Tag Archives: social networking

10 common business card mistakes

Bad Business CardI’ve just come back from a two week business development campaign with a client where I collected about 100 business cards through one to one meetings and event attendance. I then went back to my office and spent 10 minutes scanning every card for import into my contact list and the organisation’s CRM system. I then spent another hour or so verifying the information was allocated to the right field (e.g. Mobile number in the cell number field) and ensuring any mistakes were corrected.

When I first started working, all business cards ended up in Rolodexes – and the fax machine had its own operator :)  Today is very different – I normally scan and destroy a business card within 24 hours of receiving it.

So in age of smart phones, ubiquitous wireless internet and CRM in the Cloud – I have found myself asking “do business cards still matter, and has their information and design needs changed?” Whilst scanning and fixing up the business cards, a number of thoughts flitted through my head about “good” and bad” business card design. So time to share…

  1. Putting half your contact details on the front and half on the back is irritating as it means the card has to be scanned twice. I don’t care what your corporate image people say – I’m your customer not them.
  2. Putting your details on more than one plane plays havoc with the scanner. Put your details either landscape or portrait. Not diagonals and certainly not both.
  3. Paying a premium for a funky shape or rounded edges is a waste of money as I am am going to rip up your business card up within 24 hours – not save it and sleep with it under my pillow.
  4. The scanner doesn’t like tiny business cards the size of my thumb. I don’t like them either as the text is normally tiny and difficult to read when I have to enter it manually.
  5. Funky colour combinations such as green on purple are difficult for the scanner to read, which means I need to retype the details (getting more cross now).
  6. Poor contrast between the letters and the background (e.g. feint grey on white) is difficult to scan. I then have to retype whilst squinting.
  7. Only having your company name in the logo means that I will almost always have to type it in.
  8. Raised text or logo increases the chance the business card may get skewed as it passes through the scanner, meaning more retyping.
  9. Exotic and flowery fonts don’t OCR at all well, nor for that matter read well. Massively irritating.
  10. If you do international business, write your number as +61 3 9014 9600  not
    +61 (0)3 9014 9600 as the scanner picks up the (0) and automatically puts it into the system. When the (0) gets synced to my phone the number doesn’t actually work.

Because we (people I met) don’t have standards and simple process for exchanging information electronically, business cards are still critically important. I think that will change in the future but for today designers need to recognise that every business card is going to end up electronic form and they can either facilitate that process, or ignore it. Great business card design lasts a couple of seconds, but irritation can last a lifetime.

Are your details going to end up in someone else’s contact list, and if so how are you helping that process?

consumer innovation

One of the things that I love about my iPhone is that is a fully fledged 16gb iPod as well as a multimedia device and phone.  Every time I go for a drive (or catch a tram) I am now entertained and or challenged by podcasts that I subscribe to (they automatically get downloaded to my phone).  My current passion is TED .  I have about 100 x  20 min lectures sitting on my phone waiting to be watched.  (When I drive I don’t watch, just attach my phone to my seatbelt near my ear and listen).

TED is the baby of Chris Anderson who launched magazines such as Business 2.0, and websites such as the games portal IGN.com. He is not the Chris Anderson who is the Editor of Wired Magazine and author of the Long Tail.  Which is just as well because if there was that much talent in one person its likely that they would be driven mad by their genius or at least have a serious drinking tab.  TED is about ideas that need to be shared in technology, entertainment and design.  for those without multimedia players or ipods, you can watch their videos on their website as well.

So this Thursday at the Churchill Club we are running a conversation on sustainable innovation inside SME’s so I went to TED to look for inspiration on questions and came across a fascinating piece by Charles Leadbeater Charles is a British Writer and Journalist who has some interesting things to say about user generated content and innovation.  Incidentally, Charles also helped Helen Fieldinwrite the columns that she turned into the book then film known as Bridget Jones Diary .

Anyway, Charles was banging on about the rise of the Amateur Professional  – which is how technology has allowed amateurs to produce content similar to what professionals were producing a decade before.  Think Blogs and Youtube.  But also think Robotics, Amateur Rocketry, Astronomy and variety of other areas.

