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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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When I reference Groundhog Day, I can’t help but think of that hysterical 1993 movie starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. If you have never seen it (although I would question where you’ve been!), Bill Murray’s character experiences the same Groundhog Day over and over again. Each time the day starts again, he adjusts based on what he knows will happen so he can get it “just right”.

This movie has me reflecting on two lessons I have learned over the years that look a lot like this Bill Murray’s character’s experience:

  • My days of living the Groundhog Day life in my career and business are over. I learned early on in corporate to save everything- every file, every document and every email trail- because invariably the senior leadership team would reposition an old project or initiative as a brand new, enterprise-wide opportunity in which I could be put in charge. Common practice was to pull out those saved files, relabel them and start over again. It got so bad in 2002 that I bought my entire team a copy of the movie! (VHS of course) Today as an entrepreneur everything is new -every day. No reusing ideas for me. It is all fresh and exciting. No more slapping another name or spin on an initiative and calling it new! Phew– However, I am free to reuse those fabulous corporate ideas at my corporate clients all day long!
  • The Universe will continue to put similar people, situations and opportunities in my path until I learn the lesson I am here to learn. And it is often equal parts frustrating and hysterical.  Like the movie Groundhog Day, I just keep coming back to the scenario over and over again, adjusted a bit each time, until I make the major shift. The most recent lessons have been painful and tear-filled but the “other side” is looks like days of endless rainbows compared to the ways I was living tied to those toxic people, places and things.

Where is that happening in your life?

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networkingA secret dream come true.

I never told anyone how much I really wanted to be featured in my alma mater’s quarterly magazine… I think I have dreamed of this since graduating from Wellesley 23 years ago. And this fall it happened! All surrounding one of my very favorite topics: NETWORKING

 

Take a look at three quick Networking No-Nos I warn you about. (check out pg 31)

Hint: Think Throwing Up, Baby Showers, Small Talk and Restroom lines…

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I have always been a planner. Since I was a little girl.

While many little girls were playing Barbie and house, my imagination role-play games included organizing neighborhood children to put on a variety show. And when there were no other kids around, my poor sister had to endure my choreography and director’s wrath so we could get the show “just right” (think Cher’s Half Breed album 1973).

But in those years before my sister was old enough to participate, I would play school by myself being both the teacher and the student (aren’t I talented?) including lesson plans, fake library cards, sticker charts, homework and bulletin boards.  As I got older I transitioned to interior designer (complete with my own sketches for rearranging Mom’s living room furniture) and cruise director with a clipboard (okay- really- wouldn’t I make a great Julie McCoy?)

 

I have notebooks full of charts, graphs and calendars. Days to learn the songs, dances and lines for the musical. Days until college applications were due. Study schedules. Weight loss charts. Graphs depicting my savings to be used to get my ears pierced at the mall. By the time I got to college, I was in full-blown planning mode with wall charts and everything!

The advantages to my predilection for planning is that I moved from organized high school class president to college senior class president to corporate management trainee to corporate executive using this skill to excel. It was always in my back pocket to make sense of the chaos. It was and still is a leadership tool in my toolbox.

I leveraged this same skill to transition to entrepreneurial life helping clients create calendars and plans to support their businesses, lives, marketing programs, etc.  Do what you love, right? Do what comes easy. Plus it makes me happy because my plans are pretty. They are created with post-it notes and sharpies.

However, I have also come to see that I use this planning tool as a way to calm myself down. If I am anxious about something in my personal or professional life, I go right to the calendar.  Sometimes just to look at it. It beings me comfort. It is a guaranteed return. When things are uncertain, the calendar seems certain to me. I can plan something and write it down. Plus mine is pretty with all those colors (both the paper and electronic versions).

This is just a little insight into me. A little writing to perhaps get you thinking about what skills or characteristics you have brought with you from childhood that have helped YOU to excel in adulthood. They are probably right at your fingertips.

 

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Are you reading this blog post because you are procrastinating?

Oh procrastinating business owner, does your “to-do” list include things such as:

  • Sign more clients (umm… yeah!)
  • Identify places to speak (if they could just hear my message…)
  • Find prospects (where are they hiding?)

Do you look at your calendar and realize that you have no meetings with key influencers or collaborators or … yikes… potential clients/customers? Is that why you are procrastinating today?

There is simple connection tip that works to solve this dilemma every time.

Get out from behind your computer and go meet someone face to face.

I’m not kidding.

Not a phone call. Go outside and meet them.

Don’t get me wrong, there are so many amazing connections made every day via telephone but there is something extra special about sitting across from another person. Challenge yourself to put one- just one- face to face meeting on your calendar for this week. Show up engaged and asking for referrals, collaborators and ideas.

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Pick a number. Write it down.

It is just that simple.

I use a post-it note.

You can use your planner, your Google calendar or a good old-fashioned to-do list.

Each week, pick a number of connections you intend to make.

Who should you choose?

  • Did you like a blog post you read?
  • Is there a former co-worker that you can’t get out of your mind?
  • Was there a comment on a discussion thread that interested you?
  • Did someone on Facebook peak your interest?
  • Do you have a stack of business cards in your desk drawer? (okay- I know you do!)
  • Does someone have a business similar to yours and you are thinking she might make a great collaborator?

Identify your 2 or 5 or 10 people and reach out.

You can connect with them on social media. Send them a personal message via email. Or here’s a crazy idea- actually pick up the phone and call them! So many options.

Start connecting! Isn’t this what business is all about?

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It is that time of year when we all create goals and resolutions.

Starting fresh in the New Year with all the promise and hope of a clean slate.

For me, I abandoned making resolutions 16 years ago.

As many of you know, I believe whole-heartedly in the power of starting the day over again. At any point.  So resolutions have always set me up for failure because, well, you can probably imagine that I ALWAYS broke them early on in the year and then cast them aside or talked myself out of wanting the result.

Goals are different. Goals for me are about incremental change with the possibility for remarkable surprises. They are about looking to the future and putting the mini-plan in place to support each of those goals. Looking for opportunities to move closer to the goal in giant leaps facilitated by those incremental plans.

In my world, there are three absolutes for goals.

  • They span all parts of my life: personal and professional. EXPAND!
  • They are BIG dreams! They are scary and vulnerable! I utter the secrets that have been carried around inside me.
  • They are specific. Through specificity comes the magic!

Have you taken the time to write down your 2012 goals?

Honestly. Do you have the goals written down? Are they in a place where you can see them each and every day? Living with my goals has become a tremendous inspiration to me.  They are hanging on bright pink oversized post-it notes right over my desk

Now look at the annual goals.

  • Do they span multiple areas of your personal and professional life?
  • Are they big? Are they audacious? Do they make you think, “After I stand in disbelief, if this really comes to fruition I will be dancing/crying/high-fiving in my living room?”
  • Are they very specific? Not sure- then my guess is that they are not. Specificity allows you to feel the relief of knowing if you are moving forward. Specificity allows the magic in between your actions to happen. Specificity gives you a litmus test as you whether a particular decision moves you closer or further away from that goal.

Take some much deserved time to dream and plan for 2012 during this holiday season. Happy New Year!

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