The Power of Knowing Why

The first month of a new year has come and gone already and I’m finding myself reflecting on many of the conversations I’ve had of late.

January has traditionally been the goal-setting month, whether it’s a New Year’s Resolution or business goals for the year, many people appreciate the mental “restart” that comes with a new beginning.

From the conversations I’ve been having, though, it seems that many people mistake “goals” with “plans” or “projects.”

If you have ever read about successful people, you may have heard this before.

[Read more…]

11 Reasons Why Writing a Book is Good for Business

Emerald Lake Books logoHave you ever wondered how to make a bigger impact than you already have?

For many business professionals, time is the rate-limiting factor. You can only connect with so many people in a given number of hours. So how do you take things to the next level?

Well, there are a number of different ways.

Speaking is one of them, and something I do a lot of and enjoy, but it’s not for everyone.

Creating videos is another. Video content is easy to share, simple to create, and has the potential to make a viral impact, but it requires some technical ability.

Blogging is another means of connecting with more people with less effort, yet it requires steady website traffic.

So there’s no one magic bullet. You’re better off if you try to implement a mixture of all of these.

But there’s one more thing I’d recommend, assuming you have it in you. There’s writing a book.

Not everyone is cut out to be an author. It’s time-consuming, hard work and can take months or even years to pay for itself.

However, for those who do take up the challenge, writing a book can be an incredibly rewarding experience.

Here are some of my top reasons why I think becoming an author is good for business. [Read more…]

Book Review: The Millionaire Map by Jim Stovall

The Millionaire Map by Jim Stovall, cover imageAs I was posting my own book for review on StoryCartel this weekend, I saw that Jim Stovall’s latest book, The Millionaire Map, was available for review as well. Knowing Mr. Stovall’s work from his great movie, The Ultimate Gift, and another of his books, The Lamp, I eagerly grabbed a copy, excited to read it.

Little did I realize at the time that it was exactly what I needed to read right now.

Less than 24 hours later, with 6 pages of notes by my side, I’d read all 160 pages of the book.

I found myself frequently posting quotations from it to my Facebook friends, and sending personal notes to specific friends whom I knew would benefit from reading his thoughts as well.

Mr. Stovall was hitting on the same struggles and sticking points that my friends and I have been sharing of late, and it was great to have the wisdom and insight of someone who has been where we are, leading us to where we want to go.

[Read more…]

2013 – The Year of Social Selling

Today’s post is a guest post from Kurt Shaver, a former VP of Sales turned Social Selling speaker/trainer, and founder of The Sales Foundry.

If you want to guest post on this blog, contact us for our submission guidelines.

Social Selling Boot Camp 2013Often, major shifts in business occur when a confluence of factors combine to change the status quo. Think about the impact that affordable cars and trucks plus the interstate highway system had on the railroads. More recently, consider the impact that the Internet plus mobile devices are making on the newspaper industry. Old-fashioned selling techniques may soon begin to fade away, too, due to the influence of multiple Social Selling factors in 2013.

Consider these factors:

The Rising Awareness of Social Selling: The term Social Selling is yet another spin-off of the Social Media mother ship (i.e. Social Business, Social Enterprise,…). Individual consumers starting embraced social applications 7-8 years ago. As audiences grew, corporate Marketing Departments and Customer Service jumped in a few years ago. Now, corporate Sales Departments are realizing that they cannot manage the bottoms-up social activities of select salespeople. Instead, they are developing top-down social strategies so they can standardize and manage these activities.

Big Changes at LinkedIn: As the 800-lb gorilla of B2B Social Selling, LinkedIn experienced some significant milestones is 2012:

  • 1-year anniversary of IPO (think “cash to innovate”)
  • 185M members and counting
  • Launch of Sales Navigator, a dedicated version for salespeople.
  • Biggest redesign of the Profile format in company history

Taking Center Stage: Thought-leaders started using the term Social Selling about a year ago and a few conferences held break-out session on the topic.  Now dedicated Social Selling conferences and seminars are appearing on the 2013 calendar.  These events combine the proven principles of sales prospecting (rapport/trust/credibility) with new tools like LinkedIn, Twitter, and others. The fact that organizers can draw both attendees and exhibitors is evidence of the growing popularity of Social Selling.

