Ever since I was a kid, Thanksgiving reminded me of a happy time when families got together in the spirit of giving thanks.  It wasn’t a Hallmark® holiday, it was real life. We each were at a different place but connected wherever we were, and that happened to be at the kitchen table.
Life seems to be more complicated now, or maybe I see it through a different lens.  It’s still rosy if you choose that that color. I’m an eternal optimist.
I’d like to share a piece I wrote for my Gratitude Workshop, 50 Ways to Be Thankful and Show Random Acts of Kindness. It’s a reminder that being thankful begins at home.
When you think of having an Attitude of Gratitude, consider this. Being thankful comes from the head, being grateful comes from the soul.
May you enjoy holiday blessings today and always.

I’ll confess.  As much as I’ve heard of Meetup groups to widen your outreach, I never realized its potential to reach a like-minded audience.

If you’re new to Meetups, they’re a great way to build your expertise, test new brand personas and prospect for clients or potential partnerships. They can also help build a list and extend your influence circle – especially if you’re traveling and speaking out of town. Let’s face it, if you’re already in a new city, why not maximize your time there and promote your business?

If you’re thinking of having an event, one way to test the waters is by creating a Meetup.

As a new Meetup leader, you have a free trial for a month and can start a group on almost any topic you like. I didn’t know what to expect and was willing to give it a try.

Hint #1: To promote your event, give everything you think might work a try.

I was surprised that within three days, I had about 15 people interested in my group and made it a point to email each and every person. You can’t be too salesy, though.  Meetups are meant to start a conversation.

You can imagine my delight when a producer from a local news station in Boston inquired and asked if she could interview me and videotape the event. All from Meetup! I responded quickly, which is appreciated by the press.

Hint: #2. Be quick to respond to a reporter’s request.

I joke that you should be available 23/7, making sure to get an hour of sleep. That’s me. Keep your phone handy and turn up the volume. I always forget to switch from silent to my favorite ring tone.

Hint #3:  Create a media package that explains your event.

A media package means information. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it needs to tell a story quickly. We had written a pitch, designed an event flyer, had a photo ready in several sizes and a working registration page via Constant Contact.

Hint #4:  Whether your event is free or paid, as the organizer, you are the voice of the event.  Always be clear and congruent. A mixed message never sells or gets press.

Hint #5: Learn what works and use it. Meetups is a platform that works depending on how you want to use it. If it doesn’t work for an event, it can lead to other opportunities, if you allow it.  So, set a good intention. Good juju will follow.

Lastly, you can’t just depend on one tactic to promote an event.  It’s a combination of trial and error, as well as proven tactics that have worked in the past.

We called the Mayor’s office for the Kids Gratitude Workshop, posted flyers, send pitches to the press, posted on calendars, invited sponsors, used email marketing from strong supporters and asked for help on social media.

One thing that was different here. The event was designed to teach kids the Attitude of Gratitude and how it opens doors to possibilities you can’t even imagine.

You’ll find that when you believe in your mission and have passion, you’ll have success.

Redefine it on your terms. Not someone else’s.

I’ve been speaking more than usual lately, and I love it.  Mostly, because I was scared to death of speaking for years and never thought I would never have the nerve to get up and talk about what I know best: PR, branding, small business marketing and being able to combine the core values of your business and personal brand to help you achieve your best version of success.

For some it could mean improving your expert status, credibility, reputation or visibility. For others, more speaking gigs, opportunities for joint ventures or sponsorships. And that all leads to sales of one kind of another. No sales, no business.

Confidence in sales is a must have.

