3 simple and effective Twitter hacks

Ok, so we’ve established that Twitter can be useful for you (https://owntrepreneurship.com/2015/10/18/i-dont-get-twitter/). Great. Now what do you do?

We’ll you need to start following and you need to start twitting. That much is obvious. But with time you will understand that in order to reach a wide audience you need to tweet and tweet often, only during the relevant times of day for your target audience (see this article for the A Scientific Guide to Posting Tweets

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/belle-beth-cooper/a-scientific-guide-to-pos_b_4262571.html

Using Tweetdeck

Tweetdeck is very effective in schedulling your twits
Analytics

Since you don’t want to be up at strange times of the night tweeting, nor like repeating yourself several time a day, this is a great tool. You simply type the tweet and decide when it will be posted. That’s’ it. Sounds silly but the fact that you can schedule every tweet multiple times ( I tweet at least 3 extra times per tweet) provides you much greater reach.

Twitter Analytics

Use Analytics to optimize your tweeting
Use Analytics to optimize your tweeting

Twitter is enigmatic to most of us. It is unclear why certain tweets succeed (meaning the get re-tweeted and like a lot) and other don’t receive any attention. The only way to identify what’s working is to employ some analytical tools. Luckily, there is a great, free tool for everyone to us. Called Twitter analytics ( www.analytics.twitter.com). It allows you to see which tweets gained the most traction, some demographic information about your audience.

The trick? Check yesterday’s tweets, see which were the most successful, and re-tweet them again.

This is a great tool practice to fine-tuning your publishing and hash-tagging skills.

Use Hashtags (#) and Mentions @ while twitting

Yep, this is the official Twitter lingo, and you need to use it to make your tweets reach a wider audience (for a complete and helpful Twitter glossary https://support.twitter.com/articles/166337)

According to Twitter, The # symbol, called a hashtag, is used to mark keywords or topics in a Tweet. It was created organically by Twitter users as a way to categorize messages (https://support.twitter.com/articles/49309)

If its’ hashtagged, than it is easily searchable and will reach a larger audience, which is not comprised only of your followers but also from every Twitter user who’s search for this hashtag. The @ sign is used to call out usernames in Tweets. By including a mention of a specific @username in Tweets, you will make sure the person mentioned receives a notification of your tweet. Basically, the more you engage people (like/ favorite their tweets, mention them, retweet their messages, reply to their messages) you increase the likelihood of them interacting back with you- following you, retweeting your twits and like your tweets- all of which increase your influence.

Just like any other social network, Twitter is a numbers game. The more followers you have, the greater reach you have and more people will notice and follow you. Unlike other platforms in Twitter you need to be very proactive to increase and maintain your followership. So use these 3 hacks to do so and start reaping the rewards of this peculiar yet entertaining platform. Oh, please don’t forget to Twit this to the world…

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I don’t get Twitter

It's not the blue bird of paradise, that's for sure
It’s not the blue bird of paradise, that’s for sure

Twitter lays off 8% of its workforce.

Twitter CEO is now managing TWO high profile companies.

Former Microsoft boss Steve Balmer purchased a 4% of Twitter stocks.

Surely, you’ve heard all the recent rant about Twitter and now want to give a go? Good luck with that.

You see, Twitter is a very different animal (obviously, it’s a bird) than the rest of the social media lot.

Even if you are acing it on LinkedIn or Facebook you might have serious difficulties adjusting to Twitter. But before we explain why this is the case and how to hack it, let’s elaborate a little about what Twitter is.

It is not, as previously thought, a “Micro-blogging” platform. It is not a news site. It is certainly no place to post images from your last family vacation. So what is it then?

Think of the worlds’ largest billboard, which constantly updates, and allows anyone to post anything (as long as it’s within the format boundaries). It is the best place online to receive breaking news updates, to share opinions with strangers (and taste makers) and to promote your brand. But the rules of the format make it more inaccessible than the rest, so you need to learn how to work before you start seeing some result. Here are some of the unique difficulties posed by Twitter:

