Liz Ngonzi – Building a professional platform with SlideShare Pro

April 10, 2012

Here, SlideShare power user Liz Ngonzi, an international educator, speaker and entrepreneur, talks with Kendra Mayfield about why she decided to upgrade to a SlideShare Pro account and how SlideShare has helped her build her personal brand on the Web.

Tell us about yourself, and how you’ve used social media so far?
I was born in Uganda and moved to the United States when I was four years old. My mother was a diplomat, so I traveled internationally a great deal while growing up. I spent 13 years at the United Nations International School – an indelible experience that shaped my unique worldview that I bring to my projects.

Liz NgonziI'm a self-professed girl geek (educated at Syracuse University iSchool and Cornell University School of Hotel Administration) who spent 10 years in Corporate America advising large corporations and SMEs (small and medium enterprises) on how they can leverage technology to better engage their customers and develop internal efficiencies. I'm also an avid blogger, Twitter and Facebook user, and dabble in about 10 or so other platforms.

For the past eight years, I've assisted non-profits and entrepreneurs, primarily through the development of fundraising campaigns, marketing campaigns and strategic planning sessions. With the advent of social media and increased use of the Internet as a branding and outreach platform, I started teaching and training non-profits in the U.S. and Africa on how they could develop better online experiences.

I'm a big proponent of the use of social media for smaller organizations and entrepreneurs who don't have the big development budgets or in-house expertise to create slick websites. I teach them that they can leverage free or low-cost social media outlets to increase their digital footprints, increase engagement opportunities and drive traffic to their sites.

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Why did you decide to share content publicly via your SlideShare Pro account?
Initially, I came to SlideShare because I’d fired my Web development company and I wanted to create different footprints around the Web. I signed up for a free SlideShare account, and soon realized that the only way to quickly share huge files with clients would be to upgrade to a Pro account. I also tried uploading a series of videos to YouTube and found it was way too complicated; with SlideShare, it was so simple.

I found the SlideShare Pro features to be quite attractive; they provided me with the ability to track my content metrics, privately share large files with clients and students, and upload my videos and documents in one place. The SlideShare Pro account has also provided me with a new window through which the online public can discover my work and further engage with my brand. SlideShare is like a “mini website” to showcase my work that’s highly trafficked and well organized. I realized that I don’t need those Web development guys anymore.

What problem(s) were you trying to solve by upgrading to a SlideShare Pro account, and what challenges/issues did you face before upgrading?
I was invited to present for a conference in South Africa and needed to share my decks with the organizers. Typically, my decks tend to be large files with lots of photos and video, so when I realized that email wouldn't work, I decided to upload everything to SlideShare.

With the basic account, the content would be available to the public immediately. That posed a problem because I didn't want the content published before the conference. The SlideShare Pro account solved that problem, enabling me to publish the content privately and send the conference organizers a “secret” URL link. When I was ready, I changed the decks to be available publicly, and provided attendees with the URLs during my presentations, so they would be able to view, download and share them at their convenience.

How has SlideShare Pro helped you to solve some of these challenges?
Besides being able to upload large files, I've found SlideShare Pro's integration of YouTube videos into my slide deck to be quite useful. With the Pro account, I can provide audiences who access my slides with a richer experience. I also constantly update my SlideShare page so it gives viewers a reason to come back. I believe that the more content you put out there, the more opportunities come to you. It’s engaging for people to see what you do.

What benefits have you seen as a result of your SlideShare Pro account?
I love the Analytics feature. With traditional websites, you don’t always get a sense of how your content is being consumed. With SlideShare Analytics, I'm able to gauge the popularity of specific decks and understand where the greatest demand for specific content comes from. I can use this data to determine where to target my marketing efforts. For instance, I know that my most popular decks are accessed from the U.S., China and Kenya. I also review my most popular decks so I can incorporate the type of content and style I’ve used into current ones.

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The Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter buttons on my SlideShare page have boosted the number of visits I’ve received and the interaction users have with my content. One of my most popular presentations, "Touching Hearts, The Donor Next Door," received more than 1,500 views and many more tweets and Facebook “likes.” I tagged the content with keywords, like “Sino-African relations.” There were so many hits from China—it was incredible!

How has your SlideShare presence increased your professional reach?
I recently met with organizers of tech conferences in Africa (one of my primary speaking targets) who attended my panel presentation at South by Southwest (SXSW). I demonstrated my expertise in a particular content area and showcased my presentations in real-time by sharing a link to a couple of SlideShare decks with the organizers. They emailed me the next day, and booked me for a few slots to speak in their conferences.

If I’m interested in speaking at a particular conference, I can refer organizers to my SlideShare page for examples of my videos or other presentations that illustrate my work. I also host my bio on my SlideShare page, so once users access my page, they can see the breadth of my other offerings and consume other content. Additionally, I've integrated a lot of my SlideShare content into my own website, which has enabled me to provide visitors with a more dynamic multimedia experience of my professional brand.

What tips do you have for other SlideShare users who want to go ‘Pro’?
Research the SlideShare blog for examples of effective presentations and online branding techniques. I also really like the “Slides That Rock” page. I’ll go through the decks to see what fonts, colors and techniques are recommended, and tweak them for my own presentations. I appreciate receiving updates about new content uploaded by people I follow, as it enables me to find new ideas and presentation techniques to constantly improve my own decks.

One of my favorite content ideas that I found through the SlideShare blog is the Visual Resume—although, as an entrepreneur I’d use the concept more as a “Visual Bio.” I’ve shared the idea with students as an effective way to differentiate themselves in the saturated job marketplace. Through my presentation for high school students: "Managing Your Online Reputation", I’ve also encouraged them to leverage platforms such as SlideShare as a way to curate their digital images and showcase their best work. I also recommend keeping your presence updated with new content so that followers and new visitors have a reason to come back.

Want to go Pro? Sign up for SlideShare Pro. Are you a Pro user? Share your experiences in the comments below!