Crystal Washington's Blog

Save Time & Build Relationships: New Year’s Resolutions

If you have New Year’s goals or resolutions, productivity and/or building relationships are likely a part of your plan. In this Fox 26 segment, I had the opportunity to team up with Connections Coach Jonathan Sprinkles and share some of my favorite apps for helping busy (isn’t that all of us?) people reach their goals.

Four Easy Ideas For Customer Gifts

It’s that time of year! You’ve spent 2017 with fantastic customers and partners. Maybe you want to give them a little token of your appreciation, but you want to offer something more helpful than a company tchotchke. What are your options? Never fear, find some creative opportunities below. Fiverr Custom Video The possibilities are endless! Visit fiverr and search for “custom video.” You can hire someone to create a generic video for all clients or, better yet, send a custom video to your VIPs. Honey Extension The Honey browser extension makes finding deals easy! Shop online as you usually would with your favorite stores and Honey will automatically check your shopping cart and place valid coupon codes if any are available. Give A Groupon Groupon is a website and app that enables users to purchase products/services/experiences at 50%+ off the regular price. If your client mentioned their family loves laser tag, you could buy him/her a laser tag Groupon! If they live in a different city than you, check out deals in their locality. Buy Wholesale Maybe you’re looking for something unique to send to all of your clients? Take advantage of the same opportunities available to store owners and bulk order buyers by using Alibaba or SaleHoo. You’re guaranteed to find things you won’t find in major department stores or on Amazon. No matter what option you choose, customization is key. A gift that reflects a conversation or preference will mean more than one that has your logo on it. The more clients know you listen to them, the more they’ll appreciate your partnership.   The post Four Easy Ideas For Customer Gifts appeared first on Crystal Washington.

Four Tricks for Getting the Most Out of Conferences

Is your annual trade conference approaching? Annual conventions require a sacrifice of both time and money. Why not ensure you receive a healthy return on investment? Whether you are a career professional or a business owner, a supplier or regular member, applying strategy to attending events can pay off in business and career opportunities! Set Appointments Before the Event Does the event organizer publish a list of attendees? Perfect! If they don’t, check social media sites like Facebook to see if there is an event page where people are posting about attending. Check Twitter and Instagram to see if anyone is using the conference hashtag. Contact the attendees through social media or, even better, email. A cool trick for finding many professional’s email address online is going to google and searching for “<first name> <last name>” “*@<company website.com/org/etc.” So, for me, you’d look up “Crystal Washington” “*@crystalwashington.com.” Easy. Now, set one appointment per day of the conference. Use an actual calendar tool and send a meeting request to ensure the person you’re meeting with has the meeting on their calendar. Schedule a quick coffee, lunch, dinner or even a fun side activity. If you’re looking for fun side activities, try using the TripAdvisor or Google Trips app. If you’re a supplier at the conference to network with potential clients, setting up side meetings is a no-brainer. However, even if you are attending strictly for education, you should take advantage of the opportunity to connect with old friends, influencers, and even competitors. You may want to change careers or companies one day and building your network now will enable you to already have connections in place. Use the Conference Hashtag Does the conference have a hashtag for social media? If so, do a search of it on Twitter and Instagram and start having conversations with fellow-attendees before the event. This is a great trick for shy people or introverts as it will allow you to build a tribe before you arrive. Even if it’s your first time, you’ll have friends already waiting for you when you arrive. Scan Business Cards and Send LinkedIn Requests Each Night Make a habit of scanning new business cards daily using a card scanning app and sending LinkedIn connection requests every single evening. This way, if there is anyone that you forget to follow-up with on an item discussed, you don’t run the risk of them forgetting you and thinking you’re a strange stalker when you resurface six months later. You can always point to the fact that you met at Conference X and you’re connected on LinkedIn. Send Customized Cards Each Night After you’re scanned business cards and send LinkedIn requests, you have one more very important action to take—send out customized cards! Some of my favorite apps and online tools for sending customized cards, in ascending order of expense, include TouchNote, SendOutCards, and Bond. Don’t send a generic card. If you took a picture with a contact or can grab a photo of something they referenced in a conversation, send that! The post Four Tricks for Getting the Most Out of Conferences appeared first on Crystal Washington.

