It’s time for a “winter purge”.
January is always a crazy month for me as a grant consultant. It’s the time of year I close out business from 2009, get tax information in order, and get prepped for 2010. This year, I’m also doing an email purge.
I changed my personal email address. A change of address is always a good time to go through the lists you’ve somehow become part of, cancel your “subscription” to those you never signed up for or don’t want to receive anymore, and update your accounts for those you really want to keep. In some cases, you may even want to transfer things over to a different email address.
Although it takes time to do this up front, compared to the time I spend throughout the year reading and deleting these emails (sometimes without scanning or reading them), it’s nothing.
When I hired my assistant Bridget in 2008, we did something similar with the backlog of email from lists I was on. I had 2+ years worth of stuff to sort through! Our goal was to identify the most valuable resources in the combined fields of nonprofit, marketing, communications, and fundraising and get down to a maximum of 10 major blogs/newsletters/news feeds to follow. It was enlightening to look at these resources over a period of time and discover which ones had the best nuggets overall.
The process really helped me understand who the leaders in the field were.
Last year, tracking participation in social media made things even more interesting. In some ways, more work. In some ways, less. Many groups that had e-mail lists I was on moved to include a social media format, and instead of getting 1,000 emails in my box each month, I’ve changed things around to follow the most updated tweets, blog posts, articles, etc. a few times a week. I’ve been able to connect with more people and stay up-to-date in less time.
Somehow, email is harder to ignore than a social feed. After all, it sits there until you do something with it. Social feeds are more dynamic. You can just check in when you want to and scan the content quickly for anything you find interesting. And if you’re already there, posting your own content, all the better.
Starting a blog can be good, too. I read a lot, and in the past, I’ve kept copies of key articles or publications that I felt were really informative. Perhaps you’ve done the same. But how often do you go back to look at those hard files? And how often to do you share that information with others? By adding not only my own insights but connecting you to resources from others that I think are particularly helpful, not only can I more easily share these resources, but I can cut down on hard files and books in my own collection. I can learn, pass on the learning, and let it go … and if I want to find the information again sometime in the future, or point someone to it, it’s easier to find it and send it to them!
So, as you begin 2010, I encourage you to take a critical look at all of the emails you receive and all of the hard files and books you save for future reference.
As you receive each promotional email, newsletter, blog update, etc., take the few seconds it requires to unsubscribe if it’s not bringing you much value. If the organization offers another way of keeping in touch, i.e. Facebook. Twitter, etc., then consider switching modes so you have more control. And if you’re ready to share your resources with others in the field, consider starting a blog or Twitter account to make it easier for you to share in less time.
As I go through my emails, I post articles of interest and grant writer jobs to the For GrantWriters Only LinkedIn community. I post events in the events section of the For GrantWriters Only learning community. For quick facts, quotes, or other information of interest, I use Twitter. And when I want to include more commentary or pull a list of resources together in one place, I use the blog. Sometimes I don’t even have to print things out before I pass them on to you!
If you are anything like me, you always have a pile of books and papers you want to read through, sort, file, or act upon. Using social media helps make that pile smaller! Your time is valuable. Make the most of it!
Other tips for how to leverage social media? Share them.