If you’ve written articles and blogs, they can be a great resource for developing a podcast series. With minimum effort, you can bump up your content, record a script or thoughts on your smart phone, and upload to your website or other places where your recordings live. Today’s smart phones have above average recording capabilities and sound quality. Talk to the phone, not to the hand, and share your expertise to inform, teach and edu-tain others.

It seems like an oxymoron. How do you “work a room” without being there? The answer is one of those potent networking secrets that very few people know – and in a few minutes, you’ll be among them.

Let’s dive into this by way of an example. Imagine that you’re a new author from Boston, and have just written a game-changing book about social media strategies. That’s the good news. The bad news is that you’re traveling, and can’t make it to the biggest social media conference in the country until the very last day. How can you make a splash and meet the top dogs in the room – but without making a dash?

In the past, you couldn’t. But now, if you apply these little-known tactics, you’ll be able to “work a room” like a seasoned networking pro without being there:

1. Do Your Homework

Research the conference and identify the main organizer contact (this information is usually on the website, or in a press release, or can be found with a little digging). Then, introduce yourself via email, social media and a phone call. Offer to help with promotion, and share any tips or suggestions that will make you look great. For example, if you know of a great and little-known restaurant in the area, share that information. What seems like the smallest or simplest tip can be extremely well received.

The bottom line is that you’re being helpful, positioning yourself as a strategic ally, and you already know one person who will personally welcome you with a smile when you arrive at the conference. Plus, if there’s a special someone or a celebrity that you’d really like to meet, chances are this new connection of yours will go out of her or his way to make that happen. After all, one good turn deserves another, right?

2. Connect with Speakers

Check out the conference agenda and see who the speakers are. You may recognize some of the names as industry leaders, and it’s perfectly fine to give them a call or connect online. But, chances are, there will be other speakers you don’t know (yet). This is an ideal opportunity for you to reach out and make connection. Tell them how much you enjoyed their last article, blog, book, TV appearance, etc. Also mention that you’ll be attending their upcoming conference, and when you get there, you’d love to say hello.

This pre-connection strategy works for any meeting, whether you live nearby or 3,000 miles away. Connect with the speakers via email, LinkedIn, Twitter or FaceBook. Just because they’re speaking doesn’t mean they don’t want to connect with people – in fact, they’re in the “people connecting” business.

One last thing: if you use social media to connect, make sure that your profile includes a high quality photo. This will really help your new connection remember who you are, and recognize you.

3. Get Ready to Talk

Once you arrive at the conference, find your “top targeted” speaker, introduce yourself so you’re remembered (as noted above, ensuring that your profile has a professional photo of you goes along way here!), and start up a conversation.

Also keep in mind that you don’t have to come across as a “raving fan” if, in fact, you aren’t. Talented professionals appreciate praise – as we all do – but they’re also open to new and different points of view, as long as they’re presented politely and professionally. So be prepared to share your opinions. Who knows? Your insights could be the BIG THING that this expert remembers long after the conference – and that could spark a relationship that lasts for years.

4. Own the Q & A Session

And of course, make sure that you attend the Q + A session where your top targeted speaker will be presenting. Scope out a good position in the room where everyone can see you. When it’s time to ask a question, ask a thought-provoking question that you’ve prepared well ahead of time. Since you’ve already personally connected with this expert, there’s a much greater chance that you’ll be addressed by name, and that there will be instant rapport – which is something that others will notice and that could really boost your credibility.

Plus, here’s a very powerful and even lesser-known secret: before asking your question, introduce yourself as the author of the newly released book on changing social media strategy, give your Twitter handle, and then pause. Don’t be surprised if heads turn, and people want to meet you after the session.

We never know where the day will lead us, or the leads that will take us down the path of meeting new people and creating opportunities that may impact our lives, and our business.

As a member of ProfNet, a PR Newswire service, I get press leads that I respond to by reporters nationwide.  I respond to these leads for my two businesses, www.PartnerPromotionsInc.com and www.LetsMakeYouShine.com.  Both promote visibility in the marketplace; the first for Fortune 500 companies that want a big bold presence with Brand Ambassadors and Brand Educators, and the latter for entrepreneurs and small business owners who want to get noticed, with traditional and non-traditional PR and promotions strategies.

One (of many) WWW Surprise(s) came when I found a hot lead for an Etiquette Expert and was unable to retrieve my database. I asked my best business buddy, Google for some help, and reached out on the great WWW to share an opportunity.  What would Google show me?

The answer was clear. Jodi Smith, from www.Mannersmith.com showed up with high rankings, and we corresponded by email over the course of a few months. As life would have it, she also lived in the same seaside town I would eventually move to.  When we met for coffee, I was not only blown away by her accomplishments and expert status, but we also shared a sense of entrepreneurial comradery.

