Thursday, November 25, 2010

Be Awesome - Say Thanks

My mother and father didn't always agree on everything. Their turbulent relationship meant a lot of things were said that couldn't be taken back. Mistakes were made. No one is perfect.

But, they purposefully and with perfect synchronization of effort instilled three rules in my sister and me.

#1. Adhere to a strong work ethic

#2. Brush your teeth

#3. Always, always say thank you

This isn't going to be a long post. My autobiography will be released 100 years from the day of my death. What I want to put across to everyone is the lesson of training oneself to say "thanks" to every person for the biggest to smallest effort is important.

My dad still wakes up at 4:30 am every day, still checks my teeth to see that I've brushed them whenever I see him, and will still whisper to say thanks or leave an extra tip for someone who deserves it. He is a big reason I keep Wisps (disposable toothbrushes) in every bag and feel paranoid if I (somehow) sleep past 7 am on a weekend. He is a big reason I am constantly asking to talk to the manager to inform him or her that the server I have is doing an exceptional job.

Today is a day devoted to gratitude and so here's the big message: Be Awesome - Say Thanks. Say thanks to your friends, family, teachers, students, communities, members, leaders, and more. Say thanks when someone has taught you an important lesson. Say thank you when someone has taken time to answer a question. Say thanks when someone helps someone close to you. Recognize extra effort exerted by someone so that you might lead others by example and make the world just the tiniest bit friendlier.

To all the regular readers of my blog, I want to assure you of these three things:

#1. I woke up before 7 am this morning and helped my mother-in-law wash the dishes

#2. I brushed my teeth both before and after breakfast

#3. I am thankful for each and every one of you who read and share my blog posts. I never installed Google Analytics on my blog or checked stats until this year and I've been stunned to find out so many people listen to what I have to say here. Thank you for your time. Thank you for listening. Thank you for making this world a better place.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Association International Expansion – You Need More Than a Passport

I know you’ll likely be on your way out of town, or desperately trying to thaw a last-minute turkey, but you can still dial-in to listen to the next ASAE Component Relations Section Council Virtual Lunch on International Expansion!

If you are an association executive in the beginning stages of expanding internationally or a component relations executive who is already working with international chapters and wondering if the model you’re using is right after all, this Wednesday is the Virtual Lunch for you to attend!

“International Expansion – You Need More Than a Passport”
Wednesday November 24, 2010
2:00 PM-01:00 PM ET

Register here to attend:

Speaker: Peter Turner
Senior Advisor, Global Development Strategy at MCI Group

Speaker Bio: As senior advisor, global development strategy for MCI Group, Peter works with U.S.-based associations on building their international communities through local office presence, market analysis and business planning, events, and regional communication. MCI Group is a global association management & consulting company with 44 offices in 22 countries. Before joining MCI, Peter's 30 year career includes having served as director, business and product development at IEEE Computer Society; director of business development at Fusion; as senior vice president and foundation executive director at Meeting Professionals International; and as director of meeting services a the American Society of Association Executives.

Resources for Discussion:
Blog Post: "Secrets to Market Share and Product Sales Growth"

Blog: Grow Globally - GG is an international management blog covering association case studies and thought pieces to help develop "locally relevant" member and customer experiences.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

EventCamp Meltdown? Fire Away - Guest Post by Midori Connolly

Written by guest blogger: Midori Connolly, Pulse Staging and Events, Chief AVGirl, Owner

In the wake of the third EventCamp, a community meltdown seems to be occurring. Unfortunately, it appears that some of the observations and questions from the remote participants were construed as personal attacks rather than the open and honest exchange of ideas (see values #1-4 of the Five Core Values of EventCamp).

As I see it, the primary impetus for this controversy (and what initiated the string of questions and observations via Twitter) is largely a result of what attendee expectations within the EventCamp community: online community, technological integration, blended audience experiences, solid adult learning design, etc.

Let me illustrate with my own personal experience..

As a remote attendee of the first EventCamp, I was thrilled to participate in thought-provoking discussion and receive inspirational education without having to leave my young children to travel across the country to an event. Then, as a face-to-face participant at EventCamp Twin Cities, the energy and excitement of the engagement occurring between participants both in-room and from afar gave me chills!

