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Oh What a Year! Top 10 Blog Posts from 2014

2014-year

At the end of December, it’s become a new tradition on the BPR blog to pause, reflect upon and highlight some of the best moments from the year gone by. As we say “Goodmorning!” on this last Monday of 2014, it’s only appropriate to again feature a top ten list of the best blog posts we published in 2014.

What exactly determined what blog posts made the cut? A combination of things really, that – let’s be honest – just boiled down to my personal preference. But there is some method to this madness. I wanted to include the blog posts that you, the readers, deemed most popular based upon web hits. I also included some blog posts that captured an important memory or milestone from the year. In many instances, these overlapped, making the selection quite obvious!

If you’re a frequent reader, join me on this trip down memory lane. And if you’re stopping by for the first time, perfect! You get to experience a whole year’s worth of our best moments in one blog.

  1. The Easiest Way to Find Your Passion

In our busy lives, we often lose sight of our passion and forget to devote time to cultivating this into each and every day. This post looks at the single question you need to ask yourself to truly understand your passion – and it’s not “What do you want to be when you grow up.” As we look toward the New Year, we could all benefit from revisiting this particular post…and looking critically at whether our lives align with our passion.

  1. 4 Ways to Make More Money Without Raising Your Rates

I had a lot of fun writing this one and it’s a wonder the topic didn’t come to me sooner! As an entrepreneur, I have to stay flexible and resourceful when it comes to earning a living. These four tips show you that simply slapping a higher price tag on your products or services isn’t always the best answer. Think outside the box with these expert tips!

  1. The 11 Most Annoying Email Personalities

For this blog post, I of course came up with quite a few of these most annoying email personalities based upon my own personal experiences. But I also turned to friends and family who had some great input on ones I missed by sharing their own horrifically frustrating stories. It’s comforting to know I’m not alone, but unsettling to know how common these personalities are! Take a look and tell me how many you’ve personally encountered.

  1. Why We Need Rainy Days

This blog post was written on the tail end of an absolutely gorgeous and invigorating summer. We didn’t have too many rainy days to speak of, which helped me stumble upon the realization of just why we need the rain to keep us balanced on a personal and psychological level. Now in December, I would love for the summer warmth, but looking back on this post was a good reminder to appreciate the weather we have and use it to keep you balanced.

  1. When an Introvert Takes a Family Vacation

2014 was the year of our first family vacation with a toddler in tow. What a different experience! In addition to the wonderful memories, I also gained the realization that family vacations as especially challenging for introverts who rely on alone time to recharge. I was blown away by home many of my readers could relate to this scenario. Thank you for helping alleviate my guilt for liking my solo time!

  1. 7 Ways to Effectively Manage Busy People

I’m a busy person and I live with two other busy people (an entrepreneurial husband and a toddler). Not to mention the many clients I serve on a daily basis. Communicating with truly busy people can be quite the challenge, but I’ve developed quite a few techniques for breaking through the noise. Check them out!

  1. At the Intersection of Passion and Purpose

This blog falls into the category of “2014 milestones” as it describes my physical, mental and emotional journey taking on a crazy GORUCK challenge while raising funds for rare disease research. When you have a Special Ops Cadre leading your team for 6 hours of military training, you can expect to be sore and tired. What I didn’t expect was how fulfilling and life changing this experience would be…beyond that single day.

  1. Life Lesson: 5 Ways to be Your Own Advocate

In this blog post, I shared a personal backstory as to why this topic is so important to me – and my career path. While I am not an outgoing, demanding or selfish person by nature, I’ve learned that at certain moments I need to do a better job of speaking up and going after what I want. These 5 ways to be your own advocate will teach you how to do the same.

  1. 8 Time Saving Hacks I Use Everyday

I haven’t mastered the 4-Hour Work Week, nor am I sure I want to, but I am a huge proponent of saving time by being smart and efficient. Work smarter not harder, right? This blog takes a fresh look at what I am doing right now in my daily life to save time as an entrepreneur, mother and wife. I swear that these tactics have helped me to “make” more hours in my day!

  1. 5 Ways to Build Your Personal Brand

Personal branding is a hot topic that calls for an expertise all its own. I’ve had the pleasure of working with many different clients and helping them to improve and market their personal brand. As a sole proprietor, I am my business’s brand, so I have also implemented these techniques on a personal level. What I like most, is that they are ones you can start doing today. You don’t need a grand budget, entire PR team or celebrity status. Your personal brand really comes down to telling your story in a way that connects with your audience.

