Category Archives: Communication

How to Write a How to Guide

If you’ve ever wanted to write your own how to guide, TokenUser shares these excellent tips with the community. If you have any tips or top five lists that you’d like to share (perhaps using these very helpful guidelines), please send them my way!

Before writing a guide on how to do something, there are a couple of questions that you need to ask yourself: do you know the subject well enough to explain it in simple terms, and can you write a concise set of instructions based on that explanation?

If you are good to go on these questions, the best how to guides follow an age-old and simple principle: KISS — Keep It Simple, Stupid, or (in this case) Keep It Stupidly Simple. This will enable someone to more easily follow your instructions. I’m hoping to help you write better how to guides with this guide of my own…

[$5+ patrons can read the rest of How to Write a How to Guide here. Not a patron? Consider the benefits here!]

Is Google Plus Dying?

Matthew Rappaport seems to be concerned about what’s going on within Google’s social sphere:

Is Google+ still alive and what do you hope to see announced for it at Google I/O?

It’s not dead – yet.

I have little patience for the typical jingoistic navelgazing that often seems to come with some of Google+’s most vocal supporters, though.

I don’t eat, sleep, or breathe any single social platform, though – nor does my life revolve around any single company apart from my own.

For Google I/O, I’d hope to hear more about how they’re going to continue to improve the Android experience – and, with just about every change they make, Google only reinforces my positions early on regarding their platform (despite me being perceived as persona non grata by many whose personal identity is tied into a piece of fucking software).

Is Google Plus Dying?

How Do You Write Your First Blog Post?

Mushu had an interesting question about getting started with a new blog.

What are important points to state in an introduction post for a blog? (meaning – the very first post ever on your blog)

I don’t think it matters.

Honestly, few people are going to read the introduction post in the grand scheme of things… unless it’s being done for nostalgic purposes (in which case, make it memorable).

Then again, you should write every blog post as though it was your first.

No, wait. Don’t do that.

Your introduction post is your About page. Then, your first post should be whatever you feel like writing about right now.

If you don’t feel like writing, don’t do it.

And, trust me, 99% of blogs that are started never make it past the two week marker. 99% of the blogs that make it past two weeks never make it past two years on a regular publishing schedule.

Have fun!

How Do You Write Your First Blog Post?

What is the Biggest Impact of Social Media?

Christopher Bryan Lencioni had a fabulous question:

Name, in your opinions, one of the best cultural impacts of Social Media as well as one of the worst.

Certainly, “social” has brought us closer together; we should realize that each of us is not alone. People are the best part of “social.” Think about it: we’re connected to the entire world! There’s just no way we could do this without social media.

Unfortunately, however, jackasses who believe that the world revolves around their own social accounts and perspective still exist. People are the worst part of “social.” I get quite tired of these people. Entitlement – you don’t have it!!

Cloud Collaboration is the Future

Let’s face it: the world of business is changing at an accelerated rate. Every day, more and more companies are turning away from integrated local IT solutions in favor of cloud-based alternatives that are managed and supported by a team of individuals focused almost exclusively on keeping your business’ cloud services up and ready when you need them.

There’s a lot of time and expense involved with setting up internal systems for email, chat, document collaboration, and ad hoc audio conferencing. The expense of staffing alone to set up and manage these systems is often unpredictable as it becomes a part of your overall company footprint rather than a predictable operational cost.

So why should your company consider going with CDW Cloud Collaboration as its productivity and communications platform of choice? To start, CDW has a long history of supporting businesses and a stellar reputation for quality and reliability that stretches back long before most companies even knew what the Internet was. It’s currently one of the largest service and solution providers in the world, with over 4,000 Cisco Unified Communication deployments over the past decade alone.


Enter CDW Cloud Collaboration, an industry-leading solution to bringing Unified Communications together with productivity on a platform that offers the freedom and reliability of the cloud. Utilizing a Cisco Unified Computing system throughout its impressive >485,000 square foot secured data center in Chicago, CDW takes on all the hassle and management of your company’s communications and productivity systems. Tier 4 CDW’s data center is secured with 24/7 security personnel and a two-factor authentication system for access (keycard and biometrics). In fact, CDW’s primary data center is currently the eighth largest in the world with thousands of clients ranging from small businesses to giant enterprises being served around the clock.

