Monday, December 23, 2013

New Year, Change of Concept

Building Bridges will be the new concept for the Personal Branding for Gen X and Boomers blog. When I started my business, a majority of my peers did not understand how they could or should be branding themselves online. There are still a few people who need help with that but it is no longer the focus of my business. I am still in a great position to build bridges: 

communicating between generations
crossing the digital divide
paving the way to more engaging events

I love connecting people and ideas.

The New Year is bringing about a new focus for me. My digital assets need to reflect that. SocialPoint will be the priority of my efforts this year and we will have a ton of great education and insight to share about interactive meeting technology on their site. I am hoping that video will be a big part of how we share that content. If you are thinking about content marketing strategies for 2014, I hope you are looking at video.
I have always wanted a place to blog about random subjects. You might be thinking that I do that already if you have read some of my posts. However, I have tried to keep them related to social media and the meetings and events industry. This blog should have always been more personal but when you start a business you try to make your company seem bigger than yourself. The problem with doing that in a consultancy is the lack of transparency. People will hire you because they feel comfortable with you. Your digital stories should reflect who you really are.

As I write this, I am returning from a trip to Minneapolis for a meeting with SocialPoint. I was joking with my friends there about how I think those of us who live in California (and other parts of the country where we don’t have a real winter) are soft because we don’t have to deal with the snow and cold. Bundling up before going outside, scraping the windows of your car before you go anywhere (like I had to do in High School in Nebraska) give you a different outlook on life and other challenges you face. When we get too complacent about anything in our lives, we lose the drive to innovate and create positive change. Think about the contradictions in your life or the unique perspective you have on situations because of the experiences and situations that have made you who you are. 

As always, I hope that you ask questions and call me out when necessary. I enjoy the dialogue!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What happens after your conference?

An article about social media at healthcare conferences that applies to all conferences. Case studies on four large conferences who are doing it right...

What Happens After a Healthcare Conference?

Check out this in-depth article, A Nurse's Guide to Twitter if you are interested in social media and healthcare.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Why Certifications are Important

Those of us in the meetings and events industry who have worked as a supplier to the industry have a unique perspective on how to treat vendors. I don’t intend to write about relationship management, persuasion or power here. Clearly, anyone who has successfully worked in any capacity as a meeting planner has figured out how to get what they need from their suppliers.

I started telling someone recently about how I think some planners need to trust their suppliers to do the job they are contracted to do and then I contradicted myself with a story about a CSM who didn't do a good job. I have worked on teams where one of the planners was a bit too micromanaging for my taste. Since I started out on the supplier side of the industry and was passionate about being the best I could be at whatever job I had committed to, I choose to treat my vendors in a way I would have liked to have been treated. If we have a contract and other communication in writing and I feel that you understand what I need and we have agreed upon a price, then I trust you to honor your side of the agreement.

Where I ended up contradicting myself was when I had to admit that I had a client who had some issues on-site at the hotel because her CSM hadn't produced a copy of the BEOs until the day before the event and had not included everything on the BEOs they had discussed.

Not all suppliers are equally committed and passionate, so how do you know the difference?

This might be one reason that certifications are so important in our industry. Often times, we think that getting a CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) or CMM (Certification in Meeting Management) are obvious for planners but it is definitely one way that suppliers can set themselves apart and prove their commitment to the industry. This is one of the reasons that I not only went through the process of earning my CMP while I was a supplier but also spent a few years as a study group leader and also contributed to the next CMP manual. My next goal is to earn the CMM. Certifications are an important part of the advocacy conversation as well. As we continue to educate our friends and families about what we do and how we are not just party planners or money spenders, talking about certifications elevates the perception people have of our industry.

Do you agree that certifications are a good way to identify great suppliers? What other methods have you used?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Three LinkedIn tips

This is a nice perspective on what we say about ourselves - specifically on LinkedIn - from a 14 year old. Here's a thought about "Your Story is Your Brand". Why leave anything out?
Are you ready to be vulnerable? What if you were to talk about a failure you had and how it has helped you with today's success?

Keyword Rich Profiles
When people are searching for someone, they aren't typing in the words "awesome", "innovative" or "strategic". It is fine if you want to use those words to describe yourself, but make sure your profile also includes the words that people actually search for: sales, project management, meeting planning.

I've been getting a lot of questions lately from clients about LinkedIn endorsements. People are endorsing each other quite a lot and some of you are concerned when someone who you haven't worked with endorses you. If you've done a good job with your online presence and have conveyed that you are an expert in a particular area, then people will feel comfortable endorsing you for that skill.

