technology

Four Years Can Change A Lot

by Marian Schembari on August 10, 2011


Let me preface this post by saying I’ve arrived in Melbourne and I may or may not be getting too old for hostels.

I happily remember my time in Europe as one of new friends, cheap accommodation and a staying social while traveling alone.

Four years later and I feel ancient. I got into Melbourne late Monday night, had to crawl over a mess of smelly teenage boys while cloaking myself in a threadbare sheet and thought, “What the hell did I do?”

That said, the two days I’ve now been in Melbourne have been an eye-opener.

First of all, I have my computer with me. I can’t tell you how much this changes things. I remember having to cram in a week’s worth of internet time on one of those massive coin-operated desktops in creepy internet cafes in Amalfi. Now I’m always connected, which is both awesome and a little sad. I’m nervous about leaving my fancy computer in a hostel so I’m lugging around multiple pounds of technology on my back while exploring this new city.

So there’s that.

There’s also the fact that this is my first trip EVER without a guide book.

Why? Well, my bosses handed me my very first iPhone before I left with the promise I’d work from the road. This little piece of metal has changed my life.

I always used to say I’d never get a smartphone. I didn’t want to be one of those people walking down a perfectly beautiful street with their eyeballs glued to yet another screen. Or, worse, I didn’t want to be one of those people who can’t look at a human face for more than ten seconds without one eyeball darting to their phone. You’re not being sneaky, I see you. We can always see you.

Travel has changed so much in just the few years since I last backpacked. I haven’t gotten lost once in two days because I have Google Maps. I haven’t had to poke my head in every single coffee shop to ask if they have wireless because I have the Free Wifi app. I don’t need a guidebook because Melbourne is as keyed in as they come and all I need to do is whip out my phone to find the best and closest things to do in my neighborhood.

I’m also ditching the hostels so I can couchsurf. While the whole concept of staying in a stranger’s house freaks me out, I can’t do a 14-bed dorm for one more night. Plus, college travelers are annoying the crap out of me and all I want is a local who can tell me the best coffee/vintage store/laneway. Double plus, I need me some friends. As excting as all of this has been and as much as I love my privacy, you’d be surprised how lonely you can get in two days.

I realize a lot of this tech existed in 2007, but not to the degree or accessibility that it does now. I don’t know how this changes me as a traveler, we’ll have to see.

{ 26 comments }

Walking the Walk vs. Talking the Talk

by Marian Schembari on September 23, 2010


The other day I spent some time on the phone with a fellow social media consultant. We went to school together and recently found each other online, so decided to have a chat. It’s a very new industry we’re in and since we’re both young and relatively new at this, it’s been fascinating to find the right footing. I also don’t know anyone else who does exactly what I do so I can’t tell you what a relief it was to share war stories.

As the good little Internet Queen I am, I of course Googled my new friend before our chat. What I found was a rarely updated blog with a basic design and low-maintenance Twitter profile. So I, of course (and mistakenly), assumed she was a struggling consultant and I would have lots to teach her.

Ha! Not even close. My friend is turning away clients left and right, regardless of the fact that her own online presence is lacking.

I’m reminded of the saying: “The cobbler’s children have no shoes.”

Beware When I Look Busy

Part of the growing success of my site is that I post 2-3 times per week, tweet multiple times a day, continuously update Facebook and LinkedIn and have at least one guest post, interview or feature on other sites once a month. This is all incredibly time consuming, regardless of how many shortcuts I take or time limits I give myself. However, all this work leads to referrals and clients. Problem is, my ideal clients aren’t online yet. Most of you know your shit already so have no need to hire me.

My ideal clients will most likely be met at networking events, through advertisements and referrals, not through a guest post on a popular blog about blogging.

The thing is, I probably wouldn’t have time for all this if I was inundated with clients. Unfortunately, I  do have the time to write dozens of blog posts and keep up-to-date with the latest social media news.

Leading By Example

One of my greatest sources of pride is leading by example. Potential clients already know my traffic, my ability to “be everywhere” and know the tricks I’ve implemented have successfully grown my audience in a small about of time. I walk the walk.

My friend, on the other hand, is actually getting paid to walk the walk for other people. She’s so busy she doesn’t have the time to lead by example. She talks the talk.

To be honest, I’d rather be in her position any day. I’d much prefer to pay my bills. To be perfect honest with you all, I can do social media marketing in my sleep, but I suck royally at traditional marketing. I can find clients for other people using social media because their clients are already online. Mine? Not so much.

So yesterday I sent out a tweet asking about “practicing what you preach” and I got two great responses to share with you all:

- From Pop

- From Tori

This post isn’t going to be long, because I’d like to hear what you guys have to say.