There you have it! A sweet and condensed version of the 52 weeks of the BPR blog from 2014 transformed into a Top Ten list for your skimming pleasure. I already have some great topics on my “brainstorming list” cued up for the New Year, not to mention the many new milestones that will inspire topics I can’t even predict. I invite you to continue along with me on this journey of a 20-something entrepreneur!

What blogs or pieces from your portfolio represent your year? Share some of your most memorable moments from 2014 by commenting below!

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2014 in Business & Success, Life

 

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7 Ways to Better Promote Your Blog on Linkedin

linkedin logo cartoon

Linkedin has become a powerful tool for promoting your blog and other articles you have written. I’ve personally seen how Linkedin pushes new visitors to my blog every day – more so than any other type of social media I use, even more than my website.

But how exactly do you go about effectively marketing your content on Linkedin? It can be overwhelming to research and analyze what each of your connections is doing in an effort to “keep up with the Joneses” So I thought I’d make it simple for you. Here is a list of seven ways to promote your blog on Linkedin – at no cost and with a very small time commitment.

  1. Use the long-form post feature

In August, Linkedin made the announcement that all members would be allowed to utilize their long-form post feature, not just influencers. What this means to the mass majority of us is that we are now able to format an article or blog post (with title, photo, hyperlinks, everything) and post it as you would a status update. Additionally, this content becomes part of you professional profile, is shared with your connections, allows people to subscribe to follow your posts and shows up in search engines (on and off Linkedin).

Yeah, this is a pretty obvious and essential tool to take advantage of if you’re looking to promote your blog on Linkedin. One extra tactic I always include is that at the end of every blog post, I insert hyperlinked text that will take readers to the original article on my blog. You’d be surprised how many people click on that link and read through other posts on your blog.

  1. Make it a status update

Why make your blog just a long-form post? You can also share the link directly to your blog as a status update. Ideally, you should wait a few days to do this after posting your long-form post to maximize and prolong the impact. You can also share your link multiple times with a different question or comment to spark discussion.

The benefit of sharing the link to your blog as a status update several times over the coming days and weeks after publishing is that you will hit a different audience with each update. Depending upon what contacts are checking their Linkedin newsfeed at any particular moment, your multiple status updates will increase your reach and broaden your audience.

  1. Share it in relevant group discussions

Don’t overlook the power of all those groups you joined. You can join in meaningful conversation with fellow group members by sharing your blog. I’m a member of various groups; some are targeted at connecting with potential clients, some are targeted at connecting with fellow industry professionals and some are geographically relevant to my business.

Depending upon the topic of the blog I’m promoting, I carefully select the right groups. I don’t just blast out the link to every group out there, otherwise I risk looking “spammy” and turning off the audience I’ve cultivated.

  1. Include a compelling intro/question

Whether you’re sharing your blog as a status update or in a group, it’s most important to remember to craft a compelling introduction or pose a question to accompany the link to your blog. It’s absolutely worth the few extra minutes it will take you.

Think about what makes your blog relevant to each audience. Why should they care enough to read it? Don’t just say “Hey, look at my latest blog post!” Give them something of value or ask for their input. Once you begin implementing this tactic, you will be amazed by the increased number of views, likes and comments you receive!

  1. Comment on other people’s posts

You get what you give. This means if you want to increase your number of subscribers or comments, you must also become a subscriber and commenter. Make it a goal to subscribe to one new interesting Linkedin publisher a day and comment on three other people’s latest post. If that’s too ambitious, bump it back to every week.

No matter the frequency at which you engage with other people, it’s most important that you make an effort and do so consistently. Becoming a valuable member of the Linkedin publisher community is not only about sharing quality content, it’s about contributing to the conversation which includes engaging with the content produced by other members as well.

  1. Add it to your profile’s portfolio

As I mentioned above, Linkedin’s long-form post feature will automatically place your posts under the “posts” section of your profile. That’s great for promoting each individual post on Linkedin, but what about promoting your blog as a whole? You can and should utilize the “portfolio “section of your Linkedin profile by adding the link to your (wordpress, blogger, etc) blog. You can include a graphic with this to really capture viewers’ attention and bring your blog to life.

