July 1, 2009

Thinking of a travel dossier

July 1, 2009 - Categories: delegation, process, travel

I usually spend the evening before a flight putting together a travel dossier. It includes:

  • a map of the route from the airport to the hotel
  • a map of the route from the hotel to the meeting center
  • public transit routes for the airport to the hotel
  • some events and background information

This is something a virtual assistant can easily prepare, and he or she can add more information too. I’d love to have:

  • restaurants near the hotel, cross-referenced with reviews from Yelp or other sites
  • pictures, names, bios and mobile numbers of people in the area who are interested in meeting up
  • names and addresses of people in the area so that I can send postcards
  • taxi companies and phone numbers

In addition, the VA could update my TripIt and Dopplr accounts, so I can start tracking these trips better.

So I’d give the VAs:

– my flight information
– my hotel information
– the location of the meeting

and they would prepare a document that contains:

  1. The weather forecast, if available, including temperature in Celsius and whether to expect rain
  2. The flight information (date and time, flight number, booking reference, terminal number if possible)
  3. The hotel information (name, address, contact number, whether there’s a courtesy shuttle from the airport, and what amenities are available)
  4. A map of the route from the airport to the hotel, including a large map and small maps with driving directions for each step
  5. A public transit version of that map (large map + text)
  6. A map of the route from the hotel to the meeting place, including a large map and small maps with driving directions
  7. A public transit version of that map (large map + text)
  8. A list of taxi companies and phone numbers that serve the area. If the meeting place is in a different city, get me taxi companies for that city too
  9. A list of restaurants near the hotel, ranked by their Yelp rating
  10. A list of restaurants near the meeting venue, ranked by their Yelp rating
  11. A list of my Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Dopplr, and Google contacts in that city, as a table with names, e-mail addresses, phone numbers, and addresses (if from Google contacts), so that we can reach out to them and ask who’s interested in meeting up (maybe a Facebook event + e-mail for those not on FB)

I can then print this document out easily, and keep a copy on my computer for backup.

When people have confirmed that they’ll meet up, the VA can prepare a list of pictures, names, contact information, bios/interests, and blog URLs.

Sounds like an interesting idea!

Combining multiple social media services

July 1, 2009 - Categories: web2.0

If you’re new to social media and Web 2.0, you probably feel overwhelmed by all the different tools that are out there. Should you use Twitter? Get on Facebook? Start a blog? Share photos? Share videos? It seems that as soon as you’ve worked up the courage to try something new, another ten new tools come along. And where are you going to find the time to do all of this, anyway?

When I coach people on social media, I notice that people often focus on–or get distracted by–the tools. They worry about not being on the right networks, about staying with a tool long after their target audience has passed. They sometimes have a hard time seeing the big picture and how all the pieces fit together.

Here’s the big picture: You want to work more effectively. You want to reach out and connect to people.

The tools you use to go for that big picture will change over time. That’s okay. You might need to be in more than one network or to use more than one kind of tool. That’s okay. You might need to leave tools, copying your data over if possible. That’s okay.

The big picture is: You want to work more effectively. You want to reach out and connect to people.

So, how do you go about putting the pieces together?

At the minimum, you should have one website where people can go to find out about all the rest of the tools you use to share. Many people build their profiles on LinkedIn for this purpose, but it’s best to use your own web host instead of relying on a third-party company that might be renamed, go out of business, or simply go out of style.

I strongly recommend registering your own domain name. If your name is still available as a domain and it’s easy to spell, use that. If not, come up with another phrase or tagline that people can use to find you.

Set up a simple site with your photo and some information about you. Include your contact information. You can use something like WordPress to easily create a few webpages.

You may also want to set up e-mail so that you can use your new domain name for your personal mail. If you never change e-mail addresses, you’ll never have to worry about losing contact. Google Apps is a good way to get your own mail system.

Now that you have a main site, you can explore other tools and social networks. Here’s a sample:

  • Social networks like LinkedIn.com, Xing.com, MySpace.com or Facebook.com make it easy to keep in touch with contacts
  • Microblogging sites like Twitter.com make it easy to share short, quick updates
  • Blogging sites like WordPress.com or Blogger.com let you share longer stories and posts
  • Media-sharing sites like Flickr.com (photos) or YouTube.com (videos) let you share your creations
  • Social bookmarking sites like Delicious.com

Other kinds of sites cover all sorts of other purposes. Go ahead and explore.

Whenever you build a presence on another social network, link back to your main site. If you want, make it easy for people to discover your other profiles by linking to those profiles from your main site.

Worried about losing track of what you put where? Take notes by bookmarking the resources you’ve shared or by blogging about them.

Over time, you’ll figure out which set of tools work well for you, and you’ll have the flexibility to add interesting new tools as they come along.

Recent photos

July 1, 2009 - Categories: photography

Hobby day holiday

July 1, 2009 - Categories: life

I spent Canada Day indulging in hobbies that benefit from concentrated time. It was terrific!

I started the day by sewing a pajama set from the adorable penguin flannel I picked up last week. I modified Simplicity 3548 to make shorts instead of pants, and I tried to copy one of my existing pajama tops. The shorts turned out wonderfully. The top is a good first top, and I’m sure I’ll make even better ones. I plan to take this set along on my next business trip – another little thing that’ll make me smile.

Then I played the piano. The tricky bit in the middle of Send In The Clowns is starting to yield to practice. I’m also enjoying learning the second part of Fur Elise.

I spent some time in the garden, too. I filled all the empty containers with potting soil and planted seeds in them. Might as well enjoy the rest of the growing season, after all. I also weeded the garden, cultivated the soil, thinned the over-enthusiastic radishes ;), transplanted some basil, and rescued a tomato plant.

Photography was fun. I set up the lights, and the cats decided it was portrait day. Well, Luke sat for portraits, at least.

I broke the mini-USB connector on my camera, so I disassembled the camera and W- soldered the component back on. =D Everything still works–hooray!

Yes, I could’ve spent the day working, but going a little deeper on hobbies helps me develop a more interesting life. The more I know, the more I’ll enjoy. =)

Great day!