Nextdoor: Leverage Your Community in 2017

One of the most challenging aspects of this new technology age is the fact that, while we are supposedly more connected than ever, we seem to be less connected to our real families, friends, and communities. If you need proof, look no further than restaurants where you can spot large parties where nearly everyone is playing with a smartphone rather than engaging each other. Can I admit something? I hate that. It’s a pet peeve. In fact, I don’t invite people back to my house for game nights if they come and constantly play on their phones. What can we do about it? Reconnect with our neighbors. Nextdoor is a handy website and app that allows you to connect with your neighborhood. The network is helpful whether you’re a business owner (and I do know people who use it successfully to generate leads) or if you just want to build more neighborly relationships. I went on Nextdoor today as saw this in my neighborhood: How’s that for helpful!? During one of my speaking sessions for a large REALTOR® conference in December, I suggested that all the attendees download the app. I then shared different ways they could use Nextdoor for lead generation. The gentlemen below downloaded the app as soon as I mentioned it and by the end of the session, he had scheduled a showing with someone HE JUST MET on the network! While in the class, people! As for my neighborhood, we’ve planned block parties and thieves have been identified and caught when nearby neighbors, who read about thefts on Nextdoor, posted their home surveillance videos. They featured the unsuspecting bad guys from across the street or driving away! After all, they weren’t looking where neighbors’ cameras were situated.  I’ve used the service to give away furniture, ask for referrals for contractors, and a neighbor even gave me dishes that matched my current set perfectly! One of my good friends recently sent me a note about how she uses Nextdoor: Hi Crystal, Saw your comment on Nextdoor. I am VERY active on my Nextdoor site for my area. It reaches not only your immediate neighborhood, but the 19 or so communities nearby. I’ve invited many people to the site, and told other friends in other neighborhoods how to get on it. Our Nextdoor is very active. I have sold over $1,000 worth of items on Nextdoor to neighbors by posting with photos, shared road construction information and other projects or news going on in our area, discussed local restaurants and other services and vendors, chatted about safety for pets and people from wild animals roaming around the area (bobcats, coyotes, mountain lions, javelinas, etc.), shared safety info about any strangers or scammers, met neighbors through an “information investment club” someone started and we meet even to this day at the library. And amazingly, I have recently sold a commercial property directly to one of those investment club people! (A huge, unforeseen benefit for all involved.) And one more super benefit: the homeowner’s association recently posted a neighborly function through it, and I then shared that with my immediate neighbors who may not have seen the post Many of us met each other in our neighborhood park – and got a lovely free lunch from the association. Was fun and now I know more people around me! I mention this website to everyone because it’s highly effective! No one is on it except the actual neighbors, so you avoid spammers. Feel free to share any of that in a newsletter if desired. I wish everyone would get on Nextdoor. Andrea What are you waiting for? Sign up today! The post Nextdoor: Leverage Your Community in 2017 appeared first on Crystal Washington.

Remove Apps for a Successful New Year

Happy New Year! It’s that time of year again where we make resolutions, select theme words or just commit to actively working to have our best year yet. Typically I create a blog post or send an email to my subscribers with the top apps for goal achievement or for productivity. In fact, I already started to outline a similar post for 2017. Then it hit me. You probably don’t need that, at least right now.  In an increasingly busy world where you are being inundated with new technologies, social networks, and apps, you don’t require another item added to your list without removing an item first. For this reason, my first message to you in 2017 is a challenge. I challenge you to remove every app from your phone that is not enriching your life. Remove Time-Wasters First, review those apps that are time-sucks. If you only use Facebook a couple times a week to check on family, or if you are actively attracting opportunities with the network, it can stay. However, if you find yourself repeatedly engaged in political battles, upset by fake news stories shared, etc., remove the app. Review all apps for social networks, games, past conventions, etc. Remove every single app that will not contribute to your success in 2017. Remove Apps You Don’t Use A brilliant friend told you to start using Evernote but you’ve never got around to it. Every time you glance at your screen, the little elephant stares at you in judgment. Remove it. You want to start using that cool app for to-do lists. You downloaded it two months ago and have been meaning to learn more about it. Delete it. When you have or make time and are serious about using these apps, download them again. In the meantime, they are taking up space and giving you little micro doses of guilt. Turn Off Notifications Unless you are a power user of an app—attracting job opportunities, clients, enriching your network, etc.—you should not have notifications turned on for that app. Hundreds of tiny interruptions in the form of dings and vibrations strangle our productivity and create an overdependence on our phones as we become more dependent on these notifications to release little doses of dopamine, that feel-good hormone that makes us feel happy and loved. Commit to a More Balanced Approach to Technology in 2017 I believe technology should make use more efficient, effective and connected (to people—not technology). When it is not doing these things, it’s time to regroup and reevaluate. Let’s commit to taking a more strategic approach to using technology, especially our smart phones in 2017. Below are a few suggestions. I’m not suggesting you adopt all of them, just use those that speak to you. I will stop charging my phone next to my bed at night. This increases the likelihood of me interacting with it right before bed and as soon as I wake up. I will commit to being fully present with family and friends. I will not play with my phone or incessantly check emails/messages when with loved ones. I will only download apps that I intent to put to use in the next 24 hours. I will be more present in my environment, not relying on my phone to “kill time” on train rides, in the back of a taxi/Uber, or when waiting in public places. I will be open to my surroundings which may result in gaining new relationships and ideas that can enrich my life. Of course, I’ll send you some tech tools to help you in 2017 shortly. In the meantime, comment with the actions you’ve taken to reduce your app/technology clutter in 2017. I want to hear what you’re doing and what is working for you! The post Remove Apps for a Successful New Year appeared first on Crystal Washington.

Postmates for Ordering Christmas Trees?

I am 100% dedicated to using technology to become more efficient, effective and connected! After returning from my last business trip for the year, I was exhausted but still had the Christmas spirit. What do you do when you want a tree, but your husband is busy working and, from a logistical standpoint, you cannot strap a tree to your car? You guessed it: Postmates! When you want a live #Christmas #Tree but you’re too tired or busy to pick one up and strap it to your car. #postmates #apps #efficiency #holidayspirit #entrepreneur A photo posted by Crystal Washington (@cryswashington) on Dec 15, 2016 at 5:00pm PST The post Postmates for Ordering Christmas Trees? appeared first on Crystal Washington.

