Where Work meets Life

My blog has moved

Posted on April 22, 2009. Filed under: Where Work meets Life | Tags: , , |

moving-dayWell, this is both sad and happy news.  Only Connect, my first successful blog – in that I’ve actually managed to keep it up and it’s attracted a small following – is moving.

You’ll find me blogging about business communications and social media at my very own domain, www.wordspring.ca.  Things are taking off for me and my clients as we create visibility, credibility and relationships together using the interactive power of the Web.  It’s very exciting! The only sad part is leaving this place behind, like an apartment that I’ve outgrown.   I’ve made some very good memories here.

For those who care about the technical details, it’s still a WordPress blog, only now it’s incorporated with the latest version of my website.  The “page” function of WordPress is one of the things I like best.

So bookmark the new site – add it to your favourite feed reader, comment and recommend it.  I love hearing from my readers, and creating community online.  Here is the link again:

www.wordspring.ca

See you in the new place.

Catherine

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The Twitter Cull is On…

Posted on April 10, 2009. Filed under: Where Work meets Life | Tags: , , , |

twitter-bird-deadOh, how this hurts.  I hate breaking up with people.

I am going through my “following” list on Twitter, and deleting one name after another. This involves reviewing my list, avatar after avatar, name after name and bio after bio, and assessing each for whether I want them to continue showing up in my stream or not.  I’m hoping to reduce my list from 1400-odd people I’m following to about half that.

When “Following” doesn’t equal “Friend”
I know that for many power Twitter users, 1400 people to follow seems a drop in the bucket.  Some people who want to build their following to huge numbers play the “following” game to great effect, picking up a hundred or so people each day, hoping to be followed back, then they trim back and add again, growing their list of followers in waves.   They can follow 200o people in less than a month, and as the number of followers they attract gets to about 1800, they can add still more people.   Twitter on “nutritional supplements” is how I think of it.   And if those people are chosen carefully, perhaps it can be a decent strategy for some.   While I love finding interesting new people to follow, this “forced growth” doesn’t seem like the strategy for me right now.

And I’m not “easy”, either
Autofollowing isn’t really doing the job for me, either.  Again, it’s not a strategy I dismiss entirely.  I like reciprocity as much as the next person.  But autofollowing does make me feel like an easy pushover for every marketing guru that comes along hoping to sell me something.  For the most part, it hasn’t enriched the quality of my Twitter experience.  It may have worked for Barack Obama, but even if he wrote his own tweets, I suspect his “people” monitored all the replies and direct messages he received.

Filters help, but can’t do all the work
I’ve got maybe 15% of the people I follow sorted into groups, which makes it easier to follow: local tweeps (for Victoria and Vancouver people) and Don’t Miss (for people both near and far that I’ve made a real connection with).  I could do more, but I feel like I have too many to sort! So I have decided that it’s time to simplify.

So over to my list I go, looking for familiar names and faces to hang onto.  Casually dismissing the spammers.  Agonising over “mom, runner, working from home, social media enthusiast” that I don’t recognize.  Is she using the service?  Is that enough in common to hang onto?  Am I dismissing a future friend or business partner?

Here’s how the cull works:

  • If we have exchanged friendly shout-outs and even confided to each other in direct messages, you’re in.
  • If you live in Victoria BC, you’re probably in.
  • If something about your bio makes me say “oh wait… maybe not this one”.  You’re in.  For now.
  • If you feed me wonderful content on a wonderful basis – news, links, terrific whitepapers and blog articles, you are in.
  • If you are Ashton or Demi… you make me laugh.  You’re in.

The rest of you – well, you can @wordspring me.  Ask me to follow back so we can send direct messages to each other, then give me a little bit of yourself.  It doesn’t have to be much, just 140 characters of  The Real You.  Not your product, not your boss, your publicist or your intern.  Just you.  And I will follow you to the ends of the earth.  Or until Twitter is bought up by Google and the love is gone.

