Autodesk Smoke 2013 Power Tips & Tricks

first_imgBonus Tip: If you Freeze the outputs of non-animated TEXT with a MUX node your render speed will increase. TEXT doesn’t have to render the type for every frame. TEXT is an old tool and not well optimized.#2. Create CFX Clips to Slip Multiple, Complex Keyframes TogetherCreating CFX Clips out of your nodes has multiple functions. One lesser known function is to slip all of the keyframe animations along all of the nodes at once.Many keyframe channels are not accessible in the larger CFX Animation Channel Menu.  For instance, if you have keyframes inside of Action with the internal Color Correct or Modular Keyer, especially with Gmasks, those Keyframes don’t slip with the overall timing of Action. They exist in their own timing world.If you have an animation inside of the Modular Keyer with the Gmask that happens from frame 30 to frame 60, and you slip the overall animation of Action by sliding the Keyframe Tracks, the main Action keyframes will slip, but the Gmask Keyframes still happen from 30 to 60.This is somewhat annoying and a bit of a ‘gotcha’ if you don’t know what’s happening. TEXT is another node that behaves outside of the main ConnectFX Animation world. So any animation of your type can’t be slid with the tracks mode as a whole with all of the other nodes.  Sparks and the Modular Keyer outside of Action also behave this way.By using CFX Clips, all of the keyframes for all of the nodes, including those nodes when the animation channel is isolated from the main CFX, will slip if you change the timing of a created CFX Clip.Select all of the nodes for which you want to slip the keyframes. You can ALT-click the lead node and all of the nodes in the tree will highlight. Right-click and select Create CFX Clip. A new clip will be created.  Connect the output as needed if there are more nodes upstream, and feel free to delete the original tree to tidy things up.Open up the timing view and find your new CFX Clip.  You can select the clip and you can slip the timing forwards or backwards.Once you have the desired effect, you can leave the clip as is or you can right-click and Explode CFX and your nodes are returned. But in this instance, the timing of all of the animations are shifted, including those pesky hidden ones.#3 Bump Mapping Your Textures on 3D ModelsSmoke has 3 mapping textures. Diffuse and Reflection Maps are obvious when you want to texture your 3D models. But these textures are flat because they don’t react to lighting.  The model itself does, but not the texture on the model.  But you can create some depth to your textures with the Displacement Map.You can create a displacement map from your texture by creating a hi-con version of the texture with the AutoMatte Node.You can also add a blur to soften the map if there is a lot of detail. Once you are happy with your bump map, you can attach it to you GEOM/MATERIAL node just like the Diffuse or Reflection Maps. Become a Smoke power editor! Follow these tips and tricks for Autodesk Smoke 2013.#1. Use Stereo Nodes for Double the Power in Smoke’s ConnectFXMany useful nodes in CFX are single channel. Resize, MUX, and Damage have to be duplicated in order to use them with both a Front and a Matte source. This takes time to set up and link the connections.You can speed up your workflow and clean up your schematics by using Stereo Nodes. When Stereo Nodes are active in the FX Nodes for CFX, then each one you drag into the schematic is already linked and grouped. It is basically a prebuilt Group Node. The internal Mimic Link makes each input of the node act as one, so any adjustments to the node get made to both inputs. Now you can Resize the Front and Matte clips together, as well as MUX the Front and Matte Result of a Text Node. You may need to adjust the wireframe of the mesh. The default box has very few polygons. By subdividing and creating more mesh, you can get a bit more detail in the bumps.Hopefully these tips and tricks will help you make better composites in ConnectFX and help you make them faster. Be sure to bookmark the Premiumbeat Blog and check back often for more Autodesk Smoke tips and tricks.center_img Displacement maps have a Software(SW) and a Hardware(HW) processing option. With the hardware option, you can Bump the Normals of the texture map.Now you don’t need much…this is a subtle effect. You can also just nudge the Z position up just enough to catch the light and if you use AO (Ambient Occlusion) in the output node this will help create some real intra-geometry shadows.last_img read more

We Can Have the Business If We Match Their Price

first_img“Hooray! We can have the business if we match their existing supplier’s price.”Why would you ever have to match your prospect’s existing supplier’s price? Why would your prospect be compelled to change if they didn’t believe some better result was possible? And if there isn’t something compelling your dream client to change why bother to change at all?If there is some compelling reason to change, then the accompanying improvement is worth paying more to obtain. Even if it’s only a little bit more. If there’s more value being created, more value should be captured.Matching your competitor’s price means that you’re playing the commodity game. It means you believe you’re interchangeable. It’s a strong indication that you believe that you are creating no greater value. Your effectively confirming what you’ve heard your prospects say: “You’re all the same.”By matching your competitor’s price, you’re admitting, “Look, we can just as poor a job as these guys do for just as little money. We’re just the same.”It’s okay to want your prospect’s business. But if you can’t command a greater price for creating greater value, you aren’t really selling. Essential Reading! Get my first book: The Only Sale Guide You’ll Ever Need “The USA Today bestseller by the star sales speaker and author of The Sales Blog that reveals how all salespeople can attain huge sales success through strategies backed by extensive research and experience.” Buy Nowlast_img read more