  1. Infinite, fast moving feed- that really the crux of Twitter- it isn’t static like the other networks. It and ever moving river of updates, with no way to pause and look around. This means that your precious twit is quickly pushed down the chain and will not be read unless someone has specifically looked for it or scrolled all the way down.
  2. Limited real-estate: 140 to rule them all. Wait, that’s 140 characters is don’t count your username (thank your parents if they were kind enough to give you a short name), and even less if you paste a link or share an image (but hey, Your bio is can have up to 160 characters, and they have now lifted this restriction for messages!). that’s way less than any other platform, and require serious adjustments
  3. Following is not a 2 way street- Twitter allows you to follow anyone, but that does not mean they follow you back (sort of like the difference between “connection” and “follower” on LinkedIn. Hence you will follow many prominent people, yet only few of them will bother following you back.
  4. Limited network growth- Twitter allows you to twit only to people you know. Period. So if your network is small you will only be seen by very few people. The solution to enlarging the network is simple- follow more people, some of the will follow back and your network will grow. But there’s a mean catch- Twitter allows you to follow around 2,000 people, and after that it permits only a certain ratio between followers/ following. So you spot someone interested and try to follow her, only to find out your limited and have to drop some people you follow in order to clear some “following” slots.
  5. People unfollow- when you unfollow someone, they unfollow you back. Sometimes, they will unfollow you before you unfollow them, so you are “wasting” your slot. But even if they don’t drop you to follow new people, they can drop you because they no longer find you interesting. So if you’re silent for a while, there’s a good chance your followers will decrease in numbers.
  6. Some of your followers are Bots- unlike FB or LinkedIn, Twitter is a heaven for automatic engines to increase following. You will find obscure people following you, and there’s not much you can do about it (you can block them, but what’s the point?).

But, having mastered the challenges (we’ll discuss these in the subsequent post), you can start enjoying the Benefits

  1. Teaches you to be Concise- a real life school for copy-writing, Twitter’s limited format forces you to be concise, accurate and punctual.
  2. Great place to find stories and information- nothing beats the dynamic nature of tweeter feed especially when something big is going on- it’s as close as you can get to live reports from a battleground (or a sports game).Ability to “poke” important people – I can follow Marc Andreessen (@pmarca) and tweet to him. If he ever twits me back I’ve earned an audience of 184,000 people…
  3. It can and will drive quality traffic to your site and blog (given you have enough followers)
  4. t is very easy to share content on, so if you have any type of site you only need to add “share” buttons to increase exposure via Twitter (and you don’t even have to be on it).

In my next post I will explain some simple and effective twitter hacks, which will help you to get started.

Self branding- within your organization

How can I brand myself? is it even possible in a large organization? will it be frowned upon?

Are you the "Goto Girl" of your organization?
Are you known as the “Goto Girl” of your organization?

Well, you have your own “branding”, regardless of where you work and what you do. You are perceived in a certain manner by the people you come in contact with, and their view of you is determined by how you look, talk, act and seen by others

So even without giving it any thought, you are creating the brand of “you” simply by engaging others. But if you were to give this some additional thought, you would be able to identify the benefits of positive branding and you would invest the necessary efforts to maintain and improve your perception by others.

How do you start? well; like everyone else in the organization (with the expectation of the “superstars”) you start your life in the organization as another minion, faceless and identity less. With time you acquire friends (and enemies), people start to recognize what you do best and what you really shouldn’t be doing and they label you as such- the “go-to” guy for gadgets, the sports aficionado, the fashion maven etc. Notice that not all these are strictly work related, since people tend to notice your most striking characters and not simply your professional strengths. Also note, some people are known as “the lazy guy” or the “leave me alone Girl”. do try avoiding falling into these brackets, since changing one’s perception of you, even is entirely wrong, can be very difficult.

So let’s say you are the sports guy- what can you benefit from that? well, maybe nothing directly (unless you work at a football club), but you can gain tremendous social currency from this position, countless opportunities to engage executives and even an opportunity for organization -wide recognition (organization a company soccer game or fantasy-league betting game on the next world cup). Used carefully this can lead people to seeing other qualities in you which they might not have a chance to otherwise, thus benefiting you on a professional level. and third, people like to deal with people. This is true for closing sales and also for choosing who to promote. If there will be a situation where an executive will be forced to choose between you (a great guy who’s organized that game last year) and another guy (just some guy no one ever heard of) you might be luck, well, due to better branding.

So we’ve established that a decent branding can help you in multiple facets, but if you are not that into sports (or fashion, or cars or whatever) – how to you build a solid brand for yourself?

Here are some tips:

    1. Likeability – this is a key factor. Although you can be known for many things, it is far better to be considered a nice guy than the opposite. That does not mean you must accept to help with anything anyone asks of you (see next article), but even when you do decline, do so politely and you will be respected and liked.
    2. Saying no– That is counter intuitive to most. But if you just accept to help with anything you’re being asked you are likely to disappoint people and not be perceived as very professional. If you only opt to help where you can really make an impact your professional rating will soar while not hurting your likeability.
    3. Connector mentality– the more people know you and who you are, the better it is for your reputation and brand.
    4. Subtle, positive messaging- This is difficult for most people, as we were educated not to speak highly of ourselves and not to fish for compliments. But, that does not mean we can’t make sure others praise when we deserved it, and the more people say good things about you, there’s a greater chance others (who’ve never even met you) will feel positive about you. So no need to praise yourself, but make sure that when you do something notable others will hear about it.
    5. Owning your quirks- Sure, it might feel weird to be the guy who wears purple to work, but if you like it why not make “your” thing? Remember, being easily identifiable is important, especially in large organizations.
    6. Utilize internal communication means: every organization have internal means of communication- an internal blog, newsletter, company events etc. Don’t be shy and use these to make yourself known to others. If you are shy- write something, If you hate writing and love networking, take some volunteering role in a company initiative, and engage others.

