LinkedIn Live

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Don’t miss out on the first LinkedIn Live Event next Wednesday at The Neighbor’s Place from 5 to 8 PM. This will be a fun and unique way to connect with other LinkedIn users in Region 2000. LinkedIn Live events have been held across the country in major metros as a way to connect people (face-to-face) who use (or will use) LinkedIn. The price includes heavy hors d’ oeuvres and beverages. A cash bar will also be available. Live music at 8 PM. Pre-register online and pay $10 (until September 20th)  or pay at the door for $15. Expand your network and meet with other area tech professionals.Thanks to the Region 2000 Technology Council for hosting this event for Central and Southwest Virginia.I will be there.  Will you?

Expecting the Best: Online and Offline

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I believe that for the most part, we all expect the good in others. Whether we meet someone in real life (IRL) or in a virtual environment; we expect them to be honest, forthright and professional. We expect these actions without thinking about them; it’s just what we expect. We expect trust, doing the right thing and not hurting the other person.Unfortunately this is not always the case with our relationships. People hurt us, take advantage of us, do hurtful things; it is a sad fact of life, that in some ways, is becoming more common place.IRL when someone treats us this way, we have choices: confront the person, turn and walk away, or do nothing but maybe distance ourselves from that person. What have you done in these situations?Today, more business and personal relationships start online or in a virtual environment. I believe the same rules and thought processes take place with these relationships: we expect the best out of those we meet online. We believe what we are told, we develop a friendship, a relationship or seek out opportunities to work with these individuals. At times though, these relationships are revealed to be less than wholesome, meaning the other person has mislead us, lied to us, or they have been using our expertise and business relationships for their own gain. We must ask ourselves the same question though; how do we handle it? Do we confront the person online? Do we call them out? What have you done or what would you do?I know friends that have been hurt through virtual relationships. This is as unfortunate as being hurt IRL because it is life. True these relationships are virtual in as much as we do not see these people face-to-face, but we are humans being hurt by other humans. How do we correct this? How do we deal with it when others treat us this way?  My thoughts:  call them out.  What do you say?The virtual environment, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. is a little like the Wild West. While you will find plenty of material written about the right and wrong way to conduct yourself; there are no rules. People are free to do what they want. Is this good or is this bad?  How can you make a pinky promise in a virtual relationship?I believe in people and trust others until they give me a reason not to. I am far from perfect and have made my own mistakes in relationships, friendships and in business. However, I do believe most people we meet, IRL or online are honest and trustworthy.What do you think?

It’s Okay to Say No

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I believe as humans, it is our natural inclination to say yes, to want to help others. I also believe that we can overwhelm ourselves or overload our schedules by saying yes too often.My personalty is the type that is driven to succeed, but at the same time has a hard time saying no to people. Why?  I want to help others, I see it as a challenge and to a certain extent because I don’t want to disappoint others.Like most professionals, I receive requests for help or assistance in certain areas; things that I may have more knowledge of , and typically I will try to help when appropriate.  But this does not mean that every request that can be or should be honored nor does it mean that the assistance should be free.As a consultant in marketing, social media and business development, my time is what I have to charge for.  I do not sell a product like a widget, I sell my knowledge and my time.  This does not mean that I won’t enjoy a cup of coffee with you or lunch and won’t discuss business.  It does mean that once the discussion is about my areas of consultation, we will discuss rates.It is also okay to say no to requests for recommendations. Do you use LinkedIn?  If not, cruise on over and sign up; build your network and connections sensibly and ask for recommendations from former co-workers, colleagues and friends.  A word of caution; if you have not talked to someone or had any communications or connections with them recently, it’s not a good idea to ask for a recommendation.  This recently happened to me; the person that asked for the recommendation is a fine person, but they have not spoken to me in years.  I have no recent basis of how to recommend this person.I think it’s okay to say no. What do you think and how do you politely say no?

How Do You See The World?

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One of the reasons I love visiting Walt Disney World is to see the looks on children’s faces when they see everything before them!  Cinderella’s Castle, Mickey Mouse, thrill rides and their favorite characters right before their eyes!  The eyes wide open, jaw dropped look is priceless!  This is how children approach most days, with wonder, amazement and excited to see what will happen!My question to you is this: How Do You See The World?  Think about it; each and every day we are given has this same amazement and wonder to us as adults….if we only adjust our thinking to see what is before us.  Amazing friends, new connections, opportunities to help others; these are just basic examples of what is in  front of us each day! Business opportunities are in front of us at every step, every single day; but only if we open our eyes to see what is in front of us!How Do You See The World?Unfortunately, as adults too many of us see the world and each day as a chore….we must get up, we must go to work, we must meet quota, we must do this and do that!  Wake up!  Each day is a gift given to you and you are NOT guaranteed tomorrow!  Greet each day as a child does entering Walt Disney World:  ready to see it all, do it all and experience it all!How Do You See The World?

