Posts tagged with “Meerkat Communications”

Building Community Through Social Media Event

Thursday, 17 June, 2010

Before I get into Monday’s Wired Woman event on “Building Community with Social Media“, I have to share this brilliant comic from The Oatmeal. If you haven’t checked them out yet, you really should!

I think it really does illustrate the difficulty with Web 2.0 and the social media explosion. How are you an expert? How did you build your reputation? And do you really know more than the next guy? It also ties in wonderfully to the Building Community theme (albeit in a humourous stab at the subject).

The fantastic speakers we had at our event definitely were not “Social Media Douchebags” and really did have a lot of insight into turning that online community into ROI, and gave us valuable tips, tools and insights. The speakers were:

  • Briana Tomkinson / Tenth to the Fraser and Fjord West – Co-creator of popular New Westminster blog, and Marketing Strategist with Fjord West
  • Carisa Miklusak / SoMedios – New media marketing, business development, and leadership consultant
  • Chris Breikss / 6S Marketing – Co-founder and Director, and Vancouver’s Social Media Innovator for 2010 with partner John Blown
  • Mhairi Petrovic / Out-Smarts Marketing – Social Media and Internet marketing strategist and CMO of Out-Smarts
  •  Sibylle Tinsel / Club Fat Ass – ‘Chief Executive Fat Ass’ Online Community Manager and social media co-ordinator

Everyone seemed to really enjoy the round table format and it generated a lot of discussion, with different women from vastly different industries coming together to add their insights too. One of the biggest lessons I took away from the event was the importance of listening. See what people are saying about you/your industry and start to build a following by answering their questions and finding your audience in the right places.

I came away with a lot of ideas and also a sense of pride that the event went off so well.

Now to get to the point were I really can add “social media expert” to my Twitter bio… 🙂


What the Heck Do We Teach Them?

Thursday, 3 June, 2010

If the jobs that most current students will do when they graduate don’t yet exist, and we’re supposed to be preparing them for the workforce, then what the heck do we teach them?

As you may know, I teach Business Communication part time at BCIT and earlier this week we had a Professional Development workshop for the department. We had some interesting speakers (including department members) and a lot of the discussion focused on teaching millennials. One morning session was lead by Jim Muldowney, a former instructor at North Island University, and he talked about the challenges of teaching the NetGeneration (to use a Don Tapscott term).

It was an interesting discussion and one point that I brought up (because of my experiences as a South African and a teacher in the Third World) was the fact that the majority of the research out there focuses on a lot of assumptions around access to technology, and centres largely on the First World. I would be really interested to see some research done on the same age group in places where technology isn’t as prevalent. Do the same types of values hold? Are the differences between generations less apparent? Do they have different abilities and principles?

An area that Jim addressed was around the assumptions that many researchers are making about so-called shared principles and abilities of the NetGen. One of the major inferences is that when confronted with all the information that is at their fingertips on a daily basis, the NetGen has the ability to think critically and analyse the billions of megabytes of data zooming at them. Not so true if some of the research papers I have seen over the years as a teacher can be taken as empirical evidence…

Having studied an MA, I am well familiar with the scornful “so what are you going to do with that?” questions. One thing that I can truly say that I learned in my years of study in Humanities was the ability to think critically, evaluate texts (of any kind – image or written), and select the best material for my purposes. This has given me frustration at times (I can often not watch movies or read books without overanalysing), but also great joy at the layers of meaning and information I have uncovered for myself.

These skills have also in turn, I feel, lead to a stronger ability to do the same with people, and have well prepared me for the path of an entrepreneur. I would not trade these skills for all the “practical, useful” degrees in the world. As the realms of information and technology, and education change, I agree with Jim; I think we are assuming a level of sophistication that just isn’t there yet. I know it certainly took me time, effort, passion, and engagement to reach a certain level of ability, and I had the guidance of instructors along the way.