Recommendations are still an important part of LinkedIn and if someone takes the time to write out a statement about why you are so "awesome", then that carries a lot of value. The endorsements are more of a numbers game. If someone is searching for a person with event planning skills or meeting planning skills and they pull up a list of potential matches, they might view those profiles and judge them based on how many endorsements they  have. With all of the qualifications being equal, it is a way to differentiate yourself. Don't feel like you to have to return the favor, just endorse people who you think are skilled in that area.

Oh, and don't ask someone for a recommendation if you have never worked with that person. I'm hearing from people that is still going on and it just makes for an awkward situation.

What did you think about the post I linked to above? What questions do you have about LinkedIn?

Friday, August 30, 2013

Keep Calm and Carry On

Facebook announced proposed changes to their policies and we have one week to comment before the changes get modified or enacted. Everyone (Baby Boomers) goes into a tizzy because it is "news". One week will pass and we will all go on with our lives. Are you really going to delete your Facebook profile? Do you understand the implications? I've listed instructions below on how to see which pages you have liked already and how to edit those if you wish.

If You Are Not Paying, You Are the Product

Here's one of the "OMG! Facebook is going to show pictures of your baby in diapers to advertise for Pampers" article: (OK, that is not the example they used in the article, but I thought it was funnier.)

Facebook’s Policy Changes Will Mean Your Content Can Be Used In Ads If You Use Facebook

This article includes the appropriate links to the actual Facebook proposed updates (since you didn't read the email you received from Facebook) so you might want to read their perspective and then check out the links.

The reason I bring up your baby in diapers is so that you think twice before using any other photo besides a photo of yourself as your profile picture. Until you are fully aware of where that picture will show up, you should stick with a professional head shot (which is my recommendation to everyone anyway - the same one across all of your profiles on social media).

Will people be less likely to "like" brand pages if they know that their friends / the entire world will find out they like that brand/company? Maybe at first, but I don't think anyone was under the impression that those "likes" were ever really private. Please, correct me if I am wrong. I'm pretty sure that this has been going on for quite awhile and yet we don't hear complaints about it until Facebook makes a clarification in their terms of service in an effort to seem more transparent.

If your settings only allow your "likes" to post on your behalf to "Friends", then Facebook says it will respect those settings when using your content in advertisements. So, either think twice about who you "friend" on Facebook or think twice about who you "like" on Facebook.

How to see all of the pages and interests you have liked:

  • Click on your name on the top right hand corner
  • Click on Activity Log
  • On the left hand side, click on Likes
  • Choose Pages and Interests  

If you click on the pencil on the right hand side of each post, you can hide their updates from your timeline (although, chances are you are not seeing their updates anyway) or you can unlike. If you hover your mouse over the picture of the page on that post and then move your mouse to the box where you would like/unlike, you get more options such as getting a notification every time they post something or changing the frequency of posts you see from them.

So, really. Keep Calm and Carry On. Stay informed and respond appropriately. Let me know if you have any questions.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Live Event Hangout Party Crashers

A live event was hi-jacked tonight. Kudos for streaming your live event as a G+ hangout on air. However, it was a bummer when the party crashers showed up and were very rude and crude. Honestly, I was impressed that you were able to figure out how to kick them out but I wonder how many people left the virtual event because they didn't want to listen to the disgusting and degrading attempts at humor.

This post isn't actually about what went wrong. I just wanted to show you how people these days are taking risks and learning by doing. How are you playing with new formats and technology?

I see tech events and meetup groups playing with innovation (sometimes without knowing what could go wrong) much more often than I see meetings and events industry professionals taking risks with their own industry events. How are you learning to provide the experience at a virtual and/or live event that your constituents are seeing elsewhere? Are you quickly losing your edge because you only want to plan a perfect event?

Why would someone need to hire you in the future if they have already figured out how to rent a venue and set out some food & beverage. Which, by the way, would be way below your standards, but I don't hear too many complaints and I don't see any comments on twitter about these setups. Most people are happy to get a piece of pizza if the price of the ticket is low. Food is no longer a requirement for meetings and events. Maybe the art of hospitality is dying, but that is a whole different subject.

The leaders of our industry associations are afraid to take risks - and part of that fear comes from the community's criticism when something does go wrong. Lighten up a bit and cut them some slack if you have identified that they are trying something new. Appreciate the learning experience and find out exactly what went wrong so that you could potentially try the same format or technology, but with success!

