Could Google Hangout Be the New Interview?

April 15th, 2013

 The Good Ole Days

You get a phone call or a letter from the company that you have been dying to hear from, you get your chance- you get an interview-for a job, to get into graduate school or to land an account or project.  Soooo exciting.  And to make it even better they have asked for a “phone” interview set up and they want to use Google Hangout or Skype.

If you have never Skyped or used Google Hangout…

This post will not be a tutorial on how to use Skype or Google Hangout, each application has great “Help” areas where you can learn how to do it.  But one piece of advice is:  NEVER make the most important call your first attempt at using a platform – practice on someone that knows how to use them and can walk you through it.  You need to make sure you have all the settings on your computer correct, maybe have headphones and/or microphone handy.  Does your computer have a webcam, do you need one?

Google Profile Picture

If you do not have a webcam, make sure your Google + Profile picture  is what you want it to be for the occasion.  Hangout pulls that image and if you are without a webcam, it flashes in the middle of the screen so make sure that photo isn’t one of you doing something that was funny when you posted it but not so funny now when you are going for the interview.

The View

If you are using a webcam make sure what people are seeing behind your head or next to you is what you want also.  This is an interview after all and that first impression is very important.  Having the background of a dirty dorm room or something less than flattering is a bad idea. Test it.  If it isn’t something you like, then either go somewhere that there is a good background or stage one.

If this call involves a job where you may be working with kids, perhaps the “sippy cup” with water in it is perfect. You can use this staging to market yourself too, is the company an outdoors company?  Do you have a picture on the wall behind you of your favorite salmon river?  (I do)  It is easy to find some common ground with the interviewer or the company especially when you take a couple minutes to give them something pertinent to look at.


Just like you probably wouldn’t bring your children to a client’s office for a business appointment, leave them in the waiting room or bring them in the room with you, make sure they aren’t climbing all over you, this means your dogs too (especially in my case.)  Turn down the music and focus on the conversation and the interviewer.  TURN YOUR CELL PHONE OFF and don’t be checking your email.  It’s rude.

Pretty Easy, Right?

I have been on more conference calls, webinars, etc. where I have seen all of these scenarios.  You would think people would know better. When that person isn’t right in the room with you negotiating salary and benefits, they are still there and they can see a lot.

Michael Fox

I found this post while I was researching.  It is very good and has some helpful information, even though it is from 2012, it is still accurate and well written.  (Disclaimer:  I don’t know Michael in the business sense or personally.)  He brings up some interesting points including ones about security on Google Hangout, it is well worth the read.

Thank you for reading.


What ARE you DOING?

April 8th, 2013

You know, Who You Are…or Who “They” Are.

Those people on Facebook, Twitter and the like that use these platforms FOR THEIR USE ONLY. Then see what everyone else is doing, maybe to use it as a tool to ambush someone or tell YOU about something THEY learned about a person on Facebook and make snide remarks about it.   I am at the point of doing a few things:

  • Ditching them as “Friends”
  • Unfollowing them on Twitter
  • Should I block them all together?
I have posted more than once the idea of the Social Media Stalker mentality, how we ALL know the selfish people in our lives behave the same way on Social Media as they do in real life.  It is not pretty sometimes.

THEY Want Something:

The best thing about Social Media is that it is much easier to see the pattern than it may be in real life.  There are time stamps and in most cases a “feed” so you can see the activity. (IRL=In Real Life)  You hang out with your friends, they hang out with others and it always comes out – most often not in the same group that brought up the topic in the first place.  You do not see it in real life  as easily or quickly.
In Social Media vs. face to face it is:  “Did you see what Miss Whozit said on Facebook?  It seemed ridiculous, I cannot believe it, what a loser.”

Knowledge is POWER

When you live in a small town, like I do,  rumors run around town fast and with Social Media it is even more LIGHT speed.  People that never had knowledge before, now have it, use it and ‘make hay’ with it.  People that are your “FRIENDS” on Facebook may not be your “FRIENDS” as we know true friends to be.  To me a true friend is someone that would come to your Mom’s funeral, shovel you out in a pinch, pick up your kids at daycare when you are not feeling well, call you to just say, “I Miss You.”  You see where I am going here, right?

This behavior comes down to a simple thing my mom always said (and still says today):

“If you aren’t going to say anything nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.”

