What’s My Reach? Please help to prove it!

Hey folks!  I need your help with this experiment.  Some people are asking what my real reach is, so I decided to send this out as a test.  Please send this to everyone you know and ask them to do the same, and ask them to download the evaluation bits included. 

The link (http://aka.ms/MDG-2012) is personalized for this experiment, so only people who have this post will be counted.  I am begging all of you to click here and download, and forward the link/tweet/post to everyone you know, and ask them the same.

Thanks for your help!


Canadians at TechEd 2012! Join us for a drink, Eh?

Canadian flag outside the Maritime Museum of t...ALERT! The venue has been chosen! Join us Tuesday at 5:30 at the upper level of the bar in the Renaissance Orlando SeaWorld (Shuttle Bus 1 / Red Line)!  See you then! ALERT!

Hey Folks!  I am so excited that TechEd North America – the 20th Anniversary of this incredible event – is less than a week away!  I have heard from a lot of you that you would like to join in our Canadian Event – this will not be a formal event at all, but rather a bunch of Canucks getting together for drinks and appies J I will have a meager budget to buy most of you a drink – assuming we don’t have hundreds of people coming out!

"TUESDAY" production sign
“TUESDAY” production sign (Photo credit: Vaguely Artistic)

For no good reason I have chosen to do this Tuesday at 5:30. We will probably meet in one of the hotel bars – I have to scope them out, but am open to suggestions. If you would like to come and have not done so yet please send me an e-mail atTechEd2012@swmi.ca so I can keep you informed. Also if you Tweet please forward this link and build the hype with the hashtag #CdnAtTechEd. We want people to connect!

Last year was such a great event – Damir and Rick Claus (our beloved former and always IT Pro Evangelist) hosted, and a great time was had by all. This year Damir will be taking my place in Winnipeg (I obviously won a bet along the way) but Rick, who has moved on to rainier pastures with the Global Evangelism Team in Redmond, will be there… as a guest/alumni!

Make sure you let your fellow countrymen/paysans/gens de pays know that they should be joining us… and pass my information along so I can fill them in.

Remember to wear your Maple Leaf guys and girls! Show your Canadian Pride at TechEd all day Tuesday, and then come straight from the conference centre (spelled RE) to the bar, and let’s show Orlando that Canada is not only a source of retirees and geese!  (We also have hockey players, devs, and IT Pros… but most of us don’t have guns, so we shouldn’t belabour the point)

ALERT! The venue has been chosen! Join us Tuesday at 5:30 at the upper level of the bar in the Renaissance Orlando SeaWorld (Shuttle Bus 1 / Red Line)!  See you then! ALERT!

Canadian IT Pros at TechEd 2012

English: A map of Canada exhibiting its ten pr...
Our home and native land, Eh?

NEW ARTICLE WITH NEW INFO AT http://wp.me/p1bbHH-oX!

The countdown is on folks… I am really excited to be heading to Orlando in just over a month out – my flight is confirmed, my hotel is booked, and I am eager to head to my fifth consecutive TechEd (North America).

One of the highlights of every TechEd I have been to has been connecting with a lot of my fellow Canadian IT Pros (yes, for this context I include Devs in the same group).  In fact for the last couple of years, the DPE (Evangelism) team at Microsoft has coordinated a ‘soiree’ for us where we all got together, had drinks, shared stories, and got to know one another.  Last year we were in Atlanta, and they held the event in a bar atop one of the hotels, and it was a lot of fun.  I got to meet all sorts of people from across the country whom I would likely never have met.

I found out the other day that none of the Canadian DPE team are going to be with us in Orlando this year.  On the one hand it is too bad that they will not be able to connect with a lot of you from across the country, but in truth I have felt that this year they have done such a great job of getting out across the country and seeing so many of you at events, user groups, and IT Camps that it is hard to fault them for it.

With that being said, we got together and decided that we did not want the tradition to end.  So although there will be nothing ‘official’ on the agenda, we are going to get together and drink a toast to the DPE team.  The plans are not firmed up yet, but if you are a Canadian going to TechEd 2012 and are interested in getting together for a drink (and appetizers?) with the rest of the Canadian contingent, I am going to make sure that happens.

What you need to do:

  1. Send me an e-mail at the following address: TechEd2012@swmi.ca.  NOTE: If you have any other e-mail address for me, do NOT use it for this.  I am using a special group so that I can easily sort requests!  Let me know that you are interested in joining the Canadian Community Get Together at TechEd.
  2. Keep your eyes peeled for further details.  I will be sending out an e-mail most likely the week of June 4th with details about time and date.  The place will most likely be a bar in one of the hotels (I tend to favour the ones that I stay at, but will make sure it is convenient to all).
  3. If you misspell COLOUR, FLAVOUR, FAVOUR, SAVOUR, CENTRE, SERGEANT or any other word that Canadians spell properly and that Americans do not, please brush up!! There may be a quiz before you are entitled to drinks! (On the same vein, brush up on hockey, curling, and make sure you know who really won the War of 1812! Hint: It was NOT a draw!)

