Book Review: Chris Brogan’s Trust Agents

As I mentioned in my New Year’s Resolutions post, one of my goals was to read a book per week this year. The first book I chose was Chris Brogan and Julien Smith”s Trust Agents.  This 260 page social media gem took me a bit longer than a week (9 days in fact), but was well worth it.  Here’s a quick review:

This book provides a step by step philosophy and guide for how to become a key member of the online and offline world.  This is really a “how-to” on being a great person who is valued, trusted and genuinely liked by others.  If you’ve ever followed any of Chris Brogan’s work such as his blog, or the awesome “overnight success” video series you know that basically this is a detailed book on how he did it.

The really strange and amazing thing about reading this book for me was the realization that I owe a lot of Greenhorn Connect’s success to the principles Chris and Julien go over.  At times, this made me inpatient reading it as I wanted to get on to topics I didn’t already know and practice, but at the same time, it was reassuring and helpful to understand those principles better.  Often, you can see success and attribute it to the wrong things.  This book helped me realize some of the things I’m doing that are helping lead to success. It also surprised me how often things that were happening in my life lined up with things I was reading in the book.  That includes the inspiration for my post earlier this week on business card etiquette.

I’d like to give this book some deeper analysis, but really all I can say is that YOU should read this book. It’s about social media and so much more. Not only will it teach you key tools and tips for taking proper action in social media, but it also shows you how to become a genuinely likeable person who succeeds.  If I had to boil the book down to one principle, I’d say that it’s “Pay it Forward both online and offline and it will all work out for you.”

Next Book: Gary V’s Crush It.

On Deck: Steve Blank’s 4 Steps to the Epiphany

In the hole: Open to recommendations…

The Young Entrepreneur’s Guide, Part V: Making it Official

Many people have written tips, guides and questions for aspiring entrepreneurs.  Many of them are excellent, but I don’t think anyone has captured the essence of the stages a young entrepreneur goes through and specific advice for what they should do at each stage.  As part of our efforts at GreenhornConnect.com, we want to create a central location that provides the information that an aspiring entrepreneur needs to go from starting out (Is this for me? What should I do?) to evaluating an idea (What goes into a business plan? How do I build a team?)  to being a real business (Do I need investment? What tools should I use?).

In the coming weeks, I’ll be writing different sections of this guide in my blog, pulling from my experiences, what I’ve read and advice I’ve heard from others. If you read this and think something is missing or disagree with any of the advice, please comment; I want this to be the best guide possible and will gladly give you credit for your contribution. Thanks.

Thus far: See Part I: Starting from Scratch, Part II: Getting Out There, Part III: Building a Reputation, Network and a Following & Part IV: Working on Your Idea

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Part V: Making it official

You’ve vetted the idea and have a small team, here’s what you do to get serious and launch your business.

1) Get a Name and Social Media set up:

It’s important to have a name for your business. It needs to be simple, memorable and relevant to your area of work.  If it’s hard to spell, people won’t remember it. If they don’t see the connection to your business, it can also be forgettable. There are more tips for naming your business here.   Make sure the URL for your name is available as a “dot com.” If it’s not, either negotiate to buy it (if it’s not in use) or  for another name.

Once you have chosen your name, you need to secure it in social media.  Go grab the name on Twitter, create a fan page on Facebook (you don’t have to publish it yet), and secure other social media usernames you think you might use (Youtube, Flickr, etc).  If you’re finding that many of them aren’t available, you may want to consider looking for a different name.  Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan’s book, Inbound Marketing has a great checklist for startups for this area.  Start using them to build a buzz for your company before you launch. Get involved in the conversation and gather a following.

2) Choose Your Service Providers

When you get started, the first service provider you’re going to need is a lawyer. Ben Hron of VCReady Law wrote a great post about when it’s time to formalize your business.  You definitely do not want to wait too long to do this. Incorporating or forming an LLC not only protects you from personal liability, but it forces you to put in writing your agreements with any partner you have.  You can do online forms to get this done yourself , but as the saying goes, “you wouldn’t do your own surgery, so why would you do your own legal work?”  Facebook started as a Florida LLC and had to have that undone when they moved to Silicon Valley. Do it right the first time and you’ll save yourself a lot of time and money later.