Here are 7 Confidence Building Exercises to Increase Sales (and your Mojo)

  1. Begin with a pep talk every day. Make one up according to where you need to go, who you need to see, how you need to feel. Practice conversations in your head and in front of the mirror. Change it up frequently. Ask your partner, spouse, friend or dog to tell you how great you are.  Say thank you.
  2. Smile and say hello to at least 5 strangers and tell them what you do. Change up your approach and see which intro gets the best response. I’ve been at the copy desk at Staples and met prospects who turned into clients. Put yourself out there – then follow up!
  3. Learn how to tell at least 3 jokes, and get good at it. You’ll never know when you need one to break the ice! Make sure they’re appropriate for the crowd.  Remember, you’re representing your brand, even after hours and that second cocktail.
  4. Challenge yourself in some new way. Go to a new MeetUp or networking group and talk about your services. Join Toastmasters®. That’s where I started. Start small if you’re nervous about the big stage. Serve as a chair person of a volunteer group.  Acknowledge, accept and put yourself out there as someone everyone should know.  You are the expert in  _____(fill in the blank), right?
  5. Give yourself lots of chances. Throw a party! There are so many adjacent possibilities to trying something new. Just like marketing and PR, you don’t put one media pitch out there, you have a MIX. It’s the same way in building confidence. Revving up your energy creates new energy.
  6. Be a better receiver. Accept compliments, ask for testimonials, build a referral program.  Sometimes, we forget how good we are or don’t ask for the business.  Make a decision to reach out to happy clients. Ask for LinkedIn recommendations. Send surveys to get feedback. Use all of the good, and learn from the not so perfect. Isn’t that how we grow?
  7. Review your progress. How are you feeling on a day by day basis? What are you accomplishing in your career or in other parts of your life? Make note of your successes, sales and growing pains and take a look at the week’s end. See how small changes in your attitude, change you!

Confidence is a game changer even if you have to act as if, for just today.

PS – This is an updated version of a blog from 2014.  I made it more relevant to the Sales and PR process. I’m a bigger believer now more than ever. Confidence is a game changer!

There’s a small shop near my summer house that sells rafts, boating supplies and bouncy floatables to the vacation crowd who flock here every year to enjoy life on the lake. Their prices aren’t cheap, they have a decent selection of products, but from the minute you walk in the store you notice something wrong.

Terrible customer service.

We went to look at rafts and engaged the staff, from the manager to the owner, and what we noticed was true. Customer service was frightful. It wasn’t just their individual attitudes, but collectively it was horrifying. I was ready to walk out, but my friend wanted to buy a raft and was willing to pay full price.

Would they take the raft down so we could see it. NO. Could we look at it to see if it was the right size for the kids. NO. No seemed to be the only response and snarky disrespectful growls didn’t win any points.

We took the raft home and my teenage niece told us how to fight back. 

“Click on their Ad words and tell all your friends to do the same,” she said. “It could cost them thousands.”

At first, I chuckled then thought about it. She was right. If there’s an ad campaign for their company and they’re spending money on Google Ad words, she’s got a point.

I didn’t do it and suggested to the entire family and CEO friend who was irked as well, to let it go.

Truth is: One angry customer who felt violated, ripped off and annoyed at disrespectful lip service and attitude could cost a business money, and lots of it – especially if the business is buying Ad Words.

My take away from this experience and advice to small business owners?  Spend time in training and adopt an attitude of “How can I help you?”

We travel frequently and visit top hotels and restaurants (at great discounts) and companies who care spend time and money training their staff – to make a positive impression, keep a customer for life and create an experience that makes them feel special.

You don’t have to be a top hotel to do this – you or your company can have great customer service.

Hey, no one’s perfect. But from my experience and other’s feedback, this raft store on the shore of America’s oldest summer resort in America doesn’t give a hoot.

I wish they would.

Today I’ll be speaking at Constant Contact about PR Power on a Budget. There should be about 100+ people in the room and I’m on first. All good with me.  I sent in my presentation last week, practiced and decided on an outfit, with a backup just in case.

Does What You Wear Make an Impression on Your Audience?

If you said no, I’ll beg to differ. If you said yes, you’re right! I always tell audiences, “you are your brand wherever you go” and it’s no different on stage. There could be a roomful of prospects that are interested in what you have to say and perhaps wonder what you could do for them. In my case, they want to see me at my best, and I want to give them my best. The total package. I’m also speaking about my passion, “How to Market Yourself” or a variation of the PR theme.  Clothes do count so wear them well and smile for the camera!

