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Jodie Palumbo, NAWBO OC

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Social networking can help your business
Many professionals are new to this social-networking era, and we are still trying to navigate our way through facebook, twitter and LinkedIn. Or, we're trying to figure out how to control our teenagers in the age of technology, where the playground has expanded and the boundary lines are harder to enforce. I am here to say that social networking is not just for teens or young adults – it is here to stay. So, we may as well get used to it and ask ourselves, “What can social networking do for me to help me grow my business?”

Some things social networking can help you with are:

1. Provide you with effective ways to market your business on a low budget

2. Assist you in generating prospects online whether you have a current Web site or not

3. Help drive more traffic to your site

4. Generate referrals and new business while also giving you a means to stay in touch with existing customers and clients

5. Reduce the hours and effort spent searching for prospects

6. Leverage the networking groups you are already attending, such as nawbo-oc.org

I am not suggesting that the good, old-fashioned way of networking live, in person, is not beneficial. What I am suggesting is that you can work smarter – not harder – and keep your sanity. There are only so many places you can be at the same time, and for some of us, the constant networking can start to trigger the question, “ Am I really getting anything out of this or just paying for a lot of breakfasts, lunches and dinners with the only growth being in my waistline?”

If you are like me, you are not interested in tweeting about what you ate for lunch or where you are every minute, nor do you really care to publicize your entire social and business life online. So, this is where we'll start. Here is the golden rule: Do NOT post or write ANYTHING online that you would not want to see on the front page of the Orange County Register or Wall Street Journal with a 5-by-7 photo of you next to it. That simple. Really. Once it is on the Web it is there for any prospective clients, employers, educational institutions, associations, etc., to easily find when they search for information about you. Also, be selective in regard to your online "friends" or "connections." The old saying, “You are who your friends are” holds true, especially in the professional online world.

For starters, or to increase the value of your social-networking efforts, make sure you have the following in place:

1. All your contacts together and entered in your computer

2. Three versions (long, medium, short) of your bio representing who you are and how you help others

3. Current pictures of yourself. (I hate to tell you this, but no one believes you still look like that photo from college or even high-school days. Remember, age brings maturity and experience, and most of these people already know you or will meet you eventually. It would only communicate your lack of confidence and insecurity – two things that have no business sharing space with success.)

Take the trouble to educate yourself on how to make the best use of this very powerful and effective medium. Social networking is here to stay. Seek. Discover. Learn. Conquer! As you focus your efforts and time into social networking, your waistline may shrink as your pocketbook grows.


Laboring through a long weekend
Many of us Americans recently celebrated Labor Day – a national holiday in the United States and Canada, honoring working people. (That is also the same definition some countries use for May Day. Interesting.)

While so many of us celebrated, I found it ironic that a number of self-employed entrepreneurs and the unemployed worked right through this holiday in some form or another. You know who you are. Whether updating your database, clearing your desk, going through all of that junk mail (paper and electronic), reviewing projections, reports, Web site content, branding or simply doing laundry – you were working. Cleaning a garage or sorting through some of the clutter in your head, life, in office or car – there is always work to be done.

While some were enjoying a movie matinee or planning for the street block party, you were thinking that by doing, doing, doing, you could actually catch up with all the others and keep your place in the game of life intact. You are a winner. An overachiever. A sheer success. Your ancestors would be proud.

Some of us found justification this past Labor Day to get some things done that might seem like pampering but are just errands and maintenance in disguise. How hard is it to find a nail salon open to get a mani-pedi on the holiday? Not hard at all – this I know. Pretty quiet in there, too. Dyeing your gray hair roots on any Monday is difficult and just not going to happen. Don’t go there.

Here, I propose the many things that are possible to do any holiday weekend the next time around:

•    Clean your desk. There are at least four projects within that stack alone.

•    Update all your contacts and merge into LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. You know you have been meaning to do that for months. Figure out all the features on all the sites and how they can benefit you.

•    Read all your connections’ profiles and all their connections’, too. Tweet everyone while you are at it. Re-do your profile.

•    Read up on all swine flu outbreaks and sanitize your entire house, office and body. Install those dispensers in every room. Tweet about that, too.

