“Only Connect” – Why I’m Renaming My Blog

Posted on March 2, 2009. Filed under: Small business communications | Tags: , , , , , |

connect1It’s all about taking action, folks.

“Sea Change” requires a name change
I’ve had this little blog since the end of November, and its existence has coincided with a fascinating sea change in the way I do business.  What started out as a vaguely self-absorbed exploration of my own life coming to terms with and even thriving with ADHD (yes, grown women can have it too) insisted on evolving into a place where I could talk about my business.  At the same time, I went from de facto employee with one major client and a couple of side projects to full-time business writer and PR and Marketing consultant.  In December, I thought this blog was going to be about the area of expertise where I’ve always had a sharp edge: getting your message out to the right people, at the right time, in the right language.

I had no idea that social media was going to become such a huge part of the picture. (See “Social Media: My Christmas Project Run Amok” for my initial thoughts as I dove into the pool).  But here I am at the beginning of March – and helping clients get a feel for social media has become as much a part of what I do as the actual writing and editing consults.

Time to take action
Then this morning on Twitter, one of my good buddies ADHDParenting (actually, Debra Sale Wendler) asked which pitch was more interesting: “Kids w ADHD 5 conditions under which child can pay attention. OR, 5 things that MUST happen B4 discipline works”  Forgive the formatting folks, she only has 140 characters to pose the question.

Well, give me the “5 Things That MUST happen” even better – “5 Things You Can Do”.  Why?  Because it’s information you can act on.  I’m always harping on about how “what X is” messages pale next to “what X does” messages.  And it’s time to apply that message to myself.

What X Does > What X Is
“The Message Maven” may be what I am.  Actually, I’m kinda tired of the term “maven” – so even that may need a facelift. You’re going to be more interested in what I do – even better, what I do for you, or what I wish we could all do a bit better.  And the answer to that is in one of my favourite literary quotations, from the novel Howard’s End, by EM Forster.

Only Connect.  That’s what we are aiming for each time we reach out to friends, potential clients, mentors, whoever.  It’s the bedrock philosophy behind everything that happens on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, YouTube and any number of other social media sites, blogs, bookmarking services and what-have-you on the Web.  It’s a second-person imperative, for you grammar geeks out there.  I’m asking myself and the whole world to do something, and something good: to touch people with our messages.  To affirm the community that we are a part of, online and off.

Thankfully, the URL and feed of this blog will stay the same, so I don’t have to rewire all the places that I feed this blog.  It’ll still show up on Facebook, LinkedIn, MetroCascade, and feeding to my Twitter Account through Twitterfeed.  Yes, if you want to turboboost your blog in the same way, I can help you…

I hope you like the new name, the new focus and the new energy that comes with it!

Advertisements
Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Who is Managing Your Online Presence? (Trick question)

Posted on February 12, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

Who speaks for you online?j01785951

Are you writing your own blogs (with the occasional guest post), creating your own Tweets, and updating your own status on Facebook? Is the person behind your profile picture really you – or have you given that job to someone else?

Looking for the Real McCoy
If you are a small business owner, or someone whose livelihood depends on sharing their expertise with the larger world, then I sure hope that the “you” appearing with your name, face and profile is the Real McCoy.

Why “Managed” Accounts Give Me the Willies
When I hear that colleagues in the still-developing social media field are “managing accounts for their clients”, I have to admit that my gut reaction is “uh-oh”. I get visions of the kind of status updates and Twitter posts that are all talk and no listen. You know – the spammy ones that promise you 5 ways to lose 7 lbs. by next week. The stream of quotes without saying anything in their own voice. The “I just want you to know about me” attitude.

“And Accepting the Oscar On Behalf Of…”
Here’s the thing: social media can certainly help you promote your business. But if you are giving it all to someone else to manage – well, it’s like sending your publicist to an important network event where people are looking for YOUR expertise. Sorry, at some point, YOU have to show up, and give value. You have to be present, and be willing to listen, to share, and to engage.

