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Saturday, February 6, 2010

This Toastmaster's Quest: IgniteDetroit

I heard from a friend, Brandon Chesnutt on about an upcoming event called Ignite Detroit. When I initially read the description, I thought it sounded like an interesting concept but not for me. Then I YouTubed (is that a word or am I inventing as I go?) the event and watched a few videos from another Ignite event. And I thought, "hey, I could do that!"

The concept of Ignite Detroit is simple: 15 speakers, each have a 5-minute speaking slot. Here's the twist: each presenter must use 20 PowerPoint slides that automatically advance every 15 seconds.

Toastmasters has given me endless opportunities to practice and refine my public speaking and presentation skills. I'm always open to learning more and know I can still improve, which is part of the reason that I stay active in Toastmasters even after I've earned my "Competent Communicator" designation.

Sometimes I compete in the Toastmasters speech contests. Competition is a great way to keep you on your toes, as well as to learn speaking techniques from other experienced Toastmasters.

This is part of reason I'm interested in competing (performing?) in Ignite Detroit. There are 36 speaker submissions and only the top 7 vote-getters earn a spot. The other 8 spots are chosen by the Ignite Detroit organizers. I have a feeling they may take into account the number of comments left by voters, but this is just speculation on my part. I haven't been asking people to comment but they've been leaving comments. I have 19 comments and 151 votes as of today, Saturday, Feb. 6th. This puts me into 9th placed based on votes. I thought voting ended yesterday and had a few friends helping spread the word within their networks, which resulted in enough votes to earn me 7th ranking for a few hours. Today I'm back to 9th place - just 15 votes behind 7th place, so as you can probably tell, it's anyone's game.

The topics submitted for Ignite Detroit range from retraining the unemployed to end of the world tips to fundraising and much more. The intent of the event is to inform, inspire, and entertain the audience. Right now, there are 200 seats and the event is sold out. (well, not technically "sold" out because the tickets are free.... but all tickets have been spoken for!

You can read all entries by visiting this website:

My topic and description:

And You Don't Even Have to Buy Me Lunch.

Plug an inquisitive marketer into social media and what do you get? A bucket load of cool tips - the kind that earns me a lunch or coffee invitation just about every month. You'll be inspired by stuff you never knew about social media - and you'll definitely want to try out at home. Think of this as "easter eggs" in social media. This 5-minute presentation will give every Ignite Detroit attendee -- from the beginner to the social media expert -- some new insights. I'll share with you some of my personal favorites - some of which I've never shared in front of a group. And speaking of... don't just take my word for how great this presentation will be. Check out my linkedin profile to read a few recommendations I've been given from folks who have attended my presentations over the past year. Pull up a chair and I'll share a few tricks up my sleeve. And you don't even have to buy me lunch.

Voting ends Monday. If you're interested in voting, the process is pretty simple and takes about 2 minutes of your time.

Here are the step-by-step instructions on how to vote:

1. Visit to see all entries, or visit to visit my entry.

2. To the left of the topic name, there is a box with the total number of votes received. Under the box there is a button "VOTE" - click on this button.

3. Sign up using any of these accounts: Facebook, Google, Twitter, Yahoo, OpenID, MySpace, Windows Live ID, Blogger, Verisign, Hyves, AOL, Wordpress, or you can create a UserVoice account.

4. After you sign up and log in to vote, you'll be taken back to the list of entries. If it does not take you automatically to the entry you'd like to vote for, you may need to scroll down the page. Or, type in one word from the title ("Lunch" for my entry, as an example).

5. Mouseover the box that appears below the total number of votes for the entry. You'll notice that you can cast 1, 2, or 3 votes for an entry. You are allocated a total of 6 entries that you can use across all topics. But, no more than 3 votes for any one individual entry.

6. Click the number of votes and you're done.

7. (optional) Send a message on Twitter or Facebook telling people that you've voted, and encourage them to vote, too.

Hope this helps! Happy voting and hope to see you at IgniteDetroit.

ps - Learn more about Ignite Detroit by visiting:
On the web:
Follow on Twitter: @ignitedetroit (you can view comments without having a Twitter account)
Become a fan on their Facebook fan page

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

How's Your Social Media Karma?

The more I use Social Media, the more I find myself to be a conduit of sorts to my network. I'm able to successfully link one connection to another via a virtual rolodex that didn't exist for me years ago. I've only been active on LinkedIn for a few years, and on Facebook and Twitter for just over a year.

I believe in karma, especially in Social Media. The more I help my network, the more my network helps me. I'm creating friendships and connections that make my job easier to do. Plus, there's no comparison to receiving "The Note" in my LinkedIn inbox from a job seeker who is back to work, and thanking me for the social media tips they learned along the way that helped them in their job search.

In addition to my network working through me for career opportunities, they also seek help in other areas. Sometimes they have job postings (seems like more and more of these lately - perhaps a good sign?). And sometimes they are looking to connect for networking purposes.

Back to the career seekers / job posting topic for a second. There's a phenomenon I see in my network which I call the "Titanic Effect." You'll recall the part of Titanic's timeline when the boat was sinking fast and the lifeboats were not all completely full, but they were rowing away from the crowded ocean for fear that the lifeboats would be overtaken and all would be lost. The same thing is occurring with some hiring managers nowadays: they don't want to post a job on monster or even on LinkedIn because they don't want to be overwhelmed with 500+ resumes and inquiries. Even though they know there are a lot of talented people seeking work.

There was a show on TV once about the Titanic and they had a group of grade-schoolers brainstorm ways that more passengers could be saved. They thought of dozens of solutions, the most memorable of which was bringing all the lifeboats together and using fabric and furniture to create a tarp to hold more passengers inside the circle of lifeboats. The kids put their heads together and thought of creative solutions, and so should we.

We all want the economy to improve and some of our lifeboats have space to spare. But if the fear of being capsized is greater than the belief that we can help, we're frozen to do anything (no titanic pun intended).

So I ask you: if you have an open position at your company, do something - reach out through your network with a description of your job. It's like extending a hand to an adjoining lifeboat and opening up a few seats as a result. I'm not saying to post it on Monster or advertise it on your nightly news. But if we all did a little something today, and then tomorrow, and then the next day, we'd start building more positive momentum. And that positive karma would create more positive karma, and would come back to us. It could be in the form of more business for our company. It could be in more leads from our network. It could be in stronger relationships with our clients and customers. But in order for anything to occur, the process needs to start somewhere.

Sometimes karma stalls out like a ball in motion that loses momentum. Push it forward a bit or even down a hill and you've got some serious speed. Don't expect it to come back to you. It will -- eventually though. Because that is the power of social media karma.

My goal is to help one person in my network before the end of the night. I challenge you to do the same. See you on linkedin, facebook, or twitter. And share your own challenges here.