For those of you familiar with server hardware, CDW Cloud Collaboration is hosted on Tier III-IV (Type 2 SSAE 16 SOC 1) hardware. You certainly won’t have any problems with computational lag slowing you down when you need to get things done.

Software Solutions

CDW offers a series of packages designed to fit a variety of business needs. Its pay-as-you-go model allows for flexibility as your company’s needs change. You can buy in to a package that includes some of the more popular services with the option of expanding your package to include things like voicemail messaging, video conferencing, Webex conferencing, and more. A Premium account extends your service to include up to 10 devices per user and mobile access through iOS, Android, and Nokia platforms.

See the CDW’s Solutions blog for more — the service built on a partnership with Cisco Unified Communications in order to deliver world-class support and performance at a price that doesn’t break a company’s budget. These cloud-based solutions are fully managed and configured to meet the specific needs of your company.

In a world where as many as 75% of corporate employees work away from headquarters, bringing your business to the cloud just makes sense. Imagine the difficulty involved with setting up a locally managed solution that delivers instant access to your business’ data to employees anywhere around the world. It’s no small task, and that time can be better spent by your IT department doing what it needs to do to make sure the rest of your business operations run smoothly.

After all, isn’t it time that fiscal responsibility meant not having to compromise on productivity? If your company isn’t on the cloud yet, now is a great time to look into a solution built from the ground up to save your company money and scale as it grows.

CDW is a current advertiser on my blog. All opinions are mine.

Are Unified Communications Systems Right for Your Business?

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of BT. All opinions are 100% mine.

There is nothing that drives down overall productivity within a company more than lack of communication. Having everyone on one communication platform is often unfeasible, especially when you have some employees out in the field and others spending most of their time at their desk. This is where solutions such as the ones offered through BT Unified Communications can come in handy.

Cloud-based communication services have been available for free to the public for years. The problem with these systems is that, until now, they have been considered too unreliable for commercial use. When thousands, and even millions of dollars depend on you being able to coordinate with other members of your operation as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Pulling everything together in one centralized hub that allows your staff to reach one-another regardless of where someone is or what platform they have with them. Unified Communications can streamline how a business operates. Being able to reach someone with a click from your desktop regardless of if they’re at their desk or in the field with a single number is a great way to make sure that you’re able to reach them.

A solid communications system can also save companies money by reducing the need of travel. Face-to-face communication and conferences can be done without the need to travel. Sifting through various different messages sent through different communications channels is a time-intensive tasks that can add up to serious expenses even smaller businesses.

Remote employees can be a real challenge to keep up with. Coordinating tasks, sharing information, and keeping everyone connected is difficult when everyone has their own preferred method of keeping things organized. Bringing everything together in a unified manor would allow me to get things organized and share them with the right people once, freeing me up to get other important things done.

Customer service is one area in particular that suffers greatly when information isn’t readily available. If a customer has a question or problem with a product or service, empowering the customer service representative with the tools they need to address the problem and assign a resolution is essential. In an environment where everything is fragmented and scattered, this can be an incredibly long process that may result in losing the customer altogether.

The technology exists today to create a better environment for employees to stay connected to the information they need as well as each other. Keeping this in mind, there’s no reason why any business shouldn’t include some collaborative communications system in their infrastructure.

The Future of Real-Time Communications

Recently, I shared a Google+ Hangout with Jeff Pulver and Jonathan Taylor to discuss the state of the real-time communications industry. During the conversation, we discuss a wide range of topics including the history of communications technology and the latest innovations. We also touch on bandwidth caps and how single individuals can inspire change in the industry.

Jeff Pulver has an extensive background in the VoIP industry and has been a founding member of several major products including Vontage and the 140 Characters Conference.

Jonathan Taylor, the current chairman and CEO of Voxeo, has an equally impressive background in telephony and continues to work towards a goal of making it easier for developers to create telephony applications. Voxeo as a platform currently has around 220,000 registered developers with a specific focus on communications.

With the advent and extreme growth of social media, the way people communicate is changing and cloud-based communication systems are becoming more and more prevalent as older platforms are required to adapt to survive.