Social Media Builds Relationships In Real Time – With Real People
You If you put together a bunch of profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Plaxo and ignore them, or delegate their maintenance entirely to someone else, then perhaps social media is not for you. And that’s ok. Before I saw that I can be both my personal self and my business self on Facebook, I ignored the place for months at at a time. It was fun for contacting long-lost highschool friends, but apart from that, it seemed like a bit of a time waster.  I didn’t understand that it could an important tool for cultivating present-day relationships (including some that extend waaay back) both for personal growth and business development.

If you put together those accounts and then give them entirely to someone else to manage, you are missing out on some of the chief benefits of using social media in the first place, and those are:

  • to build relationships
  • to enhance your credibility
  • to help other people
  • to exchange ideas
  • to learn from others
  • to build more relationships
  • to promote your services (to be sure…)
  • did I mention to build relationships?

You Can Use Social Media and Still Have a Life
I use LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter as key marketing tools for my business – make no mistake. And I am happy help other people do so as well. I’ll point you to dozens of wonderful tools to help you be productive in your time online, and even automate some of what you do.  I’ll help you create knock-out profiles the tell the world how terrific you are.  I’ll edit your blog posts, if you give me the raw material.  I’ll even set things up for you so you can be “everywhere at once” with the push of a couple of buttons.

I Won’t Tweet For You – And Here’s Why
But I won’t Tweet for you.  I don’t want to pretend to be you.  And I hope you don’t want that either.  Because ultimately, one of the main benefits of social media is that you are building credibility and trust with people that you want in your life, both for business and for fun.  It’s hard to do that when you are not there in the first place. Even harder when you’re not being honest about who represents you.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 7 so far )

Entrepreneurial Women “Get” Social Media

Posted on February 11, 2009. Filed under: People to Follow, Small business communications | Tags: , , , , , |

I’ve just come back from a terrific eWomen Network meeting, head buzzing, and purse full of business cards given to me by people who want me to follow up with them.

Artemis Exec Unspins the Web
I’m thrilled, because I really have the guest speaker of the evening to thank.    Maggie Kerr-Southin, of Artemis PR and Design here in Victoria, was our guest speaker, and her topic was “Social Media: It’s Not Just Kid Stuff”.  Maggie, Kerry Slavens and their team at Artemis operate on a whole different plane than I do – they offer the whole package for companies wanting a comprehensive branding, design and PR package.  They have the experience and the staff to run entire campaigns, and they do it very well.  So when Maggie shares her knowledge, I drop what I’m doing and go listen.  (Yeah, and I paid the late fee too – this being a “kid week”, I didn’t think I was going to eWomen this month until I heard that Maggie was coming to talk about social media)

Maggie started by asking the crowd of  entrepreneurs from around 30 to 60 years old how many of us were using Facebook.  A good number of hands rose.  More for LinkedIn, a few for Flickr, quite a bit less for Twitter.  Social media is happening in fits and starts for this crowd, but hardly anyone has figured out how to make the most of it.  Our speaker didn’t ask who had experienced a boost in their business from their social media interactions, but if she had, I probably would have been one of just a few with my hand up. 

The Lights Go On
Thank heaven the focus of her talk was demystifying how to use some of the most popular social media platforms – I could “see the lights go on” around the room, as the audience started to understand the power of online presence, and of building rapport using social media. 

The Power of a Good Network
Here’s the thing: eWomen Network women are incredibly good at using the network to share ideas, to cultivate friendships, and to recommend favourite businesses – both inside and outside the membership.  These women are excellent at building a mutually supportive business community.  What the marketing and PR insiders are excited about with social media is basically the same as what happens around the dinner table at this women’s business meeting.  It’s about building rapport, giving first, supporting each other, and listening as well as speaking. I know that given the necessary tools and a nudge in the right direction, this crowd will be fantastic at bringing their business specialties to the online communities of their choice.  They just aren’t doing it – yet.

So Much To Do
It was clear though, from the response to Maggie Kerr-Southin’s talk, that the members of our group want to figure this stuff out, and they’d appreciate the support they could get from someone with experience in social media.  When these offline networking and community-building pros start to look at their online strategy, many of them will be looking for a guide.  I hope to be there and of service to as many of them as I am able.  And as I was saying to a fellow marketing and social media pro at the event – there’s plenty of work for all of us.