Once you’ve created your business as a legal entity, you’ll need to get a bank account opened and start keeping good financial records for your business.  You can do these yourself, or there are always good bookkeepers and accountants out there to help as your business grows in complexity.

When you’re selecting your service providers, remember that they’re an extension of your business team; choose people you feel comfortable with and who share your vision.  You should feel like they’re on your side and can help your business grow and develop.  If you feel like your service provider doesn’t understand you or that you have to be on the defensive against them, you should keep looking. It’s worth a week or two delay to find the right one.

3) Get an Alpha Out There (aka – Find Customers)

The best way to prove your idea is to get out there and find customers. This can be a splash page for your website simply asking people to give you their email address if they’re interested in your product (have a few fake screenshots or other information explaining what you are).  There’s a lot of great content out there about releasing your Minimum Viable Product (MVP) by Eric Ries and in Steve Blank’s Four Steps to the Epiphany. It’s a lot better to develop your product with your customers giving feedback than trying to prognosticate amongst your team in a bubble.  You’ll also build buzz for your product this way.

In the end, any business is about finding people to pay for what you are providing. The incubator program, Y Combinator, emphasizes this best with their shirts they give to new entrants to their program: “Build Something People Want.” Once you find your first customers, you can adapt your product, remove the warts and account for their feedback.  Be careful! Though you want to listen to your customers, you do not want to use them to create an infinite feature list. “Feature creep” can easily derail a product. Focus on being very good at a few things and deliver that to customers that are looking for those solutions.  This is not easy…we struggle with this at Greenhorn Connect all of the time.

Coming Soon: Part VI: Other Tips for Along the Way

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This is ongoing series to try to build a comprehensive, lasting guide for aspiring entrepreneurs. I would greatly appreciate any input in the comments below to make this the best it can be.  Thanks!

21 Tweets for UltraLight Startups: Leveraging Social Media

Last night I went to the Boston UltraLight Startups event, “Leveraging Social Media” featuring panelists:

The panel was one of the best I’ve seen. For once, they didn’t all agree with each other.  A little controversy and open discussion really goes a long way in these types of events.

When I got home, I noticed that Jay Rogers tweeted a lot of the pitches that ULS always has entrepreneurs give before the panel discussion begins and so that inspired me to bring a summary of the event in a slightly different style….tweet length items from my notes. (Apologies for those I’m not sure who to give credit to.)

1) Jay Rogers: “Advertising is a tax for being unremarkable”  (Sounds like something straight out of Dharmesh and Brian’s Inbound Marketing book…)

2) Jay Rogers: “We have great events called, “Burgers, Cars and Welding”” (Who wouldn’t want to go to that?)

3) “70% of the Inc 500 this year use social media” (Speaks for itself, eh?)

4) “Make it Human.” (How else do you make a real connection with a customer virtually?)

5) Rick Burnes: “Inbound Marketing is Marketing with a magnet instead of a sledgehammer”

6) “Give something away so they’ll come back to your site for more….then lead them to what you want (a sale)”

7) “Your tweets aren’t that good.” (That’s why you need to use Twitter in conjunction with other social media sites)

8 ) Mike McDermott: “Not everyone (in your business) is a Social Media freak…and that’s probably a good thing; someone has to get some work done.”

9) “@TimeWarnerCares Doesn’t tweet.” (Strange way to show you care!?)

10) BL Ochman: “I blogged and tweeted about Time Warner being terrible for weeks until suddenly the President of Time Warner called me.” (not sure that’s a scalable method of customer service…)

11) Time Warner’s response to BL, “We don’t Twit.

12) “Social Media still has the same questions old media has…just a different medium”

13) “Corporations are made up of people…use their voices.” (see #4 )

14) Mike McDermott: “Take anything you’re passionate about and make it exciting.” (If Mike gets excited about invoicing with Freshbooks, then you can get people excited about your business)

15) Jay Rogers on time management with social media: “Managing social media is the water in the glass around the rocks of management, communication and other standard duties.” (i.e.- you fit it in here and there.)