MY 2013 version:

“If you are not going to get into the conversation, offer support by posting something on their wall or call the person because they are crying out for help in a different way then – SHAME ON YOU!
Are we just “bullies” in an older form?  Sermon over.
*Disclaimer:  This post isn’t because this recently happened to “Yours Truly”, but I heard it about it.  It makes me go “Bo Bo, so beware.”


Why Tweet?

April 2nd, 2013

Where are we going?

A while ago I wrote a post for the Sephone blog that discussed goals and various social media platforms that are free to use.  There is no right or wrong goal but of course some are better than others and they have to be yours.

When I first set up my Twitter account, it was February of 2008.  My goal at that time was to learn what this “thing” did because as we all know NOW it was part of the revolution in marketing that changed how people pass information around and keep in touch with one another.

Since then, how people behaved on Twitter, how they said things, (shortened URL’s, for example) became the norm of the Twitterverse.  Also how you can stuff the most info into 140 characters and how many external applications that can help those of us that work in this business can use and how we mixed and matched other platforms and used Twitter to spread the word.

Having a Goal is Important

It is easy to get lost in all the nitty gritty details and lose site of what you are trying to accomplish.  When I hear someone say, “I don’t need to know what you had for breakfast.”  I want to scream.  Since everything is so automated these days, scheduling tweets/posts, etc. it is easy to think that there is a live person on the other end of that message and there may not be.  Or there isn’t one right now when you read it or is there?

Examples of my Twitter Goals:

  • My Front Page News: Learn about things that I need to know that I wouldn’t be able to find by myself.
  • Share information that I find interesting or helpful.
  • Keep myself and my company “Top of Mind” with people I know personally and those I may have never met.
  • Get smiles – as a virtual worker my face to face dialogue is somewhat limited, Twitter makes me feel like I am actually talking to people instead of myself (or my dogs!)

Twitter Works for Me

I am not known for my patience.  Short bursts of information with a link to  “More”  is perfect.  I have my phone handy I can see it there easily, or on my ipad or laptop.  If I have a friend or client that has asked me a question about something I can easily pass it on. Also my clients and the media can too, if they tweet.

“Knickers in a Knot”

One of my favorite Canadian friends said once, “Don’t get your knickers in a knot” about some lofty goal that reminds you of your last nightmare strategic planning session.  Just write it down for yourself, perhaps put it in your profile to let followers know how they can help you or for them to know how you can help them.

And TWEET – have fun with it.  Find people to follow and give them something to look at when they decide if they want to follow you!

Me?  I am @ladyotrout or @sephone.  See you in the Twittersphere!




A Routine Doesn’t Always Mean it is ROUTINE

March 28th, 2013

People ask me, how do you know all these people?

A Schedule

A lot of what I do each day isn’t seen by everyone at once.  But then i am pretty sure that is that same for all of us in one way or another.  When you are in the Marketing, Public Relations or Social Media fields, there is a certain “roll with the punches” attitude that comes with the territory. But there are certain things that I try really hard to do each day (even weekends) before that day gets away from me.

Challenge One:  Time?

Most of my “sleuth” work begins before many people are just rolling out of bed. (This excludes my early morning radio and TV friends).  I am a light sleeper so often I wake up in the middle of the night and rather that lie in bed with my head spinning of what I could be doing, I get up. Usually grab a water and start reading blogs or collecting information for future content needs.

I also check in of Facebook and LinkedIn and see who I haven’t been in contact for a while (many of my “friends” are business contacts) and see how they are doing.  Since so many people are of the thinking that, “Since I posted it on Facebook, everyone knows about it.”  But the algorithm that Facebook uses for news feeds there is nothing further from the truth.  Since I have recently crested 1,000″ friends” I have realized that many of those I haven’t contacted in a while aren’t in there.  Lesson:  Don’t expect Facebook to make sure you see every post you wished that you saw.

I check in on Twitter, always a helpful source for content that people share as well as what people are doing or what is going on around town/state/region.  I follow a lot of folks that are really “plugged in” and don’t mind sharing what they know.  Twitter is an easy and relatively quick way to get into the groove of things. I share, reply to folks and “retweet” as well.

I check Google+ and sometimes depending on what I have seen on Facebook or Twitter I may post a link there and comment on others information.  I am finding I am using G+ more and more as I develop my circles and share with potential and existing clients the information that I find.