VMware likely to Invest up to $500 Million in India Operations

first_imgThe company’s R&D and support operations in India are second in size and scale only to those at VMware’s headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., U.S. Related Itemslast_img

Ajay Gupta on Run, South African Police Issue Arrest Warrant

first_imgAs the baton of leadership changed in South Africa with President Jacob Zuma’s resignation on the night of Feb. 14, South Africa police got an arrest warrant for Ajay Gupta, the most powerful member of the scandal-hit Gupta family. Ajay Gupta is believed to be on the run with a team of heavily armed bodyguards, Times Live reported.South African police’s elite crime unit, the Hawks, on Feb. 15 arrested three people following a raid on the Guptas’ home in the suburb of Saxonwold in Johannesburg. The Indian-origin family faces allegations of corruption and “influence peddling” due to their close ties to Zuma.Ajay Gupta is now a fugitive from the law, the South African media reported citing Hawk officials. Hawks spokesman Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said: “As far as our team investigating state capture is concerned, he is a fugitive from the law. We spoke to his lawyers — he was meant to be surrendered but never did. We have issued a warrant of arrest for him. Those protecting him must know they are protecting a wanted suspect. They will be charged with aiding and abetting a suspect.”Mulaudzi added that they have flagged border posts and hope to capture Ajay Gupta soon. “We are making a plea so that we can avoid any embarrassment that he should hand himself over as soon as possible,” he said.Ajay Gupta’s brother Atul is also being sought, according to some reports. Their nephew Varun Gupta has also been charged with corruption, fraud and theft. The charges relate to the alleged 220 million rand ($19 million) theft from the Free State agricultural department. Varun appeared before the Bloemfontein Magistrate Court on Feb.15 along with the co-accused, Gupta family lieutenants Ronica Ragovan, Ashu Chawla, Nazeem Howa, Kamal Vasrum, Free State agricultural officials Peter Thebetha and Takisi Janki Masiteng and chief of staff of national mining department Sylvia Dlamini.Howa, Chawla, Vasrum and Gupta were released on 2,00,000 rand bail each. Thebetha, Masiteng and Dlamini were each released on 10 000 rand bail, as per reports. They are due to appear in court again on Aug. 17.The Gupta family owns a range of business interests in South Africa, including computing, mining, air travel, energy, technology and media. The Gupta family are close associates of the 75-year-old former president ,as his son, daughter and one of the president’s wives have for worked for the family firm.Zuma stepped down from the president’s position on Feb. 14 night after the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party escalated pressure on him. Business executive Cyril Ramaphosa was elected by the Parliament as the fifth post-apartheid President on Feb.15.While Ramaphosa’s long term goals involve progress in numerous sectors in South Africa, he, along with ANC, will be looking into charges against Zuma. Zuma denied any wrongdoing. The statement from ANC read: “The African National Congress has full confidence in President Ramaphosa to build on the foundation laid and focus the country on accelerating our program of fundamental and radical socio-economic transformation.” Related ItemsGupta FamilyJohannesburgSouth Africalast_img read more

India’s Disappearing Vultures

first_imgMillions of long-billed, slender-billed and oriental white-backed vultures have died in India after eating cattle carcasses tainted with diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory and painkiller given to sick cows.Vultures play a vital role in disposing of carcasses, keeping down populations of stray dogs and rats that also feed on dead cattle and can spread disease among humans. But India’s government has refused to ban diclofenac until a viable alternative is found, because cattle are crucial to the country’s rural economy.Tens of millions of vultures played a key role in South Asian ecosystems before the introduction of diclofenac in the early 1990s. Now, populations of the three species are thought to have dropped by as much as 97 percent, according to Britain’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.The World Conservation Union, which calls itself the world’s largest conservation network, has listed the three vulture species as critically endangered, the category applied to animals closest to extinction. One carcass with diclofenac is enough to kill 50 vultures.Vulture deaths also threaten the customs of India’s ancient Zoroastrian community, which uses vultures to dispose of their dead. Zoroastrians consider the earth and fire too sacred to use for either burial or cremation, and traditionally leave their dead atop towers, to be consumed by vultures. Related Itemslast_img read more

Indian Art Auction in France

first_imgArtcurial, one of France’s leading auction houses, is conducting the country’s first auction of modern and contemporary Indian art. The auction ranges from, upcoming artists, such as Ryas Kumu, whose Karachi Series is projected to fetch from $700 to $900, to such masters as S.H. Raza, whose 1984 acrylique Rajasthan (1984) is projected to sell for almost $750,000. Raza, who was born in India in 1922 and has lived in France since the 1950’s, was the first Indian artist whose painting sold for $1 million.   Related Itemslast_img read more