So thanks again, Maggie, for the terrific message.  Once I’ve posted these thoughts, you’ll have me subscribing to your blog AND following you on Twitter.  And thanks, lovely eWomen members, for building such a great network.  This is the way we all prosper.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Social Media – my “Christmas Project” run amok

Posted on January 29, 2009. Filed under: Social Media How-Tos, Where Work meets Life | Tags: , , , , , , , |

social media logos

social media logos

It started innocently enough – having written my way down to part-time status with my main client, I found myself with some time on my hands, and a burning desire to “get good at something specific” in marketing. And I’d learn it over Christmas.

Diving into the social media pool
I decided that something should be social media.  After all, here I am – a marketer that spends considerable time writing web copy.  Why not check what all the fuss is about concerning using Facebook for business, Twitter and LinkedIn?

Freshening my Facebook
Facebook was easy – sort of.  I’d been on for a year and a half, collected way too many silly applications and a whole bunch of friends (ok, a hundred or so) representing a lifetime of moving around and trying to keep in touch.   First thing I did was grab Facebook by the scruff of the neck, turn off all sorts of notifications, and get it to stop bossing me around… at least long enough to invite a few more friends and make a page for my business.

Blogging for branding
Next, I took a look at my baby blog – started so that I could muse about ADHD, but named for my business.  OK, so I was having an identity crisis.  ADHD is still an abiding interest, but I’d have to blog about it elsewhere.  I’m still too swamped in the social media learning curve to have started that blog up, but if you joined me then and are wondering when I’m going to get around to blogging about coming “out of the fog” again, well, bear with me.

So the blog has made a right turn, and now it’s my repository for social media thoughts, especially for people who are new to it.  Because really, most people are new to it!  (I mean, if I can become the top of the Twitter elite for Victoria BC in less than a month, then you know that we’re still in the infancy stages of this stuff!)

Taking on Twitter
Then I cranked up Twitter, attached it to Facebook and Facebook to my blog, and badda boom badda bing, we have social media visibility!  Except that still, nothing looks quite the way I want it to.   I’ve just found a theme that I like on my free WordPress blog, so the upgrades are coming.  Once that’s done, can embedded YouTube videos and Flickr photo galleries be far behind?  They’re all complementary ways to connect…

LinkedIn, too…
Oh, and I fired up my LinkedIn account too, because after all, I am a business woman, and this site has wonderful connecting functions for people in business.

Learning from the Pros
As all this was happening, I was finding interesting, savvy social media people to follow on Twitter, and they’ve been educating me every single day about the best ways to connect with mentors, with potential clients, and with people who are just worth knowing.  Checking on TwitterGrader, I went from a fair-to-middling-for-a-newbie score of 54 (out of 100) in mid-December to over 96 a couple of days ago.  And 435 people think I’m interesting and relevant enough to follow.  Imagine!

Racing up the learning curve!
The thing is, my head is still spinning from jumping onto this merry-go-round so quickly.  Clients are starting to ask how they can use social media effectively, and I’m putting together proposals that will help them take advantage of the relationship-marketing heart of social media… without causing them to lose sleep or productive working hours.  I’ll do that for them!

And to be sure, there are wonderful tools to help sort all the posts on all the sites – like Ping.fm, TweetLater, TwitterFeed, Tweetdeck, and so on.  As well, I’d like to thank some amazing social media professionals, pro bloggers and simply fine people I met on-line who are my role models, like Mari Smith, Nancy Marmolejo, Sherman Hu, Chris Brogan, Maria Reyes McDavis, and Michele Price.

Do I feel ready to pass along what I’ve learned to the 99 percent of Victoria business owners who know social media is “out there” but don’t know how to make it work for them?  As ready as I’ll ever be…

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 6 so far )

3Rs of Social Media #3 – be Relevant

Posted on January 20, 2009. Filed under: Social Media How-Tos | Tags: , , , , , , |

OK, so in the big wide world of the Internet, where there is a following for everything under the sun, what can I possibily mean by “Be relevant”?

