Category Archives: social media

Finding Twitterbalance – how much is too much?

Twelve months ago, I decided it was time to learn about SocialMedia.  Knowing nothing about blogging or Twitter, I just “jumped in” and set out to experience Social Media for myself.

The first few months were like language immersion – after setting up an initial blog with articles published at least weekly, I found myself spending three or four additional hours each evening (and even more time on weekends) combing Twitter streams and tweeting everything that interested me.  There was so much to think about, it was like drinking from a firehose!

The  good news?  I wrote lots of blogs (87 of them last year) and became fairly efficient at getting blogs from draft to completion.

The bad news?   I was using twitter constantly to drive traffic to my blog – this required hours of tweeting and became a prime focus of my downtime.

Learnings?  I tried a couple of “automated” tweeting services, landed on Hootsuite to pre-load tweets of my blog round the clock at reasonable intervals.  That process still had to be supplemented, however, with logging onto twitter and engaging with folks that I followed or who followed me in order to stay current on issues.

Biggest Lesson:  Somewhere along the way, my time commitments for work, family and the blog have come into conflict and there is only so much “me” to go around.

So I am going to hang up my keyboard for a few weeks and take time with family and other personal priorities.  

I have so enjoyed my new friends out in cyberspace (you know who you are!) — I will occasionally have a peek at the twitterverse to see how folks are doing, but I hope you’ll wish me well in my quest for TwitterBalance.

ciao for niao,



12 Best (FREE!) Techno Tools to Kickstart the NewYear

The following tips are compiled from a colleague, Ken MacLeod of  TheMacGroup:
  1. is a great new website for managing your TOP 5 priorities, and those of your team as well.  It sends you great reminders & forces the habit of setting TOP 5 goals daily.
  2. Outsourcing Things Done This company hires and manages executive assistants based in Manila for people like me.  My assistant Melanel is based in Manila and managed by people I’ve never met.  In fact, they interviewed and trained her for me.  I assign tasks to her weekly, and she cranks through them like a normal assistant would.  We communicate via their company Wiki & Task software as well as Skype Video & email.  Sure beats paying someone $40,000 a year who lives in North America when I can get the same work done for $1,200 a month by her.  She’s got her business degree from one of the top schools over there too.
  3. Time Scroller – great free App for iPhone & Widget for MACs that allows you to see multiple cities time zones at the same time.  You just scroll over with the mouse and it shows you when meetings can be set up at times that make sense for people in different time zones, countries etc.  I find this super helpful when setting up conference calls with CEOs that I mentor in Europe, Asia & Australia.
  4.  Free online application that seamlessly uploads your calendars.  Others wanting to book time for meetings or calls with you simply look at your Free/Busy slots.  All they can see is if you are free, they can’t see any details of the busy appointments at all.
  5. Dragon Dictation – allows you to leave a voice message which comes back to you transcribed for you to tweet, send as an email, copy & paste etc.  Works awesome.  It’s free.  And works great in noisy environments too.
  6. eLanceGuruMechanical Turk – All three are great services for getting miscellaneous admin and technical tasks done by remote casual workers around the world.  If eBay is a place where you sell stuff and people bid on what they pay to purchase your stuff, these services work the same way.  You simply post your project that you need done, when you need it done, and people bid on what they are willing to do the work for.  You’ll get references & samples of prior work and you can often get work done for 1/10th of what you’d pay a full time employee to do it in America.
  7. Google Docs  – There is no need to keep purchasing software applications like Word & Excel for your employees.  Google Docs gives you these applications for free and IF you need to have something specific you can have one version of the real thing running on a shared computer in the lunchroom.  Why pay for software licences year-after-year when you can get the same tools for free in the cloud.
  8. Basecamp – Fantastic project management software.  Simple to use.  Easy to access.  And way less cumbersome than any of the big project management tools companies waste time using.
  9. Crowdspring & 99 Designs – These are both great services that many companies could utilize when getting random things designed..  You post your project up and what you’re willing to pay and people from around the world submit designs to you hoping to be chosen.  If you chose them, they get paid.  It’s a great way to use Crowdsourcing to get marketing work done cheaply and quickly.  It’s often as good as anything a normal designer would do for you.
  10. HARO – This free service which is called Help A Reporter Out sends you emails daily with writers around North America who are looking for experts to include in stories they are writing.  Its an easy way to grow your brand.
  11. RSS Readers – Don’t waste time going to each individual persons blog that you read.  Set up an RSS Feeder that downloads all the blog posts for you to one place – and has them synchronized both on your laptop & iPhone..  That way you can read them when you have spare time to kill versus reading them while you’re at your desk and could be focusing on project work.
  12. Ambiance – Simple App for your desktop or iPhone which plays background sounds at night when you’re on the road, trying to fall asleep in a strange hotel room.  I used it recently while staying at The Driskill Hotel in Austin which is supposedly haunted.  Falling asleep while listening to waves rolling up on shore made sleep easier than worrying about ghosts, or listening to traffic 10 streets below

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Customer Service – a United Airlines nightmare

The following video tells the story of a Canadian, Dave Carroll, who watched in horror as baggage handlers smashed his guitar on the tarmac while he sat on a United Airlines flight.  Dave decided to write a song and post it on YouTube.   The response?  Dave’s video went viral with over 10 million hits on YouTube.