These activities will increase your visibility and boost your positive branding inside your organization. But bear in mind that it takes time for your actions to bear fruits, and even a single negative incident can taint your reputation, so try to conduct yourself in a thoughtful manner regularly, and from time to time do something to boost your positive rating. In parallel, you can start working on your brand being recognized outside your organization- and we’ll explore this in my next post.

Stop procrastinating by asking yourself this one simple question

Let me just look at this status update, and then I'm back at work
Let me just look at this status update, and then I’m back at work

As I’ve explored in a previous post (https://owntrepreneurship.com/2015/10/02/why-procrastination-at-home-is-killing-your-career/) Procrastination can be deadly for your career. The difficulty is to identify when and what make you procrastinate, and stop it.

Most people use elaborate to-do lists (which never work- see another post : https://owntrepreneurship.com/2015/07/09/how-to-make-the-perfect-to-do-list/), create reminders and other mechanisms to help them cope with the sad reality of not being able to complete the task they need to complete. But all these are doomed since the real problem nowadays is that procrastination is difficult to detect, and therefore, mitigate.

What do I mean? In today’s world, so many activities look like actual, beneficial work, when in fact, they are nothing more than time-consuming, exhausting habits we indulge in. Take email for instance- it is easy to get lost in endless emails that swamp your inbox, and forget that only a minute percentage of these is actually work related AND productive. Or the daily routine of “where should we go dine today/ what should we order in?”- this is another time drainer which does little to advance your daily tasks. And finally- social media and web surfing- 2 activities which take up sooooo much of our time today. Sure, it is nearly impossible to ignore these and some people (self- included) actually use these platform for work. But for most it’s a huge waste of time, and so is the endless communication apps which constantly beep to alert us about a new message post by some family member or distant friend. Whatsapp groups are the worst, endless babble all day long, and it’s enough to have one bored member of the group who keeps posting to annoy all the other members (remember- that guy isn’t working like you, so do not engage him! He will naturally get bored and stop eventually).

So given that all these activities SEEM like work (or desired/ expected social behavior at least) how do you block yourself and concentrate on the important stuff?

Easy. Just ask yourself, at any point during your day (and preferably, multiple times)- is this the best use of my time? If I had only 5 minutes left before leaving the office, is this what I would have been doing? Chances are that no, you are not putting your time to the best possible use, hence you are eroding it’s value, which is an awful lot like procrastinating.

So stop, and do something more productive.

Keep asking yourself this daily, and at some point it will become second nature, thus minimizing your time wasting habit and eventually eliminating them.

And if after that you still need a list to complete your tasks, be my guest. At least you’ve made sure you will actually focus on completion rather than spend more time on Facebook…

We’re on a road to nowhere- Travel anxiety

Will my bags make it?
Will my bags make it?

Oh no, another trip abroad. Some people relish the thought of flying away to a foreign, exotic land. Obviously, they have not travelled frequently on business. Business travel is different than leisure travel- since you want to maximize your time on the road, your schedule is more condensed, with back to back flights/ meetings and limited time to rest. There’s also more at stake- every mistake or delay can ruin the trip altogether. On a vacation if you miss a flight is usually means losing 1 day of your vacation, or some other nuisance. On a business trip this could be disastrous to your carefully planned itinerary. If you lose your suitcase (or more likely, the airline does) on a vacation you simply stroll to the nearest mall, buy the necessities and wait for your luggage to arrive the following day. On a business trip you don’t enjoy such luxury- on the next day you might be in another town (or country for that matter), so you do your best to check in any luggage and stuff everything to your carry on. You also have the burden of packing/unpacking on a daily basis, which increases your chances of losing something small yet significant (damn toothbrush). And all these things add up to build what I call “travel anxiety”.

For me this starts on the day of my departure flight and only diminishes when I drop my suitcase at my hotel room. The whole ordeal of packing, traveling to the airport, check-in, security, boarding, flight, immigration, collecting my luggage, exchanging money and riding to my hotel is a long, stressful process.

