5 Tips for Hosting Google+ Hangouts

January 30, 2012

My Google+ Profile: http://gplus.to/dshiao


A bunch of us started a digital book club. On a regular basis (well, soon to be a regular basis), we meet via Google+ Hangouts. We recently held our first meeting, for which I was the host of the Hangout. I learned a lot from my first Hangout, so I thought I’d share these five tips.

1) Do a dry run in advance.

Another way of saying this is, “when hosting your first Hangout, don’t enter the Hangout five minutes prior to the start.” Similar to hosting a webinar, you need a dry run prior to the “live date.” I discovered that one browser crashed [perhaps I need to install the latest version], while on another browser, the Google Talk plugin seemed to consume 100% of my CPU, rendering my laptop (and the Hangout itself) unusable. I ended up moving to a better equipped laptop, but in shutting down the Hangout, it bumped everyone else out.

2) Have a backup host.

In the off-chance that you experience technical difficulties, have a designated “backup host” who can fire up a new Hangout. You know how some events publish a “rain date” in advance? Do the same with your Hangout and let your target audience know about your backup host (e.g. “for any technical difficulties, be sure to join a new Hangout that <BACKUP> will create”).

3) Create a Circle of your Hangout’s participants.

In the case of our book club, we asked interested people to “opt in” to our club. Once they did, I added them to a Google+ Circle that I created. I then “shared” the Circle with its members, allowing them to conveniently add the same Circle to their Google+ account. The Circle makes it easy to invite “members” to the Hangout – when the Hangout begins, you can invite the members of the Circle to join.

4) Encourage use of the “Chat” tab.

Text chat can add an entirely new dimension to a multi-party conversation. While one person is making a good point, others can write “Thumbs up!” in the chat area. Or, they can provide a related comment, or perhaps a hyperlink to a relevant article. In this way, the chat creates “more bandwidth” within the Hangout, without the “overhead” of switching from one speaker to another.

5) Set expectations in advance.

Participants in your Hangout ought to have a clear expectation of the agenda and flow. If you want to have 30 minutes of completely free form discussion, state that up front. For our book club, I created an agenda that included introductions, discussion points and a wrap up. Of course, I didn’t do my dry run, so my first Hangout didn’t follow the agenda as outlined.


My first Google+ Hangout was a lot of fun. They happen to be a great tool for digital book clubs. Use the comments area below to let us know your tips for hosting Hangouts.

Note: I invite you to connect with me on .

7 Tips for Building Your Personal Brand Online

September 5, 2011

Pictured: Examples of notable personal brands, @digiphile and @funnelholic.


It’s amazing what you can achieve today with a blog and a social media profile. Blogs have the potential to turn individuals into both media magnates and media magnets.

“A list” bloggers today can reach an audience wider than that of many magazines and national newspapers. Users who share, connect and engage on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ can be “followed” by tens of thousands of users (or more) and engage with their “fans” on a daily or hourly basis.

Building and sustaining your own personal brand is well within your reach. But it takes time, effort and energy. Here are seven tips to guide you on your journey.

1) Define the target audience for your brand.

Even Justin Bieber has a target audience. He’s not writing songs and tweeting for my mom, despite the fact that she may find him cute. Your brand should be defined by an area of specialty or expertise, in the same way that “digiphile” and “funnelholic” have done it (pictured above). This is an important first step, because it defines the type of blog you’ll create, the type of tweets you’ll generate and the type of content you’ll share with your followers.

2) Decide where to invest your energy.

There are only 25 hours in a day (I’m counting those days when we turn the clock back an hour), which means that you can’t be active on all social networks all the time. It’s far better to be highly active on one social network than it is to low levels of activity across ten. Of course, your mix is going to change over time, but it’s important to start off by “budgeting” your time. My priorities (at the moment) are blogging and Twitter.

3) Two words: BE USEFUL.

Keep this goal in mind in everything you do. Whether it’s sharing a link on Twitter to writing your first blog post, being useful brings awareness, appreciation and equity to your personal brand. When sharing links, consider content in the same way an museum director selects works for her next exhibit. Curate content like fine art. The more your target audience finds your content (and the content you share) useful, the more value your brand derives.

4) Engage and Interact.

Social media should not be solely about sharing links. It should include equal amount of engaging with others and interacting with content. For every five blog postings you author, find one third party blog and leave a comment on it. For every four links you share on Twitter, perform one Retweet or “at reply” to another user. As you find interesting content on the web, endorse it to your target audience (via “Like”, “+1” or “Tweet” buttons). But remember point #3 and make sure you’re being useful.

5) Use the same profile photo everywhere.

As you publish blog postings, tweet, comment on blog postings, answer questions on LinkedIn and “Like” an article, use the same profile photo. Doing so gives others the impression that you’re everywhere. It’s an easy way to build brand equity, without doing too much additional work. Use a recent photo, so that people may recognize you when they see you in person. I often meet strangers who ask, “are you the guy who blogs about virtual events?” and who would believe anyone could be recognized for doing that!

6) Promote others before yourself.

It’s actually quite easy to promote yourself via social media. However, you’ll find that others may be turned off by blatant self-promotion and that you actually do more damage (than good) to your personal brand.  So promote others and tell the world how great they are.  By introducing your Twitter following to other great Twitter users, you’re doing your followers a service (i.e. being useful). As you become more and more useful, you’ll find that others begin to promote you. An endorsement from others is far more meaningful than one from yourself.

7) Adjust and adapt.

Your journey towards personal brand equity will not travel on a straight line. You’ll need to adjust for things that are not working and experiment with new things. Previously, I wrote about how my use of Twitter is different in 2011 compared to 2008.  For me, that’s part of the fun, figuring it all out. It’s also one of the most rewarding aspects of social media experimentation: achieving progress by way of adjustment and adaptation.


There’s never been a better time to build your personal brand online. If you hone in on an area of specialty and follow your passions there, who knows – even Justin Bieber may some day “follow” your advice.

Related Presentation

I presented related tips at a workshop for the EMC West Coast Women’s Leadership Foundation. You can find the slides below.

Note: I invite you to connect with me on .

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