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Posts Tagged ‘connections’

PostHeaderIcon 24 Hour Read-a-Thon

I will be participating on Saturday in a Read-a-Thon. It’s 24 hours that you’re supposed to read as much as possible. Those of you that know me, know that I love to read. I haven’t been able to read as much as I usually do (I figure I’ll hit 50 book this year instead of my usual 100). It’s okay, life has just been in the way this year. 🙂

BUT, I’m still doing this Read-A-Thon. People think I’m crazy trying to read at least 20 of those 24 hours, but I do it because it brings attention to literacy. There are a couple of ways you can support me:

1. Donate to Reading Is Fundamental. If you do, I would love for you to let me know, it makes me feel so much more motivated during the 24 hours of reading to know that others are behind the whole reason behind this. RIF is the largest children’s literacy program in the US. They do great amazing work and I’ve started it off by donating $100 to them.

2. Cheer me on! You’ll see me post on Facebook and Twitter often about how it’s going. I have a book blog that I will also be posting to during that time. Stop in, leave a comment. Throw pom poms around – whatever floats your boat.

3. Participate with me! The Virtual Assistance League is keeping track of how many virtual assistants (and those friends, family and clients that love them) are participating and keeping a log of our hours read, etc. Stop by the blog there to sign up with the coordinator, Jaclyn. There’s no cost, you don’t have to be a member of VAL, etc.

I’ll be really tired on Sunday, but I do this at least once per year (sometimes twice) and I love it. You don’t have to read 24 hours – you can read just an hour with your kids or whatever you are able. It’s just a chance to show that literacy means something to you.

Yes, it’s one of my big causes 🙂 One that is very dear to my heart. I hope that you’ll do one small thing for it this Saturday!

PostHeaderIcon How brave am I?

Years ago, at an IVAA conference, Beth Quick Andrews gave a talk that she opened with “What would you do if you were brave?”. It was a powerful question for me at the time. I chewed my lip a bit and wrote down “Grow OffAssist beyond just myself.” It had been something I was considering, but was like my ‘pie in the sky’ and I was terrified – more terrified than standing at the top of 50 story building, but she asked so I answered. Man, who knew what would become of that? Wow.

I ask myself that question each year when I’m reviewing my own business plans. Largely, though, I decide that I’m not that brave yet and just pretend that question doesn’t exist. BUT it always does make me think. I mean, what’s next? If you don’t take a leap, personally or professionally, then nothing happens, right?

Today, I attended an eWomen event with Mark Fox speaking to us about Word of Mouth marketing. I’ll give you three guesses (and the first two don’t count) what he put up on the projector? Yeah. “What would you do if you were brave?” I saw that and literally heard “well crap” in my head. Why do people keep asking me that every 5 years or so? *laughing*

The thing is, I know exactly what I would if I were brave, but I’m also the main (and currently) sole breadwinner in the family. It’s a bit too big of a risk for me to bite off right this very moment. BUT, I’m already doing things that make me feel brave. Just going to any networking event is a big step for me. I, generally, feel uncomfortable at those things and never know what to say or do. I also am attending toastmasters (which, um… I promised to do nearly two years ago!). Those are smaller steps to the bigger thing I would do if I’m brave.

Mark did, however, make me think… what crazy thing can I do to continue the fabulous (no really, my clients really are my best piece of advertising) word of mouth I already have? In a service business, that’s a little more difficult to do and being in bookkeeping makes it a little weirder. It was good food for thought.

So, the big brave thing? Not quite ready to share that. No, it’s not becoming a coach or speaker or anything like that. Who knows, maybe I’ll share it eventually, maybe that can be brave in and of itself?

What would YOU do if you were brave? You don’t have to answer, but really think about it. And be honest because it can be a fabulous business tool. That one question can change your life. Trust me. Be brave and jump when you’re ready. It’s so worth it.

