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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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coal in my stocking

Bad Blogger.

Probably getting coal in my stocking.

One full, exciting and life-changing week in my business equals ZERO blogging.

But believe me, I was still out there looking for those holiday moments. But even those were a stretch. Therefore, vowing to get back in the groove for this last 12 days of my 25. And I will catch you up now on the past week’s activities.

Maybe it will spark an idea in your brain regarding how to bring a little holiday cheer into your life:

Day 7: I was working all day so I played Christmas music on Spotify all day. Singing along. Laughing at some of the funny old songs and really loving the instrumentals. What is your favorite holiday album? One of my top choices is Jewel’s 1999: Joy- A Holiday Collection

Day 8: It was a Saturday so I headed to Bayridge Brooklyn to meet a friend for a movie and lunch. Met him on the corner with all the Christmas trees and wreaths because why WOULDN’T I stand in that amazing fragrance while I waited?  Then after lunch we walked around the neighborhood as it started to get dark and looked at the decorations and the lights. Fun day.

Day 9: Spent the day getting my “life” and home together in preparation for my first day on Wall Street with my new client. Conclusion. Those holiday cards are simply not going to send themselves. I have basically already missed Hanukkah’s window.  The cards are going back into storage. Feels a little disappointing but terribly sane.

Day 10: Monday. First day at the new client site on Wall Street. Ummm… can we say Hanukkah extravaganza with delicious looking jelly donuts and black/white cookies on a big table right near my office? I partook a little tiny bit…I mean, it is Hanukkah and I was the new girl so….

Day 11: Coming down with a cold. Headed to that new client’s holiday party anyway. Planning to stay through the entertainment and head out at dessert (like any good wedding escape plan- works here as well) and then, I got stuck on the subway for 45 minutes.  So that took care of that. Just went home.

Day 12: Received my first Holiday cards complete with beautiful family pictures from my dear friend Ellen (and a pic of my adorable Goddaughter Emily) and one of my longest-standing friends (not oldest- we are NOT old) from Brownies and her beautiful family from their new home in Texas. Joy.

Day 13: That was yesterday. Made plans for next week to not work compulsively and instead head to mid-town to see the Rockefeller Tree and some of the windows. If I don’t make the plan, it just won’t happen.

Okay- this “bad blogger” is back on track! Happy Holiday Cheer! 

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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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I love my clients!

Let me say it again-I love my clients!

These business owners just astound me. Full of surprises. Full of ideas. They are idea-generating machines. In fact, I would never have put “idea generator” on my list of qualities of an ideal client, but I am seeing this common thread emerge.

  • They have more ideas than they can handle on any given day.
  • They are so passionate about the specialized, focused offerings they bring to the world.
  • Their enthusiasm is infectious.
  • They have hearts as “big as all outdoors” as my Gram would have proclaimed.
  • They often willingly have multiple business models germinating at the same time-they can’t help themselves.

Like I said, originally these characteristics did not show up in all the “target market/ideal client” work I did when starting this phase of my business. It has been a natural attraction of business owners for me, most likely because I can easily take complicated-often overwhelming-business issues and make them simple. Break them down into tasks and plans to be executed before you lose your mind. How’s that for marketing copy-“keep you from losing your mind!” So these brilliant business owners, with their complex businesses, have a place to think through their ideas and create an action strategy. This is my brilliance.

However, along the way, as it is with any amazing partnership, these men and women are teaching me too. They are illuminating for me how this high-impact, idea generation they all seem to practice really works best. So many of them get out of their own way. Yup-that’s the big secret. They get out of their own way. They shake it up. They try something new. They take a huge risk. They push the envelope.

In the past few months:

  • Two of them spent weeks in Italy-one to build her business and contacts (honestly her business requires it-how fabulous!), the other to take some much needed R&R after sending her youngest off to college .
  • One is traveling all over the U.S. in an RV and I get adorable emails entitled, “random thoughts from inside a bouncy RV.” While she travels, the press opportunities pour in for the business she is not even wrapping her brain around because she has moved on to another.
  • One is plowing through all her millions of speaking gigs and programs for her clients as set up for a remarkable December in Hawaii.
  • One goes to her ski/lake house and comes back with reams of writing and a new, bold business idea EVERY time. A business idea she promptly implements, doesn’t just talk about. I always brace myself for her return-smile.
  • One was recently filmed on a national television show (to be aired soon) as the makeover guest. Oh yes, in her spare time, she hung in the green room rubbing elbows with celebrities as they “glammed” her up and sent her strutting down the runway.

And this is only a sampling. These business owners inspire me and encourage me to do more, be more and take that NECESSARY time off for idea generation. Put this in the category of gratitude. Like I said, these qualities did not originally show up on the “ideal client” list, but these business owners ARE ideal. Another example that we get what we need when we need it!

What is surprisingly obvious and delightful in your life or business?

