Posted by: gerrib18 | November 22, 2010

To Blog or Not to Blog, That is the Question!

Do you have a website for your business or product? In this day and age, if you don’t have an engaging and attractive site then you’re really missing the boat.  Still, in and of itself, it’s not enough to just have a vibrant and creatively designed website if you want to attract attention – the key word being attract.  To attract attention or lure and retain potential customers, your site should also integrate a blog.

Search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing are used to research brands, products, items and services.  Users search with key words and phrases to help them sort out and find the information they seek.  The key words and phrases act as mechanisms that launch web crawlers to look for the best matches for a query, ultimately compiling lists that are finally displayed by the search engines. A goal for your website should be to attract the attention of these web crawlers so that your brand will show up in search results – and hopefully show up at the top or somewhere on the first page.

Web crawlers are most effective in a world of dynamic content. Websites that promote only static unaltered content, featuring pages such as “About Us,” “Our Service,” or “Terms and Conditions”, are less likely to be found by web crawlers over the course of time.

Just like a shark is attracted to motion and activity in open waters, web crawlers too are attracted to the ever-changing environment of words and images.  A blog that is incorporated into a site creates a ripple effect and acts as a stimulus for crawler-based search engines because of the timely entries, comments and feedback.  The ongoing changes are a signal for “spiders” to return on a regular basis so they can find your updates and information.  In essence, it becomes a feeding ground for the sharks.

PROBLOGGER is a great on-line resource for learning about trends, tips and news from some of the top experts on blogging.  Additionally, some other sites to visit for learning blogging’s ins and outs include Blogtap, DailyBlogTips and The Blog Herald.

If you want to promote your brand and create an impact on the Web, where competition for presence has become steep, then there should be no question of whether to blog or not to blog.  The answer is clear.

I joined LinkedIn a little over a year ago in order to network with the many professionals in and outside of my community.  When I set up my profile, I couldn’t understand why, after submitting my zip code, my region of residence was noted as the Washington D.C. Metro area.  Although Baltimore, Maryland is only about 40 miles from our nation’s capital, it is not where I reside, nor is it the residence of many other LinkedIn members who live here.

As an independent state made up of various metropolitan hubs including Baltimore, Maryland has its own distinct reputation as an outstanding harbor for sports, the arts, epicurean delights and leading educational and medical institutions.   Why was it that LinkedIn didn’t give the home of Baltimore’s Ravens, the O’s, steamed crabs, Johns Hopkins University and the internationally renowned Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, let alone the birthplace of The Star Spangled Banner its proper recognition?

It took a small army of 188 social networking compatriots, led by my friend Bob Hallock – thank you sir – to light a fire under the LinkedIn conglomerate and influence a change.  In forming a Group called “Lobby to create a separate “LI” Baltimore Metro Area separate apart from Washington DC Metro area,” the Group networked and discussed the value and validity to set Baltimore, Maryland apart from Washington D.C.  In addition, many of the Group members also emailed and lobbied LinkedIn in order to effect a change.  As a result, I’m pleased to say that we reached our goal and Baltimore, Maryland is now recognized as an area unto itself.

LinkedIn has established the world’s largest and most powerful business networking tool.  It is an online labyrinth of connections that reinforces a belief that relationships matter.  In the case of establishing Baltimore, Maryland as an area, via LinkedIn, a network of connections succeeded in reaching a goal by using LinkedIn in as it is meant to be used.

How can you use LinkedIn to help yourself, your business or organization?  Check these out:

Posted by: gerrib18 | March 6, 2010

Depression: The Unspoken Word

The recent suicides of Andrew Koenig, son of Star Trek-famed Walter Koenig, and Michael Blosil, son of performer Marie Osmond, moved me to reflect upon my own battle and history with depression.  Unlike many other diseases, depression is not an illness that can be diagnosed by a blood test, an MRI or CAT scan.  Though science has finally verified that the disease stems from a true biological disorder, depression remains as one of the most unaccepted and discriminated illnesses of our time.

In an age of reality TV and social media that boasts instant access to content focusing on obesity, drug addiction, alcoholism, spousal abuse and, most recently, sex addiction, depression remains the unspoken word;  but guess what – the information is out there, it’s just hush hush and not talked about.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression is the leading cause of disability among Americans – children and adults – between the ages of 15 and 44.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also confirms that depression and anxiety are two major causes of illness and death in the United States and reports that there were 33,300 cases of death by suicide in 2006.  Many public figures and celebrities have even come out of the closet to profess their own bouts with depressive disorders and still, depression remains a topic of shame amongst the greater majority of our population.

Why is this so hard to talk about and so hard to confront?  Why must we, people who suffer with this invisible disorder, have to be told to “just deal with it” or “get over it?”  The fact is, THERE IS NO REASON FOR ANYONE TO HAVE TO SUFFER FROM DEPRESSION – NOR, MUST THEY HAVE TO SUFFER FROM DEPRESSION ALONE!