Three Tech Tools for Engaging Presentations

  For more information on the tech tools I shared: I use Prezi, rather than Keynote or Power Point to create my presentations Pixlr is a quick-and-easy Photoshop-like free online tool iStock is the site I use for quality stock-images Follow my personal Facebook profile for additional tips- facebook.com/crystalwashington The post Three Tech Tools for Engaging Presentations appeared first on Crystal Washington.

Create A Simpe Social Media Strategy in Fifteen Minutes

It’s a New Year and a new you! Or, at least, that’s what most of us are in the habit of saying. We create resolutions and set goals and are determined to follow through. However, somewhere around February 1, the new shine of the year wears off and, for most people, the commitment to achieving those goals. If one of your goals is to use social media in 2015 to get a new job, grow your following, or attract business, using off-the-cuff tactics will not sustain you throughout the year. You’ll start off strong, and then lose steam. Create A Social Media Plan You Can Easily Follow A social media strategy plan needn’t be a novel. A single page, posted in a prominent place where you’ll see it daily, will keep you on track. All you need to do is set aside a few minutes, and the commit to being consistent in follow-through.   9 Steps for Creaing a Social Media Strategy Identify your goals. What are you needing to accomplish on social media? Do you need to increase website traffic by 30% over the next 60 days? Are you wanting to connect with one new industry influencer per week? Whatever your goals may be, write them down and ensure they are measurable. Identify your target market. Who do you want to connect with on social media? Be as specific as possible and include demographic, geographic, and even psychographic characterists. Be sure to include job titles, if applicable. Choose your social media. What social media is the best fit to help you achieve your goals, yet attracts your target market? If your target market consists mostly of middle-aged, male, C-level executives, Instagram will likely not be a good fit. If you want to connect with newly-engaged women in cities to get them to visit your wedding gown website, Pinterest or would make much more sense than LinkedIn. Listen. Prior to creating profiles or posting, observe your competitors, influencers and potential clients on your chosen social networks. What are they posting? What type of posts get the most traction? Are they using specific hashtags on Twitter or Instagram? Are they members of certain groups on LinkedIn. Create a Persona. Outline your posting personality. If you are creating this plan for an organization, take the time to write out a few words describing the personality of the brand. What would it look like if it were a person? Does the persona have a sense of humor? Is it a fan of pop-culture references? If you are creating a persona for yourself, pull those aspects of your personality that you will use in posting and decide which parts of your life remain seperate. For instance, some people choose to not post about certain topics or their family. Create your profiles. This is a great time to use a graphic designer for customer Twitter backgrounds and Facebook headers. If you do not already have a designer, websites like guru.com, odesk.com, and elance.com have many capable contractors. Decide on a posting strategy. How often will you post on each social network and/or your blog? If you are part of an organization, who all has the ability to post? What types of items will you post on each network. How often will you check each social network to respond to conversations? Analyze. One you start using your posting strategy, analyze your results by reviewing your website analytics, tallying how often recruiters contact you, recording how many purchases you receive as a result of people redeeming promotion codes for social media. Compare your results against the goals you set in #1. Tweak your posting strategy or goals as needed. Automate. One you become comfortable with posting and have tweaked your strategy, use tools like Hootesuit or Facebook Pages’ scheduled posting feature to schedule posts for days in advance, then set the timers. You can still post in the moment, but this will ensure consistency. This post originally appeared on the Personal Branding Blog. The post Create A Simpe Social Media Strategy in Fifteen Minutes appeared first on Crystal Washington.

Use This Social Network to Receive Better Customer Service

Have you ever had a horrible customer service experience that just kept getting worse? We’ve all been in the situation where a company makes a mistake. However, with call centers located in foreign countries and automated phone systems, a poor customer service experience can quickly turn into a horror. There’s a trick to getting better customers service- TWITTER. Twitter gets a bad rap for many reasons, but the truth is no social network is better for settling customer service issues. You can make calls, chat online or even write notes, but nothing gets the attention of small companies and large corporations like a potential PR failure. Twitter gives you the ability to share your experience with the world. I’ve used it to contact airlines about booking me on new connections prior to taking off on a flight delayed on a runway, address issues with elusive web companies and much more. In my most recent adventure, UPS botched a two-package delivery. Package #1 was delivered about seven blocks away (the business owner called me) while #2 was perpetually riding on a truck due to the company falsely stating that they had a wrong address. I called for assistance and was connected to a very friendly Mike who I can only assume was in India. After he put me on hold for ten minutes, I hung up. Next, I opened up a chat. This is when things went very, very south. Basically Lucy G. told me that they could not pick up the package they mistakenly delivered to the wrong address and deliver it to me. The conversation was both patronizing and annoying. In the end, I went to pick up the package myself as I needed it for a trip I was taking the following day. However, I did post my experience and frustrations on social media (specifically Twitter), tagging UPS. What happened next was magic! The traveling box was delivered. I received a series of apology tweets and private messages stating that Lucy’s response was not company policy. Several days later, I returned home from a business trip to find this… Then this… Did you catch that? They not only issued a refund, but also sent me flowers! When phone and online customer service failed, social media, more specifically Twitter, made them take me seriously.Remember to keep Twitter in your customer service issue tool belt! Also, don’t forget to praise louder than you complain. I posted the flowers to Twitter, thanking UPS for the follow-through. Additionally, I use the platform regularly to share great customer service experiences. The post Use This Social Network to Receive Better Customer Service appeared first on Crystal Washington.