As a fellowpreneur and great marketer, Jodi gave me a list of people who I should meet. She made a virtual introduction to the Director of PR and Communications at Salem State University, and shortly thereafter we met for breakfast.   That in turn lead me to new connections of interns and social media assistants, as well as an upcoming visit to the Enterprise Center, an incubator for new businesses that are growing stronger every day.

Taking a risk, making a phone call, breaking patterns, and just having conversations – it’s all about connections that may lead to surprises – in person, on the web, at networking events, on the street, or at an upcoming holiday party you may be attending.

Oh, there are great surprises out there. I’ve always loved the power of possibility.

How ‘bout you?

As seen at M.O. What’s Yours

MO: What influenced your decision to use your expertise in specifically helping entrepreneurs?

Robin: I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was a little girl, selling potholders on my bike and Girl Scout cookies door to door. Both of my parents were also entrepreneurs, so it was natural for me to think about business, and we talked about it all the time. I didn’t realize how much I could help the small business owner until I looked at my own experience helping major Fortune 500 corporations expand their brands, to get attention. I realized the ideas and principles were the same, only on a smaller scale. I love the fact that the entrepreneur has a dream, a vision, and passion to make it happen. This excited me because I could use my experience and creativity to help them succeed, and feel the impact personally.

MO: What are some tips for a new business looking to expand their brand and increase visibility in a crowded marketplace?

Robin: This could be a half day seminar – but here are some thoughts! First, above all — you are your brand. Let people know who you are, and get out in the marketplace. Get out from your computer. Be comfortable with promoting yourself, everywhere you go. Attend networking events, have a non-traditional approach to meeting people, and be open to try new strategies for connecting. Engage in social media just 30 minutes a day. Make HARO.com (Help a Reporter Out) your best friend to get press mentions. Write articles for industry journals, and a blog to increase your SEO. Get a feature story in your local paper, set up open office hours at a coffee shop and use a laptop ad to promote your business. Show your expertise any way you can and don’t be embarrassed to promote yourself. Your main business should be getting your name out there in business, and in your community. This will give you a competitive advantage. Be consistent, make the time to expand your brand, and be true to who you are. Love yourself, love your business!

MO: Can you provide some advice that entrepreneurs can gain credibility and PR as an expert in their field?

Robin: My advice to gain credibility as an expert is to be proactive and seek out opportunities to get press, and be featured as an expert. The internet is your oyster. Be a guest blogger, be interviewed on Blog Talk radio, answer questions in business journals, get speaking gigs about your expert topic — even if you’re speaking to a small audience. Lead a panel, share the platform on a webinar, be a guest on a teleseminar series, post on other people’s blogs as an expert. Teach a class. Take all of your press mentions, and everything you’ve done and include it on your website, and link it to your social media accounts. The bigger your footprint, the more you will be recognized. The added bonus is that you become more confident, and believe in yourself as the expert you really are.

MO: What inspired you to create the, Let’s Make You Shine Fund, which empowers young women with a gift, to further their education? What kind of impact have you seen the fund make so far?

Robin: This is my inaugural year with the Let’s Make You Shine Fund. I’ve always believed that we all have gifts, and when you give back and share, you get so much. My first recipient will be using her scholarship to attend Holy Cross College. She was an exceptional candidate, and her plans are to study medicine. My only request is that she, and all others who are recipients, pay it forward at some point in their lives. If each one of us shares their gifts and pays it forward what a better world this will be.

MO: What are some examples that you help your clients be big and bold for getting the best results? Not sure I understand this – but here goes

Robin: I like to co-create opportunity and visibility plans with my clients and listen to their hopes and dreams for their business. We look at where they are, where they want to go, and where they’d like to be noticed. We’re all so busy in our own world that we sometimes can’t see the forest through the trees. My passion is to take my client’s vision, show them a path and ideas on how to meet their goals and objectives. Then it’s all about inspired action to get results.

MO: What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you personally or professionally?

Robin: I’m working now on developing a plan to help entrepreneurs get more media coverage. It’s exciting , and a great opportunity to build my own brand. Everyone deserves to shine.

By Victoria Stagg Elliott, amednews staff. Posted Sept. 10, 2012

Online marketing strategies are important, but experts on marketing medical practices say it takes more than a virtual presence to persuade people to visit a particular physician and tell friends and family to do the same. Practices may have to use some good, old-fashioned paper, metal or plastic to get out various messages.