PostHeaderIcon Conference Musings for IVAA Summit #ivaa10 – changes, twitter and winning

As many of you know, I attended the IVAA Live Summit in Phoenix last week. This was my 5th conference that I’ve attended for the virtual assistant industry and I must admit that my reasons for attending have changed. I still go to learn and attend the sessions, but I no longer feel compelled to stay in one that I feel is irrelevant to my business. However, this was the first year I actually left a session just because I wasn’t enjoying it. Hey, you win some and you lose some. I’m sure others were getting a lot of it.

I now go more for meeting other people. I work virtually and have a monthly peer meeting here in Austin, but it’s kind of awesome to meet with everyone like that. I’d much rather hang out at the bar after dinner and see who turns up and talk – yes, about business, but also taking time to get to know other people.

ANYWAY… one big difference for me was Twitter. The organizers set up a hashtag ahead of time. The interesting part of it, for me, is that because the conference is so small (about 106 people attended), most of us on there knew each other. It kind of allowed us to talk a little behind the scenes and discuss not only what was being said, but also helped us find stuff… let me explain.

Have you ever been sitting somewhere and get a huge headache? Usually you’d ask those around you and then head to the concierge desk and buy some overpriced Advil from the hotel. Aha! No longer. I saw at least twice someone asking for Tylenol or Advil and another person passing it to them. My own roommate needed cortisone cream (yes, long shot right?), and what do you know… someone came up and said “I have some in my room”. Amazing, really. I think, more than anything, I was amazed at that. People were talking about places they had visited for dinner the previous night, I used it to set up a meeting in the lobby with someone I wanted to work with. I mean, really – it was a convenience factor. And yes, I warned my followers several times to pause my tweets (Muuter has a service that is supposed to be great).

It’s interesting to watch social media shape how we interact in settings such as that. Most people had their laptops open and were tweeting, emailing, etc. BUT you could always tell how interesting the speaker was by looking to see how many people were looking down constantly compared to how many were not looking down at all – others were truly taking notes and looking up and down too. Some may say it could be construed as rude to the speaker, but I don’t think so. Some of what was going on was us talking about what they were saying, providing links, etc.

In other news… I won a gift certificate for Amazon. I heard them announce they were going to give away the prizes for the badge contest. Since I had nothing to do with the thing around my neck, I tuned it out through 4th, 3rd, 2nd… and then I heard my name. I looked at Andrea Kalli, who was seated beside me, and asked her what I won. She said the badge contest. Um… I didn’t have anything to do with them! No no no, she says, the graphic. No! I didn’t design that – I can’t even color inside the lines! No no, the thing you click on… OH!!! THAT! I’m sure Andrea though I was completely crazy.

After I finished panicking, I remembered that early on, they had sent out a graphic and specialized link and if you got the most clicks, you’d win something. I forwarded to my web guy and said “put it here, here and here” and didn’t think anything about it. I guess it worked cuz I got a gift card. Go me!

Overall, this was good Summit. I am hoping they change it up a bit, but ultimately I’m there to support the industry and have a little fun while making some meaningful connections. I just may learn a thing or two too 🙂

PostHeaderIcon A simple little takeaway from the Statesman

I’m a huge fan of our local newspaper here in Austin, The Austin American Statesman. However, I couldn’t tell you the last time I actually touched a newspaper. I’m skeeved out by newsprint. It comes off on your fingers and smudges and well, I’m a diva deep down, I suppose. Aside from that, I prefer to grab my news online, in smaller bites or through my Kindle (yes, I subscribe).

Oh, I could get it from any number of news outlets here in Central Texas, but I’ve stayed pretty true to the Statesman. Why? Simply because they care. It shows in their reporting, and it has for many years. BUT, there’s also a secret reason I adore my local paper. Twitter. No, I’m not kidding. Take a look at their Twitter stream and you’ll see why. There’s no RSS flood of news stories every hour (like some of the news stations – oy!), there’s no starched little headlines. There’s some guy there with his computer or phone or whatever and he’s talking WITH us. He’s telling us what’s going on – and this, my friends, is the part that most other news outlets don’t get – they are replying. If you type in @statesman blah blah blah into Twitter, you can bet they will reply to you. Even if it’s “Oh great, glad you liked that photo” or “yeah, yeah, we’ve had the weather wrong for 3 days now”. I like that they are human on there. The guy running it has a sense of humor. Shocking, I know.

