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Students in MarketingMel's "Gettting Professional With LinkedIn" workshop at Milligan College.

Students in MarketingMel’s “Gettting Professional With LinkedIn” workshop at Milligan College.

LinkedIn is one social media platform woefully underused by college students. Recently I was invited to present a LinkedIn workshop to a group of Milligan College Juniors and Seniors. The students who attended came on their own time so the classroom was full of soon-to-be graduates who were eager to learn.  It was a two-part session with the first hour sharing information and questions about LinkedIn and the second being hands-on creation of individual student profiles. Students brought their laptops.  Each student brought their resume to class in order to have it handy for the LinkedIn profile creation. First we extensively reviewed the demographics of LinkedIn which leans heavily male 25-54. Income levels skew $100,000+ and the typical LinkedIn user checks in around 8 AM and 5pm, before and after work. Clearly, these are the business professionals who will be making the hiring decisions for these students in the future. Here are a few of the tips I shared with the college students.

  1. Professional Photo: Probably one of the most critical elements of LinkedIn is the good, professional head shot. The school provided a professional photographer. Then each student had a professional head shot made to upload for their profile creation during the hands-on portion.
  2. Professional attire: All students were advised to look professional for the photo. In other words wear clothes appropriate for a job interview.
  3. Use LinkedIn to find potential job leads: LinkedIn has an excellent internal search engine specifically for jobs. We used this as an example in class to look for “marketing jobs in Johnson City, TN” as an example.
  4. Join Groups and ask pertinent questions: I showed the students how I used an actual LinkedIn group, the Public Relations and Communications Job Community, to crowdsource in helping me prepare for the talk with them. We received 25 very helpful comments on using LinkedIn to find a job that I shared with the class.
  5. Updates: Post regular updates on LinkedIn that will be of use to your business audience.
  6. Get references: When we went to the hands-on portion of the workshop I invited students to connect with ten people, then seek out a written reference and  give someone they know a written reference. (In LinkedIn as in life, what goes around comes around.)

What tips would you share from your LinkedIn experiences? What recommendations would you make to help seniors in college as they prepare to enter the workforce? Do you have a need for a similar workshop at your college, university or place of business? If so, please contact me via this web site.

View the prezi created by MarketingMel intern Alex Quillin for the workshop:

 

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The following is a guest blog post by Curt Henry, an executive coach and friend who’s supported me in my business since I started MarketingMel over five years ago.

As business owners, we often fall into the trap of doing tasks ourselves rather than delegating to our team. What I hear most often from my clients is “I can do it faster myself” or “no one can do it as well as I can.” Though perhaps both may be true, you are missing an opportunity to grow your business and empower your team members.

CurtHenryReview the pie chart above which shows an average work week for a sample business owner or manager. Now fill in your own information. Most owners for example would be working much more than the 54 hour work week shown. If this is your life today what would it look like if you had a 20% increase in sales? What would that do to your pie chart of activities? You may not have to increase all items in proportion to the increase in sales but let’s say you go from 54 to 60 hours.(less than a 20% increase)

Add hours to our pie chart. (OK, but how long can you keep this up?)We really have three choices when faced with the enviable increase in our business:

  1. Don’t add hours but continue to “do it” ourselves. This means we will short change our customers, employees or others. (Also not a good idea.)
  2. Take a section of your pie chart and give it to someone else. (Put it into their pie chart of responsibilities.)

This really gets back to the question from Mr. Stanley’s wife but which I will rephrase;

As you increase your business what will you NOT do?

The business will have to do more; more invoicing, more shipping/delivering, more lots of things. But, what will you now delegate to others? At what point in the growth of the business will you recognize the need to get help from the folks you hired to provide services?

Consider the impact of rebalancing your role in the business. Planning or working “on” vs. “in” the business will multiply how quickly the business expands and improves. Sean Covey in his book The Four Disciplines of Execution talks about the conflict between the “whirlwind” and the “Wildly Important Goals (WIGs)”. He defines the whirlwind as those many urgent activities that demand our immediate attention. All things being equal, the whirlwind will win against the goals every time. As the business owner, we need to maintain our focus on the goals which move the business to new and higher levels or we stagnate. Even worse, if we are so focused on the immediate we may be passed by our competition and end up losing market share or profit potential. (More on goal setting and execution in a future BSF Update.)

