My 2014 in Review

At the end of 2013 I thought I’d had the best year of my life.  

I thought I couldn’t top it but I just did.  Now that 2014 is over, I’ve had the best year of my life, again.

It wasn’t an easy year.  It was probably the hardest and most fulfilling.  I finished co-authoring Get Big Things Done: The Power of Connectional Intelligence.  Cotential, my consulting business, gained more clients, and I moved back to New York with my husband.  We settled back into the big city and now I’m gearing up for my book launch in February.  

And so, to celebrate a new year and the end of a great year, here’s a roundup of my writing and media appearances from 2014:

How You Can use Youtube to Turn Your Passion into a Career in Forbes

Inside the Minds of Biz-Savvy Millenials in Fortune

How to Connect Intelligently over the Holidays in Linkedin

Women in the Workplace in HuffPostLive

Why Did the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Go Viral? in Linkedin

How Chevy Turned an Epic Fail into a Social Media Success in Forbes

How Much Should You Invest in Young Talent? in Chief Learning Officer Magazine

The Power of Connection on Work Life Radio

How to Create High Quality Connections at Your Next Event in LinkedIn

6 Steps for Getting Noticed in Any Setting on FOX Business

Why You Don't Need to Be an Inventor to Be an Innovator

6 Ways to Improve Your Next Conference

Why the Crowd is the Ultimate Engine of Creativity

What the Art Museum Can Teach Us About Innovation

6 Ways to Improve Your Next Conference

The Value of Networks at Social Media Week

Six ways to Make Innovation a Reality

Why did the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge go viral?

This post originally appeared on Linkedin.

Did you notice the uncanny urge for people to dump buckets of water over themselves the past few months? From YouTube to Facebook, social media outlets were flooded with videos of Ice Bucket Challenges as individuals challenged others to raise awareness for ALS. Nominees were dared to complete the challenge of donating a small amount to ALS research and getting doused with a bucket of ice water. If one was unable to complete the Challenge within 24 hours, the nominee was supposed to donate to the ALS Association. Once completed, the participants uploaded their video to social media, used the #IceBucketChallenge hashtag, then nominated three more people to engage with the challenge.

The Ice Bucket Challenge wasn’t tied to ALS Association until Chris Kennedy, whose relative suffers from the disease, dedicated the challenge to ALS on July 15. Kennedy used the hashtag #StrikeOutALS, which became a signature of the Ice Bucket Challenge and was initially linked to a number of charities as a fundraising platform. Eventually his video reached the news feed of Pete Frates, former Boston College pitcher, who was diagnosed with ALS in March of 2012. Upon hearing about #StrikeOutALS, Frates uploaded his challenge to social media. Then the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge spread like wildfire.

People all throughout the country brought attention to ALS by taking the challenge. The ever-growing support network blossomed from a small group to thousands of communities across America in just a few months. More than three million people participated in this viral fundraising campaign, which raised over $100 million for the ALS Association.

The exposure that the ALS community has received in the past year is the kind of exposure every organization craves. The domino effect is due in part to the ultra-accessible nature of the campaign, and if it worked for the Ice Bucket Challenge, it can work for your idea, too.

Like the Ice Bucket Challenge, your platform can inspire others to make a change. Here are four guidelines to help your organization reach the masses like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge did:

1. Define your Design:

The Ice Bucket Challenge was much more than people dumping water on each other because of a dare – it was about charity and awareness, and supporting those who needed it in a fun and exciting way. Participants were mandated to ‘donate’ only if they chose not to do the ice bucket challenge, leading to a counterintuitive way to spread the message and mission. Keep your ideas fresh and stimulating while also staying simple. Dumping water on your head is as easy as it gets, but its effects were profound.

2. Evaluate your Resources:

Most Americans have access to water and to social media, which is what made the Ice Bucket Challenge so easy to complete. Despite critics who disregarded the challenge as a waste of time and water, it became a substantial force of positivity for the ALS community. Those who didn’t have the means to donate took part in the effort by completing the challenge and sharing it with their social networks. On Facebook alone, the Ice Bucket Challenge was shared across newsfeeds over 2.4 million times. It linked communities and resources from the East coast to the West, and guess what? It’s possible for your organization to do the same.

