Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Is LinkedIn a weak spot in your social networking chain?

So a while back Beth Kanter asked me to write a "resource rich" post about how to use LinkedIn and I have been trying to come up with something very clever to say. But I just realized that I dont need clever when direct and simple will work better.

We are all spending time building our personal networks and at work we may spend time building our organization's network, but are we spending anytime growing our own career and brand as many like to call it (like Dan Schwabel in Me 2.0 or many other bloggers)?

LinkedIn is a professional network with a low entry point of time commitment, clean interface with a clear purpose of helping you be successful in your career or business.

Lets face it, at one point or another all of us will be looking for a job, looking to hire someone or trying to make a business connection, so why wait until the need smacks you in the face, get LinkedIn. So build your professional network now.

Here are some creative ways I would suggest using LinkedIn.
  • Install the Slideshare or Google presentation app and create a powerpoint that shows who you are
  • Install the box.net files and upload some samples of work you are allowed to share
  • Post your volunteer experience
  • Keep in touch with your orgs staff alumni (create a group)
  • Make sure someone checks your company's profile to add details and information about your organization

And beyond that, if you work for a nonprofit, job recruiting can be even tougher. So you need to take advantage of every opportunity to share who works at your organization and why they love it. You should encourage all of your staff at your nonprofit to join LinkedIn in my opinion. Many people have a Facebook or other personal socialnetworking page, but how many have something to represent themselves professionally ? Do your staff even understand the difference? As nonprofits dont we have some sort of duty to equip our staff to grow their career, even if they leave our organization? (see my powerpoint on this)

OK, so that was too many random thoughts, here is the direct portion followed by some AWESOME resources:

Dan Schwabel in the book Me 2.0 offers this advice for Linked In.
1. Craft your profile (my thoughts=Spend time filling in all areas and think through how you want to be seen. Pick a focus for who you are, dont try to list everything.)
2. Start and expand your network (my thoughts= use the tools to find colleagues from past jobs, import your contacts from your email, join some groups, look at your friends list of contacts to recruit more. Then spend time setting up groups and organize your contacts. Then everytime you go to an event or meet people, connect with them on LinkedIn.)
3. Control your Google results
4. Ask for Advice (my thoughts= Dont just ask for advice, be a giver, answer some questions.)
5. Get Recommendations (my thoughts= Recommed other people. Dont just spam and ask everyone to recommend you, ask people who will take the time to post a well written, thoughtful recommendation. And maybe seek out those people who are influential.)
6. Search Jobs

Here are some great resources:
What I see missing from all of these is how to use this as a nonprofit to fight for a cause, but I think that is the point here. We have to balance which tools we use to promote ourselves, our organization and our cause. Maybe this isnt the best place to promote a cause, but it might be good to find AWESOME staff or stay connected with other professionals as individuals and orgs.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fight for the casue = Proud Dad

I am proud of my kids for taking time to put others first.  (Sidestep from my usual NPTech blog writing, well sort of.)

Not too long ago my daughter, Natalie age 7 now, got sad news that her BFF was diabetic which required some hospital stays, missing school and changing her life forever. Natalie's BFF now has to carry an insulin pump and has struggled at times to get back to the life she once had.  Natalie took time to visit her in the hospital and made every effort to help her feel good.  Now Natalie is taking time to do a Diabetes walk with her BFF and is raising money.  It makes me proud to see her fighting for her friends and a cause at such a young age.  Click here to support her and learn more. 

Dominic, my son age 9, is part of the Joliet Jets YMCA swim team.  He is quick to help his team and teammates.  They are running a raffle and Dominic sold his required number of tickets within the first day.  But he wanted to go back and get more because he enjoyed supporting his team and selling the tickets.  Dominic is also always quick to stay at church and pitch in anyway he can.

My next older son, Brendan age 16, is going on a Teen Missions trip in June to Galveston, Texas to help rebuild and cleanup from the hurricanes. This is through our church, www.communitychristian.org.  He is the first to see a friend in need and offer a helping hand, maybe too much sometimes.  But a big heart is part of who he is.  A funny story though, Brendan enjoys helping serve food at shelters sometimes cause he really likes the food.

