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.

The night before my MMM Tour, I came down with a vicious stomach flu. Feeling better in the morning, I ventured out, not wanting to cancel my Back Bay coffee stop, and eager to talk with entrepreneurs who might want to toss around a few business ideas.

What I didn’t realize was that it was my stomach that was tossing around.  So, I made an executive decision to call it quits – moments after I found a parking spot on Newbury Street, which is no easy feat!

Needless to say, I couldn’t get home quickly enough, and took it easy for the rest of the day.  Several hours, several naps, and several cups of green tea later, I was feeling better. But, I was home, not at my Make Money Monday Tour, helping small business owners.

So I’m writing with the hopes that anyone who may be tossing and turning with a great idea, and who missed me at my MMM stop in Back Bay,  give me a call for some one-on-one time.

Life happens and we make good.

I’d like to take it one step further.

I’d like to make great — wherever I go, and whatever I do.

You?

Often when we feel like business is down or we missed an opportunity, we have a tendency to get “down” on ourselves.

But, little do we know that those setbacks, or what appear to be setbacks, are just little breathers – or spacers, as I like to call them, there to make us stop and re-analyze a situation and take note of “what is” and “ what isn’t” for real – in any given situation.

Take for example an event, where attendance is less than you expected. You prepared. You created material. You called in a videographer. You practiced. And had every intention of “rockin’ the crowd”. But, you were disappointed in the turnout.

The truth is: You had half the audience than you “expected.”

The Silver lining is this:

  • You made an impression to whoever showed up, and engaged them as your primary focus
  • You practiced your speech/talk/presentation so you’ll be better next time
  • You created handouts for your next event, and took that item off your to-do list
  • You have video footage, or audio snippets you can use in sales and marketing materials, including podcasts, social media, You Tube, pitches, promotional DVD’s
  • You took advantage of the one-on-one opportunity to connect with the organizers and hosts of the event, and can capitalize on that connection and relationship to get to the next level
  • Your brain kicked into “Ferrari gear” to make lemons out of lemonade, and it worked!

Most of you know I am an optimist, and believe that everything happens for a reason.

When you’re having one of those moments where the clouds are hanging low, STOP. Look at what this situation may be teaching you, and learn from it. Think about how you can use it to your advantage.

Most entrepreneurs have the uncanny ability to think on their feet.

Take the cloud and re-invent it, just as you do every day, in business and in life, to make it work for you.

Often we’re so consumed in our own thoughts that we forget to realize — if we’re taking the right steps, and have intention and inspired action in our work, and in our passion, that the pieces of the puzzle will fall together. What puzzle? Projects that require multiple strategic steps, by a handful of people, with a purpose and focused end goal in mind.

And so it happened today, or yesterday really, as I write this in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. The start of the week, and a jam packed day, the kind of day with clarity, activity and excitement every entrepreneur dreams of. Baboom. Our press releases were read, noted, and the media were on their way. A photo session was scheduled, as well as plans for an upcoming interview for Let’s make You Shine, and the Make Money Monday Tour. All this, at today’s MMM stop, the Coffee Break Café in Quincy.

Wow.

Even more Wow, was that a young business owner from Canton, came to see me at the Tour stop, and just happening to be there, had photos taken too, with the Patriot Ledger. Tina Prisco, from Te Salon came to meet me for free business advice, got an hour’s worth of ideas, and just by chance, got unexpected added value to promote her salon. That’s what I call great timing.

One person can start a business, but it takes a team to grow a business. That’s tweetable.

Tina, listen in.

Sales, writing, consulting, social media, payroll, technical work, PR, joint ventures, public speaking gigs, newsletters, interview series, and I could go on, take time. Lots of it. The life of an entrepreneur, and the many hats we wear, and the many who wear those hats, work best when pieces fit like a puzzle.

I am grateful to my team who help lay out the pieces to the puzzle, and strategize where to put them.

I am grateful for their expertise, because I’m only one person.

It takes one person to start a business, but a team, a great team like mine, to grow a business.

Don’t force the pieces of a puzzle to fit. Each has its place, and reason to be there.

You can be an expert, but not of everything.

Share the wealth. Let everyone shine.

There’s such pride in a finished puzzle.

You’re a busy entrepreneur pulled in a million directions.  Meetings, network receptions, events, campaigns.

Sometimes it’s hard to fit it all in. If you’re promoting yourself properly — You Have Your Info Out There! That means press releases in a steady flow about where you are and what you’re doing.  It also includes social media components.  I’m fairly new to social media, but have a team of textperts and experts who are also on the go, helping “me” get out there in the marketplace.

If I can’t get out there, how can I help you get attention in a crowded marketplace? That’s my passion!

So, what do I do?   Set up a Google Alert on myself.

One night I came home to three postings on the web  (see below) :

I might have been skiing, I might have been working, I might have been creating a new proposal for a client, or on a strategy call with a small business owner.

But the bottom line is this.  My name was out there.  And Google let me know.

Thank you Google.

I appreciate the referral.

