[love] Your guide to networking, part 2: 10 things you ought to do

I am excited to share the last 10 tips to networking — the response from you has been so positive! Thank you! Of course, tweak the tips to suit your given situation. If you missed part one on the networking DON’Ts, you can read it here.

handshake

Networking DOs

1. Ask for what you want. At first glance, this sounds selfish, but it’s not. It’s being truthful about what you’re looking for, and people are infinitely more likely to connect you to who or what you’re looking for (a referral, for instance, “someone who wants to set up a fundraiser” or “a single mom in need of another source of income,” or even as general as “a doctor” — always ask for referrals!) if you request it. If you do need to jump in on an already-established conversation, just outright ask, “May I join the conversation?” Networking is as much about connecting others as it is about making your own new connections. On that note . . .

2. Give before you receive. What value can you provide to a stranger? Find opportunities to help or serve someone else before you ask them for anything. If no obvious opportunity to offer them a solution to a need arises, straight up ask, “How can I help you find what you’re looking for tonight?” It feels great to have that asked of you, especially if you are literally there alone (which I am 99% of the time) and you know nobody.

3. Actually call her up for that coffee date. Networking events, contrary to what you may believe, are not actually the time to set up appointments. They are the initiator of a conversation you will in theory have later. Never leave a networking event without the contact information of the movers and shakers that you met, which calls back what I told you in part one about not wasting your time. The phone can feel about 600 pounds heavier when it comes to calling someone you don’t know too well, but like working out, you may dread it before you do it, but you’ll be glad you did after the fact. (Admittedly one thing I immensely struggle with still.)

4. Friend him on Facebook. Or whatever other social media platform you want — it’s like phoning, lite. It does not replace meeting up again in person later, or they’ll just become the next vague connection you creepily follow via your newsfeed (like your classmates from fourth grade you haven’t seen in over 10 years). I say “creepy” because it’s so one-ended — what’s the point unless you’re going to interact?

I’m going to slip in another DON’T here — this happened to me this morning. Don’t send your new contact an advertisement that was designed for the general public in an e-mail entitled “Goose Island networking event” (or wherever you met them) — yes, sir, I’m talking to you. Thanks for leading me into believing you were going to actually make an effort to say something to me and then promptly morphing into a spam mail. Honestly, this guy probably just sent the e-mail to the entire list of attendees. Instead of being that guy, you can e-mail someone “Goose Island networking event” and in the body, say, “Hi Stella! It’s Liz from last Thursday. We met in front of the full-service bar! It was great to meet you. I’d love to hear more about your new book coming out. Would you like to get some coffee sometime this week?” It’s important not to come on too strong; don’t scare someone away by being overly excited — or worse, accidentally perceived as flirtatious. (It happens.)

5. Approach the leaders who’ve put on the event. It may be intimidating to go and say hi to the bigshot man or lady who organized the evening itself, especially if s/he was some kind of keynote speaker. But that’s why they’re there, and in my experience, they almost always know someone they should introduce you to. I’ve met some really amazing people because of this, and you’re almost guaranteed to be invited to their next soirée.

business cards

Hopefully your business cards have a lot more information than this: Your name, e-mail, phone number, website, your product/service/ opportunity.

6. Be prepared. Always, aways bring your business cards and any relevant literature you might want on your person in case the occasion arises. (In the case of my jewelry biz, in conjunction with opportunity literature, I should carry around coupons and referral cards. And my calendar. It’s no wonder my purse is enormous.) Also imperative, a stack of Post-Its and a pen! My fellow business team member (and sponsoring superstar) Shiela Grimmett shared this tip with me way in the beginning — it can get overwhelming to sift through your stack of business cards later and not be sure who was who. So after you meet anyone and you have their card, write yourself a little note to stick onto it: where you met, what you talked about, perhaps what they looked like, or any extra facts to help you remember them. I swear that my dental hygienist must follow a similar practice because when I see her every six months, she freaks me out with how much she remembers about me from last time! But it’s a pleasant freak-out — one in which you feel special.

I also find that they come in handy when you do meet the occasional absentminded, unprepared person who didn’t bring cards (again, why??) because you can have them write their details down for you.