That’s about it… As always, this will be an informal get together, so come as you are… I promise that I will!

NEW ARTICLE WITH NEW INFO AT http://wp.me/p1bbHH-oX!


Social Media for Business… My thoughts.

Recently Backbone Magazine’s Peter Wolchak asked the question on their LinkedIn group: Does social media actually benefit business?

After reading a few of the responses from others I started answering the question from my point of view.  Once I realized that I was 750 words into my reply I realized it has to be a linked blog post rather than a reply on the group.  Here is my take on it.

In the army we had a philosophy that we would achieve our goals by any means necessary and using any and all tools at our disposal, but those tools and means would be different for each mission… as they would be different for other teams.  As such it folly to think or to believe that Social Media is either right or wrong for all businesses and all business models.  What will be right for Paul’s business (and which he swears by!) is not nearly as important to Dr. Chalk, who believes that spending time on that would take away from better opportunities.  Guess what… they are both right!

At SWMI Consulting Group we would never use Facebook to advertise.  It is just not the medium for us.  We feel now (and have for the five years that I have been on it) that it is great for friends, for personal (i.e.: social) events including recreation and such… from what I can tell there are also people who make new friends, find hookups, and whatever else they may use it for.  Apparently it has been used by rioters, looters, and protesters around the world.  It is just not for us – at least not for our business.  That is not to say that I do not use it, I just do not use it (or at least actively use it) to promote the business.

However the question was not about Facebook, it was about Social Media.  I have a Facebook account of course, and it is linked to my blog and Twitter account, but I have not invested any time in that, nor would I because for my business Facebook advertising or even promotion does not make sense.  Nobody who needs to hire someone for what we do sets out by saying ‘Wow, we need to find a really high-end boutique IT consulting and training firm… let’s check out Facebook.’

While we do not actually advertise anywhere, it is largely agreed that the strongest asset to our company is my public image (including my writings), and as such my articles and presentations are posted to Twitter – mostly because a good percentage of my followers are interested in what I have to say… and occasionally someone reads something that I have written which leads to work.

I use YouTube sparingly, but occasionally I get into the mood where I want to record a video demo, so I use that to link from my blog.

It is hard to understand why any professional would not use LinkedIn.  My CV is two pages long because I have been given professional advice from people I trust that it should not be longer.  However on my CV there is a URL for my LinkedIn profile, which has much more detail and of course would be much longer than two pages (or twenty).  While I do not keep it as current as I do my CV, I do know what people look at it.  As a contractor who is the public professional face of my company it is to be expected that before anyone hires us they would check me out… and by doing so on LinkedIn they will have a much clearer sense of my accomplishments and credentials than they would either on Facebook or Twitter… or my two-page CV.

All of these and many more fall into the category of social media, and they are all different in their own way.  Facebook (we have all seen the movie) started out in a university dorm room as a way to connect with people you are friends with (it has obviously ballooned beyond that).  LinkedIn is obviously more professional, and is a way to connect with people for business – whether you are looking to hire someone or simply ask a professional question.  Twitter… well, Twitter seems to be all things to all people and companies… it does however do very well at enforcing Shakespeare’s concept that ‘Brevity is the soul of wit’.  You can say anything you want on any topic… as long as you keep it to 140 characters.  Of course, you can include links so if your 140 grabs someone they can read the whole article (which is likely how you got here, if the statistics are to be believed!).

Does social media really have a positive impact on business? Absolutely, but it can also have adverse affects as well, and that is why there are people out there who specialize in helping to craft your company’s message.  While we have not gone that route, we do have a weekly meeting at which we discuss many things, among which is what our message has been and should be… and how it has been perceived.  As Theresa has become more and more involved in the company she has started to play a more important part in crafting, targeting, and delivering that message using (among other tools) social media. 

As with so many other tools social media can be good or bad, depending on how it is used.  I know there are companies who rely on it and who would go under without it; I know there are companies that hardly touch it and do just fine.  However there are also cases where social media has ruined companies… either because their jilted clients campaigned against them, or because they misused the media. 

All of these show how powerful social media really is, and why most major companies seem to at least have a social media presence.  If you are unhappy with WingNut Airlines try mentioning your dissatisfaction with them on Twitter, and it seems likely you will get a message to the effect of ‘We are sorry to hear about your experience.  If you Follow us we can DM you and see if we can help.’  In an era where the general consensus is that customer service is in the toilet, that is a great way for companies to get back in the game.  I know… it has worked for me!

Social Media is neither good nor bad… it is a tool.  Learn how to use it, or don’t play with it.  Your business just may depend on it!