Renew, Revise, Re-energize - We're All Making Our Goals and Sharing Positive Energy for 2010

There's just something about a new year that helps everyone reorganize themselves in business, in their personal lives...really in anything you can think of. Right now, in the world of social media, we get some insight into lots of goals being set by a myriad of people ranging the gambit of aspects of their lives.

One of the greatest things about this instant contact we have with family members, old friends, new acquaintances and total strangers is that we can see we are not alone in our goal setting.

There are so many communities out there to help you achieve your goals and they are all online. There are diet support groups, coaching groups, if you can think of it, there's probably an online community to help you with "it" whatever the "it" might be.

But there's something else that I like.

(Now this is the energy loving tree hugger that traveled around the world with a backpack and loved experiencing the life from the ground level.)

When I traveled I always felt so interconnected with the earth and with this amazing network of travelers who were on similar paths of discovery. There was just a kind of energy that come with opened minds experiencing amazing places and people. It's hard for me to explain, and some of you may or may not get it, but there is a positive energy that abounds in those kinds of life situations.

I truly believe that when we are around positive people with positive goals, our outlook will naturally be more positive. This energy seems amplified right now as I continually read tweets and status updates from people who are setting their goals to make positive changes in their lives.

I hope we can hold onto this energy into the new year and continue to empower each other with positive thought through social media.

I actually think that social media is one of the best ways to escape a negative vibe because you can always search out and join people who are doing positive things. Just a few positive highlights that I've been involved with or experienced this past year are as follows:

1) The Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia creating their 1 in 4 campaign to raise awareness of just how many people go hungry in our area, and need the services of the Foodbank. This is a charity I always take time to donate money or canned goods to each year because I'm thankful that I'm not one out of the four that need help and am able to provide that help instead.

2) This year I participated in tweetsgiving an international event organized by the charity Epic Change to help build schools in Tanzania. This was a true social media extravaganza! Local meet ups and tweeting out gratitude during one of our most thankful holidays here in the USA thanksgiving, was such a great pairing with this event of giving and gratitude. I was lucky enough to be involved in organizing a local meet up event, and donating in honor of my father's 71st birthday.

3) Another great group I've joined on facebook is called People Wanting to Make a Difference in Others Lives. Long name I know, but locally, Mike Nishnick a realtor with a big heart, has put together a group on facebook for people doing positive things for others. This is a great way to share ideas, and uplift one another.

4) This year I surprised my boyfriend Chris with a Great White Shark I adopted for him through the Fox Shark Research Foundation. (no you don't literally get the would be too big for the bathtub) Both avid scuba divers, we have an affinity for all things underwater and he's enamored with sharks. I thought I was being creative with the perfect unique gift...until he handed me the adoption papers for a Whale Shark though the Shark Research Institute in Princeton, New Jersey! Great minds think alike. These are both amazing organizations working toward the research and protection of sharks in our world's oceans.

5) When Chris's Grandfather, who also happens to be a retired General, Celebrated his 90th birthday this past July we donated to the Wounded Warrior Project in his name. It's so important to remember our veterans, not only do they sacrifice quality time with their families but also their lives, in order to afford us our freedoms. Before knowing Chris, soon to be a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army, who's family has a long history of serving our country, I was one of the millions in our country not effected directly by the war. I didn't know anyone close to me who was serving in the military and had no idea of the burden they and their families bear. So it felt good this year to fill out a couple of dozen holiday cards and send them to the "Holiday Mail For Heroes" program through the Red Cross. Every little thing makes a difference.

6) And of course my heart always gets caught up each year with the radiothon for Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters, regionally the most comprehensive children's hospital in Southeastern Virginia. From common illnesses to life threatening deceases, they cover a wide range of necessary services for children. As you hear from cancer survivors and those going through treatment on the radiothon held by 94.9 the Point each December it's hard not to open up your wallet as you open up your heart.

This year I'm grateful for all the positive energy and people setting their goals, sharing their successes, and doing great things which will continue in 2010. Keep amplifying those positive thoughts and ideas through Social Media! See ya next year!

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What is Blue Gypsy, Inc.?

Blue Gypsy, Inc. is my newest business endeavor. After 4 years of working in the field of lead management for New Home Builders as an Online Sales Consultant (OSC) I'm starting my own business. Blue Gypsy Inc. coming early 2010 will offer professional lead management services for builders and real estate professionals.

But where does the name come from?

Many people who've known me for a long time are familiar with my gypsy wandering soul. For 13 years I traveled around the world on adventures: backpacking through colorful countries, sailing on the deep blue sea and scuba diving below those same azure waters. My gypsy_leah email address has always been an appropriate title, and one people have come to identify with me. My twitter handle too is descriptive of this gypsy girl, @gypsealeah. (It's got the gypsy and the 'sea' in it!) And now you can follow @bluegypsyinc as well!