7. Practice your elevator pitch. Traditionally, people say you should limit this to 30 seconds, but you should really have multiple versions of it, both for length (30 seconds, one and five minutes, even an hour) and for different audiences. For example, a corporate person will speak a different language from a late teen who just graduated from university. This also comes in handy when you attend specific networking groups events that invite individuals to speak about themselves for a limited period of time. Remember not to go on and on about your business right away (if you’re just schmoozing — it’s okay at a networking meetup where you’re asked to talk about it specifically), and tell stories about yourself. People relate more to anecdotes because they humanize you. If all you talk about is listing all the other networking events you’ve gone to or about your job or business, they are likely to tune out and/or find you boring and move on to more sociable pastures. Learn to read people, and not only just for their vernacular.

8. React appropriately. People LOVE to share photos on their phone of their children and/or their pets. If you can’t stand either, deal with it. Don’t just stare blankly and say nothing — it might go against the grain because you might think this is inauthentic to who you really are, but it’s really just being a decent person and showing your humanity. (If you have a tremendous phobia of dogs or children, I think it would be far more interesting to respond with a story — say, “I’m so sorry; I’m deathly afraid of tortoises! When I was five I got trapped under a 90-pound one at the zoo for half an hour” — which expresses your opinion on the matter and simultaneously inspires empathy. Perhaps also a laugh.)

9. Dress the part. It’s a fact of the world that you are treated according to how you are perceived. If you’re coming to promote your fashion business, it may be a good idea to curl your hair and wear something trendy and flattering. We all have our off-moments and off-days, but this all feeds into coming prepared. People won’t take you seriously if you look like a hot mess, or worse yet, you keep pointing out why you think you are one. (If it’s a bad skin day, cover up the blemishes and don’t talk about them.) People make immediate conclusions on who you are within the matter of seconds, so don’t sabotage it by coming in pajamas (unless, in some fortunate turn of events, this is some kind of networking slumber party ordeal 😉 ).

10. Keep it positive. Remember to smile! Networking isn’t the chore you might feel it is before you do it. Once you’re in a groove, it’s pie. No one wants to meet and befriend a grump, so lighten up the mood and be friendly! If you communicate with your body language that you are NOT open to meeting fantastic new people, uh, you won’t.

Thanks again to the fabulous leaders I referenced at the end of part one, and thanks also to Success magazine. (Told you I was a sponge.) I’ve found that these practices have helped me tremendously, and in conjunction with consistently showing up to events where folks are open to meeting new people, there’s the potential to really grow and reap all the benefits! By no means is this a 100% comprehensive list, so please ask any questions you may have in the comments below. I am going to conclude this series with a last post on where to find networking opportunities, so stay tuned!

Do you like this information? If so, it’d really help me out if you’d leave feedback and/or share it with your friends and get the conversation started!

To new friends and partners!

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[love] my theme for 2013

From http://bit.ly/YUxT44

From http://bit.ly/YUxT44 — one of my favorite quotes!

Earlier this year, the “matriarch” of my business team led an exercise for each of us to do on our own. It was a difficult exercise, but the end result was to come up with our own themes for 2013. Some people resolved to “Just say no [to overcommitting],” others to “love myself first,” and I’m sure a slew of many other things.

Basically, to produce our personal themes, we were to figure out which were our top values in life. There was a list of important things, such as “family” or “honesty” or “wealth,” etc. and we had to eliminate them frantically (we were timed) in order to figure out which were our top five, non-negotiable, number-one-priority values. Of course, this was a challenge, since no one can cross off, say, family, without feeling like they’re implying that it is somehow not important.

But if you’re an independent person who currently has no family to speak of, crossing it out by no means implies that if you do have a family one day, you don’t care about them. It’s important to remember also that values can change. Priorities do, too, and it’s key to review these things regularly to make sure you are living your life according to what you find most important. The point of the exercise is not to make yourself feel like a terrible person, but to acknowledge that while all the values listed are always important, we can still identify the ones that are truly at the forefront.

