Tag Archives: social networking

Online Calendar Choices For Scheduling Compassionate Care

*SMILING PUG* CALENDAR-FEB 08Who knew that the little every day errands we take for granted can become a logistical puzzle when it comes time to take care of them for someone else? I have been looking over multiple online calendars trying to find a free calendaring system to help schedule meals, rides, and overnights for my friend who is in treatment for a brain tumor. Here is a review of some of the systems so far…

LotsaHelpingHands.com

This site is set up with a scheduler to be able to assign people to tasks or to let them assign themselves. It has a few bugs, but it’s what we used for the first round of rides to and from chemotherapy treatments. It’s a fairly new site, so there are still some kinks being worked out. The biggest problem I had was registering people in the group online. It’s a bit confusing for people and it takes my approval to finally get them in, and by that time they are long gone and not engaged anymore or think they have not been approved. Email addresses that have spam protection on them, like SpamArrest, did not receive invites too and there appears to be no way to work around that, other than to get an email that has no spam protection on it.

The scheduling piece was very sophisticated and provides an online calendar of tasks and their assigned individuals. It is set up so that those people who join the lotsahelpinghands.com site you set up can claim their own task or event, without you having to schedule everyone through a central coordinator. Unfortunately, for some reason, some people did not seem to want to take the time to learn how to claim a ride or task in the system and complained about it and refused to schedule through the system. Instead, they would declare their intent for a day or event, and than I would have to schedule it for them in the system. So, it didn’t save any time for the most part. It did change the color of the day when a task was assigned, which was a great feature to let me know what days still needed to be scheduled.

However, if you have a bunch of tech-phobic individuals, this system can overwhelm them, even though the concept and execution are probably better than anything else that you don’t have to program yourself. It has a way to alert people when their task is coming up through email too and a way to add recurring events like medical appointments or rides.

Google Calendar

This is another option and it also tends to be quite sophisticated. It can be a great way to add events, and you can invite certain people to come to the event through the scheduler using their email addresses. It will only let people who know your google username and password to modify the online calendar, which means you really have to trust these people. You can’t have everyone who joins given that password or it’ll be impossible to manage the changes. So, the control is still centralized to a particular coordinator or two. However, the nice thing about Google calendar is that it can be made public or embedded in other systems, making it far more versatile than Lotsahelpinghands. If you add a task widget from http://www.rememberthemilk.com, you can also potentially add day tasks for things like groceries etc. But, again, that may be more sophisticated than you need. Otherwise, you can set up recurring events, if you have appointments that fall on particular days and you can send invitations too, through the email invite until someone claims it. Obviously, that’s a heck of a lot of emails going back and forth and tough to manage.

So, it’s really not a group calendar unless you allow someone to modify the calendar, and it doesn’t differentiate between tasks like rides, meals, and overnights, unless you write it in the title so people know. It doesn’t really show me if a task is assigned by changing colors automatically, a feature in Lotsahelpinghands.com that was very valuable. I’m not expert on this system, but it does have some advantages, including the ability to print it out in paper format, which I will show how it works well for what we need later. I didn’t see a way to find out who has claimed what task, which is essential for managing the entire month of tasks.

Ning Community

You can go and set up an Ning community, at ning.com, to develop a support team for the person who is ill online. They now have an events scheduler which works wells for meetings and lets you RSVP and comment on each entry too. One of the issues that I saw here is that they want a photo or picture for every event, which is too time-consuming to keep uploading for multiple events like we’re trying to schedule. It’s okay for like a monthly support meeting, but I don’t want to do it for daily events, and there is no recurring event function as in Google and LotsaHelpinghands. So, while I love the RSVP and comment on each event features, I really, really need the recurring event feature and a way to track who claims what ride, meal, or overnight stay without too much fuss. You can ask people to send a comment when they claim a task, and the system will send an email to the coordinator. That is one way to do it, but I will have to open each individual email, check to see that they are claiming and not dropping a task in the comments, and then hope I didn’t miss anything. Too tricky.

The Community Solution

For something as vital as home care, you can’t rely on electronic solutions. They should be available to establish tools to expedite the scheduling, but a good old-fashion support team meeting to schedule different tasks is really the ticket when you are working with a large number of people on your support team. It will keep emails to a minimum and allow for proper communication.

