Posts tagged Microsoft
A new job is always difficult to adapt to, especially if you’re not expecting as much culture shock as you run into. Each company can be like its own country in a way, so I’ve found that a lot of same the skills and lessons that help someone thrive after moving to a foreign country lead to happiness and success at a new job, too.
Eight months ago, I started my second Seattle-based full-time job in my desired career, and skills I learned out of necessity while living in China for two years that have helped me change jobs include: Learning new vocabulary, acknowledging and overcoming culture shock, and creativity and patience with communication and process.
Learning new vocabulary
Every job has jargon, acronyms and proper nouns, specific to industry or the employer itself. If you aren’t accustomed to living in an environment where you don’t know the vocabulary, your initial lack of comprehension of meetings, emails and documents can be overwhelming.
In my job, I have essentially three sets of jargon, acronyms and proper nouns to learn: Microsoft/information technology, Waggener Edstrom, and public relations agency (see the Jargon Jar at 99 Problems But a Pitch Aint One.) Learning Chinese vocabulary made me comfortable not understanding everything I hear or read in meetings, emails and client marketing materials, and teaching myself the vocabulary by looking up definitions to reference on an ongoing basis.
Acknowledging and overcoming culture shock
Most people think that culture shock is an initial big shock that wears off. However, culture shock is more of a slow roller coaster along these lines:
1. You think everything about the new place is perfect.
2. You feel homesick in increasing amounts, discovering things you never realized you would miss about home and things about the new place you don’t like.
- This is often the most intense about three months in and then reappears in subsequent months. If someone doesn’t know this is culture shock, they blame their emotions on external factors, such as: “My boss/roommate/the traffic in this city is crazy.”
3. You either figure out how to overcome the homesickness, grow a lot as a person, and become super attached to the new place or you don’t overcome it and you leave. A pretty effective coping mechanism can be taking occasional out-of-country vacations.
I’m so proud that I got through every wave of culture shock I experienced in Beijing. Over time, I had to become okay with disliking certain things about the country (for example, its pop music) and not letting those bother me, instead focusing on what I loved about the place (contemporary art and independent music). It was also key that I tried to surround myself with a combination of internationally minded Chinese people and China-minded Westerners. There are a lot of non-Chinese people in China who constantly complain about living there, and I recognized that spending lots of time around them would not help my experience.
Culture shock is present in both countries and employers, especially large employers. Eight months into this job I’m still discovering elements of our culture that I had no idea to even look for when I started.
Creativity and patience with communication and process
Psychologists have said that living abroad makes people more creative. This makes sense to me given that in China I would encounter ways of doing things that I had never even considered or have to get really creative to effectively communicate across the language barrier.
For example, one day at my first job in China, my boss asked me to train a Chinese co-worker with almost no English ability to perform administrative tasks in Microsoft Outlook. When I wasn’t sure how to say something in Chinese or she wasn’t sure how to say something in English, we entered it into Google Translate and communicated to each other that way. This was a creative way to overcome a communication barrier to complete a task.
I also experienced an example of how living in a foreign country can enhance your creativity and patience with processes by challenging your basic assumptions. I didn’t fully grasp the concept that China doesn’t have a culture of financial credit until one day when I told my roommate our power had went out that morning, she looked at our electrical meter and said in Chinese, “We’re out of electricity.” I thought, “How can we be out of electricity?” Turns out, we paid for our electricity by pre-loading a card at an ATM at the nearest bank and then inserting it into our electric meter, instead of paying an electric bill monthly, so we had run out of the dollar amount pre-loaded into the meter.
Have you lived abroad? What skills would you add to the list?
Photo is a screen grab from a 99 Problems But a Pitch Aint One post.
At Social Media Club Seattle, Leaders at Amazon, Microsoft, REI, City of Seattle, PwC Talk 2012-2013
Tuesday night I attended a packed Social Media Club Seattle event where a super-smart panel of people who lead social media efforts at major Seattle-headquartered companies talked about both broad trends and companies’ activities for social media in 2012 and 2013.
