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I like my blog shaken, not stirred

Hi there loyal and new readers of Erika Pryor At Large. I have to admit, I’ve been a bit MIA for the past few weeks. Not because I don’t love to bring you new and exciting things, but rather I was experiencing some growing pains.

More specifically, I’ve found myself wanting to write about a range of topics, but feeling like I couldn’t do it on my blog.Then I thought, what the hell is the point of  having a blog, if you don’t create content about what you are motivated. And I found no better time than Independence Day to make this declaration.

I’m skaking things up here at Erika Pryor At Large. I’m talking about more topics related to career and work, and of course there will be social media and web tech stuff. As an added bonus, I want to start providing Digital 411 program notes, that include websites, stories, and other general information we discuss during the course of the program.

So, what do you think is the first new thing you’re rolling out, you ask? I’m so glad you’ve asked. It’s a series called: My Day As A …

Here’s a little background. If you’ve ever worked as (or known someone that was) a consultant, freelancer, entrepreneur or small business owner, you know that no day is really like the one before, or the one coming next. For me, this is what a typical week my include among other things:

Monday I play the role of “marketing therapist,” for a client listening attentively to their difficulties managing the 10 different hats they are charged to wear, while also helping my client develop an action plan to get things done.

Tuesday, I’m getting close to an article submission deadline, so I’m finishing up the research and writing of blog and website articles.

Wednesday I find myself  working with a client to prepare them for their media interview and photo shoot. I’m also working with their team on our regional campaign launch.

Thursday I’m working on developing the Digital 411 program schedule and getting guest co-hosts lined up for the next weeks and months.

By the time Friday rolls around, I’m scheduled to do some gurrella marketing at a local festival. Followed up by spending Saturday at Port Columbus doing market research for a client.

That’s this week — but can’t say next week will look anything like this one.

And for me, that’s the exciting part of things that keeps me engaged in my work. That’s when I thought to myself Why not share these interesting moments with your community? Well, that’s what I’m not doing with the series My Day As A..

As an added bonus, I’m making the series open to others and accepting submissions from YOU! That’s right, I’m guessing a day in the life of you has it’s interesting moments, and now there’s a place where you can share it with others.

In addition to this new series, I’m making a resolution to add more video posts and video supplements to the blog.

Thanks for being a fan, listener, and reader of Erika Pryor At Large and Digital 411! I have so much fun doing both and love the interaction and support I continue to receive from you. It’s great keep it coming and I’ll keep coming with posts, videos, commentary, and much more here!

Enjoy your holiday weekend!

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2011 in blog

 

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Facebook Fan Pages Blown Wide Open

Facebook Fan Pages Blown Wide Open

Facebook is a topic favorite on Digital 411, and there are endless things to talk about when it comes to the world’s most popular social media network. As the biggest online time sink and with more than 700 million users worldwide on Facebook everyday, if you’re not using a Facebook Fan Page to connect with your consumers you’re missing opportunities to be part of their daily lives.

On the Saturday, June 11, 2011 episode of Digital 411 we’re blowing Facebook Fan Pages wide open. Telling everything you need to know about creating and maintaining a successful page. We’ll discuss how to leverage custom tabs, social applications, email capture and much more.

Here are our guest co-hosts that will blow Facebook Fan Pages wide open:

Elijah R. Young

Co-Founder at Fandura (www.fandura.com), Serial Small Business Entrepreneur, Small Business Start-up Consultant and Business Strategist, Elijah R. Young creates digital strategies that allow brands to both market themselves in the social media space, and connect their social online identities to their offline branding and marketing materials.

As a serial small business entrepreneur, as of January 2010, Elijah R. Young have started or been involved with the launch of 16 businesses from 2003 to Present. I am always looking to invest in entrepreneurship and develop new business ideas either offline, or via my personal blog. Follow Elijah on Twitter @ElijahRYoung

Mark Hill 

Mark Hill is a serial entrepreneur and has been so his entire life. He launched his first retail company out of his Ohio State dorm room at the age of 19. Since then he has either been a co-founder in or a part of 5 other startups, all but 1 being in the e-commerce or technology sectors. At Fandura (his latest company) he is excited about building web and social applications that help business owners grow their businesses.  Follow Mark on Twitter @IamMarkHill

I promise you will walk away knowing more about Facebook Fan Pages than you ever imagined. Join us during our live broadcast Saturday, June 11, 2011 at 10amEST on TalktainmentRadio.com. We take your calls at 1(877) 932-9766 and you can join the conversation on Twitter too @Digital411.

Can’t listen to the live broadcast — that’s okay. Catch the podcast the following week or subscribe on iTunes (http://bit.ly/Digital411iTunes) and don’t miss an episode!

 
 

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Is your inflated brand scaring away prospective employers?

Is your inflated brand scaring away prospective employers?
A few weeks ago, a few social media consultants and myself were having a spirited discussion regarding solo-preneur to micro to small business growing pains. What some of us were really saying was: I’m starting to feel that owning my own business isn’t fun anymore, I think I like working as a consultant better.We toyed around with the idea out loud and with others like was it time to get a full-time job? And if it was, could having a gigantic personal brand do more harm than good? Could my personal brand actual scare away potential employers?Is this really possible, I thought. I had spent the last three years or so, building a personal brand that stood for something and reaping – what I believed were — the benefits of a strong online and offline reputation. I never considered the possibility that  my persona brand could be too big for an employer?