The thrust of Charles speech that caught my attention was this was consumer generated innovation not supplier innovation.  The assertion is that innovation controlled by organisations will always be incremental and low risk.  The premise is that the company innovates and the passive consumers then consume.  Which leads to products such as this from Sony.  However when consumers are allowed to innovate, they can create breakthrough solutions which generate brand new businesses (eg the rise of MP3 as a format) or major new categories (60% of music sold in the USA is apparently RAP music, which couldn’t get backing by a label when it started).  This is because consumers aren’t locked into making profits, and don’t risk their career if solutions don’t work.

So how do you work with consumers to tap into innovations?  Google, Flickr and Youtube found a solution – create a platform for user generated content.  Lego found a solution, create a community that can use your products in ways you never considered then share the results .

Anyone can create the framework for a social network almost intangibly for free.  Recently I have been looking at Ning as a tool.  Ning is a platform for creating social networks.  They make their money by placing google ads on free sites, or charging you for value add services such as using your own domain name.  Ning offers the following features.  You can  :

* pick your own configurable design
* have an infinite number of members
* have a member activity news feed  (eg Brendan   posted a new picture)
* have members post interesting comments or web links.
* display RSS (news) feeds from other websites.
* have photo galleries
* have discussion forums
* upload videos
* have realtime chat
* integrate your Ning Social network with other websites such as
Facebook.
* have subgroups within your group
* have member Blogs
* create events and publish them to your network.

If this isn’t useful to someone wanting to experiement with social networking, then in the words of my father “I’ll go heave”.  Tapping into consumer generated innovation will create a really interesting aspect to Thursday’s Conversation at the Club.

the other networking

This morning I got a message from my niece on Facebook, two messages from colleagues on Linkedin , 1 SMS messages and a couple of dozen emails.  Which got me thinking about networking.  I use social networking tools LinkedIn and Facebook regularly (not heavily) but probably not the way most people think.  I tend to feel that social networking via computer isn’t the be all and end all, in fact quite the reverse.

There is an expression in the Army,
A smart soldier …
doesn’t stand when he can sit,
doesn’t sit when he can lie down,
doesn’t lie down when he can sleep.
(This makes lots of sense when you are finishing up a 22 hour day).

My approach to networking is similar.  In fact I might say:

“Brendan …
Doesn’t broadcast when he can send a personalised message
Doesn’t send a personalised message when he can call
Doesn’t call when he can catch up for coffee”

A major objective of business networking is to generate opportunities.  And opportunities are much more likely to come from a personal relationship.  Because if they’re not thinking of you, they’re not thinking of you.  Therefore I would much rather meet face to face with people over coffee than try to connect online.  Emoticons aren’t the same as body language :)

Gen Y may love tools like MySpace, Facebook and SMS but it appears that most still only have a relationship with an inner circle of friends (those they meet offline), despite the fact that they may be connected to thousands.   I feel that if they think Social networking is the only way to network, that’s great for me.  I have much less competition when I want to meet somebody new :)

So why do I use LinkedIn and Facebook?  A couple of reasons.
1.    Linkedin is a good networking metric – If my connections or friends hasn’t increased in the last fortnight it means I am not putting any effort into networking and I should pull my finger out.  This is also the reason why I don’t say yes to every friend request or engage in harvest networking (eg Toplinked) collecting 1,000’s of connections that I don’t know.

2.    It keeps  me up to date  – Its so much easier to connect with people over coffee when you know what they have been up to.

3.    On rare occasions I use social networking tools to make announcements.

4.    I don’t have all the answers so I like to be involved with trends to see where they go.  I have yet to use my LinkedIn connections to solve a problem, and am looking forward to see how that will turn out.

So I’d have to say that Social Networking tools are great, but shouldn’t be confused with actual networking.  Its hard to enjoy coffee over the internet.

Family Community Experimental

After having a discussion with my daughter, I realized I didn’t really have the right words to explain the difference between “my new family” and “my old family”. My new family being the wife and kids, the old family being my Mum, Dad and siblings. Describing the people that I live with as my “new family” just seemed wrong/weird.

The technology I use to improve my work/life balance for my “new family” mostly consists of mobile phone and an online calendar. But when I thought about technology supporting the work/life balance with my “old family” it was just an occasional email. Really a bit p*ss weak when I think about. So I set myself a little challenge, why not build an online community for my “old family” that was actually useful.

