Friday, August 21, 2009

Making Your Out of Office Message Work for You

I sent an email to a colleague this morning. A few minutes later, his out of office message bounced back. Not a big deal, right? I ignored it at first. When I finally clicked over to see when he'd be back, I saw the following message:

I am out of the office till Tuesday 25th August. If you are at GnomeDex or at #Tbash please say hello.

Hope you are registered for the GrowSmartBiz conference Sept 29th in Washington DC - more details (use coupon FRIENDOFSHASHI to get a amazing discount on the conference fee.)

You can reach the Social Media team at

If you are a small Business or small business related expert please visit and read the Second wave of the Small Business Success Index.

Have a few minutes? Read our Blog Check out, We love feedback. Thanks.

And I realized something... all this time, I've been wasting my out of office message with just details about when I'd be back and who to contact in my absence. Why hadn't I realized that my Out of Office Message was yet another marketing tool? It seems so obvious now.

Yup, just another reason I'm so pleased that I've met Shashi Bellamkonda, the genius behind this craft message. (He's always teaching me something... even when he isn't intending to do so.)

So you can bet that the next time I'm out of the office, my message will be promoting a CCG lunch, or my next socStardom event, or maybe just JHU's classes. Who knows. I just know it's time my Out of Office Message started working for me... that way, I'm working even when I'm not. (Hey, do you think if I do this, I can start taking vacation days and not counting them as vacation since I'll still be marketing and promoting the campus? Well, maybe that's taking it a little too far...)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

NON-CCG EVENT: GrowSmartBiz Conference

So there's this guy, Shashi Bellamkonda. If you don't know him, you should. He's the Social Media Swami at Network Solutions and he's amazing... he knows a ton of people, he's super knowledgeable, and he's all about sharing that knowledge.

His latest undertaking: the GrowSmartBiz Conference.

The keynote speaker? He's snagged Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired magazine and author of two New York Times bestsellers. (Shashi also calls him "the most insightful and articulate voices at the center of the new economy.")

So for all our small business owners and entrepreneurs... think about attending the GrowSmartBiz conference to learn how to overcome challenges that all small businesses face.

-- Robin

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Nurturing My Professional Network... or the Top 5 Things I Learned During a Month of Networking

So I did it... 30 days during which I was supposed to focus more intently on helping others within my professional network. It was a long road... partly because sometimes I got so busy in my day-to-day that I didn't feel like I was really focusing on this challenge as I should, or, at least, as I promised myself I would. That said, in response to one of my followers who sent me an email message, I thought I'd post some of the networking lessons I've learned both from this challenge and from my own networking experiences. They may not all be new ideas, but those I repeat, I repeat for a reason. (Kind of like the idea that cliches exist because they are, at least in part, true.)
  1. Play on your strengths. I'm a communications / media relations / marketing person. I am on a lot of list servs and hear about a lot of media queries. So it's not surprising that the place where I did much of my "nurturing" was in forwarding on media opportunities to others. The point: There's no reason your networking activities need to be outside of your comfort zone.
  2. Approach every networking situation from a "What can I do for you?" perspective. You aren't an effective networker if you're always looking for how a relationship will benefit you or to find someone who can do something for you. Your first priority should be how you can help others with their goals. Then, when you do need something from your network, they'll be ready and willing to help you out.
  3. Don't approach networking with tunnel vision. Every person you meet may not have an immediate and obvious connection to what you do. But you never know how your job, your goals, your responsibilities, and your needs will change over time. So keep an open mind.
  4. Always network. This was really the purpose of the challenge. You may not have a need for your network today, but if you aren't nurturing it now, when you don't need it, then it won't be there for you when you do need it.
  5. Follow up is everything. After you meet someone, find a reason to follow up and reconnect with her. Send a link to an article or blog post you think he might find interesting. Ask if she wants to get coffee to talk about an issue or project in which you both are invested. Invite him to an event you think he might enjoy. Relationships are all about ongoing communications.
As I started writing this post, I thought about some other networking tips -- not necessarily related to this challenge -- that I want to share. I'll post those later this week.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Day 29-30: Nurturing My Professional Network concludes...