Here are 5 Tips on Styling for the Stage or Giving a Presentation and Elevate Your Brand:

  1. Always dress a few steps above your audience. You are the expert and should dress like one. If you’re speaking from stage and are any good, the audience wants to aspire to be like you. Confident and successful. And if you’re selling, it’s even more important. Play the part with your dress, attitude and aura. You’re probably not selling a $49 service.
  2. Many years ago, I made the huge mistake of wearing a red jacket with a leopard collar to a blue chip law firm for a Ryder Cup Event meeting.  I thought I looked jazzy, but the client apparently didn’t think so.  I should have worn a more stylized ‘dress code’ selection, but I didn’t even think about it.  If you’re going to give a presentation to a conservative client or firm, don’t wear the leopard collar. Find something appropriate and accessorize gently. Learn from my 5 figure mistake.
  3. If the audience can smell your cologne, perfume or moth balls from the stage, that’s bad. I’ve been in elevators where I’ve held my breath and the ride to the 30th floor almost did me in. Everything you do has to be brand on, and that includes how you smell.  It seems foolish to even have to mention, but I’ve been at 2 events lately where it mattered.  I suppose I didn’t have to sit in the first row.
  4. Shoes count, especially with women. Women check out other women’s shoes. In fact, women check out everything.  And ask questions like, who cuts your hair and other sometimes personal questions you might think off limits.  My advice, answer at your own risk, or not. You were brought up to answer questions, but you don’t always have to.
  5. Tight dresses and short skirts. Men check out how tight dresses are and how short skirts are, but women take it all in too. Needless to say, refrain from daisy duke dresses and ladies, wear Spanx. Also walk in from the side of a room if you have the chance.  I talk about it in my upcoming book, why. Hmmm.

A few other suggestions.  Men, be sure that your pants are zipped because there’s nothing more horrifying than to have your fly open on stage.  No joke, not that I look, but I saved two speakers from a very embarrassing moment and let’s just say they were grateful.  And ladies, make sure that you have extra pantyhose, because runs really do look bad on stage. And the pink polish to stop the run, is so yesterday.

Wake up extra early too and get to your location well ahead of time. Have 3 copies of your presentation in different places or devices. As another piece of advice, just keep the most recent version. I once delivered a presentation to 300 people and it was a near final draft with notes I made to myself.  When I realized it on stage, I covered my mouth in horror then laughed. It was the most authentic presentation I ever gave and one of the most successful.

Go figure.

Style up your brand. Speak to build an audience. And have fun.

Life is short and you can’t be working all the time.

PS – Remember I gave 2 talks to University Students in Puerto Rico? The University of Puerto Rico had a television crew before my event and did a news segment on me, in Spanish and English.  I never expected it, but it was fun.  You can snag publicity while you’re on vacation! I’ll post the interview on Twitter. Follow me @RobinSamora.

This is a story about an amazing 15-year old girl who wanted to go to private school. Almost everyone told her she couldn’t do it. She’d never get it in and it was way too much money. Impossible and unrealistic they told her. “What was she thinking?”

It was late July. Summer vacation was in full swing. She had no transcripts, notes from her teachers or experience in applying to a coveted school.

One thing she did have though – was a dream.

Two or three times a week, my niece took her boat to town and walked up a long hill to say hello to the Admissions department. Piece by piece she hand delivered her application and asked what she needed to do next. Day by day we talked about what she wanted to accomplish, not worrying about obstacles.  They were clear – lack of financing, tight deadlines and fear of the unknown. “Don’t worry about the how,” I’d tell her. “Anything is possible.”

Our next door neighbor had children attending the same school and offered to talk with Admissions on her behalf. My niece didn’t know this. She went on her merry way visiting, collecting letters from teachers and pursued her dream.  I went to visit the school, to say hello as an unofficial ambassador for the cause and it was clear, they were impressed with her initiative, determination and cheery can do attitude.

You know the “Little Engine that Could”?

It wasn’t a total surprise that “The Teenager Who Could” was funded last minute by an incredibly generous scholarship that made attending possible. Bright and bold, this 15-year old who had never slept away from home got accepted.  She knew she wanted something big for her life – and wasn’t afraid to go for it.

In her first semester as a sophomore, my niece made MVP in JV soccer. In the second, she was asked to join the Varsity Ski team.  She’s a part of a vibrant community and loving it.

