I’m going to be busy this week meeting business people at the Donegal Enterprise Board Enterprising Donegal Week on Tuesday and others at the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown Enterprise Week on Wednesday. So this is just a quick (late night!) post to say if there are any members who would like to come and meet business people who are looking for advice on using all aspects of the internet in all kinds of business I would welcome your expertise at the IIA stand between 4pm and 6pm on Wednesday 25th March. All details via the link above. At a previous enterprise event I was asked questions about choosing web developers/ designers, email marketing, using social media for business, as well as more bizarre and thankfully expected questions about the IIA and the internet in general!
If you are a member of the IIA and you think you have half an hour to spare please email me at members at iia dot ie.
I know it’s hard to believe but recently I was feeling a little down. All the doom and gloom was getting to me and no matter what I did to try and cheer myself up my natural optimism was flagging. I felt that if I read one more news item online, in a newspaper or heard another radio or tv item or ad that started with the phrase [Insert your least favourite there’s-a-recession-on phrase here] I was going to go nuts!
By last Saturday evening much of that feeling was dispelled thanks to all of those who participated as speakers and attendees at Bizcamp Dublin in the Digital Hub. The mood was upbeat and, dare I say it, indomitable.
Bizcamp Limerick will be taking place on 21st March and I would strongly recommend that anyone involved in business in Ireland get along if only to re-ignite your passion, do some networking and hear some stories from others who know what you are going through.
Throughout the day attendees could choose between three strands taking place in the venue and sometimes it was a very tough choice. Camps being a little less formal do allow for more movement than many events. However the sessions I went to were all so good that I couldn’t bear to leave them to catch the end of others!
I kicked off the day at Aidan Kenny’s presentation on Servitizing your Business which certainly gave me a lot to think about. However I sometimes think we could do with a stern talk about productizing our business 🙂
I also attended a session give by two representatives of our member companies, Paul McKeever of Front, and Andrew Tobin of T2. This session focused on making the most of your web strategy. If you were there and you liked what you heard and you want more, Paul McKeever and Paul May of Front are both presenting IIA events this quarter.
I also attended a session by Niall Harbison on how he has used social media to grow his business, LookandTaste.com. The funding panel was very well moderated by Patricia O’Sullivan, who ran the M50 incubator program for 6 years and who is currently starting up her own business. The Panel comprised five entrepreneurs who all spoke about their experience of raising funds for their businesses, what helped, and what didn’t, but mostly what helped!
- Caelen King of Reva Health (www.RevaHealth.com) – raised €1.25 million
- Niall Harbison of Look & Taste (formerly iFoods as seen on BBC’s Dragons Den) www.lookandtaste.com – raised €400k
- Campbell Scott of IGOPeople (www.igopeople.com) – raised €750k
- Ciaran Crean of MicksGarage (www.micksgarage.com) – raised €560k
- Keith Bohanna of dbTwang (www.dbtwang.com) – raised €110k
This sesssion also included the perspective of Enterprise Ireland, representatives explaining the different schemes that exist, the benefits and possible obstacles and the future direction of the schemes. Enterprise Ireland were well represented on the day and there was plenty of opportunity to speak with them about business ideas.
For me the most enjoyable session of the day was Robin Blandford’s Battle of the Biz. Basically we were divided into two teams and we have 25 minutes to pull together a credible business and present it to a panel of judges. Our team, Digital Finance, won. It must have been the TV advert that swung it…
At one point during the day I was interviewed for Nuacht RTÉ/ TG4 (Dia Dhuit token Gaeilgeoir!) and the interviewer asked me what I thought was the biggest challenge facing entreprenuers today. I replied that I felt it was not so much the economic situation but the potential of that situation to divert the focus required to start a business in Ireland today. This response is a little facile but it is a danger. I think Bizcamp re-energised people, reminded them of their focus and their reason for starting out on their own.
If you would like to capture this kind of energy, head along to Bizcamp Limerick. I heard, Stephen Kinsella, one of the Limerick organisers speak in Dublin about businesses partnering with third level and if he brings half as much energy to Bizcamp Limerick, you’ll be flying!
BizCamp is a user generated business conference with open, participatory workshop-events, where content is provided by the participants. It is a new feature on the Irish business events calendar and is based on principles of interaction, engagement and conversation. It’s a free event and therefore sponsors are very welcome 🙂
I had my first experience of a camp-style conference last September which focussed on one of my main interests: social media. At that camp, I learnt lots of interest in that arena. So I didn’t hesitate to sign up for Bizcamp either – I figured if I learnt half as much as I did at Podcamp Ireland and met half as many people who have been a boon to my work with the IIA it would be a day well spent. Bizcamp Dublin is being organised by, among others, Keith Bohanna, who is on the IIA Board, and Alan O’Rourke of Spoiltchild, an IIA member. In the video below Keith explains a bit more about what to expect at Bizcamp. Watch it and then go register!
