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    5 Ways Women Business Leaders Can Make Social Media Fun

    November 6th, 2011

    As a woman business leader and the owner of a marketing firm, I take my job very seriously, but I always welcome the unexpected laugh and am intrigued by the “unusual.” Like most people, I am drawn to humor and fun.

    I came across this great post by Vicki Flaugher that really puts online engagement in perspective. It all comes back to being authentic.

    1. Use more pictures and video
      Instead of just your blog posts, resource links and business how-to tips, add pictures and video. You can grab them from Youtube or Flickr, but it’s even better if you create them yourself. Keep it light, relevant, and real.
    2. Capture candid moments
      Taking shots while things are happening now and sharing them in real time is powerful. No more staged photos in a business suit with crossed arms. Make me want to be where you are. Make me feel something. Share your experiences with candid shots.
    3. Kids, kitties, and nature
      These emotional triggers, used responsibly, can give people time to take a deep breath in their busy day. Those breaths are when we reflect on what’s important and who matters most to us. Caring is the currency in social. Demonstrate this value by giving people respite in their day with cuteness and “ahhhh” breaks.
    4. Hobbies, philanthropy, and sports
      Letting people see the inner you gives them insight into your character and values. People will feel they know you better and subconsciously assign traits to you via association. It makes you fun to know. And fun is good. It is very, very good.
    5. Music, book clubs, travel, and fashion
      Vicarious living is a sport for most of us. The way the Internet connects us lets us explore food, exotic locales, and new experiences with a click of a button. As the world becomes flat and more global in connection, this ability to share will only become more and more valuable. So share, share, share. It will pay off.

    In being social for business, there is still a line that you don’t want to cross by being too flippant. But  humor and spontaneity are easy and compelling online tactics that you can use to bring out your personality. Here is one of my favorite blogs about staying authentic: “5 Branding Steps Women Business Leaders can Use to Remain Authentic.”

    How Women Business Leaders Can Turn Their Personal Brand Into a Business

    November 4th, 2011

    The more connections that I make online, the more I enjoy this virtual life that I am creating. I run a communications firm, have a strong interest in the social sector and am drawn to the feedback I receive about the useful information I provide through my blog for women business leaders. I have often wondered how to leverage this virtual identity and turn it into a lifestyle.

    I came across this interesting post from Penelope Trunk with some useful tips on creating a business out of a personal brand.

    1. Build a brand that stands for something
      It can be anything, really, but it needs to have a life of it’s own, besides just your name. This way you can take the part of it that is not just about you and grow it. In my case, my brand was my unique take on career management.
    2. Find your paying customers
      Most brands have brand enthusiasts, but not all enthusiasts have money. You need to focus on the demographics that are energized by your brand vision but also have money to spend as a result of that.
    3. Figure out what your ultimate goal is
      If you want to sell the company, and ultimately go do something else, then you need to have a vision special enough that someone else can incorporate it into their own company—as an acquisition.
    4. Accept the reality of a paycut
      To build something big, you have to take risks, and one of those is hiring people to help you. You are probably used to siphoning all the extra cash in your business to your own bank account. Now you will have to start putting that money back into the business because you need high growth to fully leverage a brand’s established market presence.
    5. Check your ego
      Building a great brand about your own personality and intellect is a huge achievement. But to get to the next step in your career, you’ll need to let other people get out in front of that brand. One of the most rewarding moments in my own company was when my co-founders started going on TV to talk about our field with equal authority to my own.

    Because branding is part of my business, I am always interested in passing along information to help other women business leaders nurture and grow their brand. For more about branding, please read my blog, “5 Branding Steps Women Business Leaders Can Use to Remain Authentic.”

    6 Ways Women Business Leaders Can Be More “Likeable” With Social Media

    November 2nd, 2011

    Have you ever wondered why you are drawn to some people and not to others?  What are the factors that make one person more likeable than someone else? When people think about whether they “like” someone or not, most take into consideration basic compelling human characteristics such as kindness, concern, authenticity, care and compassion. As you plan your social media and interactive branding strategy, don’t forget to add these “likeable” characteristics to all of your online and social communications.

    These tips from Dave Kerpen’s article, “6 Ways to Become Likeable with Social Media,” examine the best ways to garner a positive social image.

