Tuesday, February 06, 2007

LinkedIn - Now becoming a really useful network

I have been using the LinkedIn network for a couple of years now but to be honest it has never really been my favourite on-line network because it really didn't contain much in the way of networking tools - but that is all changing.

If you want to look for a job in IT, or promote yourself to prospective head hunters, or look for joint venture partners in a software project there is no doubt that LinkedIn really works. There are some very high profile success stories like Scott Rafer who contacted Eric Marcoullier one of the founders of MyBlogLog with an idea for the development of the product, got appointed as CEO and has just picked up a very nice fortune when the business was acquired by Yahoo last month.

But things are happening at LinkedIn to make the network more interactive in particular the new Answers feature which enables you to ask any question and get responses from the LinkedIn network - very useful if you want some opinions on a product or service or if you want to undertake some research - but most importantly it is getting members of the linked in network interacting where it had been fairly static.

The real value of LinkedIn is in helping members find out who their network knows and getting introduced. I have just 330 members in my network - but they know nearly 150,000 people. However even getting people I know who are on LinkedIn to connect never been very user friendly. If you click on my profile in the right side panel it is not easy to see how to link to me and you need to then go find my email address to send the invite all of which means you may not bother. However yesterday Marketing Hipster Cord Silverstein pointed me to a very neat widget created by Andy Beard - the LinkeIn Fast button

Just Click to Connect
LinkedIn Fast
Get your own LinkedIn Fast

Update: As you can see this neat widget is no more. LinkedIn objected and Andy removed it (actually I think it probably does still work - but LinkedIn want it stopped. So if you want to link to me on LinkedIn my email address is rikki at gendershift dot com (just to stop the spammers though I think most of them have my email address already)

I have also noticed that more an more of my network contacts are joining LinkedIn - I recently connected up with a number of trans community leaders from Press for Change and that has promoted some better communications and the possibility of some joint venture work. So I am suddenly taking a much bigger interest in LinkedIn and my network is growing very quickly.

If you are not a member I do recommend joining and linking up with me - you may be surprised who you meet, and if you need some tips on putting together your LinkedIn Profile here are some great ideas from top blogger Guy Kawasaki.

Rikki Arundel
Motivational Speaker
Speaking and Marketing Tips
The GenderShift Blog

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Develop an Eye and an Ear for Humour and Stories

Apart from feeling ghastly with the tail end of a persistent flu bug, I have had a brilliant day today attending a workshop for professional speakers on humour and storytelling. Excellent material and some great ideas for making my own keynote presentations more effective. Also on the same subject I recently discovered John Kindes excellent Humor Power blog which is packed with ideas to add more humour into your presentations.

There is always a danger dissecting humour - it's like trying to explain a joke - the more you try to explain it the less funny it is. However it seems to me that when you are delivering funny material you need to have worked it so much that it's no longer funny to you in order to deliver it. I came across a very funny post the other day (funny to me anyway) from Bug on the Joys of Boys, which were a number of humorous observations on life from the perspective of a mother. I say mother - although interestingly there were no clear markers in the text - I just know this was written by a woman. However the point is that I would not be able to deliver that material right now - I laughed so much it hurt and even now if I try to tell some of them to people I start to laugh uncontrollably and can't deliver the punch lines.

The seminar today was a great mix of tips for finding and developing humour and stories and some excellent examples but the important message for speakers was that humour is not about jokes - it's about observing the humour in life around us. I remember walking down Piccadilly in London one day and saw an A-board for an opticians that read "Eyes Tested - While you Wait."

One of the great lessons I learned about speaking is that it doesn't matter where you speak or who you speak to - this is show business. The audience wants us to entertain them - and if you, as a small business owner, want people to remember your speech and come and do business with you, adding in some humour to your presentations is definitely going to help to achieve that goal.

My big lesson today was about remembering to LOOK and LISTEN - Observe the humour around me - and then WRITE IT DOWN immediately. It's a good tip for any business - keep your eyes and ears open for anything funny related to your products or the needs you satisfy and write it down. Start collecting stories about the way your clients use your products, and don't be scared of the things that go wrong. Self deprecating humour is the best and sometimes the greatest product innovations are the result of a disaster - Post-it notes were the result of a failed experiment to develop a super bonding agent.

Rikki Arundel
Motivational Speaker
Speaking and Marketing Tips
The GenderShift Blog

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