Life Prepares You for the Journey

Happy New Year!

I realized something over the holidays, life works itself out. What I do at RT Consulting is specialize in marketing plans, which requires me to forecast months and quarters ahead for client goals. When the holidays were “planned”, my role slows down as business carries on. Through the holiday, I realized life prepares you for the journey.

One day I was working in the morning and had a play date with my nephew in the afternoon. The plan was to get work done early, play in the afternoon, his mom (my sister) pick him up, and get more work done. Easy enough.

We went to the playground and I brought a pen and notebook to write my thoughts as I had one eye on him. After a few minutes of writing, I found myself playing “monster” on the playground with him and the other kids. When I got tired, I sat down and soaked in the atmosphere. Another parent got of his phone and he started where I left off. It was a magical experience.

When it was time to leave, my nephew asked me to carry him on my back. He is six and over 40 pounds. Sure he could have walked, but I’m his favorite aunt and I know he is young only a short while. I carried him home a mile away. It wasn’t easy but it made his day.

Life - Journey

Fast forward to today. I was leaving a client’s office when I was asked to take some equipment out of the office for an event. I had to carry it to my car. Guess what? The equipment was actually lighter than my nephew, which made the process easier.

During another client meeting I was asked what my resolutions were for 2015. When I was at the park the day before, I wrote down:

Be present – focus on what is in front of you

Be proactive – step out of your comfort zone and unwind when it is time

Be prayerful – find peace in between the now and not yet

as my focus for the upcoming year. My writing has turned into action and shaped my meeting with campus leader and friend, Sarah Greenwald.

I was prayerful prior to our meeting and definitely present with her in the time we spent together. We shared stories since we last met and it was great. I wasn’t “clock watching” or worried about my next meeting. It was great to be in the moment with her.

What does all this have to do with life and our individual journeys?

Maybe we are supposed to go after what our heart desires until we find peace. Keep searching for what brings value to you and your purpose. Peace brings the assurance that propels our path for what lies ahead. It is the process from searching from within that prepares us for the world. We may not have all the answers or timelines figures out, but what we face today prepares us for the journey for what lies ahead.

 

 

Do I Even Matter To You, Or Am I Just A Number?

Do I even matter to you, or am I just a number? That is what I tell myself every time I see a connection request on multiple social media sites.

If we are going to connect, I would like to know more about you. Why not WOW me with writing my name in a brief message. Remind me the last time we saw one another. Tell me a little about yourself. I’m not asking for much.

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Try personalizing it a little with two to three sentences of originality. There is a lot of automation to make our lives simpler, but connecting to one another should never feel like a robotic command.

I know life gets busy and sometimes there isn’t time to personalize. What is going to happen when I gain a new client project, celebrate a birthday, or share an update? Will there be time for personalization then?

The lack of personalization provides me with a preview of our future networking relationship will play out. And if that is how it is going to be, I will be respectful and kind to you when I meet or see you again, but I will decline your request online.

If you LIKE my business page on Facebook, you will see a common thing happening on Fridays I call a “Friday Focus”. The topic varies by what you suggest or what comes to mind. My goal is to help YOU, the reader, to take away something valuable than you may not have considered before. If you want to contribute to an upcoming Friday Focus, please leave me a comment and we can make it happen.

Don’t be a Rookie, Rookie.

If you have read my blog before this, you can tell, my passion is to help people. I feel that if I can help someone by passing down wisdom of what I have learned, the right person will appreciate it most. That is what this blog post is about.

In a dog-eat-dog world, it’s not about what you know–it’s who you know. Does experience count for something? It’s more like icing on the cake if you’re a match for a company that wants you. So how do you go from being a rookie to a professional?

Start acting like a professional. Rookies act like rookies. You can insert graduate, college student, or whatever adjective fits your current situation. I have noticed when you start acting like a professional, other professionals starts to notice.

Network like you mean it. Don’t go to an event just to collect and pass out business cards. You don’t know what to be that person. Go with a goal in mind. Last time, I called a friend up to fully commit myself in going and talk to three new people. (Only three?) Going is making progress in the right direction, but to be successful, I need to step out of my comfort zone. You should try to do the same.

Don’t be unique, be memorable. Everyone is trying to stand out. What do you see in your circle of peers? Think of way to stand out and be memorable is what is going to work in your favor.

Develop a brand about you.  If you are going into the communications field, this is a great way to start practicing your craft. Make a brand that makes you memorable to those you meet. Your brand should reflect who you are, so this goes hand in hand with the point above.