We didn’t share what we crossed out, but the complete list is here:

Tough, isn't it? To do it, give yourself 30 seconds to eliminate these to your top five, then list them in order of importance to you, and create a theme for yourself according to these.

Tough, isn’t it? To do it, give yourself 30 seconds to eliminate these to your top five, then list them in order of importance to you, and create a theme for yourself according to these.

Anyway, long story short, my theme for 2013 is “love over fear.” In my spiritual journey lately I’ve routinely come across this concept. I find that it is pretty all-encompassing, especially if you learn to view fear as “false evidence appearing real.” Fear is, in my opinion, the number one thing we allow ourselves to get caught up with to truly get in our own way.

only thing we have to fear

Think about it! What do you regret in your life? The things you were too scared to do for one reason or another, right?

Or what are you busy putting off today because of fear?

Fear of the unknown, fear of rejection, fear of judgment, of getting in trouble, of losing what you have . . . the list goes on.

Where there is fear, there is no love. Choosing love over fear is instead a choice to put yourself and your goals first, to love what you aspire to do, what you stand for. To get out of your own way and plunge forth anyway, even if you do get hurt. Because you either win, or you learn.

It lives next to my bed! To do first thing and last thing every day :)

It lives next to my bed! To do first thing and last thing every day :)

I am so thankful to also have a guide in making this shift in my life, the “Spiritual JunkieGabrielle Bernstein. I discovered her through Marie Forleo (whom many of you know that I adore), and although I’ve known of her for a long time, I didn’t fully start following her and her message until the release of her new book, May Cause Miracles. It’s a 40-day guide to creating miracles in your life (no voodoo — it’s all spiritual work like meditation and learning to see things through a different lens), and while I admit I haven’t been doing every single exercise to its full extent, I also know that I will refer to this guidebook time and time again. (Next time, I’ll be better about the journaling. This is actually one of my 2013 resolutions . . .)

A couple weeks ago, the mantra for the day was “I believe in miracles,” and this set the tone for the whole day! I had an amazing experience the entire day, and I believe it was thanks to Gabby’s advice.

I explain all this because I’m introducing a new category for this blog in 2013: pieces on love and pieces on fear. Why focus on fear, you ask? Doesn’t what we focus on expand?

Well, yes, but you also have to understand that simply because we ignore something doesn’t mean it goes away. If you don’t acknowledge the leopard chasing you, it is foolish to think you can just imagine it disappear and it will. I want to address stories of fear in 2013 because I think anyone will be able to relate, and then I will offer solutions to these stories by suggesting conscious acts of love. In order to shed these stories we tell ourselves, we must actively choose to believe something better,

That said, I suppose my series on networking can be the first of what I imagine to be many topics on love and fear. Stay tuned for part two, posting tomorrow at 8am! (Um, yeah, it’s been scheduled. I will still be sound asleep at that time. Still working on that becoming-a-morning-person thing.)

To love over fear,

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[blunder] joke’s on me

In light of my grammatical rant from last night, I do have to admit I often fall prey to my beloved iPhone‘s dastardly autocorrect function. It used to bother me so much in the beginning that I turned it off, but when I realized it actually often comes in handy with frantic texting (i.e., always) and fixing typos due to Fat Finger Syndrome, I conceded. But there are times I regret it, or at least admit it keeps me on my toes. 😉

autocorrect

Completing the grocery list for Whole Foods. (And then he didn’t even buy it!)

I do see the irony. :)

To fat finger typing,

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[rant] why grammar matters

dictionary

On a completely different note from networking, I wanted to discuss something a little more annoying today. Annoying because by talking about it, I am undoubtedly annoying many of you out there who think I’m just being “that girl” who cares too much about something that perhaps doesn’t matter too much in the long run, but the fact is, I can’t neglect to talk about it, not only because (a) it would annoy me not to get it out there, and (b) it does matter.

Grammar. With the advent of the Internet and text messaging, people have apparently started to believe that standardized spelling and grammar are for nerdy purists like me or for publication only. NO!!

Grammar matters in business, it matters in law, and yes, it matters in web copy. Today, this happened:

I was in the middle of ordering a sweet bodycon dress (my first!) online. The description of said dress read, “Part of Missguided’s EXCLUSIVE range, let the dress do the talking and simply add a complimentary pair of heels and clutch bag.”

