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Archive for the ‘networking’ Category

Blurring the lines

Posted by Vicki Moulton on January 12, 2011

Well hello there! Remember me? No? Well, I can’t blame you for that. It’s not like I’ve been using this bully pulpit regularly.

I’m the first to admit that I’ve neglected this blog over the past several months. Part of my excuse is situational–moving from one coast to the other, getting through a second pregnancy while keeping my business going and making sure my toddler didn’t get into trouble, then having the baby just before Thanksgiving–and part of it is attitudinal, meaning most days I just didn’t put blogging at the top of my priority list.

Now that the baby is giving me longer stretches of sleep at night, I’m starting to see a third reason why I didn’t keep blogging here in 2010: the lines between business and personal have blurred to the point where posting something on Facebook feels kind of like blogging. But that’s a big lie because short, pithy little FB posts are absolutely no match for original thoughts and essays carefully written and purposefully shared on a business blog with a specific goal for a particular audience.

Case in point: I met my fabulously talented logo designer, Jenny Decker, through an online communications networking group. We completed a barter arrangement, meeting once in person, and then kept in touch via email. Then we became “friends” on Facebook, learning more about each other’s personal lives through postings and photos, and comparing notes on parenting babies and toddlers. Then I asked Jenny to join a small women’s entrepreneur group, further blurring the lines between our separate businesses and our personal lives. After that, she recommended me to one of her clients, who then hired me, and pretty soon I was reading her family blog and asking what she remembered about the last months of pregnancy while sharing my own toddler-raising advice and inviting her to read my birthing story on a personal blog after calling to ask how she invoiced a particular type of client.

So is this a personal friendship or a friendly business connection? The answer is both, and it’s the inevitable merging of these worlds that has so many businesses falling behind because they don’t know how to leverage these relationship-savvy social media tools.

If you’d asked me a few years ago whether I would someday have business colleagues in my social media network and actually develop real friendships using tools like Facebook, I would’ve said hell no. In fact, I actively avoided revealing my location, profession, and everything else about myself online in any capacity for many years. (I’m still unlisted in the local phone book–but that’s another story.) But I’m noticing that the people who steer clear of social networks are the ones who aren’t connected in any meaningful way to what’s happening in the business world today.

Yes, social media can be all about personal branding and marketing, especially if you’re using these tools to get more business. But it’s also about knowing where your audience, customers, potential employers, and colleagues (past and present) are spending their time and energy.

Dropping by the social media water cooler once in a while is good for your reputation and keeps you in the loop, at least for as long as those folks are sipping water. It reminds them that you’re still there, still interested, still part of the team.

Whether these people knew you way back when or just met you last week at a networking event, they’re all part of your ever-widening circle–what some might call your sphere of influence. It’s actually smart to keep these folks informed about your activities. Just try to keep the truly personal information (the embarassing stuff you wouldn’t want publicized on the evening news) off Facebook, or else your sphere will shrink before you know it.

So, in the effort to win back some blog readers in this new year, I invite you to visit my Facebook fan page and follow my posts (Twitter account to be revived soon) as I share my thoughts and experiences with clients, colleagues, and friends. We’re all merged into one group now, so let’s have some fun while we’re at it!

Posted in communications, marketing, networking | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Moving west

Posted by Vicki Moulton on August 5, 2010

Hey, still here… Just on the other side of the country. And P.S.: the weather is great!

It’s official: Movick Marketing has moved to the west coast! The family made the move to Oakland, California, and so did the business.

Here is the new office number: 510.530.1580. The blog, Facebook fan page, and Twitter feed have been on summer vacation while we’ve been completing the move and getting set up in the new location. Look for increased activity this month… and continue to keep us in mind for all your marketing communications projects!

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Coping with changes

Posted by Vicki Moulton on April 16, 2010

What’s the difference between an excuse and an explanation? The answer depends on what you’re trying to achieve. If you need to buy more time, maybe build up a little sympathy for your situation, then that’s an excuse. If you need to clarify misinformation with a matter-of-fact statement, then that’s an explanation.

My excuse for not blogging recently has to do with a whole host of changes happening in my life, which have turned my attention away from the blog as a business marketing tool… but only temporarily. (Fear not: I’m still here, ready to work!)