My own history with depression is involved and longer then I wish to write about; and I am not using this blog entry as a platform to play the sympathy card.  However, I will state that without intervention, analysis, treatment and, most important, the love and support of my devoted family, chances are I would not be here today and my family would be in the same boat as the Koenig’s and the Osmond’s.

I will be transparent and admit that I have depended upon anti-depressants for over 30 years to keep me mentally whole and healthy.  Were it not for my diligence in taking my meds [as prescribed] life would be, needless to say, very difficult.  In the articles that I read about the celebrities’ children who took their own lives, there were statements that both individuals discontinued their medications at some point in time – a very dangerous thing to do.

There should be no shame in taking medication for depression any more than the need to medicate any other type of illness.  Sometimes, family members ask me to consider stopping my meds to see if I can manage without them.  Would a diabetic be asked to stop taking insulin to see if he or she can manage without?  No.  Would someone diagnosed with cancer be told “stop the chemo and see if you can survive?”  I doubt it.  No one should be shamed into stopping any medication that can be their lifeblood of existence.

Depression is not a dirty word!  It is a fact of life and, biologically for many, a part of the human condition.  Depression is something that can be managed if we recognize the symptoms and support those in need.  There is no reason to lose anyone to this sad disease!

For more information on depression and related illnesses, check out: NIMH, WebMD,, Mayo Clinic, and

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Baltimore, MD (Vocus/PRWEB ) February 2, 2010 — Haitian-born, Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Melky Jean and music producer Farel Jean, siblings of Wyclef Jean, will host “Rock to Rebuild,” a benefit concert for Haiti, on Feb. 11 at 7:30 p.m. at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore. Tickets go on sale tomorrow, Feb. 3, at noon.

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Grammy-nominated R&B vocalist Mario, pop-rock artist Ryan Cabrera, acoustic guitarist and singer Adam Day, R&B vocalist Mya and TLC member T-Boz are among the national recording artists expected to share the stage with the Morgan State Choir and Baltimore’s international Afro-jazz ensemble The ARKJammers. Multi-platinum producer Darryl Pearson, whose credits include projects with Madonna, Justin Timberlake and Chris Cornell, is the concert’s music director.

The evening will feature multimedia tributes to local organizations aiding Haiti’s recovery, such as the USNS Comfort hospital ship, University of Maryland Shock Trauma and Johns Hopkins institutions.

Event proceeds benefit Partners in Health, Architecture for Humanity, Baltimore-based Catholic Relief Services, and Melky Jean’s Carma Foundation, all of which are working on the ground in Haiti and are committed to the country’s long-term well-being.

“’Rock to Rebuild’ will celebrate Baltimore’s phenomenal support for the cause by bringing together performers whose vibrant music expresses our hopes for the people of Haiti,” said Paul Wolman, a Baltimore resident and business owner who spearheaded efforts to organize the concert. He convened local arts, business and nonprofit leaders, and together they established BaltimoreACTS, a campaign to galvanize ongoing community and business support for critical causes.

“Our goal is to build on the energy and passion that’s emerged since the earthquake and channel it into other vital endeavors,” said Wolman.

Seventy members and growing, the group has secured a matching grant for all contributions above the concert’s $35 general admission price. The Aber D. Unger Foundation will match every dollar BaltimoreACTS raises for Haiti up to $50,000, including corporate underwriting for the concert. The Baltimore Community Foundation is handling the financial administration of donations.

Reserved VIP seating for “Rock to Rebuild” is $100 and includes a pre-concert reception. General admission with open seating is $35. For tickets and information about underwriting and volunteer opportunities, or to make a donation, visit or call 443-469-8460.

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Dear Conan,

Don't be scared you'll find something soon - maybe you could afford to help the Haitians in the mean time.

WOW, what a raw deal you got from NBC.  Only 8 months and you get canned.  At least you were able to recognize the writing on the wall early enough to demand a decent severance package.  You deserve every bit of the $40 million you’re getting for NBC’s breach of contract.  Oh yeah, I also want to say that it’s great how you’re also looking after your staff.   And, the fans, well you’re so lucky to have so many people on your side.  I’ll tell you what others told me when I lost my job last year.  Don’t give up.  Something good will come your way.  Despite how hard it is in this economy to find a job, I bet you’ll have network people knocking on your door.  That’s what everyone told me when I was in your shoes.

So Conan, what are you going to do with that money now?   I heard that George Clooney is giving $1M to Haiti.  I just donated $30 – it’s the best I could do.  If you can’t afford to help right now, maybe you’ll click on my widget for Direct Relief.  Every time you complete a task, my sponsors will donate money to Haitian relief efforts.  Or, maybe if you don’t have time to do that, you could spare a million or so now.  I know you’re out of work; but if you want to apply for unemployment, you’ve got to get some of that $40M balance down man.  Tell you what; if you’ll step up to the plate with your winnings I’ll try to give a little more too even though I’m out of work like you.