The story doesn’t end there……  after Dave’s complaint aired, United offered a paltry settlement, which prompted Dave to write a second song about his customer service treatment.    A third song was also written, detailing the crazy customer service nightmare that Dave experienced.  Follow the story on YouTube or Dave’s own website,

Makes us all think,

“Am I giving my customers a great experience?”  

or, as Dave says,

“One customer is not statistically insignificant!”

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Blogging for Dinosaurs – What I learned in my first month

Okay, I’m the older generation.  I went through high school when computers took up space on entire floors of a building.  Today, accumulating my entire 30 years of business knowledge could be simulated in mere months of technological progress.

At the beginning of this year, I was bored and looking for something new to learn.  Knowing that business marketing is being turned on its’ ear by social media influences, and considering that I want to build a business network to support an eventual consulting gig in my retirement, I thought, why not combine these two concepts and try to learn social media myself?

My New Year’s resolution was easy!  Just start a blog (I do have reasonable advice and stories to offer after 30 years in business), experiment with various elements of social media (Blogging, Facebook, Twitter) for a year or two and see how much of a network or business following I can build.  Not rocket science; however I was surprised at some of my early learnings.  Here’s my process:

Step 1)    Find a blog theme 

What is the focus of my personal blog going to be?  Marketing 101 asks “What is my passion and what purpose will my blog serve?”  My blog topics and themes should link to the same role, themes and expertise I will use in an eventual consulting practice.

After soul-searching, I realized that my theme is great leadership.  I find all things leadership-related fascinating, and I could write volumes about the good, the bad and the ugly of Leadership that I have learned over the years.

Step 2)   Establish a domain name, set up related email

“Leadership” is my theme, now I have to register a domain name that is meaningful – it should work for my blog today and also for my consulting business down the road.

I log onto several domain registration sites but “leaders” and “leadership” words are already taken.  Maybe my theme is too broad.

Start over.

Think deeper.

What is my passion, more specifically?

More soul-searching and I come up with online mentorship and coaching, which link better to my retirement consulting plans and the mentoring I have already been doing quietly in recent years.

The best new names I can find are “bizbytes” and “bizcoachonline”.  I reserve for a website, with for email, and for my blogwriting, using the intuitive Blogger application available on Google.

Step 3)    Set up a Website 

My website domain purchase comes with an easy template of four webpages that provide a home page, biography page, information page and contact page with subscription forms.  These pages are set up within a few hours, after playing around with available theme templates provided by the website provider.

The website remains in this raw, simple format today.  When I’m closer to retirement and starting the consulting “ask” in my business, I will expand the website to a more professional look (that will be another future blog story!).  Meantime, I use the email feature daily and provide occasional consulting services generated from queries and emails to the website.

Step 4)    Set up a Blog template

The blog setup was easier than I expected.  I used Blogger, a Google product. The cost? Free.   Blogger is very intuitive to create templates and widgets  using WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you get”) visuals typing on a page just like a Word document. The html code remains hidden in the background (not necessary to have this knowledge unless one is a fancy programmer with highly customized blog pages).   I spent about two days playing around with available Blogger themes and widgets on the visual tab, essentially building my preferred blog format through trial and error of adding, changing and deleting themes and widgets.

Note:  Within a couple of months, I learned that there are several other reputable blog server sites that have better long-term flexibility, search engine tools and functionality for bloggers.  Professional bloggers also migrate their blog pathname to their registered domain name – which meant eventually I would need to move away from Blogger to a different blog server (more about that in another blog story!).

Step 5)   Set up and maintain a Twitter account

My blog template/server is now set up and I am starting to write articles on leadership.  How do I attract readers and potential customers?  It’s time for Twitter, to draw readers to my blog.

I set up my own name @merylecorbett and start searching topics related to leadership on the twitter site.  The people with tweets that I like (ie. quotes or links to interesting other blogs) I click on “follow”, so I can read their tweet history in my own twitter stream.