Challenge Two:  Early Morning Meetings

I serve on community Boards as well as attend breakfast networking functions, some as early as 7:00am.  After my middle of the night “work session” I often go back to bed for a few hours but this is impossible on a morning when I have to be up, showered and out the door.  After the meeting or breakfast is over I find wireless someplace  and if I couldn’t get through my “TO DO” list in the wee hours then I finish it up then. Check my multitude of emails.  And sometimes this includes “the old fashioned” type of communication, writing real notes by hand or calling folks for a bit of “one on one.”

There it is in a nutshell.  I try hard to make sure I stay connected with folks, that is the most favorite part of my job.  The “virtual” part of my job has evolved over the years and having somewhat of a routine is really important to me. When no one is standing in your office doorway asking you for something makes this routine important to making sure my network is still MY NETWORK.





Forget About “Getting It”

March 25th, 2013

Over the years I have heard from business connections and friends – even old ones (because of Facebook).  That don’t “GET” some social media application.  Usually this is said in a disparaging tone and if  they  SAT down and learned about it then maybe they would.  Try taking time out of Facebook for ONE day and put that time into the application or platform that you don’t “GET.”

Any platform that is new is a bit uncomfortable at first and some of them are such “Flash In the Pans.”  They are gone before you get a chance to try it out.  In both cases this is frustrating because if you are in business you have limited time to learn new things.

Before you dive in, think of 3 things:

  1. What is my goal in using this new platform?
  2. Who is my target market?
  3. And if my business is a B2B, then who are my target market’s customers?

Let’s use Twitter, for an example:

1. Your goals can be simple.  If you are a sales or maintenance person on the road, it may be helpful for you to know if a business or plant is closing due to weather, water main break, fire or construction delays.  Perhaps your team may not hear about these things through tradition methods? 

Would you  want to communicate with the press?  Would you want the media to come interview you about a topic instead of your competitor? Make it easy on the media to keep connected with you.  We all like good publicity or stories and we don’t have to pay for it, all the better.  And if you haven’t noticed, the media uses Twitter.  So start following them, it is easy and free to do.

2.  Your Target – what are your potential and current customers using to communicate?  Go poke around and punch in a few names that you know.  If there is a customer out there that is unhappy with a product or your service are they making nasty comments about you and you aren’t listening how can you fix it?  Or if they have something going on at their business or plant, spread the word through your network.  Good Will matters.  Using Twitter especially to help someone is a lot more popular than just pushing out “BUY MY STUFF” messages.

3.  Supporting your base: If you got a phone call or text from someone saying,  “I am looking for ________  – do you know where I can buy it? ” When I get calls like that,  I think of who my customers are and go to that database in my head and recommend my customer first.  If I don’t have a customer then I refer them and often times it is someone I have been in contact through a social media platform.  Often it is Twitter.

A platform like Twitter is the new water cooler conversation, before the water cooler,  it was other conversations involving face to face meetings, church, kids activities other networking events.  Twitter is networking, connecting and getting to know a wider audience that you may never been able to reach before.

But back to a goal for a minute:  If you use Facebook then what was your goal there?  Watch out for your kids?  Are they on Twitter?

Follow Me if you like!  @LadyoTrout

What I did on my Winter Vacation

March 18th, 2013

I took a vacation.  Sort of.  Years ago I never understood the need for a 2 week vacation.  Since we started Sephone more than 11 years ago, vacations are difficult to achieve as the  “completely unplugged” kind. I think you need the first week to decompress then the second week to really enjoy yourself.  My vacation was one week as I said, “Sort of.”

Being a small business owner is a rush.  NO DOUBT about it.  Being part of a small business is too.  You feel like what you do is important and a vital part of  its’ success, because what you do IS vital.  Maine is loaded with small businesses as “Yankees,” (not to be confused with the baseball team), we like to do things our own way and we would rather buckle down and get the job done, treat people like we know they deserve to be treated and be part of their success.

What is my point?

My winter vacation is  normally in the Western Mountains of Maine – aka Sugarloaf Mountain, where I have been rooted since 1967. As I was out and about skiing, shopping and cooking, I connected with a lot of folks that know me.  So, of course I had questions from them and there was a small voice saying, “Hey it’s my vacation…”  But that is squashed down by the realization and privilege it is for people to feel comfortable in asking me questions. They trust me.  It is a great feeling when you think of it.  An honor, truly.

The next couple posts on this blog will be those that folks asked me about while on the chairlift, eating cheeseburger soup or drinking tea at my girlfriend’s kitchen table. Yeah I know, I took notes – on my cell phone actually so I wouldn’t forget. See what I mean about trying to be “unplugged?”  If there is something you would like to know, don’t hesitate to email me.