You’ve been a riot this week.  I hope that I helped your ratings by staying up late to watch you make fun of your bosses.  Wishing you the best of success in your new career!  By the way, LinkedIn is a great way to network and look for job leads.  Let me know if I can be of help.

Keep in touch,


P.S.  If you check out Facebook and Twitter you can learn how else you can spend your earnings on the Haitian people.  Oh yeah, NBC – the network that fired you – and the other TV networks, they’ve got this show on that also tells how to help.  Tens of thousands need our help!!

Posted by: gerrib18 | January 18, 2010

Please Help Haitian Relief Efforts NOW!!

An injured child at a Hotel in Port-au-Prince, Haiti Photograph: Ivanoh Demers/AP

Direct Relief International provides medical assistance to improve the quality of life for people affected by poverty, disaster, and civil unrest at home and throughout the world. Today, they are working to providing essential material resources – medicines, supplies and equipment to the people in Haiti.

Please support my efforts to help the people in Haiti by clicking on the Direct Relief widget. Each time you complete a task, my sponsor will donate $$ directly to Direct Relief. It’s easy, it’s FREE!

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Posted by: gerrib18 | January 18, 2010

Social Networking Contracts: Setting boundaries with family

A well written legal contract can help to assure a mutually satisfying experience with any given project.  It is the tie that binds us with our client, obligates us to perform to the best of our ability, a promise of what we will deliver and the agreement to deliver what we promise.  It is also an entrusted acknowledgment from our client that we will be rewarded upon completion of our obligations.  And it is with that, that I recently entered into a very eye-opening agreement with the most significant client that I’ll ever have.

Last week, as I continued typing away on my keyboard, I heard a piercing sound coming from my den.  At first I was oblivious to the noise because I was so focused on a writing a social media proposal for a prospective client while keeping up with the many interactions taking place that night on Twitter and Facebook.   However, when the sound evolved into a shriek, it became apparently familiar.  It was my ten-year-old daughter screaming for my attention.  I was so absorbed in my task that I didn’t realize she wanted me.

How many times have we all been engrossed in some kind of project that anything going on outside our peripheral view might as well be happening on another planet?  My mother calls it selective hearing – a syndrome she equates with my father when he’s watching a golf match on TV and is totally deaf to her voice, despite the fact that she’s only several feet away from him.  Such is the case when I’m working on the computer, tweeting, friending, blogging or whatever and completely hypnotized by its power.  As hard as I might (might being the key word) try to pull away, another tweet, article or website just draws me back in.  Who would have thought that something other than food would have such control over me – that social networking would be the Ben and Jerry’s to my new addiction.

Though I pride myself on being a loving and responsible parent, I realized that I was in over my head with the computer and that I needed to regain the respect of my daughter.  In my own strategically analytical way, I had a “focus” session with my little girl to find out, from her perspective, what is and is not acceptable in using the computer.  With notes in hand, and information abstracted from a number of contractual law blogs, I set out to create a pseudo-legally binding agreement between us – an agreement that would meet her wishes and still permit me to profit from my new obsession.

My daughter was very open to a written agreement so long as she had the final say in its substance.  In short, I agreed not to work on my computer between 5 PM and the time she goes to bed, unless she was doing her homework and didn’t need my help; and, she agreed to let me work without interruption until 5 PM unless it was an emergency.

Our emotions ran pretty thin as we created this agreement.  At such a young age, she very clearly articulated how I spent more time on the computer than with her.   The guilt set in – as it should have.  I learned how much my actions had negatively impacted my child.  Like so many other people that I notice on the internet constantly interacting with others, I was neglecting my daughter for a virtual social life.

In many ways, our children are not much different from our clients.  In order for us to position ourselves as authority figures, and become effective parents, we have to create trust within our homes.  Like social networking, we need to listen and become involved in the conversation.  And, in order to receive a payoff for our dedication, we need to make sure that our children believe that when we make a commitment to them, it is a promise that we will keep.  As regular posts and updates bring recognition and success to a social networking campaign, it is the daily interaction, play and gentle cues that create the ties that successfully bind us to our families.

Writing an AGREEMENT gave me and my daughter the opportunity to constructively share our feelings on paper and come to a consensus.  In establishing a healthy boundary of cooperation and trust between ourselves, and by signing on the dotted line, I also created a healthy boundary between myself and the internet.  My reward…a loving relationship with the most important person in my life.

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This past year I’ve had to navigate my way through redefining myself and my career.  In doing so, I discovered two new passions.  The first is baking.  The second is social networking.

