Category Archives: Featured Contruibutors

Reinventing Your Professional Persona with Social Media

Unless you’ve been a career solopreneur, chances are you’re either working (or have worked) for someone else. What do you do when you want to start your own business, but your professional image is tied a little too closely to the role you played in another organization…a role that might not fully reflect your capabilities and services as a solopreneur?When going solo after a 17-year run as an employee for a telecommunications company, I faced that dilemma. Although my product development and project management skills are still important to my professional persona, they’re not at the core of who I am as a freelance writer. And I don’t want people to continue to think of them first when they see my name.How to get beyond that? Social Media.

Here are a few savvy ways social media can help you in the process of reinventing yourself:

  • You define who you are. Unlike a corporate job description, your social network profiles (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, your blog and wherever else you have an online presence) are in YOUR control. YOU tell connections, fans, followers and plussers who you are and what you have to offer.
  • You can share to shape your identity. Social media gives you the power to position yourself as a SME (Subject Matter Expert) in your field. By finding informative, interesting articles and sharing them in posts, you demonstrate that you know your industry and are in tune with credible sources of information. (Tip: Stay consistent in theme. It’s OK to mix things up occasionally to add variety, but don’t confuse people. For example: I want to stay top of mind as a resource in the areas of writing, entrepreneurship, small business and leadership, so I keep the overwhelming majority of my posts focused there. I’ll sometimes toss out something about entertainment, world events, my pets…but not very often! That’s what my personal Facebook wall is for.
  • Add credibility with LinkedIn groups. Joining a few relevant to your industry gives your profile more clout – and they can connect you with some top-notch professionals. Keep up on the group discussions as much as possible and give your two cents when you have something of value to add. AND don’t be afraid to post questions when you need help in finding information. My experience with LinkedIn groups is that members truly enjoy sharing expertise and helping each other. Yes, even when they’re competitors!
  • Social media offers an extended reach that you can facilitate. By commenting and liking posts made by others in your networks, you make yourself visible to their contacts as well. It’s that open invitation to join any conversation that gives you the opportunity to make your professional persona known to a broader audience. Plus, your interaction builds good will with those you’re responding to – EVERYONE loves when someone likes or engages with their posts. And they’ll be more inclined to offer comments to and approval of your posts in return.

It takes effort (a lot of it!) to establish a new identity via your online channels, but nothing can give you more of a fighting chance to succeed than social media’s reach and influence.

What other ways have you used social media to reinvent yourself?

Dawn Mentzer is a solopreneur, freelance writer & author of The Insatiable Solopreneur™ blog. Connect with her on: Facebook  | Twitter | LinkedIn | Google+

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Cross-Posting

Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, industry forums… the list goes on. If you’re active on many social media networks, it can be quite a challenge to keep up. You want to share your latest blog posts and newest promotions everywhere! And with so much social integration these days, it is easy to set up cross-posts – to send one message to all of your networks with the click of a button. But perhaps it is time to rethink this strategy. Here are a few do’s and don’t for cross-posting:

1. Do share your news on all networks where the message is pertinent to your audience. Don’t share your news everywhere just because it’s news. (Example – Your Twitter followers may click/retweet discounts or special deals more often than your LinkedIn connections. Your LinkedIn connections may provide more in-depth commentary on high-level company news than your Facebook fans.)

2. Do promote topical blog posts on multiple networks. Do not always post it the same way on every network. (Example – On Google+, link to your blog post and provide additional information or thoughts on the topic. On Quora, post the link and ask users a specific question about something you wrote. On Twitter, post a great headline with the link and ask followers to share.)

3. Do know the differences in your audiences. Do not assume that all your fans/followers/friends are the same. (Example – I know that I have more male followers on Twitter than on Facebook. I also know that my Twitter followers tend to be slightly older than my Facebook fans. Knowing this not only helps determine what I will share, but also [subconsciously?] affects my tone/style.)

4. Do know the similarities in your audiences. Do not drive your loyal fans away. (Example – Many of your loyal Facebook fans may have followed you over to your new Google+ brand page. If these fans are active on both networks, you don’t want to post the same exact messages on both networks day after day. Share different things, share things in different ways – give your loyal fans a reason to follow you on both/all networks.)

5. Do embrace all of your network conversations. Do not be afraid to promote another network. (Example – You have a great conversation going in an industry-specific forum or blog forum. Let your followers/friends/fans on other sites get it on it. Send out a “Great debate about XYZ going on over at ABC.com. Check it out and post your thoughts!” tweet. You’ll not only be cross-promoting yourself, you may also be introducing followers to new social networks.)

6. Do know your network. Don’t confuse your fans with non-network speak. (Example – Many of my Facebook fans are new to social media marketing, and have yet to tackle Twitter. Many don’t really understand hashtags or Twitter-speak, and my statistics tell me that my fans won’t read anything I post in “Twitterese.”)

7. Do use cross-posting to save time. Do not use it every time. (Example – Have a blog post with a great headline that really caters to a wide audience? Have a question and not sure which of your audiences might be best suited to help? Crunched for time and want to get the word out fast? In these situations [and many others], cross-posting makes sense. You’ll rarely offend anyone with the occasional cross-post, and if well-written, you may get the most bang for your 2-minute buck.)