Well, when it comes to business, be relevant to the people you want to do business with.  Who are those people, and what do you want them to know about both you and your business?  It’s ok to take a big-picture view of this – the answer can be both personal and professional.  In fact, it’s best if it’s both.

Going back to our previous “received wisdom” that people do business with people they know, like and trust, social media like blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter give you a platform for others to get to know you, your family, your hobbies and interests, even some of your daily activities.  Add to that some of your specialized information from your field of expertise, and you have a powerful combination that gives your potential customers an insight into you and how you do your work.

Does it matter what you had for breakfast?  Perhaps not.  Then again, if you are a fitness trainer, your morning menu might provide both ideas and information.  Your musical tastes could be important information if you run a nightclub.  The websites and blogs that you follow may also provide excellent info for your clients – feel free to quote and even to provide links to the places where you get your information.  This won’t make you any less of an expert – on the contrary, it shows your customers that you are actively staying current in your area of expertise.  And they will still be looking to you for excellent advice.  After all, it’s you they are building the relationship with!

Each time you post, use this simple question as a guide: “What am I telling the world about myself and my business?” If you can answer it with some simple, positive statement, go ahead and post it.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

3Rs of Social Media #2: be Respectful!

Posted on January 16, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

When I first decided that I was going to get serious in mastering the tools and tricks of social media, I took the advice of a real expert, Nancy Marmolejo, and joined up two applications: Twitter and Facebook.  This was an important move for productivity (now I can post once and appear multiple times), but as it turns out, it was even more important for another reason.

You see, I’ve had my Facebook account for a year and a half, and have gathered friends – real friends – from just about every period and every aspect of my life.  Do I want to risk alienating my real-life friends by yammering on about my business with every status update?  I don’t think so!  Turns out that my Twitter friends are no different.  Of course I can talk about my work, just as I would in real life.  And if I’m excited about a turn of events or something new I’m trying out, I’ll post it on Twitter (and by extension, myFacebook status).  But if I’m making my post all about me me me, and what I have to sell… my friends devolve into my customers, and my customers never become friends. 

No thank you.

It is possible, though, to post about what I’m up to in my business if it’s just one ingredient in a thoughtful, respectful and positive stream of tweets/status updates.  The other ingredients include actually being interested in what other people are saying, responding to the posts of others, passing on great information… but more about this in my next post, which is on being Reciprocal.

Oh, and guess what?  The 3Rs have now become the 4Rs because when I planned the outline for this series, I actually hadn’t factored today’s post in.  It just flew out of my head and onto the screen.  Call it the wonder of blogs…

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

The 3 Rs of Social Media #1: Relationships

Posted on January 13, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , |

Creating a successful presence on the Web involves looking at your posts from three different perspectives.  If you master the “3 Rs” as I lay them out here, you’ll build your Web following and your business.

The first R is for Relationships.  As in, building them online.  It’s an old adage that people do business with people that they know, like and trust… building relationships is all about that.  Offline, you have to build relationships one at a time, or perhaps pay for advertising or have some excellent PR strategy to get the word out to a wider audience.  With social media, you can really extend your reach.

Twitter, my online social medium of choice, as been compared to a very big meet and greet.  At traditional face-to-face gatherings, even in a room of 200, you can only talk to a couple of people at a time, unless you are the guest speaker.  Your voice won’t carry further, and you can only carry so many business cards.  With social media applications such as Twitter, the playing field is leveled.  Everyone can hear everyone else in the room.  It’s important, therefore, to secure your advantage by being a great relationship builder.

Let’s go back to those relationship-forming conditions – where people know, like, and trust you.  Looking at the “know” factor, how can others get to know you from your Facebook status or from your tweets?  It’s key to show your true self.  Let others know about your interests, your community activities, your committments, your family – even how you cope with the weather at your place can help people know more about the kind of person you are. 

From knowledge, others can determine whether or not they like you.  You can make that likeability factor a lot easier by putting forth a positive online personality.  140 characters or less is usually not enough to show off your witty sarcasm.  Unless you are Oscar Wilde, it probably won’t come across very well.  Instead, be positive.  Offer answers where people have questions.  Congratulate others on their victories and commiserate with their setbacks.  It’s here, in the “likeability” section, where givers really gain.

