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Improvement

In which I answer “What do I think should be improved?”.

As I continue this challenge as a personal journey for self-actualization, I will focus on what I think should be improved in myself from a professional standpoint.  This could be uncomfortable, I suppose.  If I acknowledge that something should be improved, I will have to take ownership of actually improving it.  If I haven’t already addressed it, it’s probably something I didn’t really want to deal with anyway.

Hmmmm.  always improvement needed, in many areas, I suppose.  Which one will I own up to here?

I will go with time-management  My friend, Tamara Myles, has taught me that time-management is actually choice-management. She states that we all have exactly the same amount of time each day.  It’s how we choose to use our time that is the important thing. So, I will have to edit my statement to say that I probably should work on fine-tuning my choice-management.

I think I like to think that I am a wonderful multi-tasker.  Fact is, at the end of the day, I am not always exactly certain that I accomplished as much as I thought I would or should.  On the other hand, free-forming through my day does bring me to some interesting places.  I think it must be my constant quest for knowledge that brings me to so many different sources of information.  That’s probably how I ended up as a social media professional after all.  In addition to wanting to connect people to other people and their services, I want to know everything that’s going on – all of the time.

Again, in keeping with my intent for this exercise, I will set my intention to improving my choice management to result in better time management.  I believe that this will help me to feel in control of the direction that my work will take me.

time management

Thank you, #YourTurnChallengeSeth Godin and Winnie Kao. This challenge has been quite valuable to me so far.  Taking a few minutes each day to review where I am and where I want to be is helping me to set lasting intentions.

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Getting to My Turn

Walking

Second installment in the #YourTurnChallenge in which I answer “What is important to you?”

Disclaimer – As this is a website about building online presence, and about my professional work, and often, about my dog – please know that it is to be assumed that my family, friends and memories are of utmost importance to me.  They are just not what I discuss on this blog.

When I answer this Your Turn Challenge question this way today, it is because the Challenge has already started to make me think more clearly about my professional persona.  Yesterday, I wrote about my intention to work as who I absolutely am. I mentioned that talking things over with friends and strangers seemed to help clarify that intent.  But here’s where the deal was sealed.

It was Friday.  It had been over 3 weeks since I had spent any time at all on the trails with Kenai.  She had just experienced 3 weeks of a house full of visitors and of being tortured by rompings, teasing and razor-sharp teeth of her new puppy-sister, Stella, a 4 month old bloodhound pup. I had been thinking long and hard about which direction to take with my business. We were both overdue for a good long hike.

As we entered Borderland State Park at West Side Trail, I was thinking about the Your Turn Challenge I had just committed myself to do.  I had put it out there on Twitter, so I guess I was committed.

And there it was – My Turn.My Turn - #yourturnchallenge

This is the beginning of the path where I look up and realize how wise I was to lace up my Keen hiking boots, don the gloves and ear-warmers, grab the leash and head outside with Kenai. This is where I turn toward the next hour of clarity.

My Turn – where I realized that being who I absolutely am – where I can let go of others’ expectations and simply focus on what it is I do best and enjoy the most.

What is important to me?

It is important to me to keep a keen sense of self in which I am providing service, insight and wisdom to those with whom I partner.

kenai, black german shepherd dog, gsd. helping me on my challenge.It is very important to me to take walks in the woods with my dog.

 

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Transition and Intention

Transition.

First installment in the #YourTurnChallenge in which I answer “Why am I doing the Your Turn Challenge?”.

I have always asserted that transition is a very subtle, but extremely compelling state of being.  I am not even referring to big transitions like buying a house or starting a new job. I think that even the small transitions are worthy of our attention.

At my house, December was a month filled with transitions.  I was blessed with so much household activity and energy.  Our annual latke making party resulted in 2 nights filled with family, friends and oniony, oily aromas. I was thrilled ( and I truly mean this when I say this) to have over 20 house guests stay over on the second latke eve.  My kids’ friends bring wonderful energy and creativity to Buttonwood Farm. A last-minute change of plans brought my eldest home from California to spend the last week of December with us. My home was full of energy and light.

