You're my wonderwall.
You're my wonderwall.
I recently had to submit a photo of myself to accompany my bio for an upcoming conference that I’m speaking at. The only professional pictures I’ve really ever had taken were courtesy of LinkedIn at an event, and another with a fun team I worked with. My partner “encouraged” me to remove the LinkedIn picture from my profile as he said it aged me and conjured soap operas. He was right. (And that’s why you should always do your makeup in the daytime, and lay off the bronzer.) So we went out to the alley. Plenty of natural light, slightly overcast, gritty urban setting. I changed wardrobe about 5 times. My omnipresent black 3/4 sleeved shirt was covered in dog hair and fuzz, despite my best efforts with a hand wrapped in packing tape. My nipples wouldn’t behave and just simmer down for the photo. My hair looked dry (and yeah, it probably is). So I changed into a hoodie, and proceeded to take about 30 shots holding the hood strings. Why did I do that? WHY DID I DO THAT? Am I making a Britpop album??!

Not me
Not me.
Thankfully, the conference’s web designer cut my hands out of the shot he eventually used. But every time I look at the photos, I’m again confused by why I felt the need to hold on to the hoodie strings. And then, by complete coincidence, a pal sent me a hilarious post: 12 Ways to Achieve the Best Glamour Shot. And wouldn’t you know, the very first tip is to Hold On To Your Collar. I knew I was on to something!

I’ll admit to occasionally trying to capture a flattering snap with PhotoBooth. Instagram. Hipstamatic.Trying being the operative word, as it’s hard to coordinate the pressing of the right button with the perfect facial expression and not spilling the wine. And the resulting photos are rarely of the calibre that you’d want increased to 500 x 500 on a website or other piece of collateral. For one thing, I’ve realized that my eyes don’t always look in the same direction. This is a problem. This has nothing to do with the wine.

Perfect for my keynote
Perfect for my keynote.
Even when there are a zillion photography apps to convince us that we’re Annie Leibovitz, there’s really nothing like the quality of a pro head shot.

A while ago, I wrote about not using stock photography on your website to convince visitors that there are actually people that work at your company. I’m going to take that one further and suggest that whether you’re on the speaker circuit or belong to a LinkedIn group – your photo matters enough to warrant paying a pro to have a go. And before all y’all speed on down to the WalMart Photo Studio, check your local listings to see who might be available in your area. A new business? A student looking to bolster their portfolio?

According to this post from Vivian Giang of Business Insider, heatmap research proves that the profile photo is the most important part of your LinkedIn profile, and critical in the recruitment process. Eye-tracking techniques measured where a sample of recruiters looked when scanning a potential hire’s profile, and the results point squarely at that head shot. Discriminatory? Maybe – but probably not the place to take a chance on not having a picture, or displaying one that shows you in an unflattering light.

Michel Feist: Ampersand GreyI spoke with lifestyle photographer extraordinaire Michel Feist about the pros of hiring a pro. Michel runs her company, Ampersand Grey, out of Edmonton, Alberta. As well as being a top-notch shutterbug, Michel is a talented designer who has done some really interesting branding work. When I caught up with her, she was jetting off to a shoot in San Francisco but had time to give me a bit of insight:

Why do so many self portraits veer to the ridiculous?
I think most people feel uncomfortable in front of the camera so they act silly or over exaggerate an awkward pose so they don’t feel as weird taking a picture of themself.

What can a pro capture that my PhotoBooth can’t?
You’re kidding right?

What should a social media profile/conference pic say about it’s subject?

For small business I see the “avatar” picture as a mini billboard for your brand. If you’re quirky, show quirky. If you’re a fashion blogger you should probably show a glimpse into your style. Being current is the best part of social media, this isn’t a business card you just printed 1,000 of. Change it up and have some fun!

The key takeaways?
* Market yourself with a head shot that does justice to your beauty and ingenuity. No bedazzling required.
* A pro can bring out the best in your bad self. Hire one and be rest assured that people aren’t coming to your session just to see your nipples or the moustache you thought you waxed.
* An effective visual you is a critical component of your personal brand.

Say cheese. Don’t be cheese.

