A Career in What You Love Ain’t So Easy

I’ve never been fired from a job. Up until recently, I’ve kind of considered that a badge of honor. It meant that I was never bad enough at a job that someone couldn’t bear to keep me on, that I wasn’t hard to work with, or, let’s face it, that I wasn’t unlucky enough to be at a job that had to severely downsize. I’ve only failed hard once, and that was when I tried to sell knives. Kudos people who can make a living at that stuff. I couldn’t hack it. Recently, however, I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts. Some of them have featured great speakers like Seth Godin, C.C. Chapman, and Mitch Joel, who’ve all talked about how much they’ve learned by failing. Have I failed myself by not failing? Have I not pushed myself far enough out of my comfort zone cocoon and simply made it too easy? These are the questions I’m stuck with at the moment.

This about sums up my carrer direction

This about sums up my carrer direction

It’s easy to say “Find what you love and get paid to do it.” There’s very little out there that tells you how to find what you love to do, if you’re not exactly sure what that is. This is my boat. I have no idea what I love. Some people innately have a passion for something that drives them toward a goal. I just sort of move forward in a general, indistinct direction. I haven’t found that *spark* or that aha moment. I’ve been pretty apt at most jobs I’ve tried my hand at, and I’m a quick learner. You can’t really look those skills up on LinkedIn and narrow a job search, though. They’re skills that everyone wants from an employee, sure, but they’re not an interest. Not a passion. As a community manager, I love the social aspect of social media, but I’m not a numbers guy. Trying to calculate metrics and ROI and advertising dollars sort of makes my head spin. It makes me question my longevity in the industry of social media as businesses continually want proof that this will bring money in the door, and community managers become more intwined with marketing manager roles.

Failure IS an option, as it turns out.

A different way to look at failure.

So I think I’m going to try things, and if I fail, I fail. They don’t have to be big things. Maybe a blog post that I just want to throw out into the word will fail. Maybe acting on an idea to see if it sinks or swims. Failures that move us forward, I think, don’t have to be large, life-altering fails. Just something to help us make forward progress. I guess I’m understanding that we have to give ourselves permission. And that’s hard. As Chris Brogan said in his short podcast I recently listened to, you just have to do it, and it doesn’t have to be perfect every time. So there you are. Be imperfect. Go fail. I guess we’ll all be better for it. Let’s discuss how this works out for us respectively, ok?

What about you? Have you had some failures that have made you better? Are you struggling to find our aha moment? Share your perspective below.

Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on!

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Sometimes, you have to blog naked.

Nope, I didn’t stutter. You heard me right. Sometimes, you simply have to blog naked. Let me explain.

Maybe don't go quite this far...

Maybe don’t go quite this far…

I’ve been blogging for just over a year now. Each post is not only an opportunity to share the things I know and am interested in, but also opportunities to learn and grow as a blogger. Some of my posts are carefully crafted, pined over for weeks of adding notes into Evernote or saving and resaving as drafts. Some post ideas come to me in the shower, and I’ve literally sat down at my computer still wrapped in a towel to get my ideas down before they leave me. That’s kind of the idea behind this post.

Laptop in shower

I don’t recommend this method. At all.

Not all your ideas have to be carefully crafted. Many of my most successful blog posts have been rather off-the-cuff, and written more in the moment. An idea strikes me, or is really timely, so I just get it in a format I feel good about and send it on to the world. Maybe that will work for you, and maybe it won’t. When an idea hits you, however—act on it. Waiting until later may reduce the salience of your idea, or potentially have it lost altogether. I highly recommend some sort of idea-saving tool like Evernote, or even just your portable device’s notepad feature (most have them). I’ve even considered putting a dry erase board in my shower, so I can jot down ideas when they come to me in the shower (as they so often do!). So yes, sometimes you have to blog naked to make sure that your ideas are getting out into the world. Go do it!

Do you have a recommendation on an app or method that works for you? Share you thoughts and ideas with a comment below!

Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on!

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The Internet Is Out of Control This Week

SXSW announcments galore, major changes to the things you know and love–ladies and gentlemen, the internet is out of control this week.

First off, I had an awesome SXSWi experience. I met some awesome folks and I’ll be writing a blog post about that soon.

If you haven’t heard already, Google has announced that it’s getting rid of Google Reader. It’s not worth their resources anymore, so you have until July 1st to get it together and aggregate elsewhere. For the full story, click below.