Three Tips for Crafting Your 2015 Professional Vision Board

Are you refreshing your personal brand in 2015 or looking to reinvent yourself and go into a new profession? A vision board may help you crystallize your 2015 goals. Vision boards are simply visual representations of your goals. They can be digital or physical collages of images representing your targets. Some  create vision boards using poster board and images cut from magazines while other use apps or programs to paste images to a single file and use that picture as their desktop wallpaper. Vision Boards Are Tools, Not Magic Athletes have been recorded using visualization techniques since the 1970s. In fact, several studies have shown that mental visualizations with physical practice produce better performance in athletes than practice alone. Visualizing alone is not enough. The process of creating a vision board—selecting images and wording for your collage—will help you narrow down your precise goals for the year. Displaying it somewhere you’ll see it often (e.g., desktop, office wall, bedroom) will serve as a reminder of your objectives and the work needed to accomplish them. Tips for Creating Your 2015 Professional Vision Board As someone who has used vision boards for years professionally and has seen the benefits, I recommend the following for creating compelling boards. Be Specific If one of your goals is to update your personal brand, including a different wardrobe, post clothing from stores that represent your new brand, not a store logo. If you plan to complete your makeover in January, paste the word January above the clothes. If you want a more active leadership role in your company, find a picture of someone addressing a group in a meeting and paste a picture of your face over the person speaking and write the name of the meeting (e.g., Monday Sales Meeting) above it. Locate an image of your dream organization’s office and paste a picture of yourself directly in front of it with a date next to your target start date. Be Realistic, But Stretch Each item positioned on your board is a professional goal you will attain in 365 days. If you are currently a supervisor, it is probably not realistic to paste a picture signifying your being VP of Operations within the year. However, it may be a reasonable stretch to become a manager in a more desirable department. Consider the Whole Picture Your vision board should include goals that, at the surface, may not seem entirely professional. If you aspire to a training position in your company, requiring a large amount of travel, include fitness goals on your board with the understanding that your health will impact your ability to perform. Incorporate items like meditation, healthy eating, and sleep targets on your board. Do the Work Hire a professional stylist or identify a fashion student to help you at low or no cost  with your goal of refreshing your wardrobe. Update your LinkedInprofile or follow Twitter job boards for your industry to work on your goal of finding a new opportunity. Once your board is complete and displayed, it is up to you to obtain the tools and help you need and commit to doing the work to turn your board into a reality. I originally posted this blog post on the Personal Branding Blog. The post Three Tips for Crafting Your 2015 Professional Vision Board appeared first on Crystal Washington.

Six Tactics to Increase the ROI of Attending Conferences

Whether you’re a business professional or entrepreneur, there’s a good chance you’ll benefit from attending a conference. Trade shows, annual conventions and industry meetings are a great way to attract clients and network for future job opportunities. Do you want to get the very best ROI possible when attending industry events? Six Tips for Getting The Most Out of Conferences Have a goal in mind before signing up. Why do you want to attend the event? Are you networking for job opportunities or to meet potential clients? Know exactly who you want to meet (name or exact titles and companies). Check the event website as many publish attendee names/title/companies prior to the event for registered attendees. Create a list. Start following the event hashtag on Twitter at least 30 days before the start of the conference. Start tweeting the organization putting on the event. If any of the desired contacts on your list (from item #1 above) are tweeting using the hashtag, start dialogue with them. If they are first time attendees, offer suggestions and/or to be their conference buddy. Make appointments prior to the event. This can be informal. Make plans to meet up with those desired connections you’ve been tweeting. Get the skinny on VIP events and purchase extra tickets, offering them to those contacts you’ve identified as desirable. Focus on listening versus talking. Don’t try to sell new contacts on your services, abilities, anything. Take precious time to collect as much information as you can on desired contacts. Record this information on the back of their business cards, in your mobile device, etc. at your very first opportunity after each encounter. Use tools like Evernote to immediately scan cards of new contacts and connect with them on LinkedIn. Use LinkedIn Contacts to schedule follow-up tasks with each contact. Send a hand-written card following up with each desired contact within three business days. Include a small gift card (no more than $10), news article or trinket that directly relates to something they mentioned when speaking with you. This post first appeared on Personal Branding Blog The post Six Tactics to Increase the ROI of Attending Conferences appeared first on Crystal Washington.

