Attitude of Gratitude: TweetsGiving Tonight! Gordon Biersch, Town Center VB

Tweetsgiving is tonight! November 24th at Gordon Biersch in Virginia Beach. The planning and execution have been a marvel of modern social media, and elbow grease.

When Sonya Schweitzer the "Boss Chick" at Wave Marketing (@socialsonya) came to me and told me that she wanted to plan a TweetsGiving event in Virginia Beach to benefit a great charity, Epic Change. I said, "Count me in!" We also teamed up with local event planner, Karen Clements who does amazing works with the Food Bank and is no stranger to charity work.

With less than 20 days to plan the event, It's been a whirlwind of activity getting the word out. Other great individuals and organizations jumped right in to help. Gordon Biersch donated the location and food for the event. Astro Entertainment said they'd provide us with whatever we needed for AV coverage. Shannon Rubsamen, local photographer, will be documenting our event. Great local individuals have jumped in to provide door prizes.

Town Center Fitness will be giving away a 1 month free membership and a 6 months free membership to their amazing fitness center centrally located in Town Center. Just Cupcakes is donating a 6 pack of cupcakes, Flying High Tutoring is donating a tutoring session,Wave Marketing is donating a free consultation session. Lynn Harrisberger is donating something unique and fun! Orphan Helpers is donating a coffee basket, and we'll have twitter T-shirts from Best Impressions. Katie Jenkins, a local massage therapist is donating massage gift certificates as well as a homemade cake! The door prizes keep flowing in! Everyone wants to be involved in this event of gratitude and giving.

Chesapeake Homes, the largest local builder in the Tidewater Area, and my employer, has donated a large sum and earned the status of "Top Turkey." But there is also another "Top Turkey" who is near and dear to my life, my Dad. My father turns 71 on Thanksgiving and he's always joked about being a turkey due to the auspicious date of his birth.

When I was a kid, we were in a father daughter group called Indian Princesses, the girl version of Indian Guides. As part of the group we had to choose an Indian name. Mine was White Feather (Back then I was shy) and his was Turkey Feather. He fits his name perfectly with his corny jokes, his jovial personality and his fun loving attitude. He's not a turkey in the sense that he is a very successful business man who has built companies upon respect, good business sense, and hard work. He's consulted with countless CEO's to help them grow and improve their business, and he volunteers his time to mentor individuals and companies as well.

My Dad has always been my mentor, and someone I truly respect. I'm grateful for my Dad, and I am very grateful that I was able to make a donation to TweetsGiving in his name to make him a "Top Turkey" for his birthday.

Join me tonight to celebrate an Attitude of Gratitude at TweetsGiving at Gordon Biersch at 6pm!

Get your tickets
Right Here! You can spend as little as $10 a ticket and 100% goes to Epic Change, a charity doing great works in Africa! If you can't be there but you'd like to donate go right ahead! The more we can help schools in Africa the better.

If you'd like to participate in the global Tweetsgiving event tweet out what you are grateful for with hashtag #tweetsgiving and follow the social media stream.

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To Friend or Not To Friend: All Part of Personal and Professional Brand and Reputation Management

Social Media is a great way to network, create your brand, interact with a community, and through genuine shared interests and interactions perhaps reach a client base. Or at the very least, create an environment where people want to talk about you in a positive light and refer you, your product, or your business to their friends.

Isn't that the gist of it?

Well, sometimes I find myself wondering, am I branding myself, my company, or the products I sell. (houses) When it gets right down to it the answer is all three. My reputation is tied up in the company because the service I give reflects both myself, and who I represent. In many ways the company reflects back on me because if I'm saying this is a great home, this is a great builder and it's not...well than who will trust me and how will I come across? I wouldn't sell the homes for my company or represent them if I didn't believe in what I sell. (believe me I don't make enough money to put aside my own values!) Which actually brings me to another point.

It wouldn't be easy to promote myself, tied with my company and our products if I couldn't stand behind any of those three elements. It would come across fake, and sales-y (yes I just created a new word. Check Websters for it, they now have unfriend too.) So we are not just talking about branding, but reputation management as well.

Out in the social media stream there are so many ways a brand can be affected by negative PR. Even if there are only 1 or 2 unhappy people out of the 100's and 100's of buyers, it's going to be that squeaky wheel that is heard above the SM din. How does this reflect on me as a representative of the company? I'm still working on that one because you can't please everyone all the time. You can try, and I do, and I think we as a company do, however we all have our limitations.

So with branding myself and my company wrapped up with reputation management for both of us, I come to that age old question: do I use my facebook account for friends or for networking?

