I kissed a girl (accidentally)!

katy-perry-i-kissed-a-girlThe other day, I kissed a girl for the very first time. In fact I kissed dozens of people, men and women both, in a matter of seconds. I didn’t even realize it until I woke up the next morning. How, you ask, did I become so wildly promiscuous?

I’ve got to blame it on technology…Facebook has all these cool little apps, and I happen to be fond of one called “superpoke.” I was trying to send a kiss to a friend who’d done me a lovely favor, but by hitting the wrong button I managed to kiss every single one of my Facebook friends!

When I saw the list the next morning – all the people I kissed, many of whom would be quite surprised at the unexpected intimacy – I winced in embarrassment and used technology again, this time to alert my friends that I didn’t intend to be amorous or inappropriate: “Wendy is really embarrassed that she accidentally kissed every single one of her friends on Facebook!”

Quite a few people seem to have gotten a good laugh, and I don’t think anyone has unfriended me as a result. Whew.

But here’s the thing to think about…everyone’s talking about social networking and how it’s the hot new trend. Just think – in person, I probably would have limited the interaction to hugs, although it might still have been a number of people over the course of an evening. But in cyberspace you can kiss, hug, or simply say “what’s up?” to dozens, hundreds, even thousands in the blink of an eye. Use this power deliberately, to build relationships and promote your business (in a give-first, non-pushy way of course) and think about the reach you have, far beyond what you could do at a handful of in-person business networking events.

Social networking: just do it

facebook-linkedinA friend recently cooked me dinner in return for a few hours of web strategy. She’s already doing a great job of online networking but she’s under the impression I know loads of arcane secrets about online marketing and social networking, which is flattering but not entirely true (although the dinner was FANTASTIC!).

This morning, my dad said he wanted to try social networking. He asked me why I didn’t have any blog posts on how to use Facebook and Twitter.

I will tell you what I told both of them: there are no secrets, just do it. Dive in, try things out, and make connections. You’ll learn as you go.

When I first got on LinkedIn, hardly anyone I knew had signed up. Now, a few years later, I have over 300 connections, which gives me a searchable network of millions. I haven’t used it to grow my business in any deliberate way, but it’s a tremendous resource with all kinds of potential.

Twitter was an experiment – I didn’t “get it” so I tried it. In my case I use it as a mini-blog but I see friends using it as a way to keep in touch throughout the day, or they offer on-the-spot social commentary, or maybe they just keep up to see where the party is. I hate to admit it, but it’s got a certain appeal. And the fact that I can tweet from my phone…it’s kinda cool. But it’s hard to explain why. I just like it. And so whenever I think about it, I tweet.

On a personal level, Facebook seemed useless to me for well over a year, probably because of my age – late 30s. A year later, now that I’m about to turn 40, many of my friends are online. The newsfeed is starting to get interesting as I read all the posts and find out what my everyone’s doing. I like the apps, too – you can share books and movies, play games (albeit slowly, one turn at a time!), or simply reach out and poke someone.

So for all of you social networking butterflies out there, don’t be afraid. Sign up, log in, and link up. Friend someone today and see what happens.

What is web 2.0?

The machine is usWhat is Web 2.0? Even the experts in the heart of Silicon Valley argue about the answer. There’s a Web 2.0 “style,” generally lots of whitespace, big type, and rounded edges. There’s a Web 2.0 Conference – several, in fact – where all the Web 2.0 digerati gather. There are books about Web 2.0. And now there are even people starting to talk about Web 3.0.

Can we get 2.0 nailed down first?

Most people, when they think of Web 2.0, think about all the information that is being shared throughout the internet. Photos on Flickr; profiles on social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn; Wikipedia, a free encyclopedia developed by online collaborators; even Amazon’s huge use of interactive features for their shoppers, from reviews and recommendations all the way to personal profiles, blog posts, and shared lists.

We continue to add more resources to the online world; at the same time, we have begun tagging and organizing this huge mass of data so that it can be more useful.

A picture is worth a thousand words; for the best visual explanation I’ve seen to date, spend 5 minutes on this video. It’s well worth your time.

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Why create a LinkedIn group?

LinkedIn groupsRecently, I’ve helped a couple of organizations set up a LinkedIn group. In both cases I was peppered with questions about why we should do it. To me, it’s so easy, my response is “why not?” How can it be bad to expand the reach of your connections? But for the nay-sayers and the skeptics, here’s my official list:

  1. You can see all the profiles of everyone else in the group (unless individuals turn this off for privacy reasons)
  2. You can contact any member of the group (again, unless an individual turns this off)
  3. Any member of the group can contact you
  4. The logos are a quick “at-a-glance” way to uncover new connections and show off your business pedigree
  5. You bring visibility to your organization by displaying your groups on your profile
  6. Exposing new organizations to LinkedIn brings new LinkedIn members, expanding the reach of everyone’s connections
  7. If you organize the group yourself, it’s a great excuse to reach out to old friends and colleagues

Want to learn more? Read the LinkedIn Groups FAQ.

