I’ve discovered that one of the easiest and most fulfilling ways to bring business in the door, and feel like I’m making a difference is through donating gift certificates to charities and organizations that need to raise money for a good cause.

Choosing the right organizations that align with my brand and core values is important, and knowing who the audience is gives me an opportunity to target my message and customize it for the cause.

In my Goodness Campaign, all branding materials and collateral have a ‘look’ that is consistent with the way I want to be seen — in my community, to my colleagues and clients, and to the world. My gift certificates are well designed, include my signature photo, and key information about my business – so anyone bidding on an auction item or not, can contact me.

My time and PR and promotions services are valuable, so I also make it a point to give at least a $500 gift certificate and ask that at least half of the money is collected for the cause. Return promotion is a given.

If you want a million dollar brand, you want to look like a million, and feel like a million. Giving opens the heart and allows prosperity to flow.

Go with the flow. Make time to make a difference.

This week, there were two networking sessions on my calendar; the first, an Open Mixer for Boston World Partnerships, and the second, an all-day conference, Promote Your Passion, where entrepreneurs and a series of experts met to talk about building stronger businesses through innovative marketing, sales, networking and charismatic relationships.

The theme of the conference was clear.  Connectivity is today’s new currency. Without relationships there are no sales, and without sales, there is no business.

Here are some takeaways you may like to add as Insider Secrets:

  • At your next networking event, meet 5 people, and connect with each of them for 5 minutes. The key people are: the Speaker; the Organizer; and 3 yappers. Yappers are always talking to people, have a crowd around them, and never talk to other yappers.
  • Don’t bring business cards to networking sessions. Just bring a sharpie. Write one of two notes; Dud (in code) or *. Follow up with the stars and ask how you can help them (by asking the right questions). Make a coffee date and begin a relationship. Don’t ask for business, just ask how you can help.
  • Buy from network marketers, instead of Target for items you need (and are available by those same network marketers). In fact, buy one item from each marketer who sells the item you need, because each of those marketers know hundreds of people.
  • Find out which Facebook groups those marketers are in, and join those groups. With each new contact, there are hundreds of prospective customers.
  • If you’re in business, use your phone message as a branded marketing opportunity. One of my colleagues has a company that “brings back desire” in relationships. If she added a weekly intimacy tip to her voice mail, and promoted it on Facebook and Twitter, she might double her mailing list. In fact, her phone might ring off the hook.
  • And lastly, be creative with your marketing. You know all those pre-paid envelopes that come in the mail? (Love this), send your marketing material back in the same envelope, and ask the recipient to pass it on.  Why not, right?

Loving the ideas from the 33rd floor and hope you do too!

Special Thanks to Casey Eberhart who shared this information. 

It’s been a busy week here in Los Angeles, where I’ve been at a four day meeting for the “Millions Within.”

A couple hundred entrepreneurs, with businesses ranging from just the idea stage to seven figures got together to learn about being marketable and what’s stopping us from our greatest success. It was a powerhouse opportunity to learn, be humbled by our innermost desires and fears, inspired by passion, and the longing for great change.

It’s always enlightening to re-visit some of the roadblocks we have to becoming our greatest selves in business, and our highest selves to serve our life purpose. I am continually amazed at the high level of energy, commitment and intensity of entrepreneurs who want to make a difference – and find it fascinating to see who will give up when it becomes uncomfortable, and who will welcome being uncomfortable (or bring it on) because they know it’s the only way to grow. No “if’s”, “ands” or “but’s.”

For myself, growth is only possible by stretching beyond my greatest fears and limits, and facing what’s known as the “terror barrier,” an invisible stop sign that’s there to keep me safe. It’s a must to go beyond, and I cringe when I see or feel it coming. And before each breakthrough, there seems to be another roadblock, to keep me at my same level. No choice but to bust through.

