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The Marvelous Networking Strategy Of Salesforce Chief Digital Evangelist Vala Afshar



The Marvelous Networking Strategy Of Salesforce Chief Digital Evangelist Vala Afshar

As someone so active on social media, it may come as a surprise that Salesforce Chief Digital Evangelist, Vala Afshar, considers himself an introvert. While he doesn’t like to label people (“Labels are for jars, not people,” Vala jokes), he admits that at dinner parties, he’s usually the person in the corner observing folks, hoping someone will approach so they strike up a conversation first.

This is from a man with nearly one million Twitter followers and over 30,000 on LinkedIn. What has he learned over his 25+ year career about networking?

Shifting to Resource Flow

Vala was content to sit in his cubicle for many years, writing code. He didn’t appreciate the importance of connection. Vala describes his mindset as a silo mentality. “Silo, by definition,” he says, “captures resources, knowledge, headcount, budget, a fancy title, and salary. The silo mentality is about capturing resources and protecting those resources.”

It wasn’t until his 40s that Vala understood the importance of resource flow. Around the same time, he realized that networking is all about giving. That was when things changed for him. He got into the resource flow of networking.

“My first Tweet, I was 41 years old. My first blog, I was 42. My first book, I was 44 years old. All the patents and podcasts came in my 40s,” he rallied off.

Vala acknowledges that a part of him feels like he has much catching up to do compared to other leaders because he didn’t start showing up and networking until his 40s. However, his primary motivation is the same as other thought leaders; he wants to leave everything and everyone better than when he found them.

Staying Positive

In service of that, he tries his best to remain positive and avoid the negative. Quite wisely, he says, “In my experience, the future is created by the optimists.”

That means he avoids the intellectual tug of wars that can occasionally occur on social media. He admits that while he does sometimes find himself thinking how much of a “perfect slam dunk” he could deliver when people argue with him on his patents and other topics, after five seconds of reflection, he realizes there is no value in doing so.

“My advice to folks trying to build a trustworthy voice is to avoid dunking on people and just share what you believe to be true,” offered Vala. “Pretend your mom is standing next to you if you need to.”

The Art of Giving

His approach to social media and networking is all about giving. If he gets value from something, he will share it. Vala takes the same approach in real life, both at Salesforce and outside of it. He likes to say, “To win on social media, you have to win off social media.”

For Vala, that means achieving things that give him the privilege of sharing his thoughts. And that all starts with spending time learning. He often accomplishes this by learning from others. This can be as simple as watching a TEDx talk or listening to a podcast. Offline, Vala likes to surround himself with people who are also leaders off of social media, too.

“When you look for people who are constantly demonstrating that they’re winning, they’re active members of communities, they’re writing, mingling, podcasting – those are the folks that I like to invite to be part of my team,” he said.

Salesforce and Afshar

How did Vala wind up at Salesforce? It’s also an interesting story related to Vala’s networking prowess.

Seven and a half years ago, Salesforce created his current Chief Digital Evangelist role after discovering him on social media and the value he was adding to his network. In fact, Vala admits that most of the hiring process happened through Twitter direct messages. “I didn’t even have a CV,” he joked. “I was with my previous company for nineteen and a half years. I didn’t need one.”

When Vala is working with Salesforce clients on a digital transformation, he believes several critical predictors of success in that partnership exist. His five key ingredients include culture, people, strategy, process, and technology – specifically in that order. As a technologist, it may seem odd that he puts technology last, but he says that the first four pillars need to be strong for the technology to be effective.

Culture, People, and Silos

Vala suggests that a big part of preparing companies to undergo digital transformation is smashing silos. “Silos kill. They kill careers; they kill companies.”

Technology can help companies with silo-busting, but ultimately, it’s not a technology discussion; it’s a people and culture discussion. Vala believes there is no room for friction in business or managing individuals. Mentoring and sponsoring people within Salesforce is vital to him, but Vala says it’s amazing how often he’s the one taking notes in these relationships.

“It’s beautiful when the journey starts with me trying to share my wisdom and knowledge, and I find myself now in a 50/50 situation.” Ultimately, because he is a giver, Vala winds up learning from those he mentors and gets to work with, be it within Salesforce or through the company’s clients.

Being Open

I learned from Vala that yesterday’s experts might not be tomorrow’s experts, so having open conversations, learning from others, and being active on social media can be critical tactics to stay ahead of change.

And this starts with four words that Vala recommends all leaders ask their team, as well as those you are privileged to have conversations with online and in real life: “What do you think?”

Watch the full interview with Vala Afshar and Dan Pontefract on the Leadership NOW program below, or listen to it on your favorite podcast.


Pre-order my next book publishing in October, Work-Life Bloom: How to Nurture a Team That Flourishes, (You won’t want to miss digging in.)