And what illustrious company in the business blogs category in the Irish Blog Awards! We’re also delighted to see so many of our members being nominated for their business and, indeed, personal blogs. A nomination for an award shows that somebody sat down and chose you over all the other blogs they could have chosen for that category so it’s kudos no matter how the shortlists turn out. So a big thanks to whoever nominated us. It is a great reflection on us and all our guest bloggers.
You can see the entire list of nominations here. Do put some time aside before clicking on that link as you will find yourself being amazed, inspired and riveted to all that is going on in the Irish Blogosphere.
Aedan Ryan of Puddleducks recently attended the IIA event “How to do Business Online – Securely” and even though he was completely exhausted after taking in all that information he wrote this summary of all he heard on the day. Thanks Aedan – we’re glad it was a worthwhile trip for you.
A guest post from Chris Byrne in Sensorpro about a new way to serve feedback surveys at conferences.
For the Irish Internet Association (IIA) Word of Mouse conference, we needed a slick way to get attendee feedback. As a survey vendor, it’s a simple task to deploy a survey with all the bells and whistles you would expect, like via email, popup, link, twitter post or embedded in a blog – but on this occasion we wanted something a little different. We wanted audience reaction in real-time without the expense and hassle of gizmos. So how about Bluetooth then? After all, many in the audience had a gizmo already – a Bluetooth enabled mobile phone (or cell phone, if you prefer!) Thanks to a snappy response from Shane at Mobanode we had our survey deployed on his Bluetooth box in minutes. As soon as we hit the “fire” button, the survey was deployed to 23 phones with just 1 rejection – not a shabby response rate! Roseanne from IIA was live twittering – so she had the twitter world peeking over her shoulder. Not only did this method garner dynamic feedback from the immediate audience – but also picked up twitter eavesdroppers with the browser link. If you want to try event feedback that is different, is relevant and a gizmo that actually works – then try this.
A little tardy posting this (and more about the reasons for that later!) but very appropriately I am posting a review by Derek McGarry, a board member of the Institute of Designers in Ireland and a lecturer in the National College of Art and Design who attended the recent IIA event on Blogging, microblogging and podcasting. Appropriate because Krishna De, who presented that event, is presenting today at our event in Limerick “Word of Mouse Marketing: Building Brand and Attracting More Profits To Your Business”. (Also appropriate because the IDI are holding their coveted Design Awards tomorrow night.)
On Thursday 18th September I attended my first workshop on blogging, microblogging and podcasting run by Krishna De for the Irish Internet Association. It was my intention to fast track my way into an information world that I knew very little about but was eager to explore.
Krishna De was an excellent speaker who illustrated her expertise on the subject of blogs, microblogs and podcasts in an informal manner that helped everyone relax and enjoy the half day workshop. Having the class participate from the word go is always a smart way to ensure that you get everyone involved. More than that, it also ensures that there was little chance of going home unhappy that the class was meaningless because you can help direct the content. Our audience consisted of a good mix of complete novices, intermediates, and professionals. Everyone approached the workshop with a clear objective to use blogs, microblogs and podcasts as an essential part of their lives. Most had a good grasp of how it might help them build their business or that of the company in which they worked.
Krishna De provided lots of real examples or case studies that showed how others were using this technology to share information within a variety of social and business networks. Although I would not like to be tested on the full extent of my workshop comprehension, the great outcome for me was to leave the workshop with a conceptual toolbox and a new confidence to give it a go. I quickly purchased the software and equipment I needed to start a series of design podcasts. Within days I had recorded the first part of my new podcast series. With some more work I will soon be ready to launch myself as an official podcaster. From this first endeavour, I plan to gradually develop my skills through practice using tips and advice provided in the class. My first efforts may well prove real amateur hour but I don’t mind because I know that this time next year I’ll be much better.
While the workshop was just what I wanted, I was initially put off by the high cost of the training. In my opinion, I think the classes could be less expensive through clever marketing and sponsorship. The Irish Internet Association (IIA) should be able to attract such help through their impressive corporate connections. Certainly, if the workshops became more affordable I would definitely recommend them to all my students, colleagues and friends.
Finally, Krishna De orchestrated a really great workshop. Well done IIA!
Derek Mc Garry
Deputy to Head of Design Faculty
National College of Art and Design, Dublin
A big thank you to Derek for taking the time to write this review. A quick note in relation to Derek’s comment about cost is that the cost of IIA events or membership hasn’t been increased for three years. If that isn’t inflation busting, I don’t know what is! Krishna also writes on her blog about assessing the value of training. Another of our members Clickstream (who recently revamped their own website) also attended this event and wrote about it on their Blog.
