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Networking

Social Media Workshops and Training

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Wow. March has been a busy month here at Rich Graphics – not just with branding and design work – but an with abundance of workshops, seminars, presentations and training sessions in Social Media as well.

At the beginning of the month, I hit the road with the NSAR (Nova Scotia Association of REALTORS®) as their keynote speaker as they did their annual meeting in each region of the province. My role was to present my ‘Using, Branding and Integrating Social Media for REALTORS®’ presentation to each.

The presentations were roughly an hour long, and were delivered to six regions in five days. I presented in Sydney, Antigonish, Truro, Halifax, Bridgewater and Yarmouth. Halifax was by-far the most intimidating venue, with over 220 in attendance, and people parking on the street of the hotel due to lack of room in the lot.

The presentations were very well received, with guests taking notes and asking plenty of questions. A few have even contacted me since, for private training, to attend a more in-depth workshop, and even to begin planning and management of their social media strategies.

The middle of the month marked my ‘Hands-On Social Media Training Workshop‘ where I had nine in attendance. The workshop consisted of three-hours of hands-on training, with attendees logged into their facebook, LinkedIn and twitter accounts, learning to set up and use them properly. I also touch on a number of management tools, websites and apps to leverage these tools and take their Social Media to the next level.

And rounding out the month, yesterday I presented ‘Using, Branding and Integrating Social Media for Business’ at the Bconnected Trade Show that took place at Taboo in Halifax.

When I started this business three years ago, I had no idea I would become a sought-after trainer. In fact, I wasn’t all that comfortable speaking in public. It always amazes me to see the direction my business takes. It’s an ever-evolving entity!

So, if you’re looking to learn more about Social Media – please contact me today. I have been ‘in the trenches’ for the past three years, and am always happy to share my knowledge. In fact, keep an eye on the Hands-On website for upcoming training dates and be sure to book early. They tend to fill up quickly.

Till next time, keep on tweeting!

