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I probably won’t be able to stay for the rest of SxSW, but if you plan on getting to Austin early, I’ll be there on March 7th to speak at the Social Business Summit (#SBS2013) being put on by Dachis Group and Oracle. For more info, click here.

Some of the speakers announced already:

Doug Ulman – President and Chief Executive Officer of LIVESTRONG Foundation. Oversees the strategic vision and direction of the company.  Doug has earned a reputation as the “Most Savvy Health Care Leader in Social Media” for his innovative use of social media to create awareness and knowledge about cancer. His online community includes a Twitter following of more than one million.

Tony Hsieh – CEO of Zappos. Author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller,Delivering Happiness.  Tony has helped Zappos grow from almost no sales to over $1 billion in gross merchandise sales annually, while simultaneously making Fortune Magazine’s annual “Best Companies to Work For” list.

Marisa Thalberg – Vice President of Corporate Digital Marketing Worldwide for The Estée Lauder Companies, Inc. Charged with supporting the development of world-class digital and social marketing across the company’s collection of over 25 prestige beauty brands.  Her efforts have helped propel the company to be ranked as having the highest “Digital IQ” of any global beauty company.

John Hagel – Deloitte. Nearly 30 years’ experience as a management consultant, author, speaker and entrepreneur. He has helped companies around the world improve their performance by crafting creative business strategies that more effectively harness new generations of information technology and shape broader markets and industries.

Erika Jolly Brookes – Vice President of Product Strategy for Oracle. Works on the Oracle Cloud-Social business to help guide product strategy and development.

Michael Brito – Senior Vice President of Social Business Planning for Edelman Digital. Provides strategic counsel, guidance, and best practices to several of Edelman’s top global tech accounts and is responsible for helping transform their organizations to be more open, collaborative and socially proficient.

Jeff Dachis – Founder and CEO of Dachis Group. Helped establish the digital services industry more than a decade ago when he co-founded Razorfish, Inc. out of a one-bedroom New York City apartment.  Now as CEO of Dachis Group, the world’s leading social software and solutions firm.

Brian Solis – Principal at Altimeter Group. Globally recognized thought leader and published author in new media. His book, The End Of Business As Usual, looks at the changing consumer landscape, it’s impact on business and what companies can do to adapt and lead.

Dion Hinchcliffe – Chief Strategy Officer at Dachis Group. Business strategist, enterprise architect, author, analyst, and blogger. He currently works with the leadership teams of Fortune 500 and Global 2000 firms to devise strategies to help them adapt their organizations to the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.

Peter Kim – Chief Solutions Architect at Dachis Group. Responsible for the definition, development, and delivery of data-driven social marketing solutions for the company’s current and future clients.  Peter is also the co-author of the popular management book Social Business by Design.

… and me.

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So if you can, come say hello. 🙂

Between now and then, you might also want to check out the contest that Tickr (client) is running. The quick version: You sign up, Tickr hooks you up with a Command Center account, and you submit a small case study or summary of how you used their monitoring tool. You can make it as simple or as intricate as you want, but originality and creativity will probably be the biggest factors in determining who wins. Find out more here.

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If you can’t make it but wish you could, pick up your copy of Social Media R.O.I.: Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization. The book is 300 pages of facts and proven best practices that cover many of the points I will be talking about in Austin. (Don’t take my word for it though: go to smroi.net to sample a free chapter first, just to make sure it’s worth the money.)

And if English isn’t your first language, you can even get it in Spanish, Japanese, German, Korean and Italian now, with more international editions on the way.

CEO-Read  –  Amazon.com  –  www.smroi.net  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Que

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I was fortunate to spend the better part of 36 hours in Coeur D’Alene, ID this week to talk to a roomful of very enthusiastic folks about Social media, and it got me thinking: With all that yapping some of us do onstage, more often than not, true dialog tends to get lost in shuffle. We talk and talk and talk, and then towards the end of our session, we leave 10 little minutes open for questions, and that’s it. Well, that isn’t enough. As much as I like to speak (and hear myself speak, if the length of my blog posts and presentations weren’t a clue), I much prefer the back and forth of Q&A even to my own incessant droning. Give me dialog. Give me conversation. Give me engagement. Not just on Twitter and the blogosphere, but with a real crowd, flesh and bone, pencils sharpened, phone cams at the ready. Give me a town-hall atmosphere over a lecture any day.

Which is why at the end of today’s 3 hour session on stage and 20 solid minutes of questions, I stuck around for another hour after the event ended to make sure that everyone who had a question for me got an answer. THAT, more than my time on stage, was the highlight of my evening. Why? Because I got to meet people, truly interact with them, get to know them better, solve specific problems for them (hopefully), and become part of their world. There were handshakes involved, pats on the back, stories of ski trips in Savoie and breaking world records and harrowing tales of survival (no, really). And then people started taking pictures for their blogs and facebook walls and whatnot, and that was a lot of fun too.

At 6pm, we were all strangers. At 9pm, everyone knew who I was, but the dynamic was still speaker/audience. At 10pm, I had connected with some wonderful human beings with fascinating stories to tell and made at least a dozen new friends. It was all good, but guess what: That time between 9pm and 10pm, that’s the part I got the most out of.

So speakers, ye of talent, skill and charmed lives, here’s the deal: Don’t limit yourselves to just “speaking.” Stick around. Get to know your audience. Chat with them. Listen to their stories. That’s where the real value of your speaking engagement is. Not the proverbial icing on the cake, as it were, but its warm gooey heart. The lectures, the presentations, the time on stage, eventually it will all blend into one big mess of jumbled memories of spotlights and silhouetted figures lined up in neat little rows, of people nodding and smiling and taking notes, and if you aren’t too awful at it, the wonderful sound of applause too. Always as sweet as it is brief. But the memories that will stick with you, the ones you’ll want to hold on to, the ones that will separate this event from that one will be those of the moments you spent hanging out with the fans. The ones who want their picture taken with you. The ones who want to show you their dog photos and their battle scars and the iphone case their grandson made for them. THAT’s the good stuff.

So someday, when you’ve made it big and you make obscene bank going from event to event on some conference circuit or another, when you feel that the speaking you do makes you some kind of rock star, remember that the fees you command, the VIP treatment you’ve gotten used to, the applause and accolades you enjoy, none of that stuff is owed to you. You’re just lucky to be there, just like you were lucky to be there when you were first asked to speak – for free – at a local business event by a friend who wanted to give you a break. Nobody in that crowd owes you a damn thing. But you, sir, m’am, you owe every single person in that crowd EVERYTHING. Remember that. Always.

So mingle. Shake hands. Hang out. Get to know as many of the people who come listen to you “speak” as you can. They’re the best people you’ll ever meet, and I don’t need an R.O.I. equation to know that.

Have a great Friday, everyone.

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