Make appointments with key contacts. When you network with someone, you are not instant Facebook friends. Connect with contacts on LinkedIn first. Your LinkedIn contacts will remain contacts until you take time to develop a working relationship. To grab his or her attention try sending an e-mail, tweet, or share something related to his or her industry once a month. If you see each other again, try to schedule a meeting to see how you two can help one another. Sometimes the other person might be able help you more than you help them, but connect with the intention to be helpful and learn.

If you get a meeting (not an interview) from a contact, always call 24 hours in advance you can make it. This is a reminder to the other party, you are coming and for them to clear time for you.  When I confirm the appointment, I call or leave a brief message. Afterward, I write a brief follow-up e-mail. Sometimes e-mail is faster for a response but not the only way to communicate. The morning of the meeting, check your e-mail again and listen to any messages. You don’t want to have a misunderstanding.

What has helped you up your game? If I can help you, tweet to @IamRachalT and I’ll be sure to do what I can. Good luck out there!

Network Like You Mean It

As an entrepreneur, networking is critical. I had thought in college it was excruciating because I was meeting people I didn’t know and had a lot of projects to finish. Guess what? Nothing has changed. I have projects to finish and I am still meeting people I don’t know, but it is less excruciating and more exciting! Why? Because I take advantage of the opportunity to network with intention instead of networking how I feel. In other words, network like you mean it.

If you’re invited to an event, don’t go to a networking event just to collect and pass out business cards. You don’t know what to be “that” person. Go with a goal in mind. How many genuine contacts do you want to make? How many conversations do you want to have? How many people do you want to reconnect with from the last event? Goals help you stay focused on WHY you are there instead of trying to find a reason to ditch or hit the bar.

Do you meet with a group of professionals? You should consider joining one. By meeting with a group of professionals (in your field or not), it challenges YOU to stay on top in your field.

  • I am a member of the Beaches Business Link in Ponte Vedra Beach. We are a group that meet bi-weekly to hear a guest speaker or apply what we learned at a working roundtable. I am one of the few marketers in this group, so it gives me an advantage to share my expertise while meeting other professionals in other businesses. We have a networking mixer on Thursday, August 15. Register here to come!
  • I am also a part of the JAMA (Jacksonville American Marketing Association) group that meets once a month. The group is full of marketing and advertising professionals, so it is easy to blend in. How do I stand out? I make sure my marketing is cohesive with what I represent each month. My goal for these meetups is to connect and reconnect with those I know professionally.

After an event is over, I use the LinkedIn CardMunch app to scan the business cards into my database. Within 24 hours, the information on the business card is saved on my phone and I can find the contact on LinkedIn. I always, always send a personalized message when connecting on LinkedIn. If the contact had made a valuable impression on me, I will send a thank you card in the mail. For tips on writing these cards or maintaining what I call, “Network Relationship Etiquette” read about them here.

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What Did We Do Before Social Media?

Do you network like you mean it? I’d love to exchange ideas!

If you LIKE my business page on Facebook, you will see a common thing happening on Fridays I call a “Friday Focus”. The topic varies by what you suggest or what comes to mind. My goal is to help YOU, the reader, to take away something valuable than you may not have considered before.

Be Thankful

When was the last time you sat down and wrote a letter? Thank you card? Mailed out a birthday card? Now, how many? If you had to think about this longer than a minute or two, then you should consider sending out cards more often.

With the technology* we have today, everything is done instantly. That is great for productivity and work, but not so great when it comes to building relationships. If you have read my relationship networking etiquette posts, this post like those help you create and nurture relationships within your network. The single-most effective way that has kept me close to the people in my network is by simply being thankful.

People enjoy the feeling they are appreciated, right? If I could meet for lunch and tell someone I value them I would. We know that our schedules do not always work with us, so why not express my gratitude in a card?

On Twitter, I won a drawing for a free book. When it came in the mail, it felt good to have something tangible in my hand instead of an e-version. The gesture to send a thank you card was easy and so worth the 10 minutes to do it!

After an initial meeting with a potential client, I always send a thank you card. Spending time with someone for an hour discussing how RT Consulting can increase their business is always worth sending a card.

Thank You!  |  Source credit: Rifle Paper Co. Booth 3124

When someone has responded to my e-mail, I thank them.

When someone has shared advice or encouraged me, I thank them.

When someone you know gets a new job or promotion, congratulate them.

