Monthly Archives: March 2009

Have we lost our sense of community?

I just got off the phone with Dennis Bennie. If the name rings a bell, it should. Dennis (along with Mark Skapinker, Bert Amato and Lou Ryan) was one of the founders of Delrina, a company that was acquired by Symantec in 1995. And if the name Delrina doesn’t sound familiar, perhaps WinFax will. WinFax was the best thing since sliced bread (before we had email). This cool software application written by Tony Davis  enabled us to send faxes from our PCs. Imagine that!

Anyway, Dennis and I ended up having an interesting discussion around the spirit and sense of community at Delrina and the unbelievable network that it created (of which I am a proud member). Dennis asked for my thoughts as to the reason why so many of us today still comment about Delrina not only being one of the best places to work (we all wanted to have Delrina on our resume), but one that naturally created an atmosphere of teamwork and camaraderie.

While Dennis quipped that it must have been the leadership that influenced such a positive environment (and no doubt, all four co-founders were a huge influence on the spirit in the company and its success in the market), I suggested that personal, face-to-face interaction was a big reason. Let me explain…

My first introduction to e-mail was at Delrina, and I remember thinking who would I e-mail and how would it benefit me. Of course, today, almost every interaction we have is electronic. Which brings me back to the answer that I gave Dennis. When we were at Delrina, instead of e-mailing or IM’ing a colleague to get some information, we either walked around to their desk (even if they were on another floor or in the building next door), or we picked up the phone if they were in another city. What a novel idea!

The way I see it, Delrina was the last company I worked at where the idea of personal interaction was so greatly valued. Today, I think we all take available technology for granted. It’s become our crutch.  Yes, it keeps us connected and lets us work very efficiently (and sometimes too much). But how many of us are guilty of not making the time to meet someone in person or simply picking up the phone to ask them a question?  One of my new year’s resolutions was to take more time to network and meet people in person. And so far, so good.  I’ve met a lot of really interesting people over the last couple of months. And although most interactions began online either on Twitter or via e-mail, I ultimately made the time to connect in person.

I truly believe that if more companies made the time to encourage personal interaction in this digital age, we would all have the opportunity to create the sense of community, spirit and drive that we were fortunate enough to experience at Delrina.

~ Jodi Echakowitz (Twitter: JodiEchakowitz)

Getting the Conversation Going

I’ve had a number of new followers on Twitter over the last few weeks, and while I’m flattered that people are so interested in what I have to say, I’m also intrigued by how many people are new to Twitter and probably still scratching their heads trying to figure it out.

While I’ve seen quite a few blog posts on how (and why) to use Twitter (like this one published by Conversation Agent; this guide to Twitter on Mashable; and this piece in the New York Times that suggests ‘Twitter is what you make it’), the one thing that I think is lacking are some simple suggestions for newbies on how to get started.

So here’s my crack at a guide to ‘Getting started with your Twitter addiction’:

  1. Start following some interesting people (this ‘list of lists’ might be a good starting point to figure out who to follow)
  2. Keep tabs on what the people you follow have to say, how they say it, and how they interact with others (there is no perfect way to tweet, but if you follow some of the right people, you can learn a lot)
  3. Engage in conversation by replying to a tweet. Of course, only reply if you have something interesting to say or can add some value to what has already been said… don’t just hit reply for the sake of making your presence known (that’s just annoying!)
  4. When it comes to your own tweets,  please know that your followers aren’t really interested in what you ate for breakfast. Here are some of the things we would like to see in your tweet stream: A link to an interesting article; some thoughts on current affairs; details on an exciting new project, etc. You get the picture. And of course, once you’re more comfortable with Twitter, we’ll expect to see your tweet stream evolve.
  5. When you see an interesting post, you can also retweet [RT] it. It’s a great way to share interesting thoughts, concepts and links with your followers.
  6. You can also participate in some of the moderated chats that take place during the week. These types of chats are a great place to meet people with similar interests and of course, engage in conversation. For example, #journchat is a weekly (Mon 7-10pm CST) conversation between journalists, bloggers and PR folks. Other chats that I’ve seen include #journ2journ, #GNO and I’m sure there are many others.

While my quick guide is by no means extensive, I hope it’s at least a starting point for some of you who are new to Twitter. And of course, I’d love to hear some other ideas you may have. You may even want to tweet them!

~ Jodi Echakowitz (Twitter: JodiEchakowitz)

An Easy Way To Get A Customized Free URL

1) Go to http://www.tinyurl.com;

2) Enter your own website, LinkedIn, Twitter or blog URL;

3) Choose a customized word that might still be available if you are fast enough;

4) Voila! http://tinyurl.com/socialmediaconsultant.

~ John Carson, Consultant (Twitter: johncarson)

Monitoring Me, Monitoring You, Aha!

I love talking on the phone with current and potential clients to get a sense of their comfort levels with social media. People new to it are very nervous that their company may not be portrayed in the best light out in the Badlands of the Internet. Odds are, it’s already happening — they just don’t know it.

At the very least, a good appetizer is to set up some form of monitoring service for a few weeks and show them what is being said, where and by whom. If they find that agreeable, then the next course might be to help them set up their own profiles and establish a presence on Twitter, LinkedIn (two definites in my opinion) and — maybe — Facebook, depending on their commitment level.

I think one of the most important questions to ask a client is: “Are you all on board with this?” From the top down, what does the company expect from its employees when engaging in social media? How much autonomy do they have? Is there a community evangelist that will become the company’s voice?

A lot of newcomers know that they need to get on board the social media train, but aren’t sure what ticket they should buy or how far they are going to travel. I hate to see comments on Twitter such as, “LOL, this n00b is talking about social media as the hot new thing and he’s only been on three weeks!” To me, that says more about the poster of the comment than the newcomer.

Social media is not an overnight thing. It may take weeks of monitoring before someone really feels comfortable enough to take those first steps. Like any new movement, there will be those who dive in head first and those who prefer to watch from the sidelines for a while.

And you know what? That’s great! It is what you make it.

~ John Carson, Consultant (Twitter: johncarson)