Tag Archives: Blogging

seen in Germany
An example of German Humor – “Sucker – Alles bis XXL” .

I used to turn to Twitter for inspiration. I hardly ever use Google for a search. XING was my first social media affair, but Twitter is my true love. I am a short form texter and a friend of saying it in five bullets. I have returned to write posts in long form, 300 words minimum (and not only because of SEO but because it feels right). I had underestimated the challenge of being German and here is a how I got over it so I could become a better blogger.

 

Having been in the middle of my career around 2005, I think I missed the whole era of blogs coming up. I had too much to read already and I did not really understand the point of blogs. I thought of them as diaries not valuable sources of information. When I started to write in one of my XING groups it was to “inform” rather than to engage or entertain and once I was told that it was too much to read.
The way I wrote for a long time was the way I had learnt to write emails as an HR professional: Concise, factual and directive. I think, I still write concise and directive but I am moving away from the factual style. I have a hard time being funny. I wonder why that is. I realized it must have two reasons: 1) I am German and 2) I worry too much.
Apart from the obvious influence of my passport culture and mother tongue which is a limitation of English vocabulary and sometimes errors in grammar, I think the German education and university system got in my way when I wrote blog posts. We learned to base our statements on deep analysis. In blogging that is not necessary because you can write about your view of the world. I only understood this difference a few weeks ago. I don’t have to be “objective” in my writing. Readers want to hear what I have to say, not four consulting companies.
As a German (I am stereotyping now) I can’t be funny in a professional context. I take myself way too serious most of the time. I wish I could give a lighter note to my writing but I find it hard. Sylvia Day, a comedian and improv coach told me once “Don’t try to be funny.” So, I guess my only chance to make you laugh is by showing you the naked reality of our multicultural, globalized life. Maybe you read a story here and think “This is how I cheat myself as well.” For example when I write in my diary “Walk” and then I use the free time as a buffer to perfect my tweeting skills.
We assume that our published words are an expression of our analysis and experience with a subject matter. If I make a false assumption or draw a false conclusion, then that could reflect negatively on my work. I am often worried that I could be called out for superficiality. Not really hitting the nerve of the topic like in high school when you thought you failed the assignment as you did not really get what the teacher asked you to do only to hear him quoting you in front of the class as (OMG) your assignment stood out with originality and spirit.
In an attempt to make my blog more interesting I introduced movies as a theme. I love movies so why should I not refer to them in my work. You might love movies too. Make sure you enter “Darth Vader” in the search box or “James Bond” or “Iranian movies”. (Did you know that there is a Japanese movie festival in Zurich?)
I am also getting more bold at saying what I think needs to be said. That boldness might take a bit of uncomfortableness but it is very liberating. When you make helping others your profession you need to sit in their brain. When you write a cover letter I want you to hear me telling you that you break the task down in several steps and that you refrain from copying and pasting. When you network with a purpose I want you to hear that it is not about you but about helping the other person succeed or overcome a problem. And when you are asked about your salary expectations I want you to hear “Say the numbers.” This is what I would like to achieve with my work. That you reach your goals, that your work feels more rewarding and that you have a challenging growth experience on your international assignment.
That does not mean that we can’t have fun at the same time. So tell me all of your ideas how I could make you laugh.

As I mentioned in an older post it sometimes feels like a burden to be an interculturalist. The main reasons are that we are often perceiving cultural differences in a way that goes far beyond stereotyping. Sometimes our knowledge feels limited even though we know a lot more about cultural differences than the average person. It feels like you are watching the world with a new set of magical contact lenses. These give you a clear sight into how the world works and sometimes you wish you could go back to the time when everything seemed blurry in black and white. When you could easily polarize and put people in drawers pulled according to the half-knowledge you had about them and their cultural background.

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With this post, I want to encourage you to have an opinion when it comes to intercultural issues. I want to explain why I stopped being politically correct on all media.  I don’t want to cry at breakfast tables when people I hardly know share how they feel about bombing Palestine or about refugees. I don’t want to hide my personal life any longer because I am afraid I might lose a client.

My heart has been with the underdogs ever since I grew up in the children’s home my parents ran. In high school, I was considered “too social” for a lot of people and I always thought of myself as a moral institution. I was going to go into the arts that I was sure of. But life came in between.

In the university as the president of our AIESEC local committee, I was once told I was “too engaged” for our cause of cultural understanding. Like I did not have enough self-interest as a normal business student would have. I did not connect with many students in my class. Most of my friends were from AIESEC.

Working in banking and other companies of capitalist structures I often felt a bit out of place. I tried to find meaning in what we did. When we made staff redundant in Germany, we supported them to find another job at another company. When we outsourced to India, I saw the positive effect on the job market in Bangalore and Mumbai. I tried to tell myself that as long as individual lives get better through my work I cannot be on the wrong path. But more than once my personal values of fairness, equality and honesty were challenged.

One of my best managers told me, that I had high moral values and that this was probably why I sometimes struggled in the corporate world. It sounds strange but my moral attitude and tendency to humanism got in my way in my career (plus other factors such as being female). Also, the conviction learned in school that you have to be truthful and honest. Let’s say in the corporate world you have to be diplomatic and understand political behavior.

I went to my first SIETAR conference in Germany in 2002 and felt at home.  I met other “interculturalists” at the Summer Institute of Intercultural Communication in Portland, Oregon. I will never forget the deep connection I felt with everyone I was having lunch with. It was a revelation. After these encounters, I understood that there was nothing wrong with how I saw the world. I understood that there are people thinking and feeling like me out there. I was probably just in an environment, that was not ready yet for a more humanistic way of working with people.