Combine the fear of innovation with apathy towards promoting the importance of professional meeting and event planners, and the future does not look bright. I have seen a concerted effort to get meeting and event planners to advocate for why their roles are important. Unfortunately, when I asked how we could capitalize on a gathering of 800 or 900 industry professionals last week, no one wanted to step up to the plate and take action. Many folks want to keep their heads down and hope that their jobs won't be lost.

Do you get support from your boss to take risks? Would you prefer to experience new formats and technology at meetings industry events so that you don't have to be the one to try something new to learn about it? What examples do you have of a mistake that was made and the solution was announced publicly for everyone to learn from?

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Facebook groups – the NEW LinkedIn groups

Have you been invited to a Facebook group? 

Many groups exist - personal and professional in nature. There are several within the circles of meetings and events professionals. Just like there are now hundreds of LinkedIn groups made up of people in our industry, I see new Facebook groups popping up every day. Facebook groups are a great way to transition from using Facebook for only personal friends and family to using it for professional networking.

For a refresher on the various Facebook products (profile vs group vs page), see my blog post from December when I called Facebook groups the new associations. Ironic, considering that we have been having discussions in the Industry Friends Facebook group about the viability of our current industry associations. If you aren't a member yet, submit a request and I'll add you!

Side note: If you request to join any group and your Facebook profile is completely private, the administrator of that group won't know whether or not you belong in the group. I suggest making your work information public if you are using Facebook for professional networking.

People continue to use Facebook on a daily basis to post on their own profiles, contribute to the groups they belong to and use it as a mental escape from their daily lives. Like any forum, there are always going to be a small percentage of people who post and comment and a larger percentage of people who read these interactions but rarely jump into a discussion. Consider becoming more involved in online groups. Let people help you with a problem you are having - and help others with recommendations and referrals. As with any group, don't talk about your product or service unless someone asks for a specific recommendation - and don't ask a question along the lines of "what do people think of xxx" if xxx is your product/service category.

Is a Facebook group right for your event?

At MPI's WEC last week, I heard a great quote from Greg Fuson. He warned against trying to add an element of community onto an event. Instead, your event should be a product of your community. If you are planning an event and think that a Facebook group will promote interaction between attendees, you will probably be disappointed. Unless your attendees are currently connected and feel like they are part of a community, it will be a stretch for them to engage in this way.

What has your experience been with Facebook groups? 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Three Easy Twitter Tips

While testing out Nimble again to see if they finally have the bugs worked out, I became obsessed with finding the identity of someone who needs help with her personal branding. The integration from one social network to another and the ease at which you can discover new things and new people is what I need from a social CRM.

By the way, Nimble is a social CRM. You can connect your social profiles and contact database to it so that when you are looking at someone, you can see your past interactions with them as well as their past social shares (which are either shared with you or are public).

I was viewing the profile of one of my connections, and I noticed one of her tweets (from five months ago) I'll leave the twitter handle in question off the tweet. "Hi Tammy, are you a meeting "planer" (as your Twitter profile caption says) or a "meeting planner"?"

It was too good to be true! I had to know if she had since changed her twitter bio after my friend pointed out her typo. You guessed it. If she had changed it, I wouldn't be sharing this learning moment with you. She has been tweeting so its not like she set up the Twitter account and then never used it again.

Twitter is actually incredibly simple to operate. Here are a few tips:

  • Spell check your bio (list a bio if you haven't done that already - only 160 characters)
  • Monitor your mentions (where people use your twitter handle in a tweet) and respond appropriately
  • Look at who is following you and follow them back if they seem like real, genuine people

Anything that shows up online with your name on it is part of your personal brand.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Power of Persuasion

What are you trying to change? Is there a new technology you want to employ at your meetings? Do you want your organization to be more social? Are you trying to advocate for the meetings industry by educating others on the importance of what you do? Even if you are not trying to change anything else, advocating for yourself and your career is crucial.

For many people, the skills of influence and persuasion seem to be out of reach. In the movie Moneyball, the General Manager runs across a kid with an innovative idea and takes him under his wing. He only does this because he knows he cannot build his baseball team the way he has always done it. He fights with the scouts and the coach and never really gets buy-in from any of them. He simply works around them.
Is there a lesson we can learn from Moneyball or do we use our position (and perceived lack of power) as an excuse?