Day 29 (Aug 13):
  • Forwarded media query to a colleague.

Day 30 (Aug 14):
  • Forwarded media query to non-MCC JHU colleague.
And tomorrow, I'll do a wrap up. What I thought of the experience. Lessons learned. All that good stuff.

-- Robin

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Days 20-28: Nurturing My Professional Network

It's been a busy few weeks for me so I haven't been updating on my "nurturing your professional network" challenge. Sorry! Here's the latest:

Day 20 (July 29):
  • Forwarded media query to non-Hopkins colleague for colleague's pro bono client
Day 21 (July 30):
  • Forwarded media query to non-MCC Hopkins colleague
  • Got a call from an MC businessperson looking for Hopkins connections re: an event she was hosting. Connected her with two colleagues. (If she wasn't part of my network before, she is now. She was extremely appreciative of my help!)
  • Helped a friend/colleague with a personal issue by calling on an "expert" I knew in a particular area to lend some advice. (Of course, I would have helped her even without this project being underway!)
Day 22 (July 31):
  • Met someone at an event at the Washington Business Journal offices. She heard I was connected to Hopkins and asked if I knew of anyone looking for engineering work. Gave her my card. She sent me the job descriptions. I forwarded them to a colleague in JHU's Whiting School of Engineering. (Again, expanding my network by doing this woman a favor...)
  • Colleague asked for a connection in another part of Hopkins. Made that connection for her. (And was happy to do so! She's done so much for me in the past!)
Day 23 (August 3):
  • Worked for my "pro bono client" on their print newsletter (Does that count?)
Day 24 (August 4):
  • Forwarded colleague some intel I read in a local publication that might have significance for his job
  • Sent a friend a link to an online article that will help her with a grad school class she's currently taking
  • Forwarded two media opportunities to colleagues
Day 25 (August 5):
  • Set up a dinner for later in the month so a friend of a colleague can "pick my brain"
Day 26 (August 6):
  • Forwarded media query to a colleague
(I was out of the office on August 7 and 10.)

Day 27 (August 11):
  • Forwarded a friend's resume to someone who may be able to help him get a job... or at least connect him with some people in the industry
  • Made a lunch date with a colleague's colleague who'd like to "pick my brain" on some PR/promotion ideas
  • Forwarded media opportunity to a colleague
Day 28 (August 12):
  • Forwarded a media query to two colleagues
  • Helped a colleague respond to a media query
  • Connected a friend with a colleague who may be able to help him with an event he's planning
  • Provided some insight on a media-related matter to a colleague
So there it is. The latest. I'm in the home stretch. Two days to go. I can't wait to reflect back on the month when I hit Day 31...

(P.S. -- to my reader who commented via Twitter on liking this series and taking on the challenge herself, it's nice to know I have readers who appreciate some of my theories, thoughts, etc. Thanks! And let me know how the challenge goes for you!)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

NON-CCG EVENT: Social Media for Crisis Communications in Government

Social Media For Crisis Communications in Government: How To Integrate The Latest Web 2.0 Technologies To Maximize Effectiveness Before, During, And After A Crisis

WHEN: November 2-5, 2009 – Washington, DC

Attend this conference to learn how to incorporate the power of social media into your organization's crisis communications strategy, along with helpful tools, tips and techniques to get started. Hear practical advice, firsthand, from leading experts including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, City of Plano, Texas, University of Oklahoma, San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, and many more.

Conference Only: $1299+
Conference Plus One Workshop: $1699+
Conference Plus Two Workshops: $1999+
Conference Plus Three Workshops: $2199+
Conference Plus Four Workshops: $2299+

Conference Hotel & Venue: TBD. (Shortly.)

Presented by the Advanced Learning Institute.


Sorry I've been so delinquent lately. More (interesting) posts coming soon. I promise.

-- Robin