  1. Add it to your profile as a publication

Finally, be sure and add your blog as a “publication” on your Linkedin profile. This allows you to display your blog’s name, link, when you started it and a short description to give readers a feel for the type of topics you feature. This is a very professional-looking way to promote your entire blog while ensuring that it is always easily accessible to connections who visit your profile.

What other ways have you found to effectively promote your blog on Linkedin? Share your tips and tricks by commenting below!

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2014 in Social Media, Technology

 

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Twitter’s 6 Distinct Communication Networks and How to Utilize Them

Photo courtesy of Social Media Today

Photo courtesy of Social Media Today

Twitter is a vast ocean of information that is constantly being washed over with new content every second of the day. This fact alone can make Twitter feel like an overwhelming marketing tool or one that is simply impossible to keep up with. The fact is that you don’t have to keep up with it all. You only have to effectively connect with one of the several distinct communication networks that exist within Twitter to make an impact.

To better understand just how our communication strategy should shift when reaching out to these various groups of contacts, let’s take a look at the 6 different networks as well as how we can more effectively shape our message to appeal to them.

  1. Polarized Crowds

This communication network attracts some of the most heated and uncomfortable Tweet debates out there. You know what I’m talking about, the ones where 140 characters are flying back and forth with more sarcasm and passive aggression than any professional adult would dare to use face to face.

Polarized crowds make the social media world go round. It’s why divisive topics like pro-life/pro-choice, religion, immigration, gun control and every other political issue imaginable rank among the top trending hashtags day after day.

Polarized crowds are a great network to tap into if you’re looking to “poke the bear” a little. Stirring up a debate is an effective way to get your name out there – for better or for worse. Just be prepared to stay interactive with this network as responses will come at you faster than you might be able to handle and an unacknowledged Tweet is often assumed a concession.

  1. Tight Crowds

Opposite to polarized crowds are tight crowds. These are a network of Twitter followers that come together over a unified hobby or career. If you’re into social media marketing, for example, there is certainly a “tight crowd” to tap into for professional advice and discussion.

You can utilize the knowledge of tight crowds by regularly participating in live discussions. Research relevant hashtags or upcoming tweet chats and jump right in! Be sure and balance sharing information with asking insightful questions. Never has such a wealth of knowledge been expressed in rapid-fire mini-conversations.

  1. Brand Clusters

Brand clusters are fun because they are the cutting edge (if not bleeding edge) of anything trendy going on. This is a fragmented community, but very tight-knit when you hit upon a trend that a group of people are interested in.

You can easily identify potential brand clusters by watching what’s trending on Twitter at any given moment. Check out the hashtags to get in on this network and contribute some valuable information of your own that just might earn you some extra trendy clout.

  1. Community Clusters

Community clusters are exactly that, a cluster. You can often find them swarming around news events whether it’s local, regional, national or global. Community clusters are a great way to stay in the know of what is going on in a particular area.

Harness the power of community clusters by carefully crafting your content to what is most likely to interest them given their demographics and geographic location. Or find answers to particular questions – even public opinion – by joining in a tweet chat relevant to your topic of interest.

  1. Broadcast Networks

Next up is broadcast networks which include media outlets and famous individuals who are in the public eye. Public Relations professionals are most likely keeping a close eye on this communication network as they present relationships that could offer future publicity for your client or cause.

The best way to utilize the broadcast network on Twitter is to stay up to date and to offer meaningful information, when appropriate. Keep in mind that this network if most likely to be bombarded with news pitches and requests for retweets every minute of the day. They’ve become mostly immune to all the “noise.” Your best bet to breaking through is to first build a sincere relationship, only tweet when you have something really good to say and support them in return by retweeting and favoriting their tweets (with insightful comments, for bonus points).

  1. Support Networks

Finally there are support networks. These include companies or services with customer support and non-profit organizations who may offer emotional or medical support to their constituents. For the most part, the members of this network have a vested interest in helping you solve your problems. This is when one small tweet can go a long way to getting the support you need.

The best way to utilize support networks is to be kind, ask a sincere question or politely explain a problem and always, always use your manners! I stress this because it can be easy to get irritated when dealing with a customer service issue, but just as much as the problem is a reflection on the company, how you communicate with them is a reflection on your own brand.