As January approached, life settled back to normal. This was not necessarily a bad thing. Having the time to catch up on my professional reading, webinars, etc would seem like it was the right thing to do.  But I found that I was becoming more anxious.  I had feelings of self-doubt. I thought that, perhaps, I should be doing more – pushing more.  Comparing my self to others began to weaken my self-esteem and my own resolve.

I spent the first week or two in January talking with old friends, as well as folks I had just met, about this particular sense of coming to a path in my profession that was asking me to go one way or another. I found that by voicing my ideas, my concerns, my fears, I was able to gain a bit of clarity in to the direction that would guide me to the place where I am able to live, work and play as the person I truly am.  I was putting pressure on myself to do what others in the social media marketing field are doing in the form of self-promotion. I have come to the realization that the services that I offer as a personalized guide for increasing online presence are the essence of my professional self. I have made it my intention to be a teacher, a guide, for those small business owners who are passionate about their own work and would like to communicate their range of products and services on the internet. Teaching these folks to be a resource, to be able to identify and communicate their own personal brand, to share and engage

 I have made it my intention...

I will continue to create those symbiotic relationships with my clients in which we learn more about each other’s area of expertise and work within that knowledge to build up their empowerment while increasing their presence. In addition, once I have learned a good amount about their business, I will be better able to identify their challenges, and at that point have the insight as to which social media tasks they might consider outsourcing in order to continue their online growth while focusing on their own strengths and talents. I am committed to meeting my clients where they are, and sharing the next part of the path together.

Why am I doing the Your Turn Challenge?

I am doing the Your Turn Challenge as a week-long exercise to help me find clarity in my professional path, as well as to become more comfortable and prolific in my blogging.

 

 

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Your Personal Brand = Value – Visual – Voice -Variation

Personal BrandingThis was one of my favorite takeaways from the 10th annual Massachusetts Conference for Women.  The first panel presentation that I attended was entitled “Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success”.  The panel was moderated by Dan Schawbel, author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career

The panel members  were

1. Laura Darrah & Sheila Nazarian, co-founders, she + lo
2. Wendy Duncan, SVP, marketing, Alex and Ani
3. Shirley Leung, business columnist, The Boston Globe
4. Cindy Ratzlaff, social media strategist

The focus of the panel was to point out the very important fact that how people perceive you or your product is vital to success. As we all know, with the internet, social media and the constant pace of 24/7 business, it is more critical than ever that a person or a company brand and promote effectively. Your personal brand, product or service might be the most awesome on the face of this earth, but if customers can’t find the value – the unique value – they are unlikely to engage. This panel was designed to help the attendees promote themselves or their product to create a powerful message so that we would better stand out and succeed in our goals.

Laura Darrah began the session by making a point that what we may think as obvious, but may often get lost.  It is a lot easier to market a brand when you feel confident in the brand.

Shirley Leung, who spends her days writing and sometimes reporting on television, reminded us that in these days of the 2.7 second attention span, it is more important than ever to really hone our message.  She suggested that we watch a bunch of TEDtalks and really observe how the presenters have taken their wealth of information and manage to condense it down to the absolute most important, most salient points in order to get the intended message crystal clear to the listener.

Wendy Duncan’s message resonated loudly and clearly with me when she told us to “Be simple. Be conversational. Tell stories.”  People may or may not remember the facts about you or your product – your blah-blah-blah – But you can be pretty sure that they will remember a story that you have told that touches them.  The stories that people share around their bracelets has been a large part of the success of the Alex and Ani product line. Wendy pointed out that it is so very important to continue to write about the core values of the company or of your self.  Embrace and promote your mission and culture.

Cindy Ratzclaff’s message – the 4 V’s of personal branding –  really hit home with me.

 – Value:
The first question to ask your self is “What is my value?”  Your client wants to know “what’s in it for them?” Clearly identify exactly what you bring to the table

– Visual:
Have a great headshot.  Look straight at the camera and smile.  First impressions are critically important. Most often, someone is going to check you out online before they meet you. You want people to instantly trust you.