Nova Scotia Come To Life Interview

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A few weeks ago, I did an interview with a lovely young lady from M5 Communications for the Nova Scotia Come to Life initiative. I’ve posted the interview in it’s entirety below. (To see the original, simply follow this link.)
Hailing from the hometown of the heroic Sidney Crosby, Richard Black’s introductory line of choice is: “I knew Sid the Kid; I used to bully him on the playground.” Of course, Black is quick to admit the story doesn’t check out: he’s 10 years Sidney’s senior.
But, that’s just the type of guy Rich Black is – friendly, conversational, droll; a social being; the type of guy that immediately puts you at ease with his pleasant and relaxed demeanor.
That’s probably why networking comes as second nature to him. Lucky for him. In his line of work, networking is key to success. At least, it has been the key to Black’s success.
Richard Black operates his own web and graphic design company in Dartmouth. When he’s not busy building corporate identities from scratch, designing websites or putting together the myriad pieces of the Web 2.0 puzzle for his clients (and training them in how to use it), he’s networking with peers and potential customers – constantly staying on top of the scene; continually evolving his business.
“There’s a fine balance between networking as much as possible to ensure business development unfolds and actually sitting in front of the computer and producing tangible results,” says Black. “And both aspects of the business (development and production of high quality collateral) are equally important.”
In fact, Black finds so much value in networking that he developed his own informal group, called Dartnet. When it began in January 2009, Dartnet comprised a few dedicated members who met weekly over breakfast. Today, Dartnet meets monthly and has expanded its membership ten-fold. In fact, this January more than 40 people celebrated the first anniversary of Dartnet as they informally chatted about the industry to which they all have intimate ties.
Certainly, Black’s tie to the design industry is an intimate one. The Cole Harbour native studied at NSCAD University for a few years and then attended the New Brunswick Community College where he concentrated in animation and design. From there, he landed a gig producing animation for a CBC show. Today he heads up Rich Graphics from his home office.
Rich Graphics is a small design studio that offers cohesive design solutions for both print and web applications. Black designs for a multitude of media, including: brand identities, graphic design for print, web design and development, social media and web hosting. His clients include small- to medium-sized businesses, most of whom are local.
“Local small- and medium-size businesses have always been my target audience,” explains Black, as he reflects on the entrepreneurial dream he has made a reality. “We have a vibrant business community here in Nova Scotia. I try to stay true to my roots; support the local community as much as possible.”
Most recently, he developed the website for the Governor General’s community spirit award. But he has also worked for many clients across diverse sectors.
Black finds clients by doing what he does best: socializing, mingling at professional networking events or chatting via social media.
And positive word of mouth from his uber-satisfied clients doesn’t hurt, either.
It’s no wonder this people-person has a passion for new media: he lives and breathes social interaction every day of his life. Black explains, “Social media is part of what I sell. I’ve set up custom Facebook pages and coinciding Twitter backgrounds for clients; then I show them how to work it all.”
And soon, he will embark on a speaking tour focusing on social media and how to use it corporately. He will be sharing his insights and experiences with Nova Scotia’s business community.
Regarding social media, Black says “I think people are innately social creatures, and that’s why they’re taking through Facebook and Twitter – not just in their personal lives, but in the workplace as well.
“I believe that interaction through the Net will continue to prosper. It’s an extension of networking.” And, of course, from Black’s perspective, networking is paramount.
“With social media taking flight in the business world, connecting with new clients and learning from peers becomes much easier,” he says. “And I’m lucky to be operating my business in a province that is really on-board with emerging technologies.”
Black says running a business in Nova Scotia has some definite advantages. “One of my favourite parts of operating here is the reciprocal friendliness between competitors. We learn from each other and help each other out – it’s friendlier here than in the big, densely-populated cities that have more vendors than work,” he explains.
“My competitors are more like mentors than opponents,” adds Black. “And often, I’m able to collaborate with people in the industry – writers, designers, PR specialists – to deliver high-caliber pieces for large-scale projects.”
Though Black currently operates the business alone, he hopes to one day expand. “Sure, I’d like to employ some people,” he says matter-of-factly. But for now, producing quality results for clients and continuing to connect with his peers and potential clients is at the top of Richard Black’s priority list.
It’s a job he does well. Whether hosting breakfast networking opportunities through Dartnet, presenting on the latest design industry happenings, or meeting clients over coffee, he’s always staying connected.
Black writes a blog, too. And as it turns out (evidenced by blog posts and photos), he may have joked about bullying Sidney Crosby on his hometown schoolyard, but he really does know Olympic snowboarder Sarah Conrad, who he used to snowboard with behind Cole Harbour Place as a young man.
And that’s certainly not surprising for this well-connected social butterfly, for it’s this knack for relationship building and design work makes Rich Black the kind of guy he is.