I was the Vice President and General Manager for a manufacturing firm. While understanding the need to delegate, I always tried to make myself available for the workers on the production floor. My willingness to “get my hands dirty” by getting in and helping them made them feel more important. It was not that I was doing their job, but rather that I was willing to do what was needed to help them.

You may be able to do whatever “it” is faster and better than team members now. However, with a little training, the team may be able to do it just as well and allow you to focus on expanding the business or even getting to take a day off with the family every now and then. Do you remember back when you were able to take a vacation and really enjoy it?

Curt Henry Curt Henry is a seasoned business executive with seven years general management       experience and over 20 years in domestic and international marketing and sales. In 2000, Curt was chosen to lead the turnaround of a local manufacturing company with struggling product lines. Over the next six years, Curt and his team increased revenues from $9.3 to $16.2 million, improved both profit margins and cashflow significantly, and increased both productivity and product quality. Curt’s leadership resulted in improved employee morale and a significant reduction in personnel turnover.

 

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Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 4.26.53 PMSometimes busy executives can feel overwhelmed with all of the social media channels out there and what’s important and not important to know about. This week I assisted a client who’s re-entering the traditional workforce after years as a self-employed international consultant. In a one-hour session, we navigated the current and ever-changing landscape of digital communications.  This client was given a highly customized one one one tutorial using GoToMeeting (since she’s in D.C. and I’m in Tennessee). Her pre-submitted questions were as follows:

  1. Hashtags – Quite simply a hashtag is a way to “focus in” on a particular topic. It’s a really quick research tool to see what’s trending. One fascinating question that she had for me was “Can you own a hashtag the way you own a domain name?” I told her not to my knowledge and if someone with the same hashtag wants to use it they are certainly free and welcome to do so.
  2. LinkedIn– The client mentioned that her new colleagues immediately invited her to “LinkIn” with them once they knew they were going to be co-workers. Using LinkedIn in today’s business world is as common as a shaking hands. It’s a great way to see a summary of the other person’s credentials. Unlike most other social media channels LinkedIn has slightly more men. She asked why. My thought: Because men are more interested in “the business” (portraying resumes online and building a network) than women who are known to spend more time in relationship building. That’s my theory anyways and I’d welcome your ideas! Of course I showed her LinkedIn groups and shared that there really IS something for every business niche there. In her case starting her own private LinkedIn group (or Facebook group) for some of her key constituents could be a valuable way to stay in touch on a regular basis. It’s also important to give and to ask for written recommendations on LinkedIn. Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 4.16.43 PM
  3. Twitter– We reviewed the importance of social media tools such as Tweetdeck, Twitter Lists and Hootsuite when keeping up with the ever-flowing river of tweets. I likened twitter to a live mic in a broadcast booth and urged her to view every tweet as a public address. She should use these tools to see what she wants to see when she wants to see it. We talked about the changing demographics of twitter which originally started out as a 35+ channel, until the celebrities jumped on board. Now it is skewing younger. I personally love twitter because it reminds me of the AP “wire machines” that churned out news when I first began my career in broadcast journalism. If you want to know what’s happening in the world today, jump on twitter!
  4. Instagram– Extremely popular with the “tween” set, it’s been great fun for me to watch how the generation who are my son’s age (11/12 year olds) are embracing this social media channel. And they are NOT just posting photos. They are only too eager to make and share a variety of videos and use a variety of video apps to do so . I think what makes Instagram so fun is the fact that there are so few words and it’s all about images (and hashtags of course!)

I suggested she download all of these apps to her mobile devices in order to be able to access these channels on the go. That was a lot to cover in an hour for a re-entering C-Suite Executive. What are some of the things you would discuss or emphasize if you were training an executive on key social media channels and trends?