I was honestly confused for a good minute before I realized they weren’t intentionally telling me the dress came with free shoes and a purse, but trying to suggest accessories to pair with it.

Complimentary means “free.” Complementary, on the other hand, relates to the way different colors and styles coexist. You may laugh, I say, but when it comes to a sales transaction, that one little mistake can cause a lot of confusion. This is why they go over grammar all over again in law school, because those barristers will one day have to comb through fine print and legal jargon looking for loopholes and clauses that allow for argument.

This relates to you, how? What if you’re not a businessperson or a lawyer? “I’m not a writer,” you say. “It doesn’t matter if I don’t know how to spell onomatopoeia.” It relates to you because what you put out into the ether that is the Internet represents you. You may not realize it, but you are a brand. Everything you say and do in public represents you. This is why employers will often toss a resumé holding spelling mistakes.

Playroom specials

This was on the specials menu at the restaurant I had dinner at tonight. I can’t even begin to decipher it.

“It doesn’t matter if the person reading it understands what you mean,” some say. But did you know this is precisely the reason why language is standardized? There are correct and incorrect ways to spell or punctuate things BECAUSE it (in theory) eliminates any kind of confusion to the reader. In other words, as long as you write something correctly, responsibility is off of you in terms of general comprehension. Of course, things can start to get hairy around this concept because there are other variables like the use of voice that can potentially confuse the reader. (For example, I can only imagine the number of Americans that had to look up the word barrister in my earlier paragraph.) For simplicity’s sake, I’m going to strictly discuss the usage of language for written copy used in social media, marketing, and business in this post. The subject of the written word in art is a whole other matter entirely.

Of course, when we write, we are assuming that the average reader also understands these rules. In a day and age where people seem not to think before they speak (i.e., write), I’m not lamenting the more complex facets of language that no one but a grammarian would find problematic.

I’m talking about little mistakes like the difference between to, too, and two. Substituting your for you’re. The stuff we learned in fourth grade. And to a slightly lesser extent, the hyper-corrective practice of people who think “for you and I” makes them sound somehow  smarter.

I’m not saying that I’m pedantic enough to get confused by someone commenting, “Your stupid” on Facebook. What I am saying is that person looks uneducated and sloppy. For an exaggerated example of this, please read this post on the Pop Tart Tragedy, which had me doubled over in laughter for almost an entire day due to its unabashed absurdity.

This becomes worse when it is a business writing the words. I once saw a table talker at a local bar covered in grammatical mistakes, and I had to push it out of sight. Take a look at any national company’s marketing efforts. Doesn’t matter what company it is, from McDonald’s to Macy’s. Not a single mistake. Never is probably too strong a word, but when it comes down to it, these companies have very strict quality control when it comes to who is writing their copy and therefore representing their brand.

Thus, it is only logical to conclude that grammar mistakes are the sign of a small business. I’m absolutely not trashing small business; obviously, I own one, and so do my parents and many great people I know. I’m just saying it is a dead giveaway.

If you want to be taken seriously by your audience at large, you had better keep those supposedly minor errors in check. I remember nationally bestselling memoirist Jen Lancaster publicly denouncing ice cream company Skinny Cow for misspelling the word whoa in a national advertisement, so I know I’m not the only one who thinks this way.

All this said, regardless of how obnoxious this is going to look, I’m owning my respect for language and its constructs, and I’m going to post little memes reviewing basic rules of grammar and spelling in an effort to get the information circulating. I apologize for sounding judgmental and condescending — and I know that if we were in a world in which everyone communicated in mathematic equations or binary or something I’d probably be singing a different tune . . . though, if a computer can’t forgive a simple sign error or mistaken syntax in the world of numbers, why should we be expected to do that with words?