The problem I have is that I am often too passionate about the subject. Instead of focusing on how the results of my message will benefit my audience, I rely too much on the factual information and the assumption that everyone else wants to improve the situation as much as I do. In Moneyball, the General Manager acknowledges that he should have gotten the coach more involved in the process. However, what he probably meant was that he should have made it seem like his opinion mattered. Even though he was the boss, the lack of support from someone who reported to him affected the outcome of the project. It seems that most people are accepting of change in a general sense but still not thrilled to change how they process on a daily basis.

Most of us are not in a position to just “work around” the people who don’t agree with us. Therefore, we have to practice our power of persuasion until we become more effective at initiating change. Before offering solutions, sometimes the problem must be defined first. If the people around you do not even realize that revenue could be increased or costs could be decreased by doing something different, then you might want to start there. Do what you can to learn more about your company and the industry it serves. When you can speak about how something new will impact the organization beyond your department, then you might get the attention of the right people.

Of course, all of this is easier when you work for a company with an innovative culture. Generation Y employees are looking for a company with a culture of innovation. They want to be heard and have their ideas considered, even though they don’t have the years of experience that you do. Are you working with people who are younger than you? Are you actively seeking out their opinions? They might be the best people to support your innovative ideas.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Collaboration and Progression

When I started Building Blocks Social Media, most of my peers were not interested in learning how to move their professional presence online. However, in the past three years, a lot has changed! In the beginning, I was an evangelist. I could see that our world was becoming more social and that an individual's online presence is how they would be measured in terms of professional value. I wanted to help my peers learn how to use the basic functionality of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. At that time, most people were still at a basic level (even marketers of large corporations). Hence, the reason I named my website: and my blog Personal Branding for Gen X and Boomers. My goal was to bridge the gap between digital immigrants and digital natives.

The meetings and events industry is where I had spent my entire career up to the point of starting my own business, so I turned down offers to consult for bands, politicians, etc. I knew the theories of social media and figured out how to apply those to meetings and events. Because I love learning, I have spent the past few years attending conferences, webinars and networking events where others speak about how the rest of the world uses social media. I have spent a lot of time making connections to best practices for the people in my community (the meetings and events community). Over this period of time, I have become more comfortable giving presentations myself where I am able to take what I have learned and share it with meetings industry associations.

Before I became an entrepreneur, I had spent time on the hotel side of the industry - first in catering, then in sales and a bit in operations as well. Successfully transitioning to a meeting planner position from the supplier side of the industry is difficult (even though it shouldn't be) but I was lucky that I knew the right person at the right time and place. Because I have experience on both sides of the meetings and events industry, it seemed natural to offer my consulting services to both meeting planners and suppliers. I could take what I had learned about social media and apply it to a small business in our industry just as easily as I could apply it to a large conference.

In my mind, it seemed obvious how I could help people, but when I tried to explain it to someone I was just meeting for the first time, I could tell that I wasn't making a clear value proposition for them. What I am able to offer to clients has progressed as the needs of my audience have changed. Certainly, there are still folks who need basic social media training, however most people have the basics figured out and need help from time to time understanding how new social networks might affect them. I created a retainer type of package late last year to acommodate that need.

There are only a hand-full of people in our industry who specialize in social media for events and I have always been open to collaborating with other businesses. Interactive Meeting Technology hired me as a technical concierge for two of their programs in the past six months so they have already proven to be great partners. A collaboration is now in the works where I can offer the SocialPoint suite of solutions to my clients on the West Coast. Because they complete the technology side of social media for events, it is a natural complement for Building Blocks Social Media.

I am looking forward to this new phase in the progression of my business, which is a mirror on the progression of how meeting planners are using social media to energize and enliven their events. Let me know what questions I can answer for you. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Will sustainable events be the next gun control?

Is government regulation coming for meeting sustainability if we don't prove that we can regulate ourselves? Responsible gun owners and advocates are being asked to support new laws and limitations on access to and types of guns in America. Whether it is gun control or any other passion-fueled issue, Americans are concerned that any regulation will act as a “slippery slope” in the wrong direction (as they see it). If our industry doesn't come together on the issue of sustainability, we will find ourselves in the same position.

Large meetings and conferences (especially those with trade shows) produce a mind-blowing amount of waste. Consumption of energy and other resources really add up when you calculate the carbon footprint of all of the meetings and events that take place all over the world every day. At the same time, we are advocating for why it is important for people to send carbon dioxide into the atmosphere so they can travel to these events to participate face-to-face.

Knowledge is power. In addition to measuring the achievement of the goals and objectives for your event, measure the carbon footprint as a cost. When you put this data together, you can show that either your event is still worth holding, even with the environmental impact, or you can show that reducing that impact is a goal for future programs. As long as you show it is a priority and you have an action plan to improve your outcomes, sharing that information will serve you well.