Whenever people hear about my travels, they wonder how I ended up in Real Estate and not continuing my adventures.

Four years ago, after a shoulder injury, I settled back on land and began working in the real estate industry. My first job was as an assistant in New Homes for a small builder out of Maryland building 3 communities in Gloucester and Deltaville Virginia. Nearly three years ago I moved down to the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area to work as an OSC for Chesapeake Homes. One of the largest local builders in the Tidewater Area.

It sounds crazy after the adventurous life I've led, but I love helping people make one of the most important and expensive decisions of their lives. I think people who meet me online, over the phone, and in person, know that I'm genuinely excited about assisting them. While I work for the builder, I'm really there to help the prospective home owner to the best of my abilities. By doing my job right, everyone wins.

I've seen much success building relationships with online clients, assisting in narrowing their home searches to the right communities and home types, and have seen a higher than national average in turning appointments to sales for the builder.

National statistics say that 20%-25% of sales for a builder should come from the OSC however for the past 2 years I've averaged from 29-32% Annually.

I've even seen as high as 42% in some quarters.

I attribute my success to a number of personality traits and work ethics that I bring to the table. Many of those traits come from years of working on sail boats, and patiently teaching scuba diving to teenagers. I'm used to working 24 hours a day 7 days a week. (even when you are off watch on a boat, you are still working) I've been known to answer emails as late as 1 am and people are so thrilled to receive an immediate response.

Statistics say that if contact is not made with a sales inquiry within 5 minutes of reception you are 100 times less likely to turn over the lead.

But the real key is consistent persistent follow-up. Both before the appointment, and after. Not every lead turns into a sale immediately. And that's the key as an OSC: holding on to that lead even after they've visited the site and seeing the process through as a team member with the site agents.

I have many strengths to bring to the table with Blue Gypsy, Inc. for both builder partners and real estate professionals. I'm excited to get started with Blue Gypsy, Inc. in 2010 to share my skills and enthusiasm for lead management.

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New Media New Year's Resolutions...

In 2009 I think I've begun to embrace Social Media and integrate it with my current business.

From my own personal blog writing, to using twitter and facebook both personally and professionally for networking and building community, I've pulled my head out of the sand. I've put aside my butter churn and my oil lamp and joined the new media stream with my exploration and use of social media.
So where should I go next with New Media in 2010?

While I believe that it's important to identify a few key platforms to stick to when building your social media presence online, there is still room to expand once you master the basics. But you don't want to be all over the place without rhyme or reason. Diversifying your use of social media may be as simple as embracing new applications and adding in some automation between existing platforms in use to make it easier to carry out your social media plan. And it may mean slowly adding in more platforms to complement your existing plan. For me there are a few elements I plan on investigating and incorporating into my current uses. In the coming months I'll be sure to share with you, these further adventures into New Media.

These are a few of the things on my list for 2010:
  1. I'd like to learn more about Static FBML - customizing a facebook fan page through facebook's own application.
  2. I'd like to get into Vlogs (Video Blogs) and Video emails. Right now I've seen other sales agents finding much success with these types of videos and they add a new dimension to email and customer service. There are several platforms out there that will allow you to create and send these so I'll be investigating some of these in the coming months.
  3. I'd like to learn more about live streaming and figure out how to utilize it for my business in 2010. I have much to learn on this front and to decide how and what kind of content I'd use on a live stream.
Now I know there's always so much more for me to learn, and I don't always even know where to start. If you've read my early blog posts, you know that I used to have my head buried in the sand hoping technology would go away.

I held out on buying a cell phone until 2001. First I traveled around the world with a back pack. Then I hitched a ride on a sailboat from Honduras, through Cuba and then on to Florida. After spending a year working in the Caymans I finally entered the mobile phone age.

Laptops were not on my radar until my return from Africa in 2003 when I finally broke down and invested in a Mac. And digital cameras? I'd been attached to my Pentax K1000, all manual camera, throughout my travels around the world shooting slides on 6 continents. I only gave in to digital cameras last year this same time, December of 2008, and purchased a Nikon D-60.

I'm finally speeding up in my acceptance that the world is changing and I must change with it. So if you have more ideas for me to add to my list to explore and investigate in 2010 please throw it out there for me!

I'd love to know where you think I should go with New Media in 2010.

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Quicky Cute Christmas Story...I mean Social Media Story...

Okay so this time of year I become obsessed with these cute hard to find ornaments that are no longer in production. Yes these Opus n' Bill ornaments are goofy and they make me smile.

They remind me of the little kid inside that loves cartoons and comic books. My boyfriend actually got me hooked on them, he's the biggest little kid with his Lego's, love of opus, and if you've never seen a Wish for Wings that Work... well you're missing one of the essential Christmas Movies, and I never would have known about it without Chris in my life.