Apostropheswhy punctuation matters meme

Owning it,

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[fear] your guide to networking, part 1: don’t do these 6 things

butterfly

I’ve come a long way since my first-ever networking event: I was invited by my (then-)boss to come downtown and join her at an evening of networking, where she and several other talented women were being honored for the night. It was an intimate gathering, with probably no more than 20-40 people at any given time, and I was scared out of my wits. I arrived early (if you know me, you know this rarely happens) and because I’d never officially networked before, I had no idea what to do other than be scared. I ended up finding myself a dark little corner and opening a book! (Thank God for the brave soul who approached me anyway. I still managed to meet some amazing people that day — once I put that book away!)

Bookworms are much cuter in photos, not in bars.

Bookworms are much cuter in photos, not in bars.

Last week, I networked every day from Wednesday to Saturday, and I did it again this morning.

How did an awkward bookworm transform into social butterfly in six short months? Um, I’m not going to lie — it can still be intimidating for me, but because growth (and success!) only happens just beyond your comfort zone, I make myself do it. I’m by no means someone who has it totally figured out and makes 50 new contacts on any given night, but I certainly know a little something now about conquering this fear. What I have found is pretty encouraging: Despite my initial fear and intimidation, I ALWAYS walk out of a networking endeavor feeling glad I did it, if not high because I’m in love with my new connections! (Such is generally the other side of fear.)

A disclaimer: I am actually an extravert, someone who is energized by being around people. HOWEVER, when it comes to social situations in which the number of people I know well is greatly disproportionate to the number of people I don’t know at all, it’s almost completely the opposite. (As an undergrad I notoriously “hated parties.” Unless they were mine, and were limited to about 15-20 people.) I’m what I call an “introverted extravert,” so shy people, don’t fret. People are social by nature, so just tap into that and use it as a reason to get out of your shell! (This applies particularly to women, as we are hardwired to make connections.)

There are a lot of best practices and faux pas in the world of networking, so I’ve decided to split this article into two parts: the DOs and DON’Ts of networking. I’ll start with what not to do today (you’ll have to wait till next week for what to do).

DON’T

1. Use the one person you know there as a crutch. I know, it can feel easier to go to a networking event if you bring a friend or significant other, or just stick to the one person there you already know — but you’re there to meet people you don’t know yet! What’s the benefit if you’re going to follow your husband around like a puppy all night or worse, you use the buffet table as an excuse to stay secluded and not join in on any new conversations? The same goes for your phone — turn it off (yes, off! Not on vibrate, you li’l cheater 😉 ) unless you have some extenuating circumstance (not knowing anyone doesn’t count). Anything you can turn into an excuse not to mingle will only waste the time and effort you took to get there in the first place (not to mention money if you paid to get in).

2. Talk more than you listen. Okay, so you’ve started conversing with your new contact. Excellent! You should be proud of yourself, but dial down the excitement a little bit. Networking is about connecting with people you don’t already know, so if all you do in your conversation is yak about yourself, how can you expect him or her to see value in having met you? (Of course, if they keep asking questions, that’s another issue entirely.) But generally speaking, remember that we have two ears and one mouth: Use them accordingly! Make the conversation more about them and not you.

3. Get there late. People who know me are probably reading this and laughing, because I’m perpetually running behind. Of course, if there isn’t some kind of scheduled panel discussion, fashion show, or something like that, no one’s going to be there pointing at their watch at you if you get there half an hour late. But if you get there once the scene is already hopping, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice because those infamous cliques and conversations will already be taking place and you’ll find yourself either making excuses in your head to cling onto the one “safe” person you know there, your phone, or the food — or if you’re braver, you’ll find yourself in the awkward situation of having to join a conversation that started without you (this is, by the way, more beneficial than the former). On the same token, don’t leave early — a lot of fantastic people do stick around, and that extra 45 minutes could have yielded a new best friend! (In my case, it actually rewarded me with an extra $10 I wasn’t even expecting — long story. 😉 ) You know what they say about the most successful businesspeople: They are the first to arrive and the last to leave.

4. Spend all your time on one person. You shouldn’t let one sole person dominate your entire evening. Indulge in talking to an avid talker (e.g., someone you might already know who has so much to tell you) for a little bit, but then excuse yourself so you can maximize your time there. On this note, please don’t excuse yourself with a lie, e.g., “I’m going to go to the bathroom, be right back” and then never appear again. This is a personal peeve of mine because I feel it’s rude. Say something more along the lines of, “I’m going to grab a little more food, but I’ll catch up with you later!” A lot of people tend to duck out earlier than you’d like, so use the opportunity to get a little face time with others.