Of course everyone from Katie Couric to Angela An and every other news caster, employment counselor and economist has talked about the importance of networking and building a brand. But what if the opposite can be true, with potential employers declining to meet with you because your brand is too big?

We speculated about the negatives of hiring someone with an inflated personal brand. Someone in the company — presumably a decision maker — doesn’t like you because of some inflammatory remarks you made at a speaking engagement.

Especially at a small business or startup, the president may be concerned that by hiring you, your brand will overshadow the company. We also speculated as to whether or not, expectations of what you can do and accomplish are inflated because of your larger than life online persona.

Clearly that conversation got me thinking. So, I reached out to someone who I know works with small businesses and asked what she thought about the question: Can a strong personal brand scare away a potential employer?

Here’s some of what Andrea Applegate of the Columbus Chamber of Commerce had to say on the subject.

Regardless of your occasional tech and social media savvy lawyer or nurse,most small business owners really don’t know much about social media. She continues, “technology, PR, marketing, or youth oriented industries are the types of small business owners that are well versed in social media.”

Andrea notes that since, “small businesses in other industries don’t even understand social media, so it (the killer social media brand you’ve been cultivating) is meangingless to them.”

Here’s the real dagger in your social media lovin’ heart: According to Andrea, “most small businesses and startups have no real understanding of how powerful social media can be and is.”

Although this is good news of sorts. I mean if you decide to hang up your consultant lifestyle for a straighter laced existence, then working with a startup or small business feels like less of a sell out — over working for the man and going straight corporate.

But that brings to light another problem: My potential audience may not have any idea about me and my awesomeness? Now what do I do.

According to Andrea Applegate — it’s time to get integrated. Since many business owners have their finger on what’s happening in their industry — start working traditional reputation building channels as well.

Social media my not be the first place your audience turns for everything from coupons to daily news, said Andrea “you have to distinguish yourself as an expert in your filed using traditional mechanisms (like speaking at conferences, writing white papers, etc.) because these activites have a higher value for these employers.”

Whoa, so you’re advice to consultants thinking about getting a 9 to 5 gig with a small business or start up generally is to go integrate old school reputation management with new school personal branding methods. That’s great advice! Not exactly what I wanted to hear, but valuable nonetheless.

What do you think? Is this sounds advice to consider, or B.S.? Are you thinking if the company doesn’t get social media is it not the right place for you to begin with (I admit that’s my gut reaction =)

 
 

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Why are you worried about social media when your website sucks?

Perhaps these are conversations that are happening behind closed doors, so I’m hear to blow the lid off a few things. But first, let me set the scene for you.

At some random networking event, I run into someone really interested in talking about working together to build brand awareness using social and digital media. Awesome, just the conversations I love to have. We follow up our unplanned encounter with a scheduled meeting. In preparation for the meeting, I do my homework researching this person’s current social media, digital presence and website. Like a good consultant should!

What do I find during my routine pre-meeting preparation, but a complete shit show of a website. I mean, the thing hasn’t been updated for years, there nothing to indicate a company personality or link to their social media sites, and — as an added bonus — the logos from the website don’t even match those on current business cards.

So, we show up for a our coffee and social media conversation. When we get past the pleasantries, the conversation goes something like this —

Me: So, how do you feel about your website?

Them: Oh, I know it needs a little sprucing up, but I really want to talk about social media.

Me: Really? Hmm, did you have fantasies about driving traffic to your website from your social media channels?

Them: excitedly Yeah, that’s a real goal!

Me: quizzically Why are you worried about social media when your website sucks?

Herein lies the problem. Everybody is very concerned about their social media presence — that’s actually a good thing — but, if your plan is to drive traffic to your website and it’s a complete mess, than you are not ready to dive into social media just yet.

Although I don’t actually do any behind the scenes website construction or programming, I’m glad to throw in my two cents when it comes to visual appeal, user interface, and general layout. Here are some of the biggest offenses that send me back to my Google search results. Admittedly, you may have others to add to the list, since this is not exhaustive I’m sure to leave a few out.

Too Much Text

Although it may be tempting to include everything and the kitchen sink, but remember, people’s attention spans are shorter than what they use to be. You know from your own experience, if you’re questioning whether the investment in time or energy seems to outweigh the payoff — then you’re already planning to move on.

If you have lots of text to include be sure to break up with other visual elements such as pictures and headings.

Scannable Pages

Pages with too much text don’t draw in readers because people can’t get an easy preview of what the page has to offer. Make pages scannable with headings, pictures, survey questions or other types of visual aids. You may get a reader on the fence, they check out the video, and decide reading is a good idea. That’s great because it increases the points of interaction and amount of time spent on the page.

Use of Page Real Estate

I might have a bias for a three column page, but I find websites are easier to navigate when there are multiple points of navigation easy to locate on the site. I’m also partial to navigation at the bottom of the page as well.