What Every Woman Needs to Know About Personal Branding

Creating a strong personal brand can pose a challenge for anyone. Women, however, may have a few extra hurdles. Karen McCullough, branding and generations expert and author of the book, The Seven Women Project, offers advice for women seeking to build a new brand. Q. As a professional speaker who speaks to Fortune 100 companies on the topics of branding and generations in the workplace, why do you think personal branding is important, especially for women?  A. Today more that ever we want to see and work with the whole person.  I think for many years women have worked on their professional side and they appeared to be very one dimensional—that professional woman had a protective shield around her that did not let you in. Those days are gone and the word of the day is AUTHENTICITY.  We want to see and know all aspects of you. A brand strategy is more important than ever. What do you want me to see and think of you? Make sure those talents and traits are demonstrated in all that you do—words, dress, style and marketing. Q. Do you think it’s more difficult for women to rebrand themselves? Why or why not? A. Now that I am thinking about it women are more sensitive to their appearance and even their skills and talents than men. If I tell a man to get a better suit, no pleat pants and a black cashmere jacket, he is off to the store and making the changes. Women are not as easy to work with. I do see a defensive wall that I do not see with men. Women take things very personally and image and dress are more difficult to discuss. I try to help my clients see what the small signs that people pick up on you—finger nails, shoes, fit of clothes, posture, your walk, your smile, and the most offensive is that tiny half a hand handshake. Q. Can you share a few steps for personal brand reinvention? A. Yes! Get the Vision. Ask yourself, “Where do I want my life to be in the next 10 years?”  Next I like my clients to look at the list of signature strengths first described by Dr. Martin Seligman, founder of Positive Psychology Harvard, and select three to five that they want to incorporate into their daily lives. Humility Fairness Humor Zest Teamwork Learning Perspective Creativity Love Forgiveness Honesty Kindness Hope Spirituality Beauty Relationships Self-discipline Bravery Leadership Curiosity Perseverance Define your “culture.” What will the customer or people in general feel and think about you after meeting or working with you? Now look at how you show up—do you have executive presence? EP is the ability to project gravitas, confidence, poise under pressure, exhibit decisiveness, be a great communicator, have public speaking skills, some assertiveness, the ability to read an audience and a situations—and don’t forget  appearance. Now begin to incorporate all of the above… vision, strengths, culture, and presence into your new brand. This post first appeared on Personal Branding Blog. The post What Every Woman Needs to Know About Personal Branding appeared first on Crystal Washington.

How To Update Your Personal Brand After Changing Careers

The average Baby Boomer has held eleven jobs from ages 18 to 46, according the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, but it is estimated that Millenials are expected to have as many as 20 jobs in their lifetimes! In a climate ripe with unemployment, underemployment and a strong desire to “do something that makes a difference,” many professionals find themselves switching careers out of necessity or desire. While moving from sales manager to marketing manager would require a simple explanation to current business contacts, what happens when you change industries/careers completely? How do you update your personal brand from certified public accountant to mommy blogger? Change Your Name When Nicole A. Thomas transitioned from owning a successful massage therapy business servicing celebrities and world-class athletes to earning a Masters in Public Administration and an MBA in Marketing to become Communications Specialist for FedEx Global Citizenship, she knew she had to separate her former persona from her new brand. “People still referred to me as ‘Nicole the Massage Therapist’ to the point where I thought ‘massage therapist’ was my last name. I realized to my clients and the community, I would always be their therapist, unless I took conscious steps to rebrand myself.” Thomas started using her full name, including her middle initial, to differentiate her new personal brand. Breakup With Your Former Brand Make a clean break and minimize brand confusion by retiring your former brand. “I removed myself as an expert from the community conversations surrounding massage therapy and I retired the website and digital assets of the old brand.” While Thomas acknowledges it was an emotional process, she recognizes that the move has allowed her to focus on building her brand as a creative marketing and communications professional. Get Social Rachel Parker’s transition from senior copyrighter for a Fortune 500 energy company to owner of Resonance Content Marketing was anything but easy. Parker shares that she had to learn to be assertive. “I quickly realized that I’d never survive as ‘that quiet, hard-working girl in the corner.’ If my business was going to make it, I had to put myself out there.” Parker began the work of sharing her new brand, as an entrepreneur, via her blog, social media, a podcast and public speaking. Maintain Relationships Don’t forget to stay connected with your current network of contacts! You’ve spent years building a strong personal brand and relationships. Do not assume that you cannot be of service in your new role. Inform connections of your new position and ask if you can be of assistance. You may be surprised to find that they, or someone they know, may need your services or insight. This post first appeared on Personal Branding Blog. The post How To Update Your Personal Brand After Changing Careers appeared first on Crystal Washington.

