Posts Tagged ‘Web 2.0’

Leveraging Twitter for Your Freelance Business

Social media applications such as Twitter can be effectively utilized as a tool for freelancers like yourself to promote your services. In a time when the world is connected through the internet, failing to employ such a simple strategy to connect with your potential and existing clients is a waste of opportunity. Remember that you are promoting to the rest of the world each time you post something in Twitter.

twitter blue bird Leveraging Twitter for Your Freelance Business
(Image source: Fotolia)

The content then, is what matters. You can update your existing clients on your latest projects and network with freelancers like yourself. In your Twitter, you may link your followers to your professional blog where they can further explore your work and even better, re-tweet it to their own network. All these can bring you more business in the long run as these people go on to recommend you to potential clients.

Here are five possible ways to make good use of Twitter for your freelance business:

1. Connect with Relevant People

As you would probably agree with me, social networking platforms like Twitter and Facebook have definitely facilitated our access to such opportunities to exchange knowledge and insights to an unprecedented level. To effectively utilize such access, you must first connect with the right people to obtain valuable information from. For instance, following the tweets of designers would update you with some of their latest work, from which you may find inspirations or ideas for your own design.

Besides, there will always be things you can modify and improve about your business, be it the design of your work, marketing strategy or even the capacity of your web server. Twitter, being a great tool to network with people of the same field, is your key to refining your business. This is because freelancers like you are now able to share tips and critique each other’s work and approach. Such online relationships, although casual, can do wonders for you by widening your perspective on how things can be done.

2. Draw People to Your Blog

Twittering is a good way to inform your followers on any updates to your portfolio blog. However, the benefit of using Twitter goes beyond the purpose of simple notifications. Each time your followers get informed about your latest work or design, they may also send out a Tweet after checking out your site. This is especially when your work shows extraordinariness and your followers want to comment and compliment about it.

shouting bluebird Leveraging Twitter for Your Freelance Business
(Image source: Fotolia)

Through a networking apparatus like Twitter, your blog gets promoted exponentially. This way, your blog, along with your awesome work, gets free publicity to more prospective clients. Also, supposing you have set up a Twitter account solely for your freelance business(which is advisable), then those who follow your Twitter are likely to be those relevant people you want to associate with your business. Once these people tweet or re-tweet about it, their followers are also the target audience you would want to promote your business to. In this manner, your blog is advertised freely and specifically to those that matters.

3. Find Prospective Clients

A major component of Twitter is its search function that enables users to search for other users to follow. There, you can search for specific topic or interest and get a list of Twitter accounts for your consideration to follow. If you are looking for prospective clients, then this is great tool for yourself to get acquainted and develop a professional network with other freelancers or potential clients. Strike a conversation by replying to their tweets. It works the other way round as well. Having a Twitter account yourself, people are able to search for you and request to follow your tweets.

Don’t be surprised to receive messages requesting for your freelance services. They might have come across your tweets after combing through potential freelancers on Twitter, saw your work on your site and got impressed. Either that or they might have seen some random tweets of users who were following you and subsequently check out your blog.

In any case, such bi-directional search between yourself and other potential employers would no doubt open up doors to more opportunities.

4. Establish Your Brand

Once you have a decent number of followers, it becomes a must to update them on your latest work so that they get constant reminder of your business. Focus on your specialty from the various services you provide and your followers will know what to expect from your updates. If, for instance, you’re a freelance web designer who is an expert in doing up creative typography for sites, then perhaps you can emphasize on the font design of your latest works in your tweets.

At the end of the day, it’s all about creating that association between what your business does best and your business brand. Once people can tie your brand to your brand’s selling point (in this case, the typography of web design), then you have established your brand well. As your followers consist of existing clients and potential ones as well, it is crucial to build a good reputation for your business and let the good words get spread throughout the entire network.

5. Be the Expert

If you want to get more referrals to clients through the internet, you need to build a name for yourself. To do that, post insightful updates to your Twitter and give your audience what they want to know. Providing meaningful comments on other’s work as well as your own will impress upon your audience that you’re passionate and serious about what you do. Besides, sharing your thoughts about designs is the first step to getting priceless feedback from other freelancers.

twitter bird singing Leveraging Twitter for Your Freelance Business
(Image source: Fotolia)

Not all of us will eventually be considered as experts simply by giving our personal takes on designs and such. But if you managed to get there, your personal work will be taken more seriously. Your followers would be more likely to tweet the work of someone who is deem as the expert or the leader of the field. The end result is that you’ve earned yourself a good reputation, and that’s great because more people will hear of your work. This includes potential clients for your business.

40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

Facebook now has over 800 million active users around the world. If it were a country, it would be the third largest in the world (right behind China and India), and more than twice the size of the United States.

