Blogging

What a Year of Blogging Taught Me

As an agile coach with experience in the startup community, there is no greater way to learn than by just doing it. That was the advice Seth Godin gave me last December. The only way people will know you are an expert at something, he said, is if you tell them. It challenged me, because I wondered if I had what it took.Blogging

Mobile technology was not only my work, it fascinated me on a daily basis. It was lean by definition, which melded nicely with me being a scrum coach. I wondered if agile and mobile could be written about in the same space. So, off I went.

Over 200 posts later, both are experiencing growth in the technology industry, so it’s been fun to watch it play out. I am not sure if I am an expert at either subject, but writing for a year, has taught me a ton.

I learned to lead with transparency. How often have you found yourself reading the thoughts of a person you hardly know anything about? Not that you have to personally know me to take my posts seriously, but your voice needs to contain pieces of who you are for your words to resonate with readers. The easiest way is to be transparent.

Granted, leading is the difficult part. When I coach my teams and peers, transparency is one of the most difficult and productive ways to lead. You must, of course, encourage others by first demonstrating it. When business leaders speak of “leading” transparency, they are referring to the fact that all great leaders demonstrate the trait. To do that, you must be the first to initiate transparency. I have found that the more I write with transparency, the more I lead with it.

I learned being an expert means collaborating with others.
There have been many times in my career that I was all alone with my ideas. I was either the only person in my subject area at the time, or in a remote location where I couldn’t easily discuss what was going on. In both situations, it was up to me to reach out to others for validation. When someone wanted to know how I felt about the field of mobile technology or agile development methodology, I simply pointed them to chrismurman.com and asked them to let me know what they thought.

Not only did it lead to a wealth of information in the form of conversations, but others got to know me in a unique way. My current boss at Bottle Rocket, who I met through LinkedIn, had access to all the information he needed on Chris Murman. When a spot opened up on his team, the relationship we had formed made his call simple. This post by Ryan Hoover emphasizes this point by stating a blog is the new resume.

I also learned my writing improves my work.
There have been days where my wife wasn’t happy about my blogging. Pesky things like “family time” and “connecting” were getting put aside because I needed to crank out one more post. Eventually, though, she learned that sacrifices just needed to be made. Hashtag sarcasm.

In all seriousness, it’s hard to commit to writing every week. When I first started, I wanted to post every day. With this being my 213th post, I did not succeed, but what I established is a habit. There are some habits that are necessary, such as brushing your teeth. Others, like writing your thoughts on a regular basis, helps you to think. That translates to better thoughts on what I want to accomplish during work hours, and my conversations are structured well.

If I am willing to post the thought online, you can bet I have thought it out to the best of my ability. When the same subject comes up at work, I can easily articulate my point and seem more authoritative. Doing that about one subject per week is 52 well-established thoughts that can improve your work. Imagine if you did two or three a week!

Take the same challenge I took a year ago. It can improve your thought process personally and professionally. It’s an effort well worth the sacrifice. What would you like a year of writing to teach you?

About the Author: 

Chris Murman is an Agile Coach for Bottle Rocket – a multiple Apple Hall of Fame award winner and #61 on the Forbes America’s Most Promising Companies List. With over five years of combined experience in the mobile and agile technology worlds, Chris marries both worlds in his blog located at chrismurman.com. In February, along with co-author Matthew David, Chris has the upcoming release Designing Apps for Success from Focal Press. He can be reached at chrisdmurman@gmail.com or @chrismurman on Twitter.

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Blogging as a part of your job search requires discipline!

Each morning I wake up to a fresh new blog post from Chris Brogan.

You want to talk about discipline? Chris has discipline.

If you have a blog or have ever had a blog you probably know how difficult it is to find the time – let alone the ideas – to write a new blog post every single day.

A friend of mine said something to me recently that really made me think about discipline and how I need to have more of it, so Chris’s blog post, Discipline and the Blogger’s Opportunity, couldn’t have arrived at a better time for me.

Chris writes about the fact that every blog post is an opportunity. “Every time you post, you build an opportunity. It might be for making business. It might be for sharing thought leadership. It might be the chance to build some new relationships. Mechanically, it might just be another attempt to gain better organic ranking from Google. But each post is an opportunity.”

He goes on to provide several important points to consider before writing a blog post:

Show up – First, just be there. By writing a blog post on a regular schedule, your audience knows to expect you. They come to accept the flow of your efforts. Farmers have this relationship with their systems. It shows stewardship.

Deliver value – Bring your best game as often as possible. We all have “barely functional” days, but more often than not, if we’re earning people’s respect, our efforts must be something of value to our reader. Writing about ourselves doesn’t cut it.