It also gives me great content for this blog, because if you want to know, chances are many others out there maybe looking for the same answer.  There are countless blogs addressing the various social media and online marketing riddles but finding them is tough and cutting through the “geek speak”  is even more challenging.

How can I help?

If You Are a Meathead in Person…You Can Still Be a Meathead on Facebook

March 6th, 2013


Sorry for the Archie Bunker reference but it is better than some of the other alternatives.  Gets the point across without being obscene or throwing around a bunch of poor language choices (obscenities).

My points are these:

  • Not everybody wants all their “FRIENDS” on Facebook to know their life is sucking wind at any particular moment.
  • Many people are constantly driving their own agenda home, their political views, their own “deal” – please donate to my _____.
  • And more people don’t take the time to check in on their “Friends”on Facebook.  They use Facebook as a sounding board or a “stalking platform.”  I don’t mean this in the criminal sense but they are so full of finding out what YOU are doing, they don’t ever stop by and say “Hi.”   Or when you are in a group of people they tell you, “I don’t need to call you, I just look at your Facebook page and I know what’s up.


Everyone has their own rules on Facebook and most of us are just writing them as we go along. Learning from others and learning what others do that works for us (and doesn’t.)
Many people have “Friends” on Facebook that they have never met in person and certainly may never want to.  But hey they are a friend of a friend and you accepted them – how did you know that friend (maybe a real one) doesn’t know them either?
Also have you ever been “guilted” into adding a “friend” or two – even though you thought they were flaming ******** (you can fill it in yourself) you felt obligated at the time to add them and you did.
As you gather friends on Facebook and if you get into the 350+ range, it becomes very hard to keep track of who you ACTUALLY know and who you don’t. If your Nana or Mom are your “Friends” you may not want to tell them on Facebook that you feel like your life is ending, work is eating you alive, etc. even though you may feel it at that particular moment.
With the Facebook algorithm if you have a lot of “Friends” you may not see everyone’s posts in your News Feed. So folks that post personal stuff as a look for support you may miss it.  Thus another potential Meathead moment.  And you may not be one at all.
In the end, I love the opportunity to read people’s posts and learn about them and their lives.  I almost always try to connect with them in some way so they know I am looking.  Facebook is definitely the “Look at me! Look at me!” Social Network.  But try swimming upstream once in a while and showing your real self.  Toot someone else’s horn instead of yours all the time.
Encourage those that need it, coach those that want it. Praise in their accomplishment.
But it takes time to manage those relationships just like in real life.  Oh…Facebook ISN’T real life?


The “Charm” of the Virtual Office

February 1st, 2013

You are so Lucky!

Everyone says it.  They love working at home in their PJ’s.  And I won’t lie to you, I feel the same way…some days. But to be honest, being the social butterfly that I am and always have been, I find the virtual office a challenge, actually. Customer appointments help contact and I tend to bunch them up into a couple days so I am not spending a lot of time on the “back and forth.”  We have customers spread all over !  (Thank Goodness!)

I Miss Humans.

I miss the jokes at the office, the food that we share, the face to face contact of the office environment.  I genuinely ike my coworkers.  I care about their lives, their families, them. We still have weekly face to face staff meetings but it isn’t the same.

I don’t miss having to go out on a stormy day, moving my car for the snowplow, having to dash home to get dinner started.  Because ESPECIALLY with the last one, I can start it when I am taking a break from staring at my monitor or talking on the phone to a customer.

If you ever have worked virtually from the road (or from home), interruptions are usually minimal-unless they are YOUR interruptions. Or in my case it could be my dog Crosby or Sam just wanting to climb up into my lap as they follow the sun around the house.

I’m Fortunate

I have a completely separate room with my computer set up and the sun shines in and today while it is about 20 outside it is 78 degrees in my office.  I have Pandora cranking on my laptop, my iPad open, I have sent about 20 text messages, gone through emails, posted on some Social Media sites and it is 9:30am.  I could never get that much done in an office in that time period.

Pandora is great – but I do miss the radio, the chatter of the on air talent,  people talking, real ones. But there aren’t that many LIVE on air people anymore either.

I don’t own a radio that even comes in clearly (my car doesn’t count).  If it doesn’t stream on the internet, I don’t get it.  It can be very isolating some times.  To some people that are not in PR or Marketing, the more technical fields this could be the perfect environment.  With more and more people working from home these days are we becoming less social or do we need to channel that “social-ness” into another area?