India, China Shrink

first_imgThe Indian and Chinese economies are nearly 40 percent smaller than originally thought, according to the World Bank.The Bank’s updated method for calculating purchasing power parity (PPP), which converts a country’s gross domestic product (GDP) by accounting for its relative purchasing power (a dollar will buy far more food in India than in Europe, for example), effectively lowered the size of both countries’ economies by 40%.Using the new method, China is still ranked the world’s second-largest economy, with 9.7% of the world’s GDP, behind the U.S., which accounts for 23 percent. However India’s ranking slipped one notch. Japan ranked third, Germany fourth and India came in fifth, with nearly 4% of total world output.Together, those five countries account for half of world economic output.  Related Itemslast_img read more

Traditional Clothes Good For Your Mental Health

first_imgSticking to your ethnic costume may be good for your mental health, according to a British study.Researchers at Queen Mary University in London have found that Bangladeshi girls who prefer traditional clothes experienced fewer mental problems than those who prefer Western clothing.Professor Kam Bhui, who co-authored the report in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, says, “Traditional clothing represents a tighter family unit, and this may offer some protection against some of the pressures that young people face.”The study questioned 900 white British and Bangladeshi 11 to 14-year-olds about their culture, social life and emotional and mental health.Bangladeshi kids who preferred traditional clothing were far less likely to have mental health problems than those preferring mixed or British styles, according to the study. Bhui said he founds the findings “surprising,” since he assumed that less assimilated girls would experience greater mental tension. Related Itemslast_img read more

Cash For Votes

first_imgA survey by the Centre for Media Studies (CMS) has found that a fifth of India’s electorate was paid cash for their votes during the past decade. The proportion of election bribery was almost 50 percent in Karnataka.The study estimated that voters below the poverty line were most likely to be bribed – 73% in Karnataka against a national average of 37%.N. Bhaskar Rao, chairman of CMS, told the Mint newspaper: “The bribe money varies from state to state. It may be Rs100-150 (a voter) in some states and it can go up to Rs1,000 in some constituencies.”The incidence of vote buying was highest in Karnataka (47%), followed by Tamil Nadu (34%) and Madhya Pradesh (33%). It was lowest in Tripura and Himachal Pradesh.CASH FOR VOTESState% BribedKarnataka 47Tamil Nadu 34Madhya Pradesh 33Andhra Pradesh 31Bihar 31Orissa 27Delhi 25Gujarat 24Chhattisgarh 22Uttarkhand 20Uttar Pradesh 18Rajasthan  14Assam 14Kerala 13Maharashtra 13Haryana 8Jharkhand 7West Bengal 4Himachal Pradesh <1Tripura <1National 22 Related Itemslast_img read more

The Hip Sip

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Glassdoor Wins North Bay Business Journal’s Best Places to Work Award for 2014

first_imgWe are thrilled to announce that for the third year in a row, Glassdoor has been named one of the North Bay Business Journal’s Best Places to Work! The winners were selected by the editorial staff and companies were judged on diversity, employee benefits and perks, family-friendly workplace, and community involvement.Here’s what some Glassdoor employees have to say about working in the North Bay:“Located in beautiful, sunny Sausalito, I enjoy riding my bike to work, eating on our deck overlooking the Bay at lunch and taking free yoga classes outside.” – Glassdoor Public Relations Employee (Sausalito, CA)“The overall energy in the company is encouraging, uplifting and rewarding. Let alone the amazing office, game room, gym, food, yoga, poker nights and all those perks. I love working here.” – Glassdoor Senior Software Engineer (Sausalito, CA)“I am literally excited to wake up for work every morning! The people here are smart, curious, driven and highly engaging people.” – Glassdoor Account Manager (Sausalito, CA)Interested in working at Glassdoor? Be sure to check out our open positions!last_img read more