PR and Marketing lessons from a 15-year old.

If there’s something you want, give it your best shot. Meet people in person. Get to know them. Just be you. Surround yourself with believers who will go to bat for you, because they want to, not because they have to. Freedom lies in bold actions. You never know what’s going to happen. The power of intention can be magical. Make your follow through rock.

On Spring break she’s going to meet Donald Trump in Florida.

Who are you going to meet?

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Save the Date: Tuesday, March 1 – Join me and #branding experts, Christina Inge, Jeannette O’Neil and Heather Jackson at a Mastermind Workshop on How to Develop and Manage Your Online Brand at #ConstantContact Headquarters, Waltham MA.  Here’s the link to register. It’s from 10a – 2p. Attend one session or all 4.  Let me know if you’re coming! PS – it’s also free.

Goal setting is one of the most important steps to achieving your dreams and a must have when creating a PR Roadmap. Writing down what you want is the first step in making your goals come true and giving yourself permission to revise them as you go along.  There’s also a science behind it. Read what experts have to say in this article, The Science Behind Setting Goals and Achieving Them from Entrepreneur.com.

The author, Jane Porter from Help Scout shared some valuable insights from psychologists and experts and broke setting goals into 5 steps.

Let’s look at them one by one.

  1. Have a growth mindset. Do you have a go for it attitude, not worried so much about how smart you are or what other’s will think?  How about what a mistake will mean?  Psychologist and Stanford professor Carol Dweck believes that a “growth mindset” can be developed over time and that your abilities aren’t fixed.  She shares more information here in this article from Harvard Business Review.
  2. Set meaningful goals. Challenging yourself to grow on a daily basis to what’s meaningful for you and having your goals be measurable are key points in John Norcross’ book, Changeology. In his words, “small steps together equal a giant leap.”
  3. Build accountability into your life.  There’s accountability for everything you do. If you don’t go food shopping, you can’t cook. If you don’t pick up shirts at the dry cleaner, you may go shirtless. (Kidding, but you get the point). Typically, there’s a penalty you have to pay. How much pain are you willing to tolerate?
  4. Don’t fill yourself with false hope. As important as ambition is, it can also lead to unrealistic expectations.  If you don’t get something done, you can feel like a failure. And, no one wants to feel that way. Janet Polivy, psychologist at the University of Toronto, calls unrealistic goal setting, false hope syndrome.
  5. Never underestimate the power of positivity. Leadership coach Peter Bregman suggests thinking in terms of focus, not the end goal. If you were a sales person that would mean concentrating on outreach rather than the exact number of sales you closed in a week.  “A goal points to a future you intend to reach; an area of focus settles you into the present.”

No matter how you look at goal setting, it can be daunting if you give it power to rule you. Reframe your attitude, take small steps that build upon each other and focus on what’s in the present, not far down the road.

That way you’ll feel like you’re making progress which will propel you even further.

PS: Changing your viewpoint and attitude can make a big difference in your end goal and how you see yourself and your business.  Schedule a PR discovery session with me to talk about what you’d like to accomplish this year.  My calendar is here or feel free to email me at Robin@RobinSamora.com.  Entrepreneur hours. So anything goes.

Brand Ambassadors, whether paid or unpaid, have a critical role that’s often overlooked and sometimes regarded as a line item first to cut, budget time.

The truth is, the best Brand Ambassadors mirror your voice and attitude in the marketplace. They take a company’s concept, stats and goals and create, then deliver, a message that feels authentic. Their job is to connect with your target audience and influence them in a positive way.

Busy managers and executives with aggressive goals sometimes forget that the Brand Ambassadors who carry your flag are people too.  Unconsciously, they can change their marketing tone if you forget to treat them as part of your team, barely pay attention or put inexperienced managers — who don’t understand group dynamics or the value of outsourced staff — as first command.

Brand Ambassadors who showcase your products and services are valued allies in your PR and marketing efforts.  Maximize their output and high energy when you work together.

