Last week, I started interning at HootSuite. For those unfamiliar, HootSuite (Vancouver tech start up) is a social media management dashboard. It lets you use and manage all your social networks from one page.
How did I get the internship?
Seizing opportunity combined with some fortunate timing (luck) and help from some amazing people. Three weeks ago at the IMgroup Meetup, I got the chance to hear HootSuite’s VP of Community, DaveO speak about five unique days in their company’s history. Each day represented a defining event for their company. The stories resonated; I admired their transparent and unique outlook on everything from day to day business to crisis management. I was drawn to their gritty hustling culture.
I put myself out there. At the Meetup, everyone gets a 30 second elevator pitch style intro to the group. I broadcasted my aspirations for an internship. My announcement was met with smiles from the crowd that turned to laughter when Dave responded with: “you can’t spell internet without intern.”
I sent Dave a message the following day asking if he wanted to go for coffee. He obliged and we met later that week. I had no idea what to expect, but I received some great advice from a few friends and family. I wanted to cover my bases, so I printed off my dismal resume and cover letter just in case.
I made my way to the given address expecting a coffee shop. Instead, I got the HootSuite offices. Damn! I was fiending coffee as always, what a cruel trick. I walked in, stumbled through a stack of 15 bikes and a friendly dog. Dave was sitting where you would expect a receptionist to be.
We talked for a while. The word internship kept coming up, but I wasn’t positive he was offering it to me until the end when he made it clear. I was ecstatic.
Moral of the story
Social networks are driving hiring decisions everywhere. Be cognisant, but most importantly, be yourself! Deception is not sustainable. Why waste time convincing anyone you are something you are not? This applies not just to employment but to everything. In the words of Oscar Wilde, “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.
I am now taking names at HootSuite three days a week. I just have to figure out how school, sports and blogging fit in.
If anyone has some time management suggestions, I would love to hear them.
Everyone is #Pinning these days. By everyone I mean women. According to Google, women make up 82% of it’s daily visits. Talking to people over the last few weeks I’ve come to the following consensus: Pinterest is a cult, those already pinning are super active and engaged in the site. Then there is the lay person not on the kool-aid, who either hasn’t heard of it (where have you been?) or perceives Pinterest as a cesspool for wedding ideas and interior decor.
The gender divide was a bit confusing for me at first given that men are thought to be more responsive to visuals. Thinking back to the amount of pointless garbage in the form of pictures that girls (not all) post on Facebook, the light finally came to me.
The only thing I can come up with to explain the gender difference is what I call the ‘scapbook syndrome.’ Have you ever seen a guy with a scrapbook? Pinterest is the hip new way for women to construct their visual scrapbooks on an easy to use platform. The bulletin board style layout of Pinterest makes it pretty easy to amass a visual highlight package.
Not just for the Martha Stuart fan club
For the bad rep Pinterest gets with the male population, I find it useful and fun. The food section is great for ideas and recipes, the humour section is decent and the sports section is a complete free for all. If you like infographics, the tech section is great. Stay away from the fitness section; I’ve yet to come across a page littered with so much misinformed crap.
Pinterest is growing on a massive scale and is already firmly established in the social media landscape.
Want to get started? Check out this beginner guide.
Do you think Pinterest can become as popular as the social media giants?
Along with archery and a handful of other activities, cooking is an integral skill for the modern day Renaissance Man. I learned to cook watching my parents. Experimentation filled in the rest of the gaps. I am by no means an expert, but am pretty confident that I know my way around a kitchen. Cooking a thanksgiving feast for 15 of my friends in November was my arrival as a confident chef.
The Paella Bash was a huge success. I was concerned having never cooked with saffron. It requires quite a bit of precision and timing. With the help of my my buddy William and sister Maleah, we made it happen, cooking enough chow to feed a small army.
A couple of Cooking shots
I know nothing about food blogging (or any blogging for that matter). Hope you enjoyed the photos!
Paella is one of my top three favourite meals. Ten blog comments and I will host another feast with my second favourite meal.
What is your favorite meal?
