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Twitter- You either love it or hate it!

  • There are those who feel it is self-indulgent and useless when it comes to promoting your business or career.
  • There are those who find it fun, powerful, engaging, entertaining or just plan addicting.

Regardless of which category you fall into, I want to share a couple of quick stories themed “How Twitter can help you face-to-face network”. I want to share some of the powerful connections I have experienced using those pesky 140 characters.

Great Connection Moment #1

On a date at my favorite NYC restaurant in December,  I tweeted about the delicious meal I was having and the spectacular quality of the ingredients. That tweet aroused the interest of the owner who does his own tweeting (love that!). Over the following weeks, we talked back and forth on Twitter about my love of the restaurant (been going there for almost 20 years but never met him) and some funny exchanges: quality of the food vs. quality of the date (smile). Fun. Authentic. Hysterical at times. Told him I was headed in there for brunch on yet another date with a different person a few weeks later. I was greeted with a reserved table sans the hour-long wait, special attention and a fully comped meal. Business owners and food lovers alike take heed. Brand loyalty is rewarded! All starting with 140 characters!

Great Connection Moment #2

Headed to the Do It In Person Party during NY Entrepreneurial Week a few years ago after just starting my business, I was certain I knew absolutely no one at the party.  I was on my own, but I enjoy meeting people so I thought, “this will be fun!”

After getting a drink, I wandered over to a guy, Nick, who looked nice and was not speaking to anyone at the time. We struck up a conversation about technology since that is his passion. Soon another person joined us- a lovely female copywriter named Sara. The conversation soon took a turn to social media (big surprise since it is one of my favorite conversation topics) and lo and behold we discovered that both Nick and Sara learned about the party on Twitter. How Fun!

We vowed to keep in touch and sure enough, the three of us continued to tweet.  A few months later had a meeting of the minds at a funky downtown hotel one afternoon.  Sara has since moved to Denver but we all send a tweet out to each other every once and a while keeping each other in mind for referrals.

Great Connection Moment #3

Matthew, a friend and colleague of mine who used to live here in NYC hosted a virtual telesummit of fascinating speakers a while back. I spent much of my time during the interviews tweeting nuggets of wisdom and observations to pass on. I was not alone in this. Another person named Jared was doing the same. With each interview it became more and more fun for me to share the space with him. And from that point on, we followed each other on Twitter and shared a few thoughts from time to time.

Not long after the telesummit, Matthew and I were in Seattle at a weekend event at which I was speaking and he told me he was getting together with a new friend who had recently moved to Seattle. Cool. But even more interesting was that the two of them had struck up a friendship first on Twitter and then over the phone. This was the first time they were meeting. When he told me it was Jared I squealed with delight! Oh I wanted to meet him too! And I did- he is as smart, quirky and generous in person as he is on Twitter.

And there are so many more of these stories! Stories from sporting events, coffee shops, concerts, lines at stores, Amtrak train rides and the list goes on!

Twitter is just a tool. A tool that can absolutely be used to help you to build your networking circle and provides for fun and often off-beat face-to-face networking opportunities with people you may not have interacted with in any other way!  Don’t be afraid! Try it! All you have to lose is a few 140-character thoughts!

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It’s a story of Kermit and Connection.

This is the kind of story that reminds me WHY I do what I do! Why I help people, businesses and organizations to build their community on and off-line. Because this is the kind of story that just makes me smile to tell!

Last fall, I made a new friend. Brilliant Digital Media Consultant Stephanie Fierman who not only shares my love for social media and brand, but for the Muppets and Sesame Street! My cool new friend invited me to an exciting evening at the Director’s Guild in NYC to see the directors of Sesame Street speak on a panel. We had the best time- like two kids in a candy store! So, when she saw the video below hit the advertising insider track, she of course shared it with me. The Muppets™ was opening in the UK in early February- sponsored by Cravendale Milk.

