1. It’s OK not to know everything. There’s a learning curve to trying something new.  Scuba diving for the first time. Making the perfect crepe. Creating killer graphics with cool tools. Inspiring hundreds to take action when you speak. Some say it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert. But, when you embrace that we’re all really experts in training, you’ll find it easier to receive and share information. Viva the 80/20 rule.

2. Sometimes you don’t know what will happen. At the bottom of the ocean, you don’t know what you’ll see or what you might have to do. So, you have to be trained. Your mask might fill up with water. You push the wrong button and go flying to the top (don’t try that). When we’re in execution mode, the best PR and marketing plans might have to be tweaked at the last minute or even scrubbed. Being trained and knowing the options can be a dream come true.

3. Follow best practices. PR specialists and marketers in every stage of their growth learn from a variety of sources. The internet, coaches, books, You Tube, fellow colleagues and the list goes on. To save time and to be more effective, learn from the experience of others and follow established guidelines, hopefully not repeating their mistakes. Best practices in marketing can increase revenue, expert status and visibility, and showcase the star you really are.

4. Paying attention matters. There have been a number of instances where paying attention has been critical to my survival. Scuba diving is one example, hot air ballooning and surfing others.  I could say jumping out of a plane, but I haven’t done that yet. As influencers and marketers, we need to pay attention to what’s going on around us, and what’s really important to our brand, not just what would be nice. Paying attention can put you ahead of the crowd or keep you at rock bottom. It’s always your choice.

5. Listening = Watching. 
There isn’t one of us who couldn’t learn to listen better. When you’re underwater, listening means watching the signs – of your instructor and fellow divers. In business, learning to read the signs could include understanding body language or noticing office discord, without hearing a word. Watching for positive and negative signs of your team and key players could save you time, effort and a big HR mess. Keep your eyes and ears open. Your gut reaction is usually right.

Everyone in my family is back to work on Thursday. One of my daughters is prepping for a 3 week trip to Australia, another is head high in client work and training for a trek to Patagonia.  I’m excited about new business opportunities this month and upcoming speaking gigs at Constant Contact and Sleek Marketing University.

This New Year will bring us new adventures.

What ‘bout you?

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

Traveling across the country as a consultant, mentor, student and friend, has taught me to be a great observer and naturally notice fellow business warriors (or angels) who have a certain air about them — call it their personal brand or executive presence. You might think first class travelers always have it — but that’s not necessarily so. It’s a confident aura or energy that can be spotted across a crowded room.

Studies show that executive presence plays a key role in career advancement – how you present yourself to the world that you’re leadership material. Typically it’s based on how you look, how you speak, and how you behave.

Want to know if you’ve got it?

Here are 7 Signs of Executive Presence:

  • Look attractive, but not sexy. Sexy is a feeling and attitude. Save sexy for after work, and out of your business inner circle.
  • Learn the rules of engagement. Speak with intention, make your messages brief and to the point. Pay attention in meetings– texting and checking emails is often disrespectful.
  • Develop grace under fire. Stay calm and be less reactive. Be honest with yourself. What pushes your buttons?
  • Be able to size up a room, quickly. Who are the people you need to meet and connect with?
  • How’s your Emotional IQ? Are you sensitive to what others need? Do you take time to listen, really listen those you interact with, in business and in the community?
  • Are you a visionary? A leader needs to see a bigger picture, and have a plan so others will follow.
  • Does your reputation help you, or hinder your personal brand. Everything you and others see or hear about you — reflects your reputation. You’ve just got one, so protect it.

Of course, being a tad sophisticated, confident, polished and having a sense of humor would also be included in the bucket of ‘executive presence’. Add to that being authentic, having charisma and being physically fit — not ripped, just healthy.

Like sexiness, executive presence is an attitude. A way that you hold and respect yourself.

You’ve worked so hard to get where you are. Flaunt it, in your own special way.

As I write this, I am smiling knowing what’s behind the curtain. You may not notice it in my new photo taken by my friend and celebrity photographer Nikki Incandela, www.nikkiincandela.com, but it’s there. And, when I saw it, I started to wonder.

How many things don’t we see, that actually are there? Is it that we’re focused on something else or simply too busy? What don’t we see in our relationships with others, or scary enough, in ourselves?

Sometimes what we don’t see, or pay attention to is what’s begging for us to take notice. A business  opportunity that’s shouts our name, an important conversation with a loved one, an overdue phone call connecting to a colleague who’s been MIA for a while.  And the list goes on.