•    Contemplate changing all branding for your company.

•    Empty junk mail on computer and in paper form.

•    Research and update all viruses and spam programs. Call your service provider to waste some more time on hold, only to find out they do not know more than you and cannot help you because you have Outlook and not Outlook Express. There is also a two-week wait for them to come out – if they show up within the eight-hour window.

•    Analyze your and your family members’ calling plans. Counting the texts and downloads ought to really get you worked up and save you all sorts of time and money in the process.

•    Google database organization programs like Card Scan and ACT. Go buy both and see which one works best once you enter the information from all those thousands of business cards you've been collecting.

•    Buy a new computer and screw around with it all weekend.

•    Sew buttons and hem pants. Darn socks you find around the house.

•    Clean the grout. If it’s white, pour coffee on it to escape the agony later.

•    Reorganize your closet using that article and pictures you saved from Real Simple magazine. Nothing simple about this magazine as it is an inch thick.

•    Clean out the garage – or just go through a few boxes and re-sort/re-stack so it looks like you did a lot. It’s amazing what a little sweeping can do. Face lift!

•    Wash the dog.

•    Clean the car (including the trunk and all enclosed spaces). This will feel like a holiday with lots of surprise gifts when you see what you find. You know you knew where that lipstick was. No need to buy 10 more in the same shade.

•    Whiten your teeth.

•    Do the bills.

•    Create some report on Excel or just redo one for fun.

•    Write a blog!

Or just sleep in till your body tells you it is time for it to wake, eat a leisurely breakfast out or with whomever you choose (perhaps alone, in peace, even), take a walk on a beach, go to a party without having to prepare or bring everything, see a movie (or two), read a book and fall asleep on the couch.

It will all be there on Tuesday morning. Remember, there is a reason why we have holidays. You are not the exception. The world will, indeed, exist if you take a day of rest. We are not as significant or as important as we tell ourselves in order to explain our busyness. Or is it our business?


NAWBO Conference hits Windy City to 'Power Your Dream'
This year’s climate heading into the National Association of Women Business Owners' yearly conference had seen, let’s face it, fearful and challenging economic times for most of the business owners in the country, as well as a week of rain in Chicago before we arrived. Well, this all changed as hundreds of women from all over the world came to connect and strengthen their commitment to “Power the Dream” of each woman entrepreneur present from Tuesday evening, June 23, through Saturday, June 27.

Some of you may recall the Steven Covey book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” If you are like many of us, you have read or listened to every motivational speaker telling us how we can all make more, be more and do more. It took me more than 30 years to realize that while we could be, do and have whatever we wanted in our lives, it may not be possible at the same time. There is one habit, however, that I have always gone back to no matter how the economic times, dreams or goals have changed, and this is “Sharpening the Saw.” I believe most of you would agree that revisiting the obvious, as well as constantly educating and learning different ways to adapt and reinvent ourselves and our businesses, are keys to the dream not only being powered, but also attained.

This year’s NAWBO conference did exactly that. The theme was, of course, “Power Your Dream.” We had three packed days plus a few extra activities on each end to network and take in the sights of my favorite city and hometown, Chicago. There was the opportunity to educate ourselves and share in roundtable discussions with other like-minded women business owners, all dedicated to each other’s success while being entertained and learning new skills and perspectives to grow our business to the next level. We had keynote speakers ranging from Oprah and TLC’s hit series “Clean Sweep” star and author, Peter Walsh, to Suzy Welch talking about the 10-10-10 of decision-making.

Walsh has some catchy book titles dealing with the clutter and disorganization in our lives that keeps us stuck, such as “Enough Already – Clearing Mental Clutter to Become the Best You,” as well as my favorite, “Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?” He really knew how to speak to his audience while giving us great tips and letting us laugh at ourselves.

Welch’s idea of revolutionary decision-making had some of us wondering if it was invented over tequila shots and a box of Kleenex. However, when we really listened, it started to make more sense. If we approached crossroads with the basic question: "How is this decision going to affect the next 10 minutes of my life or the lives of those around me, the next 10 months, the next 10 years," we would probably make more relevant and effective decisions.