I watched this video, squealed with delight and immediately thought, “I need one of those Kermit backpacks. Who do I know in the UK?”

The answer: My childhood love, George. Now, kind of a “UK Don Draper” if you ask me! (All the dashing and creative smarts without the infidelity!)

So here’s what happens on my quest for the backpack….

  • I tag George on Facebook. He asks his wife if their adorable daughter drinks this kind of milk and maybe they can get a backpack that way. No luck.
  • Have no fear. George (aka UK Don Draper) has ideas. We move from Facebook to Twitter and he uses his relationships and understanding of the industry to track down the advertising agency responsible for the advertisement.
  • Soon a tweet goes out to an agency friend of his inquiring about the backpack for a “stateside friend” who would love to get her hands on one of those. (that’s me!)
  • A few hours later, Neil from the prestigious global ad agency Wieden + Kennedy tweets me to send him my address.
  • We exchange a few really funny emails with no promises but he will “see what he can do”.
  • A few weeks later, an international package arrives with ….You guessed it…my very own Kermit backpack. It does not matter it is made for kids and barely fits me. He is fuzzy, green, happy and all mine. Kermie!

And thanks to Stephanie, George and Neil, Kermit arrived just in time to travel with me to The Muppet Movie (1979) sing-a-long at the NYC Museum of Moving Image in honor of the last weekend of Jim Henson’s Fantastic World exhibit.  The event was complete with adults (like me!) with all types of props singing along to this beloved movie and its characters. A magical afternoon. My Kermit backpack spent most of the show being squeezed and kissed by a 2-year old girl who sat in front of me. The connection circle continued.

The Power of Kermit and Connection= Happiness

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Wonderful opportunity to join a dynamic discussion with Ted Rubin, Kathryn Rose, Miriam Cohen and moderator Susan Newman on a topic near and dear to all of our hearts. This is a 25 minute sampling of the 45 minute panel presentation on Main Stage.

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Coffee Location:  At my desk as the sun comes up over Harlem

Today’s Beverage of Choice:  Espresso in my little white espresso cup

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Friday night, my friend Lena West brought me as her “plus one” to the NYC premiere of a highly acclaimed documentary. How will I ever thank her enough? This experience was, well, life-shifting and perspective-shifting.

What I knew going into the event was that I adore Lena, private screenings with the opportunity to rub elbows with powerful women thrill me, the documentary’s theme was right up my alley, I adore a panel with the writer, director, producer and other key supporters and perspectives which was to follow the screening, and then add that to the special instructions that we were not to share this event or our thoughts on the topic with our social media communities until after the screening was all quite intriguing to this gal!

Leaving the event, I wanted to run through the streets of Manhattan gathering people to watch the film. I wanted to call every mother, father, aunt and grandparent in my life and have THEM watch the film. I wanted to own a copy immediately. I wanted to get this programming in every school in the country. And more than anything, I just wanted to go home and have a good cry.

Here’s a little information:

Miss Representation

http://www.missrepresentation.org

When the documentary Miss Representation premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, audiences were riveted and OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network acquired its broadcast rights.

The film explores how the media’s misrepresentation of women has led to the underrepresentation of women in positions of power and influence.

It will premiere in the US on Oct. 20th at 9pm ET on OWN. Set your DVRs.

Honestly, there is too much swirling around in my brain to really make sense of it all right now. I’ll watch this film again and again to clarify the language I want to use. To express the waves of feeling bubbling inside. This is what happens for me- and when I came to understand it I was so less critical of myself. When a topic or an experience affects me deep down in my core belief system, I get “stuck”. The words don’t come out. I lose my voice. Only tears come out.

When the screening was over, I looked at my new friend Lena and between the sobs and the hugs, I said “There are things you don’t know about me- that you could not have known- that were touched to the core with this movie. How will I ever thank you enough?”

For me, I need a plan [huge surprise- right?]