Having a coach helps you get through these challenges and obstacles, and keeps you focused, in line with where you want to go, even if it’s terrifying, and you want to give up in the worst way. Trust me, I’ve been there.

The good news is you’ll know you have success when you have a result. It doesn’t have to be the end result. It’s the journey, not the destination, because in all reality, there is no finish line. It’s invisible. We make it up so we’ll feel better.

My circumstances and successes may be different than yours, but they’re no less important. My results are directly proportionate to my efforts, as are yours.

Think of that next time you want to give up because you’re tired, or frustrated, or angry because you need to alter your course – because success isn’t always easy.

Make your action count with a plan. Get the help you need, and don’t stop.

Success is right in front of you.

One of the best pieces of advice in PR and getting noticed was to send your info/product/ideas to the CEO of a company via Fed X. Why? It gets noticed. Whether it’s a big company where your package is logged in,or a small firm–overnight deliveries make a bigger impact to decision makers. They cause a second look. Then, it’s up to you to follow up.

If I ever need to make a splash, I send materials Fed X.  And fun ones! Ever send a pineapple? People are intrigued and chances are you will be remembered!

This tip was featured at The Entreprenette Gazette’s Best PR Tips

I am excited to announce that Partner Promotions will be representing Ovation TV at the Shakespeare on the Boston Common Friday, July 29 – Sunday, August 14th.

Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s annual free Shakespeare on the Common production will be All’s Well That Ends Well, at the Parkman Bandstand on Boston Common, in partnership with the City of Boston and Mayor Menino.

This is the 16th year of Shakespeare on the Common, and All’s Well That Ends Well is a Shakespearean comedy and globe-trotting adventure of how far one woman will go to win the heart of her beloved.

Helena loves Bertram, but marriage is the last thing on Bertram’s mind. With boundless wit and tenacity, Helena pursues Bertram from Paris to Florence and through a maze of obstacles thrown at her by chance, circumstance, and her fiancé’s recalcitrance, finally emerging victorious.

The program, which has become a beloved civic institution, will draw an estimated 75,000 people over 16 performances.

I hope you can join us!

Thank you to Sarah Shaw for including the below post in her wonderful piece on What Do You Outsource First?

Be sure to read everyone’s suggestions at http://theentreprenettegazette.com/2011/07/27/what-do-you-outsource-first/

Here’s my response to Sarah’s question:

One night, many moons ago, I realized as I was paying bills at 4:00am,that I hated accounting. I was also honest enough to admit I didn’t know enough about “behind the scenes” technology or on line graphics. I drove myself crazy with the “I’ve got to learn this ALL”! So,I gave it up. I hired a virtual bookkeeper, a wonderful VA, and a graphic artist to help so I could concentrate on my strengths. You can start a business by yourself, but you can’t grow it alone. Get the help you need to share your very best.

“Welcome Back”, I said to myself. I took a break, visited with my kids, wrote some articles and a bit for my upcoming book. I emptied my head. Kayaked. Cooked new recipes. Danced in the moonlight.

I’m just sayin’ — It’s summer, and I gave myself a well-deserved break from my normal routine (though I might like to keep dancing in the moonlight as an activity).

My million dollar tip today is this: For your head, for your heart, for your health –Take a break.

When it’s time (you’ll know), just get back to what’s important to you.

For me, it’s helping entrepreneurs with their lives, and promoting their businesses, and making more money, so it can FUEL the life they want to live. And, how they’ll give.

It’s pretty easy to figure, once you get to what’s important.

This week, I was fortunate to interview Sarah Shaw from www.Entreprenette.com. I loved what she had to share with us, her tips for taking products to market, insights on being an entrepreneur, and the free PR distribution list she shared here. But, I didn’t love something else.

Me.

I was sick as a dog, wobbly, even got the name of her website wrong. (Forgive me, Sarah). I was doing all that I could to hold on and make it through, letting Sarah carry the ball. In all honesty, I lost my voice the week before, canceled the interview already once, and wanted to be respectful of her time, and honor my commitment. I prayed to have a voice, and be clear enough to ask the questions I had prepared weeks before the interview. It didn’t happen.