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Intern Emma Brock, right, with Sarah Kinsler and Mary Ellen Miller at a recent client campaign event.

Intern Emma Brock, right, with Sarah Kinsler and Mary Ellen Miller at a recent client campaign event.

The following is a guest blog post by MarketingMel’s intern, Emma Brock. My interns work with me for at least one full academic year (two semesters.)

I hardly know where to begin when people ask me what I do as MarketingMel’s intern. My mind flurries with all the research, the events and the campaigns I have gotten to work on since Mel brought me on as her intern in August. With each new day there is a new goal to conquer.

In the world of PR, the only thing you can expect is not knowing what to expect! While much of PR is a learning curve, there are certain tools that every intern should keep in mind to find success.

1. Be a complement to your employer. Every person has a different skill set. Clearly your boss has valuable skills that got them to the position they work in. However, you also should be aware of your skills that will complement those of your employer. The end goal is to be a valuable member of your team.

2. Talking is good. Listening is better. Have you ever heard that you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? Well it is true! There will be opportunities where your opinion is asked for, and doing so will open you up for creative thinking. On the flip side, there is great value in listening. You will gain insight as to the needs of your clients, and people will always regard you highly for good listening skills.

3. Discretion, Discretion, Discretion. Need I say more? No one wants a reputation as a gossip. Not to mention, gabbing about your clients can land you in hot water.

4. Time is Money. In any career, timeliness is important. But as an intern, it is vital to always be timely to events and with events. Take advantage of every spare minute. It makes more of an impression than you realize.

5. Sleep is a thing of the past. There will be days where you will be utterly sleep-deprived. But when you walk out of the office knowing you accomplished a major feat, made new connections, helped clients and improved yourself, it will all be worth it.

EmmaBrockEmma Brock is currently a senior PR major at ETSU and MarketingMel’s intern. Aside from doing research and assisting with client events for the company, she can be found at the park with her beloved dog Cooper or with her nose buried in a book. Follow Brock on Instagram: @brockaleigh 

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With Amy Lynn talking Personal Branding on DayTime Tri-Ciites

With Amy Lynn talking Personal Branding on the set of WJHL-TV’s DayTime Tri-Ciites

When’s the last time you had a new professional photograph made? For me it had been a few years. I’m now about 20 pounds lighter and, dare we say, a couple years older than the last time my photograph was made. (I love to joke that the older I get the blonder I get!) Friends who attended the National Association of Realtors Conference in California last fall told me they were encouraged to get a new photo made every two years and that’s good advice for people in the public eye. With that in mind I went on DayTime Tri-Cities to speak with host Amy Lynn about the importance of a good head shot in building your personal brand and I even compared it to that “gray silhouette” that we’ve all seen on LinkedIn. After all, your face is the first thing people see on so many social media channels. With a majority of American saying they’re planning to look for new jobs this year, a good, true likeness of yourself is important (not a selfie!) I also talked about the new issue of Out ‘N About Magazine, for which I write a monthly column. Let me know your thoughts on this segment. (Just click on the DayTime link above to view after a brief ad.) I’d love to hear about your experiences with professional photographs in building your personal brand. (Shout out her to photographer Tina Wilson who once again took my new photo!)  I look forward to hearing from you.

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Public Speaking is a great way to build your personal brand.

Public Speaking is a great way to build your personal brand.

Our personal brand is quite simply, how others perceive us. It’s what they think of when they hear our name and see our digital and in-person image.  As we move into the New Year let’s each take a quick assessment of our own personal brand and what we can do to better ourselves in 2014.

