Monthly Archives: September 2009

Darwin and Social Media

Need a break from social media? Sometimes you just need a break from the intensity of a project, and my friend Sarah has an interesting escape–she has a book of Robert Frost or something else mind-numbingly complicated on her desk, and when she needs a break, she picks up the tome. She says it helps to concentrate on what is being said in the book and takes her away from the problem at hand.

This is what social media feels like sometimes–it can be so complicated, but Sarah’s solution is just the opposite–not an escape, but an equally challenging situation that draws the mind away. Enter Darwin:

Currently, I’m reading On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin, in the original. Well, in the original text–but delivered via email! A few paragraphs, sent every other day (according to my preferences), sit in my inbox like another to-do, but eventually, I remember Sarah’s re-focusing technique, and I’ve been using these reading breaks to ponder how genetics are changing to predisposition the new workforce to adapt to social media.

And there’s a great ‘at your fingertips’ tool for this, too–combining what’s great about new media with the comfort of the good ol’ fashioned book. Have you heard of DailyLit?

DailyLit serializes books and emails snippets. They offer titles for purchase, and titles for free–including many classics. Just a simple login and password gains you access to lots of literature, and the site is full of opportunities for interaction–just like any good social media site. You can create reading lists, comment on titles, and discuss books in forums, and–somehow!–you can link your DailyLit profile to your Twitter account.

Another similar service I like is my local library’s ’email book club’; I tried the Business Book Club, and received a daily 5-minute segment that previewed a book. At the end of the week, I’d read a chapter or two, and could request or buy the book. (And the whole story behind the ‘leader’ of the club provides an interesting insight into a whole new career choice and industry–online book club manager!)

Interesting to ponder–the old, and the new, evolving and adapting to change.

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Making Web 2.0 Work

Web 2.0 tools present a vast array of opportunities—for companies that know how to use them.

Here’s an article that speaks to the corporate manager about how to make these new technologies work. A few of my rephrasings of their critical factors to success:

1. The new bottom-up culture needs support and participation from leadership. Well, actually, the article really advocates that the leadership take an active role in becoming a role model and leading in this effort, but my experience tells me that busy non-profit executives who aren’t already bought into Web 2.0 technologies aren’t going to be leading adopters.

2. Web 2.0 needs to be integrated into existing work, not another ‘to-do’. That’s true of so many issues, for example–diversity. Instsead of making new ideas into new projects, examine ways that the concepts can be woven into existing operations.

3. Social media brings the masses to you, so the sooner leadership gest over the fear of the risk and embraces it as a new challenge, the sooner the bridge is opened to invite two-way communication with a wider audience.

Skype is a great example of a beginning tool. Once you can convince someone to sign up for an account, and download and test software, a Skype call speaks loudly as a Web 2.0 ambassador through its ease of use.

That first step is the hardest, but the only way to make Web 2.0 work is by trying.

The lovely folks over at the Corporation for National and Community Service and their helper Northwest Regional Education Labs presents an overview of social media articles and a glossary, intended to reach an audience of AmeriCorps, VISTA and SeniorCorps members beginning to dabble in Web 2.0.

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Book Review: The New Recruit

The New Recruit: What Your Association Needs to Know About X, Y, & Z
…those being the Millenial generations!

by Sarah Sladek

Boomers want a successful career and to make the world a better place; membership associations help them do both. However, this relevance is lost on younger generations who are already doing these things without a career or experience.

I recently had a conversation with a board member about promoting community arts events and new ideas to tap into a wider audience. He remarked–uncreatively, I though–that ‘under 40s’ weren’t their target market since their families took all of their time and money.

Quick ideas to ponder from the organization Women of Today:
• Totally electronic communications
• ‘Big sister’ mentors
• Leadership, public speaking, and professional development opportunities
• Scholarships
• Partnerships

‘What’s in it for ME?’ younger generations ask. Although organizations have been trying to answer this regarding their target markets for years, Gen X demands answers, and since they can get the benefits that associations traditionally offer in so many alternative ways, if they don’t have a sense of belonging, they’re not going to join.

What young folks, in general, want from an association:
o Must have a sense of belonging–an invite, not a form
o Age-specific networking opportunities, career-building , making a difference,
o although time-sensitive, so employ virtual career and networking opportunities
o One-time projects, make decisions (meetings–ugh!)–episodic volunteers, just like new retirees
o Opportunity to lead a group or oversee a task
o Marketing materials make a strong first impression–straigtforward, online. Appeal to all generations’ needs in your bullet points! Case studies should profile how membership has made a difference in careers.

Membership will take longer, as it’s a trust-building process with younger generations. This process will affect traditional recruiting, and most of all budgeting. Future projections must be taken into account when investing in new ideas to reach new populations, not just the per member cost or annual revenue.

