Social Media & Online Networking – Part 1

As we head into the new year, most of us make resolutions or set goals for the new year, or at least we should.

I would encourage you to approach your online presence or networking and your social media plan the same way; with goals in mind.If you have not started your social media/online networking plan for your business or if you have started and do not know what to do next, then this series is for you. Think of this series as Hors D’oeuvres of information so that you can get started; then we can work privately or one on one to provide you with the rest of the menu!The first place to start is to search for yourself. Yes, you should check your name on Google, Yahoo, MSN, Ask.com and other search engines. Use your full name, your location, even common misspellings of your name. You should then do the same thing with your business name or the business name you plan to use; search for them with the proper and even common misspellings of the name or names.Secondly you should Google keywords that you think consumers would use to find you or your competitors. The key to this is to think like your clients; do not search for the keywords that you use or the buzzwords of your industry, rather Google the keywords that a typical client would use if they didn’t know your name or your business.That is enough for now; get started on your plan for 2009 and subscribe to my blog. There will be more in the coming days and weeks to help you successfully use online and social tools to make 2009 the best year ever for your business!Let me know if you have any questions or comments!*Image from Beginner Triathlete

Dressing Professionally, New Economy Style

Through a recent conversation with a friend, we determined that too many people in business today DO NOT dress professionally.  In this new economy, we both agreed that you need to do something to set yourself apart from the competition.For anyone that is wondering, my references to the new economy refers to the continuing shift in our country from a industrial or manufacturing based economy to more of a service sector economy.  A large part of this shift, especially in recent years, includes online and social media,  including Twitter, Facebook, etc.Back to my original point of setting yourself apart or dressing professionally.  I have never been one to dress to impress; I believe it is better to dress to respect.  By dressing to respect, you are taking the first steps in developing credibility with your potential client.  You are respecting their position, authority and the their importance in the relationship that you are forming.Dressing professionally does not mean that if you are say, a web developer, or social media expert that you need to wear a suit and tie to a meeting, but it should mean that you will dress to respect your potential client and to make a good impression.  As we know, we are the sum of all of our parts; including blog postings, websites, social media outlets, the work that we do, and the first impressions that we make.  Chances are you will need to be flexible and alter your outfits based upon the audience.  Any salesperson worth their salt has carried more than one suit or outfit in their car so that they can change when necessary based upon the audience.Do I want my auto mechanic in a suit and tie? No, but I also do not want to work with a so called professional, that I am going to entrust with money to market my business, online or offline, in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt!Dressing professionally in the new economy is the same as marketing your business: determine the target audience and respond, or dress, appropriately.  A professional suit for women and a shirt and tie or suit for men will never go out of style and in some places, they are very much back in style.What is your style saying about you?

Guest Post – Business in the New Economy

This is a guest post by my friend Stuart Bain, check him out at  http://packetvision.net/The economy started tanking about a year ago, and the brunt of the downturn started a few months ago. I hear a lot of griping and complaining about this “new economy” and the impact. I hear it from the news, media outlets, and even people I know personally. Well, guess what… get over it. All of the media doom and gloom crap can be written off to sensationalism. Take, for example, the stock market. If you pulled out your money because it crashed, you’re an idiot. You’re buying high and selling low. Get your money back in the market, ride out the storm, and take advantage of next year’s rebound. History has shown that in the year or two following a crash, the market soars. Get back in now if you want to do what you’re supposed to do which is “buy low, sell high.”As far as business and the job market are concerned, if you’re worth half your salt, you’ll do fine despite the recent economic woes. If you’ve been skating along, riding on the coattails of others, and can’t adapt to change, chances are you are going to feel quite a negative impact. When you do feel it, please try to keep your negativity to yourself. If you find yourself in a hole, financial or otherwise, you have several options available to you:

  1. Do nothing. Stop everything to just sit there and pout. Complain about your situation long and hard. Wait for someone to wander along and take pity on you. Perhaps you’ll get a bailout from some benevolent government transfer payment program.
  2. Keep doing what you’re doing. Pretend nothing is wrong. Go on about your daily business and wither “on the vine” without taking into account any of the changes you need to make to sustain profitability and long term viability.
  3. Barrel forward. Pick up extra work. Find new ways to engage your employees. Heck, go dig ditches if you have to. Make it happen. Become the positive change you and others need to weather the storm. Create opportunity and wealth. Emerge victorious. Be the hero. Lead your tribe.

The “end of the world as we know it!” (props to R.E.M.) zealots paint current economic woes as permanent and ignore the fact that this isn’t the first time this has happened. Recessions, depressions, and other negative economic downturns happen regularly. I think one of the keys to surviving them is get out of them quickly, and that won’t happen if you sit idly by and watch. Pick a direction, set a course, and start rowing. The longer you sit and whine about it, the quicker you’ll go absolutely nowhere.As for the U.S. auto industry and the sweeping economic impact it will have if it fails? I think the failure of the U.S. auto industry has been coming for quite some time. Paying union workers to sit in a room and watch TV, read books, and play cards all day is NOT a way to run a business. Right now you’re at option 1 in hopes of being able to do option 2. Screw that. Go with option 3. You should have told the UAW to shove it a long time ago (hey Atlas… time to shrug). Declare bankruptcy now and unload the UAW burden. Your business model needs to be restructured to be competitive and there’s no time like the present to actually get it done. The re-organization under bankruptcy protection is just a means of making that happen with or without the loans from Uncle Sam.