Sustainability should include all three P’s (people, planet and profit) but we tend to think of the planet when we say sustainability and often, it is the one that planners think is the hardest to implement. It all comes back to your goals and objectives. What is important to you and your organization? What is important to your stakeholders? Do you know who your stakeholders are? You might need to consider the public or society as stakeholders even though everyone in the world will not be attending your event.

People, planet and profit are all intimately connected. Show that you care about the environment and you will be rewarded by people who are not in your niche market, but who might be influential over your niche market. Show that you care about people (inside your organization, outside your organization, in your immediate community and the larger community) and your meetings and events will be more successful. You can also positively affect the planet by making a few financially motivated changes to your meeting or event.

For more information about environmental action plans for your events, check out the Green Meetings Industry Council. GMIC offers a value packed membership and annual conference. Hopefully, our industry will be able to prove the value of face-to-face meetings while showing that we are capable of making strategic decisions to minimize the effect on people, planet and profit.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Why is the events industry so segmented?

The Colorado Festivals and Events Association just wrapped up their annual conference. From what I can tell (as a speaker and attendee) it was a success! I was lucky enough to have several conversations with the chapter president, Andrea Furness, about their organization and the industry that we share.

While chatting about my current writing project for the Convention Industry Council (of which the International Festivals and Events Association is not a member), Andrea and I had a great discussion about why festival planners feel that the education they need is so different from the education they might receive at another organization that has mostly conference planners. It is funny that the "special events" folks seem to be the only connection we have to each other. We refer to the conference side of the industry as the Meetings and Events industry and it appears that these folks like Festivals and Events industry. Maybe someone out there has an idea of how those planners who have successfully crossed that divide can help bring these two sides of the industry together.

In a lot of ways, this event was a breath of fresh air. Literally, since it took place in the Rocky Mountains, but also because it was different from many of the events I attend in other locations. It felt to me like the vendors were much more willing to be involved and be generous with their time and money because they know that positive contributions to their industry association will help them financially in the future. One of their sponsors even hosted a hospitality evening that was open to all attendees! Some you reading this will understand why that is so impressive. There were many similarities in the types of sessions offered and I noticed a lot of good topics that would be great additions to the other industry association events I attend.

Maybe our differences are largely to do with the fact that we have different types of vendors and they seem to be the ones calling the shots in our industry associations. For example, the corporate and association side of the industry are large purchasers of hotel room nights, therefore hotels are heavily vested in certain industry associations. Whereas, festival planners are more focused on elements like production and therefore, those suppliers are more important to them and more likely to be involved in their associations.

Why does it matter? We are all trying to prove the value of events and the more segmented our industry is, the harder it is to show the impact that we create together. The reason I made this connection was because of a session entitled: "Festivals' and Events' Role in Community Development" by Brittney Hoszkiw. Her session was a nuts and bolts, how-to prove the value of the events you are planning that was specifically geared towards professionals in a community development organization, however it was the same information that corporate and association planners need.

What do you think? Are there good reasons to have so many associations in our industry? Or would we be better off if there were fewer choices? Does the education need to be different for different types of events or should we do a better job of educating ourselves on all aspects of events?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Seven Tips for an Awesome Event

MPI TechCon just provided a soup to nuts, A to Z, beginning to end primer about how to promote and operate an event for today’s tech savvy attendee. Did you miss it? The Chicago chapter of Meeting ProfessionalsInternational hosted a full day of education, but the education extended well beyond that one day of programming. If you were paying attention, you would have seen many valuable tips and tricks being shared in the days and months leading up to the event. Here are a few highlights:

Early promotion of hashtag (started during 2012 industry events – capitalizing on the many potential attendees who were following the conversations taking place about those events)

Early release of mobile app

Pre-event e-mails which provided many helpful tips about attending the event, including training videos on twitter for those attendees who needed the basic education before they showed up for the advanced content

Our industry’s first ever hackathon took place the weekend before the event. Attendees were educated about what it was and why these types of events are important.

Pre-event Google+ Hangout with keynote speaker

Speakers were mostly (if not entirely) presenters from outside of the meetings and events industry. The keynote speaker, Scott Stratten is one of the most well-known thought leaders on the topic of making your business awesome. He did great job of relating his material to the meetings and events industry. I have seen him speak twice before and would pay to see him again. His content is so excellent, that it easily applies to any industry he might be presenting to.