Recruiting Students

o Offer a discount rate
o Target recruiting at colleges, teleconferencing and web availablility, and two tracks of programming
o Consider special fairs targeted just to students, relationships with colleges, discounts, student chapters, mentoring and more.
o Another creative idea is a competition only open to the target generation, one that relates to your mission and gives young professionals a chance to connect with their careers.
o How about a students-only resume posting section on your website? Or a student award?

High emphasis on students creates a sustainability–not a revenue-generation–plan. Prioritizing recruits from college, high school and even younger develops long-term interest and builds that trust necessary for a membership relationship. Students must be involved in the planning and management, though.

Ideas from Others
At Minnesota Entrepreneurs, they aligned their new outreach with their mission, focused on:
Inspiration: high-profile speakers in profession
Education: panels of experts
Networking: events
Some changes to their normal m.o. were that dues ($240) included admission to all events, which were held at a trendy locale with amenities that appeal to younger generations. They featured young members and new events on their website, and swapped discounts with other organization’s young professional members.

The National Association of Women Lawyers has a career-introductory program called Backpack to Briefcase to connect students with professionals, something that could be implemented online, on campus, or via a one-to-one mentoring program. Job shadowing could also be seen favorably. Mentors could bring protégées to events for free.

Boston’s Young Professionals Association boasts 10,000 members from its low cost ($35) membership, weekly networking, and service opportunities. Many of these organizations grow rapidly from their inception, I suspect because the concept is both new and speaks to the younger generation.

A Minnesota Chamber group hosted for-fee Emerging Leaders sessions that were speed-networking, but also added a monthly service project for those Leaders. I like this concept of casual interaction and then a follow-up opportunity. A San Francisco PR association got PR firm members to host monthly programs by their executive leadership, offering tips and connections. Access to these programs is through membership in the Young Professionals program, $50 annually, which includes many regular membership benefits such as training discounts and a one-time discount when transitioning from student to chapter member.

Two things you must have in order to attract young professionals:
o Opportunities that appeal. What about connecting young potentials with opportunities to serve on boards, mentor, volunteer, or serve at peer organizations?? This is not the old way of doing business, e.g. committees-for-life, board and officer positions
o Tech on your website! Interactivity, self-control, membership interaction, online learning, video, blogging & podcasting are all part of Gen Y’s life. If you’re not including these things, you’re not relevant.

Ready to begin recruiting younger members?
Remember, you’re not making money off their membership, it’s their future investment and purchase you’re after. There is a great grid in the book where you list each of your association’s specific programs, services, communications, and opportunities, and compare them to the desires of younger generations:
Does it: Use Tech? Provide Tangible Benefit? Offer Professional Development? Engage in community service? Take < 2 hours/mo.? Cost < $30/ mo.?

Of course, the next step is to expand the areas where you’re not fulfilling those needs, and to budget for associated estimated costs.

Some Other Ideas and Next Steps

Consider a ‘transition’ membership for new professionals to avoid the drop-off of student members who are suddenly faced with the burden of the full rate. You can attach age limits, years in profession, or adjust the rate to more than 50% of the full rate. Also consider appointing a young spokes- or chair-person for this effort. If you’re trying to recruit younger members, it makes sense to have someone of that age inviting people to join in a public way via the media, online communications, at the board, or emceeing events. Recognition is an important benefit, and if you have younger members involved, be sure to recognize them.

Once you’ve secured members, be sure you’re engaging them. You can conduct an organizational overview webinar or conference call, host new member receptions, send emails or handwritten notes with business cards at quarterly intervals, even just give new members a personal welcome call. Continue to recognize repeated memberships–2, 5, and more years, and list these in your publications. If they can’t volunteer, ask for their input to solicitation, speakers, and print materials or invite them to contribute articles or introduce events.

It also seems you need to evaluate if you have any younger or student members to begin with. If you have a student membership that isn’t being utilized, analyze why that is and strengthen this program. If you have younger members who are inactive, how can they be engaged? Ask them. Get creative–plan a trip, a special award for young professionals, or a networking event.

No doubt, it’s a lot of work, and more work than with other generations. If you want younger members to feel they belong and that their contributions are valued, your need to find a way to meet their needs and invite them not only to participate, but to lead. Set you goals for recruiting younger members, and name three action steps.

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Ignite Your Presentations

Heard of Ignite presentations or Pecha Kucha?

This year, Housing Colorado’s conference will feature 90 minutes of rapid-fire presentations to an affordable housing audience. Yours truly helped presenters get a frame of reference for the October event by covering what to expect and the basics of how to put a presentation together in this PowerPoint on a ReadyTalk call.

Presentation HC Ignite 9-09

Here are some additional examples:
From Denver’s Pecha Kucha Night
Fancy video of Jeff Veen presenting Great Designers Steal with basic overview of Ignite
Matt Harding of Seattle explains in Ignite format how he created an internet phenomenon

I touched on some other principles of effective presentations at this post. You may have other tips to share or questions…fire away–after all, the goal is to IGNITE–get it?!, he he.
(For Housing Colorado presenters, drafts are due 9/18 to conference@housingcolorado.org.)

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