16) Mike McDermott on time management: “I tweet more when I travel…I also use it when I have down time…like in the bathroom.” (Thought I’d share that moment of Too Much Information.)

17) “Facebook is now 25% of all pageviews in the US each month….more than even porn.” (Still don’t think you need to be on Facebook?)

18) “You should have Google Alerts and Backtype set up for monitoring your brand.”

19) Rick Burnes, “I had 400 feeds in my google reader. I cancelled all of them; I wasn’t reading them. I now just use my network on Twitter to find the right articles to read.”

20) Rick Burnes on the future of social media as we become further over-saturated with content: “Networks will be the new filters.” (You’ll trust them as a referral for what content matters.)

21) The next Ultralight Startup event will be in January. I highly recommend it.

The Young Entrepreneur’s Guide, Part IV: Working on Your Idea

Many people have written tips, guides and questions for aspiring entrepreneurs.  Many of them are excellent, but I don’t think anyone has captured the essence of the stages a young entrepreneur goes through and specific advice for what they should do at each stage.  As part of our efforts at GreenhornConnect.com, we want to create a central location that provides the information that an aspiring entrepreneur needs to go from starting out (Is this for me? What should I do?) to evaluating an idea (What goes into a business plan? How do I build a team?)  to being a real business (Do I need investment? What tools should I use?).

In the coming weeks, I’ll be writing different sections of this guide in my blog, pulling from my experiences, what I’ve read and advice I’ve heard from others. If you read this and think something is missing or disagree with any of the advice, please comment; I want this to be the best guide possible and will gladly give you credit for your contribution. Thanks.

Thus far: See Part I: Starting from Scratch, Part II: Getting Out There & Part III: Building a Reputation, Network and a Following

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PART IV: Working on Your Idea

You’re takin part in the conversation and have built a network. You finally have that great idea you want to pursue. Now what?

1) Vet Your Idea

Just like you did your homework before going out to networking events, you need to again dig in and do some work.  With all of the technology at our fingertips, it has never been easier to research a business.  To get started, you need to consider trying the following:

A) Search using Google and Twitter for key terms related to the problem you’re solving.  This will give you an idea of how many people have the problem you’re solving as well as show you who your competition may be.
B) Search the companies you found that are competition. Are their customers satisfied? Is your idea superior in some way? Industry forums and message boards are great, free focus groups.
C) Consider how your idea creates value both for the user and your business. You need to be able to make more money than it costs to produce.
D) Talk to your target customers! Understand their problems…confirm or disprove your assumptions.
E) Search out additional resources for suggestions for vetting your idea.

The key is to have answered the basic questions of your business: What is the problem you are solving? How are you solving it? Do you have a basic business model that could be profitable? How are you different than the competition?  These are the first questions any fellow entrepreneur you meet will ask you.

2) Build a Team

Everyone remembers having those terrible project groups in school. At times you probably said, “I could do this all myself and it would be done better and faster.”  Well, in the real world, you’d often be wrong.

There is great debate over whether solo entrepreneurs are as likely to succeed as teams, and really the answer is that this is a gray area.  The type of business idea you have will greatly affect the number of people needed to execute your plan.  If it’s a smaller business, it is very likely that you can use consultants and contract work to cover the skills you lack.  It has never been easier to do this thanks to sites like 99designsMFG and Outright.

The best reason for having a team is diversity. You need a variety of skills to run a business as well as the ability to handle many different situations.  It is unlikely that you are great at engineering, sales, finance and management.  By building a team, you bring multiple perspectives to your business and can focus on what you’re best at.  In my experience, just having someone to bounce ideas off of and talk through problems is priceless.

All this being said, if you choose to build a team you have to be very careful in who you choose to be on your team. Choosing a co-founder is like a marriage, only you’ll spend more time with your co-founder than your significant other.  You want this person to be a good business compliment as well as someone you get along with, so they may not be your roommate or best friend.