Four Tips for Greater Speech Engagement and Excitement

In an age where we have the ability to switch between information and entertainment constantly in the palm of our hands, keeping the average adult’s attention for more than five minutes is a serious undertaking. I’m often asked by aspiring professional speakers as well as people who just want to give great talks how they should structure a talk. Inevitably, almost all of them look at a talk from the wrong perspective—theirs. You do not build a strong personal brand as a speaker by focusing on yourself. It’s not about you Once you understand that a talk or presentation is in no way about you, you’ll begin to focus on what is important—your audience. Imagine yourself sitting in the audience.  Would you want to hear about your topic? Is it interesting? In many instances, you’ll have to deliver on a topic that may not seem extremely fun or exciting. I recently gave a talk on Big Data for Meeting Planners. Unlike social media, the concept of Big Data does not sound fun and exciting to most non-techie audience. However, I was able to make the two hour talk extremely interactive and fun for the audience using the tips outlined below. Increase Audience Engagement with These Four Tips Create your presentation with two to three takeaways in mind. Know what information your audience needs to walk away with for your talk to be considered a success. The average listener will forget nearly everything you say. However, if you reinforce two to three key points, there is a much better chance of their retaining information. Incorporate audience activities and/or participation. Not only will creative audience participation activities make the presentation more interactive, but it will also help your audience retain information if the activities are designed to reinforce your key points. Activities can refresh your audience, acting as mini breaks. You’ll find that, after a fun activity, the audience is more attentive. When possible, take questions throughout the presentation versus at the end. If you’re speaking to a group of less than 75, it should be fairly manageable to take several breaks to answer questions. First, this allows audience members to ask great questions while you are focusing on that particular topic in the presentation. Second, it will allow you the opportunity to shift your presentation, if necessary, based on the types of questions that you’re receiving. You may find that you need to spend much less time speaking about X than you planned, but need expound on Y. If you receive too many questions at one point, you can always defer to the next question break. Remember, it’s not about you. Give serious thought to the stories you plan to incorporate into your talk. If you’re going to use a story about yourself, ask yourself it if is 100% necessary to the talk. If so, try to make it a story where you made a mistake and learned something versus the story about your being a super-hero who saved the day. Whatever information, stories, or case studies you incorporate should reinforce your two to three key points. This post first appeared on Personal Branding Blog. The post Four Tips for Greater Speech Engagement and Excitement appeared first on Crystal Washington.

One Simple Tip To Immediately Increase Social Media Engagement

Between April 1 and July 31 of this year, social media optimization platform SocialFlow conducted a study collecting data from 1.6 million organic posts from Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. They found that an amazing ninety-nine percent of non-paid posts generated little to no engagement at all. If you’re using social media to build your personal brand, find a job or grow a business, you want your updates to be a part of the elite one percent of posts generating engagement; likes, shares (retweets), and comments. All forms of engagement are not created equal. While likes are nice, they are not nearly as valuable as a comment, which demonstrates an increased level of interaction and interest from your social media connections, or a share (retweet on Twitter), which is social media gold in the form of others increasing your reach by introducing your posts to their own friends/followers. How do you increase engagement? Make it about your audience The simplest method for increasing interaction on social media quickly is making your posts about your connections. You obviously want to post items that your connections will find valuable, but don’t stop there. Take it a step further and ask them for their opinions. For instance, if you share a blog post via Facebook outlining ways stay-at-home moms can increase their efficiency, make sure you ask your connections to share their number one tip as well. You may even tag a couple of stay-at-home mom bloggers you know, asking for their opinions. Another way to make a post about your connections is to ask them what they need/what questions they have about a topic pertaining to your area of expertise. Encourage them to provide each other with solutions as well, especially on networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ where strings of conversations are fairly easy to follow. You’ll not only see more interactions, but you’ll also foster feelings of goodwill as you’re facilitating a community conversation versus simply focusing on you and your responses. Lastly, share posts from friends/connections and tag them in your comments leading up to the link. Building a personal brand on social media is not simply shining a spotlight on yourself twenty-four hours a day. To be seen as an expert, share resources and stories from others that help solidify your core brand message while still adding value to connections reading the shared posts, as well as those who you are highlighting. This post first appeared on Personal Branding Blog.   The post One Simple Tip To Immediately Increase Social Media Engagement appeared first on Crystal Washington.

Wow Prospects and Influencers: 3 Social Media Daily Tasks

Social media allows professionals to construct strong business relationships leveraging insights and data previously unavailable pre new millennium. So why are so many professionals wasting time, not getting results?  They typically have a weak personal brand and network, and don’t invest time building relationships. Create a Strong Network Prior to joining any social network for business, professionals must identify their desired target market. Are they looking to connect with hiring managers, industry influencers and peers? A business owner may desire to connect with potential customers, industry bloggers and strategic partners. Creating a presence with the end game in mind decreases wasted time focusing on purely social connections mixed with desired business contacts. You likely would not attend a family reunion or happy hour with old high school friends for business networking. Treat social media the same way. If your primary goal is career advancement or business growth, skip mixing equal parts family, friends, and business colleagues and focus on building a professional network. 3 Daily Social Media Tasks for Relationship Building Once you’ve started building your network, the next step is to strengthen relationships. Remember, social media does not take the place of in-person meetings, phone calls or hand-written notes. However, it does provide us with a non-spooky opportunity to touch our contacts in between those other modes of communication, staying top of mind. Below are three daily tasks that will increase the likelihood of your building stronger relationships with your social media contacts. Wish Facebook friends a happy birthday. If you’re using Facebook, “the” best relationship-building social network for business, you will notice birthday notifications on the upper right hand side of your home page. Don’t simpy post “happy birthday” on your friends’ timelines. Ask them about their plans and, if appropriate, send them a small gift. Unfortunately, Facebook no longer offers the ability to send gifts  via their platform, however, you can use a virtual gift card service to send a gift card to their Facebook email or directly to their work email addresses. Bonus: Review their profiles or photos to send a gift in alignment with their likes! Respond to LinkedIn Updates.  To receive network updates  in your inbox, once daily, log into your LinkedIn account. Under Account Settings, go to Privacy & Settings > Communications > Set the frequency of emails> Updates and news. For Network updates, select the Daily Digest Email. You will start receiving an email daily listing LinkedIn contacts’ birthdays, new positions and company anniversaries. Take the time to acknowledge these events and ask your contacts questions. Always ENGAGE on social media. If appropriate, as in #1, send an e-gift. Contact connections mentioned in your daily Newsle report. If you have not already, create an account at http://newsle.com. Newsle is an app that sends you links to articles within hours of you or someone you are connected to via social media being mentioned in an online article. Under your account settings, check the box under Friend Alerts and select the daily option for email frequency. When your key contacts are mentioned online, send congratulations via email or your preferred social network, linking to the article. They’ll be impressed that you’re following their activities. If it is a potential client or hiring manager, you may want to add your own insights, demonstrating your understanding of the situation discussed in the article. Create a daily social media ritual that focuses on building the quality to relationships versus the quantity. Comment below if you have any additional daily actions to add. This post first appeared on Personal Branding Blog. The post Wow Prospects and Influencers: 3 Social Media Daily Tasks appeared first on Crystal Washington.