Cynthia McClain-Hill passed the baton of presidency to Wendy Lopez, and our new board was installed while Marilyn Johnson, vice president of Market Development at IBM, addressed us over lunch on Wednesday. Awards followed.

NAWBO-O.C. was the winner of the Membership Recruitment Challenge for 2009, bringing in 56 new members in two months during a recession with no fiscal budget. This was due to in-kind exposure at various tradeshows, exhibits and conferences, along with the support and excellent teamwork of great committee members like Christina Becker, Trina Fleming, Janet Cronick and Kimberly Gerber, director of Membership. I had the honor of representing NAWBO-O.C. and accepting this award as the director of Marketing & Communications. This made NAWBO-O.C. the largest chapter in the nation with more than 380 members. Way to go, team!

Particularly valuable were the roundtable discussions among all leaders on Wednesday, June 24, where we shared our best practices and ways to support each other, as well as the mission and purpose of NAWBO.  

We ended our first night with a spectacular event held at The Field Museum, which caused many of us to experience flashbacks to the Ben Stiller movie of the same name. Me? I was having a fabulous time networking. On Friday, many of us ventured out to the infamous Taste of Chicago. In case any of you were wondering, EVERYTHING tastes good in Chicago.

We also gave an award on Friday to our Guardian Girls Going Places winner. Fifteen-year-old Eugenia O’Kelly of San Francisco was selected from 5,000 girls to receive one of the $1,000 dollar awards. Eugenia has operated Sirius Games LLC, a software company that develops and markets electronic learning games to assist high school and college students studying Latin language and Roman history. Eugenia timidly approached the microphone and shared with all of us a message that I think sums up the entire conference. “For anyone who has a dream and someone is there telling you it is not possible, that you are being way too ambitious ... I am here to tell you they are wrong!”

A perfect week ended with a White Sox/Cubs game and a shipment home of Garret’s Popcorn in the 42-pound box I preshipped from our corporate sponsor, Jeffrey, my friend from UPS. “BROWN” has done a lot for NAWBO! We L-O-V-E UPS !!!

For more information on NAWBO Women’s Business Conference 2009 or to hear more about NAWBO-Orange County, please visit us at nawbo.org and nawbo-oc.org, where you will find pictures of our meetings, events and activities, and more calendar information.

Good old communication and relationship building – there is no replacement!
It’s 6 a.m. and the alarm has just gone off on your Bose stereo – or is it your cell phone? Your Blackberry or iPhone claims you have 155 new e-mails between your personal and business accounts. You have messages to check on your mobile voicemail, Skype and at the office. If you have children, their school has now gone paperless, and you are getting 20 to 25 e-mails from various administrators and staff to inform you of everything from Ribbon & Wrap Fundraising and field trips to forms, newsletters, pink slips, blue slips, supplies needed, grades, your child’s behavior in each class and, of course, volunteering all that extra time and money we have in abundance.

Your spouse is on the Web following the Dow extremely closely to ensure there actually is any money left for retirement and that some day you will indeed be able to enjoy that cup of coffee or read the paper uninterrupted in peace and quiet.

Your children no longer seem to have friends they speak to – at least not ones you get to hear any of the communication with. Your daughter just got a text marriage proposal from her boyfriend who is traveling in India, and your middle-schooler thinks that it is OK to text you vs. call you to check in – your job is to be tied to the screen of your phone. However, the upcoming generation has used more text minutes than you and your spouse share in voice minutes. And revenue from text messaging alone is expected to grow over 15 percent in 2008 to $70.45 billion, up from $60.85 billion in 2007. In other words, it is here to stay.

What does this mean for you and your business? Most of us have come to realize that technology is something we cannot live without. The Internet has allowed business to go global, and reach several markets easily and effectively. E-mail has given us the opportunity to communicate at any time among colleagues and friends, or family for that matter, and, I might add, not have to actually speak to anyone live.