My oldest son, Tyler age 17, is going on a Teen Missions trip in June to New Orleans, LA to help rebuild and cleanup from the hurricanes. Plus I am going on this trip with him along with his Uncle Tom! How cool is that?!?!? This is through our church, www.communitychristian.org. Tyler is one of those kids that everyone wants to know, easy going, funny and friendly. He is there for you.

Well anyway, not sure how we are going to pay for these mission trips for the older kids, but it always works itself out when God is in charge.  Just sharing a touch of the pride I have in my kids giving of themselves to others. I dont know if any of them will follow in my shoes and work for a nonprofit but we shall see.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Fight for the Cause, Build the Org or Sell Me?

What is most important to you, fighting for a cause, making your org successful or taking care of yourself? I have been struggling a little bit with who is giving the best advice. Many of the books, blogs or resources I have been reading only focus on one (maybe two of these elements). So how does one fight for what they believe, build a stable org and grow their career, ALL at the SAME TIME? Oh yeah, not to mention have a happy, balanced home life and devote time to their faith.

I was lucky enough to get a copy of Me 2.o by Dan Schawbel from Beth Kanter, Thanks Beth. I was also lucky enough to get Momentum by Allison H. Fine, free from Wiley publishers (same pub as the NTEN tech book) at NTC, THANKS! However reading these two books back to back made me develop split personalities. Me 2.0 is all about me and Momentum was all about them. 

Let me start by saying, PLEASE READ BOTH, they were both enjoyable to read, but also chock full of great ideas, advice and practical steps. But read both, that is the key, then blend them. You should probably throw in a copy of Forces for Good and Good to Great also to finalize the balance.

Me 2.0 which is full of practical tips, good strategies and inspiration that can be acted on immediately and grown over time. 
Here are a couple highlights:
Authenticity is required: "A false image may get you some short term success, but over time, others will likely see through you..."

"Consider every opportunity a chance to improve and promote your personal brand. Whatever your personal goals are, maintaining this positive attitude will open up pathways for advancement and success in your life."

Dan offers this advice for Linked In (with detail and more ideas though including blogging and Facebook)
1. Craft your profile
2. Start and expand your network
3. Control your Google results
4. Ask for Advice
5. Get Recommendations
6. Search Jobs

"We have all heard the phrase 'It's not what you know, it's whom you know.' With personal branding, this phrase changes to 'It's not whom you, it's who knows you.'"

Dan has a great section all about discovering more about yourself as well. He then walks you through how to transform that into a personal brand. Once you understand what your brand is, it is time to sell it. One of my favorite parts is how he outlines how to create a blog and utilize social networks to really push that brand. It is "spot on" in my opinion.

"Should I use my powers for good or for evil?' Chandler from Friends wonders that. Well, so do I. The unanswered question after reading Me 2.0 is what should I do with my Personal Brand after I have it? Is it there just to make my rich and successful? Or can I lend my skills, knowledge and brand to make a difference within a cause? I didnt see many references at all about giving back to the community, sharing unselfishly or supporting a cause until page 162. Here Dan talks about the new rules of engagement in the Web 2.0 world in which "giving before receiving" is the common courtesy. But he does manage to end the book with a paragraph that says make sure you acknowledge the support that got you there.

Putting my negative thoughts about being too self focused, I really would recommend this book to anyone that is struggling with how to stand out. It is easy to get lost in the shuffle of this busy world. And often as nonprofit staff we let our own priorities fall by the wayside in order to help our orgs and fight for the cause. There is no harm in taking care of yourself and becoming a star, as long as it doesn't mean missing out on life, God and making a difference.

Momentum on the other hand was all about igniting social change in the connected age. This book focused on how you can empower groups to act on behalf of your cause or org. The author says it this way, "Momentum is a road map for problem-solving activists, board members, and funders who want to use the new social-media tools that are inexpensively and widely available."

