When I first got my iPhone I was in the middle of a very intense training session. I didn’t want to open the box because I knew that then I’d want to play with my new fancy toy and that because it was fancy, it was surely going to take a long time to learn. After all, my horrible no-feature phone was still a huge mystery to me, getting it into speaker mode require something about standing on your head, doing the hokey-poky and pressing an endless stream of unrelated and unmarked keys in bizarre combinations that often I couldn’t get correct even while staring at the instructions.
You can imagine my surprise when I opened my iPhone and absolutely everything about it was totally intuitive; I didn’t have to fight to learn anything. Speaker is the speaker button that only shows up on the screen when it‘s an option, the map is easy to use and if you’ve used a Google map before you’re got all the knowledge you need. It’s not to say there weren’t a few issues but never before had a piece of technology been so easy to use right out of the box.
I’m telling you this because this bit of technology has indeed made my life easier and better and that’s the theme of this post.
The very first panel I went to was a fantastic panel by Susan Tenby and Janet Fouts. It was on listening and had a bunch of great resources on listening (that thing I keep talking about as being important in social media… no one wants to listen to a blow hard who isn’t ever interested in what anyone else is saying). There’s lots of tools out there and at least a few interesting ways to use them, one of them I’m guessing you haven’t thought of yet because honestly I hadn’t.
At CVM we’re always pushing for people to send broadcast messages. We know they work, we know that our clients want this information and yet for many of us it’s just too hard. There’s too much effort getting the information to broadcast and frankly we don‘t have the time. And that’s where WE are failing. You see the iPhone isn’t the only place technology makes our lives better. There’s tons of tools out there that can do your work for you.
How many of you spend hours searching for job fairs, homeless stand down events, Vets events? You need the info and you know that google can find it for you. But here’s the deal, you don’t need to go to google, you can make google bring this information to you. If you haven’t set up a google alert yet on your organization’s name it’s time. But it’s also time to set up alerts for things like “homeless” and your city, or “job fair” and your city. Now just like any google search sometimes you’ll get information that you don’t want, and sometimes you’ll need to change your search terms to get closer to what you are looking for, but then you do that every time you google search something now don’t you?
You can use Twitter search and hash tags to do the exact same thing. Indeed twitter’s best use is that of a news feed so why not have it feed you the news you want to broadcast out instead of spending hours each week going out to find it?
We all know that we need to work smarter, not harder and so let’s start using these fantastic tools to help us. Let’s sit back with a glass of sweet tea and have these fantastic computers serve us up with information on a tray. Let’s use our time wisely so we can enjoy ourselves more and stop wrestling so hard to get information. (Yes, I am sitting in Atlanta sipping sweet tea at this very second.)
I’ll be writing more about the conference in the next few days including posts about great panels, horrible panels, information learned, meetings made, having fun and everything else. But for now let’s get the machines doing the grunt work. We have too much to do with great ideas to waste our time with data.
PS. If you don’t know how to set these tools up or want to know more about how they can help you just let me know. I’m more than willing to help. And for those of you that need some time to think about it I’m going to be presenting a small session on this at the CVM conference this fall, so you can see it in person.