Why do you need a website?

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This is the question that many of us have asked ourselves several times, “Why do I need a website?”; and the answer becomes quite obvious after reading this post.

Individual

If you think that you don’t need a website because you are just another employee, you are wrong! You are special, and you need a special website that reflects your profession and personality. It is obvious that you are going to change your job sooner or later and thus having your portfolio on your website is going to help you during those phases. But this does not mean that you should have a website only when you are looking for a new job. A website takes time and efforts to make it credible and if you want it to be counted as one of your achievements, you definitely need to work on it in advance.

You need a website, irrespective of your profession. But some of the professions have more use of a website than the others. For example, a web developer who doesn’t have his own website is simply wasting his chance to showcase his skills. Same is true for web designers and other related professions. On the other hand, if you are in any profession that deals with anything that can be put on a screen, you need to have a website.

As for prerequisites, I would suggest that every graduate should have a personal website. A good place to start would be about.me. Consolidating all your public profiles on a single page will allow your visitors to learn more about you via different platforms. Following are a few examples:

myWebsite

Software Engineer

Author of 3 books

Author of 3 books

Business

If you are a businessmen, having a website is even more important for you and your business. There can be two kinds of businesses. Ones that can sell their services or products online and ones that can not. With the advent of technology, the percentage of businesses lying in the second category has become very less. Today, you can buy anything online; from a safety pin to a private jet.

Even if your business provides services or goods that can not be sold online, you still need to have a website to create your brand’s identity, to provide a platform where your customers can reach you, to impress them enough so they can visit your store or office; with confidence. Most importantly, having a website will make sure that you have a credible online presence. For example, there are millions of businesses listed on websites like justdial.com. From a customer’s point of view, your business is just another listing until it is connected with a website. This website in turn will showcase your work and let your customers determine, how good you are.

Now let’s talk about businesses that manufacture or market products. With the increasing popularity of e-commerce, it is very likely that you will be selling your products on websites like flipkart and snapdeal. Let us spend us time on understanding why you will be doing so.
No matter how much money you put into the marketing your products, you can not compete with the prices offered on these websites. This is because they are being funded by Wall street. Big investors like DST global and Soft Bank Corp. have been funneling billions of dollars into India’s consumer internet story. In 2014, Indian e-commerce websites raised around 3 billion dollars. These online players are likely to spend around 6000 crore rupees on discounting and  marketing in 2015.

Case-study: During Diwali promotions in 2014, Flipkart, Snapdeal and Seattle based giant Amazon had consumed around half a billion dollars for giving discounts, cash back and flat out sales. Also, they have spent around 1200 crore rupees on advertising via different means including social media, television and newspapers.

By now you must have understood, why it is important for businesses to list their products on these websites. Again, the consumers will have a lot of options while making a purchase and the only way you can make a difference is by having your own presentable website. Have a look at this website created for Ashuraj Plastic Industries:

Ashuraj Plastic Industries Website

Government and non-profit

This is not just true for private businesses, even government has started moving in this direction. One recent example I can quote, is that of Himachal Pradesh State Agricultural Marketing Board. They have now created a website for marketers and farmers dealing with apples and other produces of Himachal Pradesh. This has brought them one step forward as they can now easily brand their produces in national as well as international markets.
The state has been known for it’s production of apples which are being exported to various countries. Apples in fact play a very important role in Himachal’s economy. 9 out of 12 districts produce apple and apple economy is pegged around rupees 2500 crore. The area under apple cultivation has increased from 400 hectares in 1950 to more than 1 lakh hectares today.

The goal of this website is not just branding, but also to make sure that farmers can get rid of the middlemen system. They would not be required to travel outside to sell their produce anymore. Everything can be done online as CCTV cameras are being installed to provide live streaming on the website.

Other than the government, non-profit organizations have also utilized internet in various ways. Collecting funds is very important for any such organization which is only possible by having an effective online presence. Other than social media which allows any one to create a profile and page, having a website makes these organizations more reliable. Mostly, a simple 5 page website is enough to create an impression:

Chandigarh based NGO

Chandigarh based NGO

There is always a scope of improvement when you move your business online. Around 3,027,217,800 people were online when I was writing this post. As for India, around 243,198,922 people have access to internet which are increasing by 14 percent each year. And with this, I rest my case.