So, as you plan your 2013 goals and strategies, consider how to take advantage of the growing power of Social Selling tools and techniques.

Want to learn the latest Social Selling techniques? Attend a free introductory webinar, “New Ways to Grow Sales with Social Selling,” this Wednesday, January 16, from noon- 1:00 PM ET, or jump right in and  join the Social Selling Boot Camp, a 30-day virtual training program beginning February 7. Save $200 with Coupon Code: 200BCA. See full program information here.

Welcome to 2013!

2013 is an open book filled with magicThe New Year has begun, filled with all sorts of possibility and wonder. For some reason, the changing of the years seems to remind us to look back at what’s behind us, and eagerly anticipate what’s ahead of us.

However, in business (and in life), each new day yields the same opportunity. Learn from the past. Plan for the future. Dream big, live fully, love deeply, fail fast, and grow more.

With 365 new beginnings lying before you this year, what dream are you pursuing today? Or are you simply trying to keep up with the demands of Life?

Set aside time each day to step back, think about where you are right now, and where you want to be in the future. Are you positioned to get there? If not, what changes do you need to make to adjust course?

For your business, review your business plan. (This applies, even if you are a personal brand!) If you don’t have one, sit down and write one. Without it, you have no discernible measure of where you are in relation to your goals. If you have one, is it current or does it need updating?

The process of having to document your business, your products and services, your position in relation to competition, etc., helps to clarify and define your business. This makes it easier to make decisions about growth opportunities, future direction, prospective client projects, and much more. Without a business plan, you’re simply reacting to events as they unfold, left to the whim of others.

Michael Hyatt, former Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, also recommends having a life plan for your personal affairs as well. Certainly if you want to be in control of your life, instead of reacting to events all the time, knowing what you want out of life is important. Having a plan will help you balance the demands on your time and resources, while also allowing you to create the legacy you want to leave.

How does your business plan align with your life plan? Are there areas of conflict that need resolution? For example, if spending time with family and friends is a huge part of your life plan, does your business plan ensure you have the time and freedom to do that?

By understanding where you are now and where you want to go in the future, you’re well-equipped to figure out the steps required to get from here to there. Check back regularly to ensure you stay on target. Keep both plans updated as things change.

You don’t have to wait for a New Year to create the life you want. You just have to decide here and now, in this moment, that you’re starting. Then, let nothing stand in your way!

As a thank you to my readers, and with permission from its creator, Dave VanHoose of the 7-Figure Speaking Empire, here’s his Success Goal Workshop worksheet to get you started thinking. I’ve already filled mine out and have been re-reading it frequently the past few days.

And if you’re free today at noon ET, join Dave for his Be Legendary BlogTalkRadio show. Today’s topic is on planning your goals for 2013, and you’ll be able to call in to get your questions answered. If you miss the live show, you can always explore the archive!

As always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to post them below. We’d love to know what your big goals are!

When Social Networking Does Good

I’ve been providing social marketing services for three years now. Yet, one of the things I’ve seen a significant increase in this year has been the ability of social communities to rally together for a good cause. Whether it’s spreading news or raising funds, there is no parallel to how rapid a message can spread when shared over social networks.

In my local area, since August, lost dogs have been found, runaway children have been restored to their families, news of a long-time family friend’s passing quickly spread, a kidnapped child was returned safely to his guardians, and an online community formed to support two families whose lives were devastated by a home gas explosion.

When the tragic shootings took place in Sandy Hook (a neighboring community to where I live) on Dec. 14th, 2012, news spread like wildfire over the social networks. As always, I found Twitter to be the best source of news. Facebook couldn’t keep up with or spread the information quickly enough because of its closed nature. But with a few appropriately placed hashtags, I could find out everything I wanted to know as it was unfolding; actually, more than I wanted to know since my own children’s schools were also on lock-down until the situation was under control.
eMarketing Association logo
What I didn’t know until today was that the very next day, a colleague of mine suffered a tragedy in his own family. Robert Fleming is CEO of the eMarketing Association, an organization whose conferences I have spoken at over the past couple of years. It’s related LinkedIn group is the 4th largest group on that network, out of over 1.5 million groups!