Why Now Could Be The Time To Switch Jobs

first_imgWith confidence increasing both on the part of employers and job seekers, now may be the ideal time to land your next job.Nobody is saying the job market is on fire, but for many people with sought after skills, there’s more opportunity to move on to greener pastures. Consider this: According to Glassdoor’s Q2 Employment Confidence Survey, 52% of employees reported optimism in the job market, the first time it surpassed 50% since the survey begin in Q1 of 2009. Meanwhile, the U.S. economy added 223,000 jobs in June underscoring the increased optimism for both employees and from employers.“The war for talent among employers has been increasing; therefore, it’s becoming an employee-driven market,” says Adam Ochstein, founder and CEO of StratEx, a Chicago-based firm that provides human resources services and software. “Employees have more options now as opposed to the labor market during the recession, or even the following several years.”Employees in the driver’s seat Being in the driver’s seat if you are currently employed is going to put you in an enviable position. After all, an improving job market means you’ll have an easier time switching jobs if you are unhappy in your current role or want to try something new. Rewind a few years and many people felt stuck because of the dour job market. People were too scared to leave out of fear of facing protracted unemployment.On top of that, you’ll come across as more confident because you aren’t desperate for your next source of income. That confidence, however, shouldn’t be confused with arrogance. While you may have an easier go at it, finding a job still requires work and a lot of it. “Regardless of the increased optimism, basic job search strategies remain the same,” says Ruhl, a managing partner at OI Partners–Innovative Career Consulting in Denver. “I would never approach a job search as if it were a gimme.”Even with job market improvement finding a job takes work In an improving job market, experts say you still have to do some work to ensure you and your resume stand out from the competition, even if there is less of it. If you are lacking skills that are necessary to move up then you may want to take a course before sending out your resume. If you are intent on moving into a new industry or role then you have to be willing to take less pay or give up a title to make the transition. “We are in a very healthy jobs market and there are many opportunities out there,” says Ochstein. “They may not be the ‘perfect’ opportunity at first glance, but if the job seeker sacrifices one requirement, it could be a great fit.”On top of being willing to give up something now for a pay off in the future people who want to switch jobs also have to employ the standard tactics that everyone looking for a new job needs to embrace. That means developing a plan of action by identifying the types of positions you are seeking, says Ruhl. It also means holding yourself accountable by setting benchmarks for activity whether that means sending out x resumes a week, taking specific courses to increase your skills or attending a predetermined number of networking events or opportunities each month. You also want to make sure your resume is up-to-date, includes all the keywords applicable to your field and doesn’t have any gaps or holes that would hurt your chances of getting an interview, she says. “Nothing changes just because the market has improved.  It simply takes less time,” says Ruhl.  “There is no substitute for knowing what you do better than your competition and being able to articulate that clearly and succinctly on a resume, in networking and during the interview process.”It also means taking advantage of the improving job market by being aggressive and flexible. Finding a job you like is going to rank high on your list if you are switching jobs, but you also have to be willing to accept change if it means you’ll be moving into a career or industry you always wanted to be in. “In a healthy labor market it’s okay to take risks,” says Ochstein.last_img read more

7 Ways To Create Beneficial Alliances At Work

first_img The 50 Best Jobs In America For 2019 The workplace a fertile spot for relationship development because—let’s face it—we spend more time in the office than we do at home. But it’s also the perfect place to cruise for professional allies because right beside our cubicles are dozens of other people who share our interests, schedules, and the all-important access to the boss, points out Irene S. Levine, Ph.D., psychologist and friendship expert. Bonus: If you are able to snag a work friend or two, “a confidante in the office will not only make the day go by faster but it will help you enjoy your work a lot more,” says millennial career expert Jill Jacinto. Who doesn’t want that? So here’s how to score friends and professional allies at work.1. Take advantage of group outings. Whether your company hosts a weekly happy hour, optional town-hall-style meetings, or posts open positions for its softball team, Jacinto says you should say “yes” more often than “no” to these invitations in order to make new work friends. That’s because “these scenarios pull you out of your work bubble and can connect you with people in many different departments,” she says. “This is a perfect opportunity to learn more about your company but also find friends across the company.”2. Resist gossiping. Gabbing about the weird poster Anne has pinned to her cubicle while you’re at the communal coffee spot may seem like a good ice breaker, but Levine says that participating in—or worse, initiating—office gossip can stunt the growth of work relationships.“Be cautious not to spread rumors or gossip,” she warns, “because they can spread like wildfire through a workplace. They can poison the environment and reflect badly on you.”Workplace Friends: Do’s & Don’ts For Your Career3. Eat in the communal kitchen. You’re surrounded—probably, quite literally—at work. So, who could blame you if your instinct is to grab a solo lunch, or sip your coffee while you hide in the stairwell? “But slow down,” encourages Jacinto. Stop by the communal kitchen on your way out and “chit chat with your coworkers—ask them about their days, weekend plans, their favorite Keurig flavor or lunch spot,” she says. “Just get to know them.”4. Offer to help. “If your coworker sends you a Slack message and wants your advice, take advantage of them reaching out to build a relationship,” advises Jacinto. How so? Instead of replying in kind—whether on Slack or via email—offer to set up a face-to-face meeting so that you can take on the issue together, Jacinto says. Then, “remember to insert some chit chat, like, ‘Did you watch the new season of #Girlboss on Netflix?’ or ‘Have you heard about that Frye Festival fiasco?’ or ‘Any vacation plans coming up?’” she suggests.5. Ask a coworker on a date. No, we don’t mean in a romantic sense! But ask a colleague to get out of the office for a coffee break, or see if she might be willing to grab a drink or a bite to eat after work, suggests Jacinto. “Placing yourselves in spaces outside the office can help your friendship grow,” she explains. “People tend to be more relaxed outside of the office and let their guard down. Just don’t spend the whole time talking about work.”Of course, if an outside get-together does turn from friendship to romance—it can happen accidentally!—then “tread very slowly,” warns Levine. After all, “if things don’t work out, you can’t get ‘divorced,’” she says. “You’ll have to be with that person every day.”7 Things To Gut-Check Before Confronting A Coworker6. Find common ground beyond your cubicles. As Jacinto mentioned above, a big key to making work friends is to actually talk about things other than work. If you can get to know coworkers’ interests outside the office, you may find some common ground on which to build a friendship, she says. “I had a coworker who I always traded music with and this led us becoming friends and going to concerts together,” Jacinto shares. 7. Remember: Not all friendships last forever. If you make new friends at work, realize that not each one of them will always be in your corner. “Some workplace friendships do turn sour,” warns Levine. “If that happens, you need to remain civil and professional. You don’t want to let the breakup interfere with your work or make co-workers feel uncomfortable.” Also on Glassdoor:center_img Know Your Worthlast_img read more