Take a Chance

What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail? -Robert SchullerI love this quote by Robert Schuller.  What would each of us attempt if we knew we could not fail?  My guess is, we would attempt a lot more than we do now. I believe we can get too wrapped up in the planning and pursuit of  perfection instead of taking chances.  Building and supporting our community is vitally important.  Having a strategy or plan for your business, for marketing and social media is important.  Taking chances are equally important.So what chances could you be taking right now?  Dive in and try something. Reach out and help a friend; contact someone that you haven’t spoken to lately due to a disagreement.  Try something new.  Take a chance….today!What chance will you take?

Monday Mornings

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A wise man once said, ” If you stay in the shower for a long time on Monday because you don’t look forward to going to work…. find a new job.”  I am paraphrasing a little with that statement, but to the best of my memory, I first heard that listening to a Zig Ziglar motivational tape!  The thing about that statement is….it is true! We are blessed with a limited number of days on this planet, and if you spend that much time wishing you were somewhere else, then you need to take whatever steps necessary to make it happen.  Go back to school, learn online, ask the experts, listen to how others are doing what it is that you want to do; do whatever it takes to make this happen. Start networking, start connecting and finding the resources it takes to help you do this.Employers, you have a responsibility here too!  Talk to your employees and really LISTEN to what they are saying!  Employers say  their greatest assets are their employees; start listening to what they have to tell you.  They may have knowledge that can improve your business and their work!Embrace Monday’s and another week full of opportunities, or change what is going on in your life so that you can!

Customer Service: The Right Way & The Wrong Way

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If you know me at all, you know that I am a full supporter of the Apple brand and owner of multiple products bearing their logo. Why?  It just works.  I purchased the original iPhone the day it was released and anxiously awaited the release of the iPhone 4. Due to my original 2g phone dying Memorial Day weekend, I was unable to pre-order the new phone; resigning myself to waiting in line on June 29th; the day AT&T had phones available for retail purchase.Showing up at my local store around 7:00 am, I was greeted by a line of other iPhone enthusiasts…stretching around the side and back of the store. As the store opened and the line slowly crept forward, we were greeted and kept up to date on what to expect by Tom, an AT&T store employee.  Tom supplied answers to our questions as well as water for the mostly patient, soon to be iPhone 4 owners.  He even managed to provide one customer with a bagel because she was so hungry.  Tom told everyone he was not a usual staff member at this store, he was just a floater; someone that worked where needed.  This man could write a book on customer service.  If someone had a specific question; he asked their name; went inside to find the answer, if he did not know it himself; and then would return with the information.  It was a pleasure to watch someone excel at customer service.  The entire staff at the AT&T store performed very well during a busy and challenging day.The AT&T and Apple experience was an example of customer service done the right way.  What follows is an unfortunate example of the exact opposite; customer service done the wrong way.In addition to my consulting business, I work as Marketing Director for Consolidated Construction Services.  In this roll, I work to educate the public on what Consolidated does as well as manage all marketing efforts including their online presence.  One of my goals is to make sure that Consolidated is getting the best return on the money they spend on marketing efforts; including their website.To that regard, we made the decision to move hosting of their website to a new company.  I know the owner of the hosting company and have a deep comfort level with their abilities and organization.  If you wish to check them out, need hosting or design services contact them: Next Generation Designs.I notified the former hosting company during a phone call on June 29th; due to several reasons, we had not made the decision on moving the hosting until the end of June. Our hosting was up for renewal on July 1st and I committed to Bill Norton, the owner of The LakeNet and ComNet Web Solutions that, due to the late notice, we would pay for an additional thirty to sixty days of hosting and that this could serve as our notice of not renewing our contract.  That did not go over well with Mr. Norton; he stated that we had to pay for another year of hosting…..although we were moving our site and email to a new hosting company!  Within fifteen minutes of our phone call, he suspended our website and email accounts; ignored our phone calls and was completely unresponsive….although we still had time left on our hosting contract!!  After  a couple of hours, he restored the site and email account access so that Next Generation Designs could move it to their servers.  He then fired off an illiterate email to me and blind copied the owner of Consolidated on the email.  The owner’s response?  “I want the entire world to know how unprofessional he is.”I have not included links to Mr. Norton’s company on purpose because I am not going to promote this person or this type of behavior.  Maybe he was upset because we didn’t purchase the $18,000 blog and advertising package he pitched to us. You read that correctly….an $18,000 package.Customer service is not hard; if a company the size of AT&T can provide exceptional service with the launch of the largest product in Apple’s history, a local hosting company could at least strive to provide decent service.That is what I say; what say you?