– Voice
Everything that you say and do should clearly identify your authentic self, your mission and your culture.

– Variation
This seemed to be the most important point. Identify what your unique variation is. There are probably many people who offer what you do – you must offer your own spin.

Read more

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Would You Mind Leaving Me a Review?

Not the easiest thing to ask – but it could just be one of the most useful tools you can implement when building online presence.  Think about it.  How often have you hired a service provider without obtaining at least one person’s opinion?  My guess is that you have not hired even one service provider without finding out a bit more about that person either through people you actually know, or through online reviews. It only makes sense that we want to know ahead of time if the person we intend to hire is easy to work with, knowledgeable in their field, reliable, shows up on time, completes the job at hand, provides value.online reviews build online presence

Asking clients for a review or a testimonial can be considered an integral part of your customer workflow.  You will find that your happiest clients will be only too happy to recommend you and your services, they might just need to be reminded to actually go ahead and write one.

It would be prudent to ask your client for the review shortly after finishing a project for them, or having completed a lengthy session. You will want the quality and the details of the care and expertise that you put into the experience to still resonate with the client. This will help them design the recommendation with pertinent details.

I, personally, would not recommend the use of a third-party tool to gather your reviews. How incredibly annoying it is to receive a ‘bot’ generated request for review from someone you have barely dealt with.  And it is even more annoying to keep getting reminders to send someone a recommendation.  Agh!  Turn that off!

So, what is the best way to request an online review of your product or service? Read more

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Is there a simple way to get more people to read your content?

It’s the first thing I will tell someone who wants to increase their online presence: “You need to create content!”  In my opinion, content on a website is the foundation to every other avenue of online existence.  Once the content is there, you can proceed to utilize it in unlimited ways. You will be able to extract the ‘yummy nuggets” to use on Facebook, Pinterest, Google +, LinkedIn, Twitter, and more.  Each blog post or website landing page can provide you with any number of posts.  Add images and you are well on your way to being able to make the content freely available to your audience.

But – this won’t necessarily make your audience actually read the content.  And, you can be very sure they will absolutely not read it if the content is boring, ordinary, too dense. Not only will they not read this content, they will likely avoid clicking through to your content in the future, as well.

content people will read

A recent article on the Copyblogger, 8 Incredibly Simple Ways to Get More People to Read Your Content, addresses exactly that challenge.  In this article, Pamela Wilson empathizes with those of us who spend hours agonizing over every phrase, every word…. working so hard to try to be clever, insightful, snarky, smart.  After all of that attention to detail, we do finally publish our article only to find that nobody reads them.  We receive no comments, no shares, no applause.  Pamela suggests that we could be writing less, but styling our text to make it easier to read.

In this age of the 2.7 second attention span, we need to get our readers to move out of ‘scan’ mode and into ‘read and interact’ mode.  We will need to structure our posts to be easily digested by breaking them up in to bite-sized portions.  Try constructing your paragraphs with the conclusion stated first, with the supporting comments following. Help your readers decide at which point they will want to get in close to learn more.

Here are some of the design elements outlined in the Copyblogger article: Read more

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Personal Branding – Be Better at Teaching

Have I ever mentioned Marcus Sheridan to you?

One day, I was hiking Split Rock Trail at Borderland State Park while listening to one of my favorite podcasts from The Social Media Examiner. This day, Michael Stelzner was interviewing Marcus Sheridan of Rock River Pools and The Sales Lion.

Marcus Sheridan passionately asserts that blogging is essentially about teaching the people about your self and your industry. He says that it is important for your business to be better at teaching than anyone else in the world. All we had to do was to answer every question that our clients had ever asked!  We had to have searchable content that answered the exact query that a user might type into Google. Brilliant! Listen to the podcast.

personal branding

Honestly, I had to stop at the top of one of the trails to email my clients to tell them about this revelation!

