5 Tools You Should Be Using in the 2.0 World

11 09 2009

Tools form a fundamental part of our lives. All your daily tasks will become much easier to accomplish if you find the perfect tools for the job. Just imagine digging a deep hole with bare hands as opposed to using machinery. Which one will take more time? Which one will require more effort?

Just as well as any other task, getting oriented in the 2.0 world requires not only skills, patience and commitment, but also an effective set of tools that will make your life easier. Here’s a list of 5 tools that should not be missed:

  1. Gmail – A clear winner in the email department. This tool alone will save you precious time and nerves to an extent you would never even dream of. Stop checking multiple accounts – you can receive email from multiple email addressed inside Gmail. Get rid of overflowing inbox in which you look for that specific reply to a thread of messages from the same person, all the time. Gmail orders your messages into conversations so you always have your emails in context and can easily keep track of the latest additions. Just go and do it. Get a gmail account and see the wonders. Your productivity will skyrocket and you will wonder (like me in the first few weeks) how you could have waited so long.
  2. Launchy – Find stuff faster. Open programmes on your computer with an easy keyboard shortcut of your choice. Launchy helps you do things faster. It finds documents, images, videos on your harddrive (or even webpages) and opens them within seconds. It is a very powerful tool. I hear Google Desktop can do similar things yet I find it a bit intrusive on my computer screen. This is why I prefer Launchy as my fast launching and finding tool.
  3. Tweetdeck – Do you use Twitter? And do you still use only the online basic version? Why? Tweetdeck makes tweeting much easier and more user-friendly. Keep one column for those that you are following. See who mentions you in a second column. Search. Save. Look up users. Tweet from the same window. Hide what you’ve already read. Tweetdeck has an automatic link shortener and you can tweet with a single click. The organisation certainly pays off.
  4. Skype – Skype is a great and essential tool especially for those of us leading “international” lives. As I study abroad, I use Skype to connect with my family and friends back at home. Skype can also be used as a cheap alternative for your international business calls or as a complete replacement for a mobile phone. I especially like the video and video-conference abilities.
  5. Evernote – I’ve written on the wonderful uses of Evernote for getting organised before in the Get your life organised – Evernote article. Evernote simply creates a cross-platform way of storing anything you come across in your daily life – be it an idea, pdf, video, picture. It is great as a reminder tool or as a searchable backup of all your sticky and other paper notes. It is highly portable and usable and will make your life much easier.

So here is the list of 5 tools I think you should be using in this wonderful new world. Do you have any essentials to add? Do you agree or disagree with any of these? Please comment.


Marketing Realities For Non-Profits

10 09 2009

Whenever we market anything, we work on the basis of certain assumptions – about the world, about our customers or clients, about the state of economy and individual preferences. All these can be summarised as ‘marketing realities’ which define the strategies we can use and those that will be the most effective. Kivi Leroux Miller examines the nonprofit sector in her article 10 Marketing Realities Nonprofits Need to Accept to Succeed. She provides a nice list with my favourites being:

  • Reality 1: Marketing is not a dirty word – Don’t think of your marketing program as a megaphone or a soap box, but as a conversation. It’s true that some communications tactics are naturally more one-way or impersonal than others, but your marketing program as a whole should include many opportunities for back and forth dialogue with your supporters.

I would add that the new 2.0 world brings many more opportunities for online conversations – use social media and other channels to engage your supporters!

  • Reality 3: You need to build your own media empire. – Don’t depend on the mainstream media to get your message out. That sector of our society has its own set of survival problems. Instead, build your own media empire using online tools.

Again, great use for social media. Nonprofits need to take advantage of building their own news feeds and online media channels because this is the easiest and fastest way to gain supporters and raise awareness of their issues.

  • Reality 7: Good nonprofit marketing takes more time than money. – Because the Internet has revolutionized communications between organizations and individuals, effective nonprofit marketing programs can be implemented for online pennies on the print dollar. Engaging supporters in conversations is more time-consuming than blasting messages out to them. Managing profiles on multiple social media sites is more time-consuming than updating your website once a month. Writing a blog with several posts per week is more time-consuming than sending out a print newsletter twice a year. While all of these tasks do take more time, they are also more effective at building a community of supporters.

A lot of the nonprofit marketing realities that Kivi presents can be used in general settings. Even though traditional marketing channels are still surviving, it is clear that web 2.0 is bringing countless new opportunities for marketing strategies. The uses of social media in marketing are substantial not only in the nonprofit sector. On the other hand, it is essential to keep in mind that even these new channels have their limitations and require time and effort to get expected results.