3) Organize Your Thoughts

There is an ongoing debate over the necessity for writing a business plan, but there is agreement on one concept: you need to think about all the parts that would go into a plan.  When you’re getting started, you don’t need to have all the answers to the questions posed in a business plan, but you do need to start thinking about them.  When you go out and start talking to people about your idea, those are the questions you will most likely be asked.  There are a number of great resources out there to help you with this.

4) Get Out There

The best thing you can do to help your business develop is to get out there. Watch how people react to your pitch and try to refine it. Take note of what questions they have and any issues they raise (try to find some answers).  If you have an issue, don’t be afraid to ask others for assistance; often, even if they can’t help you, they’ll refer you to someone who can. Through this process you may even find a key member of your team.

You’ve got an idea, you’re refining it and building your team…

Coming Soon: Part V: Making it Official

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This is ongoing series to try to build a comprehensive, lasting guide for aspiring entrepreneurs. I would greatly appreciate any input in the comments below to make this the best it can be.  Thanks!

The Young Entrepreneur’s Guide, Part III: Building a Network, Reputation and Following

Many people have written tips, guides and questions for aspiring entrepreneurs.  Many of them are excellent, but I don’t think anyone has captured the essence of the stages a young entrepreneur goes through and specific advice for what they should do at each stage.  As part of our efforts at GreenhornConnect.com, we want to create a central location that provides the information that an aspiring entrepreneur needs to go from starting out (Is this for me? What should I do?) to evaluating an idea (What goes into a business plan? How do I build a team?)  to being a real business (Do I need investment? What tools should I use?).

In the coming weeks, I’ll be writing different sections of this guide in my blog, pulling from my experiences, what I’ve read and advice I’ve heard from others. If you read this and think something is missing or disagree with any of the advice, please comment; I want this to be the best guide possible and will gladly give you credit for your contribution. Thanks.

Thus far: See Part I: Starting from Scratch, Part II: Getting Out There

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Part III: Building a Reputation, Network and a Following

You’re out in the community meeting people, reading and learning…now it’s time to establish a reputation and build a following. Here’s how.

1) Understand Ideas are Free

It’s easy to get in the mindset that someone will steal your idea and that you’re giving away something of value by talking to others about their ideas.  This is completely the wrong mindset. Sharing ideas is exactly what you want to do.  It has an incredible amount of benefits:

A) It gets your ideas out of your head and refined by others.  As the CEO of Zipcar said, “every person you meet is a free consultant.”

B) Everyone in the community wants to help each other. If they can’t directly help you, they are more than happy to connect you with someone they know that can help. They can’t help you if they don’t know what your ideas are.

C) It builds credibility.  People recognize and remember those that share good ideas and ask good questions.

In the end, ideas are like a boomerang; the more you share your thoughts with others, they more they’ll share theirs with you. No one will steal your idea, because they’re already working on what they’re passionate about and your passion will always trump someone who is just copying you.

2) Actions Speak Louder…

As a young entrepreneur, you have to build your reputation from scratch. This means that everything you do makes a small contribution to how people judge you.  The best way to build this reputation is through consistently displaying the qualities people look for.  Are you eager to learn? Do you ask questions and share ideas? Do you follow through on everything you say you’ll do?  Do you help others?  Are you honest? If you under-promise and over-deliver, you will always impress people.  Pay it forward and you’ll be amazed at what others will do for you.

3) Use Twitter

It’s great to be up to date on your industries of interest and the trends and topics of the day for entrepreneurs, but to really make a contribution and get involved, you need to be an active part of the conversation.  The easiest way to do this is with Twitter.

You should already be on twitter, seeing what events are being shared as well as articles and ideas. You can do the same thing. If you like something someone already shared, give it a retweet. If you read something really interesting, make a comment about it and link to it in a tweet.  If you have a question for the community, ask it. You never know who might see it.

Also, in addition to connecting with people on linkedin, follow those people and others you see in the community on twitter. They’ll usually follow you back, which leads to an audience that will notice what you have to say.