“Patients are seeing 10,000 messages a day,” said Steven V. Dubin, president of PR Works in Kingston, Mass., who works with medical practices “If you want yours to break through the clutter, you need to make sure it’s high-impact and in different forms.”

Such marketing efforts do not have to consume large amounts of money or staff time. Actually, some of these six quick and cheap ways to get the message out are deceptively simple.

1. “Open to new patients” sign. A physician’s current patients may be his or her biggest fans, but they may not know the practice has room for more. A sign in the waiting room saying something along the lines of “Your referrals are among the highest forms of flattery” or “We are accepting referrals at this time. We appreciate recommendations to your friends, family and co-workers,” may persuade current patients to help spread the word.

“A lot of people won’t think of referring until you ask them to,” said Robin Samora, founder and president of Let’s Make You Shine, Business and PR Strategy, a public relations firm in Boston. “You need to tell them you have an opening in the practice.”

The sign should be professionally created out of metal or plastic. Handwritten signage can look tacky and be a turnoff, public relations experts said.

2. Tchotchkes. Another suggestion from experts on marketing medical practices is to offer an item that is appropriate for the practice and that patients would like to use. For example, a pediatric practice could give children silicone wristbands to promote awareness of various health-related causes. Calendars and magnets with the practice’s name and address may work. Practices encouraging physical fitness may do well handing out branded pedometers.

“Practices need to consider their target market and how they are going to reach them,” Samora said.

These tchotchkes may serve as reminders to current patients about the practice, but others also might see the information. For example, a refrigerator magnet may be an easy way for a patient to find a practice’s phone number, but it also could be noticed by visitors.

3. Office open house. Depending on the type of practice, an open house could show established patients that they are appreciated and introduce the office to potential patients. The open house may include an educational component, such as a brief presentation by a physician, or minor health screenings, such as blood pressure checks by other office staff. Or it may be a chance for patients to sit down casually with a physician to discuss philosophy of care. An open house also many be an opportunity for a practice to show off a redesign or new equipment.

“This can be a learning opportunity for both parties,” Samora said. “Patients get to ask questions, and physicians learn what the common questions are.”

These events can be promoted through communication with patients who are asked to invite friends and relatives.

4. Public speaking event. Community organizations usually are looking for speakers, which means opportunities for physicians to talk about their areas of expertise. This, in turn, can make the practice more attractive to current patients and bring in new ones. Marketing experts advocate talking to audiences who mirror the kind of patients the practice is hoping to attract.

“Give your knowledge away,” said Rina Shah, principal and founder of Rilax Strategies, a communications consultancy based in Washington. “What you know about medicine and wellness is interesting and valuable to others. Offer to speak at local health expos, to women’s groups or business clubs on a topic related to public health. You will gain valuable exposure.”

5. “Buck slip.” A billing statement can do more than ask for money. It can include a “buck slip,” or dollar-sized piece of paper with information about the practice, available services, honors the physician may have received recently and requests for referrals.

“You’re already sending out the piece of mail,” Dubin said. “You might as well take advantage of that.”

These may be created simply and cheaply on office word processing software and then photocopied and cut to size. Or they can be more complicated and glossy if ordered from an online printing house for about $100 per 500.

6. “We miss you” mailing or phone call. Attracting patients to a practice is sometimes less about persuading new ones to come in but more about reminding established ones to return. Patients who have not had contact with the practice for a certain amount of time can be mailed a letter or called by staffers. Some patients may have moved or gone through other changes that mean that it is more appropriate to go elsewhere. Or visiting a doctor may have just slipped their minds.

“People are busy and have lives that are moving at a million miles a minute,” Shah said. “It’s important to get them to think of your practice.”

Experts on marketing medical practices say these efforts should fit in with a plan that includes virtual as well as real-world strategies. All messages should be consistent and suit the practice.


Elliott covers practice management issues. She can be reached at 312-464-5577 or by email (victoria.elliott@ama-assn.org).

Many of you know that I am traveling with my family this week, to the “Big Easy”, New Orleans, to see my youngest daughter graduate from Tulane.  How exciting it is to be with both of my daughters who make me so proud!

With expanding your brand so important to growing a business, I decided to devote this week’s newsletter to using Twitter, to make an impression and get noticed in a crowded marketplace. As part of a professional network that I’m involved with, I’d like to share this article: Five Tips for Twitter, written by Grace Lavigne, from PRnewsire.com.

It’s informative, and straight  from the Experts.

Let me know what you think!

Five Tips for Twitter
By Grace Lavigne, PRNewswire.com

Your Twitter Bio: The Chance to Stand Out

“The bio for an individual should be ‘pro-fersonal,'” says Kelly Lux, the online communication and relationship manager for the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University. “Basically a mix of professional and personal.”