To me, this lack of sophistication can be a good thing though, because as educators, we are working with a clean slate. However, the difficulty is always the fact that we have limited time and resources to try and get through a curriculum and also promote and instill these skills. In a culture that I have observed to be very entitlement-based, this is certainly a challenge. Add to the fact that I teach at a training institute and the challenge swells.

One thing that I took away from the workshops, though, was the need for us as educators to be adaptable. I think this is a vital skill in business too. Something else that Jim discussed struck me immensely; the students are a resource in themselves, and we should be talking to them about what they want. If collaboration is a sign of the new world of communication, then this needs to become a large part of what we do, for our own success, and theirs.


Tips for Your Resume: A Personal AND Professional Document

Monday, 25 January, 2010

I’ve recently been working with some wonderful women on their resumes, helping them update them as they look for a new direction in their career paths. One of the tough things about resumes is that because they are so personal, they can be so hard to write without a helping hand. There are so many things we want to highlight and illustrate; we want to prove we are well-qualified for the job, but it can be so hard to know what to include, and perhaps even more difficult, what to exclude. There are a few things to bear in mind before we get too carried away. Here are some tips to enhance your resume:

Targeted Key Words

It is absolutely vital, for both your resume and your cover letter, that you include key words that are mentioned in the job ad. If you are applying for a job that has not been advertised, then simply find a similar sounding position online and use those key words. Why are these key words so important?

Well, the reason is two-fold.

A) These days, many resumes are put through search engine-like scanners that check to see if you have what the ad asks for. You may have all the essential qualifications they ask for, but if you don’t word them the way the ad specifies, then you run the risk of being passed over.

B) Bear in mind that the person who reads your resume first may not be in the same profession that you are. They may be an HR Manager, who has a general knowledge of what the company is looking for, and has a copy of the same job description listed in the ad, but they don’t necessarily understand what it is that you do. They will scan for easily identifiable, relevant key words. Make their job easier by using similar language and targeted keywords.

Although this may seem like a lot of work, tailor-making each resume (and cover letter for that matter), you will find that similar positions ask for similar things, so all you need to do is just tweak the main draft you have to suit each slightly different position.

Clear, Measurable Duties

When you are listing the duties/explaining what it is you did under your previous positions, it is important to remember a few things. You need to ensure you cover measurable achievements. Don’t just say you increased productivity in your department. Put a percentage to it; show the number of people you managed; put down figures that people can understand and that give tangibility to your experience. Try and think of five key duties or tasks that you performed under each position. If you have held similar positions in different companies, then highlight different aspects of the job (remembering those key words). Use strong verbs and precise, active descriptions. Also remember that your resume is more a fact sheet of your achievements. Try not to be too wordy; rather save the elaborations and “stories” of what you have done for your cover letter.

Focus on the Receiver

Perhaps one of the hardest things to do with a resume or cover letter is to adapt it to the audience. We get so caught up in trying to show what we have done, that we forget to prove how it will benefit the company organisation that is hiring. Try and think of how you can list your experience in a way that shows what it will bring to the position, not what you’ll get out of being hired. Prove to them, through the measurables and the key words, that you have what they are asking for, and that you are eager to bring those skills to work for them. Although this is easier to do in your cover letter, it is still important to bear this in mind in every aspect of your resume, from design to content. Does everything you mention cover not only your “hard” /technical skills, but your “soft” skills too (i.e. communication skills, interpersonal and teamwork abilities, and organisational skills)?

Remember that many people may have the same “hard” skills as you, but you bring your experience and your “soft” skills, and as importantly, your personality to the position. You need to ensure that this is illustrated in your resume and your cover letter.

I know that job hunting can be depressing, challenging and frustrating, but the more you focus on how to prove to a potential employer that you have what he or she is looking for, the greater your chance of success will be. If you would like more tips on resumes, please feel free to read an article I wrote for entitled Writing the Perfect Resume and its companion articles on cover letters and interview skills. Please also feel free to email me to set up a one-on-one resume consultation, if you are in the Vancouver, BC area.