4) Start a Blog

If you have more to say than 140 characters allows, you should consider starting a blog.  It’s a great way to share your thoughts, questions and ideas on an issue or just share an experience you had.  It also works great with Twitter as you can tweet your entry and if people like it, it will get re-tweeted and more people will read it (and likely start following you).

If you have the passion for writing out your ideas in blog form, then go for it.  To truly be effective, you need to blog a few times a week or once a week at absolute minimum. At first that my seem daunting, but in my experience, that’s not as hard as it seems. There are many great ideas out there for what to blog about; just decide what your blog’s focus will be and give it a shot. If you’re passionate about the subject, you’ll find that writing about it will come much more naturally than your last report for school or work.

There are a lot of great tips for getting started: Here, Here and Here.

5) Tie it All Together

By now you should be on Twitter, LinkedIn and maybe even have a blog. You’re also out there at events.  This means you’re now part of both the real and virtual conversation. To best utilize them, tie them all together.

LinkedIn gives you the ability to directly feed your blog into your LinkedIn page and to provide up to 3 links to other sites from your profile.  These links should be your Twitter profile, your blog and your startup, when you have one.   Meanwhile, Twitter allows you to link directly to one site, so you should then tie it to your blog or LinkedIn.  Finally, most blogs allow for links, so you should link to your Twitter account, LinkedIn and your company.

By doing this, you create a net. No matter how people find you, they can find out everything about you with just a few clicks. This can be really valuable, as anyone can see what you write about (your blog), what your thoughts are (Twitter) and your background/experience (LinkedIn).  This really works. I actually got a job because of my blog; they were able to see my background and interests and out of the blue asked to meet with me.

If you say things that resonate with people, you never know what can happen.

Are you a part of the conversation?

Coming Next Week: Part IV: Working on Your Idea

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This is ongoing series to try to build a comprehensive, lasting guide for aspiring entrepreneurs. I would greatly appreciate any input in the comments below to make this the best it can be.  Thanks!

What is the Future of Marketing?

Today, I attended the “Marketing Your Way to Success” event presented by the city of Boston and the Boston Redevelopment Authority.  The event was all about the way social media is changing the way you market your business.  During the first presentation, the presenter, Adele Polis, shared the following video that really hit home this premise:

This video really shows the power of social media and does a great job of showing any “non-believers” why they need to wake up and embrace it.

The more and more I think about it, the question isn’t “Is Social Media the Future?” but “What will happen when the majority embrace Social Media (aka- inbound) Marketing?” Right now, I think the “early majority” is becoming aware of catch-phrases like “SEO” and starting to try out social media for marketing. Do the rules of crossing the chasm apply? How will we handle that much content when we’re already scanning headlines and skimming articles today? Will the web support this level of activity? What lengths will people go to to be heard? Email is already a much harder way to reach people (open rates are very low).  Will people start heavily filtering (and rejecting) content in other mediums as well?  I believe there will be a new “survival of the fittest” where only the clever and dedicated survive and are heard.

What do you see in the future in marketing? How do you see the rules changing as more and more people adopt this method?

Tech Addiction: What it means to ask what we’ll give up…

I just came across the following article from Mashable on a study for Gen Y.  The premise is asking Gen Y members, “Of the activities listed here, which one would you least like to give up for a week?”  I’ve copied the results here:

Gen Y: Of the activities listed here, which one would you least like to give up for a week?

Gen Y: “Of the activities listed here, which one would you least like to give up for a week?”

To me, this is an exercise in common sense. If you simply understand what Gen Y people use each for, it all adds up.  Number one on the list was Emailing, which is not surprising. It’s the hub of everything we do personally and professionally. You can’t do your job, contact your friends or do the most basic free communication without email.  It’s at the core of what you do. Text messaging isn’t far behind, because of again, how we use it.  Setting up to go places, Gen Y people rarely use the phone.  It’s quicker to just say it in a text where you are, where you’re going or just say something quick to a friend…it’s like a DM on Twitter.  When you’re at a noisy bar or in a meeting, you can’t take a phone call, but you can text to share information.  Take away texting, and things would get a lot harder.  The rest are a smattering of our personal interests.  For some, not having TV to watch would leave them bored when they aren’t working. For others, web surfing is a core part of their day.  All that’s left to understand then is the “Visiting Social Networking Websites”…