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Social Media – my “Christmas Project” run amok

Posted on January 29, 2009. Filed under: Social Media How-Tos, Where Work meets Life | Tags: , , , , , , , |

social media logos

social media logos

It started innocently enough – having written my way down to part-time status with my main client, I found myself with some time on my hands, and a burning desire to “get good at something specific” in marketing. And I’d learn it over Christmas.

Diving into the social media pool
I decided that something should be social media.  After all, here I am – a marketer that spends considerable time writing web copy.  Why not check what all the fuss is about concerning using Facebook for business, Twitter and LinkedIn?

Freshening my Facebook
Facebook was easy – sort of.  I’d been on for a year and a half, collected way too many silly applications and a whole bunch of friends (ok, a hundred or so) representing a lifetime of moving around and trying to keep in touch.   First thing I did was grab Facebook by the scruff of the neck, turn off all sorts of notifications, and get it to stop bossing me around… at least long enough to invite a few more friends and make a page for my business.

Blogging for branding
Next, I took a look at my baby blog – started so that I could muse about ADHD, but named for my business.  OK, so I was having an identity crisis.  ADHD is still an abiding interest, but I’d have to blog about it elsewhere.  I’m still too swamped in the social media learning curve to have started that blog up, but if you joined me then and are wondering when I’m going to get around to blogging about coming “out of the fog” again, well, bear with me.

So the blog has made a right turn, and now it’s my repository for social media thoughts, especially for people who are new to it.  Because really, most people are new to it!  (I mean, if I can become the top of the Twitter elite for Victoria BC in less than a month, then you know that we’re still in the infancy stages of this stuff!)

Taking on Twitter
Then I cranked up Twitter, attached it to Facebook and Facebook to my blog, and badda boom badda bing, we have social media visibility!  Except that still, nothing looks quite the way I want it to.   I’ve just found a theme that I like on my free WordPress blog, so the upgrades are coming.  Once that’s done, can embedded YouTube videos and Flickr photo galleries be far behind?  They’re all complementary ways to connect…

LinkedIn, too…
Oh, and I fired up my LinkedIn account too, because after all, I am a business woman, and this site has wonderful connecting functions for people in business.

Learning from the Pros
As all this was happening, I was finding interesting, savvy social media people to follow on Twitter, and they’ve been educating me every single day about the best ways to connect with mentors, with potential clients, and with people who are just worth knowing.  Checking on TwitterGrader, I went from a fair-to-middling-for-a-newbie score of 54 (out of 100) in mid-December to over 96 a couple of days ago.  And 435 people think I’m interesting and relevant enough to follow.  Imagine!

Racing up the learning curve!
The thing is, my head is still spinning from jumping onto this merry-go-round so quickly.  Clients are starting to ask how they can use social media effectively, and I’m putting together proposals that will help them take advantage of the relationship-marketing heart of social media… without causing them to lose sleep or productive working hours.  I’ll do that for them!

And to be sure, there are wonderful tools to help sort all the posts on all the sites – like Ping.fm, TweetLater, TwitterFeed, Tweetdeck, and so on.  As well, I’d like to thank some amazing social media professionals, pro bloggers and simply fine people I met on-line who are my role models, like Mari Smith, Nancy Marmolejo, Sherman Hu, Chris Brogan, Maria Reyes McDavis, and Michele Price.

Do I feel ready to pass along what I’ve learned to the 99 percent of Victoria business owners who know social media is “out there” but don’t know how to make it work for them?  As ready as I’ll ever be…

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Does This Mean I’m An Expert?