It’s easy to post the same message everywhere. And yes, I’ll admit it … I am guilty of posting the exact same message on multiple networks only minutes apart. But there is a little pang of guilt with every ‘submit’ or ‘post’ button I click, because I know the differences in my audiences, and I know which posts are going to get the most traction on which networks.

In social media marketing, we often choose quantity over quality – “Get the message out to as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time,” instead of “How will my fans on this specific network benefit from seeing/reading this right now?”

The truth is that it is the quantity of quality that matters. You want your news and your promotions and your ideas read/shared/acted upon, and that often means varying your messages based on the specific network you are using. Even if it takes more time, or doesn’t reach everyone. Targeted messages based on fan data will almost always serve you better in the long run than cross-posting your entire campaign.

About The Author:

Melissa Reyes is a mom,  Twitter addict, full-time social media manager and the owner of Social Amateur, a consulting company focused on helping small businesses navigate the world of social media marketing. You can find her on LinkedInTwitter andFacebook.

Mastering the Art of the Tweet Chat

If you’re using Twitter as a social networking tool for your business, you’ve undoubtedly seen promotions for “tweet chats,” or perhaps you’ve seen tweets from someone you follow who participates in these virtual gatherings. If you’re curious about tweet chats, but aren’t sure exactly how they work, read on.

It’s More Than a Cocktail Part

If Twitter is a cocktail party, a Twitter chat is a business networking lunch. Tweet chats are conversations about specific topics in specific niches, and there are tweet chats on hundreds (probably thousands) of topics. The chat organizer determines the schedule, selects the specific topic for the week and often brings in experts to weigh in and answer questions.

More than a cocktail party full of casual small talk, these chats are informative, educational and provide a common focus for easy networking.

As an example, I often participate in #getrealchat, hosted by @pammktgnut. This chat is based on based on conversations about how social media can build real relationships. Last week, the topic of the chat was Kred, a soon-to-be-launched social influence measurement tool. During the chat, Pam asked questions of @AndrewGrill, the CEO of PeopleBrowsr (the company that developed Kred). Andrew responded to questions from both Pam and chat participants, who discussed the topic, the questions, Andrew’s answers and the implications of this new service on social media marketing.

Sounds like a pretty noisy business networking lunch, doesn’t it?

The truth is, tweet chats can be incredibly busy and a bit intimidating at first. But they are also great sources of information, insight and new connections. If you’ve never participated in a tweet chat, I highly recommend reading these tips and diving in!

10 Tips for Mastering Tweet Chats

1. The first step is to find out when the chats you are interested in are being held. Ask your Twitter followers or check out this regularly updated Google Docs spreadsheet. (http://bit.ly/ulXFfJ)

2. Chats move fast, so make sure you’re using a platform that can keep up. If you use Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, SproutSocial or some other aggregator to manage your social media accounts, there may be a lag in retrieval times. My favorite chat tool is Tweetchat.com, which updates every 5 seconds and automatically puts the chat hashtag in anything you type.

3. Which brings us to the importance of using the hashtag. In order to participate in the chat, you MUST include the hashtag in every tweet. The hashtag (#getrealchat, for example) is what signifies that you are “in the room.” Tweets without a hashtag may not get seen by the people you wish to communicate with until after the chat is over, if at all.

4. If you don’t tweet often, or you are worried about creating a lot of noise on your Twitter stream, warn your followers. A simple “I’ll be participating in #getrealchat at 9 pm, so please excuse the flood of tweets. Better yet, join me!” is quite common.

5. When the time comes for the chat to start, introduce yourself to other participants. If it is your first chat, say so! The Twitter community is extremely welcoming, and it is a great way to get conversations started.

6. If you don’t already know the topic of the chat, ask! Think about the kinds of questions you may have, and what you want to learn from the chat. If/when your question is answered during the chat, FavStar, flag or retweet it, so you can reference it later if necessary.

7. Pay attention to the host. The host will ask questions, retweet important bits of information and keep the pace of the chat moving smoothly.

8. If somebody says something during that chat that you think would be valuable to your Twitter followers, retweet it. It’s a great way to spread knowledge and encourage others to participate in the future.

9. Comment on answers/response/comments from other participants. There are a lot of “So true!” and “Great point.” tweets during chats. These kinds of comments may seem silly, but nobody wants to feel like they are talking to themselves, and by acknowledging others’ comments, you are showing that you value the contributions of those participating.

10. Say thank you. When the chat is wrapping up, be sure to thank the host, the guest expert if there was one, and those with whom you’ve had conversations during the chat. Courtesy goes a long way, and I’m much more likely to remember and strike up future conversations with those who have made me smile.

ONE MORE THOUGHT: Don’t worry if you can’t keep up, don’t actively participate as much as you would like or forget a hashtag here & there during your first few chats. We’ve all been there. It takes a little practice to get the hang of it, so keep participating. It’s well worth it!

Hope to see you in a Twitter chat soon!

About The Author:

Melissa Reyes is a mom,  Twitter addict, full-time social media manager and the owner of Social Amateur, a consulting company focused on helping small businesses navigate the world of social media marketing. You can find her on LinkedInTwitter andFacebook.