A quote at the end is a great way to sum up much of what is in this book.

Kaliya Hamlin, an activist, advocate and blogger, perhaps put it best when she said, "Social change is happening. People are exchanging ideas, learning from one another and learning to trust one another in new and different ways, particularly...strangers. This process will lead to new and different ways of tackling existing problems - we don't have to come up with solutions, we just have to get out of the way of passionate people and good ideas will emerge." 

Here are a few other awesome quotes:

"Our passion for participation and social change is colliding with the reality that we are increasingly connected to one another."

"Connectedness does not come from technology but it is facilitated and strengthened by it."

"Our success will come when our efforts are reflective of, and connected to, the communities in which we work. We must reduce institutional behaviors that are stopping us from improving relationships with people who care about our work and with other institutions that share our passion and dream of turning the tide on social ills."

The book really pushes those themes and does a great job challenging you to rethink the way you involve and engage your supporters.  For me personally it was a good book, but was not as good of a read as Forces for Good. It was a pretty quick read though and was well worth my time.


Me or us? I dont think it that simple of a question. I will often sit back at work, look over the numerous projects and try to see if my workload is balanced.  I never really had a good way to frame that balance though.  But having read these books some things started to click for me.
  1. Am I spending time build my own brand (career)? (Me 2.o)  - Me
  2. Am I working to strengthen my organizations capacity to grow? (Good to Great) - Us
  3. Am I empowering my org's supporters to work on our behalf? (Momentum) - Them
Anyway those are just my thoughts.

Friday, May 1, 2009

People are more important than tools - #09NTC wrap up

The 2009 Nonprofit Technology Conference hosted by NTEN was an amazing experience. This was my 6th year and was by far the best. Here are some highlights to convince how crazy you are for having missed it.

First, Holly Ross, who I deeply admire for her ability to act as the gentle hand that conducts the symphony that is NTEN. Hollyonce stepped up and fullfilled her promise to reinact "All the Single Ladies". YOU HAVE TO WATCH THE VIDEO! In my opinion, Holly's smile, adorable daughter and genuineness make her better than Beyonce anyday!

People! It was awesome to have 1,450 people there to learn all about Nonprofit Tech! I felt so inspired and part of a real community. Our hashtag #09NTC was lit up all over twitter, we were only second behind the stupid Swine flu, cough cough, uh oh. Here is a great analysis of our traffic on Twitter via the #09NTC hashtag.

Clay Shirky was fantastic, the room was a buzz with quotes, thoughts and everyone pulling out their credit card to buy his book, Here Comes Everybody. I would take time to tell you what I learned, but this post with 15 Qutoes from Clay Shirky already did.

But here is one Shirky thought I would add these two:
  • Technology doesnt just allow you to do the same thing faster, it allows you to rethink how you do everything.
  • Use of social tools & application is more important than the design. so dont ask how to use socnet, ask why & what do you want 2 happen?
Eben Moglin, (learn more at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eben_Moglen) this talk was very intellectual and deep in thought. At times I was having a hard time keeping up because I was a little distracted with his slower presentation style. However, there were some real nuggets and deep insights to this talk:
  • Lets make knowledge something we share, not something that someone else owns.
  • Future is free software, free hardware and free bandwidth
  • "You can't stop people from thinking, you can only stop them from sharing"
  • Profit is not evil, but it is easy to do evil when your eye is on profit. Money isn't the problem, it's the love of money. Greed gets in the way.
  • Its not about intellectual property, it should be free speech
IT Alignment
I had the pleasure of presenting a session all about IT alignment with John Merritt from the San Diego YMCA, it was fantastic! We based the session on the IT alignment chapter from the NTEN book Managing Technology to Meet your Mission. But rather than cover what is already on the book, we went on a couple tangents, Role of the CEO and a conversation where IT Strategy comes from.

The role of the CEO presentation focused on what decisions the CEO has to make versus the IT Director. We also talked about John Merritt's favorite acronym, the ART of Technology. ART = Alignment, Relationship and Transparency. Align technology with mission, relationship between IT and all staff with a solid foundation of transparent technology (meaning it works so well you dont know its there).