Stoke chief Scholes: Butland England call proof we’re no longer ignored

first_imgStoke City chief executive Tony Scholes is delighted seeing Jack Butland turn out for England.He admits that past players might have missed out because of Stoke’s unfashionable perception in the outside world – not least Ryan Shawcross under Roy Hodgson perhaps – but he believes that should be a thing of the past under new England boss Gareth Southgate.“I felt happiness for Jack because I know how important it is to him,” said Scholes to The Sentinel.”It’s also great for the football club to have our players representing England because we haven’t had enough over previous years.“Some players who deserved a chance didn’t get a chance and at other times we just didn’t quite have that quality.“I don’t know whether it was an image thing, or just people’s individual choices.“Gareth (Southgate) has shown straight away that he’s prepared to pick our players and that’s good.”last_img read more

Swansea boss Paul Clement eager for first full preseason

first_imgSwansea City boss Paul Clement is looking forward to a full preseason with his players.Having said shortly after his January arrival that he would ideally want his squad to be fitter to play the type of game he envisages – and with many players unimpressed by last year’s preparations under Francesco Guidolin – Clement is relishing the chance to get down to work.”The key to making sure we do not have the same sort is season is starting strongly,” said Clement.”We need to set short term goals to get going quickly. Every game is important and we want a good tally by the halfway point so we can avoid this pressure and suffering we have had In this second half of last season.”Pre-season will be important in that, and we will have six weeks.”We have a game here before going for three games in the States and we have one game with strong opponents a week before the season starts.”It is all planned, six weeks give us plenty of time to get the players fit, and get some tactical ideas into them.”We did not have time to do that in January because the pressure was on and it was so hectic. This gives us a less pressurised environment in which to do all those things.”last_img read more

​Conte’s agent: I’ll chat with Inter about Chelsea deal for Candreva

first_imgAntonio Conte’s agent Federico Pastorello has revealed his plans to contact Inter Milan about Antonio Candreva.Pastorello admits that Chelsea attempted to sign the Italian in January, but was knocked back by Inter’s new owners.Conte viewed Candreva as a direct replacement for Oscar, who departed for China in the same month.And Pastorello hopes he can renew the Blues’ interest this summer by contacting the Serie A club.”This past January, Chelsea wanted to sign Candreva. They needed a replacement for Oscar and Antonio would have been a good one,” Pastorello told Rai Sport.”However, he had just joined Inter and [owners] Suning do not want to sell their best players. I don’t know if he’ll stay, I’ll talk to [directors] Ausilio and Sabatini.”last_img read more

​Ex-Man Utd defender Parker: England just aren’t up to penalty pressure

first_imgFormer Manchester United defender Paul Parker says that England sides are not mentally equipped to deal with the pressure of penalty shootouts in big tournaments.England U21 lost to their German counterparts in the semi-finals of European Championships on Tuesday. For the Three Lions, it was a third straight penalty shootout defeat to Germany in international tournaments.Parker said: “It was the third penalty shoot-out defeat by Germany that England have suffered in semi-finals, following on from the 1990 World Cup and Euro 96.”There have been other shoot-out disappointments over the years but none of them sting quite as much as losing to Germany.”We are just not built for these occasions. It can’t be a technical issue, and it certainly isn’t down to practice as Aidy Boothroyd said England had been practicing shoot-outs after every training session, while Germany didn’t bother at all.”last_img read more

Friday fun from the Onion

first_imgFrom the satirical Onion “newspaper” WASHINGTON, DC—World Wildlife Fund president Carter S. Roberts said Monday that his organization was forced to pare down the list of endangered species so that it would fit on a three-by-two-foot poster to be distributed to schools and private donors. “If you want a poster that’s going to grab an audience, you show the gray wolf instead of the Iowa Pleistocene snail,” said Roberts, adding that no endangered mollusks made the final cut, and that, among insects, only butterflies would be included. “The poster is a visual medium. A large tear-jerking image of a giant panda might be redundant, considering that we have a panda in our logo, but it’s not like anyone is going to be inspired to protect wildlife by a photo of a nearly extinct medicinal leech. You go with what is going to bring in the dollars.” According to Roberts, species that “realistically have absolutely no chance of surviving” were omitted so that the poster would not seem out of date within a couple of years.last_img read more