So, perhaps this is the source of the confusion for many the inability to participate remotely in the knowledge sharing and conversation at EventCamp East Coast. And this could be a major issue for ALL event managers moving forward as new generations of attendee expectations continue to evolve.

I see three areas that might have instigated the breakdown:
1) Video Stream v. Backchannel: I completely agree that not every EventCamp or gathering need be streamed via Audio/Video. However, I think it's safe to say that most of us by now have become accustomed to a backchannel conversation. Taking that away was quite an unexpected shock for audience members both face-to-face and remote. I received several messages from attendees onsite who felt they were being disconnected from those who couldn't be there face-to-face and that was not what they had expected. The same happened with remote attendees who (for some reason or another) thought I could explain why there wasn’t a backchannel conversation.

2) Hashtag: After building a vibrant and engaged #ecec10 community, restricting the flow of conversation between community members during the event felt contradictory to the purpose of creating event hashtags. If there are issues of confidentiality, then perhaps Yammer and a closed community are a better option? Then the participants who were included in the promotional/before community building could benefit from the education and knowledge of the during phase…and continue the camaraderie of the after stage of the event when community has the chance to become strongest.

3) Knowledge Sharing: One of the most appealing aspects of being a part of the EventCamp community is the open exchange of ideas. While providing educational summaries of the sessions is so fantastic (particularly with the brilliant Mitchell Beer as the provider of said summaries), it still dilutes the joy of having many perspectives in the room helping to create that content. It also limits the historical recording to one person's voice and interpretation.

In summary, this is clearly not an issue of right or wrong, but rather lessons for all. I don’t have an opinion one way or another about whether or not this was the “right” format. I just offer these journalistic observations and interpretations from someone who participated remotely in the community. Those who were able to attend face-to-face had the time of their life and the unconference format inspired a transformative experience. In contrast, our online community has come to expect certain elements as a norm, one being the ability to participate remotely in some form or another. Over the course of two years many of us have come to rely on these backchannel experiences for staying connected to our socmed bff's J

Wouldn’t it be cool if someone could now blend Adrian’s Conferences that Work model of some of the unconference formatting and create a virtual unconference? Wooooo, now THAT would be cool!

I know I will personally have a whole new insight as we move forward with developing EventCamp Green. So thank you to the ECEC10 organizers for pioneering yet another frontier in the brave new world of meetings and events!! 

Next it will be your turn to provide constructive observations and insight on our interpretation of the EventCamp model...and, as Pat Benatar would say, Fire Away so we can all grow and improve together!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Open Q&A with Open Community Authors: Lindy Dreyer and Maddie Grant

I’m taking part in the virtual book tour Maddie Grant and Lindy Dreyer are doing to explore concepts from Open Community: a little book of big ideas for associations navigating the social web. In this post, Maddie and Lindy answer a few questions I asked in my pre-virtual book tour post.

The Burning Questions
1. Why a book and why now?
Lindy: Maddie and I have talked to thousands of association executives who have voiced their frustrations about the social web--from the overabundance of tools and the disorderly experimentation of staff (and members!), to the lack of organizational support and the unwieldy processes for monitoring and managing social media, and that’s just the beginning. We decided to write Open Community as a way to address those frustrations and redirect the thinking about using social tools to build community online
Maddie: Yes - pretty much everyone has started experimenting with social tools now, it's no longer about answering "why is this important" but "how can we do this better" and "how can we do this strategically."
2. How did you settle upon the topic?
Lindy: Simply put, it's our manifesto. It's what we're all about and why we do what we do. We work to change the way associations think about the social web. It's not about choosing between a Facebook page or a private community site, it's about building the capacity to connect with people on an ever increasing scale. We ask our clients and colleagues to thing strategically about what they want to achieve, how to connect with their community where they're already spending time online, and how to organize and manage the work of building relationships. Then we can start talking about the best tools for specific goals.

