Category Archives: online life

Make Mine Local — with Lots of “Likes”

According to an article in Salon, the American Booksellers Association reported an increase in the number of independent bookstores in the U.S. in the last five years. This is certainly surprising news considering the seemingly increasing popularity of e-books and the convenience and low prices of Amazon.

The article claims that two things are driving the increase in indie bookstores:

  • a desire for authentic local experiences
  • social media marketing

The “local movement” of the last few years has done wonders for our communities. People care about consuming local food and using local services. When local businesses thrive, so do communities. In my own ‘hood, neighbours banded together to form a community association — DECA — that has brought new life to the area by offering incentives to local businesses and by creating and promoting local events like farmers’ markets.

Even big builders have seen the error of creating unwalkable suburban neighbourhoods where driving to large chain stores is the only option for residents.  People want to live near hubs offering something local and unique, and builders now attempt to emulate just that.

As for social media, the Salon article rightly points out that small businesses thrive when their customers create word-of-mouth buzz. Sophisticated consumers don’t trust advertising, but they do trust their friends — real or online — who let them know where the good restaurants are, what pubs have the best craft brews, and which new books they can’t put down.

Smartphones, of course, allow us to find the best stores and restaurants in any ‘hood in which we find ourselves. No longer is there a need to play it safe by sticking to the big chains. A unique small business with great online ratings can be found in seconds.

Authenticity and word of mouth: sounds awfully old-fashioned, doesn’t it?

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Filed under authenticity, books, future of publishing, new books, online life, online resources, reading, the Internet and us

What’s Your Word?

According to the Toronto Sun, this is PwC’s personal brand week. (I have no idea what “PwC” stands for — even their website left me wondering. I guess their brand is so strong that their name doesn’t matter, heh. ) On their website, PwC offers this tool to help job hunters understand how they’re perceived in online searches. Armed with this knowledge, job hunters can then work to correct any inconsistencies.

To get the gig they want, job hunters and freelancers should be clear about what they have to offer a company — in other words, they should be clear about their brand. Recently a branding exercise has been making its way through the media: Choose one word that represents you.

Although I’d love my word to be innovative, daring, or brilliant, there’s no denying that my word is persistent. That, along with confident, is how others often describe me. I know I can do anything if I put in the time. From learning a new skill to getting the job contract I want, it comes down to daily habits performed with drive and consistency. Obstacles are nothing to me:  With persistence I find ways (hey, there’s some innovation for you!) to accomplish my own goals and those of the people and organizations that I’m fortunate to be involved with.

Once you’ve identified your word, you’re on your way to creating your brand. It’s a matter of making sure your brand is loud and clear — online, on your resumé, in person — to employers. Because your brand is unique, it sets you apart from the pack and makes finding the right fit easier for both you and prospective employers.

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Filed under authenticity, branding, freelancing, job-hunting, online life, work issues

Internet Merry-Go-Round

The times, they are a-changin’. From Iranians organizing online to bring attention to their lack of voting options, to individuals using sites like Kickstarter to crowdfund their ideas, the Internet has changed the way we live. It’s like the whole wide world is accessible to each of us. We can all have a piece of the pie. We can all live free and strong and kick some butt-of-the-man because the future belongs to us.

But does it? For every day that I feel this ostensibly eternal optimism that seems so tangible, I have an equally depressing day of cynicism when the online world seems like another PT Barnum three-ring circus looking to make a quick buck.

I’m drawn — who isn’t — to the idea of accessibility for all that the Internet represents. The people have spoken, yo, and they demand access — freedom from outside constraints — to information, to content, to resources, to power players. This is heady stuff for countries that try to restrain their citizens’ freedom. And in democratic countries, the opportunity to become a power player is a possibility for the chosen few who create content that the masses clamour to link to, to tweet about, to like-button (yeah, I made that word up). Aaaand now we’re back to cynicism again.

But people’s demand for accessibility is laudable — and palpable the more I read. From wanting access to all kinds of content to demanding freedom from offensive government revenue sources, people are rising up to have a say. And that can only be a good thing.

Until their Twitter feed begins to inundate you with eye-rolling shlock, so you’re forced to unfollow them.

Cynicism again — sorry! Anyone else taking a trip on this merry-go-round?

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Filed under online life