Twitter: As Captain Kirk Would Say "Engage"

Did you answer the questions about your business in our last blog post?  That worksheet will help you decide whether you are marketing business to business or business to client. You have a different approach if you have a product to sell,  or a service.  You need to decide if you can reach your audience directly through twitter, or if you need to go to a middle man. As an example is your product such that mommy bloggers would want to talk about them, and your audience is those that listen to mommy bloggers? This is an important way to decide exactly how you are going to engage.

Once you've come up with these key aspects of your business, then you can begin to develop an action plan on how best to utilize twitter.  If you are business to business, do you know whether or not the businesses you want to interact with are on twitter? Try doing a search on twitter with keywords to see which users fit those target words or which users are talking about your target words. This will help you learn if you are in the right place to begin with. If you are selling a product or a service searching keywords to find out if people are asking for those services can also be helpful.

Next step, as Captain Kirk would say, "Engage." It's not simply about pushing out your message, that would simply be spam on twitter, it's important to talk to people, and read what they are writing about to understand what they want or need out of twitter. Retweet their blogs and their thoughts, and make sure you have a few of your own. (Blogs and thoughts) it's not all regurgitation of information, there needs to be a sincere desire to socialize. That is why they are called social networks. You can't simply place your company on autopilot because you see Twitter among other social networks as a tool, you must actually use it to build relationships by finding other people talking about or needing what you have to offer.

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How are You Making Twitter Work for Your Business?

Do you keep asking yourself how can twitter help my business? How can I use twitter? And what is the point? If so you are not alone. Many people get started on twitter and don't know what they really want to use it for. It is not a business tool for everyone, but it can be a powerful business tool if used properly and with a plan.

The types of questions you want to ask yourself when using twitter are the following:

What is my focus for using twitter?
Are using twitter because someone told you to put a twitter page up and your clients will find?
Are you trying to sell something?
Are you trying to make friends?
Are you trying to increase your influence in your field?
Are you giving advice?

Who is my Audience? 
Are you trying to engage an audience of your colleagues and friends?
Are you trying to sell a product or a service?
Is your audience a specific demographic?
Who else engages your demographic?

How am I trying to engage them? 
Are you engaging people on a one on one basis, are you posting articles and ideas out there?
Are you simply reguritating other peoples articles and ideas?
How much of your content is original?
Are you using search tools to find other people talking about your topics?
Are you interacting with people?

What is my call to action?
Are you driving people to your website?
Are you filling your fan page on facebook?
Are you trying to get people to attend a seminar?
Are you getting people to read your blog?
Are you getting people to look at your products?

Once you answer these kinds of questions we will get into more detail on how to put together a twitter stradegy that is right for your business.

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Goals For The New Year - They Might Surprise You

So here we are almost the last day of 2011. Blue Gypsy Inc has nearly completed it's 2nd year of existence and through hard work, top notch service and dedication we've doubled the gross income of the company and pleased many clients throughout the year.

But the blog for Blue Gypsy Inc has taken a hit, as has the twitter feed. Which is somewhat ironic since we've probably put out an average of about 2000 tweets for clients this year, About 500 facebook posts for clients, and written upwards of 150 blogs and articles for clients this year...not to mention everything else we do!

But Blue Gypsy Inc. went from 66 blog posts in 2010 to 22 blog posts in 2011. And the numbers for tweeting and facebook followed suit.  My goal for 2012: Step up the social media engagement for Blue Gypsy Inc. I feel the most important element is blogging.  My goal is to write a minimum of 2 blogs per month for Blue Gypsy Inc. I also write 1 blog per month for Business Chopstix. Business Chopstixs is a Business Talent Collaboration blog focused on all things Business, Marketing, Tips, Advice, Technology, Social Media and more.

With this in mind I plan to balance work for my clients and work for Blue Gypsy Inc better. I also plan on balancing my personal goals which are more exercise and fitness. By this time next year with as much hard work and dedication that I put into my clients I plan to put that dedication into myself and be 50 lbs lighter!

What are your business and personal goals for the new year?

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Thankful for The Amazing Blue Gypsy Road

What are you Thankful for? These are the days when we start asking this question. Just before thanksgiving between the craziness of the holidays we begin to ask ourselves what are we thankful for.

I am so thankful that in less than two years time I've been able to build Blue Gypsy Inc into a thriving business with amazing clients who respect me as much as I respect them.  As a gypsy wanderer it was a hard transition when I tried to stay in one place and work in the environs of a cubical. I felt boxed in both mentally and physically. Too many people live their work lives saying I can't do that and I can't do this, and that's not my job. I almost feel it's the nature of the cubical compartmentalizing their people.

Now as my own boss I feel that if I can dream it, I can do it. (that was always the way I lived my life when traveling...why not when working) When people come to me and ask me what I do. The question really is what am I willing to do.  With my dedicated work ethic, ability to research and learn I can do just about anything I set my mind to. Or I can find the professionals to employ to help me as a team get it done.

So when someone comes to me and asks me what I do. I always laugh and say what do you need to have done.

I'm thankful for the spirit and the way in which I live my life. I am thankful for the amazing winding road that I have chosen to get me to where I am today. I'm thankful that I have clients that believe in me and know that I am always out to do the best and give 150% to their projects. I'm thankful for wonderful friends and family that support me on a mental and spiritual level. 

Always and forever thankful.

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Steve Jobs: Words To Live and Work By

Steve Jobs was an innovator and a visionary. He pushed the envelope and strove for excellence in everything he did in his short yet amazingly productive life. If we could all strive to be the best at what we do in life, in our work, with our family we will be lucky and full filled.

The following are  quotes from Steve Jobs to help inspire in many areas of our lives. On this sad day when we lose an amazing American, let's remember him and the lessons he can teach us to create our own amazing lives.