When changes started happening about a month ago, I originally intended to take just a few days off from blogging, Facebook, and Twitter. A few days turned into a week. One week turned into two. And now here it is, mid-April already, and I’ve let myself fall out of the loop entirely. My good intentions were completely dashed to hell. Clearly I wasn’t coping well with the changes happening around me. And while all of this was going on, I had two computers crash and burn, culminating in the loss of three weeks’ worth of data and email. (Insert angry, frustrated expletives here.)

Sprinkled throughout these weeks filled with challenges were emails and phone calls with potential clients, meetings with colleagues and collaborators, and successfully completed projects for steady clients. So actually the work didn’t stop–just my means of communicating with the wider world.

Where does that leave me on this warm Friday afternoon? Feeling motivated to get back into the groove, glad to have posted something new here and on Twitter before the weekend, and intending to embrace those life changes instead of letting them derail me. Change is good. (Yes, it is.)

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Posted in communications, MarComm, marketing, networking | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Attracting the ideal

Posted by Vicki Moulton on April 1, 2010

If you’re having the kind of year I’m having so far, then you’ve probably been struggling a bit trying to find the right kind of client for your business. You know, the kind that appreciates what you have to offer, wants to work with you right away, and remains loyal for the long term. In other words, the absolute ideal.

I found this article by Angie Segal of Action Coach very inspiring. It’s reprinted here (in edited form) with permission.

“What Kinds of Customers Are You Attracting?”

How do you get the customers you want and deserve? Are you randomly stabbing at the marketplace, or do you have a plan for getting the type of customer you want to work with?

Here are some tips for planning to attract the ideal client:

First, decide who your ideal client is and write it down. What size are they? Where do they operate? What do they look like?

Next, describe this ideal client to everyone in your sphere of influence. Communicate this clearly. Then ask your partners and alliances to describe your ideal client. How they answer this question will tell you whether you’ve been specific enough.

Find out where you can interact with people who fit your description of the ideal client and attend those functions.

Finally, look at yourself and make sure you present yourself in a fashion that would attract those people. In other words, dress for the job you want.

Clarity is a key element in finding your ideal clients. Once you are clear on whom you are trying to meet, and your actions are in line with that, it’s easy to find your ideal!

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Posted in communications, MarComm, marketing, messaging, networking | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Pushing past paralysis

Posted by Vicki Moulton on February 17, 2010

Ever have one of those days that just feels “off,” right from the moment you open your eyes in the morning?

I had one of those days yesterday. And even though I’m aware that some of the folks I met at a networking event last night might be reading this today, I just have to be honest: I wasn’t in my usual rah-rah-let’s-go mode. In fact, I almost didn’t show up.

It would’ve been so easy to just stay home, avoiding the crowds, the hand-shaking, the quick room-scanning, the u-turns to avoid running into certain people. But I knew I’d regret that decision eventually. I also knew that this was an opportunity I could not afford to pass up, even if I was in the wrong state of mind to begin with.

As a small business owner, I’m particularly susceptible to feeling overwhelmed with a long to-do list and crossing stuff off just to give myself a break. There are no staffers to send to networking events on Movick Marketing’s behalf. I am my company’s chief ambassador. I can either accept that responsibility, and all the gripping-and-grinning that goes with it, or I can go take a nap and let my company drift away.

Pushing past that feeling of near-paralysis–getting yourself out there, keeping your commitments, honing that elevator speech–is critical to keeping the momentum going, especially for small businesses just getting started with word-of-mouth marketing. It’s never okay to give up just because you’re not in the mood.

After about 45 minutes at the networking event, I woke up and started to get into the spirit of things. By hour 3, I met some really interesting people, gathered some promising business leads, and wondered why I’d ever felt like staying home.

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Helping a sister out

Posted by Vicki Moulton on February 8, 2010

Using the Twitter bully pulpit, Movick Marketing is now featuring woman-owned local businesses!

I started last Friday with the first tweet to promote Melissa Meman Designs, and today I tweeted for Lisa Koehler’s Singer Source.

Look for a new section on this website with a complete list of links to all featured businesses. I’m starting local, with people I know well and/or businesses that I have patronized, to show how the social networking community gives back to its own. In the case of Melissa’s jewelry business, we are old friends and I wear the jewelry myself, and Lisa is my friend and professional singer’s agent.

But beyond that, I really admire what these two dynamic and talented women have done with their business ventures–while simultaneously raising their families.

If you’d like for your business to be featured, email me or comment on this post. Come on, let’s give back to woman-owned small businesses! And don’t forget to become a fan of Movick Marketing on Facebook. The more fans I get, the more value I can add to the fan experience!

