Social Media Revolution 2 (refresh)

Courtesy Socialnomics.net ~ via TedX Lansing:

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10 Tips for Building Your Small Business

In a startup, it’s all about the team. Even if you have a ground-breaking idea, it’s useless without the right team to develop and execute the vision. If you’ve been in business or entrepreneurship, these revelations shouldn’t surprise you.

Hiring the right people can be the most difficult part of building a company, but talent is hard to find, and bad apples can be even harder to let go. That’s why it’s essential to have a clear idea of how to look, where to look, and what tools you should be using to uncover the gems.

Here are ten must-know tips for finding and building a world-class small business team.

  • Have very clear objectives
    A business plan is just the beginning; start thinking about talent, personalities, complimentary characteristics in your staff, budgets, milestones, culture and rewards.
  • Master the Art of LinkedIN
    LinkedIn can be extremely useful on a variety of fronts, finding and evaluating potential prospects, staff, relationships and expertise requests.
  • Go where the Talent is
    Job sites are the modern day classifieds, often filled by people WITHOUT jobs, are those the people you want to hire?  Go to where the cool-kids are, Universities, user-groups, hackathons, tech conferences, social communities, etc. – and start cherry-picking.  These are people that take their professions seriously and are worth their weight in gold.
  • Make your Company (and Yourself) Accessible
    There are alot of people looking to for startups to work at, but it isn’t easy to find one that fits.  This starts with YOU, the business owner.  Manage your online brand, become a leader in the community, showcase your business, it’s intent, it’s culture and promote it when/where ever possible – social media makes this easy, and often local help is available.
  • You have to sell your business to your team
    Share your vision for the future, align your resources and getting everyone marching in the same direction, for the same reasons.  Great teams are driven by passion, not by money (though, that helps.)
  • Learn about their side-projects and their passions
    Work expertise is useful, but side projects are revealing.  Do they contribute to open-source projects?  Do they blog/tweet?  Are they active in the community?  Side projects are good, if not great things, aligning their passions with yours can create powerful teams.
  • Project Management tools are your friend (mostly)
    The argument is tools like Basecamp, Google Apps, Yammer, etc. help with communication.  Our personal favorites are methodologies like Agile, Scrum & Kanban – can be instrumental to shortening the feedback loops between the business and development teams.
  • There’s more to your team than your employees
    Think supporting cast.  Are your teams self-managing?  Is your org flat – empowering results on all levels?  Do you have an advisory board, a channel for customer feedback, a suggestion box?  All these can help offer perspective.
  • Use Social Media to Build a Voice
    Blogs, Twitter, Fan Pages can be more than a marketing tool.  Be open and transparent, contribute ideas to the community, offer value to followers – build credibility and become an authority in your respective domain.  Most importnatly – have a voice, participate in the conversation! [Oh, and read ClueTrain Manifesto, Naked Conversations and the Tom Bihn story!]
  • Trust your Gut
    This goes without saying, in hiring decisions and general business insticts.  If it doesn’t feel right – don’t do it.

~ Original article published by Mashable, click here to read it in full.

Gadget of the week

The Optoma EP-PK-101 PICO Pocket Projector – Small enough to fit in your pocket, bright enough to use for small presentations ~ powered by your iPhone!

The Optoma Pico is the smallest projector you’ve ever seen!  Its compact size and durability make it a must have for travel and on-the-spot presentations.  Reviews are fairly mixed, ideal use would be in low-light, which is rather obvious, but could be an interesting option to evaluate if you travel frequently or find yourself giving lots of impromtu presentations (showing off the new whiz-bang iTunes/YouTube video on your iPhone?) or just watching a movie on the back of a seat on the airplane – not to mention giving presentations at a trade show.

Connects To:

* iPod, iPhone & iTouch with included bundled connection kit
* Camcorders, DV-Cams and Digital Cameras enabled with standard composite AV Out with included composite cable
* DVD Players and other video players enable with standard composite AV Out with included composite cable
Note: This configuration does not connect to notebook computers, PC’s PDAs, cell phones or other devices unless the device has composite output. Please make sure to consult your device’s owner’s manual.

Features:

* Easily share photos and videos from mobile devices
* Project images on any surface
* Ultra-light at 4 ounces including battery
* Image size up to 60 inches
* Vivid 1000:1 contrast ratio
* DLP Pico technology
* LED light source lasts over 20,000 hours
* Recharge battery conveniently via USB or included AC power adaptor

Future Midwest

In response to a horrible piece by Dateline last night regarding Detroit, I wanted to share a positive look into our city, via a very well-made video: http://vimeo.com/11021663 put together by FutureMidwest.

I attended FutureMidwest last week (a 2 day conference held in Royal Oak) which is helping to raise awareness, educate and push innovation in our area.