I attended the Statesman’s social media awards over the weekend while I was out at SXSWi where they did tell us that they aren’t struggling like most of the other newspapers out there (and if you read anything about publishing, you know it’s pretty scary out there). I was a little surprised, but in some ways I wasn’t really all that surprised. They get it. They do it right. Not just online, but in the paper itself. I always feel the human element, the fact that they’re listening to their readers.

Anyway… I took away that we all need to do that. To listen to our customers, our readers, our clients, our partners, whomever it is out there that we are trying to reach. I will admit that I’m guilty of getting bogged down in numbers and reports that I sometimes forget that there’s a real human being behind all that mess. Not a bad take away for a simple little ceremony.

PostHeaderIcon Phooey on social media privacy

As with most of what I read these days, someone (Denise over at Aday VA actually) posted (tweeted) a link to this article “Social Media Privacy? Get Over It.

It’s interesting and a conversation I’ve had over and over with colleagues and friends. How much is too much information? I’m pretty open, I don’t lock or require authorization to read anything I do on social media. I talk about my kids, my reading habits, links to free Kindle books, review restaurants, complain about a client or two, rave about more than a few clients, retweet articles, I’ve probably even dropped the F-word a time or two.

I figure that at this stage in my life and career, I am who I am. I have a few people I follow that are all business all the time. Those are the ones that I tend to ignore, to be honest. It’s not all that interesting to know that yes, you are looking for clients. Get in line, honey.

So, today, if someone is following me on Twitter or Facebook, they know that my kid is sick (and has made me sick), I’m reading Under The Dome by Stephen King, my other kid had clarinet lessons last night, I have a new client I’m having a hard time getting to let go, and I just celebrated my birthday and 17 years of marriage to my husband.

Do I think you can over-share? You betcha. I’m sure if you look hard enough you’ll find things I’ve said that were inappropriate and maybe not very politically correct. But that’s also kind of how I am in real life. I can throw appropriateness out the door and be very unPC. I’m okay with that. I don’t drunkenly post or post about my late night exploits, but it’s okay to commiserate with a colleague about how her kid won’t sleep or with a client who absolutely loved the most recent movie they watched. I’m not going to hide who I am.

I mentioned above that all business is kinda boring. But I also think that your followers/friends/whatever should know what you do. Every now and then, I think it’s important to remind people “Oh yeah, hey, I’m a real estate agent” – or whatever – by saying you closed a sale or you did this or that. I follow people that forget to do that and I have absolutely no idea what they do unless I follow through to their profile information (which admittedly people don’t do all that often after the initial add). I aim to keep my stuff 80-90% personal. Seems high, but how interesting is bookkeeping – I mean really?

My point? I think it’s okay to be yourself and open about it. Others don’t, but I have yet to find a good defining reason as to why not. People cite crazies finding out where you live or where you are at. Well, frankly, that’s easy enough with public records or just dumb luck. There are so many things to be worried about – social media just isn’t one of them for me.

What is your thoughts on social media? Are we all too open? Too reserved? How do you handle your own privacy issues surrounding social media?

PostHeaderIcon The breakfast that wasn’t…

This morning, I was supposed to attend the Social Media Breakfast with a friend and colleague. We left the house at 7am and managed to go 5 miles in 45 minutes. Yeah, we turned around. You see, Austin was getting sleet at that time. So traffic… yeah, it sucked and there was no way we’d get downtown.

So, we took our own little 2-person meeting and went to Kerby Lane, where we sat by a window and watched the flakes float down.

It was a memory I’ll never lose because the conversation was really good and let’s face it, how often does it snow here? Yeah… never.

I’m sure we missed a great presentation, but also made a connection and memory that will last… that seems more important (plus we didn’t have to try to get downtown in that snarled traffic mess!)