LinkedIn at a Trade-Show or Expo?

Most small to medium businesses, along with entrepreneurs attend trade shows.  Consider the following statistics:Trade Show Statistics – Benefits of Attending Shows Very often trade shows are billed as the ultimate “Business to Business” sales mechanism, without any supporting data. If you are wondering exactly how valuable investing in a trade show is, here are a few recent statistics and facts:Trade Shows cost 38% less than Sales Calls.85% of an exhibitor’s success lies in the performance of the “staff”.91% of attendees say they get the most useful buying info from trade shows and events.81% testify that trade shows help attendees become aware of new products and services.53% of exhibit managers say it’s “difficult, or very difficult”, to keep effective booth staffers.79% of the attendees say that attending trade shows helps them decide what products to buy.Trade Show visitors will tell 6+ people about their experience.91% of attendees say trade shows impact their buying decisions because the competition is in one place, allowing for comparison shopping in real time.83% of attendees have some kind of buying power.My question to you is this:  with the benefits of trade shows  as outlined above, do you make the most of this tremendous opportunity to connect via LinkedIn?LinkedIn at a Trade-Show?  Of course!!!

How would this work?  Ask those you meet if they use LinkedInWhen you meet someone that you would like to maintain a professional connection with,  such as attendees at a trade show or expo, ask them if they are using LinkedIn; if they are, ask if they would welcome a connection request. This is generally a good question after trading business cards!  If they do not use LinkedIn, ask them if you can send them a request; you may open their eyes to what LinkedIn offers to today’s professional.  Be sure to ask for their email address so that you can send them the invitation; then be sure to  follow up after the event and send the invitation.

It’s that simple.  You never know, the connection could lead to business or a professional relationship for career development or growth!

How do YOU use LinkedIn?

Statics Source: Merchant Circle

Roanoke 4Square Day

Join us TODAY for the Roanoke 4Square Day!  This is a great way to promote Roanoke and a local business while networking and relaxing!

What is it??  Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to “check in” on National Foursquare Day at the same location as 50+ other people.The date?Friday, April 16, 2010The location?Fork In The City at 6th and Marshall – http://www.forkinthecity.com/The time?5p-7pAnd the rewards?Drink Specials… They’ve created a drink, the “swarm” just for us…Food Specials… check in and receive 20% off your food purchaseSomething special for the Mayor of Fork In the City… a free appetizer!and?The opportunity to win the coveted “swarm” badge.oh and bragging rights, since there’s now a swarm challenge between Richmond and Roanoke… so let’s bring it…We’ll see you there!(Not sure about foursquare? Come anyway! We’ll be there to help you get set up, talk to you about it and answer any questions that we can!)

More Info: http://www.roanoketweetup.com/…

How Will You Improve Your Business in 2010?

We have all made New Year’s resolutions and have set goals for ourselves as we head into each new year.  Most resolutions are forgotten before we complete the first month of the year, but goals, if properly documented, planned for and worked, are more powerful and harder to let go.I have read a lot during the holiday break; especially posts/articles about goals and plans for 2010.  I ask you; how will you improve your business in 2010?If you want a good read on how Scot Duke (@MrBusinessGolf) plans to improve his business in 2010, check out his latest post, 5 Things I am Doing for My Business in 2010 at ScotDuke.com.If you want a different way of thinking and planning for the year, ready Chris Brogans post (@ChrisBrogan) on My 3 Words for 2010 at ChrisBrogan.comLooking to hit the reset button on your life? Check out my friend Staci Shelton’s post (@stacijshelton) 5 Steps to ReBoot Your Life at StaciJShelton.comThese three are just a sampling of good reads on how to plan for 2010 for your life and your business; but what say you?  How will you improve your business in 2010?Stay tuned, I will post my plan in the coming days!