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Career changing

April 29, 2010 Acquia Webinar

On April 29, I listened in on a webinar being held by Acquia. The subject: Acquia JumpStart Program: Plant The Seeds for Drupal Success. The panelists were Bryan House (who was also hosting), Joanne Dawson and Robert Douglass.

All participants were sent a “Getting Started with Drupal Checklist”. Acquia’s mission is to help organizations of all sizes be successful with Drupal – this includes hosting, development, support and training, among other features. Stated simply, Drupal is an open-source forums (community) software solution (although it can be used for a lot more than that).

Acquia comes into a business and performs the Drupal installation themselves. Since Drupal installation can be rather difficult, this is a significant way to slash ramp-up time. The on-site Acquia personnel perform training, including, on the first day, an introduction, user management, content creation, taxonomy (organizing and categorizing the site), blocks (small boxes/widgets of content that can appear on the sides of a page) and the menu.

One pleasant addition is Acquia’s own forums, which are used to enhance their tech support. They have regular technical support, naturally, but it’s refreshing to see the company using its own product and feeling free enough to allow its users to help one another.

Acquia Drupal currently uses the most recent version of Drupal 6.

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Career changing

May 3, 2010 EditMe Webinar

On May 3rd, I listened in on a webinar given by EditMe. The topic was: Content Creation in the Middle of the Sales Funnel.

The guest speaker was John C. Stone III.

The reason for the webinar was, while prospects come through the top of the sales funnel as always (inquiries), where people download papers, comment on blogs, sign up for webinars, etc., they can take a good seven to nine exposures to the product before they move through the funnel. Essentially, there needs to be a nurturing of these leads in order to eventually convert them into prospects and later sales. The top of the funnel is clogged. How does a company begin to move people down the chute?

Building authentic content offers a lot of value. This helps the top of the funnel with SEO and to bring prospects in. But it also helps with the middle, in order to continue to bring them toward the culmination, which is a sale.

Good content should be sharable, entertaining, stylized, etc.

The first thing to do is, define the revenue architecture. It’s a blueprint for how to attract, nurture, sell and expand profitable relationships with chosen customers.

Look at the Lead to Close process. This is where the greatest level of transformation has occurred in the past few years. What’s the web presence? What’s the content? Is it customized (and is too much time being spent on this?)? Is there an inbound lead capture? An outbound process? Integrating campaigns can help, as can enhancing the web site presence. Social media engagement can increase awareness and build “street cred”.

What’s the Go to Market Strategy? Is the messaging persuasive? Are the programs innovative? How can the company leverage a sustainable content process? It helps to have easily editable, sharable, single source content.

How are the Customer Relationships? Is there good client retention? How is account management handled?

Social collaboration is the key. Sales personnel need to share their information and be able to tap into what is essentially a bank of relevant data about their prospects. The best way to do this is by using easy to use collaborative software — otherwise, it won’t be used by the sales force. This is items like Wikis, blogs, etc. Essentially the idea is to allow for rapid collaborative use. Where EditMe can come in is in creating a uniform sales portal and promoting efficiency as sales representatives will have better and more up to date information at their fingertips. It should be a living document, collaborated on by as many experts in a company as possible. This can lead to more conversions.

The upshot of it all — working together is what it’s all about.

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Career changing

April 23, 2010 Community Roundtable

Today I attended the Community Roundtable’s CR Live Lunch at Flatbread Company in Bedford, Massachusetts. The Community Roundtable is “a peer network for community managers and social media practioners.”.

The lunch is a chance to get together and talk about not just community management but also social media in general, technology and any other subject that is of interest. Today’s discussions, in part, centered around Twitter and its earlier days, e. g. discovering retweeting, etc. Rachel Happe, our hostess, has been on Twitter for quite a while and remembers the community there as being considerably smaller and easier to make connections. She felt she was able to see people she knew either socially or professionally (or both) and then quickly see how (if) they were interconnected in other ways. Some of that has been lost as Twitter has grown exponentially.

The subject of automatic direct messages thanking one for following came up. Everyone agreed that these are essentially impersonal and of little value. However, direct messages should still be read as people do sometimes still take the time to handcraft them.

Since the group was slanted more than usual in the direction of people with more technical backgrounds (versus those of us who were or are more strictly community managers), the discussion turned more technical.

Another topic was company social media strategies. So many companies realize they have to “get on Twitter” but are unclear as to what, exactly, they may be getting themselves into. Once the pipeline is opened, and customer commenting (and complaining!) becomes more open and easier, that pipeline really cannot be shut off. The bell cannot be unrung. Hence companies may not understand that they are essentially getting into a marriage versus a few dates with the hot new technology.

There was also a discussion about meta tagging on the ‘Web. How are things categorized? One question was about music (more specifically, classical music). There is already some offline categorization. So how can that be adequately and accurately transferred to the Internet?

Finally, and this is one of the areas where the Community Roundtable truly excels, the participants talked a little bit about how isolating the role sometimes can be. For a social and community-oriented type of role, a lot of us spend a great deal of time at our desks. Even within a larger company not specifically dedicated to online communities, the role of the Community Manager can sometimes be a solitary one. Being together, exchanging information or tips, or just commiserating, does a lot to dispel any feelings of isolation.

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Career changing

EditMe Webinar

Today I attended (well, I listened to it in my home computer room) the EditMe Webinar. EditMe is a company that puts out WYSIWYG collaborative site software. E. g. you can make a Wiki or a forums site with their software.

I am not a customer but I am interested in pretty much anything to do with Social Media and, in particular, Community Management, as I’ve been managing Able2know for over 7 1/2 years now. It’s funny as I have more Community Management experience than many vaunted experts.