Now that you have a better understanding of the 6 different types of Twitter networks, be sure and consider this information when planning your social media strategy. Who you’re trying target should shape your message and the way you approach questions/discussions. It can also help you organize your list of contacts to connect with them on a more personal level.

How have your social media efforts been impacted by Twitter’s distinct communication networks? Share your personal experiences by commenting below!

 

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The Power of the Written Word: Why Marketers Say Written Content Still Trumps Visuals

words have power

The saying goes that a picture is worth a thousand words, but it when comes to marketing and branding, experts say that written content is still king.

A recent survey from Social Media Examiner shares some interesting (and unexpected) insights into how marketers value social media and content. What really caught my attention was that even in a social landscape that appears to be dominated by visuals and graphics, it’s the written content that still has the greatest impact on sharing a message.

Over half of marketers – 58 percent – claim written content is their most important form of social content. Visual content – the next highest category – came in at just 19 percent. From there the categories become even weaker and more spread out.

But we know visuals grab our attention, so why should we care about these numbers? The results of this survey were from 3,000 marketing professionals that live and breathe social media every single day. They quite literally make it their job to try new trends and monitor the results. Regardless of what we feel is most effective, these people have the data to show us what’s really working. And they’re saying that even the most mesmerizing graphic designs will miss the mark without quality written content to back it up.

Really though, this survey isn’t telling us anything we shouldn’t already know. It’s simply bringing to light the obvious trends that may be so obvious we are completely overlooking them. Social media values (and rewards) original written content. Take for example, LinkedIn. They understand the power of the written word and that’s why they created a publishing platform where members can share their thoughts in an organized and attractive format.

In case you still need more proof to convince you of the importance of written content as part of your marketing strategy, let’s not forget about SEO. Search engines love original written content! Even visuals rely on written content in the file name and captions to help boost their indexing on search engines.

The Takeaway

This is an important reminder to not get lazy with our content and messaging. Your visuals and audio clips will grab your audience’s attention, but your message will be what makes them stay. So often I see a business or brand post beautifully designed graphics to their Facebook page only to combine it with a poorly written caption – or none at all. The difference between these visuals and ones that include a quality caption can be clearly seen in the interactions it receives.

Additionally, original written content is a valuable opportunity to give a voice to your brand or define yourself as a thought leader and authority. Better yet, use it to tell a captivating story!

And finally, there is absolutely still reason to share visuals alongside your written content. When combined, the two will grab the minds and hearts of your readers – and keep them coming back for more.

Do you agree or disagree that written content remains more powerful than visual or audio content? Share your reasoning by commenting below!

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2014 in Business & Success, Social Media

 

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#YOUREDOINGITWRONG: 7 Common Hashtag Mistakes

hashtagabuse

It’s taken the social media world by storm and nearly every platform has found a way to make it relevant to the way people share and archive content. It’s the #hashtag. This crooked looking game of tic-tac-toe no longer means “number sign” in modern society. Rather, it’s better known as the powerful symbol that turns ordinary text into a hyperlinked portal to a galaxy of content shared around the world on that exact topic.

And just as we have with nearly every other aspect of social media, we have found quite a few ways to royally mess up the use of this tool. Here are seven common ways people are abusing the hashtag way more than they should.

1. It contains a spelling error

Hashtags are very specific. What you type in is what you get.  Unlike a Google search that will offer you a courteous suggestion of “Did you mean…?” hashtags don’t spell check, research or interpret what you type. By design, this is what allows every hashtag to be so unique and to represent exactly what you want to say. This also provides the perfect storm for spelling errors to render an otherwise powerful hashtag completely useless.

Let’s look an example. The very popular #iloveyou has more than 18 million posts on Instagram (at the time of writing this blog). Using this hashtag will get your picture seen by any of the millions of users who would stumble upon this mega-tag by the second. However, one slip of the thumb might cause you to tag #iloevyou which places your content in the ranks of just 45 other posts, earning you hardly any views. Proofread before publishing just as you would anything else! Never rely on auto-correct, which really seems to hate the formatting of hashtags.