“People generally want to know what you do for a living or where you go to school, and what you’re passionate about,” Lux continues. “Strike an air of business acumen and friendliness, especially if you are job-searching.”

“Try to say as much about yourself with as few words as possible,” says Michael P. Grace, founder of Virallock, a social media monitoring and management service. “Be witty and creative without being corny or cliché. This is your chance to stand out.”

Maybe include some fun facts, suggests David Johnson, CEO of Strategic Vision. “We had a technology firm and one of the many things they included in their bio was that nobody who worked there was taller than 5’5″. People actually mentioned seeing that when they contacted the company.”

“If your bio says something to the effect of ‘father, coffee lover and social media addict,’ that doesn’t really set you apart from the crowd,” says Lux. Stay away from words like guru, ninja, rockstar, etc.

“Browse around and see how others describe themselves,” advises Grace. “Don’t copy others, but pay attention to users who have had a Twitter account for a longer timeframe.”

Hashtags, Handles, Links

“Use hashtags in your bio so people with similar interests can find you,” says Lux.

Jonathan Rick, digital and social media director at Levick Strategic Communications, says that if you want to be publicly associated with your employer, don’t write: Director at Levick Strategic Communications. Instead, write: Director at @Levick.

And if multiple people manage a company account, call them out either by their full handles or their initials, says Rick. For example:

  • @Poynter‘s bio lists handles: School for journalism & democracy, with tweets by @juliemmoos, @myersnews, @mallarytenore, @jeffsonderman, @abeaujon
  • @AmericanExpress‘ bio lists initials: Follow Amex’s Mona Hamouly (MLH), Matt Burton (MB) & Amy Tokarski (AT) for insider news, offers & more. Chk out our Favorites page to turn Tweets into savings!

Also, definitely include a link — not in your bio — but as part of your profile, says Lux. “Many people link to their personal website or blog, or LinkedIn profile.” The link allows people to find out more about you than they can from the 160 characters allowed in the Twitter bio.

Adding links helps describe and reinforce who you are, and drives traffic between all of your social media vehicles, agrees Grace.

Expert/Company Bios of the People Quoted in This Article:

Here is the text from the Twitter bios of the experts (or their companies) included in this article (links not included):

  • @LevickLevick Strategic Communications is the world’s leading crisis communications firm. We are unparalleled in building brand equity and protecting reputations.
  • @KellyLux#CMGR & SM Strategist @iSchoolSU / Borg Queen of #NEXIS / Co-founder #CMGRchat / Opinionated Wine Connoisseur and +1 Dog Lover / Instagram Fanatic
  • @VirallockVirallock evaluates, optimizes and monitors social media profiles to help students and young professionals avoid negative perceptions to their personal brand.
  • @StratCommunCommunication consultant. Marketer. Social media explorer. HR/management coach. Teacher. Golfer. Reader.
  • @DavidJohnsonSVCEO of Strategic Vision PR Professional Republican consultant Facebook: DavidJohnsonSV

Profile Picture: Say Cheese!

The profile picture is probably the most important component of your Twitter presence, says Lux. Your profile picture should be YOU — not a cartoon avatar; not a picture of your dog or the San Francisco skyline; and not a picture of you with your kids, spouse, pet, etc.

“You need to appear approachable, which, in this sense, means: smiling,” says Lux. The picture should be distinctive enough that people recognize it as they scroll by it in the stream.

“You want your Twitter avatar to reflect you as you write about yourself in the bio,” adds Lux. For example, unless you are a business consultant, stay away from the suit-and-tie look.

Johnson once worked with a romance author who wanted to be known as the “Queen of Naughty and Nice.” “She wanted to use a professional headshot from her Wall Street days, but we told her that her photo needed to convey the image she wanted branded in her book,” he says. “So we added a more racy photo.”

The picture should also remain fairly stable, says Lux. Don’t change it as often as your Facebook profile picture, but do change it often enough that the picture still actually looks like you (i.e., more than once every decade!).

Linda Pophal, CEO of Strategic Communications, notes that if a Twitter account is for an organization, rather than a person, then the company logo works well as the profile picture. For example: @ProfNet

Wallpaper: Keep It Simple

Trying to establish a perfect Twitter background shouldn’t be the main focus of designing your profile, says Grace.

“I don’t believe the Twitter background is all that important; I’ve never made a decision on who to follow or not follow based on their Twitter background,” agrees Lux.

“That being said, you don’t want to make it look like you’re selling too hard!” she continues. “If your Twitter background is a bunch of pictures of you, your latest book, your Facebook page, etc. — you’re trying too hard.”