5. Waste your (and others’) time. This is HUGE! If you end up having a fabulous evening meeting terrific people, but you don’t get their contact information so you can follow up with them later (even if it’s just for a coffee), there was no reason to meet in the first place. The chances that the people you met and want to meet again will magically cross your path again or hunt you down for that coffee are pretty slim, so don’t leave things to chance — make them happen.

6. Hit and run people. With your business cards, I mean. (No business card? Get some. Period. I don’t even know why people without cards go to networking events. Like, really? Worst case, write your info down on some paper — ahead of time — and tell them you ran out! Not everyone is as prepared as I am and carries Post-Its with them all the time. 😛 ) People who just leave their cards lying on bathroom sink counters or chairs are just wasting paper — half the time you go home and may not even remember who the heck Joe Snazzle was (I’ll share a tip on how you can overcome a short memory in the next post), so don’t hide behind your card hoping people will remember you if you only took the time to give them the card in the first place! The worst way to network is to expect your business card, an INANIMATE OBJECT, to do all the work for you. Have conversations! Take an interest in someone — even if it’s just to compliment her smile, so they walk away with a good impression of you. This whole “Hi, I’m Steve. Here’s my card — bye” annoys me so much that I actually went back and added number six to this list when I was originally going to keep it at five tips for the day.

There’s so much more I want to say, but I’ll write them into the second installment. I’ll leave you with a final thought/mini-DON’T: don’t be so self-conscious. If you’re quiet or shy, own it. Just don’t keep apologizing or putting yourself down for it!

Do you agree with my tips here? What are some valuable DON’Ts you’ve learned in your exploration of networking? Share them with a comment below! I can’t wait to release part two! Thank you to Sarah Vargo, Maven superstar; Shari Duffy of Ladies Night Chicago; Peggy Liao, who coordinated this morning’s meetup; and Jasmine Star, THE wedding photographer, for teaching me what I now know about networking.

Love + light,

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taking care of business: I’ve figured out my main focus!

. . . It's about time!

. . . It’s about time!

Hey everyone. It’s been a superlong while (embarrassingly long!) since I last posted to this blog, mainly because I was always a little unclear about what I wanted to blog about on it. I’ve finally come to a conclusion: I’d like to mainly focus on the general topic of “business” here — which doesn’t mean there will be a shortage of book reviews, opinion pieces, or the miscellaneous musing, but I’d like to keep the gist oriented on business.

Reason being, I’m an entrepreneur. As my (Internet) mentor Marie Forleo (of the previous post) says, I’m “multi-passionate,” which means I’m not JUST a writer, or JUST an accessories stylist, JUST a photographer. I’m a multidimensional girl with multidimensional and often contradictory interests (I love theatre, fashion, animals, fine art, spirituality — but also medicine, physics, and talking about stroke and disability, whaat?), so I don’t only do one thing. Even my Rehab Revolution blog (which I tend to far more regularly than this one up till now) which originally started as a resource for other traumatic brain injury survivors to use for ideas in physical rehab has veered off into that as well as a place for me to explore deeper aspects, like the long-term effects of lifechanging trauma on your romantic relationship (or search of one).

Anyway, just wanted to let you know I’m going to do my best to keep the focus of this blog on life as an entrepreneur. Personally and specifically, I own a network marketing jewelry business with Premier Designs. I am also a freelance writer (aspiring author!) as well as a budding photographer. My most “trackable” experience as a businesswoman is in my jewelry business, so my advice will likely be geared mostly to network marketing tips and insights. Though I am constantly absorbing general business information via sources like Entrepreneur, Success magazine, amazing business and life coach Brendon Burchard, and the aforementioned Marie Forleo — as well as other leaders in the area of business. So hopefully I can provide you some value.