We also stepped back in time t0 1993 to talk about this diagram from Venkatraman. This diagram demonstrates how many technology strategies get created. The key to this is understanding that there are many different ways that your IT initiatives will get started and your planning should include all of them.

Optimizing Landing Pages to convert more donors - Donordigital
Here are some ideas from the session (just some not all)
  • People read about 25% slower on the internet than on paper, so need less words
  • Things to test, headline, header image, gift strings, copy under headline and form layout.
  • Does your copy explain you mission, list how money will be used, is it tax deductible?
  • Are you asking for useless information on your donor form? like surname? middle initial, daytime number, suffix? I mean really are you going to use it?
  • Multivariate is testing multiple variables (page elements) on a landing page at the same time? How well do the elements work together?
  • Amnesty example talks about spending soo much of there times with interactive tools and widgets but they missed the point that people were getting lost at the landing pages because of content and layout. Traffic is only good if it stays and converts which was getting lost on widget focus.
Knowing where your constituents are online - Michael Cervino - Beaconfire
Steps to find online constituents:
  1. Outline key objectives of site and establish baseline
  2. Understand what to track - know what direction to go
  3. Understand cross channel performance
  4. Continually monitor trends
Other notes
  • You need to think through how to keep online donors, they are easy to loose and may have a tendency to not return. How will you engage and retain them?
  • Trends are more important than snapshots of activity
  • Target and communicate more with those that are most active. And downgrade those that are less active.
  • What is it that measures success for you on the web? What is your key outcome?
  • How do you find out who is already talking about you on a social space or a blog? and are they worth trying to recruit to speak on your behalf? and are they able to help? Google search with technorati can find top blogs using key words. www.issuecrawler.net is a good resource to find blogs on similar topc/interest.
  • Find methods to get people to talk about you, dont push messages, build relationships and arm your supporters with tools.
  • One of the greatest predictor in a fundraising event is your campaigners getting that first gift.

Unleashing the Ultimate Cool Factor: Case Studies of Conferences Energized Through Social Media - big panel with Maddie Grant

  • Talking about an event and building the hype should be a year round activity.
  • Build a community around the purpose of the event
  • Rally to build knowledge and sharing even before you get together in person
  • dont do anything in social media unless you have a goal and you can measure it
Effective Online Communications - John Kenyon (Awesome NPTech Rockstar)
  • build your online coummincation for your audience, not what your staff or board wants.
  • Create a calendar of communication plan, but think message not tool (who will write, what, when) then match tool 2 audience
  • Content, cultivation, credibility and clickability - 4 Cs of a
  • Volume of email subscriptions is not useful if they dont really want to hear from you.
  • Hilarious="if sister margaret can maintain a website at 87 and learn HTML at 74, then you can too."
  • Email should be personal, targeted, integrated with web/direct mail, trackable
  • good content=1. highlight keywords 2. use bullet list 3. one idea per pargph 4. cut txt in half twice 5. use links
No Country for old media - David Neff (American Cancer Society=ACS)
Click here to see the full presentation or here are a few highlights:
  • Help your supporters take the Lead – The frozen pea fund was a very successful fundraising campaign that was hatched by a Cancer survivor. She needed an ice pack in recovery, but didn’t have one, so she used frozen peas. Then decided to post that and share it and the concept caught on to a group. Then ACS heard about it, contacted them to provided support and tools.
  • ACS decided not to use YouTube because of possible negative & stupid comments, like "dude, that video sucked"
  • Everyone should be thinking about some sort of mobile giving campaign, use of mobile tech is exploding
  • google analytics, summize.com, compete.com, tweetscan.com, google blog alerts beta, viewzi.com facebook, good search tools to monitor conversations
  • ACS gave access to secret special videos if someone raises enough money for their org
Well anyway, it was an awesome conference, mad props to the staff at NTEN! Can't wait for Atlanta NTC, April 2010.