Virtual option truly reached attendees far beyond those who would typically attend this event. Highlights included: interviews in between sessions, pre-produced videos during the down-time, social media integration helping virtual audience have a presence at the event, wonderful production quality, virtual emcee, and programming which was engaging for the virtual audience.

As a virtual attendee, I can only imagine how much more innovative the on-site experience was. Check out their website to see what you can learn from them and view the sponsors who helped make it happen! 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Are You in Control of Your Brand?

I came across this post on LinkedIn and thought it fit perfectly into my Personal Branding blog. It has been awhile since I linked to another blog. This one is short and sweet.

Internet – The New First Impression

Sunday, February 3, 2013

God Made a Farmer

Most of the Super Bowl commercials that I have been giving a 10/10 to are the ones I consider to be interactive or motivating to visit the company's website or social media.

Then there was the "God Made a Farmer" ad. At first, I thought it was just pulling on my heart strings because I am from Nebraska and I have an intimate, albeit second hand account of what that life is like. And then, I started lamenting that for most of my life I have tried to escape any connection I have to that culture. Watch it here if you haven't seen it yet.

The reason this was such a great commercial is that I kept thinking about it even after it was over and I had so much to say about it that wouldn't fit into a tweet or Facebook post. Lots of people were tweeting and posting about how great it was. I think that is because the message people were relating to was having a strong work ethic. You don't have to grow up on a farm to have a strong work ethic. I always say that I got mine from my parents (one of whom did grow up on a farm).

So here's why I think kids aren't going to make that same connection: my next thought was about how I appreciate being able to have work/life balance. Whether it is a generational difference, personality type, nature vs. nurture, the idea of "working to live" is gaining in popularity over the idea of "living to work". A farmer's life is his work and his work is his life, and the same goes for the entire family.

So, have we lost that work ethic? Is that what made America great and now because we don't have it, we are losing our competitive edge? I know, you may not agree and even if you do, it isn't that simple.

As someone on twitter pointed out, what made it a great commercial was the strength of the voice and the photography. I'll let the advertising experts expand on that. I'm talking about the content and the art of storytelling. I'm making a connection for Generation X about understanding the value in it and yet, feeling distanced from it.

The website encourages you to watch the video and share a message of support in exchange for a donation from Ram to FFA. For them, it is literally about the farmers. The farmers are their target market and making that emotional appeal and charitable commitment is a great business strategy.

Tell me what your connection was and if you found yourself thinking about it long after the commercial aired.

To the farmer in all of us...

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Encouragement for the Late Adopters

Everyone is in sales. How are you differentiating yourself?

Our value in the future will come from perceived trustworthiness online. Sharing valuable business information will help others see you and your organization as experts in your field. When someone does an online search for your name, your organization’s name, your product or service, social sites pop up first and you want to have the good stuff on the top. You are already active in your community, on boards of directors; give your time and energy to good causes. You know how to network face-to-face, so look at social media as an extension of your offline network. You have a lot of experience and education. Some days, it feels like you are not getting the respect you deserve for your accomplishments, or that these things don’t matter anymore. They do matter! The trick is to convey how awesome you are online so that your influence translates to the rest of the world.

If you are worried about privacy issues, make your Facebook profile all business. Otherwise, learn how to use the lists so you can feel comfortable sharing different messages with different groups of people. If you are already using LinkedIn to share articles with your network, sign up for Twitter and share to both platforms at the same time. Continue to connect with everyone you meet at offline networking events online – LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.

Use social media on your smartphone – down time or in between times. Learn where to find quick and relevant information to share on the fly. Flipboard is a service I have been using on my new Samsung Galaxy Note II and I love it so far! Even if you are not great about having a daily social media routine, don’t forget to use social media before, during and after events that you attend. They are a perfect way of connecting with other attendees, sharing what you are learning and giving the organizers feedback.

The more you start to use social networks for yourself, the better understanding you will have of how your customers want to connect with you. The future of customer service is 24/7/365 via social media. Business hours are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Future employees will judge your personal brand and determine whether or not they want to work with you based on what they see online. If you are not already, you will start to hear about marketing automation systems and social CRM. You will need a basic understanding of why these tools are important to have.

If you need help, find someone who is patient. Don’t ask younger relatives for help because it will be hard for them to take the time and walk you through each step until it clicks for you. People who grew up with computers have a difficult time understanding why it takes older people so long to operate them.

For more insight into the future of social media and privacy issues, check out the webinar and blog I did for etouches this month.