Networking Groups – What Should You Expect?

Networking groups are a great way to get yourself “out there” but what should you expect?

Networking Groups

networkNetworking groups are like minded people getting together to share ideas, learn and expand their circle of influence. They can take the form of:

  • Chambers of Commerce
  • Themed Meet Up Groups
  • Groups based on faith
  • School groups

and the list can go on. You can find a group for almost anything you can think of where you can be involved and make new friends. The thing to remember is it’s a two way street. Don’t get involved expecting to get something if you aren’t willing to give something.

What Can You Expect

  • Education
  • New ideas
  • Friendships
  • Connections

collaboration imageYou get the idea. When we join a group of any kind, we are expecting something from it. I find groups where I meet like minded people who are willing to share ideas and a place where I will learn something new every day. In many cases, we are risking exposing our feelings to others, especially if we want them to be honest with us and we are honest with ourselves. This can lead to making new connections that lead to lifelong friendships.

We have to remember that we don’t always get what we expect and may have to consider changing groups until we find the best fit. Sometimes, we join a group and, over time, it becomes stale or no longer meets our needs. In some cases, we may need more than one group to fulfill our needs. Try new groups when you get the opportunity and find the ones that work for you. Note, I indicated ones, not one! The other thing to consider is whether the group is getting what it needs from you! Always show up with your best you.

What May Be Expected From You

  • Referrals
  • Honesty
  • Financial contributions
  • Teaching

junkBe honest and be willing to give referrals. Don’t give them just because you are expected to, make sure the people you refer deserve it. Just as you need to make sure you deserve referals.

Remember that networking costs money and be prepared to give your financial support when needed. For example, there could be a membership fee to help support things like printing costs or you may be asked to contribute regularly to help cover the cost of a room. I’m not saying to bankrupt yourself trying to be part of a group but don’t expect someone else to carry you.

Although you may be new to a field of expertise, there is probably something you can teach others. Think about other areas of your life and transferable skills. Or, there may be an opportunity to share something not related at all, but the group shares an interest. Be giving and not always taking.

Now, get out there and make some friends!

Make it a great day,

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for networking opportunities, chances to learn and chances to teach. What are you thankful for today?

Collaboration Tools

Collaboration tools can be so useful and yet so confusing!

Collaboration, A Fancy Word For Working Together!

Collaboration is working together, especially in an intellectual endeavour. For example:

  • Business planning in a group environment
  • Interactive online training
  • Creating marketing materials
  • Planning activities or events

Anything requiring input from multiple people to achieve a common goal could be considered a collaborative effort.

Collaboration Tools

There are different tools available to make collaboration easier:

  • Teleconference
  • Video Conference
  • In Person Meetings

Teleconference

teleconferenceTeleconference is great when you don’t need to share visuals or maybe combined with visual aids that can be shared by other means. This works well when you are working with people who may have limited access to broadband internet. For example, businesses with remote offices in northern Ontario may have difficulty using any kind of online video tools. This could ultimately lead to people “pretending” to be logged in but actually walked away and got coffee because it takes too long for their system to catch up.

You could use a teleconference to connect for audio and email presentations that the participants could then open locally on their computers and “click” along with the presenter during discussion. Thank God for Power Point! Well, thanks to Bill Gates and Microsoft.

 

Video Conference

GVO ConferenceGVO Conference is by far the most robust and best tool for the money. Fully functioning online conference software with available HTML5 functionality including the ability to share your desktop, video clips and presentations. You can even have group face to face where your broadband can support it.

Google Hangouts is readily available through your Chrome browser. In my experience, OK for 1-3 people face to face but can be unreliable with slightly larger groups.

Appear In is free for up to four people. Works well for video conference and desktop sharing but doesn’t have built in video or slide show ability.

Adobe Connect is very robust but also very resource hungry. You will need a good computer with a plugin in to run a room. This can be expensive and has a rather big learning curve.

There are many other tools like Webex and so on but I think you get the idea. In case you didn’t notice, yes, I’m trying to lead you to click on the link showing the GVO Suite of tools that includes the conference room! (Amiya, the name in the link is my granddaughter.)

In Person Meetings

In person meetingWe have all heard you can’t beat “belly to belly” for sales and much the same for learning and working together. I agree!