#PodCampHfx 2010 – One Day of Social Media Paradise in Halifax, Nova Scotia

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On January 24th, Halifax held it’s second annual PodCamp festival at the Alderney Gate Library. It was a day filled with tweets, iPhones, Blackberries, and plenty of presentations involving social media, design and online video. Two words can effectively sum up the experience: information overload. This free event attracted 300 people interested in Social Media and the cream of the crop decided to present. PodCamp is known as an ‘un-conference’ – that is, it’s put on by the people for the people. All of the presenters are also attendees, and everything is free. It’s a great event, and I’d like to give a special nod to @RyanDeschamps and @SpiderVideo for investing their time, blood, sweat and tears into putting it on. Though it’s the participants that make it great, something of this magnitude wouldn’t get off the ground without a committed, enlightened core group. Hats off to you two, and everyone else working behind the scenes to make #PodCampHfx such a huge success.
If you keep up with the blog, you’ll remember I attended PodCamp last year as well, and had an amazing experience. This year, I decided to take it to the next level – and ran a workshop titled ‘Using, Branding and Integrating Social Media for Business.’The session ran 45 minutes, and I had a total of 110 slides. Most were hand-drawn, with a handful of screen-captures thrown in for good measure. My session was a rousing success, with a total of three dozen attendees. I consider myself honoured for the chance to present, and must admit I really enjoyed the experience. It was nice to give back to my peers, and to network with some of Halifax’s social media elite. I apparently have come a long way in a year…. I distinctly remember seeing a video of me asking a question at last year’s PodCamp, and my voice cracking like a pubescent teenager.
Some notable events include Giles Crouch’s presentation ‘The State of Social Media in Atlantic Canada’, lunch with the #halifaxchicks and @thecoolestcool, the keynote address with @mcleangreaves and the #BattleDecks challenge at the end of the day.
Giles represents Media Badger – a local Social Intelligence Agency. They have their own crawler, MediaSphere360, which collects useful social media data in our region and beyond. Giles was kind enough to share some data about Atlantic Canada and New England with the PodCampers, such as:
• From 2000 to 2008 the number of Maritimers online has risen from 40% – 84%
• 87% of these online users have broadband internet access
• 49% use social media daily
• 36% use social media to make purchase decisions
• 25% feel better about buying from organizations that use social media
• 40% don’t read magazines
• 20% don’t read the newspaper (me included – I use twitter and facebook instead)
• 15% don’t listen to the radio
• 67% watch tv and surf the internet at the same time
• 38% own more than one computer
• Facebook users average age went from 42 to 53 in the past year
• Myspace users are 16 years old, on average now
• LinkedIn users average age went from 47 to 55
• twitter uesrs are now on average 39 years old – up from 34 last year
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, folks! More information about Giles’ presentation can be found on his blog.
The keynote speaker this year was the infamous @mcleangreaves – who hails from Toronto, and is a legend in the digital, broadcast and print media industries. He seemed to have the inside scoop on all things tiwtter, facebook, and social media. From bold predictions of which tech giant was buying which Canadian start-up this year – to the insider track on Apple’s new iPad tablet computer (releasing tomorrow!) – McLean seemed to know it all!
PodCamp wrapped up with an event called ‘BattleDecks.’ And contrary to some guesses, it was not two DJs squaring off with beer involved somehow. #BattleDecks originated at the #SXSW festival in Austin, Texas. It pits several challenges against each other, vying for the title of Social Media Bullshit King… I assume. Each challenges has to talk to a dozen slide, for twenty second each, that they have never seen before. The also have to follow a general topic guideline, which consists of some current social media buzzword, for the most part. I can’t justify the hilarity that ensued in mere words, I’m afraid. Suffice to say, I had tears in my eyes for the duration of the event. A nod to @firecatkitty, @Prire, and @TheCoolestCool for their amazing skills of delivering maximum BS on-the-fly. Carmen Pirie was declared the winner, but I personally thought Ross Simmonds had it with his ‘Generation Y’ theme, and downhill spiral into sexual-innuendo at the end…
So, to wrap it all up, PodCamp Halifax was the place to be last Sunday. As I often say, “The Geeks will inherit the Earth.” – and we proved it and then some at PodCamp. The energy at the event was incredible, and everyone left a richer person. If you ever have the opportunity to attend one of these – take it! You’ll network with the best, and learn until your poor brain can’t take any more. Best day of 2010 so far for Rich Graphics and myself, hands down.

The CEED SEB Showcase

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I recently had the opportunity to set up a booth at the first-ever CEED SEB Showcase. I am an alumni of CEED (Centre for Entrepreneurship and Education) – and their SEB (Self-Employment Benefit) program. This two-hour networking event featured great food (catered by Culinary Inspirations), a dozen or so booths, and a graduation ceremony. My booth featured a laptop with my website, brochures, business cards and a prize draw. My colleague Kathy at Time On Task VA Services was also in attendance with a booth of similar caliber.
This was a great opportunity to market to people who are just starting their own business and established businesses who are growing. The experience of manning a booth was a new one for me and the venue was a great place to learn how! The crowd seemed forgiving when my ancient laptop overheated and shut down several times – and lessons like this were best learned at a small venue like this – before paying big bucks for a booth at some other venue in the city. This opportunity also motivated me to catchup on some personal business projects – new business cards, new brochures, and some website updating – that I’d been putting off in favour of billable-work for the last few months.
If you ever have the opportunity to put together a booth and show your product or service – be sure to take it! I’m glad I started small, and am now eager for the next opportunity. I’ve learned a few lessons, and have a few ideas to improve my presence next time. If you require any materials for your booth, don’t hesitate to contact us today. Rich Graphics specializes in printed material as well as cutting edge websites.