So it’s pretty much vital for anyone trying to promote a product, service, event, or cause to create a Facebook page. While other social networks (Google+ among them) are making gains, Facebook is still the largest and most popular out there, and that’s unlikely to change in the immediate future (and besides, Google+ doesn’t even allow brand pages yet).

facebook pages tools apps 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

One of the biggest mistakes brands make when creating Facebook pages is to just use the default tabs and default content. They post nothing but self-promotional updates and have no realy ways of interacting with their fans. Basically, their pages are boring.

The answer to this common problem is to make use of all the custom content applications and tabs available for Facebook pages. You can add custom welcome tabs, video tabs, feed your blog or other RSS feed into your news feed, import your tweets, and a lot more. Finding the apps to do all this, though, is a bit trickier.

In this guide, we’ll show you some of the best apps for Facebook pages and how to best use them. While it would be impossible to cover every app available (there are thousands that can be used on pages), this post will get you started.

More related posts:

Customizable Tabs

Creating completely custom tabs is the bread-and-butter of Facebook Pages. These apps make it easy to create completely custom tabs for just about anything.

First Impression

First Impression is North Social’s landing page app. The CMS built into the app makes it easy to create, edit, and update the page. It also includes the ability to customize the image and message that get posted when someone shares you page. Pricing for North Social apps is based on the number of fans you have (less than 1,000 fans is only $19.99 per month) and all accounts come with a 14 day free trial.

firstimpression 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

Welcome Tab

Welcome Tab is Involver’s landing page app. It makes it simple to create a custom branded splash page for your FB Page that invites visitors to become fans.

welcometab 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

TabMaker

TabMaker is a free tool for creating custom tabs for your Page. You can create pages in a WYSIWYG editor, making it accessible for non-tech-savvy users. There are additional apps you can add to your tabs, both free and paid.

tabmaker 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

Social Candy

Social Candy offers content management and marketing tools for creating and managing professional, customized Facebook Pages, with no technical skills required. Subscriptions start at $29.99 per month, though you can try Social Candy for free.

socialcandy 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

ShortStack

ShortStack lets you create a number of specialized tabs for your Page, including fan-only content, sweepstakes and contests, custom contact forms, and more. They offer a number of widgets for adding functionality to your pages, including Flickr, images, voting, polls, virtual gifts, countdowns, iFrames, videos, and more. Their free account can handle Pages with up to 2,000 fans, and paid plans start at $15 per month.

shortstack 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

Tabsite

TabSite is a fan page platform that lets you easily customize your Facebook page. It uses widgets to let you customize the content that appears on your custom tabs. Widgets available include everything from images and text content to YouTube channels, RSS feeds, and contact forms. They offer a free plan with up to 2 tabs per fan page, advertising in the footer, and a limited number of widgets. Paid subscriptions start at $5 per month, and there’s also a full white label option available.

tabsite 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

Lujure Social Suite

The Lujure Social Suite offers a number of widgets and apps for customizing your fan page, including iFrames, YouTube, PayPal, Google Maps, Countdowns, Twitter, Live Chat, Tumblr, Real Estate, Skype, Vimeo, and more. Their free plan allows one tab and access to all the applications. Paid plans start at $30 per month and include all the applications, plus an unlimited number of pages and tabs.

lujure 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

Fan Page Engine

Fan Page Engine makes it really simple and easy to design your own custom tabs. They have a drag and drop interface for creating pages, offer “reveal” tabs (fan gates) to increase likes to your page, and they have help videos to guide you in creating your own tabs. Their Basic subscription starts at just $4.97 per month.

fanpageengine 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

Video Players and Tabs

There are a ton of video players and tabs for Facebook pages out there, so we’ll only cover a few of them. If the ones below don’t do what you need, you can rest assured that there probably is an app out there somewhere that does, you’ll just have to do a bit more research.

YouTube Tab

The YouTube Tab, from TabFusion, lets you easily add a YouTube tab to your fan pages. While it’s not free, pricing is a reasonable $10 per year. It’s a very versatile tab that can be easily customized to fit your needs, and is already used by a number of high-profile brands, including DC Shoes, Nissan Japan, and Peugeot.

youtubetab 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

Video Channel

Video Channel from North Social lets you add and organize YouTube video content directly. You can customize the tab header, add a fan gate so visitors have to like your page prior to watching video content, commenting is optional on videos, and there’s management options for sharing. It requires a North Social subscription, which starts at $19.99 per month.

nsvideochannel 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

Video Premiere

Video Premiere is another video tab app from North Social that is focused on showcasing the release of new video by displaying a single large format YouTube video on your page. It includes fan gate functionality, a customizable header, sharing management, and optional on-page comments. It requires a North Social subscription, which starts at $19.99 per month.

nsvideopremiere 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

Best YouTube Channel for Pages

Best YouTube Channel for Pages lets you display playlists or your channel and will show up to fifty of your most recent videos. The app is reasonably priced at $9.99.