You’re Losing Money by not Using These Prospecting Tips

How to leverage Google and LinkedIn for high-level prospecting. One of the things that surfaces when I’m training sales professionals is how much time many of them waste on social media by not being strategic. Instead, they find themselves watching cat videos, playing Candy Crush, or reading endless tweets. I won’t even get started on the ladies and Pinterest. However, there are many ways to use social media for efficiency. While I cannot squeeze an hour long keynote into a blog post, I will share a really cool tip that will help both business owners and professionals identify and connect with new prospects. If you’re active on LinkedIn, you’ve likely found someone via search that you had no way of contacting except through InMails (which are only available with an account upgrade). Even if you do have a premium account, InMails are not always efficient ways of contacting someone. Here’s a neat trick for finding their address online so that you may send them an invitation to connect (you’ll need that email address) or simply email them through your email client. How to Find Prospects’ Email Addresses Identify your desired contact’s place of employment via his/her LinkedIn profile Do a Google search for the company’s website or click on the link in the desired prospect’s profile to locate it. Copy the company’s website. In a new Internet tab, in the Google search bar, enter the person’s first and last name in quotations and then “*@<companywebsite>”. This is called a Google Wildcard Search. The asterisk is basically telling Google to fill in the blank. Below, I’ve used myself as an example. A prospect’s email address must be listed online for this search to work property. Occasionally, you will not be able to find an email address. Now that you have the prospect’s email address, you can send him/her an invitation to connect via LinkedIn using the “other” choice or email the person directly. Bonus Tip: If you send the person a connection request, be sure to send a personalized message mentioning common connections and/or why you’d like to connect. This post first appeared on Personal Branding Blog. The post You’re Losing Money by not Using These Prospecting Tips appeared first on Crystal Washington.

Seven Social Media Tips You Cannot Afford To Ignore

If you have been using social media for more than a couple months, you’ve seen professionals who could use an etiquette refresher course. Interestingly enough, many of the offenders you have observed are extremely professional and kind in the “real world.” What accounts for the discrepancy between their in-person and online personas? They don’t understand that the rules of engagement online are exactly the same as those in person. Seven Social Media Etiquette Tips Have a visible profile photo. I know what you’re thinking— “I have a private profile, I don’t want everyone to be able to find me!” The problem with that thinking is that private profiles make using social media for business much less effective in general. Would you let someone knocking at your door wearing a ski mask into your home? Exactly! No one wants a friend request from a faceless person either. Make relationships versus focusing on sales. No one wants to be friends with a billboard. Build your online reputation as an expert and influencer in your field. Focus on being helpful first and then make sure that your profiles are clear and concise. This way, when connections impressed with your information review your profile, they’ll have a clear understanding of your area of expertise or offerings, and may contact you with opportunities or business needs. Send customized notes with connection requests. Do you like robocalls? How often are you appreciative of receiving tthem? Standard connection request messages are robocalls for social media. Don’t. Do. It. Talk about others and give resources more than you mention yourself. One of the best ways to build a following on social media is to demonstrate your expertise by sharing resources outside of those you offer. Tagging those organizations/people mentioned in  your posts are a great way to build partnerships and get others talking about you too! Acknowledge positive mentions with comments, not just likes. If someone takes the time to create a 200 word post gushing about you online, you can certainly take ten seconds to comment, “Thank you so much for your kind words! I appreciate you.” Could you imagine offering someone an amazing introduction to a room full of your friends and the ingrate simply offers an upward nod to acknowledge your words? Likes are basically nods. They mean that someone agrees or has simply read something. Neither encourages future long posts of praise. On Facebook, keep your timeline open to comments/posts. Imagine being invited into a friends home and then being politely informed that you, nor any of the other guests, may introduce a topic of discussion. You may only comment on those topics introduced by the host. Closing a timeline to posts is the exact same thing. Don’t sit on the sidelines waiting for an opportunity to pitch yourself or your business. It’s no secret that the majority of social media users are lurkers and that’s fine. However, it’s always interesting to see those social media connections who never engage in conversation until they observe  an opportunity to plug their business or themselves. This post originally appeared in the Personal Branding Blog. The post Seven Social Media Tips You Cannot Afford To Ignore appeared first on Crystal Washington.