DVDs4VETs – Please Help

In this season, we are asked to give to several groups, organizations and charities. I would encourage you to read about DVDs4VETs and do what you can to help this worthwhile cause.  Let’s use the power of social media to spread the word!Their mission is to provide veterans who for any reasons cannot obtain DVDs on their own. The organization is not politically affiliated nor solicit or receive financial assistance. Donors help by giving new and used movies to Veterans, especially to those with limited access, in order to view the latest Hollywood releases.Portable DVD players are greatly appreciated.What follows is the background on how DVDs4VETs got started and links to their site. This information comes from their website and will provide you with an overview of their organization.The idea to start DVDs4VETs came about on Veteran’s Day, 2006. With increasing reports of severely wounded soldiers returning home from Iraq, many of them, due to physical hardships were unable to easily obtain some of the basic entertainment most civilians take for granted.When it became known many of our returning Vets had suffered Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) and other serious wounds which required long term rehabilitation, Dr. Richard Landis of Westport, CT wanted to help any way he could. Having returned from a two week visit to Afghanistan where along with a group of surgeons, Dr. Landis helped organize a remote hospital and rehabilitation center for wounded civilians.During a social event over the Christmas Holiday, he met Frank Nicholson of Greenwich, CT who upon hearing of the visit to Afghanistan, suggested putting together another project that would allow our returning Vets to receive donated DVDs while in rehabilitation.Once having Dr. Landis interested, Frank then turned to friends and those he served with during the Korean conflict and in a matter of days, brought together a group of dedicated people interested in participating. One of those contacted was Laurance Baschkin of Rye, NY. Having known Larry during fundraising for Greenwich Hospital, Frank learned of his recent assistance in sending DVDs to active duty personnel serving in Iraq. Larry not only offered to help, but provided office space at his family’s business as well. As a result, Larry agreed to become Executive Director of DVDs4Vets and his tremendous efforts have been graciously appreciated.Other long time friends contacted included Robert Bruder, who donated the use of one of his warehouses located in Stamford, CT as a collection point. Before long, more than 20 individuals began pledging time and financial help to launch DVDs4Vets.As the project has grown substantially, we have added two volunteer positions, including Scott Bowers of Mamaroneck, NY who provides Media Relations and Emily Meyer who coordinates donation deliveries.Thank you for helping out!

Let’s help the Roanoke City Libraries!

Let’s help the Roanoke City Libraries!We have an opportunity to help the Roanoke City Public Libraries. The friends of the City of Roanoke Public Libraries will gather Dec. 15 at the City Council meeting to celebrate and recognize the work and dedication of Councils past and present in support of the Library Master Plan. There have been many accomplishments during the past several years and they look forward to many more in the future.So, how can you help?1. Get the word out to as many people as you can about this gathering on Monday, Dec. 15 at 7PM at the Noel Taylor Municipal Building in Roanoke. Use your social media skills and tools to spread the word and invite everyone in your circles of friends. Blog it, Twitter it and text it!2. Personally attend the function. Bring a small book and a few friends with you. Use the tools in place to register that you will be attending. Here is the link to register on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=38521059063 and here is the link for those who are not on Facebook to register http://budurl.com/librarycelebration .Let’s fill the room, show our support of the local libraries and show the Roanoke Community just how powerful social media can be!

Tweet Later

Fresh from a story on our local CBS affiliate WDBJ 7 about Twitter, I thought I would do my part to promote both the story and a good method to be a more productive tweeter.If you are a new user to Twitter, this may be information overload, but it can still be useful information. Navigate over to Tweet Later and start reading.If you are a veteran Twitter user, I encourage you to sign up on Tweet Later and start using it! What can you do with Tweet Later? Here are just a few things that can make your Tweet experience more enjoyable and can save you time!

  • Automatically welcome and thank new followers
  • Schedule Tweets to be sent at a time when you are unavailable
  • You can define multiple Tweet accounts and then scan a summary of the @replies for all accounts
  • You can set up keywords for Tweet Later to look for and then review the information when you have time
  • You can have Tweet Later email you a digest of all of the @replies you have received
  • Change or configure Twitter settings

Twitter is and can be a powerful communication tool for businesses, bloggers and individuals that want to stay in touch with friends, followers and clients. Quite simply, Tweet Later makes it easier to do all of the things listed above and more!Here is the Twitter story on WDBJ 7 by Natasha Ryan. And here is a link to popular Twitter terms. I would also encourage you to follow Dewald Pretorius to learn more about Tweet Later.A couple of other professionals referenced in the story include Patsy Stewart with Optimized Strategies and Jeremy Hart with NRV Living.Happy and Productive Tweeting!