- Moderator: Dustin Johnson, Managing Director at the impressive part of PwC formerly known as Ant’s Eye View
- John Yurcisin, Director of Social Media at Amazon
- Sabra Schneider, Director of Online Communications at the City of Seattle
- Lourdes Orive, Director of Community and Online Support at Microsoft
- Lulu Gephart Manager of Online Engagement at REI
You can view all tweets from the event at the #smcsea Twitter hashtag and another blog post on the event, by Kelsey Kaufman: Social Media Club of Seattle: Trends for 2013 (And What They Mean for Digital Marketing).
My top takeaways:
Connecting social to ROI in 2012 and 2013
- In 2012, there was heavy pressure to connect social media work to business impact and in 2013 there will be even more.
- Some brands are cutting the number of social media sites they use or are more hesitant to add new ones.
- Hopefully 2013 marks the end of “shiny object syndrome” where brands add the Pinterest or Vine of the day just because it’s new and cool. (This relates to a good point I heard at Seattle Interactive Conference 2011: Make sure you’re using the sites you’re already on very effectively before you add new ones.)
Community management: Leveraging community to lighten your workload
- Microsoft’s MVP (Most Valuable Professional) customer advocate program has extended online to customer support. If a big brand you work with has a need for more third-party online advocacy, existing customer advocate programs are a good place to start.
- Brands should establish what their audience wants and what motivates them, then tell the audience what the brand wants, and use this information to establish and maintain a non-monetary exchange (aka gamification.) Establishing what both parties want is difficult.
- REI has launched a crowd-sourced photo project leveraging the rise in photo-sharing and checking in on social media titled the REI 1440 Project.
Reaching non-English-speaking and niche audiences
- The City of Seattle hosts informal meetings with Seattle’s cultural media to ask them the best way to communicate with the communities they represent. For example, they ask if the City of Seattle should translate materials or give the reporters materials in English for them to translate themselves.
- REI has social media communities for each of its geographic markets where it has stores. Store employees run the accounts. Note: I know Nordstrom killed store-specific activity to consolidate to one account on each site. I wonder if REI has seen success in this that Nordstrom didn’t.
Data and measurement
- Defining and measuring success for social media support is much more difficult than with traditional support due to the wider variety of reasons that people use social media for support. With traditional phone and email support, customers usually have one question that they are seeking an immediate answer to, whereas with social media support, customers could be looking to continue a previous conversation, complain or other reasons.
- Amazon and REI are prioritizing development and successful of their own social platforms in 2013. They didn’t elaborate on why; my guess is so they can own customer data.
- Amazon and REI rely heavily on measurement and audience data to drive strategy:
- Impressive for REI given that its social media team is only 4 people. REI is weighing options for buying a paid measurement tool so they can get comprehensive information on where people talk about them online.
- Amazon values experimentation via small tweaks in social media and measuring the impact., much like Wetpaint does.
Photo of January 29, 2013 attendees taken from a Facebook photo album by Social Media Club Seattle
Disclaimer: I work for Microsoft 40 hours a week via my job at Waggener Edstrom, but I don’t use my personal blog or social media profiles for work purposes. My boss tells me that I can blog about whatever I want within the boundaries of common sense.
4 Speakers’ PR Best Practices from Global Mobile and Cloud Conference [imported from Seattle Guanxi]
Earlier this month, I attended the first ever Global Mobile and Cloud Conference, co-organized by the Chinese Microsoft Employee Network and the North America China Council. I went mostly for my own industry education and the China focus. However, because my coworkers and I manage speaking opportunities for technology clients, and I knew Veronica and I would be starting this blog soon, I made sure to look out for speaking best and worst practices from a public relations standpoint.
Here are my four favorite speakers, what they did right, and what my least favorites did wrong, in my opinion:
Albert Shum, Windows Phone Design Studio General Manager, Microsoft
I was expecting to hate the presentation on Windows Phone, but instead, Albert’s presentation was one of my favorites of the day. As highlights, he:
- Acknowledged his product’s competition – iOS – had a much larger market share, then focused on Windows Phone’s future.
- Used story elements, such as creating a character. He shared market research with us on the character Windows Phone has decided will be its best target customer, a young man named “Wei.”
- Provided exclusive, specific information that was interesting to the whole audience. I found the market information on young, somewhat affluent, urban Chinese – pretty similar to my friends in China – fascinating and informative.
- Didn’t waste time or people’s attention by talking about common knowledge information. In this case, he began his presentation by acknowledging that everyone’s trying to figure out how to sell products to Chinese consumers.