Throughout social media week, I attended north of 20 events at places all over Toronto. I love exploring new cities; walking and street-caring made it pretty easy to get my bearings. Transiting from event to event allowed me to fully experience the city of Toronto in all its grandeur. After five days, I feel that I know the city pretty well. I learned a ton, what I want to touch on today is networking.
Through experimentation with “networking” over the last month or so, I am starting to figure it out. Practice makes progression (perfection is a fallacy). I’ve found through a lot of trial (and error) that I no longer have that same level of apprehension to approach people, whether it be an acquaintance or stranger. Social media week was the perfect medium to meet people. I met some awesome people in the process and even made a few friends.
See what works for me below.
Find a way in
The way to approach someone you seek to network with is to establish some common ground. This should be easy if they share a similar vocation or hobby. If time allows, I will quickly research via twitter. Profile and tweets are a good way to gauge personality but their pictures are even better. This literally takes one minute.
In my case, I have no problem approaching strangers at Social Media Week because we all share a common interest. I’ve found that people are very receptive to help, all you have to do is gather the courage to initiate.
What is your motive?
Something to ponder before you approach. What are you looking to get out of the conversation? For me, I am hoping to learn from my peers about how they got started in the social industry. What is there story? I honestly believe that everyone is unique and has an amazing story to share.
This is where Seth Rogen comes in. Once you have found some common ground to initiate a conversation, start picking their brain with relevant questions. Whether it is about where they work, what education they have or how they got started in the industry. If you are genuinely interested in talking to someone, these questions should come easily.
Share your story.
People love talking about themselves; it makes them feel all warm and fuzzy. Once a connection is established, don’t be afraid to tell your story. What are you doing currently? Where have you been and where are you going? Sharing a bit about yourself takes the engagement to another level.
Nothing to Lose!
I ask myself: what is the worst that could happen? We are hard-wired to develop relationships in order to build our proverbial tribe. Remember this. People are inherently friendly. A smile and eye contact go a long way.
Two way street
It is not all about you. Think how you can help them. Networking is about mutual understanding and benefit.
As you may know, I am in Toronto for Social Media Week. Being a crafty student, I’ve been creatively finding ways to minimize my expenses throughout the week. Here is a bit about my first two days of frugal living in an expensive city like Toronto.
The first move was buying a weekly transit pass, setting me back 36 beans. Considering it is a hefty $3 per trip, the pass will pay itself off pretty quick.
I’ve been to nine events so far, mostly at different venues. I’ve done a decent job of navigating through the city, only getting lost a couple times. Luckily the Torontonians are very receptive to helping naive visitors find their way.
The quality of the events has been pretty good. Some had engaging speakers with some great insight into the trends of technology and social media. Other speakers tend to push their company brand a bit too much for my liking.
One event in particular was a complete bust. I candidly sat through an hour long sales pitch for a product that the speaker continually claimed to not be associated with… Having heard the groans from others as we were leaving, I can say that we all felt practically violated after the painful lip service.
Complimentary food is a nice perk of some events. I use the term “some”, very loosely. Most of the morning events are sponsored by Chobani yogurt (I hadn’t heard of it either). I’ve personally taken down nine complimentary greek yogurt containers for breakfast over two days. Black Cherry is a palate explosion.
The rest of the food is pretty hit and miss. Some events leave a spread of pastries or fruit and some coffee, while others have a full complement of food. You will be happy to hear that I have only spent $8 on food through two days. Yes, I am that guy grabbing platefuls of fruit and dry muffins prior to the event.
One event in particular was a huge disappointment for eats. You would think having the word ‘lunch’ in the title of an event would foreshadow a hearty meal upon arrival. My hearty meal in this case was a bottle of water and some digestive cookies. The deception was cruel.
I have resorted to listening on twitter to prospect the food at each event going forward. I think this will allow me to plan out my meals a bit better for the rest of the week. I will let you guys know how that goes.
Do you have any tips for frugal living in Toronto? Anything I need to see before I leave?