3. Leverage your Connections:

For the first time in a long while, ALS caught the limelight thanks to individuals challenging others within their deepest social networks. Many celebrities – from actor Robert Downey Junior to Triple H of WWE – took part in the fun. Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters created a short film by turning his challenge into a prom queen’s nightmare. Bill Gates created an ice bucket contraption, which resembled a miniature version of the giant bucket dumpers in the kid sections of amusement parks. Even Homer Simpson took the Challenge! Using social media as a gateway to the public eye is inexpensive and it gives individuals the capability to connect with future colleagues and collaborators. Use technology to fuel innovation and exposure.

4. Encourage Creativity:

Extremists like Paul Bissonnette, Charlie Sheen, and Muhammad Quereshi amped up the hype for the Ice Bucket Challenge through peculiar innovation. Bissonette, a professional ice hockey player, used actual glacier water for his challenge, which turned out to be the third most-watched Ice Bucket Challenge on YouTube. Charlie Sheen’s challenge featured him ‘saturating’ himself in $10,000 cash, which he donated to ALS. In the name of science, Quereshi, a chemist, used liquid nitrogen for his challenge. These extremists weren’t afraid to break the rules, and neither should you. Make your plan creative enough to capture the public’s attention.

The Ice Bucket Challenge is a prime example of utilizing social networks in order to spread an idea or concept. What started as a simple notion revolutionized the world of ALS as we know it, and in so doing, it shifted the mindset of how organizations will fundraise and spread ideas in the future. All of this because someone decided to dump water on his head in the name of ALS.

Pre-order Erica's forthcoming book: Get Big Things Done: The Power of Connectional Intelligence

 

How to Build Meaningful Connections at Your Next Event

groupsWhile our lives are increasingly interconnected, the time and space for us to cultivate meaningful connections have become limited. You know the feeling of handing out business cards in a crowded convention center, listening to keynote speakers in a cramped room, and never really remembering anyone because you were checking your email half the time. What you crave is to find events where you meet people who can inspire you to grow—people who can catapult your work and push you to question, try, fail, and succeed. Ultimately, what you really want is to develop high quality connections around you. I believe curated events and conferences are a critical part of discovering and fostering those connections.

Although most events are meant to allow people to make meaningful connections, not all of them are created equal in allowing them. For most, hearing panel speakers and being in a crowd of hundreds or thousands doesn’t actually get you where you want to go. However, there are practical ways to ensure that when you attend your next networking event, you get the most value out of it. To make the most of your next event, follow these six tips.

1) Sit at tables with people you don't know: Valuable connections are often made serendipitously, so it is beneficial to sit with diverse groups to have lunch or dinner together during the events. This prevents people from just talking with colleagues you already know and allows you to forge a greater variety of connections.

2) Talk to speakers before they speak: The best time to reach a speaker is before they speak. They are already at the event and interested in learning about the people in the room, rather than running out the door and crowded with people in the room. Show them that you have read up on them. This is a great way to initiate conversations that actually continue afterward and to get remembered.

3) Match-make new people: Event organizers often miss out on how to capitalize on the matchmaking the right people and often prioritize of “the big, powerful speaker.” Take the time to get to know people around you and make connections for others. People want to be around the matchmaker!

4) Sit in the front row of the events: Don’t just stick to the basics of sitting in the back of panels and breakfast speakers. Instead, mix it up and get front and center. This is a powerful way to engage with most of the most powerful attendees and connect with the speakers.

5) Ask questions, then ask more questions: The people remembered at events are not just the speakers, they are the participants who ask provocative questions that focus the conversation on problem solving. Take the approach of brainstorming and solving problems during the event.

6) Share your learnings with the world: Share what you learn in real-time. Use Twitter or Instagram to capture special moments. Use the conference hashtag and ask attendees can respond instantaneously to your ideas while sharing their own. Blog about the event afterwards.

Most importantly, don’t underestimate your own power to maximize serendipity in creating unexpected conversations and high quality connections. When people are brought together, all it may take is bumping into someone new to spark a powerful connection.

How do you create high quality connections at business events?