For more ‘marketing realities’ go check out Kivi’s post. Do you have anything to add?

Why You Should Act Now

7 09 2009

I have written before on the topic of early action. In Soon-to-be Grads: What are you doing now that will help you later? I suggested updating CV, building online presence or broadening your network as priorities on the final-year student task list. The reasoning behind such suggestions usually lies in the general framework of “it will help later”. But how exactly?

Why should you really act now instead of putting it off for later? Are the advantages of early action that much higher? What is the principle that makes putting in the early effort worth it?


The principle of leverage easily justifies early action. Just like you would use a lever to move a large and heavy object (instead of simply lifting it using your body strength…and failing), you should use a lever to take big steps in your life. We all have those – applying for a new job, moving to a new city, publishing a book. We all have dreams that simply seem too big and dauting to even start at. When you’re using the principle of leverage, you are building up skills and knowledge in the present that will not only make things easier in the future but also open up new opportunities. Why not do it the easy way?  Using leverage in your life will result in less stressful days and more open doors.

The main reason why using leverage is worth the early effort is that the overall effort you need to put into any project decreases by a large margin. You “do more with less”. The need to act early, however, is essential. As Brian Kim stresses in his article How to Develop Leverage In Your Life:

Like all things worth of value, leverage can’t be created instantaneously. It must be developed. It must be built. It must be cultivated. And it will take time to do. Just like everything else worth doing. But once leverage is built, it proves to be one of the best catalysts of creating the momentum you want in any area of your life.

How to use leverage:

Develop your skills, knowledge and experiences before you need them. Read, network or build up your social skills as Brian Kim suggests. It will pay off in the end.

Early effort brings more results than late action. Let’s take the example of online presence:

Online presence can be useful in job search or career advancement, it can bring new networking opportunities or widen the range of interactions you have on a daily basis. It represents who you are on the Internet and in this 2.0 world often provides the first contact anyone encounters when they look for you (and “google” your name). When you start building up your online identity, nothing much happens. Your LinkedIn profile does not appear in many searches and noone contacts you to offer you a job. Your blog doesn’t get much readership and it may seem like you’re just writing for yourself. You mostly follow others on Twitter and your posts do not get retweeted much. At the beginning, it is just effort. You need to put in hours, you need to update your blog, you need to build up everything from scratch. Yet this may change after some time. And you find that you wouldn’t get that networking opportunity if you hadn’t been on LinkedIn or wouldn’t have connected with an important person in your field.

Like many things in life, building online presence takes time. You can’t reap the rewards straight-away. You need to put in the early effort. Yet as you build up your leverage, future endeavours get easier and easier. So go and act now.

Online Presence as the First Step

3 09 2009

In my recent post on how to use social media in marketing I focused on the potential that new social networking sites and channels offer both to individuals and companies in marketing their personal and professional brand in this Internet age. Many people, however, only turn to new channels as a last-resort solution when everything else fails. Keeping the current job, managing customers that you currently have or working on getting your desired book deal often simply take precedence even though a different approach with focus on online image may yield better results. This article outlines why building your online presence first may make your life easier in the long run.

UNDER30CEO recently published an interview with Christina Katz, author of Get Known Before the Book Deal. What Christina argues in her book is that aspiring authors who want to get published should work on building their “platform” first and foremost rather than sending manuscripts blindly to hundreds of publishers. In the interview, she describes platform:

Your platform communicates your expertise to others, and it works all the time so you don’t have to. Your platform includes your Web presence, any public speaking you do, the classes you teach, the media contacts you’ve established, the articles you’ve published, and any other means you currently have for making your name and your future books known to a viable readership. If others already recognize your expertise on a given topic or for a specific audience or both, then that is your platform.

This can be easily adopted to any profession or expertise. Once you “establish your name” online and build your online presence, you have a tangible piece of portfolio-like content that proves your abilities and (hopefully) already has readership and followers. In this way you can connect with people who are interested in what you have to say and pitch your ideas better. Furthermore, an outsider who has no experience working with you or your company can get a feel for what your brand stands for simply by looking at your online platform and the way you interact with your industry.

You can use your online presence as leverage when presenting yourself in all, not only Internet settings. It “gets you in the door” and can open up many possibilities.

Are you working on your online presence now? Or are you still procrastinating?

For more thoughts on how to go about it, check out another UNDER30CEO article “How to Create a Rockstar Online Presence”.