Local Talent

Yesterday, a friend and I hosted a small gathering for local start-up entrepreneurs and consultants in Northern Virginia. Most of these folks have worked in a large corporate setting and having an opportunity to speak to each other and business leaders from the more “matrixed” disciplines like public relations gave everyone an opportunity to re-connect, get feedback, and brainstorm. I left the meeting energized and excited about the talent that’s out there – building iPhone apps, launching vertical web sites, and building Twitter applications.  If you’d like to join an upcoming event please connect with me privately at anne@socialbuzzpr.com.


The Power of Time-Off

I was really inspired by Stefan Sagmeister’s speech at the TED conference about the power of time-off. You can read a quick synopsis of the talk or watch the video here. In a nutshell, Stefan closes his New York studio every couple of years for a sabbatical to refresh his creative outlook. The time-off allows him to explore new ideas, become inspired and change his point of view for his work as a designer. The creative ideas that he pursues during his time away are put to use and become the muse for the work that takes place between his sabbaticals.

For me, taking a break this past summer allowed me to exponentially increase my connections to people, ideas, and the best practices in my industry. As importantly, it has made me very clear about what I do best, where I can contribute most, and the kinds of organizations I’d like to work with. So while I didn’t travel to Bali like Stefan, my own sabbatical has allowed me to learn a few good things along the way.

People. Everyone talks about growing your network and I have certainly invested time to expand my personal and professional networks on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter (@annebentley). Equally important is face-to-face time with people – asking for advice, talking about their projects, exchanging ideas, and soliciting input and feedback. Connecting with entrepreneurs and giving them a sounding board from my PR point of view has been an exciting part of my time away. I’ve also had fun getting involved in some of my friend’s activities – from hiking local trails in Northern Virginia to providing pro bono consulting to DC non-profits. And then there are the hundreds of new people I’ve met because I was out and about and available to new possibilities.

Purpose. One of the things I’ve enjoyed during this break has been the opportunity to have a laser like focus on my personality, strengths, and the types of companies and assignments that naturally appeal to me. I also took the time to fully explore business ownership and learned a lot about my abilities and myself as an entrepreneur during the process. I also created a list of what was important in my life beyond work. This specificity allows me to effectively communicate what I offer to potential business clients and employers and keeps me honest about the types of opportunities I am pursuing.

Passion. Having the time to fully engage in my industry has been extraordinarily satisfying. I’ve read white papers, explored social media best practices, participated in seminars, started a blog, read industry analysis, and deconstructed major media events. Most of all, the time-off has renewed my passion for what I like to do – motivate and influence people.

The time-off has been an incredible gift and a moment to take stock, get refueled, and linger over a cup of coffee or lunch with a friend or business colleague. And, I have a new arsenal of ideas – like Stefan – to bring to my next assignment.

Adding My Blog Feed to Facebook

I just used NetworkedBlogs to add the feed from SocialBuzzPR to my Facebook profile. This is handy as it reduces the need to manually update Facebook with my posts. Of course, I also had to add the feed from my blog to FeedBurner to get things working probably. For now, I am opting to look at posts before publishing them on my profile. This can be easily changed, however, by changing the settings.

Social Media Influencing Offline Decisions?

At AOL, we had a lot of data that said that online research influenced offline purchasing decisions. Who doesn’t go to a search engine to compare products and pricing before making a decision? Nate Elliott shared a few points this morning about social media influencing offline behavior and posits that we’re all still more likely to listen to our friends through face-to-face interactions vs. social media. He includes some interesting examples from the NHL and Fiskers (school and crafting supplies), who’ve tied together social media, events / ambassador programs, and PR to reach and engage their target audiences. Enjoy the read here.