This major hashtag fail may not be the direct result of a spelling error, but it is the result of someone not proofreading before publishing…and anticipating how awkwardly this phrase would read when smooshed into a hashtag.

hashtag fail

2. It is too long or too specific that there’s simply no chance anyone else will ever use (or see) it

Let’s take for example a hashtag like #icantwaitforkathysbirthdaypartyintoronto. I didn’t search it on Instagram, but I don’t feel like I have to. Hashtagging the alphabet backwards will have more posts than this. The example I gave is of a post that is both too long and too specific. Only in very isolated instances is hashtagging a whole sentence acceptable (or part of a good strategy). Instead, the post could have been written as “I can’t wait for #kathys27thbirthday in #Toronto!” Toronto is a far more powerful hashtag. And Kathy’s birthday-specific hashtag could become the designated tag for the party and where your whole group of friends collect photos in one place.

3. It is the “off version” of a more popular term

Holidays are among the biggest offenders of this common mistake. Let’s take for example the Fourth of July. Should you use #fourthofjuly or #4thofjuly or #july4th or #julyfourth or ditch the date and go with #independenceday? Don’t even venture down the path of throwing the year in there or your mind will explode with uncertainty!

The truth is none of these options are “wrong” per se. They were all used to tag posts related to the holiday and each earned some pretty hefty numbers. If your goal is to tag the fastest trending term, then do your research! Scan the different options and compare numbers. Another strategy is to simply go with what you like best, but make sure to be consistent and use this exact term across all your related posts.

4. It simply makes no sense

Sometimes it’s the result of a spelling error, sometimes it’s the result of not understanding hashtags and sometimes it’s the result of not understanding the English language. No matter the reason, if your hashtag makes absolutely no sense, you can bet that no one else (unless by sheer mistake) will choose to use this same tag and your post will never gain exposure beyond your own, isolated network. Again, do your research on whether your tag already exists, whether there’s a more trendy option and always proofread before publishing!

5. It is separated by spaces or apostrophes

For as much as I love to see grammatically correct social media posts, hashtags are one of the few times where you need to throw your spaces, commas, hyphens and apostrophes aside.  Here’s why. The hashtag #you’remybestfriend will be broken as soon as it hits the contraction. #You is a strong hashtag, but it’s missing the more relevant hashtag you’re really after here. In this case, you want to write #youremybestfriend, cringe and hit publish. Additionally, posting “# flowers are beautiful” won’t do anything – at all. Things need to get up close and personal for the hashtag to work. That’s right, the words will touch. Same goes for you hyphens and commas! Write #set-up as #setup and #this,thatandtheotherthing as #thisthatandtheotherthing.

6. It is one of 20+ hashtags you’re using in a single post

If the caption under your photo looks like a paragraph of blue links, you are drowning your followers in a sea of hashtags. Worse yet, you’re risking looking as spammy and desperate as those phishing emails from that Nigerian Prince who is still asking me to wire him large sums of money! More is not always better. There is a point of diminishing returns for hashtags. While this strategy will increase the different ways the social media platform shares your content, to us living, breathing humans it will simply look like you care more about being seen than what you’re really saying. Limit your hashtags to (gasp) 5-7 meaningful and relevant tags. We all thank you in advance.

7. It is used inconsistently

Using existing popular hashtags is a great way to promote your content to a broader, more public audience than your own social network. Another strategic way to use hashtags is to create your own as an organized landing spot for all of the content that relates back to your brand. Best of all, other people can contribute to this “file folder” of content by using the same hashtag. This is exactly what these platforms were intended to promote – a social and interactive online environment.

So where does it go wrong? When you use this hashtag inconsistently. Hashtags are, after all, a communications strategy. Just as you (hopefully) know you must remain consistent in your other marketing and public relations efforts, you must also remain consistent in using this phrase with every piece of relevant content you post. Make it a destination to which people want to travel – and stay a while. This requires quality content that is updated frequently.

Now that you’ve learned the most common ways people are abusing this powerful social media tool, I hope you’ll go out and utilize the almighty hashtag with confidence and creativity. #goodluck!

What are some of the most egregious mistakes you’ve seen when using hashtags? Share your funny (and helpful) examples by commenting below (pet peeves are welcome)!

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2014 in Business & Success, Social Media

 

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My Personal Experience with Personal Fundraising: Tips to Help You Reach Your Goals

I am very grateful for my generous supporters who helped me exceed my personal fundraising goal--But I definitely had to work for it!

I am very grateful for my generous supporters who helped me exceed my personal fundraising goal–But I definitely had to work for it!

On Saturday, August 9th I took on a difficult challenge that pulled me outside my comfort zone. The physical endurance was only one aspect that made this experience unlike anything I’ve ever done. The personal fundraising for a charitable cause was completely new to me as well.