  1. Google yourself– What do you find? Is it fresh? Is it negative? Does it need a PR boost? I once advised a prospective client who was looking for start-up capital for a new venture to google himself.  A simple search produced a five year old negative news story about his business. I knew that if I saw that so would his potential investors. There are ways (creating blog posts for example) to drive the old and ugly down.
  2. Does your brand transfer to social/mobile? More and more consumers are on both social media platforms and mobile devices. According to Business News Daily, “companies will be finding new ways to target mobile devices and users.”
  3. How are you visually “showing” your personal brand? Have you made plans for a new professional head shot? If your head shot is more than a few years old it’s time for a refresh. (I’ve already made plans to see one of my favorite photographers, Tina Wilson, next week.) The article mentioned above states that Trends predictors are saying that with our short attention spans it will increasingly be a “show don’t tell” world.  How are you “showing” your personal brand?
  4. Who is your target audience? What communications channels are they using? Each year I look back at all of the new social media channels that I joined. In 2013 it was Instagram, SnapChat, WeChat (international) and Vine. I entered those channels because I’m a professional communicator eager to check out the trends, but there’s no question the “tried and true” of Facebook, twitter and LinkedIn are where I connect with most of my business contacts.
  5. How do you plan to promote your brand in 2014? Through guest media appearances? Your blog? Podcasts? Social media? Your e-mail signature? Video? Civic clubs? Chamber of Commerce? Winning awards? Take time now to assess what has brought you business in the past and do more of it this year.
  6. Do you have an editorial calendar planned for 2014? Remember, social media provides a tremendous opportunity for you to be both content creator and publisher. No one knows your business like you do! Create your own content and plan ahead for the seasonality of your brand.
  7. Are you or do you expect to look for a new job or new client in 2014? If you’re reading this you are probably interested in finding new jobs or new clients. Maria Peagler and I developed a free one-hour personal branding webinar for you that includes more profit-making tips at www.personalbrandinghowto.com.

Please share what you’re doing to successfully boost your brand in the comments section below. All the best of luck to you in 2014!

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At Entrepreneurs Club with Dr. Andy Czuchry.

At Entrepreneurs’ Club with Dr. Andy Czuchry

Last evening I had the honor of returning to the classroom where I was an MBA student 13 years ago. Thanks to the magic of wimba (a college software program that  allows classroom “broadcasting” ) the Entrepreneurship Club at ETSU was seen live by students in Austria, Texas and Washington State.  Andy Czuchry, “Dr. C” as we all fondly called him, taught us many things about the real world of business. A real-life rocket scientist, he  combined theory and practice by bringing entrepreneurs to the classroom. They taught us the way things really are in the business world. One of Dr C’s favorite expressions is how I began my presentation: “An entrepreneur would rather work 80 hours a week for himself than 40 hours a week for someone else.” Anyone reading this who is an entrepreneur knows that to be true. But there is something incredibly exhilarating about the freedom that comes with being self employed that can’t be replicated. So we’re willing to tolerate the crazy hours because of that trade off.

Here are a few more tips I shared with the Entrepreneurs’ Club students:

Pitfalls:

You can’t do it all- You need to start making teams right away and joining forces with others. Work on what you do well and look for skill sets in others to compliment yours. It’s fine to start with virtual teams (for me it was twitter and some important tweet chat groups) but stay connected. No one can operate well as an island.

Don’t rely on third party hosts- Always host your own web site and put your videos on channels you host. I learned this the hard way after a multi-part series I created for WJHL-TV called “Social Media 101” literally vanished when they changed servers. I shudder when I watch some business people use Facebook as their personal web site. Facebook (and your product photos) could be gone tomorrow.

Create Systems-  I suggested the book the E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber to the group. This fascinating book points out the need to put systems into place no matter how small the company is. My current intern, Emma Brock, is developing the first-ever MarketingMel intern manual and Sarah Kinsler (who created the prezi and shared some of her MarketingMel experiences with the class) is creating an associates manual. I’m working on client intake systems.

Smart moves:

Know your personal mission as well as your company mission and vision and refer back to those often. They will direct your path.

Surround yourself with bright, young people (Both Sarah and Emma are a God-send to me)- They will keep you on your toes and give you energy.

Create an Advisory Board- This year I have six, sharp members of the community whom I trust to give me advice and to let me know if I have “broccoli in my teeth.”

Form business partnerships: I became a business partner with the Summit Leadership Foundation shortly after beginning my business. I give them a monthly contribution and then I am able to use their space without the overhead of a traditional office. Both organizations help each other out.

