July 2, 2013

How social networking can accelerate your career

Focus on your goals, then expand your networking

Target audience: Small businesses, entrepreneurs, marketing professionals, SEO specialists, college students, job seekers, those considering a career change.

JD Lasica“In the past,” Porter Gale says, “I think people thought of networking as a transaction or a game. It was all about collecting numbers and handing out business cards.”

Porter’s new book, “Your Network Is Your Net Worth,” suggests a different approach, beginning with “the we instead of just the me,” as she says in our 8-minute interview above. Her approach is about helping others, offering value, creating partnerships, finding influencers and creating content — whether that’s a blog post, a video interview or a brainstorming session to solve a problem.

Watch or embed our video interview on YouTube

Watch, download or embed the video on Vimeo
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September 10, 2009

5 questions for the author of ‘Trust Agents’

Chris Brogan & Julien Smith
Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, co-authors of “Trust Agents,” at SOBcon in May. (Photo by JD Lasica)

trust_agentsJD LasicaIt’s always cool to see one of your friends hit the best-seller list, and that’s what just happened to Chris Brogan, the Tiger Woods of inbound marketing. Chris (@chrisbrogan on Twitter) and Julien Smith (@julien on Twitter) have their first book out: Trust Agents, and it’s receiving quite a bit of praise from the social media cognoscenti.

Here are five questions I put to Chris this week about Trust Agents and social influence marketing:

1Welcome to the pantheon of published authors. Is it what you expected? How did you marshal your social media assets and contacts to help push “Trust Agents” up the best-seller lists?

Chris Brogan: It is and it’s not. I was surprised that publicity mechanisms don’t seem as attuned to the social media world’s new methods. Things seem to be the way they were years ago. I mean, our people at Wiley are wonderful, and I don’t know anyone doing it better, but I still think there’s more opportunity to do some new and creative things with book marketing. How did WE do the bestseller thing (twice, I might add: NYT and Wall Street Journal)? We asked our friends. I’m just lucky that I have ten thousand friends.

2With so many other books about social media out there, what specific gap in the marketplace did you want to fill with your book? What do you hope it adds to the conversation?

Chris Brogan: We didn’t write about social media. That was our magic trick. We wrote about how to be a human at a distance. Social media isn’t cool. It’s a set of tools. Connecting to humans is cool. That’s what we wrote about. We wrote about how to be human, and that’s timeless, baby.

3What’s the biggest surprise you came across in researching Trust Agents?

Chris Brogan:The biggest surprises are everywhere. We changed the entire structure of the book midway through, and turned it into a book about six big ideas with lots of how-to information and stories to back it up. That was markedly different from what we showed Wiley when they said yes. What else did we learn? That we’d uncovered ways to talk about building business relationships that had nothing to do with Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn, but instead, had everything to do with understanding how people use those tools in the new world. Continue reading

August 6, 2009

7 questions for the author of ‘Say Everything’

Scott Rosenberg sketches his vision of blogosphere’s impact on our culture

sayeverythingJD LasicaScott Rosenberg, co-founder and longtime managing editor of Salon — and a longtime friend — has a new book out, following Dreaming in Code, called Say Everything: How Blogging Began, What It’s Becoming, and Why It Matters (Crown Publishing Group). It’s a well-written, well-researched, worthwhile read about blogging, its origins, import and where it’s going. He took part this week in a Q&A about blogging’s impact on publishing, journalism and our culture at large.

1Blogging is no longer the shiny new toy, and the cool kids are moving on to social networks and micro-blogging services like Twitter. Tell us why you think blogs have a vibrant future.

SR: Blogs have a great future because the Web has a great future, and blogs are the Web’s single most important native form. The “cool kids” did their part for blogging by embracing it in the early days and helping it evolve into the mature phenomenon that it is today. That’s their role; they’re doing the same thing with Twitter et al. now. But their waning enthusiasm means very little to a form that we can now see is the single most useful vehicle for self-expression online. Once millions take up some activity, you really don’t need the cool kids anymore.

2You’ve been researching and writing your book for some time. What was the single biggest surprise you came across?