As I wrote in my blog explaining the GORUCK challenge, personally asking for donations isn’t something I’m comfortable with. I’m not used to not being in complete control of reaching my goals. Usually, it’s solely my hard work and efforts that earn me the prize.

From this whole experience, I walked away with quite a few new skills I never knew I had in me. One of which is my ability to set a fundraising goal – and exceed it. With the help of family and friends, I raised more than $1,200 for rare disease research. This was $950 more than I thought I was capable of receiving. What did I do to reach my goal? Here are some of the techniques I found to be most effective for personal fundraising:

Carefully choose your fundraising goal

In order to reach a goal, you have to first set one. I underestimated how important this number truly was for my own fundraising. If your goal is too small, donors may choose to give you a smaller amount than they would have it was twice that amount. Additionally, once you reach that goal, you have less power behind your plea for donations – even if you wish to continue to raise funds beyond it.

On the flip side, too lofty of a goal can turn donors off and make them feel like their small donation is merely a drop in the bucket. So where’s the middle ground? First think of the “safe” number that comes to mind, the one that you know you could reach with only about 60% effort. I would suggest setting your goal at twice this amount. This makes donors – at any level – feel like they can contribute to your success. It also holds you own feet to the fire to not get complacent or lazy with your fundraising.

Be strategic with who you ask

Simply put, people must be asked. If you don’t provide your family and friends with the opportunity to easily make a donation, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. And as I preach with any other type of communication, you must be strategic. If you start asking every single person in your social network (even ones who you have no real relationship with) you’re bound to come off looking spammy and desperate. Let’s be honest, only a small fraction of these people will actually donate.

Save your time and effort by narrowing down a core list of people who have your back and have supported you throughout other moments in life. These are the people that deserve a quality solicitation and will most certainly have the greatest return on your investment.

Make it direct and personal – don’t rely on social media!

Once you’ve narrowed down who you want to ask, you need to make it personal and genuine. Simply sharing a link to your fundraising page on Facebook may garner a few “likes” and words of support, but it does nothing to compel people to make a donation. Your network is able to easily hide between the virtual curtain and don’t feel any personal pressure to support you.

Combat this by writing an email, a letter or picking up the phone. Craft your message directly to that person and the relationship you have with them. While your core “ask” may be the same, add in a paragraph or two that shows this is not a mass message.

Be strategic with the timing of your asks

If you ask too far in advance, you are likely to get the response of “Sure, I’ll support you.” But then these people don’t feel the need to make the donation immediately and the task gets lost among their more pressing to-dos.

You should make your first ask about one month in advance of your fundraising deadline. You can even use this as the reason why you’re contacting them at this time. This also allows enough time to go back and follow-up with these same people in a few weeks, if you don’t hear back.

Ask for specific amounts

Asking someone for a certain level of donation can be tricky, but it is also effective for closing the deal. This amount will vary for every person on your contact list. Consider their personal financial situation, how well they know you and whether they have supported you at a certain level in the past. Together, these pieces of information will direct you toward the appropriate amount to ask for.

Why this is so effective is because it can compel people who have the means to actually give at that level. Otherwise, they may make a smaller donation than you were expecting. Additionally, for contacts who have limited means, you can encourage them to donate by asking for just $5. The direct ask lets them know that this amount is what you expect and what you’d appreciate; it’s not too small to make a difference.

Give away something of value in return

Even though this is a charitable donation and the “warm fuzzies” should be a good enough reward, people still like to feel as though they’re getting something for their contributions. This does not have to be monetary or material. I wrote a blog on why I was fundraising and this allowed me to initiate the conversation again with my networks. Moreover, it gave deeper insight into why this cause is so important to me.

People want to know that this is something you truly believe in, that it’s something you are committed to and something that’s unique from anything else you may have asked them to support in the past. Share this by writing a story, hand making an item to raffle off or giving a small token of appreciation to every donor.

Stay organized

Remember that list of contacts I told you to put together? Do yourself a favor and put that in a spreadsheet. You can then track who you contacted, for what amount, on what date and note any correspondence you’ve had with them. This will show you the appropriate time to initiate a follow-up or another means of communication. This will also be a big help when it comes time to thank your donors.

Follow-up, follow-up!     