    1. Listen first and never stop listening
      As tempting as it may be to join the conversation, keep in mind that communication is 50 percent listening and 50 percent talking. Your customers want to be heard and social media provides a channel that really allows you to listen on a large scale.
    2. Be authentic
      As organizations grow large, they develop processes and models to enhance efficiency. Social media provides an opportunity to reverse this trend and actually ‘be human’ in dealing with customers.
    3. Provide value—for free!
      The more valuable content you can share with your fans and followers, the greater the trust and reputation you’ll build with them. Share your expertise without expectation or marketing-speak, and you’ll create an even better name for yourself.
    4. Share stories
      Every brand has at least one story to tell. Social media allows you to share stories with your customers, prospects and the world. Remember, stories humanize brands and make them ‘talk-able’ online and off-line. And they can be told by anyone—customers, employees or management. They just need to be real.
    5. Admit when you screw up, and then leverage your mistakes
      Being able to say “I’m sorry” when you make a mistake goes a long way toward making up for your error. Companies are made up of people and everyone makes mistakes.
    6. Consistently deliver excitement, surprise and delight
      On social media, you’re not just competing with your real-life competitors; you’re competing with all of your customers’ friends and the brands they’re connected to. So the way to stand out is to create as many “Wow!” moments as possible.

    These are great tips to think about when starting and growing your social media presence. Here’s another blog that offers some good ideas for creating a social strategy: Jay Baer’s Social Media Integration Strategies for Women Business Leaders.

    Do You Know the 10 Worst Stereotypes About Women Business Leaders?

    October 30th, 2011

    I have written several blogs about the value of being authentic. I find that the truer I am to myself and my own beliefs, the more believable I am to others.  There is not only a sense of freedom that accompanies honesty but also, perhaps, a guarantee that you won’t get stereotyped. In this article, Jenna Goudreau interviewed some of today’s most powerful women business leaders to examine their least favorite stereotypes. I’ve highlighted the 10 worst here:

    1. Ice Queen
      The ruthless “ice queen” stereotype is rampant. “For many women, it can be a no-win situation,” says Halley Bock, CEO of leadership and development training company Fierce.
    2. Single and Lonely
      Men get to be “bachelors” while women are reduced to “spinsters” and “old-maids.”
    3. Tough
      The first female executive editor of The New York Times, Jill Abramson, must contend with being called “tough” and “brusque,” making the “she’s-tough stereotype” her least favorite.
    4. Weak
      Costa Rica President Laura Chinchilla believes the most pervasive stereotype is that women are “weak,” a perception that may stem from a greater desire for women to build consensus.
    5. Masculine
      The notion that powerful women must be, lead and look like a man really aggravates Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund.
    6. Conniving
      NBC’s Ann Curry says the stereotype that most offends her is “the idea that a woman can only be successful because she somehow connived or engineered her rise.”
    7. Emotional
      Former Yahoo Chief Carol Bartz is frequently cited for her “salty language,” which has been used as evidence that she is “emotional” and a “loose cannon.”
    8. Angry
      “Anger is a sign of status in men, but when women show anger they are viewed as less competent,” says Valerie Young, author of The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women.
    9. A Token
      Women hold just 16 percent of corporate board seats. But instead of focusing on balancing things out, they are often devalued as being a “token” of diversity rather than having earned the post.
    10. A Cheerleader
      Billie Blair, president and CEO of Change Strategists, notes that prominent women who are considered feminine and warm may be dismissed as “cheerleaders” rather than the strong leaders that they are.

    These stereotypes are examples of how many women in power can become pigeonholed. What is your “image” and how are you managing your brand? Read my blog “5 Branding Steps Women Business Leaders Can Use to Remain Authentic,” for some useful tips.

    10 Questions Women Business Leaders Should Ask Before Starting to Blog

    October 28th, 2011

    If you are reading this  — you probably know that I am a frequent blogger. I got started because I knew that my point of view as a woman business leader might provide value to others. Blogging allows me to share my passion for mentoring and my interest in finding unique ways to improve my professional life. My assumption is that others would feel the same as I do and find value in my opinions.

    After more than a year as a professional blogger, I think these “10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before you Blog,” by Joe Pulizzi, provide a great starting point.

