Sunday, November 30, 2014

Traffic Jams

It is interesting to watch other vehicles when you are stuck in a traffic jam. In some cases I think some people forget about the rules of the road and even driving etiquette.

Recently we were stuck in a line of traffic due to construction and also a highway closure in the area. A lot of people got into the lane they needed early on but there were also a lot of drivers that drove by the line and forced themselves into the lane at the very last minute. These people were just queue jumpers and it means people that had waiting patiently in the line got very frustrated. People wonder why there is road rage and this is an example of why it happens.

Another thing I have noticed when on a highway in heavy traffic is the number of cars that move from the regular lane into an on-ramp lane to get a little farther ahead. The on-ramp lane is only for the vehicles that are coming onto the highway. In this case I have even seen vehicles cross the solid line to get into the on-ramp lane.

Being considerate when you are stuck in a traffic jam makes it easier for everyone. If you drive like it's only you that matters. it won't help you or others around you. The bad driving can result in you or others ending up in an accident.

Just remember on-ramps are only for vehicles getting onto the highway, just as off-ramps are just for getting off.. Queue jumping isn't recommended as it is rude and dangerous, and you are causing other bad behaviour around you that may come back to haunt you.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Vendor Relation Phone Calls

Vendor phone calls are something that can be a real pain at the best of times. Vendors call and all they have is either just a phone number or a phone number and a name. They know nothing about the business that they are calling and that is very frustrating. It is important that if you are going to be phoning potential clients that you know a little bit about who you are calling.

One time I received a call from a large vendor and they were rather upset that I had attended a specific conference that he insisted we were too small for and he couldn't understand that I go to these conferences to find out information for our clients. In a number of cases we are the trusted advisers for our clients and that means we need to know the various options that are out there for each of our clients.

I did receive one really nice call and I know that the individual that was calling has checked out our website because of the questions she was asking. She knew that our business was basically just the two of us and we supported clients that were larger than us. This meant that I felt like the person had taken the time to look into our business so yes I gave her the time and answered the questions that she needed answering.

Now what is really upsetting is when you receive a vendor relations phone call on a statutory holiday. This happened to us on Thanksgiving Day in Canada which was Columbus Day in the United States. The phone rang at 9:15am and it was a vendor wanting to ask questions about what we did, etc but after a couple of seconds and being informed that the call really wasn't welcome on a holiday the person then said they would send information via email instead. Now if you are a vendor and need to make this type of call remember to make sure that you aren't calling on a holiday or a weekend.

Vendors need to respect the companies and individuals that they are calling because we all do need a bit of down time. If you are going to be phoning a company make sure you know the size of the company before you start asking all the questions and listen to what the answers are and don't get upset when they don't meet your expectations. They don't meet your expectations because it is probably the wrong size business that you are calling.

Vendor relation phone calls can be a great way to make contact with a business but they can also be a great way to lose business.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Conferences and social media

I recently had an opportunity to participate from afar at a conference. No, I didn't actually travel to the conference but I was trying to use social media to see what was going on for those attending the conference. I found a number of things that were both good and bad about how the social media was used by the conference accounts. I am going to comment on Facebook and Twitter usage because that is what I was using to look at the conference.

Twitter – It was used just to re-post the same items that were being posted on Facebook. Twitter wasn't used to help people figure out what sessions were being hi-lighted until after the session was underway or in some cases finished. Maybe twitter could have been used to hi-light some of the times for Keynotes and such just prior to the sessions so it was a reminder to those attending. For someone attending trying to follow the Twitter feed it was next to useless. If you are going to be on Twitter, BE on Twitter don't just use it as a re-post location.

Facebook – this is the one where I am going to have the most to say because this is where I was seeing some of the things.

Need improvement:
  1.  A lot of the pictures were about the fun activities that were happening and not a lot of what the conference was about. The conference was an IT conference so I would have been making sure that the sessions and networking should have been a key part of what was being shown. I was extremely upset seeing all the partying and not much else, when our employee was losing 5 days of being billable to be at the conference. 
  2.  Posts to page – this was used in the side panel so it was very difficult to see what others were saying about the event. Possibly as a result not a lot of activity in the posts to page other than the goodies that could be won through various activities.
  3.  Use quotes from attendees to help show the value of the conference. What were some of the takeaways? What did you learn? Have someone who's focus is to try and gather comments from attendees about their experiences. 
  4.  Show people in the various sessions more to show that sessions and networking were the key part of the event.
  5.  Pictures – maybe show some of the layout for meals to show what was being offered to the attendees. Also try and get some of the booths with people around them instead of very empty booths. 
  6.  Collecting success stories – don't tell me you are collecting them and not summarizing any of them. Very high level would have helped get attention. This doesn't make me want to follow-up on this topic. If you weren't going o quickly followup within Facebook, don't bother mentioning it in Facebook.