bestyoutubechannel 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

Hubnut

Hubnut is a widget directly from Vimeo. Just create your Hubnut with your Vimeo videos and then paste the code it gives you into any custom tab that allows HTML.

hubnut 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

Blip.tv Tab

Blip.tv Tab is another app from TabFusion. This one lets you includes your Blip.tv videos on your Facebook Page. The background image and text colors can be customized, and the app is only $10 for the year.

bliptvtab 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

Vimeo Tab

Vimeo Tab is also from TabFusion. It only works with Vimeo Plus accounts, and includes all your videos and channels. The background and text colors of the app are customizable. Vimeo Tab is $10 for the year.

vimeotab 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

Contests

Running a contest on your FB page can greatly increase the number of fans you have if you run the contest well and get the word out. There are a number of apps that can help you run a contest or sweepstakes. It’s important to be very careful when running a Facebook promotion or contest, as it’s vital that you adhere to Facebook’s rules, or risk having your page deleted without warning. This is why using a third-party application can be a good idea, as they make sure everything is set up according to Facebook’s rules.

Votigo

Votigo offers a number of contest and promotion apps for your page, including photo and video contests, and a viral sweepstakes app. Both apps are still in beta, and are currently very inexpensive, at only a couple of cents per month.

votigo 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

ContextOptional Contest

ContextOptional offers a Contest app for adding a contest to your page. You can add photo contests, video contests, and essay contests (or a combination of the three) to your page, with the ability for fans to upload their own content and where fans can vote on entries.

contextoptional 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

ContextOptional Sweepstakes

ContextOptional also offers a Sweepstakes app, which gives you complete control over the design of your sweepstakes tab. You can gate entries with a requirement to like the brand page or provide an email address or mobile phone number. You can also control the number of entries per fan, and collect custom information from each entrant.

contextoptionalsweepstakes 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

North Social Sweepstakes

The North Social Sweepstakes app lets you launch a sweepstakes in minutes on your FB page. It supports fan gates, includes tools for building your subscriber lists, and lets you embed a simple, customizable info-capture form. A North Social subscription is required.

nssweepstakes 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

Momentus Media Contest

The Momentus Media Contest app lets you create video, photo, and text-based contests, with winners decided by a judging process that you define.

momentusmedia 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

Sweepstakes & Contests

Sweepstakes & Contests from Friend2Friend makes it easy to set up a sweepstakes or contest tab, including a form for collecting data, photo uploads, and more. Fan gates are also supported, as are newsfeed Share options to help word spread about your page.

friend2friend 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

Strutta Contests

Strutta Contests lets you create photo, video, audio, or text-based contests quickly and easily. Users can comment and vote on entries, share the contests through Facebook and Twitter, and four conest configurations are supported: public vote, judges pick, public vote for finalists with final winner picked by judges, or judges pick finalists and public votes on the winner.

struttacontests 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

Blog, RSS Feeds, and Other Imports

Feeding your blog or other RSS feeds directly into your FB page is a great idea. It means your page regularly has new content added, and also drives more traffic to your blog. You can also import your Twitter or other social network feeds directly into your Facebook page, which can greatly simplify keeping your page up-to-date. Some apps let you import the feeds directly to your newsfeed while others give you the option to just have it import to a tab.

Blog Tab

Blog Tab, a free app from TabFusion, lets you include your favorite blog within a tab on your page. You just provide the RSS or XML feed and Blog Tab does the rest.

blogtab 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

Google+ Tab

The Google+ Tab, free from TabFusion, lets you import your Google+ stream as a tab within your Facebook page.

googletab 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

Tumblr Tab

Tumblr Tab, from TabFusion, lets you include your Tumblr blog as a tab within your Facebook page. The app is $10 per year.

tumblrtab 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

Selective Tweets

Selective Tweets lets you update your Facebook status from Twitter, just by appending the #fb hashtag to the tweets you want to post. This way you’re not cluttering up your Page’s feed with tweets that may or may not be relevant.

selectivetweets 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

North Social Twitter Feed

North Social’s Twitter Feed app makes it easy to import your Twitter feed into your fan page. It includes a customizable header, easy design interface, and management for sharing options.

twitterfeed 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

Involver Twitter

Involver’s Twitter app syndicates your Twitter feed directly to your Facebook Page’s newsfeed. It requires a free Basic Involver subscription.

involvertwitter 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

RSS Graffiti

RSS Graffiti syndicates RSS feeds to your Facebook wall. It can support multiple feeds and multiple walls, you choose the combination.

rssgraffiti 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

Involver RSS Feed

Involver’s RSS Feed app lets you syndicate your blog to the news tab on your Facebook page and automatically pushes updates to your fans’ news feeds. It’s included with a free Basic Involver subscription.

rssfeed 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

North Social RSS Feed

North Social’s RSS Feed app supports fan gates, have a customizable header, and includes the ability to customize the image and messaging when content is shared by your users. It requires a North Social subscription, starting at $19.99 per month.

nsrssfeed 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

eCommerce Tabs

The addition of ecommerce tabs to Facebook is relatively new. Until recently, the only way to sell things through Facebook was to redirect users to a different site to make purchases. Now, there are a number of apps that let you sell directly through Facebook (and, in some cases, other social media sites).