I'm still having trouble crossing over. Not that there are incriminating pictures of me, nor do I drop the *F bomb on my fb page. I do have the occasional political or religious debate with my cousin and I think those elements should be kept out of business. I tend to cringe when people I'm networked with for business quote bible scripture on their fb pages. For me it seems like something that should be left out if you choose to use fb for business. But that's just my opinion.

Since using my fb page for more networking I've had to keep the occasional rant about work down to a minimum. We all have those days, but now we may not want them on display because it could effect how present and future business associates and clients view us. One day it could just jump right back up and be taken out of context at the wrong place and the wrong time.

I'm still not sure how much I like friend requests from total strangers who seem to know several people that I do in the industry, or networking community that I have chosen to let in to my facebook.

Add to that, that the majority of the time people don't tell you what their agenda is for sending you a friend request. There's space to add a personal note. If you don't know someone personally this would be the place to introduce yourself and explain why you'd like to be friends.

Cara Mandart wrote a great blog post,
Friend Request Manners I highly urge you to read it if you have any questions about the proper etiquette when requesting a friend that you don't know. I still have a hard time letting go of facebook as a more intimate gathering of friends, family and acquaintances I'm willing to let into my life. And if you don't even want to tell me why you are requesting my friendship I'm 100 times less likely to accept you as a friend. Maybe facebook should create an acquaintance level...

To friend or not to friend, that is the question. The more people you let into your facebook family, the more you have to manage your brand and your reputation. Both personal and professional.

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TweetsGiving a Social Media Charity Event: What Top Ten Things Are You Grateful For?

Who would have thought that when I started my exploration of social media, it would become an addiction. But I've begun to realize the powerful way you can help promote change through the use of these social outlets. Most recently I've encountered a great way to pay it forward.

Now I find myself, through social media avenues, helping to co-ordinate TweetsGiving Virginia Beach, a charity event with some great folks I've met through social networking. TweetsGiving is a global celebration that seeks to change the world through the power of gratitude. All around the world a 48 hour event is taking place from November 24-26th where people will gather online and off, to express their gratitude and give thanks. This charity event, launched in 2008 by Epic Change raises money for education in Arusha, Tanzania.

Tanzania is near and dear to my heart. I spent 3 months living on a beach in Zanzibar and teaching scuba diving back in 2003. I would have made it to Arusha had I not contracted malaria which kept me from traveling more extensively in Tanzania at the time. However the giving, caring nature of the Tanzanian people is very apparent to anyone who has traveled that part of the world. In fact the school that Epic Change supports with our donations was originally started by a Tanzanian woman named "Mama Lucy" who sold chickens and used her income to build a school that now serves 300 children around Arusha.

In this spirit of gratitude, and giving I've made my top 10 list of things I'm grateful for. What are yours?

1) I'm grateful to have grown up in a positive loving environment
2) I'm grateful for having an adventurous spirit that has taken me passed my fears to amazing places
3) I'm grateful that I always have a choice in how I live my life
4) I'm grateful that I have met Chris, the love of my life
5) I'm grateful that I have amazing friends scattered around the world
6) I'm grateful that I have the ability to fight the battles worth fighting for, leave the ones that are not, and to know the difference
7) I'm grateful for my 3 pets who are really my children
8) I'm grateful for having taught sailing and diving to teenagers for many years and shaped their lives as much as they shaped mine
9) I'm grateful for the common creature comforts so many of us take for granted
10) I'm grateful to have traveled through 3rd world and developing nations to know that what you have isn't nearly as important as who you are and how you treat others.

This blog post was created as part of a global groundswell of gratitude called TweetsGiving. The celebration, created by US nonprofit Epic Change, is an experiment in social innovation that seeks to change the world through the power of gratitude. I hope you’ll visit the TweetsGiving site to learn more, and to bring your grateful heart to the party by sharing your gratitude, and giving in honor of that for which you’re most thankful.

Happy TweetsGiving! I hope you'll donate to epic change for just $10 and join us for fun at Gordon Biersch in Town Center on the 24th of November at 6pm. Please purchase your tickets on the website before the event!

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Social Media Suicide May Only Be A Mouse Click Away:Think Before You Tweet

I just read a great blog post by Sara Meany of Comet Branding, 7 Surefire Ways to Sabotage Your Professional Brand in Social Media. For the most part I think these are 7 very solid points about professional branding.

When you have a social presence out in the online stream of information, both your own personal presence as well as your company's brand, you have a certain responsibility to think before you talk (Write, blog, email, tweet, fb, etc). If you want to keep your job, in this day of instant accessibility, or find a new one, people will find what you've said. Especially when people begin to associate you with your company.