Try New Things: “Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.”

Strive for Quality and Excellence:  “Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”

Make Your Mark: “I want to put a ding in the universe.”

Lead Or Follow: “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

Focus: “People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully.”

Persevere: “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”

Think For Yourself: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

Choose Your Battles: “I’m as proud of what we don’t do as I am of what we do.”

Quality vs. Quantity: “Quality is more important than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles.”

Learn How To Say No: “It comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much.”

See Things Differently: “Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Change the World: “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?”

Focus on Simplicity: "That's been one of my mantras -- focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it's worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains."

Be an Innovator: "It's really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them."

Trust Your Gut: "[Y]ou can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something -- your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life."

Balance: "My model for business is The Beatles. They were four guys who kept each other's kind of negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other and the total was greater than the sum of the parts. That's how I see business: great things in business are never done by one person, they're done by a team of people."

Money Isn't Everything: “You know, my main reaction to this money thing is that it’s humorous, all the attention to it, because it’s hardly the most insightful or valuable thing that’s happened to me.”

Values: “The problem with the Internet startup craze isn’t that too many people are starting companies; it’s that too many people aren’t sticking with it. That’s somewhat understandable, because there are many moments that are filled with despair and agony, when you have to fire people and cancel things and deal with very difficult situations. That’s when you find out who you are and what your values are."

America: “I’m an optimist in the sense that I believe humans are noble and honorable, and some of them are really smart. I have a very optimistic view of individuals. As individuals, people are inherently good. I have a somewhat more pessimistic view of people in groups. And I remain extremely concerned when I see what’s happening in our country, which is in many ways the luckiest place in the world. We don’t seem to be excited about making our country a better place for our kids.”

What Matters: “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.”

Don't Settle: “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

What's Next: “I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.”

Relationships: "If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, Like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on."

No One Wants To Die: “No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Remember That You Are Going To Die:  “Almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

Life: “We don’t get a chance to do that many things, and every one should be really excellent. Because this is our life."

Thank you Steve Jobs (1955-2011) for the innovative gifts you've given society. May you rest in peace.

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Time and Priorties: Event Planning for Your Business

Now if there's one thing I can emphasize to individuals and companies, and especially to individuals who are sole proprietors, it's to have a very clear business plan for your event.

My plan for Blue Gypsy Bluesfest was, "hey I want to have a party and brand my company!" At first it was targeting the real estate industry in Hampton Roads, but then I just said, hey lets do this for charity and get anyone and everyone who loves Blues, BBQ, a great family day....and the list went on. I lost my focus and got caught up in other things, which was fine, I had the time and I had the energy, and I kept looking at it as a learning experience.

You need to make sure you have the time, and you can prioritize. At some point depending on what kind of business you have and the work you already have on the table you may want to consider hiring a professional event planner. One who is familiar with all the ins and outs and can give you a realistic idea of time in to plan an event.

If you want to take it on yourself you need a clear picture of what you are doing. Define the following.

What is my purpose for this event?
Who is my target audience?
How do I intend to reach my target audience?
What am I offering?
What am I not offering?
What kind of time do I have to plan this event?
What time frame do I need to create to reasonably put on this event?

If you are planning an open house, a small luncheon, or a small informal gathering of contacts that you already have you need a lot less time to plan an event. Anywhere from weeks to months. But if you are planning an event that means selling tickets or seats to an event or a seminar and you do not already personally know your target audience you are going to need to create a comprehensive marketing plan and give yourself a minimum of 1 year for a first time event. I know, that doesn't hit the instant gratification button. But in order to put on a successful event you need the time to develop a plan and execute successfully.

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Business Coach Vs. Snake Oil Salesman

Wow folks, I've just got to get this out there in a post to go on the record. I am very skeptical of business coaches, and people who train business coaches. There I said it.

My skepticism comes from watching a whole business arise in this flagging economy. Have you ever heard that old Woody Allen quote, "Those who can't do, teach. Those who can't teach, teach gym." Well when it comes to your business, wouldn't you want the person coaching you to have real world experience, firsthand knowledge and years of experience as a successful professional, preferably an entrepreneur who has owned and run a business? Especially if you are paying them big bucks? I would!

Placating me with motivational sayings and asking me rote questions to get me to think about my business is not my idea of business coaching. 

I think you need years of trials and errors, successes and failures in order to impart a full understanding and important insights into a business in order to help it grow. Yet all over the place there are people coaching others to become business coaches. Now if all these pupils were successful business owners in their own right who have gone from rags to riches, or built their own organization from the ground up but they just need to transition into helping others that would be one thing. But sadly, I see people who have no real world experience turning to coaches to coach them to follow that one.

How long would you want your coach to be in business for themselves before they took on the task of coaching you? How successful would you hope that their business would be before you had them coach you? How much coaching experience would you like them to have before you pay them lots of money to coach you? How much money should you pay a business coach? What should you get for that money? These are all important questions!

Even more important, what would you like your coaches credentials to be? What if their client list consisted of lots of big name companies...and yet later you found out those companies didn't hire your coach directly or for the services that coach is selling to you? What if they worked with those companies on the periphery while working as a mid to low level employee for another business? Can they genuinely list them as clients?

Words that would come to mind for me to describe those individuals are snake oil, or bait and switch. Yet those people exist out there. They pay other coaches lots of money to teach them how to coach. Why wouldn't they when business coaches can earn upwards of $100 - $500 per hour, and life coaches (that's a great are you qualified to coach about life) can charge between $100 - $300 per hour.  So you may not have a successful business, but if you can take enough classes and convince others to hire you you surely can create a successful coaching business, if you are motivated enough. (By money)

When choosing a business coach be skeptical. After all you are paying your hard earned cash for someone who is supposed to help you improve your business.

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