 

Milton, MA…Business and Life Strategist, Robin Samora, recently interviewed celebrity photographer, Nikki Incandela from La Jolla, California on her monthly interview series.  The title was Put Some Pizzazz in Your Picture: What Your Image Says About You.

Nikki spoke about the importance of images in your personal branding. “With the prominence of Facebook and other social media, consistent branding is very important for your on-line presence and distinguishes you in the marketplace,” she said.  Nikki also offered some pointers on the different ways to use your image in your marketing and collateral, and shared her vast experience about being comfortable in front of a camera, style, and how to have an image that “attracts business.”

“A bad image can follow you for years,” said Nikki, “but a great image makes you confident and empowers you in your professional and personal life.  You have about four seconds to create an impression to say who you are as a person.”

“Nikki incorporates an important lesson I’m offering,” said Robin.  “No risk, no reward. Go for it. Don’t wait for someone to discover you. Put yourself out there and celebrate your brand – and  pretend it’s bigger than it is. If you do what it takes, you’ll grow into your new shoes. Nikki works at her public image using networking, social media, and she is a fabulous photographer,” continues Robin. “She also aligns herself with who she is, and where she wants to go!”

Incandela, who started as a fashion designer, was just at the Oscars not only to shoot the most glamorous Hollywood stars as they came down the runway but also had an opportunity to get fitted for a couture dress to wear at the gala event.

“Nikki and I have been working together informally for a couple of years,” said Robin, “but recently – she made a decision to make it big. I see fireworks in what she’s doing. It’s a combination of her inner flame, talent, and doing what she loves. Nothing makes me happier.”

About Robin Samora

Robin’s career began in advertising and then transitioned to media buying in the film industry. She owned two restaurants, became a Major League Baseball licensee, and worked in cable television as an Event and Promotions Manager – with major networks such as ESPN, HGTV, CNN, and MTV.  Robin eventually started her own company in 2002, Partner Promotions, a

Brand Ambassador firm for Fortune 500 companies like Comcast, Tivo, and NBC, marketing products and services – one-on-one in the retail sector, at business events, and in the community.

Wanting to utilize her talents, and years of coaching experience, Robin realized she loved working one on one, with clients, entrepreneurs and small businesses – not just major corporations.  She couldn’t help but notice that she would attract people who wanted to talk, and ask her advice. It became clear to her and those who sought Robin out for her insight, wisdom and advice — that she would be a “calm voice of reason, in a storm,” and provide a path for “next steps” to get recognized and promoted in the marketplace.

With years of business knowledge under her belt, Robin launched — Let’s Make You Shine a business and life strategy company for entrepreneurs who want to boost their bottom line, get attention and stand out in the marketplace. Now, Robin takes great pleasure in teaching others how to realize their dreams and potential, while also making a difference.

Let’s Make You Shine has been created with more than two decades in business development, operations and execution, sales and marketing, and extensive professional training. It’s Robin’s mission to help her clients make more profit, share their gifts and passion with the world, and get recognized for who they really are.

If you weren’t on the call with me this week, I had the pleasure of interviewing my dear friend and colleague, Nikki Incandela, a celebrity photographer from La Jolla, California. She spoke about the importance of putting pizazz in your picture, and what your image says about you in branding.

Nikki and I have been working together informally for a couple of years, but recently – she has started to POP! BANG! And bring on the FIREWORKS!

For quite some time, she had an idea for a luxury T-shirt line, Your F’exy — and I was lucky enough to witness the birth of this new fashion division. From concept to logo, from sketches to production — in just three short weeks. And where did she debut? At the Sundance Film Festival, of course.

Nikki got a website up in just two weeks (with the right team behind her). She had celebrity photographs posted on Facebook, and on her blog. And now, she’s in business, taking orders for her Your F’exy line. Mind you, this was all while she creating amazing photography for entrepreneurs, small business owners –and clients from the red carpet to royalty.

Nikki added another profit center to her already successful business. She took a risk for a potential reward – which aligned with her fashion sense, and her core beliefs. She knew before she started that she could do it.

What’s particularly exciting for me, is that right after our call on Tuesday, Nikki let me know she was asked to go to LA this weekend, to not only shoot at the Oscars, but also to get fitted for a couture dress to wear on the runway.

The Lesson I’m offering? No risk, No reward. Go for it. Don’t wait for someone to discover you. Put yourself out there and celebrate your BRAND.

For now, pretend it’s bigger than it is. If you do what it takes, you’ll grow into your new shoes.

Nikki works at her public image using networking, social media, and she is a fabulous photographer. She also aligns herself with who she is, and where she wants to go!

Friends, where do you want to go? What courage do you need to get off the bench? What guidance will help you with your idea?

You don’t have to be a celebrity photographer. You can be a budding author, a publicist, a realtor who has it all together, but holds back.

In prior years, I held back. But why? Probably the same reason as you.

Now, what the heck. I’m going for it – and, in a big way.

For Nikki, it’s her first fitting for a couture dress. I can’t wait to see her next year’s performance – or yours.