A plan to ensure that all this emotion does not stop with a weekend of thinking about the film and its impact and a few days on social media encouraging people to watch the nationwide premiere on Thursday. I NEED to carry this message for me, for my nieces, for all the children watching television, playing a video game, reading a tabloid site or getting dressed for school right now.

I am not sure yet how my plan will play out- but here are a few initial thoughts:

  1. Already signed the pledge on misrepresentation.org- take a look and see if it is something you are willing to sign! It states: “Together we are amplifying the voices of women and girls everywhere, motivating men and boys to stand up to sexism, and taking steps to shift our culture towards equality. Join the campaign today!”
  2. Find ways I can be involved in this movement. Give my time. Leverage my influence. Fundraise to get this message into schools using the curriculum they have created.
  3. Work locally with the sponsor organizations to carry this message.
  4. Reach out to Dr. Jean Kilbourne from Wellesley- prominently featured in the film and whom I could not find in the crowd after the screening.
  5. Share this individually with all the young men and women I have mentored over the years.
  6. Keep crying. Keep feeling. For me tears equal movement!

I encourage you to set your DVR to record the airing of this film on OWN on Thursday, October 20 at 9 ET. And I would love to hear your thoughts and further the dialogue together. Every hour I get more ideas and clarity around the issue. Together we can make such an impact.

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There are those moments in life that are etched in our brain.

Some thrilling. Some devastating. But always IMPOSSIBLE to forget.

Where were you when you heard the news? The situations to which I am referring might be life situations, natural disasters, highlights or lowlights of your life up to that point, critical thinking moments- but all that change your perspective on life in some remarkable way.

And of course, depending on your age, generation and life experiences, they vary.

Where were you when you heard the news that:

  • Kennedy had been shot
  • You were promoted to your dream job
  • The Challenger Shuttle exploded
  • The book that would change your life even existed
  • Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf
  • He asked you to marry him
  • Your favorite team won the Super Bowl
  • A plane hit the World Trade Center
  • Your family member was sick
  • You were pregnant
  • You won a prestigious award
  • Your book was being published
  • You landed your first client
  • The Berlin Wall came down

We ALL have impactful moments in our life. Many are the mainstream moments shared by so many and others are very personal and individualized, such as taking a local sculpting class and recognizing that you had a calling to be an artist.We are talking about those moments that send chills down your spine.

This weekend, I came face-to-face with one of mine.

Where I was when I first heard about Twitter!

Are you laughing? It’s okay. I know this is definitely not a mainstream moment that we are all sharing right now. But I will tell you that it changed the trajectory of my life forever!

If I followed all guideposts and generational understanding, I should not even like Twitter. But I have never followed “the rules” that way. I am a gal in her 40’s who used a typewriter to write college papers, who has a secretary who typed her marketing copy in her first job out of college, and who didn’t have email or databases readily available until she had been working 7 years in Corporate (and even then, I had just received approval to wear pants to work!)

Fast-forward a decade= I was a Recruiting Technology Thought Leader consulting on the use of technology and social media in the recruitment space as the head of Consulting for Monster.com

Completely unlikely given the statistics and my profile and yet, so many of those remarkable “heard the news” moments for me are about technology.  It is a calling for me. An interest I cannot explain. The use of technology and social media just fascinates me.

And I remember exactly where I was when I first heard about Twitter.

It was 2008 in a meeting with some Monster colleagues and our creative partners at the time, Jack Morton Worldwide. One of the young women who worked in their digital area was talking about having just run the Boston Marathon and sending updates along the race using Twitter. My ears perked up and I remember getting a little flushed and then very cold. YIKES- this is important stuff I thought. “My life is changing right now!” And the questions started pouring out of my mouth as fast as I could articulate them. I never looked back. I was hooked.

I went on to evangelize about the use of Twitter for recruitment purposes. But those recruiters can be slow adopters to technology. Thank goodness, my colleagues and friends at Monster were not! I had so much fun playing in that arena but I did not step into the true power of Twitter until I started my own business and was my own brand- not a tweeting minion of a corporate brand. But I will save all that for another blog post. There will be more! Suffice it to say that I will be forever grateful to that moment when I first heard about Twitter and ideas for its impact started flooding my consciousness.