Finally, there’s the “trust” quotient.  This builds on the first two factors, and is a good reason why it’s important to build up personal rapport before you start cajoling people to buy your stuff.  Facebook friends, Twitter pals, even LinkedIn connections want to see that you are a person of integrity before they deal with you on anything more than a surface level.  Let the trust build up over time, just as you would if you were the new kid at the playground.  Because in fact, the rules online are very similar to the rules we all learned at school, even if the pace seems faster for being online.

Tomorrow, the second R – relevance!

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )

Does This Mean I’m An Expert?

Posted on December 23, 2008. Filed under: Make a Word Department, Where Work meets Life | Tags: , , , , , |

If you are one of the select group of people who has been following the postings on my blog since it started it just a few weeks ago, you’ve probably noticed that I just changed its name!  Frankly, since the blog domain matches my business, it makes sense that the blogging topic matches my business too.  Call it a branding decision, because I am absolutely going to continue Out of the Fog in another spot here at WordPress.  The only reason I’ve been neglecting my baby blog the past couple of weeks is because I’ve thrown myself into the deep end of the social networking pool!  Suddenly, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are gobbling all my screen time, just while I get profiles set up.

Maven – An Expert by Another Name!

My expertise lies in finding just the right words to fit a given messaging situation.  One of my clients calls me the “Make a Word Department” – and that suits me just fine!  I love playing with words and phrases in order to make magic happen. Whether it’s a compelling sales letter, a “difficult” letter or even a new product name, that “BINGO” feeling when I hit on the right combination is what makes me an expert.

But right now, since it’s 2 days before Christmas and I’m working from home, I’ve got to go be an expert at baking savoury pastries.  Glad to he here, integrating WordSpring Writing and Marketing more fully into this blog.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Fun with Web 2.0!

Posted on December 10, 2008. Filed under: People to Follow | Tags: , , , , |

Taking a wee break from Napoleon Hill – I’ll do my best to write the next post tomorrow, though I’ve got a Christmas potluck to go to as well.

Since starting this blog a couple of weeks ago, dusting off my Facebook profile, and getting started on Twitter, things have really started to come together for me online.  I have to credit a few online mentors for getting me started down this path.  First is Lorrie Morgan Ferrero, of Red Hot Copy.  She did a lot of work on marketing to women, particularly social networking, and put it into what looks like a fantastic seminar called the She Factor.  I hope she puts it on again – I’ll find some way to get down to California and take part next time, instead of just listening to the preview teleseminars.  Second is a guest of Lorrie on one of those fabulous teleseminars, Nancy Marmolejo, whose company is Viva Visibility.  Nancy really is a social networking diva, and she lays out very clearly how you can multi-task, and look like you are 10 places at once on the web, and have all your social networking tools singing in harmony.   I want to be just like her – spending my time making life easier for other people around the world, while still being home when my kids get back from school. 

Third, another great woman that I “met” through Lorrie M-F (didja know you were so influential, Lorrie??) is Melani Ward, writer, coach and seriously wonderful person.  If you are interested in reframing your story and making it work to build the life you want, and you aren’t afraid of being honest with yourself  and open to spirituality, she’s a great teacher.

Finally, I spend a few minutes each morning with Bob Proctor and his terrific video-based coaching program, Six Minutes to Success.  Combined with my daily run, it’s a perfect way for me to get into focus.  I recommend it for everyone who wants to do more with the talents they’ve been given – especially if they have a lot of talent and need to overcome ADD-type symptoms!

Disclosure – Lorrie, Nancy and Melani didn’t pay me to say any of this – I just think they are doing what they oughtta be, and want to pass the kudos!   And while I have an affiliate link to Bob Proctor’s Six Minutes to Success Program, I would recommend it from the very bottom of my heart, even if I never made a penny off it. 

Who are your favourite online mentors and Web 2.0 buddies?  Leave me a comment and let me know…

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...