7 Places Where You’ll Find Conversations That Will Shape Your Next Story

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When there’s some good music playing at the bar, I pick up my phone, make my way through the crowd towards the speakers and I launch the almighty SHAZAM app. I wait a few seconds, my hand up in the air like I’m trying to find a network signal in a cave. The phone vibrates, then I look at the message on the screen: “We didn’t quite catch that, get your device closer to the sound and try again.”

The time for me to reach for the DJ, the song will be gone and… I’ll end up frustrated for the rest of the night. I’m sure this kind of situation already happened to you. You didn’t catch THAT sound or lost the webpage featuring articles whith interesting comments. 

Conversations are everything, they educate us, let us agree/disagree, shape us.

Here are the ideal -or not so ideal- places to find great conversations that will fuel your next story:

LinkedIn (2/10) When I started my journey here, it was fun: the “Look-I’m-On-LinkedIn-I’m-cool” vibe, the community, the articles and their comments, the golden days! Until Microsoft kicked in; now my news feed is full of stories with zero comment which only attract serial likers and self-promotion spammers.

You can be a very beautiful woman – God bless you –, and post a pic of the dress you are wearing today. Chances are you’ll break up the platform and gain thousands of followers -pick up artists- in no time.

One of my favorite movie is “Pretty Woman”. I bet you remember the scene where Vivian –Julia Roberts– gets bored watching old movies on TV, she’s then heading downstairs, looking for Edward –Richard Gere– and pushes a door in the hotel lobby, attracted by the distant sound of a piano playing. She’s looking for a good conversation! LinkedIn is the guy, who could lock that door in an alternate scene, cutting the story and its charm short. If only Vivian tried to break through that door, she’d find a jukebox playing in an empty room. That’s what a conversation group with 80k members and zero comment looks like. LinkedIN is full of those.

Do you want to post a video? You need to put it on YouTube first –if you have one– and embed its link in your post but you can only do that in your web browser. Your phone’s camera for video? Useless. Forget about it. Which makes me jump to the most interesting platforms next.

Youtube (7/10) this is the land of videos. Video are very special because they strike our emotions, pull our strings. When I watch a Youtube video, the comments section is where I waste my time. Some of them are very spot on while others make me laugh. Either way, they are very engaging.

Facebook (9/10) I ran a search in the Facebook’s ‘Groups’ app. I wanted to find people like me who like “Pretty Woman” (the movie). Figure the results I got. Use your imagination. BUT what if I just typed “movies”, or “80s movies” here we go! On Facebook, the smaller the group the better. If it’s a closed one, it’s way better. In groups the conversation is still going and it’s spontaneous. No spam, no self-advertising. If you want more details about the question you asked publicly? Just send a private message to a member and you’ll get the answer quickly. You want to start a live video? People will watch and react.

On Instagram (4/10) I use Instagram like Pinterest, it’s my huge sketch/inspiration book, it’s the place where I can express myself as an artist. Music, painting, photos anything goes. The problem with Instagram is that the comments are very short, they go from “Nice” to “Very nice” to “👍”. You guessed it: Instagram is for celebrities. Follow me now on the ‘gram @Lionthomas

Twitter (4/10) If you think that messaging is broken on LinkedIn, you haven’t seen nothing yet. I think that Twitter is for live reactions and comments only. You state your opinion and three days -a week- later –maybe- you’ll get some interactions. Everything is public. Twitter is full of spam and bots. That’s why people never answer your messages. I use It as a tool of expression. My Cavs are losing to Golden State: I want to dive in the tweets right now, feel the moment!

Snapchat (0/10) I don’t like it; Maybe I’m too old for it. I find it too cluttered. If you are not on Snapchat you are out of the loop. Please leave me a comment down below if your Snapchat conversation rate is going through the roof. I want yo learn from you.

In the streets (10/10) In Cameroon, blackouts –like the Sun- are running your existence, ‘heat & darkness under the Sun’ as I call it. Of course, you could be left totally in the dark at the bar, but who cares? You’re at the right place: your drink is in front of you! Some people can get very creative there.

As I’m writing those lines, there’s still no power in my block since yesterday. It’s not the end of the world though: in all African neighborhood, at crossroads, you’ll find at least one handmade wooden bench. When I sat down we were just two, we ended up laughing and telling stories, the ten of us, until 10 pm. It takes two and a bench for storytelling.

In conclusion, forget about cold emailing/calling, the greatest business opportunities in life are coming out of very simple things. If you are serious about professional networking, it’s time for a reboot. We are ALL busy but people do ‘repetitive’ business with their friends. Find, read comment sections of your favorite social media platform, I can guarantee you that you’ll find beautiful strangers to talk to.

5 Ways Leading to The Zen Art of Blogging

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Writing is hard. First you start a blog then, like a seed, you water it. Did I say "seed"? My bad! 
I should have described it as a "Gremlin" that turns into a monster soon as there's water involved.
More seriously, writing is an habit. A rhythm, a bit like jogging: the day you stop ... 
you're in trouble. Get back at it again is painful, you feel rusty. So you have to write drafts every day,   
at regular times. But facing a busy schedule, the temptation to take shortcuts is strong. 
It's a double-edged sword. Jasmine Star, a photographer specialized in wedding events learned 
it the hard way. 

Star's work got noticed and started to be everywhere. She maximized her exposure with blog 
posts, interview, podcasts, social network posts, tutorials, etc. Success knocked at the door and, 
although gladly welcomed, Jasmine got swamped up with a LOT of work. The catch? The pressure. 
To keep up with all of it she had to steal two photos and include them in her blog. 
A scandal came along. 

Here are right habits that come in handy when blogging: 

Make it short ( sometimes)
Before, I was writing articles so long they could make my readers give up reading. When people 
stumble upon an article, guess  what they do? They scroll down to the end of it. It's a reflex. 
Remember: short material can be digested faster.

No images? No big deal
Seth Godin is a source of inspiration to me because his posts are so simple. He got an incredible 
audience, put few -to none- images in his  articles, and it works! Find your sweet spot. 
I'm really tired of these pictures of red 3D dummies carrying a briefcase in every corporate 
articles I read on the net. Better putting no images than awful ones.

Use the right tool for the craft
Microsoft Word is taking a lifetime to start up, I'd recommend Evernote. The later is uglier but
it's a very effective tool to throw down ideas quickly. I was also used to Windows Live Writer 
but I found it bugging and unstable. Again, it's a matter of personal taste here.

Cite your sources
Protect yourself from unpleasant surprises, it does not hurt to mention the author of the picture
you'll be using in a post. Everyone copies everyone, but we have to be smart when we do so.

Take a break
The pressure can take a toll on you. As you write you'll be 
thinking about your latest unedited photo, a video to shoot, this follow 
up email to send. Stop! Take some time away from your blog when 
you are feeling not OK to write. Set smart writing goals: one 
can't blog everyday! Follow your own pace.

Well, I hope you'll find this blog post inspiring to take your blogging skills to the next level.
 
Please do share your tips to prevent overworking issues that may arise when blogging.