    1. Who would the primary reader (subscriber) of your blog be?
    2. What do you want to tell them? (What’s your story?)
    3. Do you understand the key informational needs of that person?  What are their pain points?
    4. Are you hanging out online where your customers are? Do you or can you make a target hit list of blogs or sites that your customers frequent online?
    5. Are you leaving comments that add to the online conversation on the blogs you cover?
    6. Do you have a firm grasp on the types of keywords to focus on that your customers are searching for?
    7. Do you follow those keywords using Google Alerts or watch their usage on Twitter?
    8. Can you commit to blogging at least two times per week? Content consistency is key.
    9. What is your ultimate goal in starting a blog? One year from when you start blogging, how will the business be different?
    10. How will the execution process work within your company, and how will you market the blog?

    If you liked this post, you might find a few of my other blogs on blogging interesting too: “Successful Blogging Tips for Women Business Leaders” and  “Women Business leaders: 3 Tactics for a Better Business Blog.” The most valuable advice that I can give you is this: find your passion and remain authentic.

    5 Branding Steps Women Business Leaders Can Use to Remain Authentic

    September 15th, 2011

    As the owner of a strategic marketing firm, I advise my clients on branding, and I have written several blogs on this subject (see the links below).  The key for women — in business and in your personal life — is to remain authentic and true to yourself.

    I have a friend whose life was severely disrupted by her husband leaving her. I suggested that she have a relationship with herself. I was in a similar situation years ago and took this advice from a caring friend. During those years, I was able to define myself and become familiar with my personal brand promise. The next stage of this process is to focus on others as let your originality shine.

    Here is some great advice from a blog I read on The Hiring Hub.

    1. Follow the advertising rule, it’s not about you, it’s about what you can do for the customer.
    2. When you brand yourself, it must be actionable, real and effective.
    3. If you are networking correctly, it’s not about you, it’s about everyone else.
    4. Whatever you write/post/speak about must be relevant and useful for all.
    5. When you post online, you need to actively reach out to your audience.

    I found these tips useful as a way to start thinking about what you are saying, how you are saying it and why you are saying it. For more on branding for women business leaders, please refer to my blogs: “6 Ways Women Business Leaders can Protect their Personal Brand” and “How to Keep Your Personal Brand Intact: 10 Mistakes Women Business Leaders Should Avoid.”

    Women Business Leaders: Embrace Change to Evolve and Rebrand

    September 8th, 2011

    As a woman business leader and owner of a strategic marketing firm, I find the notion of rebranding very exciting. It draws on past successes and legacies while giving you a visionary direction. Rebranding for business success has become a hot topic as companies integrate technology into their marketing matrix. We are presented with the opportunity to reevaluate not only our brand, but also our corporate strategies. When you consider rebranding, you look to the future with the understanding that change is inevitable … and it forces you to plan and move your company forward.

    Carolyn M. Brown offers some interesting considerations for rebranding your business, and I’ve listed her suggestions here:

    1. Be Ready for Change
    2. Determine Your Mission
    3. Talk to People
    4. Measure Your Total Market
    5. Research the Competition and Seek Allies
    6. Rethink Your Customer Base
    7. Improve Your Product Availability
    8. Determine Suitable Solutions
    9. Create an Action Plan
    10. Communicate Clearly and Effectively

    Read Carolyn’s entire article, “How to Successfully Rebrand Your Business,” for more details, or for additional blogs about branding: “7 Personal Branding Strategies for Women Business Leaders,” and “3 Ways Women Business Leaders can Create Brand Superfans.”

    Women Business Leaders: Use Your Feminine Strengths to Achieve Business Success

    September 2nd, 2011

    In her recent article, Leona Charles makes some really good points about developing leadership skills for women business leaders and executives. She addresses issues in the workplace and focuses on sensitivity and humility – traits that I feel are inherent in women.  (Not to say that men do not have these characteristics!) Leona’s suggestions offer a wonderful way to focus on and apply your feminine strengths in the workplace.

    I’ve condensed the highlights for you here:

    Lead by Example
    This should go without saying but many of us in leadership positions leave the less desirable tasks to our subordinates. This gets us into trouble because our subordinates generally equate their worth to their assigned tasks. As a leader you should always be willing to do what you have asked and I make sure that if I want something done I learn how to do it as well.

    Learn from Your Staff
    Many times your staff is extremely accomplished in areas outside of their professional life, so tap into that expertise. Thinking outside the box is a vital skill and is sometimes the solution to your most challenging business situation.

    Understand Staff Limitations
    The biggest mistake I see in management is the underutilization of staff. If you have a staff member in a customer service position who is incredibly efficient and organized but not a people person, you are not effectively managing their capabilities. This person should be in the operations leg of your organization where organization and efficiency are responded to. If you have a chatty person in an office role, they may be better utilized in your sales or PR staff.

