Web 2.0 Wednesday – Personal Branding


(I decided to participate in Web 2.0 Wednesday this week.  Thanks to Michele at the Bamboo Project!)


My Blog’s Top 5 Words:

According to Wordle, my blog’s top 5 words are organization, new, think, program, and maybe.

Wordle of my blog
Wordle of my blog

Seems about right to me.

I really appreciated the point that “personal branding” already exists for all of us, and that it can be as simple as looking at our top 5 words to begin to analyze what our personal brand is saying.  What a great stepping stone to addressing it more thoroughly!

Have you Wordled your blog yet?  What’s the state of your personal brand?  If you’re interested in personal branding, check out Chris Brogan’s free e-book.  I haven’t read it yet, mostly because I was intimidated by the phrase “personal branding,” but he’s a great resource.

And since when was intimdation a good enough reason to not do something worthwhile?

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Thinking Small and the Role of Nonprofits

Thanks to Michele at the Bamboo Project for a great post that got me thinking more and more about thinking small.

I’ve just been having some thoughts about organization growth.  If a nonprofit is not growing, it is considered to be stagnant.  If it’s shrinking, it’s failing.  A growing organization can serve a growing number of people.  Moreover, the bigger the organization is, the more funding it has coming in, making it more stable.  Bigger is therefore always better.  So I’m led to believe.

Tanker and Tug, photo by ccgd on Flickr
Tanker and Tug, photo by ccgd on Flickr

It’s just that with any big operation, be it a government’s military, a University, or an organization, it turns into a complex machine.  The inputs get farther and farther separated from the outputs as workers specialize; the grants and funding aspect in particular takes on a life of its own, and it builds up some serious momentum and stability to keep on going.

To my eye, there are a few major weaknesses in this plan.  The first is that a large operation is much more difficult to change quickly.  The second is that the specialized workers easily lose sight of the big picture.  The third is that more funders have more influence over what the organization does and how.

Maybe I’m a control freak.  Maybe I’m young and foolishly impatient.  Maybe I’m using a poor metaphor when I state that I would rather captain a skiff than a tanker.  I know a tanker holds more people, but that’s another thing, and maybe the crux of it for me when I think about it: you notice if someone falls out of the skiff.

More About Goals: Thanks, Trent

I would just like to give a shout-out to Trent of The Simple Dollar.

I can’t really remember why I started reading his personal finance blog – I’m actually quite good with money.  And he does write primarily about money: managing, investing, spending less, saving for retirement, budgeting, and the like.  But I kept reading because what he has to say is a bit more universal than just money.

Screenshot of the Simple Dollars About Page
Screenshot of the Simple Dollar's About Page

Trent took a look at his life, discerned what was most important to him, and acted upon that assessment.  Moreover, he continues to act upon it, reflect upon it, and adjust his habits and lifestyle to maximize what’s important.  Luckily for the rest of us, he blogs about it, so we can see how he decided on his goals and how he acts upon them everyday.

Yes, he gives financial answers.  But beyond that, he’s just such a great influence.  He knows what he wants to do, he knows he’s not there yet, and he knows how to spend his time to get there.  He is honest with himself, which allows him to have an extremely simple and rich philosophy of how and why to do things.  And from that clarity his readers get a glimpse of what they, too, can accomplish when they decide to buckle down and do it.

So Trent, thanks for the inspiration, and keep on writing.

Online Communities Plunge Into Lake Scranton

The Wall Street Journal’s Business Technology blog posted “Why Most Online Communities Fail.”  (Thanks to Doug H for sharing it on Twitter!)  It’s short and sweet, and explains it’s based on a study of around 100 businesses with online communities.  Three big, common errors: 1) They spend too much on “oooh, shiny!” technology, 2) They don’t appropriately staff the projects, and 3) Their goals and metrics don’t align so they’re pretty much doomed to appear to fail.  The article points out that these are pretty obviously mistakes.  Any thoughts on why these illogical errors were so easy to make for so many businesses?

It’s so good to read a concise yet pithy post about what not to do!  Sometimes I think that social media talk is just a tad more Pollyanna than is warranted, though I obviously partake and enjoy doing so.  The We Are Media Project has been talking about how to be Social Media “Evangelists.”  I think that sharing awareness of common pitfalls is a huge part of being a responsible social media evangelist.  It shows that it’s not a brand-new, completely untested idea.  It shows that you’re informed and honest.  And it provides a more complete map to guide our organizations.

The fate we’re all trying to avoid is that of Michael Scott, who unthinkingly follows his car’s GPS straight into a lake and then insists that technology tried to kill him.  We can be intelligent about new-to-us technology, and understanding where pitfalls (or lakes) are can keep ridiculous plunges on The Office and out of ours.

Solution: Posterous

Thanks so much to Amy Sample Ward for blogging about Posterous!  Just email them content and they post it for you.  Woah.

This is exactly the kind of tool I should have used back when I started a blog without home internet.  There’s no process for signing up, you don’t have to do any account managing or appearance adjusting if you don’t want to, and they embed your media for you.  Yes, this helps people who aren’t familiar with much web technology beyond email.  It also reduces time commitment for anybody, no matter how tech-savvy.

It was a piece of excellent timing, because we were just brainstorming at work about some low-cost, low-time-investment ways to improve (specifically Web 2.0-ize) our website as we bide our time till a major overhaul.  Posterous would be a great way to post our informational emails as a blog; this would make them accessible to people who don’t want more email and also put them in a format that welcomes comments and discussion.  The best thing about this is we can just add post@posterous.com to our mailing list and it will post automatically.  Very exciting for a bunch of efficient nonprofiters!

I tested out my own just now.  The chief lessons I learned are that it is instant, the default style is clean white with orange links, you can BCC them, and that you should send photos as attachments rather than as links.   Things to explore: getting a better URL, changing the title, adjusting the look.

What do you think?  Who is this useful for?

Commenting Strategy

At risk of linking to Beth Kanter’s blog way too often, she started a pithy, interesting, and altogether extremely helpful discussion about commenting strategy the other day.  I think it’s especially relevant for new bloggers, but I recommend checking it out to anybody reading this.  Why?  Keeping it short, because I learned about comment tracking tools, heard opinions from several seasoned bloggers, and found more fodder for my RSS feed.  It was the most thorough answer to a question ever.

Portfolios

Since my May 29th post that included my mom’s low-tech portfolio idea, I’ve been thinking more about portfolios.

Beth Kanter keeps her portfolio on a wiki that she links to right at the top of her blog.   She told me she uses a wiki notsomuch for collaboration purposes, but because wikis are such quick and simple websites to edit.

Google Docs are another option out there.  I like that you can create a shared word processing document that bridges to paper very easily.  The formatting would not be as flexible or quite as web-friendly as a wiki though.  It also seems fun to create a presentation-style portfolio, though its usefulness is a little less clear to me.

Speaking of fun portfolios, Minnesota has a great initiative called eFolio Minnesota.  Its tagline is “Your Electronic Showcase.”  It has modules for students, educators, and careers.  I like that it’s not just a form to fill out – it seems to have been thoughtfully created and offers advice about reflection, goals, and content.

What else is out there?

EDIT: Beth suggested I check out Michelle Martin’s blog “The Bamboo Project.” It’s amazing what you don’t know till somebody tells you!  This non-traditional résumé Michelle posted about was too pertinent to not share.  I’m looking forward to catching up with Michelle’s work in the weeks to come!  Thanks Beth!