Webinars and videos can be watched in the privacy of our home offices at all odd hours, letting us take classes, seminars and even attend church remotely. Virtual weddings and baptisms are next, I am guessing. Soon we will never have to leave the compound or speak to a stranger again. Has this made life better? Easier? How about more effective – or less? Just how much multi-tasking can one fit into a 24-hour day? The Metrolink train crash results speak pretty loudly and sadly.

There appears to be a need and purpose for such technology, and there are times we cannot imagine not having such options easily available at our fingertips to reach out and communicate. I am just not so sure that it is always the best way to do so, and I hardly think it replaces or minimizes the significance of actually picking up a phone or having a meeting eye to eye, belly to belly with our prospective clients, customers and colleagues. Could we be abusing this privilege at times to avoid dealing with building and maintaining the relationships that we need to nurture in order to not just survive, but thrive, in both our businesses and personal lives? Where do we draw the line?

We have all received or sent the e-mail that was misinterpreted or taken personally. When communication has been proven to be 87 percent nonverbal, how long does it take to figure out that some things need old-fashioned communication to hear the tone and see the response? Perhaps we need a new Emily Post book on “The Etiquette and Manners of Electronic Relationships.” Or “Electronic Relationships for Dummies.” Am I on to something here? Will the next generation recognize that the offer of one’s hand is for what we now call a handshake? Or will the increase in carpel tunnel syndrome from texting, typing and gaming rise to a level where the Velcro from our hand braces will only get in the way of actual personal contact? How will all this technology affect our ability or our grandchildren’s to relate to and understand one another? It would appear all of it was invented to make our lives easier and simpler, but has it?

If this is not enough, there is always time to read or write a blog or two, and be sure to update profiles and answer invites to various social networks now online for both business and personal. Being “Linked-In,” after all, is what it’s all about. Right?

Time: our most precious commodity
We all have the same amount of time in the day. The same number of seconds, minutes, hours, weeks and months to plan and schedule what we like. The trick seems to be in finding balance between what we have, what we want, and keeping our priorities and values all in line at the same time.

A friend and I used to joke in our early thirties saying, “You can have it all! Just not at the same time!” Little did we know the true reality of such, as this was before children, law degree, building a business, divorce, custody battle, and fertility doctors. All while still managing to plant hundreds of bulbs in the garden in time for spring; shop and create culinary feasts for our men, friends and families; tend to  dysfunctional visiting in-laws; research all curricular activities and summer programs to raise mini-geniuses able to get into Ivy League schools (for which we would need to work harder and longer to fund); and play chauffeur in the meantime, as well.

This does not take into account that, all the while, we are fortunate to be reminded daily of the aging process and attempting to defy gravity as well as reality. I do not know about you, but I have yet to find the magic cream and believe me … I have bought and tried them all! Where exactly does a woman find the time to nurture, run and grow a business, tend to family, and still make time for an occasional mental and physical tune up to keep her own engine running efficiently and with some sanity? This may be why the beauty and spa business flourishes on the never ending attempt to recapture and maintain our youth. There simply are not enough energy drinks made to assist us in getting it all done, going all the places we need to go, and then coming home as the soft, feminine mother and wife, ready to deal with a teenage daughter starting puberty and a man whose testosterone is dropping daily.  Is this some kind of bad joke?

Somewhere our master planner up above did not plan this timing thing real well, or is watching us from above, laughing in the cheap entertainment. Who needs a TiVO when you hardly have the time to set the thing to program those shows you wish you could watch, or magazines you keep getting but never really read? Let’s face it. We live in a world where if you give a radio station 20 minutes … they give you the world's news! In the meantime … we are trying to make the news ladies, and keep our children out of the news.

Thank God for NAWBO, where I have found a place to give back and put my energy to good use, while sharing in the mutual connection and respect found only with like-minded professional women business owners that know how to share in the victory, acknowledge the challenges, and seek resolution and balance in the face of success.

When we were young we had no money and lots of time, sometimes even feeling  “bored.” Now we may have money and no time. And boredom? Well, that is something we strive for … for about 3 minutes at the end of the day, as we put our head on the pillow and exhale that sigh of relief, sharing the same universal goal which is usually to know that, “I was enough. I made a difference. T-O-D-A-Y!”

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