Here are 3 Ways to Motivate Your Brand Ambassadors   

  1. Acknowledge that a Brand Ambassador has an important role, just as important as a sales or marketing team member.  They’ll wear your brand, give a face to your company and hopefully convey heart and soul as well.  Show them the respect that they deserve as they interact with your prospects, clients and colleagues.  There’s an incredible upside to being valued as part of a team.
  2. Appreciate Brand Ambassadors as front line reps and show them love, even if it’s in small ways; invite them to company meetings, trainings and give them VIP access and parking if available when they’re working a high profile event. If tickets are plentiful at a certain venue, consider offering them as a thank you. Often, complimentary tickets get discarded, and it’s heartbreaking for some to see the waste. As in life, the gesture of sharing goes a long way and generosity is seldom forgotten.
  3. Allow Brand Ambassadors the flexibility to deliver your message, in their voice.  Every Brand Ambassador, like every person, has their own unique style, tone and timing  —  and the ways that people listen can be as varied. Be open to different communication styles to reach a wide and multi-cultural marketplace and honor their freedom to express themselves within the guidelines of the brand. With the high-tech world that we live in, there’s never been a better time to reach out and touch someone.

Brand Ambassadors touch one person at a time in ways that social media can’t.

Make every touch point count, from the top down.

Like this article?

Check out others I’ve written about promotions —  3 Key Traits of an Elite Brand Ambassador; The Power of PRiorities, PRofit and PRomotion3 Promotion Secrets of the Rich and Famous

I’ve had the opportunity to travel in many circles – with students who are launching their careers, professionals on the path to success, and CEO’s who run multi-million dollar companies. The brightest of the bunch have characteristics of the “rich and famous” and exude confidence, abundance and a can do attitude in life. More of a why not, than why.

When winners promote themselves, they become who they want to be and step into that role looking ahead, never behind. After all, opportunities are in today’s world, not yesterday’s.

The rich and famous, and those on their way up, share these promotion secrets:    

  • They Act the Part. It takes time, planning and a boatload of confidence acting as if on the path to success. Forward thinking and inspired action to meet your goals trumps the sad sack, sit at home blues. Show up as the person you want to be, everywhere you go. And remember, you’re not an imposter, you’re a creator.
  • The Rich and Famous Attract a Great Support Team. You can’t be totally successful on your own, at least not for the long haul, without some help. It takes the dedication of a team to support you financially, physically and emotionally. And let’s add planning, communication, promotion and marketing to the mix. It takes time and focus to build and maintain a brand and a few thousand thank you’s along the way. Gratitude is more than an attitude.
  • They’re Willing to Give it Their All. A CEO once told me that he woke up at 5am every day to drive 90 miles so he could be the first one in the office. After the company went public, he heard from a co-worker, how lucky he was. “I worked while they slept,” was his comment. “I guess I was lucky I got up early.”  No one can stop you if you know what you want and are willing to work for it.

Act the Part, Play your Role and say Thank You – from your stage, or any stage in life.

 

I’m not the most active networker in the world, but I love to keep in touch with my colleagues and friends during the holidays. And, being a long standing member of a few groups, I especially like to reconnect and see a familiar face (or ten) when there’s no pressure – just to have a good time.

Last night, I had the pleasure of going to one of my Boston networking Holiday parties where I’ve been a member of years. Colleagues I haven’t seen in some time approached me saying things like:

“I read your newsletter all the time and want to talk the first week of January about a new project.”

“Your Cyber Monday promotion was a great idea and I should have taken advantage of it. Can I get feedback on a couple of ideas?

“I’m so glad you’re joining my group and your workshop idea is perfect for our members.  Maybe you can be on my advisory board?”

Not only was I having a great time, learning a couple of new dance steps (I’m rusty on that one), I also took the initiative and approached a new rum company with an amazing product and talked about representing his brand in the marketplace (after a sample or two).

The point is, business and pleasure can be mixed and when you’re not looking for the next ‘big thing’, doors open and conversations begin. Opportunities present themselves all the time, and it’s our attitude and openness that welcome them.

How will you welcome new business this Holiday Season?

I hope with a smile, handshake and for the chosen few, a meaningful hug.

PS – Lots going on in the Partner Promotions world. And so looking forward to a fun and prosperous 2015! How ‘bout you?  Share your thoughts and let me know why…