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creating meaning with content

It’s Not What You Know, But Who

Maybe you’d rather be attacked by a mob of angry squirrels than go to a networking event. Unlike the mob of squirrels, networking can be relatively painless if you go in with some goals in mind and a few questions prepared in your head in case there’s a lull. And, yes, I used to ditch cocktail parties and work-related social events because I feared the inevitable “standing in the corner, looking at my watch, while surveying the room” syndrome.

It’s only within the past couple of years that I realized the value of networking. For example, networking got me my last three jobs. Networking helped me find an amazingly bright and awesome mentor Nilofer Merchant. And, Nilofer introduced me Padmasree Warrior (Cisco’s brilliant CTO) at a networking reception. Once I had met Padmasree once, that gave me an easy way to ask her for an interview with her.

So the next time you find yourself thinking up excuses not to attend networking function or feigning illness to avoid a work-related gathering, just think that the professional connections you make now, you can later leverage, and that may lead to success down the line. Sometimes the old business adage is true: it’s not what you know, but who.

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Viral Videos and You

Nothing can replace a good book, but text has its limitations — especially on the Internet where content is rapidly evolving. A video paints a picture that text never can, no matter how gifted the author or expansive the reader’s imagination. That’s why I’ve been training myself in the fine art of video, both the editing and the shooting part. You should, too.

I admit I’m no Orson Welles, but that’s kinda the point. The barrier to entry is lowering dramatically: a $200 Flip video camera, a Mac with some video editing software, a bit of patience, and You Tube is all you need to be a “professional” video person. Even if you’re a professional in quotes, video these days is simple and has that homemade feel. Case in point:

A Sunday afternoon playing basketball with my husband can turn into something (arguably) entertaining and tell a story. Watching a mini movie sure beats telling someone, “We shot some hoops on Sunday in San Francisco at a park.”

(If you want to see more of my videos, the professional ones, many can be found on the Cisco Channels blog I manage.)

Filed under: stories, web 2.0, , , ,

Be a better media consumer

I recently spent some time with a friend who was outraged by Jim Cramer, host of the CNBC show “Mad Money” which has been described as, “[Occupying] some sort of netherworld between sheer entertainment and useful financial advice,” by Washington Post writer Howard Kurtz who profiled Cramer in his book The Fortune Tellers.

Appearing on a very heated episode of the Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show” (clip here), the discussion with Cramer focused on whether he put entertainment before journalism and whether that was irresponsible, given the financial mess we’re in now. Of course, Cramer is no schlub when it comes to investing — his net worth lies somewhere between $50 and $100 million — but some say his advice unsound and that he knew the financial meltdown was on the horizon. But, in my mind, that’s not the real issue.

Don’t slap me when I say that one good thing to come of this financial mess is that we’re starting to question the media, whether we can trust the millionaires to tell us what to buy, and whether we can trust these age-old financial institutions to keep our best interests in mind. We are now reading the fine print.

To my friend I said, “Well, do you think everything you see on TV and read online is true?” She pursed her lips and furrowed her brow and I could tell she was wondering if it was a trick question. “No, of course not,” she said. And, I pose the same question to you.

Let me ask it in another way: do you buy everything that someone tries to sell you? If you want to buy a digital camera, do you purchase the first one a salesperson shows you without asking some questions or inspecting it thoroughly? Just as you wouldn’t blindly buy a digital camera, you must be a judicious consumer of information and news. Ask: What are the biases? Is there a political agenda? Who are the advertisers? Even objective journalists cannot be completely objective. (One of the first lessons learned in journalism school is that there is no such thing as objectivity in journalism.)

So as a consumer of the media, don’t be afraid to do a little fact checking. And, get a second opinion while you’re at it. It might just save you money and heartache down the road.

Filed under: journalism101, stories, , ,

At long last…

keyhole-post11I have a confession to make: I’ve been a writer and journalist for 15 years, but never blogged for myself or by myself. Sure, I’ve blogged for others — PC World, TechSoup, the Anita Borg Institute, Cisco — but this time, I’m in the driver’s seat. I’ve often cursed myself for lacking the wherewithal to start a blog sooner, promising, “This is the day when I will launch my blog.” But that day never came. Such is my blogging sob story. Finally, the clouds have cleared, launch day has arrived, fingers are poised over the keyboard, and that’s what counts.

To me, blogging is online voyeurism at its finest. That’s exactly why I’ve been a lover of blogs for ages, stalked friends’ blogs, and even read the blogs of those I don’t know. Blogs tend to be more intimate, casual, raw, and reek of much more truth than a polished piece of magazine prose.

So why start a blog now, at a time when there’s actually a decline in blogging in favor of shiny new-fangled tools like Facebook, LinkedIn, Friendfeed, and über popular micro-blogging site Twitter? All I can say is that the time is right and I have my reasons.

Being a word nerd, editor, social media geek, writer, journalist, marketer, business developer, I’ve got a unique perspective to share. This is the first of many blog posts and I hope you’ll return to read my editing tips, grammar tips, content diatribes, interviews with experts, reporting, opinions, best practices, and tips for crafting content that will best serve your readers and deliver your message. Because, after all, you can’t save the world without great content!

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May 2020