My spry and busy 62 year old Dad had a heart attack in October while playing tennis in the Senior’s Games in St George, Utah. Were it not for the decisive and immediate CRP he received  from another player in the tournament, I’d be writing this through a very different lens. That’s why I loved seeing Ken Jeong (of Hangover fame) pop up in my Facebook feed this week – he’s the face behind an awareness campaign from the American Heart Association. The campaign is nearly a year old – debuting in June 2011, which makes it not new, but new to me, okay? And a year on, are you familiar with the latest best practices in CPR? If not, please share this.

The message is simple: performing CPR is as easy as keeping the beat to Stayin’ Alive…it’s disco, baby. What makes this spot so effective is it’s inherent stickiness – Stayin’ Alive is a powerful earworm if ever there was one, and to link of the action of CPR to the song’s beat is really brilliant.  I probably won’t hear it again without performing involuntary chest compressions. So beware if you invite me over and plan on spinning some BeeGees.   The AHA have created something so memorable in it’s zaniness, familiarity, and sheer simpleness of message- something certainly worth sharing for it’s important content and entertainment factor.
It’s hard to get it right – but when it works, it really works.

Another great thing: (more…)

Usually I like October. I enjoy cramming my ham hocks back into jeans. I enjoy the plethora of boot styles to gawk at behind storefronts. And I love Hallowe’en and great costumes and candy  and Dachshunds dressed up like hot dogs.

Not this kind of funk.
This year, I’m in a bit of a funk. Not a funky, James Brown funk, but a negative headspace that seems to be fuelling itself through social media and the internet. Now, when I say “fuelling itself”, I of course mean that I am fuelling it by allowing myself to dwell on the nasty behaviour, lying, and misrepresentation I see, from Twitter bullyin……(see, I almost allowed myself to dwell on something there, but pulled the nose of the plane up just in time).
Over the last few days, I’ve actively sought out some strategies to help quell those negative voices. Meditation helps (and it’s damn good for your brain). Exercise, too (and it’s damn good for your ham hocks). And surrounding yourself with trusted family and friends also does wonders.
From a professional standpoint, it’s very important to prevent the murk from entering the workflow. I could build another analogy here, but won’t because not everyone loves toilet humour as much as I do. (more…)

Here are the slides from Facing Facebook for Small Business, delivered to fabulously fun peeps at the Fernie Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, March 24.

[slideshare id=7392302&doc=facingfacebook-110325191512-phpapp01]

And some cool links:

Facebook Demographics 2011

How to Use Facebook Social Plug-Ins on your Website

This morning, in the most frigid of weather conditions, members of the Fernie Chamber of Commerce came out to hear me wax strategic on social media, Web 2.0, and the potential of the internet for small businesses.
Despite a weird orange LCD effect on the presentation slides, it was a nice opportunity to share ideas and information with a terrific group of people.

Here are the slides:

[slideshare id=7046400&doc=goingsocial-ferniechamberofcommercefeb24-110224114703-phpapp01]

And as promised, I will be uploading some handy hand-outs in the next few days.

Thanks for coming out in the cold!

I discovered Branch Out today. Well, rather it discovered me in an invitation to connect with a friend who works in a similar industry to me. So I did. I was awarded a Super Connector badge. I discovered 8 other friends who’d also signed up. I imported my LinkedIn profile…..

Wait a minute….I imported my LinkedIn profile? Why did I do this?

It’s a few hours later now, and the harsh reality of mid-afternoon is setting in. I love LinkedIn. I find it to be a great business resource. I’m connected to previous colleagues, people I’ve met at industry events, clients, and other fine folks with whom I have a business or networking relationship. Not (necessarily) people I went to band camp with, snogged, am related to, used to be related to, and send Kenny Powers quotes to (although some of my LinkedIn people have crossed the line to become Facebook friends too. I trust they won’t judge me for making the odd penis joke). LinkedIn has afforded me speaking opportunities, job offers, helpful groups and discussions, and referrals within the confines of a business environment. Now I have the ability to give an endorsement to someone who shaved my eyebrows at a volleyball tournament (we’ve since made up)….and something isn’t sitting right with me.

Branch Out is “jobs and career networking on Facebook.”

We Facebook for pretty much everything else, so why not jobs and careers? I’ll tell you why. It all boils down to the premise that your coworkers are really NOT your friends.