SR: I was surprised by how much of everything that would come later was prefigured by the experiences of the earliest bloggers whose tales are contained in Say Everything‘s first section. Any sort of issue that might come up and hit you in the head as a blogger — with the exception of advertising- and money-related matters — turns out to be something these people faced.

3Name a few bloggers who aren’t household names but whose blogs
enrich the public discourse.

SR: I’m not trying to be difficult, but I have to ask, which bloggers are household names? Whose house, exactly, are we living in? Is Anil Dash a household name? He’s been writing some amazing stuff lately. Is Merlin Mann a household name? Nate Silver? Certainly these are all “well known bloggers,” in certain spheres, but none of them really rises to the level of name-recognition of any second-string actor.

I think I have to continue being difficult and challenge the second part of the question, too. “Enriching the public discourse” makes it sound like “the public discourse” is monolithic. There are a million “public discourses” out there, and most bloggers of any level of ambition are contributing to at least one of them. I may not be personally interested in the obsessions of a quilting blogger or a baseball geek, but they are now participating in the public discourse that matters to them.

[JD: This is worth discussing more deeply over a beer some time. While I value all the knitting bloggers, sports bloggers and mommy bloggers out there, we do need vibrant discussions in the blogosphere around public policy issues, especially with the increasing irrelevance of many newspapers and other traditional media voices. We find some of this with Josh Marshall’s Talking Points Memo, Pro Publica, the Politico, Huffington Post, Daily Kos, Power Line and elsewhere, but we need many more blogs, and bloggers, participating in the public discourse about their communities and their nation.]

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February 14, 2009

New book: ‘Social Network Business Plan’

Chris AbrahamInteresting new business book,  The Social Network Business Plan, is out, written by David Silver. (You can get it on Amazon and elsewhere.)

It looks interesting because, in my humble experience, most people go into the world of Social Media and Social Networking with no business plan at all by either winging it or by reinventing the wheel:
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December 17, 2008

Review of ‘Groundswell,’ ‘Reality Check’

JD LasicaTwo of the best-known names in Silicon Valley have new books out: Charlene Li (twitter: charleneli) and Guy Kawasaki (twitter: guykawasaki). Both fall into socialmedia.biz’s sweet spot, so here are quick reviews.

‘Groundswell’

groundswell1
Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies, by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, is the definitive guide to how businesses are grappling with the social media revolution. The revolution is still in its early stages, and the old order still clings tenaciously to power — we’re living in the throes of transformative change, which can be at once exhilarating and disorienting.

Li and Bernoff provide a framework for describing these fundamental changes, which they call "the groundswell," and they do so chiefly within the context of marketing rather than sociology or politics. While this is a book for businesses (brands) and the people who do their handiwork (marketers and consultants), anyone who’s interested in better understanding the tsunami of social participation that is subsuming our institutions will find lots to absorb in these pages.

Written in accessible, no-nonsense prose, Groundswell breaks its narrative its three parts: what the social changes are all about; strategies for taking advantage of these changes, and an assessment of how these changes are transforming businesses.

Li and Bernoff, analysts at Forrester when this was written, offer dozens of rich examples of the groundswell at work. (Bernoff is still there. Li left to begin a social media strategy company, and I’ve known Charlene for years from the speaking circuit.) And it is through these concrete accounts that Groundswell shines most brightly.

There are the well-known horror stories, of course, like Jeff Jarvis dealing with Dell Hell and Dell’s brilliant response. And  Rob Master’s masterful Dove Campaign for Real Beauty at Unilever.

But most of the lessons are less well known and thus especially relevant in informing a business’s approach to social media: Josh Bancroft almost single-handedly moving Intel in a new direction with Intelpedia (see Business Week article). Intuit’s wise decision not to create a software wiki or TurboTax wiki but a tax information wiki. Best Buy almost accidentally enabling employees to help each other — and in turn increase productivity — through its Blue Shirt Nation program.

Like top-tier analysts do, Li and Bernoff capably synthesize these and other lessons into handy bullet-point lists that businesses should laminate and pass out to every department head.  For example, in the section "tips for successful blogging," the authors advise:

1. Start by listening.
2. Determine a goal for the blog.
3. Estimate the ROI (return on investment).
4. Develop a plan.
5. Rehearse.
6. Develop an editorial process.
7. Design the blog and its connection to your site.
8. Develop a marketing plan so people can find the blog.
9. Remember, blogging is more than writing.
10. Final advice: be honest.