On Dec. 15th, his 12-year-old daughter suffered an illness and was paralyzed from the neck down. Within 5 hours’ time, she went from being perfectly healthy to being completely paralyzed, unable to eat, speak or breathe on her own. She still remains in the ICU at this time. But is in good spirits. A website to chart her progress will be up and running in another day or two at rhanasjourney.com.

While the information I have is limited and the family deserves its right to privacy as it deals with these difficult circumstances, Robert is hoping to see good come out of this circumstance regardless. On LinkedIn today, he shared an announcement with the eMarketing Association Network group.

100% of all profits from conference registrations, certifications, sponsorships, memberships and ecourses will be contributed to a fund in [his daughter’s] name, for her care, now through the end of January.

With this offer, you’ll be able to hone your eMarketing skills as you prepare for 2013, and know that you are helping a little girl heal at the same time. So, why not take a moment and make an investment in both her and yourself. See what the eMarketing Association has to offer today. And, as Robert finished his announcement, “Our best wishes to you for a fantastic new year.”

What Are You Thankful For?

Happy Thanksgiving from Aleweb Social MarketingIt’s Thanksgiving Eve, and my social newsfeeds are filled with people sharing what they are most thankful for. As I look back at where I was a year ago and contemplate all that has happened since, I find myself overwhelmed with gratitude.

This time last year, I was functioning under the crushing weight of grief that comes from losing a loved one. My fiance, Frank, had died just a few weeks earlier, and I was still trying to figure out how to get out of bed in the morning and having to remind myself to breathe whenever fresh waves of grief came crashing in.

They say that, in order to appreciate light, there must be dark; and to know good, evil must exist. I’ve learned that the same is true for joy. To know true happiness, not just contentment, but unmitigated joy, one must also be familiar with sorrow and grief.

Last year at this time, my life had shut down. I went through the motions, making Thanksgiving dinner, but soundlessly crying throughout the meal as I sat with my family; feeling fake as I tried to live a life I had no interest in participating in.

Reflecting on where I was then to where I am now is like seeing the difference between night and day. There are no similarities.

Toward the end of December, I realized that I couldn’t keep going on that way. I’d gotten through Thanksgiving, Frank’s birthday, my daughter’s birthday and Christmas, but just barely. I knew something needed to shift, and that the way I was living my life was not the way he would want me to be.

I gave myself until the end of the year, deciding that on January 1st, I would pick myself back up and begin again. It wasn’t a New Year’s resolution. It was simply a new start.

I had no idea what that would look like, but I knew it was essential. Frank had died. I had not. The one thing I would not do was waste my life. I would make however many days I had left count for something. I had no idea what that might be, but I knew it was within me. With Jeremiah 29:11 ringing in my ears, I began looking for God’s plan and purpose for me, asking Him to reveal it to me.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

One thing was clear to me going into my relationship with Frank. If I wanted a healthy and genuine relationship, I would have to keep the walls down. I’d spent most of my life erecting walls to keep the hurt, pain, disappointment and anger out. But those same walls blocked joy, peace, excitement and connection from coming in.

When Frank died, I didn’t have the strength to erect walls again. While their lack made me vulnerable to the grief I felt, it also presented me with the experiences I wanted most in life.

As I ventured into 2012 without him, I had no idea that this would be my Year Without Walls. But allowing those walls to remain down has allowed me to tap into genuine authenticity, not just in myself, but in allowing myself to remain open to others.

It has also enabled me to listen for other people’s stories more. My life became so much more real to me as I experienced such extremes of emotion that it reminded me of a passion I’ve always had. I love other people’s stories. Whether they are presented in a movie, a book, at a networking meeting, or over coffee, I love to learn what others are passionate about, what makes them unique, and to watch as their story continues to unfold.