8 Secrets of Effective Online Networking

first_imgIs your organization considering setting up a profile on a social networking site? Are you wondering what tasks are involved, how much time it will take, and how you might streamline your efforts? Maybe your organization has established a presence on MySpace and is now contemplating adding one to Facebook. Perhaps you are wondering how you can juggle multiple profiles and still have time left to do other work.As more and more organizations jump on the social networking bandwagon, people are seeking ways to make the time spent on these tools as efficient and fruitful as possible. I recently surveyed several nonprofit professionals and social networking mavens about their social networking habits. The tips below, taken from their responses, offer suggestions for effectively managing your profiles and contacts on social networking sites, finding people with relevant interests to your nonprofit or professional goals, working between multiple social networking sites, and getting the most out of social networking tools even if you’re not a Web designer or techie.1. Invest Time in Your NetworkWhile most online social networks cost nothing for your organization to join, keep in mind that creating a strong online presence on one can require an investment of up to two hours a day, especially in the beginning when you are learning how to use the site, setting up your profile, and making friends. If you’re unprepared to make this commitment, you may want to reconsider using these tools at your organization.If you don’t have someone on-staff who can help manage your social networks, you may want to seek outside help. Heather Mansfield, Community Manager at Change.org, suggests finding a social networking intern or an assistant who can spend a minimum of 10 hours per week managing your site or sites, noting that many organizations are seeking full-time staffers to do the job. “I am starting to see larger nonprofits creating full-time social networking positions for 40 hours a week,” she said.Keep in mind that there is a fair amount of trial and error with using social networking sites, and your organization may not see results right away. “There is a learning curve; don’t expect immediate results for at least three months, whatever your objectives may be,” advised Alex De Carvalho, Community Manager of multimedia social networking site Scrapblog. “Take the time to build your profile correctly and learn the ropes of what works and what doesn’t.” Nick Noakes, a director at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, stresses the value of this “no-guilt” exploration time. “It has brought me knowledge and contacts more than a lot of planned things I do,” he said.Some nonprofit professionals, like Beth Dunn of the Cape Cod Arts Foundation, use their after-work hours and their individual (rather than organizational) profiles as a low-risk way to try out new tools. “Keep following what others are doing, and test,” said social media expert Chris Brogan. “If you want, use a ‘dummy’ user account to make sure your experimenting doesn’t leave breadcrumbs that go nowhere for folks who legitimately want to engage with your organization.” He also suggests keeping track of your progress. “Don’t do random trial and error, [which] isn’t as effective as creating learning experiments that give you some information about how to improve your strategy.”2. Test the Waters with an Individual ProfileIf finding someone to be a dedicated or part-time social networker for your organization is unrealistic, you may want to consider testing the waters with an individual, rather than an organizational, profile. Whereas creating an organizational presence – such as a group, cause, or fan page – requires a bit more time and planning, setting up an individual profile is fairly simple.Think of your social networking profile as an online version of the professional networking you might do offline, like attending a conference or a reception. You can connect with peers or potential business contacts, while having the advantage of being able to see their connections – which are not always visible in, say, real life or through exchanging business cards.“My organization doesn’t have a presence on social networking sites yet, and the question of time investment goes to the heart of the fear of doing so – time suck,” said Susan Edwards, an employee at a Los Angeles museum. “I do a lot of social networking for myself, however, and am constantly trying to think of ways to feed it back into the institution in a meaningful way.”An individual profile can also be easier to unplug if early exploration proves unfruitful. You can always delete or make your personal account inactive, whereas it can sometimes be harder to delete a failed group.3. Establish a RoutineAs one veteran nonprofit social networker confessed, “If am not careful when I go to a social networking site, I am easily distracted. And I know I’m not at all unique.” If you don’t organize your time well, establish a disciplined work routine, or have some specific goals in mind when you visit a social networking site (and particularly if you are managing more than one), you will waste time moving from one site to another. Sus Nyrop, an e-learning consultant based in Denmark, recommends knowing when to log out of the site, and keeping your recreational “pokes” (instant messages to friends) to a minimum.Also, work on your own time. “Don’t feel like you need to keep your profile updated every minute or have to add people to your list of friends the moment they ask,” said Chris Heuer, a consultant and founder of the Social Media Club. “Unless your job responsibility is Online Community Manager, you don’t need to spend your entire work day on MySpace.” Most nonprofit online networkers agree on setting a regular schedule for updating content, ‘friending’ people, or finding new contacts with similar interests. Those who work on multiple networking sites may plan a maintenance schedule. “One good practice is to set aside a regular housekeeping date to clear out clutter from your profile,” said Nick Booth, a consultant and podcaster based in the United Kingdom, adding that for him, “Wednesday is MySpace day.”