Nova Scotia – Come To Life!

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Rich Graphics was recently invited to join the Nova Scotia Come To Life initiative – and had the opportunity to sign the Come To Life Charter with our Premiere, Darrell Dexter. A number of local cutting-edge businesses were in attendance for the ceremony – and it was a great opportunity to meet some new peers and touch base with some I hadn’t seen in a while. It was particularly nice to see Spider Video, Media Badger and Head Space Design represented.
The event took place at the new NSCAD Port Campus – which as NSCAD Alumni – was great to see for the first time. It was also nice to re-connect with my old University, and I am now on their mailing list – giving me access to all kinds of information and events NSCAD is offering.
What is the Nova Scotia Come To Life initiative all about you ask? It’s essentially a branding program for the province – and by signing on – I am responsible for helping to promote Nova Scotia as a great place to learn, visit, prosper and live. Something I can totally get behind, being a Cole Harbour boy who believes in supporting local businesses. If you’d like to learn more, be sure the check out the Come To Life Website!

Leveraging the Halifax Chamber of Commerce?

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I’ve recently joined the Halifax Chamber of Commerce. I’ve shopped around, attending various networking events put on by others, but in the end the Chamber seemed like the best fit for me right now. Many other business owners question my decision to join, having joined in the past and not finding the value and ROI that they expected when they signed up. I’ve listened to their arguments, and have decided *not* to be just another statistic. I intend to *leverage* my Chamber Membership – and get involved with a few committees and events – in order to network with other businesses I might otherwise never connect with.

Networking and Working – Finding the Balance

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As I look at my schedule for the next few weeks, I realize that I’m running out of work to do… *Cue panic attack* I’ve spent so much time working lately, that I haven’t taken the time to go out and drum up any new projects. Looks like it’s time to kick into ultra-super-networking-mode(tm) once again! Does this sound familiar to you too? The classic catch-22: If I work too much, all of a sudden I have nothing to do. If I network too much, I run short on time to complete billable projects.

#PodcampHfx – What an unconference!!

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This past Sunday, I attended Halifax, Nova Scotia’s first PodCamp – an unconference. It was organized by a dedicated group of local social media enthusiasts, and the presentations and workshops were delivered by the participants themselves. There was standing room only at most presentations, and my head is still swollen with information-overload from the day-long event. The keynote speaker, Andrew Baron, was particularly enlightening, and is my new internet geek hero. He’s the founder of RocketBoom, and is dug deep within the trenches of social media culture.

DartNet – The Evolution of the Informal Networking Group

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As I’m sure most small business owners are aware, networking can play a key roll in your success. It never hurts to get out to networking events, rub shoulders, and put your business at the top of people’s minds. You may not land work immediately, but if two people tell two people… Well, you get the idea. Since the inception of Rich Graphics back in August 08, I’ve been attending a LOT of networking events. From the local Chamber and Junior Chamber’s offerings to events offered by professional networkers like Lynn at BConnected, I’ve been to them all. One of my favorites though, is the weekly SMB Soapbox held every Thursday in Halifax. It’s informal, and a good number of people turn up sporadically from week to week – which gives a good mix of potential clients.

Network, Network, Network…

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What a week! As most of you know, I am the proprietor of a small design firm called Rich Graphics – which is currently experiencing a steady flow of work. However, most of this work originates from a single source – a local web design firm with whom I have a sub-contracting arrangement in place with. This arrangement has been working fine up until now, but it also got me thinking… Thinking that I ‘have all my eggs in one basket’ as the cliche goes. And so the push on networking began!