I have always wanted to maintain a blog under my own name, not only out of narcissism (I kid . . . mostly), but because I can’t think of a better way to represent what I do under a single umbrella. (I do the same thing for the majority of my social media accounts, e.g., my Twitter handle is @ciaoPamela.) If you’d like to follow my other blogs, here they are:

Premier Pamela – your personal accessories stylist

Rehab Revolution – exploring the journey towards healing + awareness

Mei Shung – the blog for my parents’ restaurant in the North Side of Chicago (precisely, Edgewater), which I write from my point of view.

Wednesday Arts Section – this is was supposed to be a collective with my group of friends, but we have become so lazy lately that it has fallen into the depths of Neglected Blog Land. I have plans to transform it into a food blog, however, so check back later (perhaps way later).

I’m getting really excited to write my much-anticipated post on the (seemingly) scary world of NETWORKING, so I’ll wrap up here — two posts in one day?! Can it be?? That’s like 8000% my normal posting rate! Hahaha.

I know you’re skeptical. “C’mon, Pamela, you always say ‘I’ll post soon,’ or ‘I’ll post X many times a week,’ but you never do.”

Give me some credit! I’m nothing if not an idea machine. And a writer. Eventually, the ideas just start leaking out of my ears if I don’t get them down, so you can definitely anticipate more regular posts on this blog now that I know what it’s supposed to be about.

My mantra for 2013 is “love over fear.” Think about this as I move on to my next article . . .

Keep it real,

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marie forleo’s b-school scholarship contest

It’s been a long time since my last post on this blog!

I haven’t fallen off the face of the planet; if you miss me, try my other blog, Rehab Revolution, and most likely I’ll have posted something more recently there.

I’d be doing myself a huge disservice if I didn’t mention this huge project I’ve been working on since last week.

One of my favorite mentors and leaders in business/marketing/life etc. is a phenomenal woman named Marie Forleo. She is amazing and I’ve been following her for quite a while. She’s launching the latest RHH B-School program (Rich, Happy, and Hot) which I’d love to attend, and she’s offering a chance at a scholarship! So video entries were due this afternoon — and we had less than a week to put it together!

The end result is something I like to call “ghetto prof,” short for “ghetto professional.” It’s a spin-off of what my best friend and I call “boudy prof,” short for “boudoir professional.” 😀

Reason being I’m not excellent at video editing, but I tried. Lost a lot of sleep this weekend what with all that was going on, plus video editing is painstaking as hell. Anyhoo, I managed to submit it with two hours to spare, and I’m thrilled to share it with you!

I plan to release an extended video as well as bonus footage of outtakes and mishaps for your amusement . . . this’ll be great practice for future book trailers and vlogs ;D

Leave a comment and let me know what you think. What would you like me to do videos of in the future?

 Now without further ado, I must recover some lost sleep!
Peace and love,

acts of service

I admit it: I can be a finicky customer. Not the demanding, unreasonable kind that causes scenes or unnecessary drama, but one that expects companies to deliver excellent customer service, because that’s what’ll keep me coming back.

Since I’ve spent a lot of time living in Europe (Italy in particular), and service standards there tend to be pretty iffy, I think the experience has made me even more aware of the issue when I’m back home.

In a society where clients are also expected to respond to service professions with monetary reward (i.e., tips and future business), we have a better reputation for it. So whenever I find myself presented with a less-than-ideal situation, it leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. I find myself discontent with what seem like minor details, but make a world of difference between a superb experience and a crappy one.

The other day I entered a hardware store and a store rep walked by. “Hi how are you doing today,” he muttered in a careless stream as he walked by, and I had no idea where his eyes were, only that they weren’t on me at all.

I know this isn’t a big deal, but I felt insulted! Rule number one when there’s another person in your line of sight: Acknowledge them. Validate their presence. He’d done that, but in his sort of “drive by” greeting, he’d only done it with his words, not his body. Had what he said not been addressed to me, you might’ve assumed he was just mumbling to himself as he walked. He’d walked by so quickly, too, that I could hardly have even felt comfortable asking him for direction as to where I could find what I’d come for.

There’s some astronomical percentage that communication experts tell us is understood through body language alone. Something upwards of seventy percent. I felt like some sort of formality and would have preferred being ignored! If you’re going to bother saying hello to me, take a moment to stop walking, face me, and look me in the eye.