“Use a consistent pattern that is not distracting,” says Grace. “Twitter provides a handful of design options that are decent, but feel free to explore colors, patterns and textures that may create a more pleasing aesthetic to viewers.”

Make sure that your wallpaper is consistent with all aspects of branding, like color schemes, adds Johnson.

Rick lists four approaches to wallpaper designs:

  • The Visual Way: employs big pictures that immediately communicate the brand, a la @Disney@Staples or @WWF
  • The Logo Way: uses the company logo as the background, a la @Ford or@LinkedIn
  • The Informative Way: lists contact info and links to other social channels in the wallpaper itself, a la @Intel or @mashable
  • The Product Way: displays Photoshopped pictures of the company’s key wares, a la @Pepsi (can of Pepsi) or @LAYS (bag of Lay’s potato chips)

Overall Look and Feel: Be Consistent

Your Twitter profile should be designed for the audience you are trying to reach and the image you are attempting to convey to them, says Johnson.

Profiles should reflect the individual or organization’s brand identity and communication strategy, agrees Pophal.

Approach the profile from the standpoint of crafting an “elevator speech,” Pophal continues. What is it that you do that represents value to your target audience?

“Every profile on Twitter has a voice,” concludes Grace. “Always consider how you want your voice to be represented to those who haven’t met you, and let your personality shine through as much as possible.”

Gracie

I’m often amazed at business owners who are too busy to spend one on one quality time with their clients. They’re running all over the place, getting things done, and checking items off their list, but often are forgetting one thing – that a company or client hires us, and they keep us in business. Without clients, we have no business.

Every relationship needs some face time and TLC. And, it doesn’t matter if it’s your sweetheart or your biggest client who helps pay your mortgage.

My short Make Money Money thought today is this:

  • Make it a priority to spend time with your client.
  • Ask what they need.
  • Listen with both ears.
  • Assess their request and promise to respond on it, in a timely fashion.
  • Do what you can to act on it – if it works. For you, for the relationship, or for growth opportunities.
  • I like dinner because it’s a time to unwind, and forces me to leave the office, to get out from behind the computer and see the world. And, what a lovely world it is.

I’m putting in a hyperlink here, for dinner at Fleming’s Steak House, where you spend $50 and get a $25 credit. I hope it works. You have to make a reservation in advance and on line, and my understanding is that you can use it as often as you like till December 30, 2011. Please read the fine print, and don’t get mad if there’s a snafu. I’m trying to help you grow your business.

This offer has ended

Don’t forget as well to look for other deals online, or to use Groupon, Living Social, and your city’s local coupon opportunities; they’re everywhere. They sit in a folder on my computer so I won’t be tempted by every bargain that passes my eye.

Enjoy dinner. Enjoy your client. And remember, you are your business, so make it who you truly are.

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.

I’m taking some well needed time off, and working virtually at my lake house. Here’s a picture of what it looks like from my office at sunset, or, what I call my office. Pretty spectacular. I’m lucky to be here.

The View from the Lake House

It’s daytime now, and the neighbor’s kids are jumping off the raft, laughing and screaming. My dog, Lucy, is asleep under the table, and I’m happy to be at peace, with who I am, and where I am.

As I have progressed on my journey, I’ve found that progress isn’t measured by the number of hits on your website, or the number of friends you have on FaceBook. It’s measured by how you are feeling today. Are you happy in your work? Are you serving to the best of your ability? Are you making a difference in someone’s life — even if it’s a small difference (in your mind). You really never know how your words, thoughts or actions impact another in a time of need.

I’m getting better at the Art of Unfolding, and leaving space for expansion. It’s been a wee bit challenging for me, as I’ve been a results-oriented professional for most of my adult life. I’ve found that I can still get results, in a big way, by not rushing things, or pushing them through. Setting the stage, doing the homework, getting everything ready and then pressing the button. It’s the letting go that and observing, that creates unsettling feelings. Less and less, though, as I practice. And more and more, I am able to teach my client’s this strategy, and watch this calming practice work for them.

A trusted colleague of mine mentioned recently that business has three stages: generation (energy and magnetizing); creation (taking action); and institution (putting the structures in place). You can’t succeed without all three, much like a stool can’t stand without 3 legs.

This summer, I’m regenerating. Putting ideas on paper, so that in September, I’ll have plenty to act on, and structures will be in place.

With some newfound freedom, I’m both uncomfortable, and excited beyond words.

It’s a new time for me — to create, and be. To review my priorities, and to work on what will bring me the greatest joy, and prosperity.

I hope that this summer, you have some time to recharge, regenerate and refuel.

I’m just a few days into it, and it’s feeling right on.