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A new chapter in content marketing strategy for professionals

20/12/2014

The internet is abuzz with content marketing. It seems to be the flavor of the day and justifiably so. However, most of this discussion is around how to make your content go viral. What will catch the attention of the viewers? What will get tweeted by thousands and what will get most Facebook likes?

Need less to say that these strategies end up recommending the content that is eye-catching and with some funny or clever tag lines. The picture of a laughing cat or a video of some one acting silly while may bring million of of eye balls, it hardly brings the right kind of audiences for an expert who wishes to develop his/her credibility in a given discipline.

These strategies are great if you are selling milk or latest fashion items or or or…this style is highly questionable when it comes to promoting a professional image of an individual or an organization.

So, what is it that a professional seeks from the marketing perspective…

1. Establish one’s reputation in the chosen field as an expert
2. Grow the professional network
3. Engage people who may eventually become potential clients or business/professional partners

The kim kardashian style breaking the internet hardly helps you with above goals unless you happen to be in modeling/acting or related fields where overall popularity matters.

So, what can a professional do?

Historically, professionals/experts have focused on blogging, occasionally publishing a presentation and writing books including ebooks. The latest craze is about publishing on social media like Linkedin an information nugget or infographics.

While this may suffice for many, especially with high degree of activity on social media, it is hardly sufficient to maintain and grow your professional reputation at large. The time commitment, and the cost, could be prohibitive for many. After all you can tweet only so much.

The eBooks are one of the exceptions. Once the time and cost commitment is made it helps in continuously enhancing your reputation with each new reader, growing network and even create a passive income stream. So, the natural curiosity leads to the question of what else is out there that has similar or even better characteristics.

Developing online courses at Classle offers one such opportunity. Growing number of experts and accomplished professionals are joining the elite group of online educators to share their life’s experiences and expertise with students and learners globally. They are building a community of like minded people, interacting with them, and growing their reach beyond geographical boundaries. All this while generating a substantial passive income.

I believe that 2015 is the year where we add a new chapter in the book of content marketing for professionals and experts with online courses.

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Why the high dropout rate for MOOCs?

18/12/2014

Recently MIT Technology review published a scathing review of MOOC technology. They claimed that almost 90% of the people who sign up for a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) never finish the course. The analogy is that of a bookshelf. Many people pick up a book, flip through few pages and put it back. Well, I have done that too. The waning interest in MOOCs and apparent lack of success is attributed to the limited nuanced interaction as in a classroom.

MIT may have touched upon something with the “nuanced” part of the classroom interaction. In a traditional MOOC environment a student simply downloads a video at will and that’s the end of it. If a student is highly motivated then this system works fine. I have not done any research on it but would doubt more than a small percentage of students are that motivated.

So, what is the solution…

Classle has adopted a different approach. Courses are scheduled for a fixed duration where a group of students take it together. They are supported/nudged (gently) by a course facilitator and their questions are answered by subject matter experts. All this is aided by a community around the course with plenty of reference and other supporting (like quizzes, projects) material.

Although, it may never be able to replace a teacher in the classroom but it comes close. May be this is the solution we were looking for.

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Mark of an educated person

4/12/2014

Is it the degree one caries or the business card with fancy title from an elite organization or the clothes one flaunts or the outgoing personality or any other outwardly obvious signs of social/professional success?

Our society puts a premium on these things. However, most would agree that none of the above are a mark of an educated person. They may imply other traits, often desirable, but not a sign of education.

I believe that it is the ability to comprehend a situation, often abstract or hypothetical, with no prior background; Entertain the thoughts without needing to attach it to a familiar life incidents; construct the necessary framework to develop a sound thesis without the burden of learned scripts of the past; and argue or present a coherent point of view without emotions getting in the way.

May be my definition is too demanding but it is a joy to meet and interact with someone of these abilities.

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How to enhance the employee engagement – a case study

24/11/2014

In a recent Gallup survey worldwide only 13% of employees are engaged at work. Need less to say that it directly affects the bottom line in terms of lost productivity. That by some estimation is $450-500  billion annually for US alone. To me this number sounds high but even if we cut it in half it is still big.

So, how does an organization deal with the employee engagement challenge? The engagement issue spans across educational, geographical, gender and age boundaries implying that there has to be a missing common thread. While, I do not proclaim to be an employee engagement expert would like to share one of our project in IT industry that may shed some light on this issue.

The situation

A market leading IT services company that operates in multiple countries. To manage the growth and growing business they need to hire a large number of students straight from the college at a substantial recruiting cost. The lead time between making the offer to joining is 6-12 months. What they found that in spite of a good offer many of the recruits simply did not join the firm leading to an escalating recruitment cost and management bandwidth.

The strategy

We decided to increase the level of engagement with potential recruits with Classle’s cloud campus solution. The recruits were offered free online courses which were led by the senior employees. A learning based community was created that actively did the IT projects in small teams, shared content and learning and much more.

The result

Number of recruits who did not join dropped by 20-30% depending upon the college and semester. Even more, the recruits who joined were much better skilled and had a high degree of brand awareness and loyalty that helped in future recruitment drives.

Why can’t we extend the similar concept to existing employees. I believe that the shared learning experience not only enhances the employees skill set but also increases the engagement.

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Next step in reputation management for professionals

20/11/2014

Creating, maintaining and continuously enhancing the reputation is a challenge for all professionals. The traditional tools such as which college, which company and the projects form a significant part of our reputation. However, they are seldom sufficient. A vast majority has taken to writing (blogs, research papers, books etc). Most of us are  now active on more than few social media sites to grow our network.

Teaching is one more tool that many have employed through traditional Brick and Mortar universities. The opportunity is limited to those with access and willing ness to commit significant  time. These strategies are time tested and effective but they are not be all when it come to managing our professional reputation.

Consider growing your repertoire to include teaching online. You develop a course in your area of expertise and disseminate worldwide using platforms like Classle. The magnifying effect of internet has the potential of taking your name and reputation to unchartered territories and of course the familiar ones. You could be earning a recurring side income (not unlike book royalties) while establishing yourself as an expert in your field.

 

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Role of education in the age of failure

16/11/2014

Recently, New York Times wrote a thought provoking article on Failure Age. An excellent article around innovation, life cycle of an idea, a business model, family structure or society in general. The failure loop is getting tighter and tighter. Article only made a passing comment to the role of education in this process. However, I think that the changing face of education will be a crucial catalyst and an enabler.

In the current educational model, the best of the education is limited to the hand of few concentrated around large cities. They also become the hub of innovation for the knowledge economy. Imagine the new business model that can be enabled if a wider, geographically dispersed population had access to quality education at an affordable cost using technologies such as cloud campus. From local innovation to new business models, they will all lead to a new face of economy that we may not have fully appreciated today. Needless to say the economic impact of bringing billions, with previously under-tapped potential, into this new economic realty.

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