The reason we use social networks is because it adds value to our lives. Whether you plan your party or are just making a new connection on Facebook, it makes your social life easier and more robust.  Our parents got by on land line phones and handwritten notes.  Social networks are just the furthest down the line in “convenience we need most.”  It’s no different than a survey asking “What food would you least give up?”  Sure some people are chocoholics, but in the end, it’s your “meat and potatoes” (email and text) core of your diet you can’t give up.  That doesn’t mean you don’t love your chocolate (social networks and TV) or that cocoa farmers have anything to worry about…it just means you have a logical priority level.  I’d actually be concerned if more people thought they needed email, phone calls and texts less than their social networks.

I’m glad someone did a study to confirm the obvious.  Our government commissions a lot of those too.

Are You Embracing the Twitter-ized Society?

During one of the breaks during MIT’s Startup Bootcamp, I was talking with a friend about the presentations we had seen thus far and which we thought were the best.  As we talked more about the ones we liked, we realized that there was a common thread: tweet-ability.  The presentations we liked best had very few words on each slide…often much less than 140 characters and usually it was simply a picture. Looking back now a week later, the only slides I can vividly remember are ones that had either less than 10 words on the screen or were just a picture.  Thinking back even further to other presentations I’ve seen in the last year, I’ve realized that the only slides I can remember also fit that description.

So what does this mean?  I think it really speaks to the power of communication and Twitter’s affect on it.  It started with text messages, where suddenly you could pass information to your friends in 160 characters or less, and now with Twitter, you have 140 characters or can “Twitpic” a picture to quickly share an idea or comment.  This practice is being embraced everywhere…from HubSpot taking questions for their weekly shows and “Series C Webcast” today via Twitter, to Mass High Tech All Stars (according to tweets) being limited in their speeches to 140 characters or less.

So the question begging to be asked: Is this a bad thing?

I don’t think so. The shorter content is actually easier to remember, and it’s making everyone be more efficient and effective in their communications.  In this information-saturated world we live in, this is a logical evolution to again allow us to communicate and understand more ideas in less time.  As long as we understand when we need to add context (like blogs, books and other 140+ character communications), I think this is an important evolution in the way we communicate.

How are you embracing the Twitter-ized Society?

6 Lists of 12 for MIT’s Startup Bootcamp

Yesterday, hundreds of aspiring entrepreneurs filled MIT’s Kresge Auditorium for “Startup Bootcamp.” 12 renowned entrepreneurs shared their insights and advice into the journey of starting a company and the entrepreneurial life.   There were many presentation styles and personalities on display, but they all shared common traits of passion and honesty;  you could feel that every entrepreneur was fully invested in the idea that they had 30 minutes to share the most valuable advice they could possibly give.  I wasn’t the only one who had pages of notes, so to honor one of my favorites sports bloggers and his “10 lists of 10” theme, I’d like to present you a few lists of interesting items that came from the event:

List #1: The 12 Entrepreneurs, in order of appearance (names link to Twitter):

1. Adam Smith, Founder, Xobni
2. Alexis Ohanian, Co-Founder, Reddit
3. Ken Zolot, Founder, MIT Innovations Teams & Heartland Robotics
4. Dan Theobald, Founder, Vecna
5. Kyle, Vogt, Founder, Justin.TV
6. Angus Davis, Founder, Tellme
7. Hemant Taneja, Founder, Sunborne Energy, Managing Director, General Catalyst Partners
8. Dharmesh Shah, Founder, HubSpot, Author and Blogger
9. Robin Chase, Founder, Zipcar
10. Dan Bricklin, Creator, VisiCalc, Blogger
11. Aaron Swartz, Founder Infogami, Blogger
12. Drew Houston, Founder, Dropbox

List #2: My Favorite Quote from Each Speaker:

