Archive for the ‘Professional Development’ Category

My#FollowFriday favorites: Top 3 PR/Marketing/Comm bloggers   Leave a comment

This week I am doing you a favor. Rather than pour out my usual drivel I thought I would share with you some of my favorite bloggers/Twitter personalities. I admit, I don’t keep up with my blog reading as much as I should or want to, but when I do these are the people I go to.

These folks are brilliant, talented, and charming to boot. They are bona fide experts in communication particularly when it comes to public relations, social media and marketing. If you want to learn how to communicate well these are the people you need to know. Consider this one big #FollowFriday shout-out (in no particular order).

  1. Shonali Burke
    Sole proprietor (and sole employee) of Shonali Burke Consulting, Shonali hosts the popular #measurepr chat on Twitter and is the driving force behind the blog Waxing UnLyrical. I am also pleased to say I have met Shonali as she was the guest of honor at the very first Tweetup I attended, here in San Diego.
  2. Jay Baer
    A renowned social media consultant, Jay Baer is also an author and speaker (if I read books anymore I would definitely read “The NOW Revolution,” his book with Amber Naslund). His site/blog, www.ConvinceAndConvert.com has a ton of great info and tools you can use to plan your social media campaign.
  3. Gini Dietrich
    Founder and CEO of ArmentDietrich and author of the Spin Sucks blog, Gini Dietrich provides excellent tips and food for thought.

There you have it. There are MANY more talented folks out there, so I encourage you to scour the list of people I’m following on Twitter if you want to find more people I find influential and educational.

Who are your favorite bloggers and communicators?

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3 ways I cope with information overload   Leave a comment

I engage in combat every day. Combat against the onslaught of information that wages perpetual attempts to drown me. Also known as information overload, it’s an exhausting and necessary part of my existence. Whether it’s genuine CNN-style news, updates on my friends’ goings-on, or the latest blog post on the latest piece of fad technology, I feel compelled to keep up with all of it as best I can. However, some days I feel like I’m overboard without a life jacket. So what can you do?Technology

Here are three ways I attempt to maintain a shred of sanity in the overwhelming tide of information overload.

  1. Limit certain activities to certain devices. I rarely check Facebook anywhere except my smartphone. Just having it open on a computer invites me to check it more often than my email (which is a whole other mess I won’t get into right now). On my phone I check it less frequently, see the latest updates, then put it away to go back to what I’m doing. It helps me focus and helps prevent me from wandering off to other sites.
  2. Take breaks from your electronics. Seem counter-intuitive? I get that. But like all things, taking a break means we are more focused and efficient when we return. Instead of killing time looking for news, you give the news you actually want a chance to, well, happen. I’m not talking about a week-long, device-free island retreat (then again…). I’m talking about 15, 30 or 60 minutes here and there throughout the day. This is a tough one for me during the day. But at night the time between arriving home in the evening and putting my daughter to bed is a relaxing break that helps me focus and remember what’s important.
  3. Make peace with the fact that you’re not going to read EVERYTHING. Many times we try to keep up with all this news, particularly those of us in communication and social media, because we don’t want to be left out. But it’s ridiculous to think that if you work hard enough you won’t miss anything. You will, it’s a fact of life. But that’s the beauty of being part of an online community. If there was something really important, you’ll see it re-tweeted and talked about on Twitter, for example. For example, I rarely watch presidential addresses. I know if something remarkable happens I will hear all about it from friends, neighbors, or CNN.

These are just a few of the coping mechanisms I employ to help me manage information overload. What strategies do you use? I’m always in the market for new, practical tips!

Image credit: ÇP via Flickr

LinkedIn Networking: Selective or Open?   4 comments

If you’re on LinkedIn much at all it won’t be long before you come across a LION.

Lion lounging

“A lion?”

No, a LION–a LinkedIn Open Networker. These are a special breed, folks who have decided they will connect with anyone and everyone who wants to connect (even strangers!). LIONs are often in recruiting or sales, industries that benefit from having as many contacts as possible. And there are definite professional benefits to this approach. Who wouldn’t like to have thousands of people to reach out to with a question or request?

The decision to be a LION or to be a more strategic networker is a personal one. I have chosen the latter route. It really all depends on how you plan to use your network.

“‘Use’ my network? That sounds a bit selfish.”

Not at all. A network is there to be used. Whether it’s a network of friends for entertainment, a network of family for emotional support or a business network for advice, we all have these networks because they provide value to us–we are using them. It’s only selfish if you use your network more than you give back to it.

But I digress.

Let’s return to our use of a network. Most of us, myself included, are suited for targeted, selective networks. We want to know (at least to some degree) the people in our network. However, even though I am a selective networker I don’t set the bar very high. Mostly I want to feel like you contacted ME in particular for a specific reason. That it was purposeful and not simply a sales pitch or spam bot. This way if someone comes to me and is interested in connecting with one of my contacts I know enough to know how the two people will best connect.

Either option is completely acceptable, so it just depends on your approach. Are you using this tool to generate sales? Then being a LION may be the way for you to go. If you prefer a little more intimacy with your contacts I recommend keeping things selective.

Additional Useful Links

http://www.stacyzapar.com/2011/05/what-is-linkedin-lion.html
http://www.stacyzapar.com/2010/11/why-i-decided-to-be-open-networker.html

Image credit: cheetah100 via Flickr

Conference attendance is critical for maintaining job focus   1 comment

For the past four days I have been immersed in all things communication. The International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) 2011 World Conference was held here in San Diego and I was thrilled to be able to attend–especially considering how it lived up to its international name.

The U.S. Was still the number one country by number of participants, but do you have any idea what the next two were? The 2nd most well-represented country at then conference was Canada, followed by Australia. There must be something good going on if people are flying from halfway around the globe to be here.

