Society) and all the information about contributing authors and guest writers is available here:

Here’s publisher Dan Schawbel on the latest issue:

Follow Personal Branding Magazine on Facebook.

Building Internal Community

'every day' by torugatoru Doesn’t it seem like we talk a lot about social media as a tool for sales or marketing?  It certainly is a great channel for that in the right context, and the right usage.  I’m curious how many folks who talk about building a community for their customers have thought about building community for their employees.  Take that external viewpoint and turn around… apply it internally… what do you think could happen?
The idea is nothing new, and actually pre-dates "social media" by a long time.  We’ve all been part of special groups within other organizations.  I’m sure the companies you’ve worked for have had groups that range from bowling leagues to cross-functional project groups, to cost-reduction purchase management councils.  Groups take many different forms, but these examples don’t really represent "community" as we use the term for social media.
I was reminded during the "Behind The Firewall" chat on Twitter last night (#btf every Thursday at 8pm CT) that IBM had done a lot of this work in the late 90s using Lotus Notes.  That was probably one of the first packaged tools available that allowed for both free form and structured interactions.
Businesses have been looking for ways to build more productive teams.  Social Media, er… I mean collaboration, (no they’re not the same, but many folks confuse the issue – we’ll roll with it for now), is one of those methodologies that can accomplish multiple tasks.  If you remove the technology portion for a minute, and the marketing perspective, you can start to focus on solving business issues.  This is where social media can prove it’s adaptability to an organization.

Building community inside most large organizations is difficult, but no more so than building community in a public forum.  You have several different interest groups, and numerous points of view in every organization, these aspects and others make up the great diversity that companies can draw on to power their internal communities.  Building collaborative environments that allow for socialization of profiles and interaction enables employees to find like-minded folks elsewhere in the company.  These folks are having conversations about work, life, projects, challenges, problems and much more.  These conversations already take place at the "water cooler", in the cube farms, on the loading docks, in the lunch room and anywhere else employees feel comfortable talking.

That’s the key to it too, comfort level.  Providing an environment that people can speak their mind can be a larger productivity boost than a time waster.  Create that space using social media tools & ideas, and let folks have a venue for conversations about work, conversations about non-work life, and a anonymous sounding boards that let folks give feedback and even vent frustrations a little bit.

Collaboration is a key piece of the puzzle to be sure, but make sure to include the social part too.  "Social" is not a four letter word, and is not exclusive to non work life.  We all socialize professionally at work, collaborating on increasing sales, and satisfying customers in one way or another.  If everyone is "on the same team", how effective is that team without getting to know each other better?  Let those relationships grow organically within the employee population rather than trying to mandate it.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Photo credit: torugatoru

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