I know I'm one for having a hot temper, I do things in a moment of joy, frustration, annoyance, or excitement. My boyfriend can often be heard saying, "Don't send that," if he hears me typing furiously. He knows something has me going and his theory is everything should be pondered for at least 24 hours before sending. (Try having an argument with him...doesn't work, he won't speak out of anger) However in my line of work, customer service online, I can't wait more than 10 minutes after the contact if I want to be on my game. This conditioning is hard to break, and one wrong mouse click can cause major ripples and repercussions if you are not careful.

With the intent not to sabotage my professional, nor my personal brand, I highly recommend giving a read to Sara's blog post. The only place where I differ in my belief of Sara's list of ways to sabotage your professional brand, is with Number five.

"Spend company time building your personal brand online. While you may work for an employer who allows social media or even encourages it, the intent is that you will be doing it for the benefit of the organization. (Time stamps tend to expose your actions during work hours, as you post on your best friend’s pictures of her new kitten.)"

While I agree that time stamps can reveal a lot about what you are doing on line, it doesn't always tell the real story. You can schedule tweets, and blogs to go out at anytime of the day, that doesn't mean that's when you are working in those mediums. I also don't think there is always a definitive point to what you can and can't do during "work hours." I think it really depends on what you do for the company. As an Online Sales Consultant for a local builder and the social media person, though my paycheck, and my job says I work 8 hours a day 5 days a week... that is simply not the case.

I think many people who have the "social media" job for their company, also find themselves working outside of posted hours. And being that in online sales if you don't reply almost instantly you have a much greater chance of losing the business, it's even more important to be "available" all the time.

If I take a moment to read a few updates from friends, while in the process of my "8 hour work day" and then as soon as I get home at night, I'm answering emails and phone calls that are coming in outside of hours for work, (Because they always do) I really don't think I should feel guilty that I've spent 5-10 minutes of my day on personal stuff.

In this day and age our personal hours and work hours are just as mingled as our personal profile and our professional profile. You need to have balance but you shouldn't have to worry that someone is going to realize you took a moment to breath in a calming picture of a cute kitten. And that this will effect the way your work ethic is perceived.

Just remember, your are accountable for every key stroke, and they can be just as permanent as tattoos. You don't ever want to look back, wince and say did I really do that?

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Social MeetUps and TweetUps: Similar to Online Dating?

Last night I attended my first MeetUp of the Social Media Club Virginia Beach! This was a great way to meet people in-person who are interested and involved with social media in the Tidewater Area. It also reminded me a bit of the time I spent internet dating...

When I embarked on my social media exploration I began following people with knowledge and expertise in several fields of interest. The great thing was I was not bound by their locality. I could follow, friend, and learn from anyone any where. At first, being such a newbie, I didn't know how to find the local social media people.

Little by little through involvement with various groups like The Hampton Roads Marketing and Technology Group, New Media Conventions and Now Social Media Club Virginia Beach, I've met some amazing people who have taught me so much in just a few short months. (Don't worry I'm still not an expert nor a guru, but I am quite a bit more informed)

Some local people I know in person, like @socialsonya of Wave Marketing -- I've learned buckets from her! Other people I've only followed through true SM channels such as facebook and twitter.

Social networking MeetUps and TweetUps remind me a bit of the 3 phases of online dating.

Phase 1: The Detective
- You find out about people in online dating the same way you would in SM networking. Most people use some variation on the list below to decide if they are worthy enough for you to follow, friend, learn from...or date?

  • A Picture - Funny, goofy, serious, or otherwise this is what we picture when we read posts, write responses etc. This is the vision we are talking to in SM.
  • A Profile - Entertaining, intelligent, professional, intriguing...depending on what we are looking for profiles help us decide if we will fan, follow, retweet or contact.
  • Sources - Once we make contact we may use different media outlets to see if people are who they say they are. Remember, Google is your friend. People do research.
  • Followers - Do friends, fans, and followers overlap our own? Often times you are judged by the company you keep in the REAL world and online.
  • Do Things Match Up - Does your language and the way you carry yourself online match the bio, profiles, and information on the web for public consumption? Or are you a stack of contradictions?

Once you narrow down the pool with the techniques used above, reading profiles, finding similar interests a couple scenarios unfold. In both SM and in online dating, you may find the person lacking and unworthy of your attention and energy. No harm no fowl. Or you may want to move on to phase 2 Getting To Know You.