Upon watching this interview yesterday with Evan Greene, CMO of The Recording Academy, I was impressed with their outlook on keeping the Grammys relevant throughout the year. They are “social.” The Grammy team keep up to date with industry happenings and attend music events year round to keep their brand relevant. They achieve this by engaging with the industry community. Clearly these guys get it, or so I thought…
It is not about pushing promotions online and through other avenues solely for Grammy night. It is a mind-set of reaching out and interacting with the audience that you are juxtaposed to. The Grammy brand has done decent job conveying an interactive and friendly culture by means of their presence at other entertainment events. This is smart. When Grammy night approaches, it is not about a big ‘one and done’ advertising and marketing campaign. They have built a loyal community of evangelists that identify with their brand. The event promotes itself through its steadfast community via social media.
Tape delay on the Westcoast? Is this some kind of a sick joke?
Yet again, the Grammys will air on tape-delay for the west coast. Everyone from San Diego to beautiful Smithers gets the shaft. This made me angry and confused. After watching the interview yesterday, having admired the Grammy brass for their interactive approach to promoting their brand and their night; I am dumbfounded by this lip service. Peddling your brand as a social innovator and preaching the value of community in interviews then turning around and dropping a bomb like this on your community is fraudulent.
Grammys are clearly not social. The west coast audience will have a blast getting updates and gossip flooding through Facebook and Twitter while they twiddle their thumbs. The whole experience of sharing hilarious moments, awkward speeches, and embarrassing slip-ups with your friends is destroyed. People want to share mutual emotions together. It taps in to our need to belong and desire for affiliation.
Tape delay butchers the essence of audience engagement and conversation for the west coast. Real-time interaction is what people crave with social media; the Grammys are making a huge mistake. No doubt this will tarnish their rep with everyone from social thought leaders to casual fans. People like transparency, not deceit.
Rant over. Enjoy your evening.
Do people still care about the Grammys? Anyone else feel that this takes away from the experience?
The other day I shared some of the new age self-education options that are out there. This will be a primer on my trip to Toronto next week for Social Media Week.
Hilarious hipster video was put out by the organizers of Social Media Week.
Social Media Week is a global event that takes place in several host cities from February 13-17. It consists of dozens of presentations, speakers and conferences on all things pertaining to technology, communications and social media. After the great experience I had attending a couple of events at Social Media Week Vancouver in September, I figured what better excuse to skip a week of class than go to Social Media Week Toronto (SMWTO).
My primary concern with investing time and money into an event like this is the added value. I have no doubt the content will be great and I will learn some useful skills. The other part of the value in my opinion is the relationship building.
I plan on using my newfound networking prowess to meet some movers and build some connections. For those concerned about my past business card fiascos, worry not, they are in production as I type. No longer will this guy be answering business card inquiries with embarrassing excuses.
The budget is another huge concern. I am a student with no income. However, with careful planning and frugal spending, I can make it work. The major expenses are: the event itself, accommodation and transportation.
The majority of events at SWMTO are free, friends were gracious enough to let me crash on a pull-out bed in their apartment and my flights are booked on Aeroplan miles. So far so good. Aside from a $61 service charge which Aeroplan was nice enough to sneak in to my ticket transaction, I will not have spent a dime upon my arrival.
Food is another concern. I enjoy eating good high quality food. Most of the events at SMWTO provide “light snacks and refreshments” before and after the entertainment. Not sure what that means, but I plan on taking full advantage of any complementary food; getting appie happy as much as possible. Perhaps even schmooze my way to a few lunch or dinner meetings.
I look forward to the coming week in Toronto. Aside from SMWTO, I am excited to re-connect with some good friends.
No doubt there will be some great stories for the blog as I continue to experiment with networking.
If anyone is in Toronto next week, drop me a line so we can meetup!
The prawn counter contest has come and gone. There were some close guesses and some not so close guesses. You should all feel happy with your efforts. I really appreciate those who took the time to vote.
No drum roll necessary. The magic number was 257. Congratulations to Kevin Laidman for the closest guess. Kevin guessed an ambitious 247.
The wheels are in motion for the Paella Bash. We will be tossing copious amounts of home-caught lingcod, mussels, the finest Italian sausage, chicken, fresh prawns and other random ingredients into the festive dish.
I will be documenting as much of the cooking process as possible.
Look forward to sharing the Paella cooking experience with everyone.