Improve – Your great post from a week ago doesn’t give you a hall pass. Learn from those posts that don’t hit. Experiment. Read other great writers in your vertical and outside of it. Deconstruct what they’re doing and try to improve your game.

Clarify your desire – If you’re seeking a specific result from a post, guide your audience to that result. If you’re seeking sales, make the call to action obvious. If you’re looking for comments, invite a dialogue at the end of your post. It’s yours to win.

Do your part – Blogging isn’t all about your blog. Have you commented lately on others’ blogs? Are you sharing using the various social sharing tools? Be a good neighbor and help other bloggers by sharing, commenting, and adding value to the ecosystem.

As I read these points I couldn’t help but think that they can be applied to many areas of our lives…not just blogging.

Go back and read those points again, and this time think about them outside of the context of blogging. Think about them in terms of your job search.

Isn’t it interesting that the things that make us successful at doing one thing can make us successful in so many ways?

About the Author: 

Stephanie A. Lloyd is Strategist-in-Chief, Calibre Search Group, located in Atlanta, Georgia at the intersection of Talent Strategies + Social Media. With more than 15 years of experience in corporate recruiting and executive search, Stephanie works with hiring managers, HR executives, business owners, and recruiting firms on recruitment and retention strategy including how to better utilize social media for talent acquisition and employee communication. Stephanie is a regular contributor to Talent Net Live and The Matrix Wall, and she partners with Todd Schnick to produce the video blogging series He Said, She Said.

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Unplugging - There's (not) an App for that

On my morning drive into work, I shuffle between several radio stations. News Talk, Country, Top 40, and "Family Friendly." On Monday morning, I found myself engaged in a conversation that was taking place on Atlanta's Q100.

The topic: are we too "plugged in"? Particularly, they were focusing on kids that play video games and watch movies for hours each day.

But, that evening, as I was thinking through the conversation and the amount of time that the parents and kids spend in front of their computers, TVs, videos etc., I started thinking of how social media has elevated the amount of time professionals spend "plugged in".

Twitter. 4-square. Facebook. Apps. iPhones. Droids. iPads. iPods, Kindles. Blogs. The list could go on and on.

Social Media OverloadI was sitting on the couch and took a moment to look around. The scene in my house looked like this:

My wife and I were both on our laptops.
The TV was on.
I had Twitter, Facebook, and a blog up.
Both of us had our cell phones near our lap.
One ear-bud of my iPod was in so I could hear the music I wanted to download.
And did I mention I was trying to carry on IM chats with several kids in my church youth group?

Don't get me wrong, I love social media (obviously). And the technology that our generation has at our finger tips is nothing but astounding.

But, being in a business where "building relationships" is key, it's hard to learn the boundaries. According to HR Examiner, the most influential recruiters are those "plugged in". In fact, 100% have a blog, 40% have more than one blog, 96% are on Facebook, 88% on Twitter, and on average have over seven different presences in social media (LinkedIn, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs etc). 

Should I even touch on how many passwords you need to remember?

So, my question to you, does our generation know how to unplug? Is there an app for that? Should one of the 3,000 text messages teens send per month say "turn off UR cell". I also believe one of the main reasons 64% of Americans watch TV online is so they can multitask.

It's hard. Trust me. I tried last night and lasted till about 9pm when I checked the weather online, then found myself bouncing off into four other sites within a matter of minutes.

My prediction for social media in 2011 - people will be seeking "balance". Learning how to leverage the powerful tools, yet not spend their energy trying to be in all conversations at all times - becoming better at targeting the right conversations.

So, now that I've written this blog, I'm going to turn-off my computer and go for a run. . . after I check Facebook one last time.

About the Author: 

Adam Waid is the Director of Marketing at Mediacurrrent, an industry-leader in helping organizations architect custom Drupal websites. Adam is also a MATRIX Alumnus, where he worked closely with the Sales and Recruiting organizations to develop differentiation strategies, create content, and drive CRM and social media initiatives with a single goal in mind - build stronger, more meaningful relationships with our clients. Leveraging new technology, the latest social media trends, and a good mix of traditional marketing, Adam grows online communities.   Follow Adam on Twitter and Read his Social Media Blog.

 

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Your company is Tweeting, Facebooking, and Blogging. So what?

So, your company is on Twitter, Facebook, and has started a blog. So what?

Are you connecting to the right people?

Are you seeing any results from your efforts?

Every self-proclaimed social media mogul says "listen first," then speak. I agree, but where do you listen, who do you listen to, and how do you listen on SM? 

Targeting Customers on Social MediaI usually pick a "target audience" every few days and concentrate on building a relationship with them.

For example, let's say your company wants to sell Zen Gardens to stressed-out CEOs. (It was the first thing I saw when I looked around my desk).  

Step 1 - Connect.