Four ways social networking builds your business

A social network

You may know what a social network is, but do you know why you need one? There are a wide variety of ways it can help your business, limited only by your imagination.

To get you started, I’ve got four ideas for you. If you’ve got successful social networking strategies, please post your comments and share your ideas!

  1. Promote a new service – most sites have a place to put in what you are doing, right now. If you have a new product or service you are launching, say so. When I first started my blog, my status read “Wendy is writing for her blog, http://www.techzestblog.com,” and it was a great way to get the word out.
  2. Recruit staff – there are a few angles here. First, have a great blurb about your business – what you do, what makes you special, why someone would want to work there. Then you’ve got a couple of options. You can post that you are looking for someone, and see who comes to you, or you can search your network for people who already possess the skills you need and reach out to them. My most recent hire was a referral from a colleague obtained in just this way.
  3. Build website traffic – this one’s easy. Anywhere you have a personal profile, add your website. Add helpful resources to your site so you can offer people a reason to visit.
  4. Do something buzzworthy – viral marketing can be incredibly effective if you have a creative bent. Release a funny YouTube video, create a fun Facebook application, start a group on LinkedIn, or put together a unique photo album on Flickr. Tell all your friends. If you come up with something buzzworthy, they’ll tell their friends, who will tell their friends, and so on…and suddenly you have a whole new level of name recognition. Be sure whatever you post ties to your business and includes website links so you are easy to find.

Got more ideas? Post your comments below!

Expand your network (your social network, that is)

Social networksSocial networking has taken off–are you in the loop? LinkedIn is hands-down the biggest site for business networking, but many other sites can help you connect. No matter what your interest, there’s a perfect place to share it online.

In this post, we’ll look at the variety of social networking sites available. In a subsequent post, we’ll explore ways these can be used to help you and your business.

  • MySpace was not the first social networking site, but it was one of the first to hit the mainstream and really take off. It remains popular today, with millions of members.
  • Facebook was limited to high school and college students until September 2006. Since then it has usurped MySpace and become *the* place to be online. New applications sprout up each day, making it a broad platform for connections.
  • Plaxo is taking the Facebook approach to the business world in competition to LinkedIn. They’ve long been known for their online address book that requests automatic updates by email, but it remains to be seen how popular its social networking side will be.
  • Flickr is social networking via photos. Post your favorites or post them all, then tag them, label them, categorize them, and share them.
  • YouTube takes Flickr to the next level with video instead of photography. Record anything you want, post it and tag it, then wait for the comments to come in.
  • Twitter allows you to share exactly what you are doing at any point in time. Consider it a real-time community status board.
  • Digg, Del.ico.us, and StumbleUpon are not traditional social networking sites, but they use each the power of community to accomplish the same thing: link you to recommendations made by others with similar interests. By bringing like interests together, everyone gets more of what they love most.

These sites mingle the real world with the virtual world almost seamlessly. While it’s easy to sign up on any of these sites, you’ll have to return regularly to make strong connections. Real-world friends and colleagues require your time and attention; your virtual connections do as well.

Get Linked

LinkedInHave you tried LinkedIn yet? This is the business equivalent of Facebook combined with the Kevin Bacon game, Six Degrees of Separation, which theorizes that anyone on the planet can connect to anyone else by a chain of no more than six people. LinkedIn only takes it to four degrees, but nonetheless it is amazing how quickly your network can grow.

On LinkedIn, you can post your resume, link to business associates and search for long-lost college classmates. You can recommend others; many will reciprocate and provide recommendations for you. Expand your network with tools to automatically scan your address book for other LinkedIn contacts. Browse their networks to find even more connections. Naturally you’ll include details on your business and a link to your website. If you’re feeling ambitious, show off your knowledge by posting answers in the Q&A section of the website. And if you need a resource or have someone you want to meet, search your network to find out who knows who. Chances are that someone you know can help make that connection, whether online or real world.

The more connections I make, the more I find myself using this site. If I meet someone new, it’s easy to learn more about them with a quick search. And since I can see that others are searching for me, I’ve updated my profile to present my company in its very best light, with glowing recommendations from my clients to entice prospects to call.