Use that organized spreadsheet as a tool to carefully time when and how you will follow-up with each person you contacted. Sending an email with no response and failing to follow-up is your own missed opportunity – not your donors’. Much like hiding behind the virtual curtain of social media, people can easily brush off a single email or voice mail solicitation. Sending one or more personalized follow-up messages makes it harder to ignore. A no is as good as a yes, and that’s all you’re asking for. If someone can’t donate, that’s fine. Ask until you receive a response either way (then track it on your spreadsheet).

Thank donors immediately AND post-event

Finally, show gratitude! Once you’re alerted that someone made a donation, immediately thank them with a quick message. Then, hand write (yes with a pen and paper) your formal, post-event thank you notes. I’m a big fan of including a picture from the event along with a personal message to each donor. This is such a critical step for completing the fundraising process. You may have already gotten what you wanted out of your donors, but remember that for any future fundraising efforts, they will likely be the same network you come back to and will remember this experience!

P.S…my fundraising page is still live and open for donations! It would be a missed opportunity not to ask, right?

Have you had the experience of personally fundraising for a charity or cause? Share what you found to work – and not work by commenting below!

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2014 in Life

 

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5 Ways to Build Your Personal Brand

personal brand

Whether you’re the business owner or the intern, building a personal brand is a powerful way for employees at all levels to increase their credibility and showcase their expertise. Everyday people have become celebrities all because of how they positioned their personal brand on social media and beyond.

We each have the ability and access to all the tools we need to start building our own brand today – and it’s quite simple! Here are five essential steps for building a strong and influential personal brand.

1. Define your area expertise

First and foremost you have to be able to clearly define your personal brand. Otherwise, how can you expect anyone else to? A powerful component of your personal brand is your area of expertise. Don’t be intimidated by the word “expert.” This doesn’t mean you need to be the most knowledgeable person in the world on a subject. Rather, you simply need to identify a subject that you know a lot about and for which you have passion.

2. Adopt a tagline

Once you know the personal brand you want to build for yourself, the next step is to clearly communicate it to the world. Just as a business adopts a tagline, so should you. Having a personal tagline might sound cheesy – and it can be – but only if you choose a cheesy tagline. If the personal brand you want to create for yourself is more professional and serious, there are endless options for a tagline that will also reflect this tone.

Once you’ve established a tagline, put it to use! Incorporate it into your personal website, blog, business cards and email signature. Use it when introducing yourself at networking events or in business meetings to quickly and clearly communicate who you are. A tagline will help keep your brand consistent and make it memorable.

3. Embody your brand from head to toe

While you may get caught up in building your personal brand on your website, blog and social media, don’t forget about the most valuable brand-building asset you have with you at all times – you! Your clothes, hair and accessories all impact the image you give off to the world and this should remain consistent with your brand.

If you want to be viewed as a respected professional, you need to present yourself as one. Give careful thought to your attire before heading out to a client meeting or networking function. Whether you do this or not, I promise you people will notice either way.

4. Create opportunities for other people to experience your brand

You can create an awesome brand for yourself, but if you don’t allow others the opportunity to experience and interact with it, it will have little impact. Just as a business puts great effort into promoting their brand, you should put effort into promoting yours too.

For a personal brand, this does not require the same tactics that businesses use. Not many of us have the budget (or confidence) to put ourselves on a billboard! Instead, maximize your online presence by creating a personal website, starting a blog and maintaining a strong social media presence. These are all great ways to showcase your area of expertise and give your network an intimate experience with your personal brand. In addition to the virtual world, get out in the real world too! Take advantage of speaking engagements, networking functions and other social events to get out in your local business community and represent your personal brand.

5. Be consistent

If you do nothing else when building your personal brand, be consistent! Think of any business that has built a successful brand; they do not waver from the core values it represents. All of their internal and external communications center on strengthening it. You should embrace this same level of consistency when shaping your own brand.

With every new business opportunity, consider whether or not it aligns with your brand. If not, it’s likely not in your best interest to pursue it. Your brand represents your morals, values and character. If your actions don’t align with the image you’re trying to create for yourself, you will never achieve a strong and influential brand. Instead, keep your personal tagline top of mind and use it to guide the way you present yourself to the world – in person, online and everywhere in between!

What steps have you taken to build your personal brand? Share your tips and tricks in the comments below!

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2014 in Business & Success

 

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