Monday, September 27, 2010

How to Make Social Media Work for You

Apparently, I am one of the few people who didn’t notice that Facebook was down for an extensive period. I didn’t see any of the tweets on Twitter about it, either, even though I was at my computer all day. I found out about Facebook being down when I listened to the news.

Now, why is that?

As a person who speaks and trains on face-to-face networking, I do not spend much of my day on Facebook and Twitter. I wake up in the morning, check both, and usually add something of interest that I stumbled across in my reading, or add something about improving communication. I do the same thing at night.

The site I do spend quite a bit of time on is LinkedIn. I am a member of many groups and allow new discussions to flow into my inbox. Often I am one of the first to comment on topics that are relevant to speaking, training, and writing on communication issues. Many of the articles posted are outstanding, and I would have never found them on my own.

Am I on the right path? My belief is that I am. A recent survey found that 1 out of 5 teens are leaving Facebook because they are bored with it, though a small percentage is leaving because of parents watching their posts. Recently I’ve been hearing that people feel Facebook is becoming too commercialized, as well. At any rate, it seems that things are changing on these sites.

Some of the social media site experts are now expounding the idea that blogs, once again, are becoming the preferred way of connecting online. An eMarketer’s survey found that more than 1/2 of people online read a blog at least once a month. That makes for an awful lot of people who are not reading blogs, but the way I look at it, this is a huge potential for those of us who do.

I plan to keep blogging and sharing what I learn in my day-to-day life.

It’s the Little Things

I am not giving up on social media sites just yet, though. Here are some things I have learned:

1. Share articles that you have found useful.

2. Keep your own promotional materials to a minimum—being known as someone who shares great information is truly a plus.

3. When you get in the habit of writing quality online information, quality people will want to connect with you.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Writing Every Day Enhances Your Writing Skills?

You have heard it repeatedly: If you want to enhance your writing, write something every day. Easy to do? It depends.

In my family, our parents instilled in us a curiosity about the world. They were great at pointing out that there is always something more to learn. So that know-it-all attitude that seems more prevalent today was not allowed in our household. It was clear to us that it was our responsibility to keep asking why things happened or how something was made.

As I am just about to reach my daily writing goal, my parents and their teachings are on my mind more often. I realize now that all three of us children are still constantly exploring new subjects and sharing our knowledge with others.

My brother shares by digging in and learning everything he can about a subject and shares with great conversations. My sister travels and shares what she is learning with her congregation. I choose to share what I am learning through my writing.

Writing every day can enhance your writing skills—yet, more importantly, a daily focus on writing sharpens your ability to observe the world around you.

It's the Little Things

If you want to write every day, these suggestions may be helpful:

1. Pick a time of day that you have discovered is the “right” time for you to sit down and write. (For me it is before 9:00 a.m.)

2. You decide if you need complete silence. (I have discovered that piano music playing in the background helps my thoughts flow.)

3. Keep a notebook with you at all times. Ideas pop up when you least expect them—and can escape you if you don’t note them.

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Improving Communications with Batchbook

Guest Blogger Brandie Kajino

I'm a small business owner and consultant. I have clients I need to keep track of, which can be a challenge. I looked around and found many different flavors of contact management systems. Oh sure, I had an address book, and even a spreadsheet to keep track of where I was at in the follow-up process with client leads. I was also doing my best to keep track of communicating with my current clients. I was failing miserably.

It's not that I didn't want to have better follow-up. I just couldn't find the right fit. Many of the big players in the CRM ("contact record managers") software arena were way more than I needed on a daily basis. This year, I found Batchbook, and we are happy partners these days. Let me tell you why:

Visibility. I know when I talked to a contact, a copy of the email and any other documents or communication I sent out to this person (attached to their record in the virtual world). It's all in one place, instead of spread out over spreadsheets, searching through my email "Sent" folder and other hidden away corners of my workday. I open the record, and I know what
is going on with Suzy, and if it's time for me to get back in touch with her.

Improved communication. Batchbook made it simple for me to get in touch. A click or two helped me send an email, which is then logged in their record (my account is also associated with my Google Apps for Business account). I wasn't guessing or going by some feeling I had about the last time I had let my client know I was thinking of them. Even better, if I told someone I would call them in a couple months, I didn't have to try and remember that in my busy mind. I just make a note in Batchbook to call them, set the date and know I will get a reminder to
call. So easy!

Improved client relations & continued business. I also found more diligent (and purposeful) communication made it easier for my existing clients to do business with me as well. Many times after sending a note to check in on how things are going, the client would call or email back shortly after thanking me for contacting them. They would also mention they had been thinking about the work we had done, and were ready to book another appointment. This was a huge revelation to me. By keeping that relationship going, we both win.

I guess the lesson I took away from all this was: Keep the communication going. This product helped me keep a very important piece of my business running efficiently: improving communication with clients, leads and partners. It was the right fit for me!