So, what am I thankful for this year? I’m thankful for loving deeply, for my friends, family, and friends who are like family, for all the new people I met this year, and for the accomplishments of this past year as well as the new opportunities that lie ahead. And I’m thankful for having someone to share it all with.

The connections, relationships and even partnerships that I have been blessed with this year have been a direct result of living with myself authentically, accepting and acknowledging my grief, but granting myself permission to live again. The result has been a more beautiful, rich and connected life than I ever had before, and for that, I’m extremely thankful.

What are you thankful for? I’d love to hear your story.

I’m Grateful for You

The Character-Based Leader - Tara Alemany http://alewebsocial.com

The Character-Based Leader is available on Amazon and on our website. For a copy autographed by me, purchase the book here.

This may seem a bit unusual for my typical posts, but indulge me for a bit if you will. It’s been an unusual past few days for me, and the things I was reminded of through them may resonate with you as well. If you can learn anything from my experiences, even better!

Last week, I was pleased to participate in a book launch that was huge and very personal for me. I had co-authored a book with 20 other authors called The Character-Based Leader: Instigating a Leadership Revolution… One Person at a Time. This book is incredible; unusual from any other book I’ve ever read because it is the collective vision of multiple authors all writing in a single voice, sharing the same message, each in their own unique way. Character counts in leadership, we say. And leadership today is sorely lacking in good character, but we each have it within ourselves to make a difference.

That’s not all that makes the book unique though. This collaboration was 100% virtual. Although I have come to know and love many of my co-authors through social networks, e-mail, video chats and phone calls, I have not met a single one of them in real life yet. Tomorrow, I will meet the first when Will Lukang joins me for a book signing event.

I tackled two distinct but related subjects in The Character-Based Leader, intentionality and perseverance. I wrote about how the choices we make reflect who we are in life. If you want to live an impactful life, you have to live purposefully. And I shared about how purpose leads to vision, which is one of the four key elements to perseverance. Without vision, there’s no justification to persevere.

As the book was launching, I told my mother that I had a feeling that when I looked back at the end of my days, this book was going to be one of the accomplishments I was most proud of. Little did I think at that time that my days might be numbered on one hand. [Read more…]

Dancing As Long As I Can

Tango Pictures, Images and PhotosI recently came across an essay in NPR’s “This I Believe” series that was written by Robert Fulghum, author of “All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” The piece was entitled “Dancing All the Dances As Long As I Can.” In it, Fulghum speaks of a passion of his, dancing, and what it means to him. He relays a recent enthusiasm for tango, and his initial intimidation to try it. However, he thought back to an earlier time when he’d chosen to “stay on the sidelines” when the dancing began after a village wedding on the Greek island of Crete.

The fancy footwork confused me. “Don’t make a fool of yourself,” I thought. “Just watch.”

Reading my mind, an older woman dropped out of the dance, sat down beside me, and said, “If you join the dancing, you will feel foolish. If you do not, you will also feel foolish. So, why not dance?”

And, she said she had a secret for me. She whispered, “If you do not dance, we will know you are a fool. But if you dance, we will think well of you for trying.”

This statement got me thinking… How many times are we thought to be fools because we let our fears of appearing foolish keep us from trying something new? Not only that, how often do we miss out on finding something we actually love doing because we’re too afraid to even try it?

In February of this year, I met the owner of a local business development center at a networking event. He was setting up a social media seminar series, and asked me if I would be willing to speak about the relevance of social media to business owners. While I had given presentations at work in the past, it was always to people I knew. The idea of speaking in front of a bunch of people I didn’t know scared the heck out of me! But I’ve been prayerfully building my business by stepping through the doors that open for me, so I said “yes” even though I had reservations about it.

That was one of the best decisions I’d made since starting my business. Since then, I’ve spoken an average of 3 times per month at various locations to different groups; all of which is free publicity for my business. Each engagement has led to new clients and prospects and, if nothing else, it’s ensured that people know what I do and recognize me the next time we run into one another somewhere. As you know, the sales process requires multiple “touches” before a prospect is ready to buy from you, and this has definitely been a means of shortening that process.