I serve on some Boards and Committees.  Boards of non-profits in our area. I get some “people time.”  I need “people time.”  Volunteering makes me feel good.  In this life of it seeming to take forever to see results on some projects, volunteering is a “quick fix” to feeling like you are doing something that matters. In our region, there are many people that are willing to “roll up their sleeves” for the better good.  We don’t call it “giving back” or “paying it forward”  we just do it because it needs doing.  So that is my lift for the day or week.

What do you do to feed your soul?


To Know Me is to Love Me…Would You Give Me a Chance?

January 22nd, 2013

We are all so different.  Some folks are visual (ah… that would be me), some are more analytical and if a person is one or the other than you can bet each side loves each one sometimes but is disgusted with the other most of the time.

Internet romances have been the rage but it wasn’t long ago that most people thought they were for losers, psychos or fortune hunters.  Maybe internet dating is a good thing, people talk like old friends and learn about each other without the stress of the “first date.”  I am not dumping on that at all. But we live in a world now where technology connects us as well as disconnects us.

Example #1:  Significant other finds their “beloved’s” cell phone, check through the texts and “POW!”  There are fireworks and they aren’t the good kind either. People like Tiger Woods and Brett Favre know this fate only too well and even better this is all used in lawsuits.  And in both cases, it wasn’t just the heartache that was inevitable,  it was the wallet break that went along with it.

Example #2: I saw a nice couple in a coffee shop the other day.  They held hands as they walked in and in fact one of them held the door for me and greeted me with a smile.  Left me feeling pretty good.

Every one ordered and I sat down across from them.  And there they were, one talking and one staring at his cell phone.  Now if this guy had included her in what he was reading and punching onto the phone, then fine.  But he was very distracted and she went on about a situation she was dealing with.  He had his eyes down and kept clicking away.  Finally looking up he said, “Oh sorry babe, I was texting.”  (This is not a gender thing, this is a manners thing.)

Since this smartphone held power over a human to human interaction, you have to wonder, if it wasn’t an emergency, why did this happen? Is it so hard to put down the phone, flip it upside down and look each other in the eye and talk?  When did we stop being human?  It wasn’t a point in time, it has been an evolution.

I have taken to leaving my phone in my car on customer appointments.  What’s worse than texting during a face to face encounter?  They can see they aren’t as important as whoever is in your phone. AND you are doing this in PERSON.

In 20 years, well maybe 10 – where do you think this will lead us?

Communication: Mutiny

January 21st, 2013

It is understandable that animals “pack up” and under the right (or wrong circumstances) turn into cannibals.  It is a bit amusing to me that I went to my favorite bird seed metal trash can only to find this:

A couple of  mice camped out in the bottom of what I thought was a sealed can, munching on sunflower seeds and oh yeah, what was left of their buddy.  Perhaps there were more of them, I do not know.  Just found 2 and bits and pieces of another guy.

Sure it is gross to think about.  But hey, it happens.  “Survival of the fittest,”  right?  There are two ways out just like there is in life.  A person either becomes the bait or is eating the bait.

How many of you have read “Who Moved My Cheese?”  Again, it is involving mice.  But it takes the behavior of 4 mice and it is up to you to equate it to how people you know behave.  How we act under certain circumstances.  But in the Who Moved My Cheese?  situation; it takes 4 types of personalities and breaks them down into very simple terms.  It is a quick read and I often read it annually just well, “BECAUSE.”

1) Because there are new people in my life either professionally or personally and Who Moved My Cheese helps me understand them and how they think.

2) Because it REMINDs me how I think and how I approach things. (Often very different approaches)

Communication and lack of it starts wars, ends wars, destroys friendships and businesses.  With everyone using Facebook to throw out what they are doing or thinking and equally a number of people NOT engaging in conversations on or off line, because they think automatically everyone knows what they are doing.

They don’t know.  Many people lurk on Facebook just to see what you are doing whether they care or not.  They never bother to engage in conversation.  They may be “takers” in general. Here is a post I did earlier that may further explain this line of thinking.

It is also possible that sometimes the person that makes the post has their own agenda for posting.  We all know these people and often times any one of us may be that person.

Don’t forget the power of physical contact or a phone call.  Body language and voice inflection go a long way in keeping your relationships solid with people’s communication styles and habits often being different than yours, this is more important than ever.