What Fuels my Train? Connecting People

I really dig connecting people and watching what happens. Sometimes, the connection can be a simple introduction between two strangers who I just met myself.

Yesterday was filled with many great moments, but the best one may have been the first one.

At Drew McLellan’s Branding Breakfast, I met Marshall Porter with Merrill Lynch and also Cherish Anderson, owner of Nanny2Shoes. It so happens there is a business/customer relationship that exists and it was great to step back and listen to the conversation.

Instant feedback…stories shared…greater connectivity…developing loyalties…customer and business forming a friendship. I love it. At the end of the conversation, I thanked them for a wonderful example of a business blog (sans tool).

Blogs are NOT Important. They’re simply among the tools that allow us to Capture the Conversation. But they’ll never replace a face-to-face meeting.

Whistle Stops – 10/04/06

I gave the blog the day off – not the night off.

  • Digital Storytelling and Flickr as Presentation Tool at Beth’s Blog are two keepers. I really would like to try the Flickr idea at some point. Wondering if branding the slides is important here.
  • Embracing the Six Core Values of Innovation and A Guide to Social Media Optimization (SMO) at ChangeThis are among the manifestos I voted for. If you haven’t visited this gold-mine of inspiration, you’re missing out on some gems. Hat tip to Jeff for his plea)
  • ChangeAgent Iowa? Exciting words to my eyes. Yet – "A statewide group of more than 20 organizations and 2000 decision-makers…" Sounds like a battleship about to make a turn – but I’m game.

A Conversation (Argument?) With My Blog

A quick conversation with my blog this morning:

BLOG: Are you going to write something? (say yes)

ME: Ssh. I’m busy. And I gotta leave in 20 minutes

BLOG: You can write a post in 20 minutes, just write something – anything. Have you looked at your schedule? If you don’t write something now, it’ll be Friday before I get something new.

ME: Sorry, I need to finish this up. Deadline is Thursday COB.

BLOG: Just finish one these drafts I’ve been carrying around. Or post to a bunch of links. A Quote n Note – something!!

ME: (Stops typing, turns from other computer) Look. I agree that not every post needs to be a home run. Some of your most read posts were done on-the-fly, but I’ve got a business to run. I’ve not gone three straight days without posting– and you’ve had nine posts already this month. Take a day off.

BLOG: I just think a new post–

ME: I won’t fall into a Loser’s Limp (it’s in the draft queue), but I won’t get into a Blogger Blimp (another draft) either. You work for me (yet another), not the other way around. Take the rest of the day off. I’ve got work to do.

Whistle Stops – 10/03/06

Whistlestops_37 A great day for some great posts:

  • Connect the Unconnected by Roger von Oech at CreativeThink: Yep, the author of Expect the Unexpected and A Whack on the Side of the Head is now blogging (thanks for the heads-up, David) But back to the post…Roger shares some great examples of connecting things or ideas that were previously unconnected. Can you do the same in networking people?
  • Six Habits that Will Get You Promoted by David Lorenzo at Career Intensity: While the post may be targeted to employees and job-seekers, these habits work for indepenent contractors and small-business owners too. Some key thoughts: “People who get things started are incredibly valuable.” and “Act as if.”
  • FullFeeds – a petition against intentionally disabled RSS feeds. Loved Rich Ord’s comment (#123). My experience says that you’ll get more comments with full feeds. Besides that, most aggregators give the user the choce between full and partial – so publish fully.
  • Oops…we forgot about the users by Kathy Sierra at Writing Passionate Blog Posts Creating Passionate Users: Print out the Bingo cards and use them (especially Clueful Bingo).

Using FeedBlendr for Multiple Feeds

Feedblendr_2 I’ve almost given up tyring to work with OPML. Everyone’s got a different set of rules and languages.

Trying to get customers and new bloggers a kick-start to their feed reading, I wanted to combine several feeds into one package…and OPML is just too much work. Now I use FeedBlendr.

Here’s a sample I created, BloggingNewsRoll. I included the sites from the Blogging News section of the ConverStations Blogroll. Talk about quick and easy!

Even though FeedBlendr asks for the Feed URLs, you can drop in the site URL and the feed will be auto-discovered. Very nice!

Here’s another one I just made (in minutes) for a search on "Small Business Blog" using Google News, Google Blog Search, Technorati Tag Search and Digg.

Point being, now you can equip your team with a pool of feeds to start from – with one link. Include the search terms that are important to your company and everyone gets smarter – faster. Remember, Search Once and Subscribe.

FeedBlendr just became one of my favorite tools.