What I’ve found is that this feeling only gets worse as I grow older. When I was single I used to pack several hours before the flight, paying little attention to what I was taking, leaving for the airport at the last minute, walking quickly from the check-in counter straight to the gate and boarding last. Now as a father I need to pack days in advance (since I don’t know which emergency I’ll have prior to departing), leave ample time for duty free shopping for the family, check a big, clunky suitcase (need to bring stuff back from abroad, which my wife has bought online and shipped to my hotel) and must never ever miss my flight back home (else the wife will have to face another challenging day with the kids alone). Time abroad is also more stressful, as I now must accommodate skype calls and “good night” sessions ( could be very difficult to coordinate on different time-zones), gift shopping for two girls of varying ages and still try to save as much money out of my per- diem to add to my salary.

So business trips are no great fun, and tend to be stressful. With time, I’ve found several tricks to minimize the pressure and relieve the anxiety. Try these:

  1. Try not to travel alone– having a companion can relieve much of the pressure. It the simple things really- someone to look after your bags when you go to the toilets, another pair of ears listening to last minute public service announcements about gate changes, and someone to dine with.
  2. Plan in advance- as experience as you might be, do try to be prepared, have all your vouchers printer, double check your flight times and scheduled meeting times.
  3. Build a healthy buffer into everything you do. Travelling to the airport from your home usually takes 30 minutes? Give yourself an hour to get there. Check in and security are usually a 15 minutes deal? Plan on spending an hour there. At worse you’ve made some spare time for you to have a cup of coffee or catch up on some emails. Other time it could save you from near misses.
  4. Take lots of extras- cloths, ties, laptop cables. I’ve forgotten / stained/ forgot to charge them all. Bring an extra pair (within reason ).
  5. Take double of what is crucial to your business purpose. If you intend on presenting a demo, bring another machine. If you need to deliver 10 handouts of your PPT bring 20 (there might be many more people attending the meeting- you never know). The extra weight and hassle are nothing compared to traveling all the way just to find that one DVI- HDMI connector failing your presentation to the customer.
  6. Take the ugliest, most colorful suitcase you can find. This increases the chances of you locating it on the conveyor belt while simultaneously reduce the risk of someone taking your precious suitcase by accident.
  7. Unpack as soon as you get home. Especially true is you have kids/ live in a small apartment. The sight of daddy’s suitcase in the middle of the living room will just remind them of your time away (or will create new worries of you living soon).
  8. Replenish your toiletry kit and make sure it’s ready for your next trip. This is by far the highest size-to-packing time ratio item in you luggage. Have it ready to reduce future packing time ( and avoid the “damn, forgot my toothbrush scenario” on your first night away).

Overall, done correctly you can even enjoy business travel (traveling in business class and posh hotels help). But sometimes you actually need to take a real vacation, just to remind yourself that getting on a plane could even be, well, fun and enjoyable.

Bon voyage!

Why procrastination at home is killing your career?

You know the drill- you finish your day at the office feeling like you’ve aced it- You finished all your tasks, you even helped out some people with their missions, and you feel like you’ve come home for a well-deserved break. But alas, your home is a mess- dirty floor, kitchen sink overflowing with dishes from last night, kids toys everywhere and the wife just hands you the nearest toddler and says- this is now yours. I’m done (welcome to my life). After working (much harder than at “work”, one must admit,) you can now rest- the kids are tucked away, you’ve eaten, the wife is watching the TV, and you now feel like you can finally kick back and relax. There’s more stuff to do (laundry, preparing sandwiches for tomorrow and cleaning those damn dishes) but hey, you’ve been working since 9 am and it’s now almost 9 PM, so you deserve a rest. After watching your favorite show or sports game, whatever is on tonight you hit the shower and are ready to go to sleep. There choirs which haven’t had time to deal with will wait for tomorrow.

Stop.

This is a sure recipe for disaster.

Why? Because leaving anything “for tomorrow” in our day and age is simply loading the magazine of a gun which will eventually fire at your temple. Because of the hectic times we live in, you have no idea what tomorrow will bring, work or home related. There might be a client-related emergency tomorrow, forcing you to stay late at the office.

There might be a family emergency- a kid might get sick, or the cleaning lady might not show up or whatever.

And when that will happen those small things you haven’t had time to finish last night will only grow and expand. And when that happens, your work will be effected, too. Coming home to a dirty house with an empty fridge is not fun, and when you will actually get up and do whatever it is needs to be done it will only be more difficult and tiresome. Which, in turn, will affect your next day at the office, either by being tired of not sleeping enough or by being late (having to run errands in the morning).

But most of all, it’s that annoying feeling of thing that needs to be done which will sit at the back of your head an won’t let you be 100% focused at whatever it is that you need to be focusing on.

So the best advice I can give you is this- no matter what, no matter how, don’t hit your bed before your house is in order. No matter how big that pile of dishes looks at night, it will only look bigger in the morning…

Clean that kitchen sink to clear your head
Clean that kitchen sink to clear your head