More about me, if you don’t mind.

Communicating Social Responsibility ConferenceSeptember and October were a whirlwind of speaking engagements. I enjoyed them all tremendously, but I’m glad those two months are behind me. I recently received my scores for some of my speaking engagements.

For the International Association of Business Communicators’ Communicating Social Responsibility Conference conference my session received an average rating of 4.5 out of 5. The rating for the overall conference was 4.2 so I’m pleased to have surpassed the average. It was a great conference, and nice to speak to a group of people focusing on CSR in their business.

Net.Finance EASTNet.Finance East took place this past October in New York. It was a great conference, full of great presentations and great participants asking insightful questions. At this conference my average rating on a scale of 1-5 was 4.76 for content and 4.81 for presentation. Those may be my highest marks ever (including high school).

It’s extremely rewarding to be able to speak at these conferences, share my knowledge, learn a whole lot from the other presenters and attendees and get to bring that knowledge back to Vancity. To be this well received is truly icing on the cake.

Net.Finance West2009 will have a lot less speaking engagements for me. Time to focus on my real work at Vancity. I love my job and want to spend more time doing that and not travelling around. I’ll be at a few, including The Finance 2.0 Summit taking place in New York January 26-27, 2009 and I’ll be back for another run at the main Net.Finance West taking place April 20-23, 2009 in Las Vegas.

See you there.

Reflections on Net.Finance East.

Net.Finance EastLast week I was in New York for Net.Finance East. Truth be told, I’m kind of ODing on conferences, and with all the financial turmoil and chaos affecting the banking sector, I wasn’t sure I was looking forward to this conference. And yet it was one of the best conferences I attended all year.

One of the key signs of a great conference is an engaged audience, looking for ways to contribute and participate by asking good, challenging, insightful questions of the presenters and having good conversations at breaks and in between sessions. That happened in spades.

Maybe it is the tough times we’re in that brought us all together in a spirit of knowledge-seeking and camaraderie. Maybe it was the manageable size of the conference – at about 175 attendees, it was neither too large nor too small. Maybe it was the mix of speakers from FIs large and small, all sharing their stories. Whatever it was, the mix of presentations, attendees and subjects was excellent.

ShoreBank VoicesOne of the companies I was most excited to hear from was ShoreBank. ShoreBank is a community development bank based in Chicago. They do amazing things to alleviate poverty and economic distress in their community. They truly show the power a financial institution can have when it follows a triple-bottom line business model, and focuses on the economic, social and environmental impact of its business.

I was excited to find out that ShoreBank has launched a blog called ShoreBank Voices Blog. It’s one worth following to see what they do with it. They have experimented with several social media efforts. This is definitely an FI with something to say.

Umpqua BankIn our first meeting of the advisory board at Net.Finance East, I said that the two FIs I would love to hear from are ShoreBank and Umpqua Bank. I learn as much from the big players like Wells Fargo and Bank of America as I do from outliers like Umpqua and ShoreBank. I was gratified that people responded so positively to these presentations after hearing what these small FIs with different ways of doing business have to say.

I have long admired Umpqua and really enjoyed reading Leading For Growth, the book written by their CEO Ray Davis. They spoke about their Word of Mouth marketing efforts, including The Lemonaire.

There many, many good sessions, including a joint presentation on Mobile Banking by Royal Bank of Canada and Wachovia (I was impressed by their simply showing up). It was a great discussion, perhaps one of the best on the subject I have been at at a conference.

I can’t mention all the presentations here, but almost every one was a solid presentation followed by a dynamic discussion, which made for a very satisfying, productive and informative event.

And now I look forward to staying home for a few months and taking a break from all the conferences.

Using Social Media To Enhance The Business Strategies You Already Have

Net.Finance EastOn Tuesday and Wednesday I’ll be at Net.Finance East in New York. In addition to my presentation, Do Well By Doing Good, I’ve been asked to host one of their iMIX Roundtable discussions called Using Social Media To Enhance The Business Strategies You Already Have.

In it I want to explore something with the conference attendees I’ve been thinking about more and more: Do companies, let alone FIs, really need a social media strategy?

I’ve gone from working with my team on an Online Strategy and a Social Media strategy to wondering if we’re just adding to the clutter. Will people read more strategies in your company? Doesn’t a separate strategy frame these valuable vehicles for business transformation and advancement in the wrong way, as separate from your core business?

So now I’m thinking about weaving social media and online planning into our core business strategies. This would involve engaging people from around the company in creating a common understanding of the purpose of social media to move our business strategies forward.

So in my session, I want to examine how we can best embed social media into our regular work, adding it as another tool in our toolbox.

If you’ll be at Net.Finance East, I look forward to discussing this with you.

PS: Ron Shevlin, if you’re reading this, I assume you’ll agree.