  • your job and colleagues may rock the Casbah, but don’t be fooled that the business environment is driven by anything but business decisions. Not who sent you a birthday message or “liked” your Top 10 Albums of 2008.
  • I hate to say it, but the goal for most people in a business environment is advancement. Meaning you’ll have your head chopped off if you’re standing in the way of someone who’s resolutely on their path. And then it will be really hard to prevent yourself from spamming their wall with vitriol when they (cuss) you over.
  • you probably didn’t “friend” your boss, and on purpose. We all know that once it’s online, it’s fair game, but now you’re going to really have to censor the one place where people still seem to have no problem posting pictures of their bellybuttons.

Job and career stuff can be fun, but not the same fun stuff as happens on Facebook. And there’s a reason for that: it’s still – even in our hyper-connected lives – possible to separate business from pleasure. Let’s keep it fun, okay?

* Here’s an article on Branch Out from the big brains at Tech Crunch.

courtesy of
Grab your monocles and rubber thimbles, friends, because it’s time to announce the SpaceRace 2011 Reading List.
We’ve carefully selected some top notch titles to work through this year. Some are brand new. Others are a little longer in the tooth, but all promise to bring insight to your marketing and communications practice.
Since we’re so fond of reading around here, we’ve decided to host a monthly SpaceReads on our UStream channel. It’s free to join, and you don’t even have to have read the book to participate. We’ll also look at the auxiliary materials developed to go with each book, including companion sites, video, and other related content. For each title, we’ll try to draw out 5 critical insights for discussion. We’ll post them ahead of time and during the live chat.

SpaceReads will happen on the last Monday of every month.

So without further ado, here are the selections (so far) for 2011:

January: Connected: The Surprising Power of Social Networks and How they Shape Our Lives – Christakis and Fowler

February: Macrowikinomics – Don Tapscott and Anthony D Williams

March: What Technology Wants – Kevin Kelly

April: Real Time Marketing and PR – David Meerman Scott

May: Designing for the Social Web – Joshua Porter

June – December: TBA (suggestions welcome)

I hope you’ll join us for a rousing knees up at 8 pm MST on January 31, 2011. Pants optional. Helmets mandatory.

only if you shave
Influence is the conversation of the day, my friends: who’s got it, who needs it, and what numbers such as a Klout score actually mean. We can’t resist knowing how we rate.

Technology gives us access to many more friends of friends of friends, but I’m not convinced that these linkages provide the strong and trusted connections and relationships that really lead to authentic influence. Isn’t it just simply that people like to do business (and other transactions that are just as important) with people that they like and trust? Companies would do well to map their social networks and identify these “liked” and trusted relationships (all the way down the ladder) rather than blasting meaningless messaging. Instead of diluting the true potential of the Web.

This article from Mashable on how marketing threatens the social web resonated with me this week. Read it and tell me how your organization connects, collaborates, and creates positive social action. If it does any of these things, the social network will be sufficiently “influenced” and will share your message throughout their networks. And probably to Kevin Bacon too.

The Klout Army and it’s ilk distract us (and businesses) from stepping up and making a real difference using the tools available.

From Christakis and Fowler’s Connected:
…the spread of influence in social networks obeys the Three Degrees of Influence Rule. Everything we do or say tends to ripple through our network, having an impact on our friends (one degree), our friends’ friends (two degrees), and even our friends’ friends’ friends (three degrees). Our influence gradually dissipates and ceases to have a noticeable effect on people beyond the social frontier that lies at three degrees of separation. Likewise, we are influenced by friends within three degrees but generally not by those beyond.

(BTW – it’s a GREAT book, and will be reviewed shortly in our SpaceRace 2011 Reading List.)

Someone still loves you.
The SpaceRace vibes were streaming through the airwaves today. You might have noticed that the wind changed, or that your hair stood up for a few minutes. Don’t worry. Don’t hide under your desk. It was only me, in an interview with CJAM-FM‘s Cameron Wells.
Cam’s weekly show, Handilinks, focuses on disability issues, and features interviews with a variety of people involved in advocacy, support, and community initiatives. Cam and I had a chat about the amazing Totally ADD. I’m very proud to be their Community Manager, a role that involves managing the website, connecting with the ADHD community, and performing all of the social media management, execution, and point of contact for the entire online space. Yep, the whole internet. Did someone say ADD?
Totally ADD is in the midst of a pledge drive on over 80 PBS stations in the US. Their award-winning documentary, ADD & Loving It?! is screening in living rooms all over the continent, and it’s an absolutely crazy time for the entire team. The volume of incoming email has easily tripled, and our Facebook page is buzzin’ like Studio 54, and Twitter? Well, let’s just say that that particular birdie is definitely not flying south for the winter. Because of our success, the essential services that a Community Manager provides have become that much more essential. People are reaching out to us through channels not previously available, and we (I) have to be there to intercept problems, concerns, kudos, and opportunities to make connections. It’s a great problem to have, but it does underline the importance of flexibility, access, and patience. In good times and in bad, it’s not a role for the energy deficient. We’re about to hit 10,000 members. What a ride!
Here’s the interview. I hope you enjoy it.