3. Have you already thought of a sequel or series? Please dish.
Maddie:  Not specifically, though the thought has crossed my mind to do a second edition with all of the case studies we'll be collecting over the next year or so.  We very consciously did not put any case studies or examples in this book - we wanted people to think more deeply about how their own organization could approach all of the things we talk about. I hear people say all the time, "that wouldn't work for us, our members are different" or "we have a whole internal team of people ready to do this, but we're struggling with juggling existing work, how can we add this to the mix?" - but all associations have a community, everyone needs to figure out how to nurture it (online and offline) in their own ways. It's just too easy for members to go somewhere else if they don't feel heard or cared for.

4. Who are your social media/community influences?  Who are the "gurus" that rub you the wrong way?
Maddie: Ha - for influences, you can take a look at my Twitter "the big league" list...  the people that I deliberately don't follow are those who lead with tools and tactics, and those who say there's "a right way" to do social media.

Lindy: There's a reading list in the book, and endnotes where you can see many of the sources and people who influenced us. I will say, we somehow managed to get a Big Lebowski reference into the book. I'm not sure the Dude is a credible influence, but I take my inspiration wherever I find it.  

Maddie: LOL!  Serendipity is always a valuable thing...
5. The book, the tour, the Kindle version, the...audiobook?  Where are you going from here?
Lindy: We're really working hard to gather stories that support the premises in the book, and you'll see a lot of that on the SocialFishing blog between now and August...and probably beyond. Can't tell you all our super-secret-yet-undefined plans, though. Gotta keep you on your toes!  ;-)

Bonus Points Questions: 
When you started SocialFish, there wasn't anything like it in the association space. You have watched more and more social media consultants/marketing firms/etc come onto the playing field. Has it changed your focus? Would you have done things differently in the beginning?
Lindy: Well, from the very beginning, we've had a core philosophy that social media is about building relationships. And that means that organizations need to build the capacity to do that for themselves, because ultimately, that's what being an association executive is all about. So that focus hasn't changed. We're really happy to see more people providing social media services to the association industry, because that means the market is maturing. We're lucky to have a number of success stories from association clients who have been working with us to organize and scale their social media work. And we have a lot of great relationships with thought leaders in the association space, as well as social media thought leaders who help us constantly learn and evolve as the technology evolves. 
Maddie:  One thing we are doing now that there are more players, is defining more clearly what we do - strategy, internal process infrastructure, training - that is different than a social media marketing company, or a PR agency, or even a community platform vendor who helps with strategy.  We're working on articulating those differences. For example, if an association wants a social media campaign or someone to build a Facebook page for them, we're not the right agency. But if they want to figure out internal structures for social media management, or to develop policies, or to train staff on how to build relationships online all year round, then we can deliver results because that's the work we do every day.
What is the most important lesson you've learned in owning your own business?
Maddie: That being able to make a living from what you love doing and are really, really good at trumps all fears about striking out on your own... and, specifically for our social media strategy work, that it's imperative to be a practitioner, to live what we preach, to show the work it takes to nurture real world communities.
Lindy: Owning this business, in particular, has demanded a lot of experimentation and agility in our thinking. I've learned to recognize when something is not working and change course so that our clients and our business see results. There's a lot of satisfaction in turning a failed attempt into a success. 

What is the number one thing every association needs to have in place when it comes to social media?
Maddie:  Enthusiasm and willingness to build real connections. 
Lindy:  Internet access. ;-) How about we throw that question back out to your readers? Thoughts, gang?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Open Community: The Pre-Virtual Book Tour Post

My copy of Open Community arrived today and just a quick glance has assured me it is awesome stuff. Watch on this site for an upcoming post with more information about Open Community, "A little book of big ideas for associations navigating the web."

Top Five Questions I have for Maddie & Lindy:
1. Why a book and why now?
2. How did you settle upon the topic?
3. Have you already thought of a sequel or series? Please dish.
4. Who are your social media/community influences?  Who are the "gurus" that rub you the wrong way?
5. The book, the tour, the Kindle version, the...audiobook?  Where are you going from here?

Bonus Points Questions: 
1. When you started SocialFish, there wasn't anything like it in the association space. You have watched more and more social media consultants/marketing firms/etc come onto the playing field.  Has it changed your focus? Would you have done things differently in the beginning?
2. What is the most important lesson you've learned in owning your own business?
3. What is the number one thing every association needs to have in place when it comes to social media?