Posted on December 23, 2008. Filed under: Make a Word Department, Where Work meets Life | Tags: , , , , , |

If you are one of the select group of people who has been following the postings on my blog since it started it just a few weeks ago, you’ve probably noticed that I just changed its name!  Frankly, since the blog domain matches my business, it makes sense that the blogging topic matches my business too.  Call it a branding decision, because I am absolutely going to continue Out of the Fog in another spot here at WordPress.  The only reason I’ve been neglecting my baby blog the past couple of weeks is because I’ve thrown myself into the deep end of the social networking pool!  Suddenly, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are gobbling all my screen time, just while I get profiles set up.

Maven – An Expert by Another Name!

My expertise lies in finding just the right words to fit a given messaging situation.  One of my clients calls me the “Make a Word Department” – and that suits me just fine!  I love playing with words and phrases in order to make magic happen. Whether it’s a compelling sales letter, a “difficult” letter or even a new product name, that “BINGO” feeling when I hit on the right combination is what makes me an expert.

But right now, since it’s 2 days before Christmas and I’m working from home, I’ve got to go be an expert at baking savoury pastries.  Glad to he here, integrating WordSpring Writing and Marketing more fully into this blog.

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Getting Back On Track After You’ve Been Derailed

Posted on December 1, 2008. Filed under: Where Work meets Life | Tags: , , , |

Here’s an article that I wrote for work – particularly for a MoneyMinding affiliate and supporter, Julie Taylor of Rebuilding You.  As a registered clinical counsellor, she helps people put their lives back together after trauma – particularly physical injury. 

 

Here’s the article!

 

Train wrecks.  Derailments.  From where I write this in British Columbia, occasionally our newscasts feature images of a chain of heavy train cars lying on their sides, spilling their contents into a river canyon or a ditch, looking both ungainly and fragile as their small wheels spin helplessly in the air.  It’s never pretty, and clean-up is often difficult.  Is it any wonder that when crises happen in our life, we sometimes talk about being “derailed”?

 

For long periods of time we chug along the track that’s been set out before us, delivering our goods, sheltering our passengers.  Then, WHAM!  A rockslide on the track, or a cow, or even the “wrong kind of snow” causes us to lose our grip, or get jerked off the rails.  Whether your metaphorical derailment is a physical injury, a relationship breakup, a sudden financial loss, loss of a job, or death of a family member… these are the circumstances that life throws at us, and putting ourselves back on track often takes time and a series of small steps.

 

Ironically, often the “life crises” are compounded by money crises.  When you can’t work because you are sick or injured, or you are caring for someone else, that can hit you right in the wallet.  So what are the steps you need to take get moving forward again?

 

The first step, and it’s not an easy one when you are knocked over, is to be grateful for where you are.  Unlike trains, you are a human being, capable of love, appreciation and gratitude even in the most unlikely circumstances.  It might just be “Thank heaven I’m not dead!”  or “I’m so glad I have family members who love me,” or “Well, I’m grateful that this lousy thing is done.  Let’s see what I have left to work with.”  When you know what you are grateful for, take the time to record your thanks – in a notebook, on index cards, or on sticky notes by your bedroom mirror.  Don’t let those items of gratitude slip out of your life.  Recreate your moment of thanks daily.

 

This is the perfect time to reflect, reassess, and to make new goals that take into account the life event that you have just been through.  When you have your goals, write them down and carry them with you. 

Obviously, these first two steps are much broader in scope than you will find in most financial repair “how-tos”.  But the truth is, financial health is built on a foundation of overall well-being. When you have these first two priorities in place, then you can ask yourself, “What is the next baby step I can take to reach my goal?”  That next step may be to record your daily expenses, so you know where your money is going as well as where it is coming from.  It may be to start putting aside your change, so you can use it later for “guilt-free” purchases.  Do that one next step consistently for 30 days, so it becomes a part of who you are.  If you try to change too much at once, especially when you are already dealing with the larger change of your “derailment”, your new habit may not stick. 

 

Expect success, at least in this one manageable area of your life.  Taking charge of your money does not have to be a struggle, provided you approach it in a step-by-step fashion.  You may even find it to be one area of calm and control in an otherwise turbulent situation.

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