Congratulations! You’ve wheedled and schmoozed your way through the mire of convincing your CEO, Executive Director, or Honcho of Another Official Stripe to launch a blog on your dazzling new, 2.0 enabled website. Or maybe you’re the Honcho, and you have realized that blogging is a great way to increase awareness about your company/initiative/life’s work and connect with your audience. Great job – you’ve come to the right place! With some careful and deliberate planning and consideration, the corporate blog can be a place of content worth sharing. Here are some tips on how to make it so.

1. Identify a coach. Somewhere within your organization is a person who reads blogs. Who blogs themselves. Who knows a little bit about the blogging process. This person can help you. Find them. Whether it’s by providing motivation, giving quick editorial feedback, feeding and checking links, or just showing up on “post day” with a helium balloon, the blog coach can be an essential tool in getting thoughts posted.

2. Commit. That means signing off, in blood, to the promise that your new blog won’t wither on the vine within 3 weeks, or 3 months. You’re in it for the long haul, and blogging needs to be seen as another product or extension of your products.

3. Plan an editorial calendar with natural opportunities to share information. There are several editorial calendar plug-ins with which to augment the back end of your site. A calendar can be an effective tool for planning posts aligning with strategic activities and events, planned press releases, or reactions to industry news. If a plug-in is too fancy, then get thyself to Google Calendar and plot it out there.

4. Comments are good. You might never get a comment, and that might be because your content is boring. It also might be because your readership are lower on the Ladder of Engagement than in other sectors. And it might be because you aren’t asking questions that readers can respond to. Don’t sweat it. Use the challenge as an opportunity to tweak your writing. Try new things. Increase the amount of links in your posts. And if all else fails (and it will unless you do this) – start commenting on other people’s blogs. Quid pro quo. But please, please, do not make visitors who want to comment go through an extensive registration process. Remove the barriers, and people will share.

5. Get up close and personal. Be yourself. Develop your voice.

6. Use the discovery process. If you’re the author of the blog, have your “coach” interview you. An interview is a great way to draw out motivations, inspirations, and opinions that can translate to an engaging read for site visitors.

7. Integrate in other conversations and channels. In order to be read, you must be found. A blog is not an island, and selective integration with other social media channels is paramount to drawing traffic and inserting yourself into the world of online conversations. Ensure that your posts are tweeted (and Twitter is a whole other essential ballgame). Link your blog to relevant industry directories. Mention it on your company or organization’s home page, and certainly in your newsletter and any other communications. Have your coach ensure that relevant keywords are tagged, and that includes images. Link those to a Flickr account that links back to your blog.

8. Interview someone else. Struggling to come up with content and ideas to blog about? Interviewing someone else in your industry is a great way to share knowledge and extend relationships. Is there a leader in your organization who deserves to have their story shared? An employee who’s done something amazing? An interview post can be short and sweet, and rewarding to everyone involved.

9. Edit with kindness. This one’s for you, coach. Remember that we’re striving for an authentic voice, not an overly sanitized sales pitch. Don’t let the copy editors loose. Copy editors are lovely, smashing people, but over-editing a post will destroy any sense of the authentic, natural flow that makes a blog a blog.

10. Make it fun. Blogging should be an expressive act that happens to be good for business. As soon as it becomes a slog, the quality of the posts diminishes, the time between posts increases, and eventually your blog rests in the Graveyard of Abandoned Corporate Communications.

11. Use Evernote to catch and catalog inspiration. Evernote lets you capture content you find online, and save it for when you need it. It’s great for remembering things that might inspire a post of your own, including photos, text, videos, and sites. It’s free, so you have no excuse not to try it. Filing cabinet, be damned. The 21st century is here and you can save it all! Whee!

Got additional tips and experience to share? Here’s the place!

The full report is ready for download. So are other local government action resources.