Gang He, CEO at Grand Cloud
Halfway through Gang He’s presentation, I decided I should move to China and work for a cloud computing company. Then I realized this decision was merely a result of his persuasion at work. As highlights, he:
- Positioned himself as an expert on the conference topics through sharing specific, useful knowledge. At the end of his presentation, the moderator called his presentation amazing and summarized that he probably told us everything we could possibly want to know about cloud computing in China.
- Painted a picture of his industry and country as having exploding business opportunities, but ones that you should partner with locals for. He explained several factors that are contributing to massive business opportunities for cloud computing in China, as well as the challenges companies face in the same industry.
- Plugged his company’s product, but made sure to share impressive proof points while doing so. 8,000 customers bought Grand Cloud in the first two months of its availability.
Weiling Li, Vice President, iSoftStone
I’ve attended several panel discussions at a variety of events, and I’ve decided that they are inherently difficult for everyone involved: audience, moderator and speakers. Weiling Li showed the key to a successful panel is the moderator taking control. He:
- Announced a format for Q&A at the beginning of the session, letting everyone know that first he would ask questions, then he’d open it up to questions from attendees.
- Addressed questions to specific panelists to prevent some from speaking way more than others.
- Was available to answer questions if prompted, but focused on the panelists’ knowledge instead of his own.
George Zhu, Senior Program Manager, HTC
George was the most impressive panelist I saw of the day. He:
- Began with his employer’s elevator pitch, including how it was relevant and qualified for the conference topic, when prompted to introduce himself.
- Closed with a call to action to apply to work for his employer, when prompted for closing remarks.
I’m not going to name my least favorite speakers of the day; instead, I’ll outline worst practices. Don’t:
- Make the presentation only useful to those who use a certain product, unless the event is some sort of users’ conference such as WordCamp or Dreamforce.
- Show off your own personal abilities.
- Attack another company repeatedly throughout your presentation.
- Related to the above, don’t come off as competitive for the sake of it. People with this quality often do well in business, but it can come off the wrong way during presentations.
What technology speaking best practices do you recommend? Did you go to the Global Mobile and Cloud Conference? What did you think?Images taken without permission from Global Mobile and Cloud Conference.
I attended a PRSA Puget Sound focus group last Thursday intended to unearth ways to increase Chapter participation among public relations professionals with zero to five years of experience. I have been a hardcore PRSSA/PRSA fan for four years now, but I agree that this is an experience level that our local Chapter needs to better address.
Hopefully we’ll see concrete additions to programming and communications as a result of what seemed like an enlightening meeting. A handful of board members including the programming director and Chapter President attended, which to me shows dedication to this topic and promise of change. Unfortunately, the only employers represented among the early career professionals were Edelman (the host) and Weber Shandwick, with special guest Brian Seitz from Microsoft, whom Karianne Stinson recruited because he’s passionate about the focus group topic. At least my opinion was heard, right?
Here are some of the highlights of what we discussed in regard to programming for early career professionals:
- Programming topics are more of a draw than prestigious speakers or exclusive venues.
- In terms of topics, we want to see more that appeal specifically to our career level, such as how to get your boss to trust you during a public relations crisis as opposed to how to create a crisis communications plan yourself. We see a programming gap between what’s useful for students and what’s useful for professionals who are years and years into their careers.
- Preference for in-person programming over webinars, even if it means a less famous speaker
- Events that simulate tweetups or Cold Pavement in that they are interactive and networking focused and have a low cost or registration barrier
- Events starting at 7 p.m. or later, but not late evening unless it’s Thursday. We like events with “happy hour” in the name, and everyone in the focus group raised our hands when asked “How many of you go to happy hour?”
Here are the highlights of our event publicity improvement suggestions:
- Overall, we think the Chapter could greatly improve its online presence, including the Chapter site and its social media use.
- Revitalize the blog, cultivate relationships with Twitter advocates/ambassadors who will spread the word about Chapter events, and encourage event Twitter hashtags for live tweeting.
- Best case scenario would be something like a Chapter phone app integrated with the Chapter website.
- Create a point-person for event publicity at each Seattle agency because people are much more likely to attend an event that they find out about from a coworker.
Is there anything you would add to these lists? Do you think these desires are specific to the Seattle area or to early career public relations professionals nationwide?
Image courtesy of Kathleen Baxter