Owjo

Owjo lets you manage multiple storefronts on different social networks through a single interface. It even lets you host your store on other people’s websites by offering a cut of revenue. It’s easy to customize the look and feel of your site, has a completely secure payment platform, and even lets you create product bundles. It’s free to open an Owjo store, there’s no contract, and you only pay once you start making sales (you pay 7% of each sale plus normal credit card processing fees).

owjo 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

BigCommerce SocialShop2

BigCommerce lets you sell on a variety of platforms, including Facebook through their SocialShop2 app. You get a complete store on Facebook with point and click installation, a customizable display banner, real-time product search, and complete orders and returns right from Facebook. SocialShop2 is included free on all BigCommerce plans.

bigcommerce 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

LunarStore

LunarStore, from LunarMods, is a freemium ecommerce app for Facebook that offers payment through PayPal or Amazon checkout and can be set up in as little as 15 minutes. There’s a free plan that has a 5% transaction fee but no monthly fee and allows for up to 50 products. Their paid plans allow for more items (and multiple photos for each item) and start at $19.95/month.

lunarmods 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

ShopTab

ShopTab is a Facebook app that includes inventory management, support for multiple languages and currencies, and FB share integration. Plans start at $10/month for up to 500 products. All the plans come with 24/7 support and a free 7-day trial.

shoptab 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

Ecwid

Ecwid is an ecommerce widget provider that lets you easily set up a Facebook store in minutes. Ecwid can be integrated with virtually any site, including most common CMSs and even sites designed with programs like iWeb. In addition to integrating with Facebook, it also works with MySpace, Blogger, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Ning, and many more. You can use it with a variety of payment methods, including PayPal and Google Checkout, too. There are both free and paid plans with Ecwid, with the main difference being the number of products you can have (the free plan allows up to 100, while the paid plan allows up to 20,000).

ecwid 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

Payvment

Payvment lets you set up a Facebook store for free. There’s a free version and two paid plans (starting at $29.95/month), with slightly different features for each. The main advantages paid plans have are that they automate promotion to fans and offer full analytics. All the plans allow for CSV catalog importing, social sharing through Facebook, Twitter, and email, setting of “featured” items, automated inventory control, and much more.

payvment 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

VendorShop

VendorShop is a free social shopping Facebook app with a number of useful features. You can have fan-only discounts to entice people to like you page, and shoppers don’t have to enable any apps to purchase from you. There are no subscription or transaction fees beyond standard PayPal fees to process your transaction.

vendorshop 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

Newsletter Signup Forms

It’s pretty important for brands to capture information about their fans outside of just Facebook. What happens if Facebook suddenly deletes your page or bans you? You will have lost the contact information of everyone who was a fan. That’s why it’s a good idea to make it easy for your fans to sign up for your newsletter from your page, and to encourage them to do so (exclusive newsletter-only offers are a great way to do just that).

MailChimp

MailChimp offers integration with Facebook in the form of a signup tab, embedding a signup form right on your Page.

mailchimp 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

Constant Contact Labs – Join My Mailing List

Constant Contact offers Join My Mailing List for setting up a subscribe form on your Facebook Page.

constantcontact 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

Other Interesting Apps

Depending on the type of page you’re creating, you might be interested in some of the following apps:

My Etsy

If you sell on Etsy, then the My Etsy app lets you add your Etsy store and/or favorites to your Facebook Page, with share functionality for each item. It also automatically posts to your news feed if one of your items is featured on the Etsy home page.

Genbook BookNow!

Genbook is scheduling software that can be integrated with Facebook to let people schedule appointments right from your FB page. It’s a great option for appointment-based businesses like salons, chiropractors, counselors, tattoo parlors, and more. A Genbook account is required to use BookNow.

genbook 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

Schedulicity

Schedulicity is another appointment and scheduling app that lets you connect with existing clients and lets them book appointments directly from Facebook.

schedulicity 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

PageLever

PageLever is an analytics suite for your Facebook pages. You can measure things like fan growth, mobile fans, comments, and likes, and lets you know which of your posts have performed best. There’s a free trial available, and after that plans start at $34 per month.

pagelever 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

FAQ Page

FAQ Page makes it simple to create a F.A.Q. tab on your fan page. Enter questions and answers and it will automatically format them with a list of questions and accordian-format answers.

faqpage 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

Poll

Poll lets you create quick polls for your pages. It’s easy to use and effective at collecting user consensus and data. Photos, videos, and links can also be added into polls, making it more versatile.

poll 40+ Apps & Tools To Customize Your Facebook Pages

Conclusion

There are thousands of apps you can use on your Facebook pages, to do just about anything you want. With new support for iFrames, you can even embed entire web pages into your Facebook Pages, with little work other than setting up the initial page. Apps make it easier for non-tech-savvy users to create custom pages, though, and aren’t going anywhere in the immediate future.