On the other hand, when an employee at a store bothers to personally show me to what I’m looking for, or goes out of his way to ensure my experience is satisfactory, I end up leaving ready to spread the word — in fact, I’ve had people jokingly ask me if I worked for these places as a result of my raving stories.

I was at a different store recently, a higher-end department store, that left me a bit disgruntled. I’d really needed the women’s lounge and had followed poorly placed signs for the restroom around the entire floor before I finally found it, and once I got there, the first stall was missing a coat hook — out of the question as my purse is the size of an infant. So I switched stalls, and the lock on the door was flimsy, the kind that will come unlocked if you sneeze in the wrong direction (exaggeration, but you know what I’m talking about).

Once I finished, I went to wash my hands and my sink didn’t have a soap dispenser (the bathroom was designed so all were supposed to have individual dispensers).

When I came out of the bathroom, my boyfriend asked me why I wasn’t a fan of it. Because, I told him, this is a department store: a place of commerce for higher-end merchandise and luxury. Luxury means the customer never has to worry about discomfort or inconvenience, that she is taken care of and the little details matter.

It may seem I’m too particular, but think about it. Not every experience at a store or with a company has to be life-changing, but it should never leave you wanting for more. At the basis of any service interaction (and here’s the kicker: there is no business that is not based in service) should be consideration and care.

I believe we start this practice with our personal lives. I’ve been told that when I talk to people, I give off the impression that the person in question is the only person in the room. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone somewhere and ended up talking for hours with the same stranger I just met that evening. Or how many times I’ve spent hours cooking for others — how many friendships I’ve made based in appreciation for food!

I spend the time to personally reply to comments and e-mails/messages I get because it costs me nothing but a bit of time to lay down the foundations of reaching out to other human beings. Social media is nothing if not a basis for connection and interaction; I don’t hide who I am behind an anonymous icon for a reason. I am proud of what I stand for.

And I sincerely hope that my interest in people translates into something that’s getting a bit lost in this day and age. To quote Peaceful Warrior, “There is no greater purpose than to serve others.”

What do you think? Leave a comment below and let’s start a conversation.

 

the holiday spirit

Christmas Eve covers a whole variety of sins, doesn’t it? Those of us guilty of sloth despite the uninhibited and shameless insanity of Black Friday brace ourselves for possible attacks by others as culpable of the same crime. Viscous traffic that clogs the commercial streets is ubiquitous. There is a tension in the crowds everywhere that might affect even the most Zen of citizens.

As I ran errands this morning, I nearly ran over probably four small children by accident — they’re like little gnomes that sneak up behind you as you obliviously slide into your car and begin to back out of your parking spot. It isn’t until you hear a mother scream (is there a worse sound in the world?) at what you might do that you abruptly brake and spare the lives of her little ones. Phew! Mama’s precious tykes will live to see Christmas Day.

I find it ironic that in the season of joy and giving, this tension should exist in the first place. It’s like the moment we are expected to be extra-spiritual and generous, we become small, grumpy, and stingy to everyone but our immediate circles. Is this the change we want to effect on the rest of the world?

I truly believe that we all set off ripple effects as a result of our actions, both conscious and unconscious. Smile at one person, and he might feel seen for the first time in a while. Because of this, he may give a homeless man some money. This man might eat this afternoon thanks to the money he’s received, and so on and so forth.

These ripple effects are usually probably imperceptible to just one person, and might not be that newsworthy. But you never know; I think if you help one person, you potentially just helped the entire world.

So let’s pay it forward and not forget that even that grumpy Grinch you just had a scuffle with in the toy store has joy and love to give, and in some ethereal way that joy and love returns to you.

under construction.

Welcome to my new blog!  I am totally new to WordPress, so I’m currently doing a lot of fiddling. As it turns out, my design ideas are not as original as I would like to think . . . every time I come up with a new idea I find it on some other bigshot’s website. Boo! Haha. Stay tuned for new updates as I figure this whole thing out. It may take a while, as I have no background in computer lingo and it’s pretty much a game of trial & error. Any suggestions, please comment below! ☺

To a new beginning,