Take a moment and think about what YOUR moments have been. Some mainstream, some very personal and some may be a little unique-even quirky!  Regardless of what they are, you can be 100% certain that they impact your business every day because they change the way you look at the world and your place in it.

Where were you when you heard the news?

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  • How much time are you spending each week promoting your business?
  • Does it feel uncomfortable for you to constantly be drawing attention to yourself and/or your business?
  • Are you running out of things to say and places where you can say them?

These three questions are a constant source of conversation with my clients. And like everything in my approach to business strategy, I want to keep it simple. When it comes to promotion, it’s all about the combination of ingredients in your business– like baking cupcakes!  You have some foundational work (the batter), some choices to make (size, special treats like chocolate chips) and the parts that have you grinning from ear to ear  (oh that’s the frosting!) and then sharing that excitement with those around you. Cupcakes are “Happy Food!”

Now how can we get that attitude transferred to your business in the area of promotion. Simple, fun and blended into your life and activities in a way that feels empowering – not like you are spinning around without a plan.

Promotion is Simply a Form of Self-Expression in Your Business!

And for most of you- You ARE your business- You ARE your brand– so the stakes are even higher or so it seems. From my perspective, this fact makes it even easier!

Take out that calendar- paper or electronic – and get ready. You need specific times set aside on your calendar for promotion- EVERY DAY. I am serious. This is not an activity that can be handled in fits and starts. Consistency is KEY here.

This does not mean that you engage in the same promotional approaches over and over again! Shake it up. Have fun! Promotion is FUN. This is your business!

If this whole idea scares you a little, GOOD! It should. You are taking it up a notch!

Write into your calendar EXACTLY what you will do each day. Blog post. Article creation. In my opinion, social media should be written in for a few minutes every day on your calendar. Newsletter. White paper. Commenting on people’s blogs. Calls to possible collaborators. Book speaking opportunities.

Uncomfortable drawing so much attention to yourself? Well, ultimately you will need to get over it. But for now, get some help. There are communications experts out there who will help you promote, write and share your thoughts with the world!

Your target audience needs you!

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Why do I have such a longing to be locked away somewhere- anywhere- a Starbucks, the airport, my house- really any makeshift office? As long as they have internet and coffee, I would be completely content. Even ecstatic!

It used to be funny. A funny line that I would use with corporate colleagues.

“My parents live in the black hole of technology”.

Funny, but true. They live in Upstate New York. In gorgeous apple orchard country. In a fabulous farmhouse nestled in a valley. At the top of the hills on either side of the house, homes have cable internet. But not in the valley. So for 9 long years since they bought the house, each time I have come home I have had sporatic cellphone/ blackberry/ iphone use and dial-up internet.  Running to CVS to use my wireless in the parking lot was not uncommon.

However, this Thanksgiving was the first time I had been home for an extended period of time as a business owner. Not a corporate executive trying to escape for a few days, but a business owner. I actually did not want to escape my business (such a wonderful feeling really!) But I had to escape because there was only dial-up internet connection (translation: 15 minutes to pull up each graphic heavy page and reading gmail in “basic” format).

I adore my family.

I relish the unplugged time.

But I love my computer, social media, email, and connection with friends, colleagues and clients via the internet.

I feel like I have been suffering from withdrawal and need my fix… I could barely get through the security line before I happily bought an Americano and plopped myself at the table here at Rochester Airport. My sister dropped me off 3 hours before my flight so she could get to work on time. No worries here. Just me and my free wifi… happily chugging along.

Feeling a little more like me by the minute.

And good news, people! They are getting hi-speed internet on Wednesday so it is the end of an era but a great self-reflection moment for me .

It is what it is. I am who I am.

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