Blog It Forward – Rachna Lal
It is wonderful to be a part of the Blog It Forward challenge via Natascha Thomson, who has been singlehandedly responsible for getting me involved in SCN, and for mentoring me in the world of Social Media and Marketing. Here is Natascha’s BIF blog and I’m blogging it forward from there!
Introduction to Me
This has to be the most difficult part, trying to capture an entire lifetime in a few words here. The best way to put it would be that I am a Jack (or Jill) of All Trades! I started off as a professional architect and worked on creating some beautiful homes, schools and institutes in all parts of India. Then I decided I wanted to see the world, and came over to Ann Arbor, Michigan, for my PhD in Architecture. Met some fascinating people (including my now husband), did some interesting design research, published some papers. Halfway through, felt the PhD was not for me, quit and settled into blissful domesticity as a full time housewife! Actually no, looked for a job but failed to find one (this was 2008, the peak of the recession). Went back to school for an MBA. Graduated and looked for a job again. Found one doing B2B marketing for an enterprise software startup (and an SAP partner).
So I went into this company, with no background in software, technology, SAP or marketing! I still remember Googling “ERP” and “enterprise software” my first day of the job. Since this was an early stage startup I was the only person doing Marketing. Learnt everything from the ground up, thanks to the internet and help and guidance from my colleagues. I read everything I could, and wrote even more. Learnt HTML and CSS on the job. Learnt basics of SAP. Wrote end user training manuals. Created datasheets, posters, banners, blogs, website content, videos. Learnt and applied SEO and SEM. Did Project Management for the company. (yes, there is a reason for telling all of you this, see below
I went out and looked for people who could help me, teach me about marketing, give me some direction. That is how I met Natascha, who I met on Twitter, and she invited me to join this great B2B Social Media group she hosts. I met some wonderful experienced people there, and would keep asking them questions and learning from them. It was challenging and difficult at times, and there were times I felt lost and rudderless. But I guess that is what first jobs are for!
Where am I now? I am looking for new opportunities to learn more, and do more! Hence the spiel above. If you or anybody you know is looking for a product marketing/content marketing/social media manager or designer, please let me know!
Fun Facts about Myself
My number one fun fact is about the connection between my blogging and my marriage. This was in November 2005, I had just landed in the US two months ago, had no friends, nobody to talk to and winter had just started (this was Michigan, so you can imagine the shock). I still remember the utter desolation and loneliness of being in a new country all by myself. As I was meandering around campus, I ran into this Indian guy I’d been briefly introduced to a couple of days ago. We started talking about technology, and open source software and Richard Stallman and all kinds of tech stuff that I kept asking him about. Then somehow the topic came around to blogging, and I found the idea fascinating. Wow, something to talk to, something where I could write down everything and it would listen? Sign me up NOW! So we created a blog for me, and I started sharing all my new country experiences with my blog. I actually started writing my blog because I had no one to share stuff with at that time!
As you must have guessed, that guy later became my husband And here is the blog that made it all happen: http://www.rachnared.blogspot.com.
My second Fun fact is about Food. I am the best Indian cook I know in this country (though I can’t compete with family back in India). I figured out early enough that if I wanted good Indian food, I better learn to make it myself. I love cooking and feeding people, and am known far and wide to make the best Punjabi chhole (Indian chickpea curry) in the world 😉 Here is a picture of some of my food:
A Cool Picture (or two) of Myself:
As an architect/ designer, I’ve always been interested in museums and great urban spaces or both. So here are two pictures from my trip to Amsterdam, one when I visited the Rijksmuseum (and fell in love with Johannes Vermeer) and second of the plaza near it with a cool ‘I amsterdam’ huge sculpture.
Questions that were blogged it forward to me:
Why are you a member of SCN?
I owe being a member of SCN to two wonderful people, Natascha Thomson and Joseph Kelly. Both encouraged me to blog for Social Media Week in February 2012, and the related blogs would appear on SCN. As an SAP partner, I already had access to SCN, so I created my account and blogged for Social Media Week. And then, unfortunately I never came back to SCN. This Blog it Forward challenge has inspired me to come back here!
More importantly than coming here, I think I stayed because of all the kind and encouraging folks I met and interacted with in SCN. As a newbie early this year, I met with untold help and kindness in setting up my profile (thanks to Laure Cetin), encouragement to write here and be more active, and a great reception to my first blogpost here. I really believe that this is one great place to connect, ask questions and get help, and to express your opinions. That is why I am still a member, because I hope to continue to use this platform to talk, and write!
What are your favorite social media channels? Or if you don’t use social media, why?
I have two favorite social media channels, Twitter and blogging.
a)Blogging- for obvious reasons. My personal blog has always been my place to rant and scream and let out all of the pain and frustrations of life. It has now become a kind of recorded history of my life. I also started professionally blogging for my company, and think that blogging has tremendous potential to involve and engage people.
b) Twitter is my window to the world. It is where I get news, professional articles and reads, professional contacts, personal friends, event information, job leads, movie star gossip, crazy jokes, everything. Twitter has also made me meet some great people. I guess Twitter is one social media channel I am currently really addicted to!
What is a topic you feel strongly about and would like to address here?
I’ll briefly talk about two topics here that I feel strongly about, though they are a wee bit related. Firstly, I feel strongly about the importance of Good design. Be it architectural, urban space, software or UI design (or even a doorknob, pen, or piece of furniture). Good design is such that it makes life easier for the user, solves a pertinent problem, is clear to understand and use and is not complicated. Good design is intuitive and effortless and also, nice and kind to all its users. Good design is well thought out, well conceived and beautiful.
As a corollary to this, I am also equally passionate about good writing. A well crafted piece of prose should be able to move people, touch hearts, influence minds. Be it a personal piece or a professional one, well written articles have the ability to persuade, inspire, cajole, change people and their lives. Words have immense power, and using them as a tool is not only incredibly challenging, but when the tool is used properly, can be immensely uplifting as well.
So, that was a brief insight into the mind and heart of Rachna. I am blogging this forward to:
- Nancy Uy: She co-hosts the B2B meetup with Natascha, and has over time become not only a teacher but a close friend (with a shared love of Indian food).
- Joseph Kelly: He was the encouragement behind my first post on SCN, and has always been inspiring me to do more (with a shared love of architecture).
- What is a topic you feel strongly about and would like to address here?
- What do you enjoy most in your work and why?
- What are your favorite social media channels? Or if you don’t use social media, why?
- What was the most fun project you ever participated in and why?
I went through some of the #BIF posts, both inspired and amazed to read about everybody’s lives. Just want to thank Natascha again for Blogging it Forward to me. Lastly, if you guys liked what you read, connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.