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12 Proven Methods to Make Money Blogging in 2024



Make money blogging


Make money bloggingThis is a contributed article.

The world of blogging continues to thrive in 2024, offering a compelling avenue for creative minds to share their knowledge, build an audience, and even turn their passion into profit. Whether you’re a seasoned blogger or just starting, there are numerous effective strategies to monetize your blog and achieve financial success. Here, we delve into 12 proven methods to make money blogging in 2024:

1. Embrace Niche Expertise:

Standing out in the vast blogosphere requires focus. Carving a niche allows you to cater to a specific audience with targeted content. This not only builds a loyal following but also positions you as an authority in your chosen field. Whether it’s gardening techniques, travel hacking tips, or the intricacies of cryptocurrency, delve deep into a subject you’re passionate and knowledgeable about. Targeted audiences are more receptive to monetization efforts, making them ideal for success.

2. Content is King (and Queen):

High-quality content remains the cornerstone of any successful blog. In 2024, readers crave informative, engaging, and well-written content that solves their problems, answers their questions, or entertains them. Invest time in crafting valuable blog posts, articles, or videos that resonate with your target audience.

  • Focus on evergreen content: Create content that remains relevant for a long time, attracting consistent traffic and boosting your earning potential.
  • Incorporate multimedia: Spice up your content with captivating images, infographics, or even videos to enhance reader engagement and improve SEO.
  • Maintain consistency: Develop a regular publishing schedule to build anticipation and keep your audience coming back for more.

3. The Power of SEO:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ensures your blog ranks high in search engine results for relevant keywords. This increases organic traffic, the lifeblood of any monetization strategy.

  • Keyword research: Use keyword research tools to identify terms your target audience searches for. Strategically incorporate these keywords into your content naturally.
  • Technical SEO: Optimize your blog’s loading speed, mobile responsiveness, and overall technical aspects to improve search engine ranking.
  • Backlink building: Encourage other websites to link back to your content, boosting your blog’s authority in the eyes of search engines.

4. Monetization Magic: Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing allows you to earn commissions by promoting other companies’ products or services. When a reader clicks on your affiliate link and makes a purchase, you get a commission.

  • Choose relevant affiliates: Promote products or services that align with your niche and resonate with your audience.
  • Transparency is key: Disclose your affiliate relationships clearly to your readers and build trust.
  • Integrate strategically: Don’t just bombard readers with links. Weave affiliate promotions naturally into your content, highlighting the value proposition.

5. Display Advertising: A Classic Approach

Display advertising involves placing banner ads, text ads, or other visual elements on your blog. When a reader clicks on an ad, you earn revenue.

  • Choose reputable ad networks: Partner with established ad networks that offer competitive rates and relevant ads for your audience.
  • Strategic ad placement: Place ads thoughtfully, avoiding an overwhelming experience for readers.
  • Track your performance: Monitor ad clicks and conversions to measure the effectiveness of your ad placements and optimize for better results.

6. Offer Premium Content:

Providing exclusive, in-depth content behind a paywall can generate additional income. This could be premium blog posts, ebooks, online courses, or webinars.

  • Deliver exceptional value: Ensure your premium content offers significant value that justifies the price tag.
  • Multiple pricing options: Consider offering tiered subscription plans to cater to different audience needs and budgets.
  • Promote effectively: Highlight the benefits of your premium content and encourage readers to subscribe.

7. Coaching and Consulting:

Leverage your expertise by offering coaching or consulting services related to your niche. Readers who find your content valuable may be interested in personalized guidance.

  • Position yourself as an expert: Showcase your qualifications, experience, and client testimonials to build trust and establish your credibility.
  • Offer free consultations: Provide a limited free consultation to potential clients, allowing them to experience your expertise firsthand.
  • Develop clear packages: Outline different coaching or consulting packages with varying time commitments and pricing structures.

8. The Power of Community: Online Events and Webinars

Host online events or webinars related to your niche. These events offer valuable content while also providing an opportunity to promote other monetization avenues.

  • Interactive and engaging: Structure your online events to be interactive with polls, Q&A sessions, or live chats. Click here to learn more about image marketing with Q&A sessions and live chats.

9. Embrace the Power of Email Marketing:

Building an email list allows you to foster stronger relationships with your audience and promote your content and offerings directly.

  • Offer valuable incentives: Encourage readers to subscribe by offering exclusive content, discounts, or early access to new products.
  • Segmentation is key: Segment your email list based on reader interests to send targeted campaigns that resonate more effectively.
  • Regular communication: Maintain consistent communication with your subscribers through engaging newsletters or updates.

10. Sell Your Own Products:

Take your expertise to the next level by creating and selling your own products. This could be physical merchandise, digital downloads, or even printables related to your niche.