Why is it that we see what we see, and not always what others do?

As a photographer with a keen eye, Nikki saw Lucy, my sweet and elderly Sheltie behind the curtain. She never said much, but presented me one day with triptych images of Lucy’s face – which made me love them both, all the more.

In this case, what was behind the curtain delighted me.

We see what we need to see, for what we need to learn. I asked Nikki to photograph me so I could have a special memory of where I was in my life, to honor the space and place. These images will always be cherished as it was not only a new me she was capturing, but included a glimpse of Lucy at nearly 14 years old. I’ll always remember Lucy in the cool spot of the wood floor near the window, in a cottage that will forever remain dear to my heart.

What’s behind the curtain just is.  It’s what we think of it that holds power.

Happy almost December, let the twinkling begin,

I’ll be with my promotions team on Saturday, December 1, managing the Amazing Race TV auditions for WBZ-TV in Boston.  If you’d like to try out in person at one of two Massachusetts locations, click here (should we shorten this?? ) http://boston.cbslocal.com/contests/amazing-race-casting-call-at-bernie-phyls for details and an application.

Visit me too at the Massachusetts Conference For Women, on Thursday, December 6th.  Partner Promotions /Let’s Make You Shine will have a booth there, and we’ll be making appointments for Free PR Exams.   Here’s the link to the Expo http://www.maconferenceforwomen.org/ We’re at Booth #730 across from the Blogging Lounge.  Check out the amazing line up of speakers like Deepak Chopra, Arianna Huffington, Charlotte Beers, Brene Brown, Kristin Chenoweth, Tory Johnson and the many workshops and Small Business Boot Camp!  Hope to see you there!

For Women & Co. by Mercedes Cardona, OMH Communications
Once a year, you probably have to sweat out the annual employee performance review. And, if your employer is doing it right, it’s not only when you find out how much of a raise you’re getting, but where you stand and where you’re going in your career.

A glowing performance review is always a good experience, but a negative one doesn’t have to be a setback. You can turn a bad review into an opportunity to grow and improve your career if you handle it the right way. “Plenty of highly successful performers have had a not-so-stellar review at some point in their career,” says Nancy Sherr, life coach and owner of A Zestful Life in New York.

The first priority is to stay calm and objective—a tall order after hearing negatives about yourself, but it’s important if you’re going to be constructive going forward. “By handling the interaction in good form, you’ll illuminate your ability to remain professional in what may be a challenging situation,” Sherr says. “Becoming defensive, argumentative, angry, or sobbing will not lead to a positive outcome.”

The easiest way to remain calm is not to respond right away. Most employers will give you a copy of your performance review in writing for your records, so sit with it and really pay attention to the critique. Then, ask your supervisor to explain what his or her expectations are: What exactly would have earned you a good review on each point?

“Let it sink in,” says Linda Wright of Wright Co-Active Coaching. “A lot times if you’re handed a bad review, you see it as: ‘You’ve done poorly and everything is wrong.’ Well,” she points out, “that may not be the case. It may be one area where you need to work.”

How to respond is another issue. Experts disagree on whether to contest the substance of the review. Unless you have some specific achievements you want to point out that were overlooked, arguing that the criticism is unfair can be counterproductive. After all, it is based on the impressions of your supervisor about how you perform within the company.

It is a good idea, however, to set up a time to sit with your supervisor and develop a plan to work on the weak spots that were mentioned in the review. “Everyone is not super-duper at everything,” says Robin Samora, president of Let’s Make You Shine. “It’s a good idea for the supervisor to be able to expand on your strengths and offer suggestions for things they think you can do. You can also ask what development programs are available in the company.”

A negative performance review doesn’t have to be a setback.

If you’re told you’re having trouble expressing yourself or participating at meetings, you can ask if the company will help you join a training group such as Toastmasters. If it’s technical or language skills, maybe your boss can help you line up training or classes. The bottom line is: You need to own up to the trouble spots and offer ways to improve.

During the performance review, listen carefully and ask questions, but frame them in a positive manner: “What would have been a better solution?” is better than “What would you rather have had me do?” A good manager will perceive your interest and focus as a good sign, says Sherr.

Samora recalled once in her twenties when she got a 2% raise that she felt was smaller than she deserved. So she set up a meeting, asked her boss to reconsider, and she not only got a bigger raise, but a confidence boost, as well. “There’s always a nice way to say everything, even when it’s unpleasant,” she says. “You have to be able to stand up for yourself.”