Sometimes there doesn’t have to be a specific reason to send a card, but send one anyway.

Now it is your turn to tell your own network and relationships how thankful you are for them. Trust me, your gesture will not return void.

*For the technology driven, here are some apps for your smartphone to help send cards.

Network Relationship Etiquette (Part 2)

Here we go, another blog that is written to help you. In my last post I talked about the basics of how important your name, e-mail, e-mail signature, contact phone number, and a landing page about.me. I hope you take the next few suggestions and apply them to your network and find success in your endeavors!

  • E-mail writing: is a whole topic in itself, but I’ll try to keep it simple and to the point. When you are writing a contact in your network, keep in mind they are a professional and represent what it’s like in the industry. Does your contact write with poor grammar? Probably not. When I am compose an e-mail for someone in my network, I tend to leave the “To:” field blank so I can reread it prior to sending it. I do this because on yahoo! it saves a draft automatically and alerts me the message cannot be send because the “To:” field is blank. That is my intention–for the e-mail to not get sent until I proofread my e-mail once, twice, and sometimes three times before clicking send.

E-mail writing advice:

  1. Try to keep the e-mail simple and to the point.
  2. If they have written you in greater length before, it is best to mimic how you received the e-mail unless what needs to be said can be simplified.
  3. Always say thank you at some point to be sincere and appreciative of the contact’s time.
  4. Allow your e-mail signature to leave your contact information, so there’s no need to have it typed out twice.
  • A “Thank you” goes a long way. Manners are a sign of respect and adds to your character, which ultimately enhance the image your are trying to represent. Saying it in response to an e-mail is fine, but what if you ran into someone in your network in public? Did that person give you a quick “hello” or a few minutes of their busy day to talk and catch up with you? Snail mail isn’t dead, so utilize the lost art of writing a simple “thank you” card to that person. You don’t have to scramble looking for your contact’s home address. Instead, try sending it to his or her office with an “Attn: John/Jane Smith” with an return address label. By doing this approach, the person will remember the gesture long after your e-mail has been sent and read.

Suggestions on “thank you” cards:

  1. Keep cards in good taste: avoid cliche or trendy cards unless you are more familiar with your contact’s taste and style.
  2. Universal “thank you” cards that are blank with a simple “thank you” text is more than appropriate.
  3. K.I.S.S.
  4. When writing the card, date the card when you wrote it (e.g. 10/2011) and reference when you saw or was thinking about them (e.g. It was nice seeing you last night).
  5. Don’t decorate the outside with fancy frills or stickers. This is not your pen pal or best friend… yet.
  • Social Media accounts are popular because we love to stay connected and be a part of something; however, staying connected with different groups of people can be challenging. If you have an about.me page like me , that is the only place I have most of my social media accounts “linked.” Linked is when live posts can be viewed on more than one site at a time. Once I did this, I made a metal note to only post material as if my mother was standing behind me. (You know what I mean.) What you post on the internet cannot be erased and a future employer or contact can view your angry post of your bad day, long after it took place. If you aren’t worried because your “accounts” are private–think again. Reports of social networking sites tell us they can sell your account information to generate revenue, even if it’s private. Does this mean a business can ask Facebook to look at your blocked account? Maybe, maybe not but why take that chance? Think twice before posting videos, pictures, and being tagged in friends and family’s media.
  • “Linked” accounts may sound convenient to show “anyone and everyone” all at once, but think about it… no, really think about it. If you have an account on Instagram, take a photo and upload it to site, it shares the photo on your Twitter account instantly. Now, it’s available to the public when the photo might have been intended for personal use. We are on social media to show we are active and engaging, so why not practice doing it? If you post relevant material, your network will notice and possibly generate more followers and friends. I am starting to read more and want to share my latest review on Goodreads, I can always use the copy the short code link and tell my network about it. Recently, I downloaded an app for my iPhone called iMapMyRUN. The app asks you go sign up with your Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ account. It allows you to share with your network about your running stats based on what you want to share.
Suggestions how “linking” can be in your favor:
  1. I allow this blog to have a feed on my linkedin profile. I recommend posting links leading future contacts and employers to your blog, online portfolio, or current work you have done to showcase your talents virally.
  2. Your klout score could go up. (Klout is a website is designed to measure how you influence your network and how it influences you.)
  3. Sharing links can show your network you are active and trying to engage with them and in other hobbies and interests.
Questions and comments are welcome. Thank you for reading and hope we can continue to learn and grow from one another!