The main takeaways were as follows:

  • The Community is about them, not you
  • Make a big deal about participation. Thank everyone!
  • Use an Editorial Calendar, e. g. keep a schedule of when you’re going to release content, and keep it regular

I particularly loved that last one.

Communities and Social Media aren’t necessarily tough but they can be extraordinarily time-consuming. Everything you can do to help yourself in that area is a good thing.

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Career changing

Job Interview!

I’ve got an interview today, from 12:30 to 2. Since I’ve got to get downtown in order to accomplish said interview, I’m kinda stuck with being unable to eat at any convenient time beforehand. This is normally not a huge issue, but when you’re a serious weight loser such as myself, it can get dicey if you can’t eat every few hours or so. I’ll live, I’ll be fine, I just like more order with such things.

Now, about the interview. It is not specifically for a social media marketing position. But there is some web development needed, so I can get more experience in that area. Plus it’s at a place I like. I don’t want to give away too much but I’m very happy with, for example, the location. I’d get to keep my gym, and be able to use public transportation. Both of those things dovetail with my fitness goals.

Speaking of fitness goals, I’m running a 5K on Sunday. It promises to rain. Ah, well. It’s not like I’ve never run in the rain before. I’m not so sweet that I’ll melt.

In the meantime, as I search for a good pin to put on my blazer, I look forward to today’s meeting and contemplate what it might end up meaning to me.

Onward!

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Career changing

Happy Birthday Mass Innovation!

One of the best events I go to these days is Mass Innovation.

This event has been running for a year now, and it showcases startups all over the Bay State. These startups need not be in the technical area (although they often are). Plus it’s a great chance to network and meet others in not only the Social Media field but in any number of related fields. After all, most companies could use a Social Media Specialist, so why not spread the business cards around to them as well?

Bobbie Carlton does a fine job in getting the evening rolling. Competitors are encouraged to submit their ideas. Five are selected by the attendees’ votes and are given a short period of time (5 or 10 minutes) to present their ideas to the assembled guests. But all is not lost for those who weren’t voted a presentation slot. They are still invited to come in and man a booth. Often the booths hold better presentations than the actual Powerpoint shows.

The idea behind the event is to showcase up and coming entrepreneurs and offer support to them. Is anyone hired through this event? Hard to say. But awareness is raised, and attendees get to meet and bond. The best part of the event is that it’s completely portable — it could (and should!) happen in any city.

After all, there’s innovation going on all over the globe.

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Career changing

Community Roundtable

Today I attended the CR lunch, which is always lively and pleasant. We didn’t really have a specific theme to discuss but it is good to be around fellow Community Manager types. People who speak my language, as it were. I need to add their blog to my blogroll.

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Career changing

Every time I think of careers ….

…. I get nervous. Careers scare me.

Careers Are Definitely Scary

I think of just how long I’m (hopefully) going to be living. And can I ever really be happy? But now I feel I’ve found my bliss — social media.

All I need is to make the leap into doing it professionally. Every day I run up, hard, to the gate. One of these days, the jump will be made, and I will land.

Come watch.

An Update After a Decade

10 years later, I think I may have finally landed somewhere.

Careers and Ambitions

Careers are tricky things, aren’t they? We ask people about their ambitions all the time. In fact, for children, it can even be an occurrence that happens more than once per week.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Raise your hand if you ever said, “I don’t know.”

Because that is totally okay.

Time Keeps On Going; If You Don’t Look Around, You Just Might Miss It

So that’s kinda, sorta paraphrasing Ferris Bueller.

But that’s all right. Because, you see, time slipping away has made careers like mine possible in the first place.

Say what?

Seriously.

Invention and Reinvention

I graduated from high school in June of 1979. There were no smart phones. There was no internet. And there I was, a kid who kinda, sorta understood communications.

Oh yeah, computers were the size of a room. And the popular fiction of the time showed them as unhinged menaces, lurking and ready to get us.

I’m looking at you, 2001.

And you, Star Trek TOS.

I graduated from college in 1983. Computers were a little smaller. But their cost was still comparable to a car. I had taken one programming class, hated it, and had dropped out before I could get a failing grade. But I had liked fooling around on the computer. I just didn’t want to program in DOS.

And then…

I graduated law school in 1986. I had used LexisNexis. And then I went to work for a large firm where there was still a typing pool. And IBM Selectric typewriters. No lie. Two secretaries had word processors. The managing partner had a computer which he was trying (miserably) to teach himself how to use.

I left after 6 months and was at a firm where we had dumb terminals with some actual information in them. We did scheduling this way – although the clerk still used a huge book.

When I left a few years later (and left the practice of law altogether), things had not changed much.

Plus…

I taught paralegals. And I adjusted claims. Everywhere I went, it seemed computers were used less and less. In 1995, I started as a litigation auditor. I did not know how to turn on the Apple PowerBook 170 they gave me. According to Wikipedia, it was vintage 1991. I 100% believe that.

So I taught myself how to use it, and how to get faster. Slowly, we were switched to better computers. In my last 3 months or so (late 1999), we were finally given internet access.

Because I knew databases, and it was the dot-com boom, I found another job fast. 9/1 happened, and it stole my job, along with a lot of other people. I drifted. Slowly, I was getting away from databases. In 2004, I worked at Dictaphone, and I did three separate stints at Fidelity Investments.

And I was at that third Fidelity job when I first wrote something like 73 words for this, my first-ever blog post.

Life Has Changed

From there to here, I wanted out. So I went to grad school and I blogged – here! Plus I made whatever contacts I could.

In 2014, I became a published fiction author. And in 2017, I was offered a job managing content for a business credit company.

What a long, strange trip it’s been. I have never regretted changing my life this way. Careers, I have learned, are for bending and changing. Never, ever set yours in stone.