Wrap up your meeting by setting up a timeframe to check in again with the boss to ask about your progress. Regular check-ins should be a part of your routine, anyway.

Negative reviews rarely come out of left field, say experts. If they do, it can be a sign that there’s something wrong in the workplace or how you fit into it. If that’s the case, you need to take inventory and decide how to move on. It can be asking for a transfer to another department—or maybe starting a job search.

“You can tell if the supervisor is willing to work with you or not,” says Wright. “If they gave you a bad review and just want to get rid of you, you’re going to know that.”

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

“Being an optimist after you’ve got everything you want doesn’t count.”
Kin Hubbard

Have you checked your general outlook lately? Do you catch yourself expecting the worst of situations? Do you have faith in others? It may be true that failure is a better teacher than success, but, it’s important to keep a positive outlook on life.

According to the Mayo Clinic, your outlook on life –- whether you are optimistic or pessimistic -– can affect your quality of life in many ways. Optimistic people enjoy longer lives, less depression and distress, higher levels of psychological and physical well-being, better coping skills, healthier hearts –- even a higher level of resistance to the common cold!

Have you noticed that people who are optimistic seem to get more done? Maybe a little part of it is because they live longer and they don’t get sick as often, but think about things like body language, tone of voice, vocabulary. When you believe that things are going well, it is reflected in your posture, the words you say –- even the amount of eye contact you have with others. And, because people tend to reflect what they get, your optimistic outlook ‘rubs off’ on them. When you believe in yourself, others believe in you too.

So, what can we do to increase our optimism? According to the pros at the Mayo Clinic, it’s important to pay attention to your self-talk. Do what you can to remain positive -– if you’re telling yourself, “I’ve never done this before”, remind yourself that you have an opportunity to learn something new. Give it a try, and expect a good outcome. Be willing to laugh at the situation -– or even at yourself. Surround yourself with positive people, and encourage others every day. Fuel your body with beautiful, healthy foods and clean water, and energize your outlook with exercise. With a little practice and a little time, you really can become more optimistic.

Listen to that self-talk this week. What are you telling yourself? How willing are you to step out from your comfort zone and try new things? Are you cheering yourself on, or talking yourself out of success before you even get started? Think about what you can do to increase optimism in your life. Spread enthusiasm, get lots of fresh air and look forward to all the adventures that await you.

“And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud
was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
Anaïs Nin

Sometimes, you realize you just can’t live the same way any longer for fear that you’ll blow up – or blow up at someone who happens to be near you. If you don’t “expand”, you might just explode! The explosive feelings are all about you. You’re ready – or overdue – for growth. On the up side, it can be an exciting time, but in the early stages, dealing with it is often a challenge.

Change doesn’t come to some of us very easily. It’s not tied up in a small box with a pretty bow. If we ignore repeated warnings to change, it can feel like the need to change now reared its ugly head out of nowhere. How many of us ignore those early messages, or don’t pay attention until it’s too late?

Although I have twenty plus years of business experience and a successful business with events and promotions – taking a leap and adding a new dimension is scary, even for me! Often, we have to have a breakdown before we have a breakthrough.

Breakdowns come in many forms and they show up as fear, uncertainty, risk and security issues. You may even hear your inner voice trying to talk you out of realizing your biggest dream. While that inner voice is trying to protect you from hurt, it can also limit you to a life that is safe, but not that fulfilling. That’s where this feeling that you must expand or explode comes into play.

Doing something that feels uncomfortable is often one of the hardest tasks. It’s a risk to make a change, and it takes discipline to stay the course and not give up. Moving forward fearlessly — despite the uncertainty — means saying YES to the unknown. This has been one of my lessons to learn, and I’m reminded of this lesson often.

Trust and faith play a huge role in moving forward when things get scary. It’s important to focus on what you know and to remember that you’re never given more than you can handle. Others have felt this fear and moved through it instead of away from it. Why, I bet if you look back over your own life, you can find places where you’ve moved through this fear to the other side too. Think back over those times, and do it – one more time! If it gets too hard or too scary, go somewhere private and have a mini meltdown — talk it through with a trusted friend, but keep at it. In the end, you’ll be glad you did.

Are you at a place where you need a change? Is life passing you by? Can you taste the possibility, but you’re afraid others will be disappointed by your actions? Worse yet, will others be jealous of your desire to have a better life? How’s that serving you? I’m offering a free 15 minute “Get to Know You” session. It may be just the jump start you need to start changing your world.

Give me a call – let’s talk – and Let’s Make You Shine.