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Posted in communications, MarComm, marketing, networking | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Risking growth

Posted by Vicki Moulton on January 27, 2010

“What would it look like as a newspaper headline?”

This was one of the thought-provoking questions posed during a presentation I attended last week on strategic partnerships. When you imagine your company’s name in a headline, is it announcing an exciting new development… or a disastrous scandal?

The presentation focused on how to choose the right partner, what can be gained, when to say yes, and what to watch out for. Doing your homework before making such a big decision as forming a strategic partnership means researching everything about the other company so that there would be no surprises, such as the hypothetical newspaper headline revealing an unsavory skeleton in the new partner’s closet, right as your strategic partnership is announced.

Scary stuff, right?

Taking a risk–opening the door to new possibilities–can mean staring down your greatest fears of failure. What if I lose money on the deal? What if my new partner doesn’t live up to her end of the bargain? What if my company’s reputation is hurt by this association? All of those questions are valid. But so is the flip side of that argument. What if this partnership could bring me new clients? What if my business flourishes? What if my company grows so much that I need to hire an assistant to handle the extra work?

Risk and reward are two sides of the same coin. You can’t expect your business to grow without taking at least some kind of risk. Putting your company name out in public, marketing your services online, shaking hands at a networking event during flu season: all of these things involve risk. If you let your fear of risk dictate your business philosophy, you’ll never get anywhere.

When planning to start something new, you should always do your homework and be aware of all the risks. But remember to follow your instincts and balance the potential for failure with the potential for growth. As I’m learning with an exciting new strategic partnership between Movick Marketing and Exemplus Virtual Business Services, great things can happen when you open yourself up to new possibilities!

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Sharpening the double edge

Posted by Vicki Moulton on January 20, 2010

I received an unexpected gift today: an extra-long stretch of time to work on my business uninterrupted. I was able to follow up on networking connections and research blog ideas for a couple of clients. I even had time  to ghostwrite a blog post. 

The source of this gift? Instead of the usual 2- to 3-hour toddler nap break I get every afternoon, my daughter was so sick with a cold and fever that she slept for 5 straight hours.

There’s a word for what I feel right now: grateful. As the old SNL Harvey Fierstein-type character used to say, is that so wrong?

Building a business while raising a family involves tradeoffs and shifting priorities on a daily basis. I wield this double-edged mommy sword to ward off exhaustion, apathy, and guilt wherever possible. One side is sharpened by the needs of my child, the other by the needs of my business. It cuts both ways: either neglect one to save the other, or risk losing them both. Today, just this once, I think both were saved.

Yes, I am worried about my daughter’s health and on guard for signs of worsening symptoms that might necessitate a trip to the urgent care. But I’m also relieved that her body kicked into hyper-sleep mode to help her recover–which coincidentally helped me get more work done. Two problems solved with one mother of a nap.

As for the mommy sword, it’s resting comfortably tonight, safely locked away in a toddler-proof sheath.

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Managing social media time

Posted by Vicki Moulton on November 4, 2009

social media face_cr2As a small business owner, I can attest to the incredible time-draining potential of social media sites like Facebook. If you’re not careful about managing time spent on these sites, a quick updating session can turn into an all-day marathon.

Here are some great tips (from SmallBizTrends) for getting the most out of social media tools to help market your business:

*Be purposeful. Make a list of what you’re trying to accomplish with social media, and identify the actions that will help you achieve those goals. Don’t just click around on shiny baubles. That’s a neverending game with no winner.

*Focus your attention. Figure out where it makes sense for you to engage–Twitter, LinkedIn, a local listserv–and limit your time and energy to a handful of useful sites. Then outline what, how, and when you’ll be engaged beforehand to help maximize your time.

*Avoid overload. Use tools to help you manage the stream of information coming in. For example, if you’re using Twitter, a 3rd-party tool like Tweetdeck can help you manage conversation and schedule tweets ahead of time.

*Set limits. Schedule social media time the same way you schedule in all your other commitments. Set aside time to talk to people, to tweet fun things, to connect with your audience on Facebook. This helps users learn to trust that you’ll be online regularly.

Small business owners have an advantage over big companies because they already know how to talk and engage their customers in a more personal way, making communications more human and relatable. Social media sites are a perfect fit for small businesses.

Don’t be afraid of jumping into the social media pool. The water is a lot warmer than it looks.

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