Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Business Networking Strategy....Live in Cardiff

I will be speaking about 'Making Conversations Count - Strategies for Successful Networking' at Park House Club, Cardiff next Wednesday, 30th April at 6pm.

This is the second event to launch a new Chapter of the Professional Speakers Association in Wales. Please click on the link above to find out more.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

National Networker article now live

My article "Well Known British Network Celebrates Ten Years" for The National Networker in the US is now live on their site. You can read the article here.

In the article I discuss the first ten years of Ecademy and interview founders Penny and Thomas Power.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The National Networker

The National Networker is both a newsletter and web portal for people interested in networking in the US. Four editions a month are emailed to subscribers across the States and worldwide, with contributors covering networking in their regions, countries and industries.

I am delighted to announce that, from 13th April, I have been appointed the UK Bureau Chief for The National Networker. I will be writing about the networking scene in the UK every month, looking at people, networks and events. My first article, out this Sunday, looks at the growth of Ecademy, culminating in the tenth birthday celebrations a couple of months ago.

You can subscribe to The National Networker here.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Networking to Get and strangers

The last two questions from the recent article in The Sun newspaper

Isn’t Facebook just for kids, can I network there?
Since Facebook opened membership to the public, people have looked at the business potential, with mixed success. Facebook have started ‘brand’ pages where people can become a ‘Fan’ of your business.

Facebook is ‘viral’ by nature, meaning that you can spread your message. But you have to understand how to do so and your business needs to be a good fit.

Why would a bunch of strangers want to help me?
Many people avoid networking because they can’t see themselves referring, or being referred by strangers.

Think about the people you support and refer now. Can you remember when you didn’t know them? Networking is about building relationships. Networks provide you with the opportunity to do that. The rest is up to you.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Aiming Sky High

I'm always encouraging people to take every appropriate opportunity to ask for what they want. After all, if you don't share your needs with people who can help, how will they know how to?

I was, therefore, impressed by the 'cheek' of the caller to BBC Radio 5 Live's '606' sports phone-in this evening. A Portsmouth FC fan, celebrating his team's success in reaching the FA Cup Final for nearly 70 years (for non-football fans, this is a big deal!), he was shocked to realise that he has a big exam at 9.30am on the morning of the Final. To make matters worse, the exam is taking place in Aberystwyth - some 230 miles away. Far too far away for a game kicking off at 3pm.

Undeterred, the caller made a plea to all listeners to the programme.....could anyone lend him a helicopter to help him get to the game in time?!

At present, I don't know the response to his appeal but I hope he is successful. Such creative thinking to solve a problem and faith in the ability of fellow fans to help deserves a result.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Government Adopts Facebook - a Step Too Far?

I had an interesting meeting with a group of policy makers and a press officer from Northern Ireland’s Department for Employment and Learning (DELNI) last month. I have been talking to the team there for a couple of months about their pilot to become the first Government Department to have a Facebook presence.

With the creation of the new brand pages on Facebook, this creates a great opportunity for larger organisations to appeal to a key demographic group in their own backyard. The challenge, as discussed in my previous blog here, is to do this without driving away the very people you want to attract, or sit with few ‘fans’, like the friendless geek at a party.

The guys at DELNI want to attract back to Northern Ireland people who may have left in their teens to study in Scottish and English universities and who have never returned. They are also keen to encourage other people to look to Northern Ireland as a land of opportunity. They want to paint a rosy picture of the country as a place of opportunity and a lively social scene.

But is it a step too far for a Government department to expect to become popular on Facebook? There are already concerns that the way businesses, and older people, have embraced Facebook will lead to younger people finding new places to play. If we start to see The Inland Revenue, The Ministry of Defence and The Home Office in the playground, what effect will that have?

Interestingly, the age group that DELNI want to attract are older than Facebook’s original demographic, having already left university and settled into permanent employment. They are far more likely to be in their mid-20s and older.

The first challenge I put to them was how to make the page viral. If they are going to spread the word and attract fans, people need to feel proud of the association and happy to shout their involvement from the rooftops. I am delighted to see that, since we met, they have changed the name of the page from ‘Department for Employment and Learning’ to a much more simple, ‘Northern Ireland’. After all, who wants to tell their friends that they are a 'fan' of the Department for Employment and Learning?!

The next area to focus on is the content and it will be interesting to track their success in this area. The page will not thrive if the content is posted by the civil servants behind the campaign; it needs to be user driven. Facebook becomes viral when people’s friends see that they have posted content elsewhere on the site. If all of the comments and threads are posted by DELNI and not by their fans, it is merely an information portal and not a social network.

So, is this a step too far? Or an encouraging sign of Government responding to changes in communication and being creative in their approach to reaching their target market?