Smiling adoringly because I received Open Community at last!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Judge Me By My Friends and Lessons from BlogWorld

All I knew was BlogWorld was a place to find inspiration and I blame Maddie.

Maddie Grant is blogger who makes her living doing stuff similar to what I do: she talks to associations about how to create a bond with members, helps some create a social media strategy, helps some train staff about new communication tools, and (basically) teaches association leaders and staff how to better relate to the members they serve.  [P.S. She and her enigmatic/feisty partner-in-crime Lindy Dreyer just came out with their first book, Open Community, which you will be reading about on this blog more in the very near future.]

Maddie is an inspiration and a good friend.  When Maddie told me BlogWorld would help me avoid social media burnout, I listened and acted.  Thank God I did.  Because I did act on her advice (and because my very cool boss understood the importance of the conference for me), I met people who are working in various creative fields whilst incorporating a business mindset.  End of story.  I will be back.  Twitter is great, but talking with people in person is better when the conversation relates directly to what I do for a living (and my passion).

So, if you are interested in attending BlogWorld in the future...if you can't imagine life without blogs and Twitter, but are wondering how you can spend another minute devoting so much of your life to helping others understand are the FIVE LESSONS for BLOGWORLD you need to commit to before arriving in 2011.

1. Go to Everything - Talk to Everyone

Even if they are wearing pink furry hats.  In fact, because they are wearing pink furry hats you should meet them.  Have fun.  Attend the parties even if you know NO ONE.  By the time you leave, at least a few people will know who you are and that is a win.  Plus, you have no idea what person or what conversation will lead you to a new understanding, idea, or tool that will change the way you do things for the better.  Have you tried Amplify?  No?  It's awesome.  I heard about it as a result of a conversation that two people near me were having.  You'll have similar stories as long as you don't isolate yourself.

2. Invest [heavily] in 5-Hour Energy Drinks and Starbucks Via

Part of joining in is staying up to mingle despite a time difference.  Staying up until 4 a.m. PT is hard even if you live in that time zone.  Add three hours to it and you're talking serious hurt.  The magic of 5-Hour energy drink is in the massive doses of B vitamins and it might just help you party like a rockstar while you are attending BlogWorld Expo.  It helped me.  Starbucks Via is another mainstay in my luggage whenever I am traveling.  You never know when you'll need an extra dose of caffeine and this stuff tastes fairly decent.  In fact, come and get me if you don't like it, I think Starbuck Via tastes as good as their regular brew.

3. Creativity Counts

Sure, people will remember you at BlogWorld if you have a pink furry hat, blue hair, a business card that doubles as a beer bottle opener...that is true.  But if you are also super smart and a very real person who dares to mingle with the masses, they will also remember you. Ultimately, it pays to put a little time into thinking of ways to define your image and make yourself memorable before attending any event.

*[By the way, the pink furry hat, blue hair, and bottle opener business card people I'm thinking of are amazingly savvy and not surviving by their memorable meeting promo/materials alone, but rather allowing their signature pieces to play into their personal brands. Look up Miss Destructo if you need an example of "super savvy" or someone who would make the perfect Lara Croft. (Sorry Angelina.)]

4. The Bloggers Lounge is Your Home Base

Any blogger worth his or her salt will find free coffee and plenty of outlets.  The Bloggers Lounge at BlogWorld offers both and it will call to you with its siren song in the morning when you most need another cup to follow your Starbucks Via. 

Let it happen.

You will meet people there.  People who need wifi, outlets, and caffeine like you do...people who are your family at some strange level.

Let it happen.

5. Attend the Seminars You Wouldn't Normally Attend

The best session I attended at BlogWorld was the one I ended up in accidentally.  The sessions I received the least from were the ones I had planned to attend.  My best advice?  Attend the seminars you don't think you need. They will give you advice you didn't know you needed.  The content will be different than you are used to and you will feel more alive when you leave. 

Go Ahead, Judge Me

When I was in high school I remember hearing my father say people judged a person by his or her friends.  I had a lot of crazy friends at the time, so I didn't particularly like what he was saying, but I thought about what he said many times while at BlogWorld.