  • Identify audience needs: Develop products that address the specific needs and desires of your target audience.
  • High-quality offerings: Invest in creating high-quality products that offer exceptional value and user experience.
  • Utilize multiple platforms: Sell your products through your blog, online marketplaces, or even social media platforms.

11. Sponsorships and Brand Collaborations:

Partner with brands or businesses relevant to your niche for sponsored content or collaborations. This can be a lucrative way to leverage your audience and generate income.

  • Maintain editorial control: While working with sponsors, ensure you retain editorial control to maintain your blog’s authenticity and audience trust.
  • Disclosures are essential: Clearly disclose sponsored content to readers, upholding transparency and ethical practices.
  • Align with your niche: Partner with brands that complement your content and resonate with your audience.

12. Freelancing and Paid Writing Opportunities:

Your blog can serve as a springboard for freelance writing opportunities. Showcase your writing skills and expertise through your blog content, attracting potential clients.

  • Target relevant publications: Identify online publications, websites, or magazines related to your niche and pitch your writing services.
  • High-quality samples: Include high-quality blog posts from your site as writing samples when pitching to potential clients.
  • Develop strong writing skills: Continuously hone your writing skills and stay updated on current trends in your niche to deliver exceptional work.


Building a successful blog that generates income requires dedication, strategic planning, and high-quality content. In today’s digital age, there are numerous opportunities to make money online through blogging. By utilizing a combination of methods such as affiliate marketing, sponsored content, and selling digital products or services, you can leverage your blog’s potential and achieve financial success.

Remember, consistency in posting, engaging with your audience, and staying adaptable to trends are key to thriving in the ever-evolving blogosphere. Embrace new strategies, refine your approaches, and always keep your readers at the forefront of your content creation journey. With dedication and the right approach, your blog has the potential to become a valuable source of income and a platform for sharing your knowledge and passion with the world, making money online while doing what you love.

Image Credit: DepositPhotos

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Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?




Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?

In a recent announcement, Snapchat revealed a groundbreaking update that challenges its traditional design ethos. The platform is experimenting with an option that allows users to defy the 24-hour auto-delete rule, a feature synonymous with Snapchat’s ephemeral messaging model.

The proposed change aims to introduce a “Never delete” option in messaging retention settings, aligning Snapchat more closely with conventional messaging apps. While this move may blur Snapchat’s distinctive selling point, Snap appears convinced of its necessity.

According to Snap, the decision stems from user feedback and a commitment to innovation based on user needs. The company aims to provide greater flexibility and control over conversations, catering to the preferences of its community.

Currently undergoing trials in select markets, the new feature empowers users to adjust retention settings on a conversation-by-conversation basis. Flexibility remains paramount, with participants able to modify settings within chats and receive in-chat notifications to ensure transparency.

Snapchat underscores that the default auto-delete feature will persist, reinforcing its design philosophy centered on ephemerality. However, with the app gaining traction as a primary messaging platform, the option offers users a means to preserve longer chat histories.

The update marks a pivotal moment for Snapchat, renowned for its disappearing message premise, especially popular among younger demographics. Retaining this focus has been pivotal to Snapchat’s identity, but the shift suggests a broader strategy aimed at diversifying its user base.

This strategy may appeal particularly to older demographics, potentially extending Snapchat’s relevance as users age. By emulating features of conventional messaging platforms, Snapchat seeks to enhance its appeal and broaden its reach.

Yet, the introduction of message retention poses questions about Snapchat’s uniqueness. While addressing user demands, the risk of diluting Snapchat’s distinctiveness looms large.

As Snapchat ventures into uncharted territory, the outcome of this experiment remains uncertain. Will message retention propel Snapchat to new heights, or will it compromise the platform’s uniqueness?

Only time will tell.

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Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach



Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach

While it is tempting to try to appeal to a broad audience, the founder of alcohol-free coaching service Just the Tonic, Sandra Parker, believes the best thing you can do for your business is focus on your niche. Here’s how she did just that.

When running a business, reaching out to as many clients as possible can be tempting. But it also risks making your marketing “too generic,” warns Sandra Parker, the founder of Just The Tonic Coaching.

“From the very start of my business, I knew exactly who I could help and who I couldn’t,” Parker told My Biggest Lessons.

Parker struggled with alcohol dependence as a young professional. Today, her business targets high-achieving individuals who face challenges similar to those she had early in her career.

“I understand their frustrations, I understand their fears, and I understand their coping mechanisms and the stories they’re telling themselves,” Parker said. “Because of that, I’m able to market very effectively, to speak in a language that they understand, and am able to reach them.” 

“I believe that it’s really important that you know exactly who your customer or your client is, and you target them, and you resist the temptation to make your marketing too generic to try and reach everyone,” she explained.

“If you speak specifically to your target clients, you will reach them, and I believe that’s the way that you’re going to be more successful.

Watch the video for more of Sandra Parker’s biggest lessons.

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