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Trust me when I tell you- I LOVE to work from my home. When the role of the remote workforce gained widespread popularity a few years ago, I was thrilled to be employed by a progressive corporation that allowed the flexibility of working from home much of the time that I wasn’t on the road with clients.  This was the smartest thing a corporation could do with an overachieving, workaholic like me. Give me an office that is as quick to commute to as rolling out of bed and making coffee- brilliant!  The work often began before 7 am and ended when the lights went out and I went to bed.  Most days I did this all in my sweats and a t-shirt.  And shhhh…..many days I worked from my pajamas and took a shower between conference calls in late afternoon.

Although I was on endless conference calls and sent hundreds of emails and instant messages a day, it did not replace the camaraderie of an office life with cubicle laughter, constant interruptions and coffee breaks. This is mainly because of the value actual face-to-face interaction with coworkers brought to the day.

Fast forward to my new life as an entrepreneur. Again, I find myself joyfully working from home. I have a tremendous amount of flexibility to design my day in ways that motivate and inspire me. Although my days are usually much more balanced with writing, client calls and creative projects than they were when I had my corporate role, you guessed it- I am still doing it all in my sweats most days. Alright, I have upgraded to yoga pants but that is really not that much different (smile)

Because I have a business to build and a network to grow, I must reach out to people and make new connections and renew faded ones. I am certain that is true for you as well.  Regardless of whether you are searching for a new job, working from an office, spending your day in a gallery or running your business, you need to make connections as well.

So what is your plan? What is your strategy? How do you ensure that you are talking to new people, adding people to your circle and renewing those relationships from the past?  What! You don’t have a plan?

Here are a few quick ideas you can put in place to bolster your connections each week:

  • Schedule time in your calendar for connecting. You can start with 30 minutes or an hour a week. This is time you are putting aside to send emails, call people, reach out  on professional networking sites, etc.
  • Now block that time and make it sacred. No rationalization here. No “better offers”. Make the decision that you will commit to this weekly activity.
  • Make one connection call a week and keep calling until you talk to someone (no voice mail messages!) If you adopted this simple suggestion, you will have had 52 conversations with new and renewed connections this year. If I told you to make 52 calls to people that would probably seem a bit overwhelming, but one a week is somehow much more manageable, right?
  • CHALLENGE: Want to step it up a notch?  Meet one person a week face-to-face. Simple meetings. Invite a colleague to lunch. Have a cup of coffee with an acquaintance. Join a local networking group. Sign up for class- any kind of class. Attend a lecture and talk to someone sitting next to you.

Really, this does not need to be difficult. This does not require a new “to do” list and color-coded pens! (You know who you are!) But I can feel you resisting. I can hear you saying, “Bryn, talking to people on Facebook or sending an email really works for me” or “Bryn, a phone call is really effective and I don’t have to get dressed and go out to meet people. I lose so much productive time”.

I am going to let you in on a little secret:

To have a strong and effective network, you have to meet people the old-fashioned way. There is no replacement for a face-to-face conversation and exchange of ideas. It is so appealing on a cold day to just stay home and skip that networking event. It is so easy to rationalize that you do not have the right clothes or new business cards. Most of us are quick to find excuses to cancel a meeting that we planned a few weeks ago (when it seemed like a great idea!) rather than head out the door to network.  Distractions are everywhere and yes, phone conversation, emails and Skype coffee dates are indeed great ways to reach out to people.

However, my bottom line is:

You can’t make all of your connections in your pajamas!

Believe me, I’ve tried!

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Have you ever found yourself in this situation?

You want to reach out to your community of followers, clients and interested prospective clients. You want it to be fresh and unique-not the same old thing you did last time. You want to be top of mind in their business life. You KNOW this is something you need to do soon because a particular opportunity is going to pass you by.

And THAT’S IT. THAT’S ALL YOU’VE GOT!

Drawing a blank.

This is such a common occurrence with clients and colleagues.

Honestly, let me tell you.  Shhhh … Lean closer… there is such an easy solution to get unstuck that it seems too good to be true.

  • Get a piece of paper and a favorite pen
  • Grab a timer
  • Set the timer for 10 minutes
  • Here’s your assignment
  • In 10 minutes make a list of all the ways you can communicate with your clients
  • Logical and illogical.  Simple and complicated. Standard and outside the box.
  • Write them all. You cannot do this wrong!

**********************************************************

Okay. Your 10 minutes is up.

Take a breathe. Look down at the list.

Which of this combination of great, professional and silly ideas jumps off the page at you?

That is the one you do. Today. Put it in motion.

Leave all the others to implement on another day. Keep it simple. Focus. Finish this one beginning to end. Breathe. You have to start somewhere and this one thing will lead to others plus some new ideas.

And rather than just talking about it and thinking about it- you are COMMUNICATING!

Please email me at info@brynjohnson.com and tell me what you chose to do from your communication brain dump.  ENJOY!

 

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