Thanks to platforms like the one Voxeo makes available to their developers, the creation of software allowing real-time communication between users is becoming easier and more prevalent. Just today (July 22) Voxeo has launched its new Phono Mobile project and made it immediately available to developers. The Phono Mobile toolkit leverages Javascript and HTML5 to enable high-quality voice and instant messaging features on mobile devices including those running on iOS and Android. One potential use of this toolkit can be in allowing gamers to use voice chat while enjoying multiplayer games on their mobile devices.

Moving forward, real-time communication is greatly dependent on the availability of supporting bandwidth consumers can use to take advantage of these services, and a continued lack of tight regulatory practices as the relatively new platform takes shape. Most importantly, it depends on the determination and innovation provided by an active development community.

You Are Never Alone as a Blogger

I had a discussion last night with a long-time prominent blogger. During our conversation, we naturally strayed towards writing and community building, topics with which we are both very familiar. This is someone who puts out extremely high-quality content on a daily basis. He is constantly pushing the limits, drawing in new people with his wisdom, humor and beautiful style. I couldn’t help but ask how the heck he manages to maintain his blog with such consistency year after year. I was quite relieved with the answers given.

I’m not the only person out there in blogger-land who sometimes wonders what the heck I’m doing this for. It’s not only me who feels that it’s insanely difficult to make your voice heard above the crowd, nor am I the first person to think that I must be nuts to keep going. My friend not only experiences these same thoughts and feelings, he pointed to many other well-known writers who are in the same boat. We’re all rowing as hard as we can to reach shore. I’m starting to think, though, that that shoreline shouldn’t be our goal.

Reaching the shore means the end of a journey. I don’t know about you, but I think my trip is still in its early stages. There is so much out there I want to see, do and conquer online, both personally and professionally. Why am I trying so hard to get my feet back on solid ground? I’m not adrift or lost at sea… I’m merely checking out previously uncharted territories to figure out where all I may fit.

Burnout is a common theme amongst us all. Fear of never “making it” haunts each of us on a daily basis. We’re pushing ourselves every day to try and write more, be more creative and stand out. We pretend to be friends with those who we “compete” against instead of creating actual connections and relationships. That needs to end. We are alienating each other instead of developing bonds which will in turn make us stronger.

We shouldn’t be competing with anyone other than ourselves. Blogger A and Writer B can both be wildly successful – even if they write about the exact same thing. There are billions of people online and I’m pretty sure they each visit more than one website. Having real friendships with other writers allows you to stretch your mind in different directions. It can and will open up new possibilities for your writing style and rang of topics. Debating current issues with your peers – whether you’re discussing politics or tech – can strengthen the influence you have with your own readers.

One of the biggest keys to maintaining the level of output we expect of ourselves is to remember that we are not alone.

How Many Followers Do You Have?

For many of you, the entire point of having an online presence is to be seen. Getting as much exposure as you can is the name of the game, but at what price? Too often, I see people focusing so much energy on their number of likes and followers that they seem to have forgotten why the heck they wanted or needed exposure to begin with.

Hat tip to Frills in the Hills for this amazing picture!

These days, you can practically buy followers. There are so many of you out there rabid about counting your community members and seeing how well the numbers tally up. The higher that bottom line is, the happier and more important you feel. When was the last time you stopped to actually interact in any meaningful way with that community, though? Talking with them involves far more than throwing links their way or saying thank you for the #FF or reTweets. Interaction and engagement levels count for much more than a bunch of stupid numbers.

Behind the person or company on the Twitter profile and Facebook page, there needs to be something worth getting involved with. You need to have a kickass product or service – period. Working your tail off to build some mythical “perfect” Facebook Page doesn’t mean squat if what your company stands for is crap. Your social profiles aren’t what make you great… YOU are. Why then does it matter how many people like or follow you?

People who truly enjoy who you are and what you do will follow you, yes. But I guarantee there are a LOT of people out there who simply follow anyone they feel is “important.” This pads the numbers you’re so proud of in a way. The bottom line isn’t a true account of people that care about what you’re doing and saying. I know that it’s impossible to weed through them and tell the difference. I wish I had an answer as to how to figure that part out.

The bottom line is that you have to stop worrying so damn much about how many likes, follows and community members you have. Focus your attention on building a great product or service and THEN go out and engage those people you want to market to. Talk to them. Interact with them. Treat them like people – and not like numbers.

Is Social Media Driving You Crazy?