What are your favorite apps, tools, and widgets for custom Facebook pages? Leave a comment below to share your finds with other readers!

Networking Guide for Bloggers: Choose People Wisely, You Must (Part 3)

I’m sure you can relate to this and agree that selecting the right people to reach out to is the most important step on your way to success (whatever success is, since we’re talking networking).

If you do this right, clearly, you’ll be able to build strong relationships with great people. If you take a more random or less thought-through approach then your mileage may vary, so to speak.

networking 03 Networking Guide for Bloggers: Choose People Wisely, You Must (Part 3)

Clearly, contacting everyone whose email address you can get your hands on is not the best idea. You don’t need to be in touch with the whole world. A small group of people who you really want to meet and get to know is more than enough.

Quick note:
This post is a part of a series titled – Networking Guide for Bloggers. Be sure to check back next week for more! If you’ve missed the previous post(s), here are the links:

Good starting point

There are a couple of things to keep in mind when choosing the people you want to reach out to. First of all, let’s talk the areas/niches those people are in.

There are three main places where you can go to find interesting people:

  1. Look into your niche.
  2. Look into your passions.
  3. Search for like-minded people.

Your Niche

Now, looking into your niche is self explanatory. You simply investigate what’s going on in your niche, and find all the interesting (for whatever reason) people.

There are no rules, someone interesting is simply someone interesting. Once you stumble upon such a person you’ll know that it’s them.

Your Passions

This is an area that might mean exactly the same as your niche, but not always. Consider this example: If you’re a guitar blogger, looking into your niche means going through different websites and blogs, and trying to find interesting authors. But going through your guitar passion means finding other guitarists, guitar teachers, and other people that might have only a presence on Twitter, for example, and not even a website.

Remember, it’s not strictly business, so grading people solely depending on the sizes of their sites rarely turns out well. Even people with seemingly no connections might be extremely helpful for all kinds of advice or help.

Like-minded People

Finally, what I mean by like-minded people are people who share a similar journey to yours. Let’s use the same example. If you’re a beginner guitar blogger, you might consider reaching out to some beginner bloggers in other areas, not only guitar. Also, you might choose to reach out to someone who has already achieved the goals you are trying to reach right now (and they don’t have to be within the same niche as well).

Advice from those kinds of people is often invaluable. Seeing what other people are doing in different niches, and then applying it to your own can give you a real head start before your competition realizes what’s going on.

Different groups of people

OK, we’ve covered some places where you can find interesting people. Now let’s talk what kinds of people to look for. Three categories here: peers, a-listers (E.g. celebrities) and mentors.

Peers

A peer is someone who’s at a similar stage that you are at. In other words, it’s someone who you can share your journey with. There’s rarely anything better than discussing your plans and planning future projects with someone who’s talking to you from an equal level.

How to recognize such people? First, start by searching for some blogs that appear to be getting the same publicity as yours does, or slightly more of it.

Look at things like average number of comments, shares (retweets, likes), PageRank of the blog (you can check this at http://www.prchecker.info/ or by using a FireFox plugin called SearchStatus), Alexa rank of the blog (http://www.alexa.com), number of RSS subscribers (if the blog owner shares this). I know that there are a lot more metrics you can look into, but using just the ones here is more than enough to recognize a peer.

Peers are great for networking. They always keep you accountable, and force you to constantly work on your growth if you don’t want to be left behind. Building a network of peers has a lot more value in itself than just helping you to achieve your initial goals. This is probably the most valuable group of people you should reach out to.

A-listers

A-listers or celebrities in your niche can help you in many different ways. And you don’t even have to ask for that help. In most cases, just the sole act of you doing something for them is helping you already.

For instance, in the blogging niche, the sole act of you working with someone like Darren Rowse on a project bumps up your brand a lot. Even though you might be participating in the project for free, with no actual monetary compensation.

A-listers can also introduce you to many influential people, and vouch for you when it’s really important. Moreover, working with these kinds of people makes you much more experienced, and more knowledgeable about how things are being handled at the top.

Your niche’s celebrities are very easy to find. Probably, you don’t even have to search for them, you just know who it is from the top of your mind.