For those looking for new opportunities, another site you might want to check out is: http://detroit.startupweekend.org/

If you have an idea, or desire to contribute to your own “startup” I highly encourage you to check them out – it’s an [aggressive] process that has been growing nationally, and this is the Detroit flavor.

Naturally, there are more traditional ways to starting your own business, but this could be a fun way for you to get exposure, experiment and maybe even learn something??

Hope to see you there!?

The New Dork – Entrepreneur State of Mind

It’s a spoof of Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ “Empire State of Mind,” from the guys behind Grasshopper.com (thank you!). They made it because there’s a new type of dork that is cooler than ever. Look at tech entrepreneurs, hipsters, Computer Science Barbie – they’re all super popular new dorks!  Thanks for sharing @rockcityghost

2010 New Year’s Resolutions for Software Developers

@jeffblankenburg wrote a good post for MSDN about opportunities for Software Developers in 2010.  The full article can be found here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/ee913537.aspx, highlights include:

  • Learn a new programming language
  • Attend [monthly] local user group meetings – (or support local community events, check out: iDetroit)
  • Attend a regional developer conference – gotta luv codeMash
  • Become an agent of change (within your organization)
  • Use your skills to change the world (for the better) – giveCamp
  • Give Twitter a real try!
  • Create an online presence
  • Added: Stay current with technology via pod/video casts – visit Twit.TV, Tech PodCasts or iTunes for more..

Troy Toastmasters Club

I’ve seen statistics that show people fear speaking in public more than they do death.  I used to be one of these people.  I learned this lesson first hand several years ago, when I was the best man and had to give a few words and toast at a wedding in front of a few hundred people.  This was the first time I was ever in front of that large of an audience, with the attention solely on me (even if it were for only a few moments.)

While preparing I felt pretty confident, I knew the material, most of the audience and wasn’t really too nervous about it, that is until 30 seconds before I was handed the microphone.  My heart sunk, my hands trembled and I eecked out a horrible display of public speaking, full of filler words and disorganized thoughts.  In hindsight, there was a clear lack of appreciation for true “preparation.”  That was a valuable lesson for me, as I sat down and tried to calm my nerves, trembling, trying to drink some water, I vowed to never embarrass myself like that again.

From there, I went on to read several books about public speaking, I even took a class at a community college in the evenings to learn about the discipline of public speaking, preparation, research, outlines, etc. Needless to say, I’ve improved.  My confidence in speaking publicly has also improved.  That’s not to say I’m a polished speaker, by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve overcome the first of many barriers – I no longer fear it more than death.

Speaking, communication, negotiation, whatever you want to call it is a fundamental skill in today’s society.  Being an effective communicator is crucial to your own success, credibility and influence you have with your peers, friends and even family.  In my role, (and active community involvement) I get asked from time to time to do talks on various subjects, inside and out of my organization – each of which I draw from my experience; sure I still get nervous, but after each I gain in experience and confidence making each future talk more manageable and in some cases I even look forward to them.  One day, I may even hope to give a talk at a TED conference!  Shoot for the stars – right!?

I, like you, have probably heard of Toastmasters, but until recently didn’t know all that much about them.  A good friend of mine, Danielle (@ddelonge) of Davenport University – helped to motivate me to check out a local Toastmasters here in Troy, MI.  The Troy Toastmasters, Club #2357 (Area 23, Division E, District 28) – meets weekly at 11:45 each Thursday at Dupont Automotive (950 Stephenson Hwy, Troy, MI, 48083.)  This group (to me) was the exact venue to help keep me engaged, further developing my speaking skills, as large gaps (and busy schedules) can prevent me from practicing and the TM group (along with Danielle) provides a positive support system – much like a workout friend.

Not having had exposure to other Toastmaster clubs, I can only assume they all as well run as the Troy group is.  If you’re looking for an outlet to increase your confidence speaking publicly, increasing your verbal (and non-verbal) communication skills, confidence and all the benefits that come along with it, I HIGHLY recommend you check them out.  The group has well balanced experience, with very polished, experienced speakers, as well as total beginners, starting at step 1.  The group is highly organized, with distinct roles & responsibilities to ensure each and every meeting is good use of your time, getting everyone involved, and most importantly introducing you to the benefits of becoming a good speaker – both through positive reinforcement as well as constructive criticism.

The Troy group also has access to excellent facilities, from a large auditorium stage with stadium-style seating (for large, formal speaking engagements) to conference rooms (where most presentations occur.)  Formats include several timed, structured speeches, to one-minute intros and table topics, as well as debates – getting you full exposure to all different types of communication formats and environments – which will surely help you increase your confidence while preparing for you next big presentation – hopefully I’ll see you there!

“The mission of a Toastmasters Club is to provide a mutually supportive and positive learning environment in which every member has the opportunity to develop communication and leadership skills, which in turn foster self-confidence and personal growth.  We have fun in the process.”