Also, just when you thought you knew Twitter’s format, it’s changing things up. You can now use line breaks. This could be awesome, or it could make your Twitter feed the most annoying thing on the planet. Let the unfollows begin. More information below:

OH, and then Facebook was all like “Hey guys, what about me? I’ll start working on allowing hashtags!” The internet is no longer as we knew it.

 

What do you think about these two developments in social media? Has this week completely disrupted your work flow, or could you care less. Share you thoughts with a comment below!

Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on!

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That Social Media Mojo

For a while, I lost my mojo. I became disillusioned with the overwhelming feeling that I couldn’t keep up with blogging, social networking and my job, and I didn’t think blogging was getting me anywhere. I didn’t think anyone cared, wasn’t sure if anyone was reading and I felt like I was just pumping out my content to no one. So, I stopped. I haven’t written a blog post for weeks. I wanted to, but then I would just get flustered and tell myself that it didn’t matter anyway. I considered deleting my blog, but I didn’t. I’m glad that I didn’t.

I received a comment out of the blue this week on a post I did a couple months ago. It was an engaging comment and in the end the person thanked me for writing the post. This small gesture reminded me why I blog. I don’t do it for constant comments, retweets on Twitter or raving fans. I do it so I can connect with people who are interested in the same things I am. I do it to share information with those who are seeking it. The glory of the internet is that posts just float out there, and can show up again when people are looking for them.

I sometimes look at the big names in blogging, the social media pros, and I wonder how the hell they have time to still have a life. I realized it’s because they don’t try to do everything. They focus on the things that are most important to them, keep the peripheral in mind without completely fragmenting their focus, and thus are able to have time to do other things. I’ve wanted to be so “engaged” that my focus has been in too many directions. I haven’t been able to give anything enough attention, because I was trying to focus on everything. And so, just in time for Halloween, I’m coming back from the dead.

blog, blogging, blogger, zombie, social media

The horror! The humanity! The blogging!

Also, I’m currently reading a pre-published copy of Chris Brogan and  Julien Smith’s “The Impact Equation” (affiliate link) and I’m already telling you to pick it up when it hits on 10/25. You’ll love it, and be inspired by it. These guys are no b.s. about how to make an impact, and it’s not the same old crap you hear everywhere else.

How do you keep your social media mojo going? What inspires you to blog, even if you’re not getting the engagement you wish you were?

Let me know below with your comments.

Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on!

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3 Tips for Doing Twitter Outreach Without Being a Creep

By now you’ve probably heard that social media does not follow the Field of Dreams mantra: “If you build it, they will come.” (I know, for all you die hard Field of Dreams fans, that’s not the factually accurate quote. But that’s what it has become in pop culture so bear with me.) Simply setting up your social media profiles and waiting for people to come swarming to them will just not happen. You have to give them a reason to come to your page. You have to seek them out by knowing your business, knowing your customers, and knowing your community. One great way to seek out potential customers is by doing Twitter outreach. I’m not going to go through the use of Twitter’s search features here. Those articles have already been written by much more knowledgeable bloggers to varying degrees. I did recently write a guest post for Main Street Hub, a social media management company that focuses on local businesses, in which I discuss three tips for doing Twitter outreach without coming across as a creep or spambot. Twitter is fraught with both, so differentiating yourself from them is critical. You can read the post here:

What are your thoughts on Twitter outreach? Have you been reached out to or poached successfully? What did the person do that worked, or didn’t? Do you have any more tips to add? Let me know below with your comments. Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on! Follow this blog on Google Currents! Download the app in your app store or marketplace and click here to subscribe.

LinkedIn’s Profile Facelift, and a Feature You May Not Know About

As many of you have probably heard or seen, LinkedIn announced that it is giving profiles a facelift and working on making the site better equipped for social interaction. This surely is in part due to the split from Twitter. If you haven’t seen the changes on your profile and mobile apps already, you will soon. It’s cleaner, clearer and an undeniable upgrade. Here is a great article outlining some of the major changes and discussing how they may effect you. Perhaps it’s time to spruce things up a bit on your profile.

While checking out my shiny new page, I noticed that LinkedIn is focusing even more on the important stuff. As you scroll down my page, you see my summary, experience, publications, and projects. In that order. This means that as people are viewing your previous experience, they are likely to see your Projects too. Are you using this great, but highly undervalued feature on LinkedIn? I’ve included a video below explaining how to add one, and the great benefits that come along with creating Projects (like strengthening and increasing your connections). I guest posted about this on Entrepreneur Magazine columnist Starr Hall’s blog a couple months ago, but I feel it bears mentioning again.