So what did we do? We talked shop and it was wonderful. I enjoyed learning how to write for. different media with the renowned Steve Crescenzo, I was a presentation guinea pig for All-Star Jim Endicott, I hosted dinner for six of my peers at the delightful BiCE Ristorante. One of my favorite activities was shaking the hands of people who were previously only known by their avatars.

Probably the most significant thing I got out of the conference was the reassurance that I am on the right track. You know you’re in the right place when you genuinely ENJOY talking shop with your peers. Many of them are going through similar challenges as I have and it’s great to have that validation.

So I return to work tomorrow re-energized, re-focused and ready to do what it takes to get the job done.

Posted June 16, 2011 by Lindsay N. Ball in Career, Professional Development

Why I blog. (And why you should, too.)   2 comments

BloggingI spent more than a year with the avid desire to start a blog, but many things stopped me (raise your hand if you have the same challenges):

  • Not enough time to dedicate to doing it right
  • Not sure of the topic (What new thing could I possibly have to say about my areas of expertise, marketing/communication/social media/business?)
  • Not enough time
  • Fear of being judged
  • Not enough time

Finally, a conversation with the lovely and intelligent Michele Dortch with Write to Incite inspired me to get started with SOMETHING. Essentially she told me that you just have to jump in and make it happen. So I made the commitment to do it no matter what. Now, what to write about?

I started researching topics and seeing what other people had run into the same challenges and concerns. So I Googled. And found this excellent post from Patrick Garmoe at PureDriven. Patrick was kind enough to give me his thoughts on writing about a common topic like marketing and I continue to be grateful for that. The comment that inspired me the most was this: “people buy from certain places because they like and trust the store staff, not because they can’t get the advice or items elsewhere.” It told me that I don’t have to be the first to say something, but if I’m bringing value to my readers (all three of you–hi, Mom!) through a unique perspective, then that’s what’s important. So I jumped in.

I’ve found that this blog is as much a creative outlet for me as anything. It’s also a way for me to take control of my online reputation. So far I’m just writing about whatever topic strikes my fancy in the broad marketing/social media space. I haven’t yet settled on what I hope to achieve with this blog, but I’ll get there. You don’t have to have all the answers when you start.

I’m also not doing this to get paid through ad sponsorships or to support a solo practice so I’m not worried about optimizing it for search engines just to drive traffic. While that kind of thing can be very helpful depending on your goals, like most things it takes time to do properly, especially on a new blog, and with a full-time job, a toddler, and some semblance of a life there’s only so much I can do. SEO is not a priority.

However, I do enjoy connecting with people and hearing their thoughts, which is why I decided on a blog format instead of an online journal or simply typing up a Word doc. I’m human, I have an ego, and I want to talk about things I am passionate about with people who are passionate about those same things. It helps if you enjoy developing relationships.

I am working to stay disciplined enough to post one solid article every Wednesday morning (which is why I have been at a laptop at 11pm each of the last several Tuesdays) because without a routine this blog would quickly lapse into nothingness. Sticking to a schedule is key.

I tell  you all of this because if you’ve been thinking about it and want to do it, now is the time. I don’t care what excuses you have. They are not acceptable. Just dive in and start writing, even a brief one hundred words at a time. You won’t hit a home run every time, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing at all. If you’re doing it just for the attention, there are easier ways to get that. Blog because you want to and will enjoy it regardless of the response.

Image credit: Search Engine People Blog via Flickr

Welcome to the Rational Communicator!   3 comments

I was seven the first time I asked Santa for a computer. I know because my mother recently sent me the Christmas list she saved all these years. Not only that, but apparently I had been wanting one for “years” already. I saved up my allowance for months and bought a Nintendo when I was 10. Clearly technology has always been a fascination of mine. Combine that with the thousands of hours I’ve spent with my nose in a book and it now seems inevitable that I would one day have a blog.

Why a blog?
I often find myself with more thoughts rattling around in my head than I know what to do with. In particular, I find there are many things I want to say about marketing, communication, social media and business in general. So this is my outlet, a place to organize my thoughts (and get them out of my head!). If people find it useful, all the better!

Lindsay circa 1984

Lindsay circa 1984

Great, so who are you?
I’m finding that it’s much easier to write about business than it is to write about myself! In addition to being a Michael Jackson fan from an early age  (as evidenced by the photo at right), here are some basics about me that will flavor this blog. I am an in-betweener, a social mutt if you will, a mix of a number of disparate influences. For example:

  • I grew up in the South, went to college on the East Coast and now, thanks to a convoluted series of events, live on the West Coast.
  • Depending on whom you ask I am either a very young member of Generation X or one of the first members of Generation Y. I find that neither label suits me. I like to think I have good qualities from the stereotype of each generation, namely the inherent tech skills of my younger brethren and the pragmatism of my elder kin.
  • Despite having a prestigious business degree I took a non-traditional path after college. No consulting firms or investment banks for me! And yet somehow I’ve survived and then some.

I’m still listening. So why “rational” communicator?
I define a rational communicator not only as someone who thinks before they speak, but also someone who communicates with the recipient in mind. Through all of my experiences, my journeys, and my travels, the number one thing that fascinates me is communication, especially written communication. I love words and I see the power of effective communication. I also see and experience the havoc poor communication can wreak, especially in a business setting. My aim when communicating, particularly in the workplace, is to be understood by my audience.

Communication is a broad topic though so to narrow it down I’m throwing in a couple of my other favorite things: marketing and social media. If you’re up for joining me as I explore these topics from the perspective of an in-betweener striving to advance her career while attempting to maintain her sanity then I am glad to have you along. Please note that a healthy dose of dry humor will often be involved.

As a professional communicator I am always interested to hear other people’s thoughts and look forward to hearing yours.