I named this blog Outing My Inner Geek because I was a gigantic nerd of all things interwebs… and then communications along with the interwebs… and also because I STILL love calling the internet the interwebs. I giggle quietly to myself every single time.

Lately, though, I’ve grown bored of the things I used to nerd out about. I think I just over saturated myself with everything social networking and online whatever.

I’ve missed writing, blogging in particular. But I don’t feel like geeking out over what I used to geek out over.

This morning, I found myself reflecting on my definition of “geeking out.” It’s whatever subject matter that sparks my curiosity and wonder enough to want to dive in and investigate it further. I look at my journal and it’s filled with thoughts and ideas and goals that I think a few of you might also find interesting. At the very least, my nerdal sessions in and of themselves would be entertaining from time to time. Although, if they aren’t to anyone else, it’s not the end of the world. You can bet I’ll be enjoying myself thoroughly through my musings.

Either way, it’s time to think out loud.

Today’s wondering… if I drink enough water, is it possible to stop needing to use moisturizer during an Alberta winter?

I’ve been travelling through much more humid climates than what you would find in an Alberta winter all year. I’m home for a month and finding myself using more lotion here than what I needed to protect myself from the UV rays in Australia.

What’s with that?

*Insert Captain Obvious* Water consumption, Peters (that’s my last name. I often use it when I catch myself missing the obvious). But the real question… how much is enough for me during an Alberta winter? Is it the 8 cups a day that’s generally accepted? Is it more? Is it less? Is it really just about the water? What if I add in more water filled vegetables? What if I’m exercising more? Or less? So many questions!

I admit, my old coffee drinking habits are contributing to the lack of moisture in my skin; and my unwillingness to walk out the door and into the cold are giving me the luxury of time to even be thinking about such a topic. But that’s the situation I’ve created for myself, so I’m rolling with it.

I hereby challenge myself to see if it’s possible to experience fully moisturized skin in an Alberta winter without the use of moisturizer.

Tips on accomplishing this goal are welcome!

linkedinboxI opened up my LinkedIn page today to see 39 unread messages inviting me to like pages or attend events from companies and individuals I’ve never heard from before, let alone heard of.

It reminded me a bit of when I was first getting the Yelp community established here in Calgary. Part of the job was reaching out to local media about the events I was planning and cool local businesses I was finding.

Media and PR was not my background when I first started. During my newbie training, the PR team asked us to write a sample pitch. I thought a great story idea would be what one of Calgary’s local food critics thought about crowd-sourced review websites like Yelp and how they thought it was changing our local scene. Turns out, that’s not exactly what the PR team meant by a media pitch!

Once I learned about short and sweet pitching with specific details about what I was doing, I went to town getting the word out. I emailed EVERYONE I could find that I thought might sort of be interested in what I was doing.

Sometimes this approach worked, most of the time it didn’t. Though it’s a place to start when you aren’t really sure what you’re doing, I wouldn’t recommend it.

What did work was remembering that the people on the other side of my emails were real people. They literally had anywhere from dozens to hundreds of people emailing them the same way I did every single day.

I thought about how my eyes glazed over every time someone I didn’t know sent me something really random without ever having reached out to me before–and began to change my approach. Instead of cold emailing anyone I could find, I took a genuine interest in the stories and content people were putting out to the world. It took some extra work (and learning to love spreadsheets) on my part to help me keep track of everyone, but in the end, I learned that relationships make the world go round in terms of media too–and that genuine pitches to people I had spent the time following and getting to know became a win/win situation for both of us rather than just another email in the pile that would continue to go unread.

Whether you’re trying to get your word out through traditional media, local bloggers, online influencers or any other person in your network, doing your homework and building a connection with specific people will take you so much farther than random email and messages blasts–and it’s not as time-consuming as you might think. You don’t need to be their best friend, in fact, they’re likely to be suspicious if you do. But showing that you’ve read through their interests, seen some of their recent articles, followed a few of their recent tweets, etc. goes a long way in showing that what you’ve got to say could genuinely be of use to them.

So go on now and be a real person… Your networks will thank you for it!

Flickr credit: Jason Howie

Flickr credit: Jason Howie

I don’t get it. Every other day, one of my LinkedIn contacts endorses me for a skill. Sometimes it’s marketing, strategy, entrepreneurship, media relations and other times it’s “social media.” But why? Social media isn’t a skill, it’s a medium. It would be like typing “hammer” into my profile and saying I’m good at that. What does it mean to be good at hammer? Nothing. I can be a clever carpenter, I could be a fabulous furniture maker, I could be an incredible handywoman… all of them use hammers, but would you describe them as being good at hammering?