So, far, I’ve come up with scheduling all monthly support meetings with the Ning Events function. This shows up on the front page and people can RSVP. One photo upload only for me and a quick RSVP functionality that is simple to use and easy for me to check. Also, I am updating a Google online calendar with the initials of each person next to each task scheduled, who agreed at the meeting to do that task. I embedded the calendar in an Ning Community and I sent out invitations to everyone’s email to join the Ning Community (not the Google Calendar). Ning can allow the network to be private, yet not require my approval for them to join. They get the invitation, click on it, and are immediately in. They can then see the monthly scheduled meetings featured on the front page using the Ning events scheduler. They can click on the title and RSVP if they are coming. I can go in any time and open the same link and see who and how many people have RSVP’d that meeting. Underneath that, I embedded the Google calendar of home care tasks.

They can then set the Google Calendar view to either week, month, or agenda. They can see their initials next to the task and track it that way. I can print out the coming month’s tasks for the next meeting. I can add initials of who claims what. I update the Google calendar with initials, and then I update the embedded Google calendar. They can print out this calendar too – a huge benefit! This way, I can meet with my friend earlier, schedule the tasks in Google, or share the password with him, so he can schedule the following month’s needed tasks. All that I do, is edit the title to add initials at a group meeting or later. If that doesn’t work, I can meet once with my friend to put in the tasks, meet once with the group to assign, and then everything else is online with a minimum of emailing and phone calls. And, the added benefit of using an Ning community is that the support team can “talk”to each other, add comments to any task, add blog posts, and generally become more involved with each other to help the support team become a true community. This is an additional layer of communication for those people who didn’t make the meeting, but are involved in the care. For instance, we decided everyone would bring their own sheets for overnight stays, and then take them with them to reduce laundry needs. So, I post that information online, and those that miss the meeting now have that information. I forgot to mention the size the of the bed, and someone commented that they need to know the size of the bed. So, posting that information online updates it for everyone and makes it public to those individuals in the network, whether they attended the meeting or not. So, little by little, we’re getting better organized and working out a system of care with free online communities and calendars.


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We’re A Culture Of Snoops Now

Persiana AmericanaNot that I mind, but I think it’s kind of funny (as well as a bit scary). Yeah, so now if we’re trying to figure out what someone else is up to, you can check them out on some social networking site like MySpace or Facebook. I’ll even go so far as to admit that I snoop on my daughter’s profile that she granted me permission to view one time, and I visit it to make sure she’s doing okay and not getting into trouble. But, I suppose prospective employers are looking over my shoulder too and I’m wondering how they figure out which person with my name is me. I mean, there are multiple people with the same name and some are nitwits and others aren’t. If you happen to have the same name as a famous porn star, or something like that, I guess you’re just plain out of luck when prospective employers check the Internet.

Anyways, here are some clever ways in business to snoop on your competition online:

  • Check out Alexa.com and find out their traffic ranking and sites that link to them. You
  • Download webceo from http://www.webceo.com and find out what keywords your competitors are targeting and then put the same ones up on your web pages.
  • Use Google Alerts with your competitors name to find out news about your competitors.

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Apps, Widgets, and Virtual Hugs – Oh, My!

primping at 2 amI am deep in the heart of virtual accessorizing my different online profiles. I’ve received, one virtual rose, found out how to put YouTube videos in my website, and am discovering the interesting world of high-tech fashion online. Gosh, I almost feel as if I have to primp in front of a mirror every time I enter another web site. All of this stuff is downright fascinating, if it’s not time-consuming, but there is a method to all this madness.

We Love Who We Are

Did you know that the top reason people communicate on social networking sites is to communicate some sort of identity? That’s right! That’s the reason people join these sites, the reason they are so popular, and why it’s very important to have the right image on them, depending on your needs. After all, it isn’t just you looking at the profile. There are a ton of people who might visit it, including potential future employers. For me, it is often my clients and so they want to see that I am a professional writer or my spiritual resume, and many of these sites can show just that. So, today, I was also offered a virtual drink, which I declined. I don’t drink that much in real life and I want my profile to be as authentic as it can be. To show up with multiple drinks would be a little inappropriate for who I am, considering my sites are about spiritual and professional aspects of who I am.