My body was stronger than my will, and the results were less than perfect.

Wabi-sabi. A Japanese term noting the art of imperfection.

I love to garden and know that a flower doesn’t bloom 365 days a year. Nor do we. I know that sometimes my favorite Greek meatballs don’t come out as good as usual because I forgot to buy scallions, or I didn’t use the cast iron frying pan and finish the batch off with a sprinkling of oregano. Sometimes things turn out differently than you plan. And, that’s ok. We have to give ourselves permission to have an off day, or week, or undefined time — and let it be, without beating ourselves up. That “ourselves”, includes me.

Leonard Cohen, the author, writes this:

Forget your perfect offering
There’s a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

Wabi-sabi is the beauty of things imperfect, modest and humble.

For me, an imperfect interview was part of letting go of my own perfection. Accepting an off day, and, being ok with it not just for me, but for my community.

Imperfection is perfection for where we need to be, and perhaps, what we need to learn.

It was such an important lesson for me — to lessen the load with grace.

It IS all good. It’s our minds that may not be in sync, at the time.

I’​m finding that with the current economic marketplace, I advise small business owners to give lots of added value.

Instead of discounting programs, I suggest that they add to an established program. That often makes a difference;​ i.e., a half day session included with a six month program, for business coaching for example.

There are many vendors that may offer your service, but you have to personalize your products to their needs (not yours) without giving up integrity, or doing it for free.

By adding a little extra, of their perceived value, you’​ll turn a prospect into a customer.

At my Make Money Monday’s stop this week, I had the opportunity to sit for about half an hour, and enjoy a cup of coffee waiting for my first appointment. I was delighted to have some time to rest and regroup my thoughts after a busy weekend.

In line, I heard a familiar voice that I recognized from years past. It was my plumber, Barry, who had moved out of town. Wanting to catch up, I invited him to sit with me, and in no time, we shared stories about business, family and life. I remember Barry fondly because he was working at my home the day “my water broke” when Vanessa, my first child was born. Being a plumber, and a good one, he took my comment literally, and wanted to fix the leak. He realized soon enough, that what I really needed was a ride to the hospital! 🙂

As I re-focused back to where I was (at Starbucks) and my conversation with Barry, I noticed he seemed excited to talk with me. He mentioned wanting to show me something, and left for a moment to go to his car. With a smile on his face, he came back with a small book.

Loving surprises, I opened the book. As I turned the pages, there were pictures of Barry, at 57 — a perfectly sculptured body builder, winning 2nd place in the Men’s Over 50 Championship.

Barry worked out for years, but for six months trained at an incredible rate, and ate certain foods in certain combinations that prepared him for this contest. He also deleted foods (and many of them) to prepare for this challenge. No wine. No pizza. And little desire, for some of the fun we take for granted.

Barry’s nutritionist and trainer were his team. Team Barry, supported the effort, but Barry alone, had the drive and discipline to get to his goal.

What do body building and business have in common? It takes time, commitment and effort to build a beautiful body — and time, commitment and effort to build a profitable business. There will be days you want to give up. There will be days you are hungry for more. There will be days you are so exhausted you just want to go to bed, and times when you might want to scream — in loneliness, fear or frustration.

The winners continue, not knowing if they’ll place first, second or third. They might not even qualify. But they do it.

They do their due diligence for their own reasons. They stay in business. Follow a plan. Get up every day and work – or work out, or both.

Much like Barry.

When I asked Barry why he did it, he told me it was all about discipline and deciding that this was important to him.

When I mentioned revamping my own nutrition, he told me I could do anything. I believe him, because of one thing… If it’s important to me, I know I’ll have the discipline.

The question is, what are we willing to have discipline for?

What’s your why?