So, what have you been sitting on the sidelines avoiding? What’s outside of your comfort zone that you probably should be doing? What are you afraid to try that might actually be a blessing to you or your business? If you feel inclined, leave a comment below and share what it is. Then, screw up your courage, realize that you’re going to feel foolish whether you face your challenge or not, and determine to make people think well of you for trying! And while you’re getting started, consider this quote from VaroTango. “There are no wrong moves in tango, only new ones.”

Musical Chairs and Slippery Slopes

Musical Chairs Pictures, Images and PhotosIn the fall of last year, I found out that I would be losing my job working for a family-owned company that I loved. My job loss was due to no fault of my own. The company was restructuring, and in the game of musical chairs that took place as a result, I lost.

I had a counterpart in another country that I had worked with very closely throughout the six years I’d been there and I was grateful that, if one of us had to go, it was me.  While we lament the 10% national employment rate we’ve been experiencing in our country of late, his country had dealt with 16% in recent years.  He’d also been with the company much longer than I had, so his experience working in other companies and adapting to distinct corporate cultures was much more limited than mine.  To me, it seemed that I’d have an easier time redefining my career yet again.  Why is that?  Well…  I’d had to do it before, many times.

Prior to this last job, I’d owned my own small consulting firm for 16 years. That had been my first “real” job, started at the age of 19. As a result, I’d been in and out of a variety of companies in totally different industries. So, my exposure to corporate cultures and small businesses alike was vast compared to many other people. I counted more than 30 companies as my clients, ranging from your large, international corporation to the small local utilities company to the even smaller local garden club.

Imagine my surprise when I couldn’t figure out how to get started this time. I was out of the loop in terms of where to find jobs now. On top of that, I was finding that to apply to job postings, I had to pick and choose from my skill sets. The totality of the experience I’d gained over the years needed to be compartmentalized and parceled out depending on the job I wanted to apply for. It seemed the same to me as letting people know that I had two feet, but not the legs to move them; or two hands, but not the arms that they require to be useful. I have both a heart and a head, and they work in combination. Why would anyone want to employ one part, and ignore that the others exist?

At that point, I had the good fortune of learning that social media had changed the way the people find work now. While the job boards still exist and there are still recruiters to call, social media enabled job seekers and business owners alike to show what they are made of. The availability of social networking sites and the visibility of the internet allow us to share who we are to the wider world. We can establish our expertise in our chosen profession, make connections with people, and give a sense of what we value without ever having to leave the comfort of our own homes.

Now that sounded great to me. But I quickly realized that without answering certain questions for myself, I could never give a clear impression of who I was to anyone else. Things like the age-old question of “who did I want to be when I grew up?” as well as “what did I want to be doing with the next 5 years of my life?” and “what was I willing to do to support my family?” Some of these questions were easily answered, but others were not.

For instance, I knew that I did not want to discount any of my business skill sets, but it seemed that if I didn’t focus on just one of them, my chances of finding employment would be much slimmer. So, that led to the next question. “What happens if I refuse to be less than who I am?” Amazingly enough, the answer came very quickly (much like sliding down a slippery slope)… I’d have to figure out how to make them a marketable package, which most likely meant offering them as consulting services. Oops…  Had I just talked myself into starting a new company? It seems I had… For it was only in that way that I could be true to the sum of my work experience and life passions.

While I had originally seen social media as a means of marketing myself as a prospective employee in someone else’s company, I soon saw its value to starting my own. So my initial use of social networking was purely to let people get to know me, to see my servant leadership, and to appreciate my expertise and knowledge. All of these things would be beneficial for my growing company as well as for potential employers to see.

Then I began using my network as a means of communicating what my business was doing, and as a means of sharing useful, relevant information with my audience. However, my main focus is still on building relationships, because that’s what “social networking” is all about. And whether this leads to a burgeoning company or an offer of employment somewhere, the exercise will never have been wasted; for I am richer for coming to know all of you…