Set Goals and Plan Ahead: Throughout this month I’ll be working on my 2014 strategic plan. Some of those goals include: Following the Tennessee Performance Excellence Standards, becoming a certified “woman owned business” and publishing my E-book. My final thoughts were also words of wisdom from Dr. C. “Under-promise and over deliver” and “Be a lifelong learner.”  What’s on your Pitfalls and Smart moves lists?

 

 

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MarketingMel served as panel moderator and worked with the #SMAC13 committee to make the vision become a reality.

MarketingMel was delighted to moderate and to work with the #SMAC13 committee to make the vision become a reality.

 

Our #SMAC13 Social Media and Communicators Panel discussion was a success! Many thanks are in order! First, to the panelists: Becky Campbell- Johnson City Press, Josh Smith- WJHL-TV, Eric Vaughn- Wellmont Health System, Rachel Cain- Eastman, and Jennifer Clements-ETSU. Hats off to the team that pulled it off: Jim Wozniak, Rachel Cain, Drew Beamer, Deborah Lowery, Christian Schmid along with myself and the MarketingMel team of Sarah Kinsler and Emma Brock. Thanks also to many of you loyal blog readers who helped me publicize the event on twitter.

For the first time ever in the Tri-Cities region three professional communications organizations joined together to create one fantastic communications event. Those organizations were: Public Relations Society of America (Northeast Tennessee Chapter), Northeast Tennessee Chapter of the American Advertising Federation and the Greater Tri-Cities Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. The committee’s initial goal was to gather 100 people to listen to a distinguished panel including both journalists and professional corporate communicators. We far exceeded our goal with over 150 business professionals and college students turning out to hear the pro’s. Here are some of the “tweetable highlights” of the panel discussion. I was the panel moderator and it’s hard to pare them down to just a few sentences as most of what they said was valuable. I would love to hear what comments particularly resonate with you.

  1. “Years ago we could only tell you about something that happened today, tomorrow morning…I started out with a notepad and a pen. Today I carry an iPad and shoot video… I’ve been tweeting trial updates from court since 2010.”
  2. “Every person in our newsroom has a Facebook. Every person in our newsroom has a twitter. Everyone in our newsroom is expected to contribute.”
  • Becky Campbell, Johnson City Press reporter
  1. “It was always there (our immediate desire for news.) I have found our viewers are far less patient than they ever were. We have higher expectations now. People always have wanted information. Now we have to keep up with the demands of our audience.”
  2. “You don’t get angry on social media. You don’t respond angrily. That can cause you to lose your job. And that has happened in this market.”
  • Josh Smith WJHL-TV Anchorman
  1. “In health care we deal with people in the most personal moments. The issue that we face is because of regulations we cannot point to anything personal about a patient.”
  2. “You need to have a specific strategy in place and apply to the audience you are looking for. You have to have a specific goal that you are trying to accomplish.”
  • Eric Vaughn, Wellmont Health Systems
  1. “There is no one size fits all. If you are on social media you should have a strategy. Make sure everything you do is measurable. We measure leads generated, how many of those leads are qualified. As many things as you can track, how many go from social media to your web site and then convert on your web site. Something solid to start tracking on an excel spread sheet.
  2. “You have to be able and willing to fail in social media. Track lessons learned. Strategy is about what you’re saying and to whom and where they are.”
  3. “I don’t think that any business can afford to not be on social media anymore.”
  • Rachel Cain, Eastman/Perennial Wood
  1. “Social Media gives us the opportunity to listen to what’s going on on campus and it gives us the opportunity to communicate with our audience.”
  2. “When an emergency happens our students and staff turn to social media to find out what is going on.”
  3. “If you’re applying for jobs show how you’ve built a brand for yourself or for your company; not just that you’re on Facebook.”
  • Jennifer Clements, East Tennessee State University (ETSU)

To watch the #SMAC13 video to to hear all of what these distinguished panelists had to say, click on “watch the event video” on the #SMAC13 website.

 

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