However, getting in touch with them, and building a relationship is much harder than it is with peers. You have to understand that A-listers are hit from every angle by other people who want to achieve the same thing you want, so getting through the filter is much more difficult.

If someone says no then don’t take it personally. You never should. Just proceed with your strategy like nothing ever happened. Busy people have to say no if they want to be able to do anything in a day, soon you’ll face this situation yourself.

However, depending on the exact person you’re trying to contact you might stumble on different personality types. Just like in real life, some people are great, and some are not. Don’t believe anyone who tells you that every A-lister is a great person, this can’t realistically be the case.

The goal while dealing with celebrities in your niche is to be able to talk to them from the same level, like you’re equals. I know that when you’re just starting out they are popular and you are not, but you are still same human beings, and there’s no point in one of you being treated with less respect. Keep that in mind.

Mentors

Finally, a mentor. Having a mentor is truly a great thing. A mentor is someone who’s much more experienced than you, and hopefully has already done what you are trying to do. Advice from such a person is often invaluable. Especially if you’re stuck at something and can’t find a good way out.

Identifying your desired mentor is not difficult. Simply choose the person you’re looking up to the most. Someone whose actions have always been highly inspirational to you. Someone who’s books/posts/blogs you’ve always been reading.

One more thing to think about is what exactly do you want to learn from this person? What are the first 5 questions you might have for this person? Your mentor should be someone you know you could easily spend many hours talking to on various topics related to what you’re doing.

Once you know who it is, you have to come up with a strategy to get this person to become your mentor (which we will discuss in the next episodes).

Now, your mentor doesn’t have to necessarily know that they are indeed your mentor. For them, you might be someone who they like contacting and talking to or exchanging emails containing various advice.

Also, sometimes you don’t even have to talk to your mentor to get some advice. Sometimes looking up some information on what they did in a similar situation that you’re in (when facing a similar problem), is more than enough to get you going.

Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that you’re going to be able to connect to your mentor and build any kind of relationship. The problem is similar to the one with A-listers – many people trying to achieve the exact same thing you are trying to achieve. So if you can’t seem to reach a given person you might want to select someone else.

Interestingly, getting a mentor is often easier than building a relationship with celebrities in your niche. I think it has something to do with our mindset. We tend to be much more careful and much more respectful when approaching a mentor.

Action time! Now it’s up to you to go ahead and select the groups of people you want to get in touch with.

A simple path you can follow

  1. Select a group of 15 peers, either in your niche, your passions or other like-minded people.
  2. Select 5 celebrities in your niche or broader niches (in case yours is too narrow).
  3. Select 1 mentor you truly want to contact.

These 21 people are the starting point for you. In the next parts we’re going to discuss how to go about contacting them and building those relationships.

Of course, if you want to select a bigger group of people I don’t advise against it, but you might find it a lot more challenging to be able to handle all the initial communication. And you can’t mess that up. Often, if you fail to make some things happen on your side you might burn the contact completely.

Now, let’s get down to business. The next part is all about ways of approaching people. Until then don’t forget to subscribe to get the posts delivered straight to your inbox.

Did you manage to create your own list of 21 people? Feel free to share your opinion and thoughts you’ve had when completing the list.

6 Ways to Unleash Creativity in the Workplace

The demand for creativity from employees is rising in this age of rapid technological advancement. This is evident when we see multinational companies like Google setting up something known as a the 20 percent program or policy where Google developers get to spend 20 percent of their working hours (a day at work) on side projects. It was an attempt to give employees the time and space to think innovatively. Indeed, the policy works well, with some of the best products of Google (e.g. Google News) originating from the program.

unleash creativity 6 Ways to Unleash Creativity in the Workplace
(Image source: Fotolia)

Some of you may think that creativity is an inborn trait rather than something that can be learned and developed. This may be so, but without a conducive environment for creativity to be expressed, how can we expect to see ideas arising from creative employees? This is precisely what this article is about, to show you ways which you can adopt in the workplace to encourage employees to seek innovation in their work.

More related posts:

1. Reward Creativity

If you want to get employees to think out-of-the-box, you need to motivate them with some form of rewards. Moreover, suggestions have to be taken seriously so that employees are willing to come up with more creative ways of improving the workplace. Otherwise, everyone will think it’s a waste of time to squeeze out creative juices for suggestions that won’t be implemented anyway.

To kick-start things up, you can set goals for your employees to think up of some ways of making work processes more efficient. Perhaps each employee can be tasked to provide one suggestion by the end of each week and you’ll assess which idea is the best. This will be followed with a reward for the employee and equally important, implementation. The reward can be tangible ones like giving monetary incentives, or intangible ones like recognition from the organization by announcing the winner to the rest.