My longer term goal is to get followers that will follow me, so I build up a presence on the internet.  I do this by tweeting short comments whenever I can, with links to my blog articles.  Within a few weeks, I have a dozen blogs written, I am tweeting evenings and weekends, I have searched key words on twitter related to leadership, I have followed about 200 select people, and I start to gain a group of followers myself.    Some of those followers are people who “followed me back” (after I searched out and followed them) while others came to follow me after reading my tweets and blog articles.

Step 6)    Focus on blog content – add value!

At the end of one month, I am writing one or two blogs per week, and tweeting evenings and weekends.   I notice there is volatility in the number of hits to my website.  The secret to success, from what I am reading and learning, is to keep a quality blog with great value-added content, to add blog content regularly and consistently.

I read on the internet about how to write effective blogs.  I start to add “guest blogs” (giving credit to other writers) when I find a particularly interesting article.  I find humorous videos on youtube and add some as blogs where they have a business theme.

Step 7)  The next challenge:  take my social media presence to the next level

When I’m out of town for a weekend and miss tweeting for a couple of days in a row, my volume of blog traffic drops, and my twitter followers also decrease.  What are the strategies I need to further build my social media presence?

Stay tuned for the next blog.

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Resume screening – 5 easy tips to speed your selection

There have been several times when I was swamped with hundreds of resumes for a single job posting – how does one screen down to the best applicants without taking days and days of effort?

1)  Define your most unique, critical requirements in the job

Do you require certain unique characteristics that are essential for success in the job?  I hired for one position where an ability to “make sense from chaotic data” was much more important than the core accounting skills usually required in that role. In another situation, I required very strong “relationship building skills” because that was the most lacking strength within my department at the time.

Before going through your resumes, set up specific, unique requirements that not all candidates will possess – this will speed up your ability to narrow down your shortlist in record time.

2) Skim your resumes, separate into 3 categories:  A, B and C

The A pile is your “qualified-for-sure” candidates — they meet the unique minimum requirements for the job, and on paper they theoretically should be able to do the job very well (contingent of course upon your meeting them, verifying resume facts and their personality or fit to the role).  This A pile should be about 10-15% of the total resumes.

The B pile is your “maybe” candidates — they fulfill some requirements or look interesting but do not stand out.  Maybe these resumes meet 75-80% of your candidate requirements and you will have to follow up to see if other strengths are present.  This pile will be your backup plan if all of the “A” candidates don’t pan out (yes, sometimes all the A candidates don’t make the final cut).  This B pile should be about 20-40% of the total resumes.

The C pile is your “no thanks!” candidates — they are resumes with spelling, grammar or factual mistakes, as well as resumes of candidates who do not meet the core skillsets, personality traits or unique critical requirements for the job.

If you are harsh with spelling, grammar and standards of professionalism when skimming the resumes, you can usually cut out at least 30-50% of the candidate simmediately by using a critical eye to the documents.  This C pile should be more than half of your total resume list.

3) Focus on the A list, screen further with a brief phone interview

The A list will contain candidates that fit your needs; however you may not fit their needs.  A brief phonecall with several filtering questions can reduce your list down to better win/win candidates for a more detailed interview.  Questions I often use for phone filtering:

 – What is the range of compensation you are expecting?

 – Would you be willing to move to XYZ location?

 – Where do you see yourself careerwise in 5 years?

 – What is the reason you are leaving (or have left) your current position?

 – Why do you want this job?

 – Based on our job advertisement, how would your approach the first 90 days in this job?

The above questions indicate a candidate’s own expectations.  The answers will identify any large gaps in expectations (compensation, career mobility, relocating, approach/style).  These gaps will give you another filter to reduce your candidate pool to a small short list for interviews.  You will save cost, time and travel expense of interviewing a larger number of candidates.

4) Filter your shortlist by screening candidates’ social media presence

I can often shorten my hiring list by another 30-50% simply by doing a quick internet search on their names in Facebook,Linked In and Twitter.    There is an amazing amount of information out in cyberspace – some examples I have seen (all true) include drunken photos, sexual conversations, disparaging remarks about a current employer, and evidence of poor personality fit (eg: “I’m a gypsy psychic who can tell your fortune” applying to work in a military style organization).

5) Don’t settle for candidates who don’t meet the critical elements of the job

In a hot labor market, you may struggle to find the right candidate with good “fit” to your organization and good technical skills.  Don’t settle for less than your minimums out of desperation.  Wait and keep searching for the right resume and the right candidate!  In my thirty years of business experience, I have never regretted waiting for the right candidate but I have regretted, more than once, hiring in haste or desperation.

The best solution:  a win/win with the right candidate.  They will fit your organization’s needs and thrive in a job role that fits their niche skills and talents.

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