1. Adam Smith: “90% of execution is not giving up when others would.”
2. Alexis Ohanian: “Being Good is insurance for when you’re dumb.”
3. Ken Zolot: “Progress is about taking and managing risk.”
4. Dan Theobald: “Outside investment is like in the movie Alien, when they set the auto-destruct and gave themselves 1 hour to kill the alien or everything blew up.”
5. Kyle Vogt: “Take enough shots and eventually you’ll do the right thing.”
6. Angus Davis: “Think like a shareholder…remember what you own.”
7. Hemant Taneja: “The West Coast has a few VCs that are all about the young ones building companies…It’s evolving here now.”
8. Dharmesh Shah: “Stealth mode is for fighter jets, not startups.”
9. Robin Chase: “Everyone you come in contact with is your free consultant.”
10. Dan Bricklin: “Avoid lawsuits; they’re rotten things and you have no control.”
11. Aaron Swartz: “Have users from Day 0.”
12. Drew Houston: “Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once.”

List #3: 12 of the Most Tweeted Quotes:

1. Dharmesh Shah: “The more you postpone interacting with real people, the more time you’re wasting …”
2. Drew Houston: “As founder/CEO, your job description is rewritten every 12 months”.
3. Aaron Swartz: “Do not underestimate the degree to which your early users will help you define your product.”
4. “2.5 years of crazy hours, equal parts terror, panic & elation, & a savage obsession with making something people love.”
5. Drew Houston: “Our checking account has $60, can it actually hold $1.2MM?”
6. Drew Houston: “easier to pick up biz side, than for biz people to pick up engineering side”
7. Dharmesh Shah: “Thinking of a startup? You have a genetic defect that’s going to make you miserable for the rest of your life.”
8. Robin Chase: “Everyone you come in contact with is your free consultant”
9. Drew Houston: “Don’t worry about failure. you only have to do it right once”
10. Drew Houston: “I dont know if they thought it was drugs….or a startup”
11. Dan Bricklin: “Don’t celebrate with lawyers — you’re paying for it.”
12. Aaron Swartz: “Instead of the “Hollywood Launch”, go with the “GMail Launch”. Have users from Day 0.”

List #4: Favorite Concepts Introduced by each Speaker:

1) Adam Smith:
2) Alexis Ohanian:
3) Ken Zolot:
4) Dan Theobald:
5) Kyle Vogt:
6) Angus Davis:
7) Hemant Taneja:
8) Dharmesh Shah:
9) Robin Chase:
10) Dan Bricklin:
11) Aaron Swartz:
12) Drew Houston:

1. Adam Smith: Take Risk. 1/4th of your attempts should fail or you aren’t trying.
2. Alexis Ohanian: “No one wants to use your website.” Find out what your customers Do Want.
3. Ken Zolot: “Find your Strawberry Seeds.” (Fruit Roll-ups had a 10x increase in sales when they added Strawberry seeds)
4. Dan Theobald: “experimenting with OPM (Other People’s Money) is dumb.”
5. Kyle Vogt: “Listen to your users in the right way; just get them to tell you when something’s wrong.”
6. Angus Davis: RIFLE: Find your product-market fit. Segment your customer base.
7. Hemant Taneja: Raise VC money only if you Have To. (Bootstrapping works!)
8. Dharmesh Shah: “Build a barrier to entry with Marketing.”
9. Robin Chase: “As a start-up, be the peacock.” (Tiny bird, big appearance)
10. Dan Bricklin: You can build something great in a basement or bedroom.
11. Aaron Swartz: Is your startup an r (small and simple) or a K (large and complex)?
12. Drew Houston: “Drink from the Firehose.” (read as much as you can. learn.)