A good start....
  1. Sessions – the first day of the conference was hi-lighted through pictures of the keynote and even pictures after some of the sessions but then it stopped and it then shifted to just the fun activities that were the extras. I was really happy about the posting on the first day as it gave me a feeling of what really was happening, at the keynote and during the day. This is very valuable to assist in marketing the event for upcoming years. Coordinate with scheduling to get pictures of high attendance sessions and pictures from front into audience at keynotes.
  2.  Highlighting some of the networking was great because it shows it is not just all work but sessions and networking should be the focus instead of the parties and other activities. This could have been done more to show groups together talking.
If a conference is going to use social media to help show what the event was like they should be ensuring that the key importance of the event is be front and centre. The free t-shirt give aways and things like that are extra and not what the conference is focused on. The conference had a clear mandate stated in the keynotes of Learn, Network and have some fun in that clear order of priority. The event's social media during the event showed a reversed priority.

Social media is a great means of communicating about an event and the value of the event. Why would I spend x dollars to attend or how would I convince my company to spend the money to send me and allow me the time out of the office? So many companies are cutting back on employees attending conferences because of the financial cost as well as the manpower costs. Social media could be used to show the wins that companies can get by incurring the costs at least hint at a positive ROI.

If social media was used better to show what benefits a conference can have it may assist in companies being willing to spend the funds. If an event is showing only all the fun and games it doesn't help sell it for the next time.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Conference give aways -- SWAG

Have you noticed at conference how much stuff (SWAG) is given away and grabbed up quickly by some people. I am really wondering what is done with some of this swag that people grab without thinking about if they need or want it.

We have been at some conferences and it is amazing to watch people when they enter a vendor area. Some people will look around and see where the best free items are and immediately head for those vendors. Once they get there, they do not look up at the people are the booth but look at the table and grab what they see as nice but never talking to the people at the booth or even looking at them. In some cases these items may never be used by the person that took them but given away to someone else and in cases to someone that has no clue who the vendor is or what the vendor does.

I really want to know how many pens, canvas bags or even t-shirts do I need with various vendors names or logos on them? I know that vendors want to make sure you remember their name but enough is enough. If I really want to learn about you have some info that I can take away and look at. A pen doesn’t tell me what you do or how you can benefit me.

The other thing that gets me is now many vendors at shows have the prize that they give away at the end of the day. OK, now you expect me to spend the entire day at a show and in some cases I may not have the opportunity as I also need to meet the needs of my clients. The prize normally requires that you drop off your business card to enter the draw. So now what you have done is given all the various vendors your total contact information just because you have a small chance to win a prize. For the vendors it is a great way to get a lot of possible client info without doing anything. Now you are going to be getting a lot of phone calls and/or emails from all the vendors where you dropped off your business card.

OK, I will admit that there is one piece of vendor giveaway that I like and those are the journal books that some give away. Yes, I use these books and normally have at least one of these books with me at all times. The other thing I like that is sometimes given away are the small books from the “Dummies series”.

So when you are at conference next time just watch what some people are grabbing and how full their bags are and think about where some of that stuff will end up.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Children and School

Over the last little while I have noticed something in my neighbourhood that has concerned me and it is the number of school age children that are out and about in the neighbourhood during the school day. I was out in the neighbourhood around 2pm and noticed quite a few children that should have been in the public school at that time. What I did noticed that in some cases they looked like they had been out grocery shopping with their mother and it was their job to carry the groceries home from the store.

I know that when I was going to school the only time we ever started home was when we were sick and we had to be really sick to even think about staying home. I remember the farthest I ever went when I was missing a day of school was to the doctor's office and back home, there was no shopping done along the way.

I am not sure why parents are allowing the children to take the time out of school to help with shopping or such because the shopping could be done after the school day. The other thing I have noticed at least in our area is that when we go to the mall at any time of the day there are quite a few children with parents there instead of in school. What is interesting is the school is actually next door to the mall so if the child is well enough to be walking around the mall shopping they should be in their classroom.

I think if the parents are letting the children miss school it is teaching them a lot of bad habits. These are going to be the adults that don't want to show up for work on time or even to work at all if they just don't feel like going in. I know that we all want to miss work or school at some points but getting into the habit of going unless you are sick does make you a better person. It shows that you respect the system that you are in and are not taking things for granted. Our school system here is pretty good and I think that the parents should be doing more to encourage the children to attend classes and to be on time.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Vendor emails

As an IT professional I have noticed something that I really need to write about. It has happened the last couple of weekends and it is frustrating. I have received vendor related emails on the weekend.

Why do vendors have to send out solicitation emails on a weekend. I thought a weekend was a time to relax and try to forget about work and not be bothered by vendors. The other thing about getting these emails are they are distracting. Yes, we have our mobile devices on during the weekend to receive emails from clients who are experiencing issues and need our assistance.

When these emails come in I end up marking them as read. No, I don't really even read the email because I just get frustrated that they have arrived on the weekend. In some cases I even delete them because of the mood I am in when I see them.

Now if you are a vendor and are trying to get my business you won't help yourself if I get emails from you on the weekend. I probably will never really focus on your email because of the timing of when it arrives. Ok, it will probably get onto my work account on Monday if I haven't deleted it but considering it is marked as read it means I won't really look at it again unless an issue comes up and I need to investigate something.

Remember if you really want to get an individuals attention on an IT issue send it during the week when they are in that state of mind. Sending emails to IT individual on a weekend means there is a good chance it will be totally ignored or even deleted. Please remember we all want some time off.