 First, I suggest checking your database for all CEOs  that your currently working with. Run internal searches to see if any of them are on social media. It's important to connect with people you already know, and see who they are connected with. Done that already? Then, how about running a boolean search (you can use this one) on Google and find CEO's on LinkedIn that are also on Twitter.  

Step 2 - Listen.

How do you listen on social media? All those people you just connected with in Step 1, now it's time to listen, not in a stalkerish way, but in a way that knows what's going on in their world. Are they asking questions you can provide input to? Can you help sponsor an event? Do you have common personal interests/goals? All of those things are conversations to be on the lookout for. I like using Twitter Lists on TweetDeck so I can put people into categories and quickly monitor what that group is saying. By quickly, I mean scanning through their tweets once or twice a day.  

Step 3 - Interact.

I think this is where many companies potentially drop the ball.  They get their SM sites going, then, like Field of Dreams they hope customers will come.

Building a true social media platform takes a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit. Always thinking of ways to interact and build relationships.  A few basic examples: comment on a blog post, RT their information, support them in their speaking engagements, just interact with them! People on SM love when their content spreads.

Step 4 - Give.

I like to use the word give because relationships never work if your a "taker." So, give to your connections. Provide meaningful content via a blog or Twitter feed. Support their efforts whether speaking or blogging. Could they benefit from knowing another one your connections? Introduce them. Do you have an event they might be interested in attending? Invite them. Let your connections know that you are not all about you.

Step 5 - Engage.

Now that you've had meaningful interactions with them, it's time to pull the "relationship" even closer. Maybe they could guest author on your blog about the stress CEOs are facing. Or you could sponsor a series of Webinars for other CEOs. I'm making this up but you get the point. Your goal is for them to become an advocate of your SM efforts and of your organization.

I'm not claiming to be a sales expert. But, most sales people would agree that the best "deals" are done with those who they've built a solid relationship with. Social Media is a great tool to lay the foundation for a good relationship.

If all of this stresses you out,  I've got a Zen Garden with your name on it.

About the Author: 

Adam Waid is the Director of Marketing at Mediacurrrent, an industry-leader in helping organizations architect custom Drupal websites. Adam is also a MATRIX Alumnus, where he worked closely with the Sales and Recruiting organizations to develop differentiation strategies, create content, and drive CRM and social media initiatives with a single goal in mind - build stronger, more meaningful relationships with our clients. Leveraging new technology, the latest social media trends, and a good mix of traditional marketing, Adam grows online communities.   Follow Adam on Twitter and Read his Social Media Blog.

 

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Blogging Slump? 8 Tips to spark creativity.

I still remember when I started my first blog. I was so excited. I could think of a million ideas to write about and was sure that I would never hit a “creative wall.”

Four weeks in, and I was at a complete loss of things to share. The honeymoon was over and the initial excitement of being a “blogger” (I thought it sounded so cool) was gone. Now, I was just a guy with this internal pressure to post something.

So if you are thinking about starting a blog, or have one but are becoming stale and unenthusiastic, here are a few tips to spark some creativity:

  1. Lists- Top 5 lists are easy to read and always attract traffic.
  2. Photos – Post a photo related to your blog niche.
  3. How-To’s – Show your readers how to do something.
  4. Link – Have you read an article that you find interesting? Write a short blog post and link to it.
  5. Recommendations – Write-up a recommendation to your favorite book, website, movie, restaurant, etc.
  6. Interview - People love interviews. Interview an expert in your field and share it on the blog.
  7. Video - Most of the time, a video draws more traffic than a written post. So interview someone or show a how-to in a video format.
  8. A Personal Story – Everyone loves a personal story. Did you have something funny happen to you today? Did you attend an interesting seminar? Share your experience from the event.

Two final suggestions:

  1. Don’t cram too much information into a single post. Pick one topic and stick with it. It makes the post easy to read. Plus, then you can expand your other thoughts into future posts.
  2. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to meet a deadline. Sometimes you just don’t have any creative thoughts. Inspiration comes at odd times, and you can’t predict when you will have a brilliant thought. But when you do, write it down quickly so you don’t forget it. Even if it is at 4 AM (done that). Because you might forget it in the morning.

Want more helpful blogging ideas? Here’s a link to “101 Great Posting Ideas

About the Author: 

Adam Waid is the Director of Marketing at Mediacurrrent, an industry-leader in helping organizations architect custom Drupal websites. Adam is also a MATRIX Alumnus, where he worked closely with the Sales and Recruiting organizations to develop differentiation strategies, create content, and drive CRM and social media initiatives with a single goal in mind - build stronger, more meaningful relationships with our clients. Leveraging new technology, the latest social media trends, and a good mix of traditional marketing, Adam grows online communities.   Follow Adam on Twitter and Read his Social Media Blog.

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