With my brand new Kitchen Aid mixer and food processor, I now create scrumptious cakes, miniature sweets and breads that were previously a chore due to my lack of ability to bake like an old-time homesteader.  By combining my new appliances with the baking lessons so lovingly passed down to me by my mother, I am the Cake Boss and the Ace of Cakes of my own castle; finally able to fulfill my secret fantasy to be a fully fledged pastry chef.

As for social media, well that passion came about because of the sheer enjoyment that I get from working on the computer.  In the last three years, I’ve lost two jobs because of economic decline.  Much of my time as a marketing, public relations and development professional was spent using the computer to write, research and interface with people, businesses and organizations.  As social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, Digg, and Delicious became more and more popular, I found myself drawn to the power of their applications in not only reaching out and connecting with diverse audiences, but in their ability to add value to my skill sets.  In learning how to interface with this new media, I found that I could expand my opportunities for jobs and grow as a professional.

One of the most important things that I’ve learned about social networking is transparency; and, with that in mind, I will admit that I’m a member of the post WWII Baby Boomer generation.  Like me, so many people my age are out of work with the need to reinvent themselves in order to find gainful employment.  However, at this age, the motivation to find a new job, let alone change careers, can be intimidating and distressing.  In embracing social media and learning how to take advantage of its variety of applications, I’ve been able to put myself into a different class of unemployed, challenging a group of younger individuals who are the biggest competition.  It is by marrying my traditional skills with my new social networking skills that I am able to compete with this younger generation of job seekers who profess to be more on top of it all.  However, as a seasoned professional, I am a number of steps ahead of them as I bring to the table additional values they cannot possibly possess – maturity, wisdom, years of experience and attributes of success.

If I took the same attitude as many of my unemployed “senior” peers and regarded social networking as something to be afraid of or something just for “kids,” then I would not have found myself on the cusp of discovering something new and exciting that would make a difference this late in my life.

The fact is that in order to become more competitive in today’s job market, it is imperative that we all learn the ins and outs of friending, following, tweeting, key words, etc.  There is not one single profession that cannot benefit from its influence and advantages.  Whether it’s the medical field, business, education, the arts, blue-collar or white-collar, social media opens new doors to exchange ideas, network with others, increase awareness and profits, and potential new jobs.  Though social media is still in its infancy, it has become a resource that allows for these and more opportunities.

They say you’re never too old for a role in the hay as long as you can work it.  Well, the same goes for social networking.  If you learn to work it, then you can outlast your youngest and strongest competitors.

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Posted by: gerrib18 | December 27, 2009

Social Networking: A Domino Effect

When thinking about social networking, I’m reminded of the awesome domino toppling setups that I recently saw on YouTube from Domino Day 2009.  Each scene was a splendidly crafted design of links, bends and turns incorporated into displays of famous monuments, people and places that were all tied into vibrant color combinations, integrated mechanical engineering and spectacular special effects.

This year, the Domino Day participants were challenged to break the 2008 world record of toppling 4.3 million dominoes in one fell swoop.  Over 90 domino builders from 14 countries throughout Europe participated in the event after almost a year of preparation and eight weeks of continuous domino building.  Though the goal to topple 4.8 million dominoes was not achieved, the world record was broken as the amount of dominoes that fell in succession was almost 4.5 million in number.

So why am I meandering around talking about domino toppling in relation to social networking?  For domino toppling to be successful, by nature, each piece is dependent up the preceding piece.  Patterns of dominoes, set up in logical and concise methods, generate continuous chain reactions from the falling dominoes until the last piece falls down.  To enhance visibility and increase profits, a social media plan should be logically and strategically devised in a way that causes a chain reaction similar to the dominoes.  By designing a campaign that integrates and links business appropriate platforms, you have the potential to generate recognition from multiple fronts, convert followers into customers and create ongoing responses.

When the participants of the 2009 Domino Day first got together, they sketched out illustrations of the scenes they wanted to recreate.  After doing so, they decided upon the various methods and techniques needed to create their vision and topple 4.8 million dominoes.

In deciding upon a social networking plan, like the domino participants, we first need to sketch out a picture by asking:

  • Who do we want to reach?
  • How are we going to get there?
  • What do we want to happen?
  • What methods or platforms will work best to achieve our goal?

The answers to these four questions are the keys to creating a strategy that can boost the outcome of any social media campaign.  It is after identifying these objectives that we can then move forward and engineer the mechanics of a campaign by incorporating suitable tactics, methodologies and links that will reinforce a strategy to create a domino effect.  In essence, by igniting a chain reaction within selected media, we have the potential to leverage the margin of success in social networking endeavors.  We still need to keep in mind that as it took the domino participants a year to prepare for their event, it will take time – possibly 3 to 6 months – to prepare and achieve satisfying results for a social media campaign.

Who knew that a simple set of tiles could be so inspiring?

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