When Chris and I met he actually had a couple of these guys, so I started looking for them as "gifts" for soon became apparent that I for myself. And it entertains him since my father is a huge hoarder of "collectible" stuff, but I've never succumbed to the disease until Opus n' Bill happened into my life.

I know it's a bit of a disease because there were only 18 different ornaments made, for some mysterious reason they stopped. And I have to have them ALL! But now many of them are rare. While I only need 5 more of them, they happen to be the ones that get bid up the highest on ebay.

Sorry but as much as I love them, there's no way I'm paying $100's of dollars for a Christmas ornament. (After all I am Jewish!)

Well, in searching for information on Opus Ornaments, and believe me I search all over the place for these things, I came across this blog, and a little bit of celebrity in Wendy Fedan. In my eyes anyway. Let me back up. I've seen this blog post before Farewell To Opus and Bill - My Personal Heroes But there are a lot of people who show collections of their ornaments etc. This time I finally read the full post and realized that Wendy was one of the Ornament Designers!! What a cool job!

So I wrote a comment on her blog.
You designed the opus n bill ornaments? I LOVE those!!! How many were made do you know? I have 13 of them and wish there was a way to get the last 5 (I think there are only 18 but if I’m wrong please let me know!) And if you have a secret stash…. : )

And she wrote back! It's kind of like when Chris Brogan writes you back or Adventure Girl writes you back! This was an actual designer of my favorite little Christmas treats.

Then I found her on facebook, I sent her a friend request so she could see my collection. And she commented on that!

Anyway, it was a very cool connection that I never would have made if it weren't for social media. I mean I wouldn't have bumped into Wendy in line at the bank.

Who would you like to meet through social media? What's your Social Media Christmas story?

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Twitter Duh's and No Brainers to Elevate Your Impact and Interaction in Twitterland

Some twitter tips, from my twitter observations on a gray Saturday in December...take it or leave it.

1) If you have multiple twitter accounts (And I mean like 3,4 or more) Don't send the SAME update from all of them....especially if you are using hashtags then there is a long stream of the same update and to be honest you aren't helping yourself, you're looking like spam.

2) Don't use the bird...if you are ready to set up a twitter account, you MUST have a picture, logo, or jpeg of interest on your computer. Even if that is temporary it's better than the birdie! (And if you are one of those above who have multiple accounts and they are ALL birdies...oh how spammy you look! Fastest way to get unfollowed (or never followed in my book)

3) Take a moment to create a bio. Don't make people guess at who you are, if you are truly on twitter to interact and create a community and interact with people then tell them a bit about who you are. twitter doesn't give you room for a book, how hard is it to come up with a couple of lines to sum yourself up so we can see if we want to follow you!

4) If you have a website, a blog, a facebook fan page or any type of contact where people can find out a bit more about who you are and what you do...then put that link in there! It's only going to grow your business, your online presence, and your brand when you link it to your twitter profile, so why wouldn't you take a moment to do it?

5) Take a second to put up a background it's not hard and there are a lot of third party tools out there to help you create a background even twitter itself will at least allow you to customize a bit. Here's a great Mashable post from Ben Parr on HOW TO: Create Custom Twitter Backgrounds.

While each and every one of these five thoughts should illicit a "Duh" from most people, the number of people out there who don't do these 5 things is astounding. When setting up a twitter account ask yourself a few questions. Why are you on twitter? What's your purpose? Why wouldn't these be quick easy ways to increase your impact and grow within the twitter community?

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2 Blogs, Or Not 2 Blogs...That is My Question 2 YOU!

Last night I attended "Entering the Blogosphere" at the Social Media Club Virginia Beach. Now of course if you are reading this blog, you know I already blog and you may know that I have two blogs!

Now here's my dilemma, and I need some insight and feedback from you all if you are reading it, should I combine my two blogs?

Okay first, just so you know, the "Boss Chick" at Wave Marketing says I should combine them, that I shouldn't dilute my readership by having two blogs. Good advice, but I feel like I have two different audiences and reasons for having two!

Here's my rationale: When I started my first blog, Wanderings of a Wayward Online Sales Consultant, I wanted to write about my exploration into social media, compare it a bit to my previous travels and lessons learned, and also weave it with some information about being an online consultant. When I started blog number two, Random Gypsy Ramblings and Travel Tales the goal was to be able to...well...ramble! Mostly about travel and memories of all the places I spent my time in the past 15 years of backpacking sailing and diving.

The two seemed to have very different objectives, tones, and audiences. So here's my question to you. Do you think I can effectively combine the two blogs and if so how would you suggest I do it?
@Socialsonya (The boss chick) already asked me which I like writing about more...The truth is I like both for different reasons!
I feel like travel was an important phase of my life and though I'm not past it, I'm not as actively traveling any more but I love writing about my experiences. Now though, I work in the land of business, shoes, and offices and feel that just maybe I have something to contribute in that land!

So give me your feedback! I'll be waiting!

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