By and large, that’s a list that would serve any blogger well, not just corporate bloggers.

Groundswell deserves a wide readership, not just for explaining the social tsunami now engulfing us in down-to-earth terms but for presenting a loud and clear wakeup call to corporate America: Get with the program, before the swift, the nimble and the socially adept eat your lunch.

‘Reality Check’

realitycheck1I’ve long followed the writings of Guy Kawasaki, the heralded Apple evangelist-emeritus-for-life. When we finally met at the recent Web 2.0 Summit, he surprised me by handing me a copy of his fresh-off-the-presses book, Reality Check: The irreverent guide to outsmarting, outmanaging and outmarketing your competition. So disclosure: I have a soft spot for authors who know how to leverage the blogosphere.

A reality check is exactly what the tech industry needs at this time of economic turmoil, and Kawasaki provides it in droves, spinning out bits of wisdom gleaned from 20 years as an industry insider and venture capitalist. Indeed, this is a book filled with bits, from the multitude of snappy 3-page chapters to the torrent of bullet points that rain down upon the Short Attention Span Generation. 

Reality Check is geared chiefly toward newbie entrepreneurs who want to know the rules of the road in the Valley: the rules of how to put together a PowerPoint presentation, the rules of what to say (and not say) at a job interview or a VC meeting, the art of bootstrapping your startup, the art of creating a community or influencing people. Kawasaki has seen and heard it all, and while the book could have benefited from more anecdotes attached to real names, he offers enough advice in these 474 pages that even wizened tech veterans could glean some pointers.

The book is sprinkled with Q&As conducted with tech executives and thought leaders, and one wonders if some choices would have been different if the opportunity arose (for instance, I read the interview with the head of Yahoo!’s global human resource team on the day Yahoo! laid off 1,500 workers).  But for every near-miss there are more than a few gems.

The author taps into the Zeitgeist of the Valley by reminding us that the founders behind many of the seminal companies of our time, like Google, started out by trying to solve a problem, not trying to launch a multinational corporation. Start small, stay simple, underhire, be conservative in your projections. It’s at once Zenlike, lyrical and practical. Kawasaki is also a funny guy, lacing the book with wit and a liberal dose of the word "asshole."

While people running small companies, department heads, team managers and coders seem the most likely audience for Reality Check, big brands could take away a few lessons as well. Kathleen Gasperini, co-founder of Label Networks, observes smartly in one passage:

Millions of dollars are wasted only to result in brand backlash, which takes millions more to undo. Many large brands or agencies can’t see beyoind the thirty-second TV pitch. "But how do I reach them?" they ask. There are so many ways. You can walk right past a big idea if you have your cultural blinders on.

These top-down companies are running with blinders on into a future that has a huge cliff. Grass roots and bottom-up is the most authentic way to go, and you can do this much faster than in the past, given the speed of communication and viral marketing. But you can’t try to be cool and grassroots if it’s not true and real. Grass roots takes being out in the marketplacebeing there, in their lives, and relevant.

I could have used a time-travel version of Reality Check before negotiating options in my last startup venture. Kawasaki offers "guydlines" of what to look for in an options package for someone working in a startup that has raised a first round of venture capital of $1-3 million with 15 or fewer employees:

Senior engineer: 0.3-0.7 percent
Midlevel engineer: 0.2-0.4 percent
Product manager: 0.2-0.3 percent
Chief architect: 1-1.5 percent
Vice president: 1.5-3 percent
CEO: 5-10 percent

One bit of advice that I strongly disagree with appears in the chapter on blogging. "Think of your blog as a product," Kawasaki writes. Don’t express "your spontaneous thoughts and feelings." Perhaps someone as high profile as Kawasaki needs to guard his public image, but for the rest of us in the blogosphere, honest and spontaneous is far superior to regimented and productized.

So, in summary: Planning to start a new venture or trying to reinvent a hidebound corporate culture? Read Reality Check to kick-start your sensibilities and heed Kawasaki’s lifetime of business lessons distilled in these fast-paced pages.

J.D. Lasica was editor of the Sacramento Bee’s Books section — back when it had a Books section.