Let me repeat it: social media isn’t a skill, it’s a medium. It’s a medium that everyone can wield. Skills and abilities I think I’m proficient at that help me use online sharing tools to my advantage are:

  • Confidence. When we put something out there, we put it out to the world. Those who waffle on the content they’ve shared fail.
  • Thoughtfulness. Content is king, it always will be. Thoughtfulness includes being plugged into your audience and knowing what they like. Sometimes, wielding your social media tool is sharing your cat lounged out in a funny position, sometimes it’s having something intelligent to say about a political candidate you’re supporting. But if you always post about kittens and try to throw a politician into the mix… fail. Unless, of course, you find a cat who does a great impression of said politician.
  • Consistency. This ties into my point above. Consistently posting and commenting on the topics you wish to be engaged in (and also associated with) is important, but it’s also one of the toughest skills to cultivate. We get bored, we want to stir things up as individuals, yet humans generally dislike change and being taken by surprise.
  • Clarity. Knowing what it is you’re trying to say and being capable of communicating this in the least amount of words possible. Very few people will read a novel online unless they’ve downloaded it from the Kindle store. Short, succinct.
  • Analytical. Checking your stats without becoming obsessed with them is another skill to apply to social media use. Learning when to care about your follower count vs how many people liked your last instagram of that ridiculous bacon wrapped cupcake you bought goes a long way. But before you can care about your stats, you need to know your objectives. Are you just having fun (at which point you can skip being analytical)? Or are you attempting to accomplish something specific?
  • Ethical/true to our purpose. If all we cared about were likes and clicks on our content, all we would post would be what people like most. The problem here is that sometimes this information isn’t aligned with our original objectives. Letting the masses guide you isn’t the wisest long-term strategy. Look at some of the stories that end up as the top headlines for traditional media. They post it because eyeballs sell–even if they’re selling crap.
  • Leadership. Social media gives us the microphone. Do you turn it on the audience? Or use your space wisely to connect, share and lead people to something that’s made their day better?
  • Listening. Stand up on a soap box in the middle of a busy street and see how many people you can get to listen to what you have to say. Or, set up your own bistro table and invite people to have a conversation with you. You listen, they listen. Which is more successful for having your message heard?
  • Creativity. Flash mobs are over. Trends start and end faster than the road runner can say, “Meep, meep.” Being creative with how you use this medium, finding original content to share or putting your own spin on a related topic helps you stand out from the masses. Do you post the infamous photo of your perfectly manicured toes at the beach? Or do you build a sandcastle and use it instead?
  • Genuine. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Be the person online that people would meet offline. If you’re going to tear into someone from your Twitter account, be sure you’d be willing to do it to their face as well. Same goes for saying nice things about people. In fact, if you say something nice online, take extra care to say it offline too.
  • Open-minded. There are a lot of things we don’t know, a lot of perspectives we haven’t thought of and a lot of triggers that other people have. Keeping an open-mind and a willingness to consider new information as it becomes available keeps us fresh, respectful and relevant to the conversations we’re having and the communities we’re a part of.
  • Quit selling/Don’t be creepy. Conversations are not for selling. They’re for conversing. Do you remember that friend who tried to sell you that product they represent at that last BBQ you both attended? You totally bought it, didn’t you? How about that mortgage broker who followed you last month because you mentioned the word mortgage? Did you call him up and asked for a mortgage? No, because it was creepy. Alternatively, if you were talking to a dentist about golf and not your teeth, the next time you needed a dentist, who would you think of?

What would you put on your list? What makes you a savvy social media user?

 

Forget-me-not Photo credit: Tambako The Jaguar

Forget-me-not
Photo credit: Tambako The Jaguar

Remember when there were warnings that what gets published on the internet, stays on the internet forever and always? As it turns out, that landscape may be changing. Courts and legalities are catching up with the new world and weighing in on issues that have been plaguing the web since it’s wild, wild west days.

Countries in the EU now have access to a form through Google to submit a request to have URLs removed from the search engine–if they meet the criteria. Nobody knows quite what those are just yet, more so cases will be reviewed on a case by case basis.

It’s an interesting issue. Some people would do anything to be remembered, and others want nothing more than to be forgotten.

Care to know more? I first found out about this on Search Engine Land.

Photo credit: YYCBurgerWeek.com

Photo credit: YYCBurgerWeek.com

There are connectors, there are hyper connectors… and then there’s this guy named Terry Lo, known on Twitter as @calgarydreamer.

Top 3 Reasons To Follow Terry Lo:

  • This guy’s got heart. I have a tattoo of my heart on my arm… Terry might as well have one covering his entire body. He oozes community spirit and love for his friends and family… Don’t know Terry yet? No problem. Consider yourself a soon-to-be friend. That’s just how Terry rolls.
  • He has a never-ending desire to help. You’ve got a problem? He’s got an answer. You don’t have a problem? He’s got a really cool suggestion on a Korean restaurant to take you to where they don’t speak any English. Or a story about this time he was up on this roof in a lightning storm. Or an invitation to this incredible Chinese New Year dinner he’s planning with all of these communities he’s a part of. Or being one of a tripod organizing YYC Burger Week. Or his blogging on the many amazing things he loves about YYC on my favourite Calgary blog, CalgaryIsAwesome.com.
  • He’s hella-amusing and has some incredible stories to share. I know I mentioned it above, but it deserves its own point. Need more proof? Go read his blog. To further add to this, he’s an ex-spy. You can only imagine the tales he has…

So go do that #FollowFriday thing and see if you can keep up with @calgarydreamer.