There is a lot of noise on the Internet. We are inundated with photos, videos, music and words to the point we have to start filtering some of it out or go insane. I’m starting to wonder, though, if we are driving ourselves crazy in the process. Are we going deaf and blind? How much good content are we missing out on when we tune out and turn off? It’s obviously not feasible to read/hear/watch everything out there. The key is going to have to be to balance what we’re consuming online – filtering out the noise while taking in the important stuff. How the hell do we pull that off?

Decide what’s really important to you. What is it you want to get out of social media sites such as Twitter or Facebook? Take the time to decide which types of things you feel add value to your day and which just provide background noise. Make a point of weeding through your lists and get rid of anyone who just seems to be there for the heck of it.

You may feel important when you follow a lot of people, but what good is that really doing you? Are you learning anything? Have you gained any type of knowledge, insight or satisfaction from each of these users? Do they at least make you laugh once in a while? Why do you keep following those whom do nothing more than annoy you when you see their constant drivel wind its way through your timelines?

Filtering out noise will keep you a whole lot more sane, I promise. I’m not saying you can’t have fun and follow people who make you laugh. Watch videos that are comedic in nature only. Listen to your favorite tunes or the newest smash hit from that unknown artist. You don’t have to completely cut yourself off from the “unimportant” things and people… you just need to find a better way to balance that with the things and persons who will add true value to your day and your life.

Can You Be Swayed?

Swayable may be a fairly new website, but its traffic is already growing by leaps and bounds. It’s quite addictive to sit and click a button, choosing the fate of one thing or person over another. Think the bunny is cuter than the horse? Sway it. Sure that Ballmer is better than Jobs? Sway him, too. There are hundreds of categories to choose from, along with a never-ending stream of new Sways to judge.

There’s some measure of perverse thrill sent through our brains each time we click that little voting button. Whether you’re being mean and picking the worst pics to “win” or being honest in your selections, site stats show that many users are becoming addicted to this site.

Swayable makes it easy to share things when you’re on the go. Take pictures of two different things with your iOS device (Android isn’t available – yet!), come up with a caption or question and click a button to send it all through SMS, email and the Swayable site.

This application isn’t just for fun, y’all. You can use it to quickly get opinions from friends and family prior to making a large purchase, renting a new home or even just choosing which outfit to wear out on the town. We tend to be our own worst critics, and that can make it tough to always make the right decision. Crowdsourcing answers is always one of the best ways to get things done, and Swayable makes that a snap. Life is all about choices, after all!

For the record – Wicket and Pixie are far cuter than any pooch I’ve seen on the Swayable site at this point. I don’t think I can pit them against each other though… they’re equally adorable. How can I ask someone to choose between them?!

How to Buy a Home Using Technology

Add to iTunes | Add to YouTube | Add to Google | RSS Feed

Can new media help the real estate industry? Years ago, you used to be able to place an ad in the paper and receive almost guaranteed results. At the time, that’s where people’s eyes were. Now, potential home buyers are spending their time on social networks like Facebook and Twitter instead of reading the local newspaper. It’s for this reason that companies like Century 21 have expanded their public reach in to the realm of new media.

Just like many of you out there, I happen to own a house. While visiting BlogWorld, I noticed a booth from a real estate company. That shocked me, since this venue is not normally a place you’d see this type of business having a booth at.

Century 21 is still a real estate company, yes. That hasn’t changed. What has changed is the way they talk to consumers. By visiting conferences such as BlogWorld, Century 21 and other businesses are able to connect with people face-to-face in a relaxed atmosphere in ways they couldn’t otherwise.

This is a much different type of scale for the companies. Part of the effort is to let people know of all of the social media properties out there, so that they can get involved with the brand.

When I bought my first house back in the late 90s, it was so difficult to find information online. Blogging as it is now didn’t really exist. Forget “social media” as you use it today. None of that was around. I wanted to do things though when researching that the Internet simply wasn’t ready to do.

The second time I bought a home a few years ago, I was able to learn everything I could possibly want – and then some – just by logging in to my computer. I found blogs and podcasts and tools and ways to connect with my realtor, my company and my own mind.

I’ve always trusted technology to help me make decisions. Talking with Matt from Century 21 helped me realize exactly how much more my beloved tech is being ingrained into every aspect of our lives.

This video was filmed during a live broadcast from the BlogWorld & New Media EXPO 2011 in New York.