Of course in both online dating and in SM we meet in virtual spaces first during the getting to know you phase. And for many reasons in both situations we never meet in person.

Phase 2: Getting to Know You
- With online dating, through trial and error I devised these 3 rules, almost in complete contradiction of social media networking.
  • Rule 1: Keep Your Emailing And Online Chat To A Minimum - (I know sounds crazy! Aren't we talking about socializing online?) But back in my internet dating days, when I sent too many emails and had too many chats with people online before talking with them on the phone, I'd put my own intonation on their words. It is very easy to read your own ideas into other peoples writing. Good in social networking...maybe not so good in dating.
  • Rule 2: Talk On The Phone But Not For Hour Upon Hour, Weeks And Weeks - Putting a voice to the words and really listening to how they are spoken is important. But still there is the trap of pouring your heart out when you can't even see a person's face. You are missing a key element of communication. Body Language. It may be easier to bare your soul like that...but not really wise. Again you build up an image in your head that may not match upon a true in-person meeting.
  • Rule 3: Meet Early On In The Online Dating Relationship - Okay so you've sent a few emails, had a few conversations, now it's time to set the online dater's MeetUp. While in social media and networking this 3rd rule really never has to happen it is essential for the internet dater. This is where you find out if all the words, both spoken and written, fit the body language and are compatible.
In social media you aren't necessarily preparing for phase 3 The Meeting. The point of SM is to have these rich dynamic trust filled online communities with people you may never meet. Ah if dating were only that easy, trusting, and we never had to meet in order to be SM you can be caught in this euphoric loop in rule number one, never talking on the phone and never meeting.

But phase 3 does take place in both situations.

Phase 3: The Meeting - The MeetUp, TweetUp or Date can have similar -- great...or disastrous -- results.

Things we can find out pretty quickly when meeting in person is were the pictures real. This will give us the first indication as to how seriously, or truthful we take people. Then we watch their body language, do actions really match online words. In MeetUps and TweetUps this is where you know if they've just been regurgitating other people's information all along, or if they are real innovators. In dating you really find out if they are genuine.

In all reality TweetUps and MeetUps are far less pressure than online dating because there isn't that Is He Or She The One factor. In online dating you can build up so much significance upon this one meeting and that's why so many online dates fail. At TweetUps and MeetUps, unless you are coming in with an agenda, it should be a relaxing learning sharing environment. Are you there to meet people so you can sell them your stuff? Are you trying to figure out how this can make you money? Then it will show on your face and in your body language.

Most important is, that if you are who you say you are from the very beginning stages of phase one, if your message is consistent and genuine, and if you aren't afraid of letting people in you'll be successful in MeetUps and TweetUps and it won't feel at all like online dating.

But hey, even that's not so bad, 3+ years later I'm still with my online MeetUp!

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I've Known Beaches....But Social Media By The Beach?

I've known beaches...But I never knew social media and the beach went together until recently. And never did I think I'd be involved in planning a social media event at the beach!
As a dive instructor and sailboat captain for 7 years I've known my share of beaches.
I've done Tai Chi by the sea, and soaked in the ancient aura of the exotic tropical spice island of Zanzibar. I lived on the beach in a rondaval - round clay building with a grass roof - just 15 feet from the sea. Every morning at dawn the fisherman readied their ngalawas, traditional outrigger canoes fitted with sails, to go out for the catch of the day. I'd stretch and go through my morning form. Breathe, touch the beach, do nothing extra.

In later years, after my time in Africa, I remember other beaches. While sailing in the British Virgin Islands I recall a morning anchored in the lee of a tiny island with a single palm tree. As the sun rose, I dove off my catamaran and swam through the turquoise water to the powder soft sand, welcoming the morning with some yoga.

There were many beaches between Zanzibar and the BVI's.
Back then I was thousands of miles from where I am now. A different Continent, a different profession, and a different mindset.
In Zanzibar, checking email was a chore, it was expensive and slow, and I certainly had nothing to do with blogging, twitter or facebook at the time. Email on a sailboat in the Caribbean? Forget about it! Never did I think I'd become an online sale consultant, and run the social media plan for a large local builder. Now I find myself nearby a different beach with a different life. Not one with sails and underwater adventure, but still an amazing undertaking none the less.

I've recently joined the team for New Media Conventions right here in Virginia Beach. After a successful event in 2009, this dynamic group of professionals in the Hampton Roads Area is beginning to plan the next big event New Media Conventions 2010. Together, we are going to bring Social Media and New Media to the Beach. Virginia Beach!

Come join us! For more information on New Media Conventions go to I'll see you there!

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