What are your thoughts on this feature? What do you think of LinkedIn’s new profile pages? Do you have any speculation as to what’s coming next for the professional network? Let me know below with your comments.

Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on!

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Rise of the Social Homepages

Time is becoming a very precious thing indeed. Trying to keep up on blogs, social networks, news, friends, family, work, and having non-computer related experiences create a life of constant pull on our attention. This constant pull in a gazillion different directions is exactly why I think these “Social homepages” are becoming more and more relevant. I’ve only joined two so far, and each has some functionalities that they can boast. Basically, they connect all of your social status updates and put them in a visual ‘homepage’ where one can visit and see everything that you’re sharing. The key here is the visual element. Photos you take, images pulled from links, videos; all these create a visually engaging aesthetic that will save your friends and followers time from visiting all of your networks. Let’s take a look at them.

Social networks all in one place

RebelMouse was created by by the former CTO of The Huffington Post, Paul Berry. It’s still in beta but is receiving a huge amount of buzz. Features have already been added from when I first received my invite. You can now embed your RebelMouse into your website or blog, thus making all your social updates visible from either. This is huge because your customers, potential clients, or friends don’t have to leave the place you’re putting your best work, as well as your products or services. You also have the ability to highlight certain posts that you want to stay stationary and maintain good real estate on your page, which I love!  As of right now, RebelMouse allows you to pull updates from Facebook profiles and pages, Twitter (you’ll need to use either to create your account) and just recently, Instagram. In an interview on July 9th, Paul Berry states that more networks are coming, such as Google+ and Tumblr. You can also manually add stories, which I imagine people who fully embrace their RebelMouse page as a homepage will be doing often. You can create separate RebelMouse pages for Facebook pages of which you are an admin, which is a great advantage to admins of multiple pages that aren’t really related. You can view others in your Facebook or Twitter networks that are using RebelMouse and follow their pages. Since it’s still in public beta, I can’t wait to see what new things come out of this already-popular platform.

glos.si for social networks

I was actually reached out to on Twitter by glos.si’s co-founder Sandy Lin while tweeting about RebelMouse (good poaching!). Since I dug RebelMouse, I figured it was worth a look, and I set up my own glos.si page. The first thing I noticed was that glos.si takes the same approach that Klout does and connects just about every social network under the sun. The designers to a great job of helping users show off their networks by listing them with icons in the profile heading. This is nice, just in case followers want to go and focus solely on a single network. glos.si uses the same idea I mention above for RebelMouse of creating something visually engaging, with your Foursquare updates staying stationary on the right and your other updates visually represented in tiled columns to the left. The option to change your view between images, articles, videos and everything makes reading pages a breeze. You also get to choose a background image, thus creating an even more personalized experience. The site uses a pretty cool randomized search to allow you to connect with other glos.si users not already in your other networks. As for connecting with friends using glos.si, you can only search Facebook and Twitter. One feature that I find really cool is the Newsstand feature. This creates a glos.si page of updates from everyone you follow, saving you even more time.

RebelMouse is already a slick platform with a very believable promise that there’s more to come. glos.si has a great interface already, and is strides ahead of RebelMouse since it was started back in September last year. Once RebelMouse comes of out beta, these two will certainly be in head to head competition. I’ll be interested to see where the two of them go.

Are you using either of these sites? Are there other “social homepage” sites that you’ve come across? Let me know below with your comments.

Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on!

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Brand Your Instagram Photos Using Over App

Over App

Taken with Instagram, text added with Over

A couple weeks ago, Chris Brogan tweeted about an app he was digging and shared a Google Hangout he had with a guy named Aaron Marshall. The app was called Over, and it allows you to add text over pictures on your iPhone (for the time being) using a really slick interface. You can then post your edited photos to Facebook (profile not page, yet), Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr (having issues getting mine to show up though) or send the image via email. I’ve yet to have Chris Brogan steer me wrong, so I checked out the app myself. Seemed like a fun way to spice up photos and I really enjoy the use of a scrolling wheel to go through all of your options. Later, I read a blog post shared by Valerie Deveza reminding bloggers that you can (and should) easily use your own, royalty-free images in your blog posts. This saves time scouring for usable images (and potential distractions of perusing the internet) and any concern of copyright infringement. Then. It hit me.