Last Thursday I attended the IIA Event “Search Engine Optimisation and Marketing (PDF 2 MB)”. While I was happy to be there to represent the IIA as always, I was primarily there to learn like many of the other participants. Some of the other participants were there because they were planning to get their hands dirty and develop some killer AdWords campaigns for their own companies; some participants were there because they had found the “if you build it; they will come” approach hadn’t gone quite to plan; and some were there because they were planning to recruit SEO executives and wanted to ensure they were recruiting people with real knowledge and experience. Well more knowledge and experience than they got from a one day course! We were absolutely full to capacity and as the afternoon session was hands on and PC based we were lucky to be able to fit everyone. Lesson 1: if you see an IIA event that would benefit you or your company, book it immediately!
The trainer for the day was Michael Heraghty of Heraghty Internet Consultants and his coverage of the topic was extensive. It was apparent very quickly that he has the SEO knowledge and the passion for SEO that will keep that knowledge fresh in a fast changing area. I had been to a seminar on AdWords about two years ago and so much has changed even since then that I really learnt a lot. The content of the workshop also boosted my confidence in developing Google AdWords Campaigns. I think the main thing to remember in Search Engine Optimisation and AdWord formulisation is that all the Search Engines want to offer their users the best experience possible, which means serving them results with the answer to their query, preferably in the number one position. Therefore they are constantly tweaking and improving their search engines in order for them to search like humans who know where they are and who they are. I know that I am a thirty something in Dublin so when I throw the single word query “hairdresser” into a search engine I want to see results about hairdressers in Dublin. (There aren’t many with great websites anyway but that’s another day’s post!)
One of the most useful points, I thought, that Michael made was all about what I like to call “Link love” (a quick search of WordSpy suggests that it hasn’t entered the general lexicon however Blogossary (not a receptacle for dead blogs but a glossary for blogging terms) defines it as “posting a link to sites or blogs, usually unsolicited, that you enjoy, admire, or find useful.” The beauty of link love for the recipient is that it increases your ranking with Google because Google not only looks at the content of your own site but the content of the sites that link to yours and why they are linking to yours. It works out the “why” by examining their content and if it contains some of the same keywords, it’s a good link, a real link, a link full of love. The more links of love your site receives the higher you rank in the search results. However, this only holds if, for example, you are one of my mythical hairdressers in Dublin and your site contains the keywords hairdresser and Dublin and sites linking to yours contain the keywords hairdress and Dublin EVEN IF those sites are saying “Roseanne’s Hair Salon is the WORST hairdresser in Dublin” with links to my salon’s site, Roseanne’s Hair Salon. The old adage that it’s better to be talked about than not at all really holds true for search optimization. The next trick is to engage the aforementioned dissastisfied customer of Roseanne’s Hair Salon and see if you can put it all to rights. This is something which will no doubt feature in Thursday’s half-day event “Improving Online Results using Web 2.0” and which Keith Shirley discusses when he was writing about last week’s inaugural meeting of the Social Media Working Group.
02/09/2008: I am editing this section to clarify a number of points. You can see from the comments that it has generated some interest among bloggers.
Michael mentioned that a great way to boost your link love was to write a guest blog post (HINT!! HINT!!). EDIT: Also I also imagine that leaving comments on blogs that are likely to be published (i.e. helpful, objective and “soft” sell comments (Edit: Please see clarification on my use of the term “soft” sell below.)) is another way to get those lovin’ links going. It also occurred to me that another great way to increase your link loving is to log into the IIA extranet and post information (news, appointments, vacancies, special member offers) about your company. Another link in the chain of love that will help you creep closer to that coveted number one position. I look forward to reading all your news!
With all of this in mind I would like to make a suggestion. If you have tended an IIA event and are a fully paid-up member and would like to write a review of that event and how you feel the material will feed into your work and your internet strategy, I would love to hear from you. Post a comment below or email me at members at iia dot ie.
(By the way if you can’t get enough of this SEO stuff, Heraghty Internet Consultants have plenty of case studies in the Clients section of their site.)
EDIT: Soft sell: Let’s be clear, the IIA is a business association and so our members are in the business of turning a profit. This is the main goal of all resources spent on company time. The reason that they will undertake any blogging or commenting on blogs is that they hope that their engagement will reflect well on their products and services which in turn will lead to new customers or sustain relationships with existing customers. Like all other engagments there are rules. You wouldn’t roll into a meeting with potential clients unprepared or do a radio intervew without planning. Writing a blog or commenting on somebody else’s blog has the potential to attract as much attention as a radio interview. However as an employee of the IIA when I comment on a blog in a professional capacity I will always be doing it with the IIA’s mission and strategic goals in mind. It will, after a fashion, be a soft sell to encourage members to take a more active role or to encourage non-members to consider joining etc. even if I never mention these goals explicitly.