    This is a big one and one that most managers do not agree with, but an apology is an effective management tool. Acknowledging mistakes helps your staff recognize that you value their help and recommendations; valuing their recommendations is an important part of building an empowered workforce and one of the most important parts of building an innovative and capable workforce.

    Rather than try to be something you are not in a sometimes male-dominated leadership world, I have found that embracing my femininity has worked for me. Please read my blog, “5 Ways Women Business Owners Can Embrace their Femininity” for more ways to empower your feminine side.


    Are You Tweeting? A Twitter Primer for Women Business Leaders

    September 1st, 2011

    I’ve been Tweeting for a while, but in conversations with other women business executives and business leaders, I find there is a lot of curiosity, but not much actual Tweeting going on. If you don’t Tweet in your personal life, it’s OK. I don’t either. But for me, Tweeting has been helpful for my business and my brand. If you’d like to give it a try, I found an excellent article by Mike Johansson, “Why Are You on Twitter? A Twitter 101 Lesson,” that you can use as a Twitter primer.

    I’ve condensed his top 10 Twitter tips for you below:

    1. Make your profile public. You want to connect with people, so keep your account open because you are going to be professional on this account, right?
    2. Choose a Twitter name that is your entire name or at least your first name and last initial or a variation of your name.
    3. Fill in your location with your real location. This will connect you with others in your area with whom you can network in real life.
    4. Work on your bio so that it says something about your professional activities and aspirations but also displays a little of your personality.
    5. Choose an avatar photo that is more face than anything else. A genuine face shot is part of who you are.
    6. Choose your URL wisely. If you have a complete LinkedIn page, link to that. If you have your own name as a URL, link to that.
    7. Start following others slowly. Find relevant people in your business or with related interests and follow a few at a time.
    8. Don’t just follow anyone. Following people just because they follow you is not a requirement on Twitter.
    9. Pay attention to others’ tweets. You will learn a lot by “listening.” When the time is right send them an “@” message.
    10. Retweet judiciously. When you read something that really resonates with you or you think some of your followers might appreciate, retweet (RT) it. If there is room – add a comment to explain why you like it.

    Tweeting has given my business blog added exposure, so I have to say it works for me. For more about how Twitter can help your business, read my blog, “5 New Twitter Tools to Boost Woman Business Leaders’ Social Media Savvy.”



    Women Business Leaders: 5 Questions Your Business Website Must Answer

    August 19th, 2011

    I own and run an integrated brand marketing firm, and since last fall, I have blogged about the value of maintaining brand consistency and executing brand values through all channels for women business leaders and entrepreneurs. The same principle applies when we are designing websites. There are so many ways clients are getting their information that it’s easy to forget that, above all, your website must be functional and informative.

    Here are some questions put together by Tom Pick, from his article, “5 Questions Every Business Website Must Answer,” that business owners should consider when evaluating their website.

    1. Who are you?
      Unless your brand is a household name, at least within your industry, this is a critical element. Write about awards, media/analyst recognition, number/importance of customers, length of time in business, the experience of your founders, funding, growth and financial performance.
    2. What do you sell?
      While that is obvious to you, it  obvious to prospects unfamiliar with your company. Use keyword research tools to make sure you are using terms your prospective buyers use, and make it clear and concise. Do you sell a point solution or something that’s part of a broader product suite? Do you sell products only or also associated services?
    3. Who do you sell to?
      No company, especially a small business, can be everything to everyone. Make it clear who your target customers are. This will help weed out prospects who aren’t really qualified and enable you to tightly focus your web copy on your best potential buyers. Make it clear to your site visitors if they are “in the right place.”
    4. Why are you the best choice?
      This is where you differentiate yourself from the pack. Be as direct and factual as possible about your differentiators. Tell your prospects what makes your product or service uniquely suited to their needs.
    5. How do I buy from you?
      If a qualified buyer has landed on your site, this is the critical final question. What do you want the person to do next? Possibilities include downloading a white paper or report, signing up for a newsletter, contacting you for more information, following you on Twitter or Facebook, signing up for a free trial, viewing an online demo, or registering for a webinar. Keep it simple and clear. Test different calls to action.

    Today’s website visitor has little time to linger, so follow the advice above to help streamline your website and make it work better for you and your customers.