Last month, I had the amazing good fortune to sit in on Marcus Sheridan’s presentation at Inbound 2014. The energy in the room was a cross between an evangelistic revival meeting and a rock concert. He had us all drinking the Inbound Marketing Kool-Aid!

The number one question he wanted us to answer on our website?

How much?  

So I did.

I came directly home and wrote a blog that outlines the many variables which will affect how much social media services cost.  Then, I added my own pricing structure on my “what I do” page.  The process was strangely liberating.

Marcus Sheridan and me

As you may already realize, I am passionate about helping my connections create their authentic online presence and their personal branding strategy.  Helping folks who are in my ‘tribe’, my ‘circles’, my ‘network’, learn about and use the tools available to them ultimately strengthens the reach for all of us.

I am very excited to start offering group social media sessions to be able to teach new skills and resources to local entrepreneurs.  Social media, contact relationship management, e-newsletters, website upkeep will be among the topics covered in these group sessions.  Learn more.

More on Social Media and Personal Branding

 

 

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Content Curation and Sharing

Using the Power of You.
As I mentioned in my previous blog, Social Media and Personal Branding, there are loads of folks who want to learn what you have to share. Your followers are interested in watching you follow your passion for your area of expertise. By sharing interesting articles (including your own, as much as possible) you are establishing yourself as a resource for others who want to learn more about you and your business

Content Curation – What is That All About?
Content curation is the process of making your way through the vast amounts of content available on the web to then be able sift, sort, arrange and present it in a meaningful and organized way.  You will want to be choosy to pick the best content that is important and relevant to your own community. Often, curated content may be organized around a particular theme.

personal brandingCurating great content can help you as a  small business owner establish yourself as a thought leader, a valuable resource within your spheres of online presence, thus strengthening your personal brand.  You essentially become the “go-to” authority for issues or topics related to your industry.

By curating relevant content, you develop the ability to serve up frequent content which then increases your opportunities for interaction, which can help exposure over time as you strengthen your online personal branding.

This means that you will need a number of reliable sources to turn to for access to interesting and appropriate articles.

There are many tools and personal favorite methods for collecting articles that are relevant to you and your business.

Here are my current top 6 content curation sources and tools. Read more

personal-branding-resource
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Social Media and Personal Branding

Where to begin?  You have started your own business.  You’ve invested in a website to highlight your product or service.  You may have even begun to add content to your website to help visitors learn more about your product or service. How will you develop a social media online presence for your personal brand?

As I mentioned in the previous blog, Personal Branding for the Small Business Owner, personal branding is about identifying and then communicating what makes you unique and relevant and allows you to differentiate yourself to your target audience. Your online relationships will grow through the sharing, liking, and commenting on posts from people you have identified as influencers and/or evangelists. But what will you bring to the party?

Be the source!

personal-branding-resource

Be constantly on the lookout for great pieces to share that relate to your area of expertise.  Find websites that relate to your industry and bookmark them, or follow them on social media, or sign up to receive their newsletter.  When experts in your industry, or related industries, share their great content and you think that folks who follow you on your platforms might be interested in it as well, share it with an insightful comment of your own. Let your audience know what you liked (or disliked) about the article.  Let them know where in the article they might find the information that will help them with whatever challenge they may be faced with.

Schedule your posts out. Read more

personal branding
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Personal Branding for the Small Business Owner

Most of the people in my networking circles are solo-preneurs, small business owners. Realizing that a strong online presence will benefit their business, they often ask which social media and networking platforms would be the most benefit to their goals. Although they have just used those exact words, “Social Media Networking”, many remain hesitant, almost adverse, to actually putting themselves out there to be “Social” in order to “Network” on the “Media”. Often I hear these words: “I don’t want any of my personal stuff out there” or “I don’t think what I have to say matters online”. As a small business owner, your personal brand and business brand overlap on social media, whether you want them to or not.

personal branding

For a small business owner, the single most important part of building a personal brand is to be exactly who you are. Be authentic. Be genuine. (But Better!)
I say “But Better” because the online persona that you will build for your professional self gets to benefit from planning. It gives you time to edit your thoughts and offerings. Read more