 

Defining Toastmasters with Infographics

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I was preparing a sales pitch for introducing the idea of Toastmasters to my audience. That is when I decided that I shall use the most popular medium of conveying information these days, called infographics. I started off with a google search which took me to the list of tools at hongkiat.com. I first created an infographic by providing my Linkedin profile details to vizualize.me. After going through a few more options and watching some videos, I finally started working on easel.ly. This post has some of the infographics that I created with this online tool within an hour or so. I am planning to use them in my presentation about Toastmasters and will be looking forward to the audience’s response.

Transcript:

“Every day above ground is a good day.” But what makes that day better is something that you can decide. After working for more than 9 hours (on clock) you need something to make you feel better. Unless you are an Apple developer with a 7-figure salary, your job is not going to do that for you. Toastmasters international has given us an opportunity to do just that; to come out of our 6 by 6 cubicle and use our voice to communicate our thoughts. Yes, this cannot happen over a Virtual classroom session, and yes this does not need a 6 digit passcode. But the way we interact in this room is far more clear and meaningful than any of the conference calls that you have attended today. And we are not alone in this. We have more than 292,000 comrades spread over the globe. That is more than twice the population of our favorite holiday destination Shimla. There are about 14,350 clubs functioning now in 122 different countries. Today I am going to put many such facts in front of you and let you decide the definition of a Toastmaster.

Toastmasters map

So where did this all begin from? There must be someone who thought about this first. Do any of you know the name of that person? Yes. It was in 1924 when Mr. Ralph C. Smedley organized the first ever Toastmasters meeting in Santa Ana, California. It took him two years to open a second club in the same city but then it gained momentum and within a year, the federation of toastmasters clubs was established. With the number of clubs increasing, it became difficult to keep up similarity, to follow the same rules. Because no matter how well you communicate with a person, you can never create a carbon copy of your thoughts in his mind. That is when the first manual for Toastmasters clubs was introduced in 1928.

In 1930, Toastmasters International got incorporated and the newsletter was rolled out. Thus it was clear that clubs were being formed outside of United States. The first of which was chartered in British Columbia, Canada. With more and more clubs being chartered, in just 8 years the count reached a 100. Remember that when I refer to 8 years as ‘just’, I am talking about chartering 100 new clubs when the task of introducing the idea of Toastmasters was totally different from giving a power-point aided presentation. And with the advent of the 100th club, began the inter-club speech contest.

30 years went by, and Mr. Smedley continued serving this non-profit educational organization. Thus, in 1963 he was acclaimed with the Golden Gavel award. After 2 years, he died; but he left an idea; an idea that we all are celebrating here today; an idea that has changed thousands of lives. But did you know that Toastmasters clubs were only open to men? It was only in 1973 when women were welcomed as club members. And as I will show you with the help of my next graphic, this gender base got quite strong.

As with the timeline, technology was developing fast. In 2007, the toastmasters.org got completely redesigned. Though I am not very impressed with the present design either; I felt better when I learned that not only a twitter feed was launched, but also an e-learning platform was developed in the year 2009. Finally in the year 2011, a major step was taken which is most important for any brand’s development. A unique logo was designed and was propagated to all the clubs via various brand refresh techniques such as the video brand contest.

Toastmasters International Timeline

When I compared the member count to the population of Shimla, I was talking about a specific group of people. So definitely, we need to look at who these people are. In contrast with the fact that women started joining 50 years late, the average percentage of female members in a Toastmasters club is 52%.

It is often said, “Behind every successful man there is a woman”. But in this case, along with every successful man, there was a successful woman. This fact gets established when we look at the average annual income of toastmasters which ranges from 50,000 to 75,000 dollars. 30% of these members earn more than 100,000 dollars annually. And I assure you that I am not talking about billionaires like Dhirubhai Ambani or Subhash Chandra Goel who never attended any college. Most of these members have a Bachelor’s degree and 35% of them have completed their masters too. These masterminds are working at renowned corporates like Google, Apple, Sony and Disney.

Toastmasters member demographics

So what makes you a Toastmaster? I mean, who is a Toastmaster? What does this person do? I will take the help of this Venn diagram to explain. The three essential ingredients are confidence, voice modulation and content. To have an effective stage presence you need proper gestures that you can use while showcasing your acting skills. Your expressions play an important role in convincing your audience. You should try practicing in front of a mirror and learn when to change the pitch and tone of your voice. While such practice sessions help you remember the content, only with experience can you meet mastery. And as you gain confidence, the importance of the other factors starts reducing. For instance, if you don’t have this big pie of content ready. Just take part in the table-topics and try to speak impromptu. At the end of the day, this wish to speak is what makes a toastmaster.

About a Toastmaster

Reference: Wikipedia and toastmasters.org