Marketing On Social Networks

When people click with your identity, they really buy in to who you are. In marketing terms, you already have someone interested in doing business with you. You build up a contact list based on all those seemingly frivolous interactions with roses, virtual hugs, or common interests. And, this is at the very heart of good marketing – to have some sort of empathic connection with people so that they trust you. Since you can’t shake their hand or look them in the eye, in a conventional sense, some of these applications and widgets serve the same purpose. We’ve just started to figure out how social networking is changing the marketing landscape, but one this is for sure, it’s still about the human connection.

*Image Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons license by blinkbyblink

Social Networking: Complicating Life, But Great Business Opportunity

My memoriesI was reading one of those wealth books, whose name escapes me now, but I believe Kiyosaki and Trump were both discussing what it takes to be rich. They said that the level of complexity increases in your life even though the basic model is still the same: own a business or invest. That’s because both Trump and Kiyosaki believe in the cashflow quadrant where you only get rich learning how to make use of other people’s money or time, not your own. You can’t really do that if you are self-employed (with no employees) and/or an employee of someone else. So, I’ve noticed recently my life is becoming decidedly more complex and I’m wondering if it is because I am learning how to go to the right side of the cashflow quadrant or because I’m not very efficient. Probably a little of both, since I’m learning. The thing that has really made things very complex right now, is my re-enchantment with social networking.

MySpace

The last time I visited a social networking site was when I had my very successful blog on WritingUp and the entire site went down and never recovered. I was left without any contacts from all those people I had spent several years of my life with and no way to contact them. So, I started looking online and found some of them on MySpace, but very few. I put up a profile and found it to be too complicated and too lengthy a process of keeping in touch and frankly, I had a Master’s program to do and tons of freelance work. Why the heck would I want to waste my time diddling with MySpace? It seemed to be taking up huge loads of my time and providing no return on it. Definitely on the wrong side of the cashflow quadrant.

FaceBook

Now, I am ghost-writing a whole lot of freelance ebooks on generating income online with social networking, and one of these places is Facebook. Facebook? I didn’t even know what it was until I did all the research and now I’ve changed my mind. I’m beginning to see how to leverage places like MySpace and Facebook to do Internet marketing, but it is a much more complicated model than conventional marketing. It takes patience and it means you have to learn as you go. However, they do very well in helping you develop a list of contacts in your niche market and finding out what the market wants or needs. You can’t spam anyone, and I wouldn’t want to anyways. That was one of my major complaints with places like MySpace in the past: people trying to grab your attention all day long while you had better things to do. Social networking has evolved to the level where the workload of keeping in contact is now more distributed and easier through applications and templates. So, the initial work is the most you do and the rest is fairly straightforward. Then, people interested in you or your products can do the work of marketing for you and that’s definitely on the right side of the cashflow quadrant.

Conclusion

So, now I have a blog, a website, two social networking profiles, several freelance writing profiles, many emails, and I can’t even tell you how many usernames and passwords I have to keep track of. Thank God I figured out how to do that! Otherwise, my head would really be spinning! Why am I doing all this? Well, for one, it’s nice to keep track of everyone I meet and I meet a ton of people in my day-to-day life. The people online are not even the tip of the iceberg. I have a very poor memory and these social networking sites are ideal for people like me who have to rely on technology or systems to help us keep in touch without sounding like morons for forgetting things. It’s just hard to keep up with who does what when you have hundreds of people you’ve met in your life. I’m still trying to figure out if I can contact people in different countries as I believe I’ve lived in over 14 different countries by now and most of the 50 United States. You know how big my contact list would be if I had started earlier? But, that’s not the point, the point is that all those people could end up helping me build my business and expand my social life, if only I could keep track of them all and social networking is a great way to stay in touch and let people know what you are up to, whether it is writing a book, teaching a course, or selling tupperware. And, you don’t even have to email them directly to do that anymore. They can just become a permanent friend on one of these sites and the system does it all for you! It does complicate things having various profiles online, but you have to realize how much more complicated my life would be if I had to keep track of everyone manually to build a bigger business. I would never be able to do it all without hiring a personal assistant. So, yes, I am complicating my life, but I am also laying the groundwork for a great business opportunity.

I will write more about what I learn on these sites as I go along…

Image courtesy of Flikr Creative Commons license by scarleth white (click image to see some of the fun coding they put behind the picture. It really makes a visual impact! Once in Flickr, just mouse over to see the comments on each individual picture in the grand collage.)