2. Anonymity & Confidentiality

Your employees may already be motivated to be creative but have no outlets to voice out their wonderful ideas. While the outspoken ones can always speak to the management about some suggestions they have in mind, others may be too shy or afraid to do so in this manner. Providing a suggestion box or anything similar would grant these employees the anonymity and confidentiality they crave, thereby inspiring the creative spirit that you wish to instill as part of the organization culture.

However, some of the most creative ideas are born out of brainstorming sessions where a group of people discuss and debate about possible solutions to a problem. Having such a private channel for employees to contribute ideas may thus hinder the creative process. Moreover, those who provide the effective ideas won’t get identified and get the recognition they need. It will be wise to balance both private and public mediums for employees to propose their suggestions.

3. Innovation Teams

A more systematic way of promoting creativity in the workplace is to set up innovation teams. Each innovation team will be tasked to come up with ideas on how to improve the work process of a particular aspect. Deadlines are to be set to ensure that the teams present their ideas and be rewarded if they are excellent. When done properly, this will signal to everyone that the organization values work-related creativity.

One catch is that such innovation teams may be seen as too ‘deliberate’ to some employees. Creativity is supposed to be spontaneous; ideas arising from the strokes of genius. Having such teams may make it seem like an extra chore for those assigned to them, and the systematic approach (i.e. the focus on a single topic) may come across as too rigid for creativity to flourish.

4. Support Creativity

Employees may be unwilling to take risks because they do not know whether the organization supports creativity. This is when you need to guide the organization in the right direction, and show that creativity is highly valued. This has a lot to do with how receptive you are to their ideas, and how you make known your intention to be a more creative company.

One reason why employees are not thinking out-of-the-box or coming up with solution that are vastly different from how things used to be done is that they may be afraid of the repercussions of making mistakes. Risk-taking has to be encouraged and be seen as a norm in the organization. Developing a creative culture takes time, but it starts off with management being more open-minded and less judgmental to the suggestions by employees.

5. Diversity Among Employees

How can different ideas exchange if everyone thinks in a similar manner? Employees with comparable backgrounds, qualifications, experience, etc creates a homogeneous working environment. Perhaps having such homogeneity between the employees will facilitate team-bonding and such, but when it comes to workplace creativity, a uniform and agreeable crowd leaves little room for ideas to flourish.

Rather than setting stringent recruitment prerequisites, you might consider giving more allowance in your criteria. Hire staffs from different knowledge and background and get them to mingle around in projects and even company events. Organize more informal settings between employees with dissimilar profiles for the interchanging of thoughts.

6. Positive Working Environment

Sometimes, too serious a mindset can hinder creativity. Having fun during work allows one to be relaxed and that’s where one tends to get inspired with wonderful ideas. Needless to say, a stressful or even depressing work environment doesn’t give one the mood to think of doing things differently. The employee would only look forward to the end of the day.

Psychological studies have revealed that positive mood can spur creativity. The idea is that positive mood awards us with greater flexibility in thinking because our perspectives are widened. We become more open-minded in that sense and are willing to explore alternatives. Knowing such findings now, incorporating fun into the work through team-bonding activities or retreats every once in a while can be a crucial element in injecting creativity in the workplace.

Networking Guide for Bloggers: Setting Your Goals and Rules (Part 2)

For me, there are two things that should be considered as the starting point of a well thought out networking strategy. The headline of this post gives a good hint on what I’m talking about, so let me just say it upfront: start by setting your goals and understanding the basic rules.

networking 02 Networking Guide for Bloggers: Setting Your Goals and Rules (Part 2)

Quick note:
This post is a part of a series titled – Networking Guide for Bloggers. Be sure to check back next week for more! If you’ve missed the previous post(s), here are the links:

A word on setting goals

“Setting goals is an important part of most of our projects, or at least it should be. Goals are a guidance for us on what path we should take.”

It all sounds nice, and surely is true, but what does it really mean, you know, in plain English? Well, my personal approach can be explained by the phrase: “goals are the answer.”

Here’s what I mean. Whenever I’m starting a new project, the very first thing I do is set my goals. From that point on I have an answer to every question I might stumble upon concerning the project.

setting goals Networking Guide for Bloggers: Setting Your Goals and Rules (Part 2)
(Image source: Shutterstock)

What I do is simple. When faced with a challenge or a decision I simply ask myself what solution is the most in tune with the goals I’ve set and brings me closer to achieving them.

Even though it’s not that obvious at first, setting goals is as important for networking as it is for any other project.

Before you do anything, and I mean anything, you have to know what you’re aiming for and why you’re trying to reach out to people.

Now, I’m not going to tell you what your goals should be – this is up to you. I’m only going to give you some hints and possible ideas that are somewhat common for most people.

common goals of networking

The word goals is pretty vague and it doesn’t indicate what a properly defined goal should look like. In most cases, goals are answers to the question of what I want to achieve in a given project – what my desired outcome is.