Step 1 – Setup the domain name http://album.lewisfamily.com.au (costs me nothing as I already own the domain lewisfamily.com.au ).

Step 2 – Setup an Open Source, Content Management System called Joomla at the domain name. This cost me nothing as my hosting provider allows me to have lots of websites on my account. Open Source is software that I am allowed to use for free. A Content Management System is a type of website that allows authorized users to easily update the content of the website, without having any knowledge of HTML. Joomla is a popular Open Source Content Management System that is reasonably easy to use and very extendable.

Step 3 – Create Accounts on the website for every member of my “old family”. Because this is a private website, I have switched off the ability for visitors to register. 10 minutes work, no charge. I did download a free component for Joomla called Community Builder , which allows me to create a much more flexible environment for the users.

Step 4 – Add a Gallery component, which allows every member of the website to upload and view each others digital photos. Joomla can be extended for free by adding the Zoom Gallery component which is another piece of open Source software.

Step 5 – Add a blogging capability so that the family can write little snippets of what they are up to. This is especially useful for the younger brother whom is a commercial pilot in far north WA. Joomla can be extended with a blogging capability for free by adding the Mamblog component which again is another free piece of Open Source software.

Step 5 – Add a forum so that the family can keep a record of every position, commitment and argument in regards to what we are going to do for Christmas. Joomla can be extended with a forum for free by adding the Fireboard Forum component which is another piece of open Source software. There’s thousands of other free bits available.

Step 6 – Let everyone know what I have done and sit back and wait for the applause.

Okay, there was silence. However I did notice that my siblings are cautiously starting to use the website, uploading interesting photo’s of what they have been up to. No one has requested any new functionality as yet though.

Its an experiment. I don’t know where this small defined community will go, but my risk is minimal as its cost me no dollars and around 8 hours of fiddling. It is reasonably secure, but not perfect; is any system? It will never be Facebook, but communities don’t have to be huge and growing to be an effective online community, the members just have to get value.

If it works I will definitely be setting another one up to build a sense of community within my businesses.

Australian Web 2.0

So this week the Churchill Club is running a program, called Australian Web 2.0 Success. There seems to be a hang-up in Australia about what Web 2.0 actually is, and whether we have any successful companies in that space. When asking around, there seemed to be a lot of consent that Atlassian, was one of our most successful Web 2.0 Companies, as they supply Web 2.0 software to many of America’s Fortune 500. However there was also a dissenting voices, that say Atlassian supply Enterprise Software that that produces Web 2.0 functionality, and are not actually a Web 2.0 company. Their products include Wiki’s and bug trackers.

So what’s Web 2.0?

It appears that Tim O’Reilly http://radar.oreilly.com first used the term Web 2.0 in 2003, but many of the things (applications, technologies, methodologies) talked about as Web 2.0 date back to the beginning of the world wide web in 1989.

There are many definitions for Web 2.0, and plenty of information can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_2 , however the main thrust is as follows. Web 1.0 was about placing traditional business models on the Web. Web 2.0 is about taking the natural attributes of the internet, and using them to make new business models. For example, Web 1.0 was online publishing, Web 2.0 is about blogging (grass level content generation). Web 1.0 is putting your putting up a home page, Web 2.0 is about creating a MySpace or Facebook page that is linked to others in your social network. Web 1.0 is creating tree like structures of categorisation, Web 2.0 is about tag clouds http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tag_clouds.

So does the definition matter?

I would argue not really, as there are lots of definitions and they mean different things to different people. To the technologist, Web 2.0 is about technologies such as XML, AJAX, SOAP and Ruby on Rails. (Yes these really are computer technologies). To content providers, its about user generated content, to marketers its all about authentic messages, and to financiers its about grabbing market share before layering in products and services.

To members of social networks or tribes I am sure the definition matters, but since I’m not an anthropologist, I won’t comment further.

Are Atlassian a web 2.0 Company?

Form my point of view they are, as they are harnessing the power and attributes of the internet, to ramp up their business, which just happens to be enterprise software that provides web 2.O functionality. I hope this makes sense.