Over App

Taken with Instagram, text added with Over

A fantastic use for Over is to “brand” your photos that you take on your iPhone. If you already use Instagram or Facebook Camera, take your pictures and add your filters as normal. Open Over and load the picture in, add your company name, website, your name, message, etc, choose a font (more are available for individual purchase) and suddenly, the photo is officially yours. Also, if you’re a fan of Paper by 53 for the iPad (of which I am a raving fan), you can doodle your image, email it to yourself or screen capture it, add your text with Over, and suddenly it becomes branded as well. (Conversely, you could write out your company’s name/info in Paper if you have a steady hand, but I know many professionals whose handwriting is pretty atrocious.) Either way, you’ll get to show off your creative side and never worry if you’re going to receive a cease and desist letter for an image you’re using. Even with proper credit, you just can’t be too sure when using others’ intellectual property.

Fifty-Three, Yelp, Over App

Drawn with Paper by 53, text added with Over

The best part about using Over with the apps I’ve discussed is that you don’t have to go and buy (or illegally download) any expensive software. Over and Paper may cost you a few bucks, then you’re off to writing your blog safely, further engaging your creativity and artistic side. Just think. You could even create your own memes!

What are your thoughts on this approach? Are you using any other text-overlay apps that you’re hooked on? Are you already using your own images in your blog posts?

Let me know below with your comments.

Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on!

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Why the Olympics could be bad for your business

Olympics London 2012

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The 2012 Summer Olympics are approaching quickly. Soon status updates and tweets will be flooding timelines and feeds with the latest stories, winners, broken records, upsets and national pride. What could possibly be wrong with that, you ask? Well, if you’re trying to still garner any attention during the Olympics, you may find your attempts getting buried and ignored by distracted potential customers (y’know, even more than they already are.) I read an article in Inc. Magazine about a company called Elemental that will be providing the technology to live stream the Olympics events to mobile devices. What could possibly be more distracting than that? It has also been said that this Olympics will be remembered as the first truly Social Olympics, Facebook has partnered with NBC to promote coverage, and athletes are being held to strict regulations. So what are you to do?

You’re going to have to get involved. That’s right, you need to do a couple things to keep yourself relevant while those Olympians are fighting for the gold, and the attention of your customers:

  1. Inject yourself into the conversation –  Let’s be honest. McDonald’s unhealthy double quarter pounder and large fries have nothing to do with the rigorous healthy regimen that Olympic athletes must hold themselves to. But will McDonald’s find a way to remain relevant and advertise using the Olympics as a backdrop? You better believe it. Find a story and run with it. Keep up on athletes (maybe some from a relatively local area) and support them, report on their victories or upsets, engage your customers in what is important to them in the moment. Find ways to subtly but interestingly insert your product or service. Do you sell sports equipment? Talk about those pro goggles or amazing new running shoes an athlete is wearing. Do you specialize in childcare? Get the kids involved in the stories of athletes rise to glory and the importance of staying fit. Do you sell electronics? Um, guys, they’re streaming the Olympics live on mobile devices. We have those mobile devices. Don’t be overbearing, just be relevant. If you can be clever without coming across as a slimy salesperson, even better.Twitter hashtags trending topics
  2. Follow the hashtags – Honestly, I hate trending topics. I find that they’re either things I could care less about or just outright stupid. However, when huge things happen, they trend. (For example, at the time of typing this, two trending topics are #SongsThatGiveYouGoosebumps and Is Pregnant. Insert long Napoleon Dynamite sigh here.) Being someone who is on Twitter for good parts of the day reaching out to customers, I can tell you that general Twitter users love easily shareable hashtags (especially the 10ThingsYadaYadaYada kind). The Olympics has an official hashtag (#London2012), so watching that is important. Maybe even create your own, just be sure to check that it doesn’t already exist. Again, use these to find out what conversations are going on and join them. Are people tweeting about that hometown favorite who lost by 5 tenths of a second? Lament right along with them. Is an up and coming swimmer talking about that speedo that Tyler McGill is wearing? If you’re a sports shop, do you sell those? Be creative and be interesting so you won’t be forgotten.

I know it’s not a simple as it sounds. You’re busy and this is another thing on your plate. As a small or local business, community is everything, and national pride is a unifier not to be scoffed at. It really could pay off for you to do these two things.

What do you think? Do you already have any plans to compete with the increased social traffic of the Olympics? Are you the type of person who gets excited about the games? Do you plan to try to live stream it to your mobile device and keep up on the results?

Let me know below with your comments.

Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on!

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