Whistle Stops – 10/02/06

Whistlestops_35Some great minds out there, I’m just soakin’ up the tips:

  • Bookcraft 2.0 by Liz Strauss at Successful Blog: is giving us some great insight on her blog-to-book projects. Do you have a blook in your blog? Work with Liz
  • Thinking in Pictures by David Armano at Logic + Emotion: I hadn’t thought of using mind maps in front of a customer (my mind maps look more like cartoon-graphics than cartographics) Some of this software might be handy.
  • FeedBurner FeedStats by Randy Morin at KBCafe’s The RSS Blog: Ever wondered why your FeedBurner stats drop on the weekends? Randy answer your question.
  • Blogtipping, Friend or Foe? by Drew McLellan at Drew’s Marketing Minute: While Drew may be new to blogging (as a tool), he’s a seasoned vet in marketing – and wonders if all this blogtipping makes sense.

Carnivale of Customer Service: Customer Royalty

This week’s Carnivale of Customer Service places loyal customers on the throne, taking customer loyalty to "customer royalty."

  • Mike Sigers at Simplenomics tells how a simple thing like a morning cup of coffee – served just how the customer wants it – can be remarkable. Life is good!
  • Glenn Ross in Want a Few More Customers? Try This! at Customer Service Experience shares implores us to ask a few "what ifs" and shares how a retail conversation serves as his crown jewel experience.
  • At Your Customers Matter…Don’t They?, Lora Adrianse delivers the secret to creating a Tipping Point – One Very Important Way to Make Your Customers Feel Like Royalty. It must be a secret, because more companies should follow this recipe.
  • Meikah Delid at Custserv (the site of last week’s celebration) shares her experiences customer royalty experiences in three industries that are reputed to practice this better than most: Airlines, Hotels and Banks.
  • Service Untitled shares five sure-fire steps on the path of Acceptable to Great
  • And the foundation and ringmaster of this Carnivale, Maria Palma at CustomersAreAlways brings it home with a simple and easy rule. It’s Golden.

Great suggestions! How do you prove your love to your customers?

If you would like to host next week’s Carnivale of Customer Service, email Maria at maria [at] customersarealways.com

Boo! on Business Blog Ghostwriting

Lots of conversation going on about "ghostblogging" or ghostwriting on company blogs. I’m not a fan – and you shouldn’t be either.

Company blogs – businesses that have a blog – should not employ full ghostwriting services. Copyediting? Sure thing. Transcribing? Great idea (and a time-saver for the CEO). But not ghostwriting.

It’s a lie. And the truth will bubble up. Especially in small business.

Let’s say I’m a landscaper. Problem is, I can’t write worth a mound of leaves. I see the value of blogging and, wanting to make my business more findable, I decide to have my blog ghostwritten. Eventually, someone will hire my company based on what they read in the blog – but I didn’t write it.

The prospect asks about a post that was written. I don’t have time to write it, you think I have time to read it? I stab at a guess – and even get it right. Yet, the customer says that I sound nothing like my blog. Goodbye integrity.

This may play out differently in a large corporation, but the principles are the same.

I offer blog transcribing as a solution. Drop your thoughts into a voice mail for your blogger. Have the blogger clean it up, strategically link out and post.

Here’s how I see it, four choices:

  1. Have a company blog, but give the actual writer the byline
  2. Copyediting – you write it, someone else cleans it up and posts
  3. Transcribing – you say it (voicemail?), someone writes, links, tags, etc.
  4. Stick with the (cob)web site – don’t blog

The Technorati Tags below will guide you to more of the conversation, but here are some posts worth reading:

GreatNews RSS Tutorials

Rich Hoeg at eContent recently posted some great video tutorials on how to use the GreatNews RSS Feed Reader:

Nicely done! The first two are particularly important if you’re just getting started reading feeds. Rich used Wink, a Tutorial and Presentation software.

Related Posts
Get Started Reading Feeds
Search Once and Subscribe

Whistle Stops – 10/01/06

Whistlestops_36 I’ve received a few questions about Whistle Stops recently. Time has been the hurdle, but I think that’s been cleared. So let’s go:

  • Free Webinar: The ROI of Blogging at influence 2.0: On Tuesday, October 3 at 1:00 pm ET, Charlene Li of Forrester Research will be the guest at a Free Webinar with Cymfony about the ROI of Blogging. Just remember, alphabetically and practically – RBI comes before ROI.
  • Accidental SEO at Inside the Cubicle: Jeffrey Treem shares delightful surprise at how some blog posts appear at the top of search results – without much SEO thought. As he points out, links play into the equation, but so does freshness and depth (two advantages of blogging)
  • Time to Use Google Reader at Principled Innovation: Jeff De Cagna gives instruction for the redesigned Google Feed Reader. This could be a difference maker for those not yet using feed aggregators. You can also right click on any feed and "Add Subscription" from the left navigation.

Here’s hoping we stay on track…