(Net)Working Indianapolis

Every Thursday morning I attend a BNI networking group in Carmel. After the meeting I head over to the Subway next to Jason’s Deli and Office Depot. I get the $3 breakfast combo, which includes a 6-inch breakfast sandwich and a regular drink. I then sit down with my laptop and get online using the local Wi-Fi. LePeep, La Hacienda, and Jason’s Deli all have Wi-Fi so I encourage you to try any of those during lunch.

If the seat by the outlet in Subway is taken, I head down the strip to Starbucks. This particular Starbucks is loaded with outlets and many coworkers, commuters, sales persons, and solopreneurs hang out here during the day. I believe this is primarily because of a) the size of the Starbucks – it’s unusually large for a Starbucks, b) the sheer amount of outlets to plug in your laptop or mobile phone, and c) it’s central location to Indianapolis and Carmel.

After attending meetups and other networking events, I’ve started to know a lot of people around Carmel and Indianapolis. Usually, whenever I’m in a Starbucks I’ll run into someone I know and because of that, these cities have started to feel more like a community. I don’t know everybody, but my chances of running into someone I know are now greater than not running into someone I know. And although I check into Foursquare, it doesn’t ever seem to help me run into people, which is odd.

As I am an Indianapolis web designer, my meetings are sporadic and sometimes far in between. I use these ‘holes’ in the day to work out of various locations such as Starbucks, Subway, or Panera Bread. After doing it a while, you start to learn what other business professionals have chose to use as their personal office. There is a dog walker and an oil salesman at the Starbucks at 96th and Meridian and of course there is my habitual use of the Starbucks at Meridian and Carmel Drive.

The greater Indianapolis area is large in size, but it’s a small community. The people you actually want or need to talk to is relatively very small compared to the population of the whole city. For me, it’s business owners who can make a decision to buy from me direct, can be a referral partner, or can be a connector to someone I need to talk to. This is really what networking is all about because you also want to be those same characteristics to other people in your network. You want to be that power connector.

Robby Slaughter, a business process consultant in Indianapolis, has made it his goal in 2012 to help 1000 people. Because Robby is a power connector, he’s able to help a lot of people and I actually took him up on it and Robby had a one to one with me over the phone. Robby is a fellow BNI member of another chapter and he helped me figure out what would be some good referral partners for me and how to tweak my 60-second asks, some of which I’ve implemented. Thanks, Robby!

I’ve actually mentioned Robby Slaughter before as being one my local heroes. I ended up finally meeting Robby last August at Blog Indiana and then immediately saw him again when he spoke at Linking Indiana. Robby also wrote a guest blog post on my web design site entitled, Increasing Productivity In Website Maintenance, which was appropriate since he’s a productivity expert and I design websites around a CMS called WordPress. Thanks again, Robby.

Increasing Productivity In Website Maintenance

This is a guest post from Robby Slaughter, who runs an Indianapolis consulting firm.

Hiring a web design company is only one step of the process.  Once you have a new custom website designed that meets your needs, you still have to maintain it.

Sure, there are many website design companies in Indianapolis (and elsewhere) that you can pay to manage all of your site content and marketing. But that may not be within your budget. For many small businesses, keeping their website current falls on their own shoulders. And with all of the work that you have to do for clients, managing the website may fall by the wayside.

Ensure You Have a CMS

One of the benefits of working with a web design firm like Erich Stauffer is their use of a CMS, or content management system, to build your website. A CMS is a software application that lets you edit most of the text and  some of the imagery and layout in your site using point-and-click tools.

WordPress, which is the CMS I’m using to write this post, is a popular and effective product in this category. I don’t have to worry about coding or technical details in order to add content to the site. I just login and type.

Get Training on Your CMS

At first, it may seem like you don’t need training to use a tool like WordPress. It’s similar to a word processor. There’s a box you can type into, and there are buttons at the top that you can use to change formatting or insert pictures.

However, just like a word processor, you don’t know what you don’t know. There are some incredible features inside every CMS and without training, you probably won’t find out about them.

Schedule Time To Maintain Your Site

If you plan to write a new blog post once a week, put an hour aside on your calendar and make an appointment with yourself. Or better yet, reserve a day on your calendar to write blog posts for the next two months. Then use, the scheduling feature of your CMS to parcel the blog posts out over time.

Don’t know how to schedule posts? Talk to your website design company.

Create a Guest Login

This is an incredible productivity secret that will save you time. If you want to have others post on your blog, create a guest account for them. That way, you don’t have to ask them to send their post by email, copy and paste it into WordPress, and deal with formatting issues. Instead, you’ll find out that there’s a new post ready to be reviewed. What could be easier?

In short, you can actually be more efficient when maintaining your website. Talk to your website design company about your CMS. And if you don’t have one, considering checking with Erich Stauffer about moving to a platform like WordPress.

Good luck!

My Local Heroes

I’ve previously written about my media heroes, my ceo heroes, top entrepreneurs, and bulldozers, but today I wanted to talk about my local heroes, the ones who live in or around Indianapolis who have influenced me in some meaningful way, are hubs of influence in Indianapolis and who I have recently been able to meet:

Douglas Karr – Author, designer, programmer, speaker, and social media guru, I first ran into this CEO of DK New Media and Founder at Marketing Technology Blog in my search for a coworking facility back when Doug met regularly at The Bean Cup. He has been the Vice President of Blogging Evangelism at Compendium Blogware, Director of Technology at Patronpath, and a Product Manager at ExactTarget. He is also active in Smaller Indiana and the Southside Smoosier Tech Club. He has been an inspiration to me as a blogger, web designer, and social media advocate. He packed the house at Blog Indiana 2011 with his session on 40 tools and he continues to be a valuable resource to our community.

Robby Slaughter – Author, speaker, and productivity specialist, like Doug, I ran across Robby in my search for coworking in Indianapolis. Robby is a Principal at Slaughter Development and a member of the Speakers Bureau at Rainmakers. He has written his own book, Failure, the Secret to Success, and is a frequent contributor to the Indianapolis Business Journal. As a business analyst, author, and business owner, I look up to Robby for his acumen and professionalism in his field. Robby recently spoke at Linking Indiana’s September 2011 event and, like Doug, had a session at Blog Indiana 2011. I enjoyed hearing Robby speak on Social Media at Linking Indiana as I did not get to hear his session at Blog Indiana. Read More