Would you be more impressed with a social media consultant who has a strong online presence or who is obviously so busy with clients she doesn’t have time to impress you?

UPDATE: Oh man. Based on the comments, I think my point has been unclear. The woman I reference in this post is AMAZING at what she does and her presence in no way sucks. She is, in fact, doing much better than me and I was hoping for your take on the balance between spending way too much time on perfecting your presence and actually going out and doing your job. My problem has been spending too much energy on the former.

{Photo credit}

{ 81 comments }


Every day the internet becomes more and more important for businesses, and from my experience – both job hunting and later in publicity (which is basically a more technical term for job hunting) – I’ve learned some hardcore ninja moves to find who and what you want.

As part of a two-post series, I’m introducing the Ultimate Guide to finding relevant people and blogs online through a variety of sites and methods. Please feel free to add your tips in the comments section – the goal is to make this the biggest one-stop-shop for getting that info!

The first step is to get names. Applying for a job and you need the name of the hiring manager (sometimes calling just doesn’t cut it)? Putting together an invitee list for a specific event? Doing PR for yourself or a client?

You can find these people a bunch of ways:

  1. Jigsaw. Get an account with them, it’s free. Once you’re signed in you can sometimes see the names of certain people who work there without having to “purchase” anything. For big companies this is usually the case.
  2. LinkedIn. Go to a company and just browse the employees. Usually you can see the names for the first 10 pages or so. Some people choose to block their names for whatever reason, but you can get a few this way.
  3. ZoomInfo. VERY infrequently you can get the names of the head hanchos at big companies, but more important than the names is the information you can get. Company history, press, title, events attended, sometimes even contact information is all available in one place.

Getting Contact Info

And speaking of email, the next step is to get their contact information, which is surprisingly easier than getting names. All you need is one email address. This is the email formula. I just usually “purchase” this via Jigsaw. For example: Mary Smith is president of Bank X. Because Mary Smith is a big deal, her email is nowhere to be found. So I go to Jigsaw and find the name of the SVP of Sales. His name is Bob Jones. So I purchase his contact info. His email is bjones@bankx.com. Therefore, Mary Smith’s email is (90% of the time): msmith@bankx.com. Get this picture?

After a while, you start realizing the formulas are completely unoriginal. It’s usually some variation of msmith@bankx.com, mary.smith@bankx.com, mary_smith@bankx.com, or, if it’s a small company: mary@bankx.com. Usually after the @ is the name of the company, but sometime is differs. Like Deutsch Bank is @db.com (again, I say usually).

It’s a lot of guessing and you’ll definitely get some returned messages. Sometimes I plug in a guessed email address in to Google like this “mary.smith@bankx.com” (use quotes when searching for email addresses, this prevents sites with the person’s name and company name without the address from popping up) and see if anything comes back. Sometimes her email will be on some online database that you can then access.

Dig Though Old and Future Events

Sometimes conferences or seminars will give the contact info for their speakers. At the very least, they’ll give their names. So Bank Conference might say: “We’re proud to be hosting a Lunch Seminar with Mary Smith, President and CEO of Bank X”. Make sense? So when you start running dry, Google “bank conferences for women” or “business lunch seminar” etc etc. Google every variation you can think of.

Also, when you find a name you can plug it into ZoomInfo. If they’re important enough you should get a decent amount of info to make sure they’re appropriate (see #3 above).

Random Tips I’m Too Lazy to Categorize

There are a lot of business directory services that you have to pay for but some will give you a free trial. Lead411 is a good one.

Googling titles also works sometimes. Ex: Google “CIO of Bank X”. Sometimes articles will show up that include the person’s name.

This is a lot, but you sadly can’t get all this stuff from one place. It’s a lot of surfing around for hours (I know, lots of fun), variations on search terms, and serious digging.

Notes

*A note on “purchasing” — take advantage of any and all free trials. You don’t need to pay upfront, just make sure to cancel before they charge you. As for Jigsaw, for every contact you input, you can then “buy” a contact with those points. So add your contacts OR do the community tasks. You usually get cut off at around 5 contacts unless you’ve been a member for a while, so I have about 5 accounts with them. As I write this I realize I’m exposing my little scam, but I’m sure I’ll survive the scandal.

**A note on spam — Don’t.

{ 17 comments }

How important is my blog’s design?

by Marian Schembari on March 4, 2010


About a month ago I considered paying someone to do my blog redesign because I felt it wasn’t snazzy or professional enough to do the job. Now that I’m 100% self employed I figured my website was THE most important thing I’ve got going for me.