"Brandie Kajino is a small business technology expert, consultant, author & dynamic speaker. Empowering clients with information, tools, technology and simple solutions is her specialty. For more information on her services, products, podcast & internet radio show and free resources, visit "

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Recently I was on a webinar to learn even more about marketing, and one of their free trial offers was a series of email newsletters that you adapt to your own business needs. I signed up and—much to my surprise—the series was practically identical to the Weekly Wisdom newsletter that I have been sending out for seven years.

The only thing missing was my 4.5 lines of commentary. After I finished kicking myself for not taking Weekly Wisdom to the bigger arena, I thought, “Hmmm, sending these out could save me some time.” The company offered a choice of daily, once weekly, or three times weekly newsletters. It might work, but …

Was using this service something that would serve the greater good and make my life easier? I became obsessed with the question and started asking my closest confidants, my sister, my friend, Molly, and even strangers for their opinions.

Then I remembered my values, the first of which is integrity. If I sent that out with my name and contact information on it, it would appear as though I was taking the time to prepare the newsletter. That would not be the case. All I would be doing is paying for the service.

That made my decision. I will continue to personally write Weekly Wisdom and send it to my loyal followers. It’s fascinating that it was a much easier decision to make once I examined my own values. In this case, my first listed value—integrity.


Rotary International’s Four-Way Test says it all:

1. Is it the truth?
2. Is it Fair to all concerned?
3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
4. Will be beneficial to all concerned?

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Improve Communication by Writing Notes to Yourself

This morning I woke up, made coffee, and read the newspaper to keep up-to-date on the activities affecting my local community.

Walked into my office, opened my computer, and watched 90 emails flood my screen. Somewhere along the line, one of them triggered a great idea for the subject of my blog, “Improving Communications with Kathy Condon.” I went to write the idea down but thought, “I don’t have to—this is such a good idea I’ll remember it.”

Hours later, I’d showered and was ready for a busy day of meetings, writing, and developing ways to drive traffic to my new website: As I walked back into my office I thought, “Now what was I going to write about today?” Blank…….nothing……nada.

Both frustrated and laughing to myself, I thought, “Now why in the world did I not write down my good idea?” This forgetfulness episode reminded me of why I always carry a notepad in my purse. Ideas flow easily while you’re out and about, but if you don’t catch them, you lose them.

It is only 9:00 a.m.—and I’ve already relearned a lesson. Write down good ideas. Remember, it is the “little things” that help improve communication with yourself and others.

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Wednesday, September 08, 2010


The decision was not an easy one. I could either have five days at the beach in Long Beach, Washington, or stay home and develop my website:

Rosie, my friend and the artist for my book It Doesn't Hurt to Ask: It's all about Communication has a magnificent home at the beach. In her presence, there are great conversations and fierce card games that challenge my mind. If I stayed home, I would have five days of little communication with other human beings.

I placed the call to Rosie and told her that I decided to stay home and work on the website. Once I made that phone call, my focus turned to the things I needed to do to clear the decks for the five days that were rapidly approaching.

Thursday morning arrived and the focus process began. For this website, unlike those I previously had, I was laser focused on exactly what I want to provide. Using Netfirms E-commerce Site Builder, I began the process by choosing a template for the entire website. This was no easy task, as there were hundreds of them. And once you find the template you like, you still have to choose the color.

The tabs listed the services I provide, and of course, there was the obligatory bio and client list. The framework was complete.

Now the hard part began—verbiage that would catch the eye of my site visitors. Krissi, who I found through Elance became an invaluable asset. Often I would send her a page and she was right there to rework the paragraphs. She helped me clarify statements and wrote eye-catching copy.

The process continued for three days. Then it was time for a break—a trip to Kah-Nee-Ta High Desert and Resort with my friend, Molly. The sunshine, a completely different landscape and laughs renewed my spirits.

The verbiage for the website was pretty much done. Now for the pictures that would help bring the pages to life… My sister, Janet, is superb at working with pictures and, by the way, has a passion for it. We kept Skype on and laughed that she was at my beck and call for the entire day. She got used to hearing me say, “Well, if it were a little more to the right.”

At last, it appeared the website was ready to launch. Now I can make any changes I desire, for I truly am the architect of the entire site. This is something I never dreamed I could do, but advances in technology have made it possible for those of us with limited web design skills … so long as you painstakingly read the directions (not an easy task for me).

The time had come at about 7:00 p.m. on Labor Day. There was both a sense of terror and excitement, for I knew that once I pushed the button, my other website would be gone. I took a deep breath and pushed ‘Publish.’

After it downloaded, the ‘View Your Website’ button appeared. With trepidation, I pushed the button … and then I broke into a huge smile—it had worked perfectly. I found three little glitches throughout the 12 pages; however, they were easy to fix.

As I went to bed that night, there was a huge sense of accomplishment. I slept well. When I got up the next morning, I was wondering if it was a dream—did I really have a brand new website that 100 percent reflected my services. Sure enough, there it was—it was not a dream.

The power of focus has served me well.

Check out my new website:

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