“I use my Outlook calendar to map out the week’s posts on my social networking blogs,” said HSUS’s Lewis. “That has me helped tremendously, not only with time management, but in looking at the bigger picture. It also helps me integrate my activities with everything else my department does (email, Web site, and print) that is so important.” However, don’t adhere to a schedule so religiously that you don’t leave room for some flexibility. Said Lewis, “When something big hits, I’ll go immediately to MySpace and blog about it, because that’s where our biggest network is. Next, I’ll tweak the content for Facebook and post there. Then I’ll go to Care2 and on to Gather.”4. Don’t Spread Yourself Too ThinAs this comparison chart from Compete.com demonstrates, there is considerable crossover among social network users, meaning it may not be necessary to maintain a profile or support a group on every single one. “Choose where you really want to develop your community and where you really want to interact with the people who matter the most to you and your organization,” said Heuer. “Spreading attention and energy across all the sites is nearly impossible for one person and you will end up with a diluted presence on each of them rather than a strong presence in one.” Bill Snyder, a nonprofit marketing consultant, advised, “Focus. It’s better to do one site well then to do many sites poorly.”Seb Chan, Manager of Web Services for the Powerhouse Museum in Australia, agrees. “I know there is a real attraction to having presences in multiple networks but I’ve found little real benefit in doing so unless there are significant real-world synergies.” Chan points to the example of Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, which worked with a live music event where the bands had a large MySpace fan base.When determining an online presence, don’t just choose the most popular sites, or the site that you think matches your demographic; take some time to find the people you are trying to reach and the conversations you are trying to join. “Go where your network is, and focus on those few places,” said Doug Haslam, a social media consultant for Topaz Partners.5. Share the WorkloadOf course, there may be times when it does make sense to have a presence on several sites. Once Google’s OpenSocial API is implemented, this will become easier because you will be able to access your contacts across networks or via a single hub. In the meantime, you can hire a full-time or part-time staffer to manage your social networks, or parcel out the work among your teammates.One advocate of this strategy is Chan, who advises identifying “persona managers” to manage each network. The advantage of choosing this route is that each persona retains a level of authenticity, individuality, and relevance that is hard to achieve if one person spreads herself across multiple networking sites. Chan notes that having someone who understands the features and interface of each social networking site, the culture of the community, and the appropriate style for communication can make your efforts a lot more effective. The persona managers might operate as a team to share knowledge about each initiative and evaluate each other’s progress using metrics. Each member would manage one network presence, but the group would meet regularly to check in and evaluate progress.Another way to share the workload while encouraging group participation is to focus efforts on a single network but divide up the administrative work of supporting various groups, causes, or fan pages. This way, one person is not responsible for managing every aspect of a single network.When recruiting participants, Ian Wilker, a social media consultant, suggests seeking out the same qualities you would look for in a face-to-face networker. “Find the people … who are incredibly effective at advancing your mission through real-world relationships with others,” he said. “Encourage them to bring online the same values and passion they exhibit in real life.”You can also involve more teammates by inviting staff members to use their personal profiles to represent the organization. Danielle Brigida of the National Wildlife Federation said, “I like to look at social networking as an ecosystem: when you have a number of people picking up different niches, the system is stronger and healthier. Most of the time, you are your best advocate. The more people involved from your organization, the greater the impact, and without a personal touch these social networks become bland very quickly.”Sharing the workload has other advantages as well. Said Cape Cod Arts Foundation’s Dunn, “Keeping the organization’s social network project tightly compartmentalized within just one person’s domain personalizes it too much – if it succeeds, you’re all geniuses, but if it fails, then it was just Your Bad Idea. If the board gives your organization the green light, the whole organization needs to get on board with it too.”6. Keep It Personal“People love having an actual person to connect to from an organization, and two-way communication is what makes social networks so successful,” said HSUS’s Lewis.Each organization has its own approach to adding to their list of contacts, or “friending,” on social networks. Well-known blogger and social media guru Robert Scoble accepts all friend requests, for example, while social media expert and author Shel Israel prefers to establish a connection first by sending potential contacts a private message. Other organizations approve friends based on their personal, professional, or organizational goals.Yet keep in mind that the goal is not necessarily to amass a large number of friends, but to build meaningful relationships. The task of approving people as friends shouldn’t be viewed a mechanical task of simply clicking a button to add them to your list. It is important to get to know the people in your community. What are their interests? Why did they befriend you or join your organization’s group? How can you engage them in a conversation about your organization?One way you can address this is by assigning the task of befriending others to one person at your organization. “We have a staff person who is spending a portion of his time managing our MySpace page – identifying, reviewing and accepting friends seems to take a good chunk of time,” said Eve Smith, Assistant Director of Interactive Marketing at Easter Seals. “You can’t really streamline that work and be an effective relationship builder.”Micah Sifry, Executive Editor of Personal Democracy Forum, observed of über-successful political blog DailyKos, “[It] started as one person’s blog, and that person, Markos Moulitsas, spent untold hours building his community. He once told me that in the early days, when he had maybe several hundred regular readers, he knew the names of every single one and would notice when someone hadn’t been on the site for a while, and when they returned, he’d greet them personally. It takes that level of leadership engagement to build a successful [social network] around activism.”7. Befriend People StrategicallySometimes, friends come to you, but other times, you’ll have to do your own outreach to add new friends to your contact list. This is a critical part of the workflow; to reap the benefits of using social networking tools, you need to build your network.That said, you want to avoid random or open-ended outreach, which can distract you and waste time. A strategic way to build your network is to use a “friend-of-a-friend” approach. “Build a small base from a network of supporters from people you know – maybe that’s staff, board members, past supporters – and ask them to invite people they think should be involved,” said Bill Snyder, a nonprofit marketing consultant. “In a sense, it’s getting supporters to do the leg work and be active supporters. It’s also the very definition of ‘social networking.’ This may happen, to some extent, on its own, but it will happen a lot faster if you contact your network and ask them to do this.”Also, take some time to explore different groups on the network site; search by keywords, and explore your friends’ friend lists. You may be surprised to find several existing groups interested in your cause or organization. “I look for groups that may already be set up by users interested in our mission. It saves me time,” said Darren Mullenix, director of operations for Samaritan’s Purse. Change.org’s Mansfield agrees. “Befriend individuals who have already befriended other nonprofits with similar missions.”Technology can also help in this arena. Use the Who Is This? Firefox add-on to search for people you find online on other social networks, sites, and search engines.Finally, be sure to give your current supporters opportunities to join your network by letting them know about your organization’s presence. Post a social networking badge on your Web site or prominently display your profile URL in your email newsletters.8. Use a Few Good Time SaversA variety of tools and tricks can help you streamline your social networking projects and manage your content.RSS and Mobile FeaturesUsing an RSS reader to read content can be a real time saver over logging on to an individual site, particularly if you are maintaining a presence on multiple networks. Some even allow you to do this on the go. “The sites that have mobile clients or mobile-optimized Web sites make it possible so I can scan updates and post while commuting,” said Eugene Chan, IT director for the Community Technology Foundation. “Facebook is especially good in this regard.”RSS can also be used to bring feeds from around the Web to your profile page. “The crucial thing is that the social networking profile must be good, up-to-date, and interesting,” said Simon Berry, Executive Director for RuralNet UK. “However, its maintenance has to fit in with everything else we do and mustn’t be a separate process stuck on the side. The ability to ‘pull in’ content from elsewhere using RSS is really important.”Cut Down or Manage Your BacnBacn – email alerts from social networking sites – is a new form of spam. One way to manage this potential nuisance is to set your preferences to block them entirely, or to switch off email alerts when someone friends you or posts to your profile. Besides, if you visit your profile daily, you may not need to receive the email alerts. If you prefer to manage your profile from your inbox, use a filter or rule to direct them into a folder so you can deal with Bacn in batches. If you do want to receive alerts, but not by email, some sites offer the option to receive them as text messages. The point is, have a system.“When I first started, every time a friend request or message notification arrived in my email box, I’d check it right away,” said Lewis. “It became unmanageable. Now, I set a specific time every day to approve friend requests and comments, and message back those that write us. By having a set time every day, I don’t allow it to consume my time and I get a lot more done.”Automate Profile Content from Blogs, Web Sites, and Other SourcesNot all of the content that appears on your social networking site needs to be created there; as mentioned before, many sites offer tools to allow you to pull in content from your Web site or blog, or from others around the Web. “Facebook allows you to pull in all your RSS feeds from other services,” said David Brazeal, a social media consultant. “When you update your blog, or your podcast, or your Twitter, it’s published to your Facebook profile, too.”Many nonprofits are taking advantage of RSS and blog-publishing applications, bookmarklets (tools on your browser that let you easily share links to your social networking profile), and open APIs that allow you to easily republish content from social bookmarking sites, blogs, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and even Web sites. Be careful; discovering what technologies work well together still involves a bit of trial and error.When pulling in content from other sites, be mindful that sites have different cultures and respond to communication styles differently. Lewis, who works on multiple sites, said, “At first, it was a trial and error for all of these networks. I posted the same thing on every one of the networks. I monitored what kind of responses I got, as well as the tone of communication. Then I modified my messaging based on the responses I received. This is how I became familiar with the different crowds and learned how to speak to them more effectively.” Kristin Taylor, Social Media Strategist for PBS Interactive, said, “Every social network is different and every user is different – there are levels of privacy, rules of friending, and a certain expectation of transparency. Respect that and you’ll be fine.”Keep Up With Policies and New DevelopmentsNWF’s Brigida advises nonprofit staffers who work on social networking sites to keep an eye on changes in features or policies that speak to their specific needs. “Read the key blogs that track the social networking site you’re on, as well as the official company blog. In addition, monitor peer listservs, like NTEN lists (You can find a short list of social networking blogs and other resources on my Social Networking Resources Wiki.)About the Author:Beth Kanter is a trainer, blogger, and consultant who writes about social-media tools in the nonprofit sector. She additionally develops curricula, researches, and evaluates technology for nonprofits. You can learn more about her at bethkanter.org.Copyright © 2008 CompuMentor. This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License.Source: http://www.techsoup.org/learningcenter/internet/page8075.cfmlast_img read more

Weekend Reading

first_imgPosted on May 20, 2011November 13, 2014Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)This week on the MHTF blog:Dr. Yetnayet Asfaw of EngederHealth was interviewed on PBSKate Kerber and Ribka Amsalu of Save the Children wrote about maternal and newborn survival in crisesWe discussed income shocks and birth outcomesComments on misoprostol’s addition to the WHO Essential Medicines ListSome reading for the weekendWomen and mobiles phones, part 2Institutional birth in low income countriesMortality reduction from interventions for hypertensive diseasesShare this: ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read:last_img read more