Well, life happened, and I can no longer afford to hire a web designer, but I still stress that my site isn’t awesome enough to impress anyone.

I know my About page could use some work, my blog isn’t the prettiest thing on the planet and I keep reading that I need a mailing list/newsletter. You know, for the 12 people who would sign up. I also think I need some form of logo.

But am I obsessing for no reason? It’s not like people stumble upon my blog and decide it’s so cool they need to hire me. Most of my business comes from referrals via connections I’ve made on Twitter or through blog comments. Actually, hold on, scratch that. I’ve received two emails from random people who’ve stumbled on my stuff but they’ve either wanted me to work for free or join them in a sketchy business venture. No thanks.

Anyhoozey, the reason I started thinking about this post is because I generally Google people before I have meetings with them and the past two or three times I haven’t really found anything. No website or Twitter account. Which usually blows my mind – how can you freelance without this stuff? But they apparently do it successfully and are full of awesome and aren’t slaves to social media networking.

Yesterday I signed up for AWeber to start a mailing list (I actually have a cool idea for a promotion thingy – I know, super technical) but I can’t figure out how to put it on my site. Is it that hard? Apparently since I can’t figure it out or work HTML for shit. I feel like I should get Thesis but am nervous about losing everything in the process since I have no idea how to back my site up. I finally got Disqus to do my comments (which I think looks and works much better) but so far that’s the limit.

I heart technology so I feel like it’s  bit of a disgrace that I don’t know how to build a decent website. Like I said in my last post, I’m not sure asking questions will result in the most comments, but I would really like your opinion. What would you add to my site? Take away? Blunt honesty always appreciated.

{ 23 comments }

My name is Marian and I am a Comment Whore

by Marian Schembari on March 2, 2010


The other night I was checking my email while a friend was over. I saw that someone had commented on my blog – which always gets me goin’ -  so I went to check on this awesomeness. After seeing that my most recent post had 19 comments (a HUGE amount for someone like me) I went a little giddy.

Until my lovely friend called me a “comment whore”. His words exactly: “Oh. You’re not one of those comment whores are you?”

Why yes, Charles, yes I am.

And p.s.? Bite me.

So I tweeted it (because that’s what us social media sluts do nowadays). RedoingMedia responded, saying, “@marianschembari proof positive that this is not the person for you????”

Which got me thinking. There’s this super-specific blogging community that you only understand if you’re knee-deep in the trenches. So maybe my friends don’t 100% get why I dig comments, but anyone else with a blog understands how vital they are to not only your site’s survival, but to your sanity/ego/motivation to move forward with your life.

We judge a blog entirely on its comments. I could give less of a shit if you get millions of readers every month, but if you’re getting 100 comments per post you are the cat’s pajamas. If you’re in PR you understand that reaching out to bloggers is important. But which bloggers do you contact? Those who are part of something bigger? The columnists for AOL? The biggies on HuffPo? Or do you go to the ones who have established their own little “cult followings”? People like The Bloggess or Marie Forleo

Darren Rowse on Problogger wrote a post, 7 Questions to Ask On Your Blog to Get More Reader Engagement(one of many on that site doesn’t say much but has an enticing header), on how using questions is THE number one way to get people talking. Chris Brogan says this too. In fact, most of his posts end in a question, but I’m not fully convinced this is why he gets so many people talking.

To be perfectly honest, the reason I comment on blogs isn’t because people ask. From my experience, both with my own comments and seeing why other people write, here are the top reasons I comment a blog post:

  • The blogger has said something I agree or disagree with strongly
  • I want to congratulate someone on a new job/baby/engagement/personal success
  • Something is hilarious and I want to add my own experience
  • Something is so amazing I couldn’t possibly leave the website without letting the blogger know how amazing they are but am too lazy to write an email (There is a fine line. Remember that.)
  • There’s some form of list, usually in advice-form, where I have something to contribute

Ryan Rancatore writes on his blog, Personal Branding 101, that one of the top 5 uncommon ways to measure social media success is through comments per page view.

20 Something Bloggers even has a group called We love comments! that has over 1,000 members. I know I’m not alone. If you have a blog, you are… a comment whore.

My posts with the most comments:

So we’ve got two personal posts, one “helpful” post and two controversial ones. Here are Penelope Trunk’s most commented:

Her most commented post talks about her miscarriage (personal), one is moderately helpful (usually involving a number), the other three are controversial, two of which have the word “hate” in the title.

So maybe this isn’t an exact science, but I don’t think readings posts like, 10 Techniques to Get More Comments on Your Blog is going to cut it.

Let’s try the questions thing – just for shits and giggles. Why do you comment? Are you a dirty little slut too?


{ 57 comments }