In the global economy of today, it often isn’t possible to bring people together in one place for collaboration purposes. By using tools like video conference, we can come from literally anywhere in the world to work together for a common purpose. Canada and USA are two of the largest countries in the world and going from one side to the other takes days, not hours, unless you are spending hundreds of dollars for air travel. Frankly, ground can be as much or more than air travel by the time you consider fuel, food and lodging!

I would suggest in person meetings may be advisable and preferable when kick starting a project or bringing it in for a landing. Consider something like GVO Conference for all of the in between work!

Collaboration

Collaboration isn’t always easy but the old cliche is “more heads are better than one”. Reach out to your business partners, whether you work in business, education or any other field, they are all business partners, and find the best way to work together. When you develop plans collaboratively, you get more buy in. People who have a vested interest don’t want to see “their” idea fail. Use whatever tools you need to bring the right voices to the table.

Make it a great day!

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for great minds, the internet and GVO! What are you thankful for today?

 

 

DM or PM, How Private Is It?

DM (Direct Message) or PM (Private Message) is only as private as the sender and receiver want it to be. By the way, the same can be said for email!

DM (Direct Message) or PM (Private Message)

DM or messageFacebook and Twitter both have a DM option, Facebook Messenger or Twitter Direct Message.

One of the challenges is that both have the option to create a group message. Sometimes we forget it was a group message and use the same message to respond to an individual. Oops! Everyone saw that message. Make sure you know who is receiving it.

How private is it really?

Some things to remember:

Pick up the phone to arrange a meeting! Or, connect on FaceTime or whatever it takes to see the person you are talking to. I would suggest a phone call to win a face to face conversation would be best when something is really important.

Email

We sometimes forget that email is not really private. For example, many forget that if you send work related email through a personal account, it can be subject to Freedom of Information requests. NEVER, EVER send business email from or to a personal account. Just ask Hilary Clinton!

Even if you don’t care if your message is received properly, you should care that it can come back and be made part of the public record.

Words Matter!

My Own Meeting graphicCommunicate responsibly. Sure, there are times you won’t care that you offend or upset someone. They hurt you, why shouldn’t you hurt them? First off, two wrongs don’t make a right. Secondly, although we have freedom of expression, we don’t have the right to slander or libel someone.

Words, whether in a DM or face to face can hurt deeply. At least when we are facing someone, we can get a better perception of their intent giving us a chance to clarify before something gets blown way out of proportion.

When your message is important, do it face to face. Too far away? Travel digitally. There are many tools these days that can bridge the gap when you can’t go and physically knock on the door.

Communication isn’t that difficult in a technical sense, the greatest issue is having the guts to face someone for a difficult conversation. DM me to get my attention, call me to arrange a meeting, look me in the eye so I can see your whole message.

If you ever want to talk, DM me! Click the image below to get to my other site and use the social media links from there!

logo for barryclermont.com

Make it a great day,

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for you! I’m thankful for online conferencing. I’m thankful for every new day.

What are you thankful for today?

Collaborating With Google Docs

Collaborating with colleagues or students can be expensive and technologically challenging. Google makes collaboration affordable, accessible worldwide and cross platform.

Affordable and Accessible Collaboration

Collaboration with Google Docs is Free!

CollaborationNot only is collaborating with Google Docs free, it’s accessible in most of the world and works cross platform. Whether you are using an Apple, Windows or Linux computer, Google Docs will work for you as long as you are in a more recent version of most web browsers. I personally tested in Windows 7 using Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and FireFox. All of the browsers are free to download and use. I have used those browsers in Ubuntu as well but haven’t personally tested Google Docs in that environment. I admit an assumption that there wouldn’t be any issues collaborating with Ubuntu and iOS users.

Collaboration: Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Google tools are free and accessible to anyone with an up to date internet browser
  • Tools easily convert most Microsoft Office, rtf and Open Office (odt) files.
  • Changes can happen in real time.
  • Participants can make comments that become part of the file history.
  • Participants can communicate with each other in real time chat.
  • Documents can be stored in the Google drive and remain available.
  • Anyone with access to the document may be able to share with others via print; emailing a direct link to the file or downloading a copy and emailing.

Cons

  • Participants must have a Google account to make changes to documents.
  • File conversion occasionally requires fixing some formatting.
  • Anyone can make changes if given editor status.
  • Anyone with a Google account that was invited to participate will have access to the comments.
  • Real time chat may require moderation and could potentially require removing individual access.
  • There are limits to the Google drive storage space. (15GB)
  • Access rights may need to be modified once the collaboration is finished, to prevent changes to the document. This won’t limit what can be done with files that may already be downloaded.