The cool thing about self-education is that it is a matter of choice. Everything rests firmly on the shoulders of the individual. There are no barriers to entry, applications or GPA restrictions. Desire and drive are two key necessities for mastery through self-education. Intrinsic motivation is an extremely powerful cognitive process. That is why self-education is 100% what you make it.
I wrote a bit in the past about my self-education efforts to date. These range from simply reading books to attending seminars and conferences on social media. Recently I have been getting a bit more creative with my education. I want to talk a bit about two different approaches I’ve been using in the hopes that some of you will be inspired to try them out.
Online Twitter Conversations
Twitter or social media may not be your thing. Hear me out.
If you have ever come across someone spamming your twitter timeline with a bunch of annoying random answers to questions followed by the same stupid hashtag, they are likely deep into a twitter chat. A Twitter chat is an online conversation hosted by an individual or company where a group of tweeters share insight on a pre-selected topic. The chat is structured by the host who provides questions, moderates and progresses the conversation from one question to the next.
The host often recruits an expert on the topic as their co-host. Free professional advice!
The chats take advantage of the hashtag search feature on twitter, allowing the conversation to be organized and followed in a linear fashion. The beauty of these conversations is the versatility. How else can a community of passionate contributors from around the world be assembled for an intellectual conversation?
There are twitter chats on just about every subject. You just have to do some digging and research to find the date and time.
I realize that some may see this conversation medium as impersonal and retarded. You are mistaken. I’ve been doing a few of these twitter chats per week. The diverse audience provides insight that you would never find in a real time conversation anywhere else.
A meetup is a group meeting organized online through social media on a specific topic. Like twitter chats, there are meetup groups for everything. Two weeks ago, I came across a message about a meetup called Internet Masterminds. Internet Masterminds is a meetup about marketing, social media, career and social networking. They have a guest speaker every week.
I showed up to my first #IMgroup meetup having no idea what to expect. Slightly less nerves while signing in compared to my last networking event. However, the nerves came roaring back when I was asked to make a quick introduction to the group. I have high threshold for pain, no fear of spiders or competition, but public speaking scares me. Public speaking in front of a group of 75 strangers is petrifying. I thought back to my grade eight public speaking class. Strike a power pose and make eye contact.
Somehow I managed to tell my story without too much stuttering. What a miracle.
I’ve been to two meetups so far. The most practical information I have learned about social media have come from these meetups. If you’re looking to learn about or meet people in an industry, a meetup is a perfect way to kill two birds with one rock.
The only issue with my self-education is my real education. Midterm week makes blogging tough.
Have you attended a meetup or twitter chat? Any creative self-education secrets for me? Post a comment!
I’ve been tossing around the idea of hosting a paella feast at my house for quite some time. For those who don’t know what paella is. Basically you combine rice, sausage, chicken and all the seafood you can find in one massive pan. Nuke it with spices (saffron), add some vegetables, generously garnish your plate then chow down. I was exposed to the palate pleasing experience of Paella at an early age. Boating with the family every summer in desolation sound, my old man would cook it for all our family friends. I was practically raised on this stuff.
The Perfect Day
Paella demands fresh and high quality ingredients. With the help of a few good friends, I decided to venture out on the water in my boat on Saturday to see if the ocean was in a giving mood. We set out in the morning with hopes to return with a full bounty. Prawning was the first order of the day. Four traps set in strings of two. Sig Hansen and the boys at Deadliest Catch would be proud.
While the traps were soaking, we dropped the fishing lines for a few hours. One undersized salmon was released.
Time to check the Prawns
Bout a three hour soak on our prawn gear, we couldn’t wait to see the fruits of our efforts.
How many prawns did we get? Closest guess gets an invite to the Paella Bash hosted by yours truly. It will be a magical evening of light-hearted conversation, extreme sarcasm and corny pop culture references. In the event that you cannot or do not want to attend, I encourage you to guess anyways. I will mail you leftovers!
– One guess per person
– Two ways to guess: Via comment on the blog or via comment on the Facebook post.
If you guess the exact number: bring three of your closest friends.
Otherwise, closest guess: You + 1
Second Closest: just you.
I can’t think of a better way to spend a beautiful Saturday in Vancouver. Can you?