Happy Birthday Mom!

My mother Catherine was born 76 years ago today.  On her 21st birthday, she had me, 55 years ago today.  March 7th has always been a day to treasure for both of us.

My mother didn’t have an easy life.  I was born very early and at 2 pounds, suffered severe eye damage as a result of too much oxygen.  My late father drank and couldn’t cope with the responsibility of a family.  And when he left when my sisters and I were all very young, she had to raise us herself.  It was courageous and difficult, particularly in the 60s, when single parents weren’t that common or accepted.  Despite everything, she raised three remarkable daughters who are all immensely proud of her.

I just got a call from Mom and my sisters Nancy and Carolyn.  They’re out together in Ottawa drinking brandy Alexanders and having a ball. Mom has us and our spouses, four adoring grandchildren – and a great-granddaughter on the way.  None of us are very well-off, but on this special day, we’re rich as hell.

Here is a photo of my family. Happy Birthday, Ma, from one Catherine to another:-)

Nancy, Carolyn and our MomMom Nan Carr 063005

Taking Stock – and Looking Ahead

Well it’s been quite a week.

I’ve started a blog, done three interviews about Twitter and the power of social media, and met more wonderful people online and in person.  I’m also excited to have contributed some of my time and skills to a worthy cause – Vancouver’s first-ever MentalHealthCamp this coming April.  More on this unique effort to harness social media for the good of an isolated and misunderstood community later next week.

I feel happy.  And lucky.  I have great friends and a loving family.  Life’s not perfect – my job hunt continues – but it’s still a wonderful ride.

And tomorrow, I’m turning another page.  I’ll be 55!  I don’t feel it.  On good days I don’t look it.  And the potential and promise that social media brings to my professional and personal life has given me new energy and purpose.

Years ago I might have considered retirement – remember Freedom 55, my Canadian friends?  Circumstances and the downturn have definitely changed that, but even if they hadn’t I’m not ready for that now.  Ask me again in 20 years…

Twitter as Job Search Tool? Absolutely!

I’ve been looking for a PR job for many months, first in Silicon Valley, where I had lived for several years, and now in Vancouver, where I came after my visitors visa had expired.  It’s been hard, and the current downturn has made it even more challenging.

At first, I relied on craigslist, LinkedIn and Facebook.  I even paid a hefty monthly fee to a well-known organization to give me ‘exclusive’ access to choice positions.

Twitter wasn’t part of my search strategy – but it is now.  One single tweet changed that for me in December.

I had been using Twitter to connect and engage people in conversation, but I had never really brought up my situation.  Then, on a particularly tough day, I announced that I was on the verge of losing everything and would have to leave the US.

The response was immediate – and overwhelming.  Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to tell my story through guest blogs, media interviews, speaking engagements and internet radio shows.  Several people offered to circulate my resume to friends and colleagues.  To this day, folks I’ve never met and probably will never meet write me to see how I’m doing, feed me leads, give me encouragement, and tell me things will get better.  And happily, I’m talking with some promising companies with neat technology who are in the process of getting funding.  I have hope.

If you are job hunting, or know someone who is, here are a few tips based on my experience on Twitter:

  • Build up your network – follow people you respect, and follow the people who respect them.  Use tools like Twellow.com to find like-minded people who may be helpful resources.  And follow job sources such as @JobAngels, @SocialMediaJob, @MicroJobs, and more.
  • Take a good look at your skills, and make sure that your Twitter bio reflects them.  Be direct.  My bio says I am job hunting in the first line!
  • Make sure you have a twesume – what you do in 140 characters – and tweet it on a regular basis. (No spamming, though…)
  • Let your followers know you are looking, and if there are certain contacts or companies you’d like an introduction to.  This is no time to hang back.  If no one knows, no one can help you.
  • Keep your followers posted on how the search is going.  We can all relate to your frustration, and cheer you on when things look promising.
  • Share information. If you find a great new tool, or if you know of opportunities that aren’t a fit for you, tell the world.  Someone will benefit.  Twitter is all about helping each other.
  • Talk about your job search in your blog or ask bloggers you follow if they accept guest posts, so you can provide your own insights on social media and job searches.  Post the link on Twitter.
  • And never give up. I’m not.

I hope this helps.  Now I’d love to hear from you.  Tell me what strategies have worked for you – and what haven’t.  What tools have you used successfully?

If you are looking, let me know.  And if you are hiring or know someone who is, by all means, post here – and on Twitter. Let’s keep on working for each other.

Why I Love Twitter

twitter_logo 128x160

When I decided to blog in earnest, I promised myself that I would a) try to write a little something every day, and b) talk about the things I’m passionate about.  And there is no doubt that I am passionate about Twitter.  As I said to a friend at coffee today, I don’t think I’ve been as excited and energized by anything in years

It’s all happened pretty quickly.  I signed on to Twitter last spring and was frankly perplexed at first.  Why would I ever care about what someone had for lunch or if they were stuck in traffic in LA?  It wasn’t till well into the fall that I realized that Twitter isn’t about static messages at all.

Twitter is all about CONVERSATIONS.  And it’s my belief that these conversations can literally change the way we communicate, do business, build relationships and impact the lives of others.  I’ll be showcasing examples of this over the coming weeks and months.

I also want to share some practical Twitter tips based on my unique experiences.  I’m working on my first post – how to use Twitter as part of your job search.  Watch this space tomorrow.  I’m looking forward to the conversations that will follow.

It’s Taken a While, but Here I Am…

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit scared.  I put this off for a long time, thinking that with so many bloggers out there, who would care about another?  Through Twitter and the joys of micro-blogging, I’ve finally found my voice and enough courage to take the next step.

So, welcome to my blog – a truly clean slate where I can share my observations on life, social media (especially Twitter) and the ever-changing world of PR.  I’m here  to teach, help, make you laugh and make you think. And I’m looking forward to hearing from you. If there is anything I’ve learned from social networking, it’s all about conversation.

Thanks to my dear friend and never-ending source of inspiration  IdaRose Sylvester (@idarose), who has bugged me for two years to blog – and will probably fall over when she sees this.  Thanks also to Joel Postman (@jpostman), Jennifer Leggio (@mediaphyter) and Danny Brown (@dannybrown) for letting me cut my teeth with guest posts on their highly popular and respected blogs.  And a huge hug and thank you to Bonnie Sainsbury (@bsainsbury), my first Twitter friend in Vancouver who helped make this blog possible.

Stay tuned and enjoy the journey.  I plan to.