Share Documents

Document Types

  • Word Processing
  • Slide Shows
  • Spread Sheets

Documents can be created from scratch and saved in multiple formats. ODT, XLSX, PPTX, DOCX can all be created or uploaded from existing documents. (Caveat: There may be a need to make minor formatting corrections after uploading. When importing video in Google Docs, it has to be from Youtube.)

New documents may be created from scratch with similar functionality to the Microsoft Office or Open Office programs. All documents can be shared at any point either by invitation, limiting access to specific individuals or they can be left wide open to the public. The document creator makes those choices.

Once a document is shared, multiple people can participate at the same time, in real time. Changes are tracked and visible. Participants can leave comments for response or can open a real time chat window where ideas can be shared but these chats are not saved unless manually copied into a new document.

movie projectorWhen you want to share a finished document with people outside of your group, you can email directly from the document and it will be converted to PDF and attached to a Gmail. Alternatively, you can save the document into an appropriate format. For example, a slide show can be saved as PPTX and then downloaded to your computer to send using another email system as an attachment. Alternatively, you can just make a copy of the Google Doc to share publicly and email a link to the people you want to see the finished product without them being able to download or modify.

Learning Curve

Learning curves are different for everyone. It’s easy to say it’s easy when you have experience with productivity software on a regular basis. I can only say it’s easier than most programs are to learn and it’s likely that someone in your group will be able to help figure out how to take advantage of Google Docs for collaboration.

If you have an open mind and are willing to learn, Google Docs may be the answer to your collaboration tool needs. There is no cost but your time and efforts to try.

Have fun!

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for technology. I’m thankful for open minds. I’m thankful for God given talents.

What are you thankful for today?

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There is no such thing as constructive criticism!

How does criticism make you feel?

Is Criticism Really Constructive?

criticismI was at the LegalShield Super Saturday event at Bayview Wildwood Resort for our annual Christmas party when a couple, who work the business together, got up to do a presentation on couples working together (almost tripped over that one!).  Bonnie and Darryl are amazing, we have known them for a few years now and I really respect their opinion.  They nailed this one.  Criticism is never constructive.

 

By definition, criticism is the act of judging or finding fault.  When you are being criticized, it never feels good.

There are other ways to be more constructive.  Take the time to identify issues together.  Then come up with a plan to address whatever challenges are identified.  No one needs to be criticized.  Most often, we know what went wrong and being reminded in a critical manner only leads to bad feelings and likely a closed mind.  This makes it difficult to work towards solutions.

 

Collaboration leads to solutions.

LegalShield Independent AssociatesCouples working together have a wonderful opportunity to grow together.  The danger is that we are also much more likely to become critical because we tend to take each other for granted.  We wouldn’t treat our worst employee with disrespect, don’t do it to each other.  Instead of being critical, celebrate your differences and recognize your strengths.  Then work together to figure how to apply those strengths to your business.

 

Collaboration, not criticism, is a far more constructive approach to problem solving and planning.  Yes, there are days when you won’t necessarily like your partner’s approach to something but do you really have to “win” control over every particular project?  Play to each other’s strengths and see what happens.

 

Working together.

In order to be successful working together, you need to clearly define rolls and responsibilities.  Michael E. Gerber does a great job of breaking this down in Emyth Revisited.  This book addresses the needs of business, not necessarily from the perspective of a couple working together, but the principles apply.

Once you define rolls, respect them!  You have to trust that your partner will do their best and that it’s likely both of you will make the occasional mistake.  When mistakes happen, instead of criticizing, consider asking what you can do to help.  Is there something you can do to lighten the load for your partner so they can focus on a particular challenge?  You partner likely doesn’t need you to judge or criticize, just help.  Let them tell you what they need, don’t you be the one to tell them.

Remember, it’s about sharing a journey.  It’s like a roller coaster ride.  There will be ups and downs with a few sharp turns.

Have you ever noticed that there are two types of screamers on roller coasters?  Those who scream in fear and those who scream in delight.  Which one are you?

Scary or fun.  That’s a decision only you can make.

 

Make it a great day!

Barry

P.S.  What am I thankful for today?  I’m thankful God blessed us with snow the day of our Christmas party.  I’m thankful Jason was our DJ again!  I’m thankful for all my wonderful friends at LegalShield.

What are you thankful for today?