In the meantime, I have my own business grounded on intercultural understanding and I have made a decision to drop political correctness and be the person that I am. My clients appreciate, that I am honest with them. For a career in corporate this might be an issue but I am beyond that. I want to say what I want to say. If clients, companies or Facebook friends decide that they don’t like that I will let them go. I want to work with clients who share my values. In the first years of my business, I was concerned that I could lose clients when I share what I believe in. I have noticed, that this is my fear of rejection rather than reality.

In intercultural training, we often tell people to talk about sports or the arts over dinner in other cultures. While this is a non-threatening approach and works 80% of the time, it can also get dull. As a German I want to dig deeper. I want to understand what drives people and how they really think. I don’t want a glossy, shiny or otherwise manipulated version of the person I am sharing a meal with. I want them to be able to tell me their truth. If a friend feels racist behavior because she has brown skin, I want her to share this with me. I want to speak openly to my clients and friends.

I will continue to fight for the less privileged: Refugees, gays, and women. And you know why? Because this is who I am and this is why I was born into this world.

Who will you support in 2016? Let us know in the comments.

Happy New Year to all of you!

 


When you send out your newsletter with “Here the email subject” you might assume that you’ve lost it.
Or you are just overworked.

Or you have just lost the person you relied on to do this for you.

Or you noticed that you are already way too late and that it does not matter now.

Or you want to test and see if your readers react at all.

 

Does the newsletter create value for your readers in the first place? This might be a question you ask yourself.

 

Is there a way to find out what creates engagement and what does not?

Recently we launched a post on LinkedIn that was rather successful. I am now wondering why this one was performing better than others. Was it because the content spoke to the heart of many readers? Was it because the language was easy to understand? Was it because we had a list of tips to share?

 

I don’t really know.

 

I think it is important to remind yourself once in a while what is important and the big news is: What is important to you might not be important to your reader. On the other hand: What might be obvious to you might be fairly new to your reader or maybe you are the first person that explained the topic to them in a way they can accept. Maybe you are the one person they will listen to because you have authority in the field.

 

So how can you find out what matters to your readers?

 

  • Hold a webinar and ask them
  • Write about different categories of topics and see what performs well
  • Always add tips so your readers can take away a concrete idea
  • Limit your words so your readers will be excited to read on the phone.
  • Be consistent in when you send out a new post. A lot of successful bloggers call their newsletters after the day it is sent out.
  • Change voice by letting different bloggers write for you.
  • Find out which voice and style your readers prefer.

1) Position yourself

Think about how you want to position yourself in the market. What are you selling exactly and how do you want to position yourself? To position you professionally it is helpful to have an account on LinkedIn. In the German-speaking world XING is also used excessively. One principle: Be honest!

2) Find a good Avatar

Find a good name for your Avatar (online identity) connected to your name and profession. For Twitter make sure you use as little characters as possible but easy to remember. Abbreviations are hard to remember.

3) Practice Blogging

To practice blogging you can open a free blogspot or wordpress.com account. Once you feel you have the ropes of blogging you want to get more professional.

4) Buy Domain and install WordPress

Buy your domain. Try to find a name that is easy to spell and easy to remember. You can use http://www.namecheap.com/. Once you have your domain you need a script for your blog. I work with WordPress which has stylish and professional templates. You can download your script and start blogging away. Join the community and read other blogs: http://wordpress.com/

5) Install Social Media Plug-Ins

Install Social Media “Plug-Ins” so that your readers can share content on other Social Media. This is really not difficult if you are willing to follow the step by step explanations. Usually I donate about 10 USD if I use a plug in regularly. Also you should only use tested plug-ins and the ones that have been rated highly. My favourite and most important is AKISMET because it identifies spammers and sorts them out right away.

6) Invite your current fans, followers and friends

It might be a good time to invite current fans, followers, friends to become readers on your blog. You should blog at least once a week. My personal preference is not to have advertising on my blog. I have a page where I explain what our service offering is but I do not use advertising on my blog. For readers of my generation and older (say born before 1980) I believe that less is more.

7) Create Facebook page and join Twitter

If you have some encouraging readers you might want to create your Facebook page and open a Twitter account. Please keep in mind that you will need to feed and interact on your blog, FB and Twitter at the same time.

8) Engage with other Bloggers

You can ask other bloggers if they would feature your blog link on their blog roll and vice versa. Whatever you do: It is important in Social Media to reciprocate. I recommend you read articles on how to blog. I have learnt that it is recommended that you feed posts 2 to 3 times a week. The articles should be short, fresh and contain pictures and sub-headings.

9) Get active on Twitter

Open your account with the same handle as your Avatar (under #2). If you have a follower on Twitter you should follow back. If your tweets are retweeted you might want to RT this person’s tweets too. If you are recommended by tweeple you should also recommend others (See www.followfriday.com).

10) Limit your online time

You can easily get caught up in Social Media and spend a lot of time there. I have fixed online times where I work on Social Media (about one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening). I spend an hour on Fridays for FF. Blog articles you can write on Sundays. Around once in a month I clean up my Twitter account with http://tweepi.com/ and run Mackeeper. So reserve about two hours a month for housekeeping.

Hope this helps!

Angie

PS: Around 3 years ago I joined Twitter as @angela3004. It was on birthday and I had a glass of champagne so I was not really aware what I was doing. About a year later I started to use Twitter to support the flood victims in Pakistan. Then I changed my handle to @angieweinberger. I have about 2800 followers now. I used to describe myself as a technology “dummy”, a simple user who likes to try out new tools. Now, I have improved my face and name recognition. My memory is a lot better. I also found my love for writing again that I used to have as a teenager and I even write poetry on one of my other blogs. So this Social Media journey for me has also been a journey to myself. I made a lot of new friends online and some of them are my greatest supporters today.

“Baby steps honey!” (from a movie about a shrink “My name is Bob”)

“You’ll be fine” (from “A serious man”)