In other words, by the end of the day/week/year what is it that you want? And I don’t mean the material stuff.

For example, most bloggers have very similar answers:

  • “I want to have an established network of friends (other bloggers) who would promote my content to their own audiences and be willing to publish my guest posts every now and then.”
  • “I want to have a group of people willing to participate in collaborative projects with me, and help me with my product launches.”
  • “I want to meet some influential bloggers who could introduce me to some of the A-players in my niche.”
  • “I want to partner with other bloggers in their launches, and be a valuable ally to them.”

These are all valid goals, and they are surely worth pursuing, but what I would advise you to start with, is dividing all the possibilities into two groups.

Short term goals Vs. long term goals

Long term goals are actually better for defining first because they create an overall image of what you’re doing, and point you towards the right path.

Long term goals are also more general in nature, so you can use them as a base for defining short term goals.

In essence, your long term goals are things you want to achieve ultimately. Short term goals are specific milestones that will get you to your long term goals.

For example, your long term goal might be to get to know 5 bloggers and create a strong enough relationship to be able to publish each other’s guest posts and participate in their promotions in the time of one year. To get to this goal you’d have to create a number of short term goals. Things like: contact 10 bloggers and offer them guest posts within the first month. And so on.

Blogging is rarely a strictly business-like activity and, at the same time, rarely a strictly personal thing. That’s why the most common long term goal of networking for bloggers is to simply make friends. To have a small number of good friends with whom you can participate in different kinds of projects, promotions and other activities.

This sort of relationships can be used both for strictly business projects and some personal, social activities. The diverse nature of blogging itself gives you such possibilities. This is something very difficult to achieve in other fields … try to imagine a similar situation in corporate banking, for example.

Here’s what I advise you to do when working on your goals.

1. Pick your final, desirable outcome.

Making friends, in my opinion, is what works best. However, you can also try more business driven approaches. Like building personal expertise in your niche, or becoming the go-to-person for a given (precise) activity.

Whatever you choose remember about two things: your goals have to be exact, and there has to be a deadline.

For example, “I want to meet some bloggers and publish many guest posts on their blogs.” – This isn’t exact. “I want to meet 10 bloggers from my niche and publish 30 guest posts on their blogs.” – This is.

And, of course, the deadline … well, deadlines are deadlines, I’m sure you understand what a deadline is.

2. Try to define a number of milestone goals (Short term goals).

This is where you try to come up with some steps that will bring you closer to the ultimate goals.

Important. You don’t have to design your whole path, so to speak. Short term goals are exactly what the name says, so you only need to define your goals for the next month or so. When the month ends you simply define another set of short term goals.

Continuing the example above; your short term goal could be to “contact 20 bloggers and offer them a guest post within 30 days.” – This is both exact and has a deadline.

However, before you take your goals and do anything with them you need to learn one important thing.

important rule of networking

I won’t keep you hanging here, so I’ll just say upfront that the rule is this: it’s not about you, it’s about them.

Sorry to be the one to break this to you, but … no one cares about you (except for your mom).

OK, it’s not that harsh. Your friends care about you too. But before they can care about you they need to become your friends. Same goes for your online friends.

networking Networking Guide for Bloggers: Setting Your Goals and Rules (Part 2)
(Image source: Shutterstock)

Don’t be amazed that some people simply ignore your emails. It’s just life. Strangers ignore each other all the time. And you are no different. When was the last time you deleted an email from an unknown recipient? … umm today?

Whatever you do, remember that you have to give before you take.

Blasting an email to a stranger titled “great business proposition inside” won’t work in a thousand years. You’d be lucky if out of 1000 emails even one gets opened and read.

Now the funny part, giving just like that, out of the blue probably won’t work either. I’d say that there’s another important step before you can even give – introducing yourself.

Remember when your mom taught you never to take candy from a stranger? That’s exactly the situation here.

So finally, here’s a possible real life scenario: introduce, give, take. Actually, a more accurate one is: introduce, give, give, give, give, take … or something similar.

In essence, networking like we’re discussing it here works just like it does in real life. That’s because it is real life, the internet is just a medium, and there are still people on both sides.

As a matter of fact, you have to be even more careful when asking for something online than you’d be in real life. It’s much easier to refuse or even ignore someone over the internet. That’s one of the reasons why some people prefer doing business over the phone to using email. Saying no to someone directly is much more demanding in terms of inner strength than writing it on the screen.

This all makes the whole online environment much more subtle and uncertain; hence the importance of giving before you can take.

It’s time for action, isn’t it? That’s why the next post in the series is going to be all about selecting the right people to contact. Until then don’t forget to subscribe to get the posts delivered straight to your inbox.

I have one more question for you. What do you think about the idea of introducing yourself before doing anything else? Don’t you find giving something out of the blue to be a little strange?