List #5: Speaker summary in a tweet or less:

1. Adam Smith: Hit the high notes; create a product that no one else can. It’s a huge barrier to entry and wows your users.
2. Alexis Ohanian: Startups are about embracing serendipity and being good; karma matters.
3. Ken Zolot: Ask your startup: Does it work? Is it special? Who cares? What do I have/know (Team!) Who can help? (Network!)
4. Dan Theobald: Hire the best people for all roles & take care of them; a great engineer does 10x the work of a good engineer & 100x of an average engineer.
5. Kyle Vogt: Startups are about being leaner, smarter, more efficient, and lasting long enough to find what works.
6. Angus Davis: Understand your customer base and maximize your return on them (i.e.- Yelp vs. Service Magic)
7. Hemant Taneja: Choose a VC who is 1) smart & a good listener 2) has a network relevant to your company 3) operates with transparency
8. Dharmesh Shah: Utilizing social media to share great content and interact with your customers is the best marketing for a startup.
9. Robin Chase: Create a company with a great product and exceptional customer service and you’ll have a lasting competitive edge.
10. Dan Bricklin: Competition is always around the corner.  Never grow complacent.
11. Aaron Swartz: Build a product with your users from day 0 and with a little cheap marketing, you’ll grow naturally and healthily.
12. Drew Houston: Running a startup means constantly learning and evolving your company and your role in it.

List #6: 12 Organizations Helpful for Young Entrepreneurs:

1. StayinMA
2. DartBoston
3. Boston Young Entrepreneurs
4. Innovation Open Houses
5. Onein3
6. MIT 100K
7. TiE Young Entrepreneurs
8. Mass Challenge
9. Tech Tuesdays
10. Mass Innovation Nights
11. Web Innovators Group
12. You can see all of these and more at: GreenhornConnect

…here’s hoping this last list becomes a baker’s dozen with the addition of an annual Startup Bootcamp.

MassTLC unConference Session Summary: Build a Community, not a Network

Everyone in the entrepreneurial community knows about Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and blogging and yet many aren’t using them to their full potential.  To help correct this, Cort Johnson and Joselin Mane teamed up to present ideas behind using social media and social networks to build a real, vibrant community.  They were a great team that drew on their personal experiences with social media to lead the session.  Cort is the leader of the DartBoston community that has recently emerged as a key organization for young entrepreneurs, while Joselin runs Boston Tweetups, which helps broadcast local events through Twitter.  There were quite a few skeptics in the audience that they seemed to have convinced by the end of their session.

The heart of their message was to “facilitate a connection.” That means being more than a Twitter name and a random photo.  You need to build a net of all your content across the web.  Link your Twitter account to your blog, your blog to your LinkedIn and Twitter accounts and so on.  By doing so, it allows anyone who finds you to immediately learn all about you, from what you write about (your blog), to what conversations you’re taking part in (Twitter) to what your background is (LinkedIn).

A few tips they suggested:

Use the same picture for every site.
This builds continuity and allows people looking for you from any site to immediately know they found you.

Follow the 90/10 Rule
90% of what you write and tweet about needs to be adding to the conversation and sharing ideas. To not offend people you can only be self-promoting at most 10% of the time.

Find ways to move the conversation offline
All the social media and networks are great, but nothing beats a face to face meeting to build a great relationship.

Use “Reverse Mentorship” (credit: DartBoston co-founder @Alexa)
If you’re not familiar with all the online social tools, consider asking a young person for help.  They can teach you the basics and set you up with the right accounts and tools and then you can help them with some career mentoring.

Have a Plan
It’s not just about being on Twitter. It’s about choosing all of the networks and sites you want to be on and how you’re going to use them together.  You can start out looking to just explore and better understand them, but you need to then formulate a plan for utilizing it for your business or brand.

Sites/Tools to Consider
Twitter help: Twitter’s help section is great for getting you started.
OneForty.com: Tools for better utilizing Twitter can be found here, including ratings and reviews for each by other users.  It’s started by local entrepreneur @pistachio.
Mashable.com: Provides news and information on all things social media/networks.

“Research, Listen, Contribute”
In the end, this is really the key. The conversation is happening online with or without you, so why not be a part of it? There are many opportunities to hear both what people are thinking about in your industry and about your brands.  Get educated, get involved and you can forge great relationships that can then be brought into the real world.

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In the end, it’s all about what you’re interested in doing.  As was mentioned at the “Bootstrapping PR” panel discussion at WebInno23 earlier this week, it’s important you’re passionate about doing this; like most things in life, you’ll get out what you put in.

If you know of any other key tools for getting started or have any thoughts on building your online presence, please add it to the comments.