Saturday, December 5, 2009

Blog Chat Chatter - Learning from Top Bloggers

Have you heard of Blogchat - a live conversation that takes place every Sunday night at 9:00 pm ET/8:00 pm CT between top bloggers across the country. The focus on the chat is sharing what's working well for them and providing advice to each other on bettering their blogs. The group always welcomes new bloggers and is exceptionally good at providing advice on getting started from both a personal and corporate perspective. The conversation is open to everyone - it really is like hanging out in a coffee shop at the end of the weekend to talk blogging with the best.

The conversation takes place via Twitter - BUT you do NOT need to have a Twitter account or be a Twitterer to listen in to the conversation and learn from it. If you go to this page on Sunday night, you'll be able to watch the chat first-hand and learn from some of the best in the business.

If you are on Twitter, the best way to participate is to download TweetDeck, create a column for #blogchat by searching #blogchat in the Twitter search field, and then watching the conversation unfold in real time. By having a Twitter account you'll be able to participate in the conversation - just be sure to add #blogchat to each tweet so that it shows up in the conversation stream.

Blogchat is led by Mack Collier, one of the preeminent bloggers and leaders in the social media marketing space. You can find him here:

Check this out - an opportunity to learn is always improved by connecting with others "doing IT."

Friday, December 4, 2009

Blogging Now Mainstream and Tips

A recent eMarketer study predicted that by 2012, 16% of the people in United States that use the internet will be blogging and 67% will also be reading blogs on a regular basis.

Some of your customers are very likely online right now discussing you via blogs and other social media channels. If there are conversations happening online that involve you and your business, can you really afford not to join those conversations?

I started to write a business blog about a year ago, I love to write the challenge is finding the time when one is juggling a career, a family and active in the community. Sometimes I am able to write 5 times a week and get 5 blogs out this week reflects this level of activity. Other weeks this is aspiration is impossible. I have come to the conclusion that I write when I can and try to add value to the conversation and not worry about the realities of my life's juggling act or disappointing anyone.

As I have come to appreciate the new social pheomena and its changing generational dynamics, I see that we are increasing our socialization competencies in new online ways. However, in my work I help large organizations make business sense of these new solutions and help to identify new ways to have a conversation with their target markets.

The first question is always the whopper Why Question?

1. Why start a blog? Why join Twitter, or Facebook, or Linked In, I can barefuly get what I need to get done in my working day. I usually just say do you need to have conversations with your customers your company your industry or your competitors. They usually stop and say yes, and I simply say well your customers are online having conversations and to reach them you need to think of increased online channel reach. The important point is each situation is unique, one blog strategy or approach does not apply to the next persons. Just because there is buzz - ensure you have a clear reason for going down the blogging path as it involves work already on jamm packed days..

2 – Who will do the blogging? Blogging is a lot of work. It's okay to have 2-3 writers handling the blogging communication. However, having your marketing organization and corproate PR handle all the blogs and screen all the content is over kill. Training orientation is needed to get people started, but the best way is to learn and get started. As your experience grows, your confidence will also grow and new ideas will emerge.

3 – What will be the focus of your blog? Make sure your blog will create valuable content for your readers. Get your focus set before your start. My interests are on innovation in the context of the future world of work, so I mix perspectives in my blog as this is what I like to write about and this is what our brand is about ... so find a writing groove that best works for you.

4 – What will be your blog’s comment policy? Get this down so your readers will know what’s expected of them, and when their comments will appear. Will you moderate comments, or let them go through immediately? If you’ll moderate, who is going to approve comments, and how will you ensure that it’s done in a timely basis? What specific terms will go into your policy?

5 – How will you measure the effectiveness of your blog? What metrics will you track to determine if your blog is a success? It could be traffic, or traffic sent back to your website, or reader engagement such as comments and/or links. But find some way to hold your blog accountable.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Venture Capital Perspectives in the Canadian Market

I spent over three years in the venture capital industry after being a lead partner at Accenture overseeing their change management practice for NE (North America) and it was one of the best career experiences one could hope for.

Learning the ropes of corporate finance and the challenges that an early stage entrepreneur goes through to secure equity financing - yet alone attempting to learn all the new buzz langugage such as: tranches, downrounds, warrants, accelerators, etc. was a terrific experience in expanding my knowledge of innovation and growth.

However with this new found knowledge... what is very worrisome as a Canadian is that...

In spite of the wonderful trajectory into the VC sector, the health of VC investing is devastatingly low in Canada. VC Financing in the third quarter of 2009 fell over 50% from the previous year to just $191 million. In fact, total VC investments could fall below the $1B mark this year for the first year since 1995 - the year Netscape went public and the internet gold rush unfolded.

The majority of Labour Sponsored funds in Canada also have had disappointing returns to their investors or limited partners, as many in 2009 put their funds to work in alternative sources of growth. For those that moved heavily into gold and metals - they made the right decision as gold is now trading at $1200 and some predict will hit $1500 an ounce in 2010.

So in tough times and depleting capital sources, some key takeways messages to help early stage CEOs are summarized in this next section.

For early stage entrepreneurs that need that appointment with a VC the best way still for them to have a pitch is to have a referral made by a trusted source. Whether this is a lawyer, an accountant, experienced enterpreneur, banker.... having credible advisors is critical to support the challenging climb that early stage CEO's must embrace with tenacity. The market for scarce capital has never been more challenging.

One of the most critical success factors is demonstrating scalability with confidence to investors especially when the odds of success are more challenging.

Something I have seen since my early days as a VC that still continues to impact CEO's is their naivity in valuation and being insistent in overvaluing their company when negotiating with potential investors.

To really understand what your company is really worth - you have to start with the principle that investors want five to ten times their money back in five years. So being able to be incredibly clear on the profitability model with a five year outlook and demonstrating payback credibility is a key hurdle to achieve.

For entrepreneurs, their smartest growth strategy is to find smart investors and lure them in due to their ability to create market growth value and have them drive results to achieve their return on investment.

These are just a few of the insights I learned in a relatively short time in this field, one day I may return to the venture capital market, but for now in Canada, helping CEO"s grow and innovate their corporate business models is where my personal energies are spent and those of my company.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Using Your Imagination with Social Media

Writing is never easy. Creating content is never easy.

However, creating a community or a following has never been simpler.

Today, we have so many new ways to connect online and create new connections and follow a passion or create a passion or now even create a wave with Google Wave.

It never ceases to amaze me that many companies are still struggling to take the social media leap and simply allow their talent to be creative and know they can trust them to all be writers on the web. Having an official one voice is out as large organizations continue to struggle to find the secret sauce of how to communicate effectively. We have always been oral as human - we just forgot how over the last few centuries. Digital social media is giving everyone an opportunity to rekindle their tribal roots and be heard in the crowd.

What they have not realized is creating content is getting easier and easier. You can now take pictures and upload them to Flickr, you can shoot your own videos and promote them on YouTube or even on Facebook. You can create your own audio programs (podcasts) and push them out to the world via iTunes, and you can simply your writing worries with a 140 character feed on Twitter.

The best way to get started is to simply share content - pick something that you are passionate about. In my case, I love to write and research and consultant on innovation and next generation business models. Just think about sharing what is uniquely special about You.

Think of your employees as a tribe and as humans we are very comfortable in passing down knowledge from elders to new employees. We have become very comfortable in using email to share knowledge unfortunately others cannot easily build off the conversations.

If you just like to read then learn to use bookmark services more effectively - like Delicious, Google Bookmarks, or Magnolia.

Don't forget all these tools not only tap your imagination but they also help you and your organizations get smarter.

We are no longer six degrees of separation rather more like one pixel.
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