5 Simple Tips for Creating Boundaries on Social Media

Photo by Andre Hayward With more than 73% of online adults using social media, the opportunity for users to connect with personal and business contacts is at an all-time high. Facebook is a great resource for staying connected with family and reconnecting with old friends. Sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook offer strategic opportunities to build relationships with hiring managers and learn about open job positions. While social media provides innumerable opportunities for relationship building, users often find themselves in uncomfortable situations with connections. Creating a profile can open users up to friend requests from strangers, undesirable postings on their profiles, and a host of other issues. Creating Boundaries The rules of engagement online are exactly the same as they are in-person. Similarly, just as we have to set boundaries with our ‘real world’ friends, we have to set healthy boundaries with our online connections. Set the tone on your profile Are you using a specific social network for business-only? Set the tone by using a polished, professional, profile picture. The language in your profile description should be business-focused. Your posts should center on professional topics. Don’t be a robot, but pictures of you dancing on a table with a margarita in your hand are a big no-no if your main focus is building a business network. By setting the tone on your profile, you are sending out the message to new connections that you are focusing on professional topics. Setting the tone does not simply apply to business profiles. As an example, if you don’t want connections to post gossip blogs on your wall, or tag you in a tweet with a link to one, don’t post them yourself. Be selective While the point for many in using social media is connecting with current and new potential contacts, you do not have to accept all friend/connection requests. The number of spamsocial media users paired with those that simply would not be a good fit dictate that the average user should approveless than half of most requests received. The following is an excerpt from my book, The Social Media WHY: A Busy Professional’s Practical Guide to Using Social Media Including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Google+ and Blogs for Business: Imagine being gifted a beautiful luxury home for free. You decide to let everyone in, no matter who they are. After a while, your home is dirty and stinks, plus you are tired of the fighting and crazy conversations going on in your living room. It is obvious the house is stupid and is to blame for your situation, right? Bottom line— you are responsible for the people you accept. The quality of your social media experience is directly related to the quality of the network your build. Treat your social media profiles like your home As demonstrated in the above tip, your social mediaprofile is a great deal like your home. Set rules and enforce them, when necessary. Just as you would not allow a guest to place his muddy boots on your coffee table, address connections who post inappropriate links and articles on your profile or tag you in them. Inappropriate is relative. If you do not wish to be included in political rants, it is okay to remove them or let the poster know that you should not be tagged. Also, like your home, other guests are watching you. If you allow one rude guest to verbally attack anotherguest or use bigoted language without correction, visitors will assume that you condone the behavior. Silence is an answer. Be sure to monitor your pages and profiles and, when necessary, take corrective measure or reroute conversations. ‘No’ is a full sentence There may be times when a friend/connection asks you for a favor out of turn. I have personally been asked for loans more times than I can count, often by peoplewho I’ve never met in person. I’ve been asked for business referrals by peoplewho I have no personal business history with. Someone may attempt to attach themselves to you in a way that makes you uncomfortable. The bottom line is that a simple ‘no’ is perfectly okay. You don’t have to explain yourself or go into more detail. If necessary, unfriend or remove contacts who repeatedly cross lines. Be of service Social media is about people, not technology. Remember that the purpose of connecting with people is to create mutually beneficial relationships. Be of service to your connections. Post helpful information, provide insight when possible and facilitate introductions betweencomplementary connections. When you focus on being of service, and you know that you are a giver, enforcing boundaries becomes easier as you will understand that you can give more to those you are called to help, by minimizing energy-sucking distractions. The post 5 Simple Tips for Creating Boundaries on Social Media appeared first on Crystal Washington.

Three Tools to Leverage Your Client’s Brand

Competition is steep in today’s business world. People are constantly bombarded with advertisements, solicitations, and other marketing messages. It pays (literally) to know how to cut through the clutter to make an impact. One of the best ways to outshine the competition and differentiate your personal and/or professional brand is through directly leveraging your clients’ brands. Most companies focus on creating branded brochures and mailing tchotchkes with their own logos on them. However, if you want to make a lasting impression with potential clients, do the direct opposite—send them items branded with their logo and colors on them. Three Tools for Sending Customized Gifts and Cards Cookie Bouquet creates customizable cookie gifts. As long as your client is not on a special diet, a cookie bouquet can be a great way to show a potential client that you value them. My personal favorite is the Team Spirit bouquet. I request my logo on the cheerleader bears’ chests and the client’s logo on the football player bears’ chests. It wows them every time! SendOutCards allows users to create customized cards online that they then mail on your behalf. You can even add gifts or gift cards to your order! Do you have any funny pictures with your potential client? Did he/she mention something funny recently? I not only use pictures of my clients on cards, but sometimes I reference their jokes via funny Photoshopped images. Touchnote is a mobile application available on iOS and Android that enables users to create customized cards from mobile phone photos. You can then mail a card or postcard directly from your phone! Did you meet a great new contact at an event? Follow up with them immediately by mailing a card with a picture of the two of you. These are simply three of my favorites, however, the possibilities are endless. If your potential client owns a trucking company, mail a remote control truck painted with their logo. Include cookies and a copy of the contract! Customizing gifts alone will not seal the deal. However, providing the best product/service solutions coupled with your having a strong appreciation of their brand and culture will go a long with in strengthening your own brand and client relationships. Do you have a favorite customizable gift tool that you use in business? Leave it in the comments section.   This post first appeared on Personal Branding Blog. The post Three Tools to Leverage Your Client’s Brand appeared first on Crystal Washington.

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