I danced with Maddie and our friends at BlogWorld and watched her smile and smile.  She was re-filling her well, capturing moments in her life that would feed her during late nights in her future when she was writing blog posts and working for clients.  I smiled too.  If I were judged by my friends at that moment I would be perfectly fine.  I knew that no matter how much my feet would hurt in the morning, the experience was worth it.

Lady GoGo on Halloween 2010

Hide and Seek at 33

I am surprised to find myself hiding out for a spare 15 minutes in the bathroom on my iPhone so my almost-three-year-old won't steal it to play Tozzle or Robot Unicorn before I'm finished checking email/FB/Twitter/etc on an almost daily basis.

I am a 33-year-old playing hide and seek.

Posted via email from kikilitalien's posterous

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Why I Think You Should Donate to the ASAE Foundation

[Full disclosure: I serve on the ASAE Foundation Development Committee.]

As an active volunteer for the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), I try to impress upon anyone I know in associations the benefits for belonging to ASAE. My own membership and participation has influenced and shaped my career path and I can't imagine where I'd be without it.

Currently, I chair the ASAE Component Relations Section Council and as we march toward our goals this year with our projects I know that if our Council develops something to benefit ASAE members, ASAE will try to find a way to fund it - even if it isn't specifically in their budget for the year. How do they do this? Well, they try to do what any of us would try to do...they try to make it work based on their budgetary realities.

Introducing the ASAE Foundation's Annual Fund... 

What exactly will the ASAE Foundation's Annual Fund do? ASAE Foundation’s Annual Fund will:
  • Build upon our current body of knowledge in association management by creating the resources needed to survive in today’s economy and thrive in the future
  • Cultivate and retain the next generation of leaders for the 21st century workplace, while fostering a community that is diverse and inclusive
  • Build sustainable organizations that exchange ideas and best practices for a global world 
We (the other Foundation Committee members and I) are asking you to make an annual investment on behalf of your organization to ensure that your association, and associations like yours, remains competitive in the future. Your contribution is also a tax deductible as a charitable contribution. If you are writing a check, please make it payable to The ASAE Foundation, which is a 501 (c3) organization.

If you are making a donation on behalf of your organization, please consider a personal gift to match your organization’s gift. Personal pledges typically range from $100, $250 and $500 (but even gifts of $20 can make a difference!).

Every gift can help make a difference – no matter what size it is.
Please go to today and let us know your commitment to our foundation.

If you want to make me look good to the Committee, fill out the form below and fax it in (it shows that I influenced your decision to donate)...cheeky!

ASAE Foundation Annual Fund

Whether you donate or volunteer or BOTH, thank you for all you do for ASAE - and for your support of the ASAE Foundation!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Monuments By Moonlight and the Magic of Shashi

It is impossible to live in DC, be involved in social media, and not know of Shashi Bellamkonda of Network Solutions. Shashi is somewhat of a legend in the social media arena (did you see Network Solutions make a cameo in The Social Network movie about Facebook?), but also one of the nicest, most down-to-earth individuals you will ever meet.

There is a little bit of magic that goes along with Shashi. He is always smiling, always thinking of something brilliant, and so things seems to go into a fuzzy sort of happy-zone when he's around. That's why I'm especially excited about this Friday.

Meet Shashi - Connected and Helpful!
The Washington Business Journal and Network Solutions are hosting the 2nd Annual Grow Smart Biz Conference in Washington, DC on Friday!

I live in the association/non-profit space, an industry known for trying to maximize what organizations get for their dollars, and because of that I'm looking forward to the smart conversation I'll hear about growth on a budget and using technology to its most efficient degree during the Conference. In fact, there is an entire track devoted to Small Business, Government, and Nonprofits...but I'm banking on the amazing speakers and attendees to really make the difference. I've heard fabulous things about last year's meeting, so I'm extremely excited to attend this year's!

Also, the Happy Hour the night before is shaping up to be quite the event on its own, featuring a DC Monument Tour by Moonlight and giveaways...(I even read mention of an optional stop at the Dandelion Patch, one of the conference speakers' businesses. (I need to order 25 fabulous invitations to a holiday party I'm throwing for family...I think this might be the place I use for invitations. We shall see!)

I'm going to broadcast my weekly Social Media Sweet Spot web show from the meeting, so stay tuned for more news and I hope to see all of you there on Friday!