Sidebars are always a great place to include testimonials, upcoming speaking events, or other types of timely information. And make social media interaction easy with plugins and streams in columns too!

I’ve also heard the “Website Under Construction” signs are pretty useless, so maybe you want to get rid of that and not make the site live until it’s fully ready for traffic.

“About” Page Falsie

In case you’re unaware, the “About” page is typically one of the most visited on most sites. I appreciate an actual “About” page, which tells me something about the minds (read people) behind an organization. Not the “falsie” which attempts to present a “big” company using “we” and “us,” but personalization can be to your benefit. At least give your site visitors some insight on the leadership of your organization — no matter how big or small.

No Contact/Interaction Opportunities

If you would like to increase business opportunities with your website — please include a contact page with a contact form. I have been to many out-of-date websites which seem to be missing the all important opportunity for prospective clients to actually reach someone at your organization. There’s nothing wrong with making contact with you as simple as possible.

So, what do you think? Are you ready to start your social media efforts or do you still have some work to do to get your website ready for the 21st century visitor?

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Posted by on April 25, 2011 in business, communication

 

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What’s in your networking tool kit?

... is going to sting a little when he's bring...

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On the April 9 episode of Digital 411, I convened a great panel of networking pros to talk about what it takes to become a master networker. Frequently people think you have to be the most outgoing and gregarious person at an event to be a great networker — wrong! Rather than recap our discussion, I invite you to listen to the podcast and take notes, because the conversation was great!

What we didn’t get to talk about was your “networking tool kit.” What’s a networking tool kit you ask? It’s all the stuff you need to have easy access to and with you when attending just about any networking event or outing. I’m not saying everyone travels this way, but these are items I’ve found to be invaluable to have with me.

Business Cards

So, this one is a no brainer. And if you listened to Ryan Bauer on Digital 411, he’s not a big fan of receiving them — and in fact, reportedly saves them to burn for heat in the winter. None the less, have plenty of business cards with you.

As an aside, I don’t necessarily give my business card to everyone, and I don’t think you should feel compelled to do so either, but that’s completely up to you. Also, regardless of whether you’re unemployed or a student — get some business cards. There are relatively inexpensive options like Vista Print that can give you something to work with.

Mints or Gum

I can’t tell you how many networking events I’ve been to where I find myself trapped in a corner talking to somebody with breath smelling like a loaded baby diaper. Of course it’s not intentional and maybe they can’t help it (I hear there are actual disorders that cause this), but this can all be hemmed up by carrying a few mints or a pack of gum with you.

I prefer gum and pop a piece at the beginning of an event, and during each bathroom break. I might be a little OCD about it, but bad breath is memorable — and who wants to be remembered for loaded diaper breath?

Hand Sanitizer

I am not a germ-a-phobe, but I do keep a bottle attached to my person at all times.

This is so much more essential than what it might sound like at first glance. Keep in mind, you likely live in America and are expected to shake hands. And if you’re going to an event and hoping to meet new people, you’re going to seem really weird if you don’t shake hands. Remember:

Roomful of people + Lack of ventilation + Bodily Contact = Instant Illness. Trust, you’ll thank me for bringing this to your attention.

Water

The other day someone said to me, “Wow, you’re having a beer. That’s so weird because I’ve never seen you drink at networking events.” I wouldn’t say I “never” drink at networking events, but it’s obvious I don’t always drink alcoholic beverages when networking. My goal is to never be that person that gets way to hammered and clearly lose sight of my purpose for attending — to make a good impression with people I’ve never met.

And as I’m sure you know, alcohol doses not hydrate you and with all that talking, you get dry mouth and are basically asking for loaded baby diaper breath. #JustSayin!

Good Exit Line

Depending on your level of influence and the other person, you might find yourself trapped talking to some dude about some bull stick network marketing program they’re trying to rope you into and that sucks. That’s why having a good exit line is important. I’m not giving out my secret lines here — but I encourage you to come up with something that is courteous to politely excuse yourself from those conversations so you can circulate and work the room.

So, that’s what I have in my networking tool kit. What do you always have ready when going into settings to meet new people. I’m sure I’ve left some things out so feel free to share in the comments section.


 
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Posted by on April 13, 2011 in business, Networking

 

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On Re-Connecting with My Life: Do You Need To?

I’m not sure if this is new age spirituality or what not, but lately I’ve felt a little disconnected from my life? I think that’s a rhetorically savvy way of saying, “I’ve felt out of touch with things lately.”

Admittedly, my life has been on a bit of a roller coaster especially where my work-life balance and career are concerned. So, I’m now settling into a new routine. As much as I like to change things at will — I’m not so good at handling changes that don’t come from my own command. Does that sound familiar?

So, how do you know if you might be out of touch with your life? Great question? And I wish I had some profound answer to that question. Speaking from you own experience, I realized I was out of touch when I finally made the mental decision to wrap my mind around the situation and truly embrace it as a blessing (perhaps in disguise, but you get what I’m saying); rather than something thrust on me without my permission. (Because as much as we like for life to go our ways in every instance, it usually doesn’t happen that way).

Although my approach may sound simple, it’s actually not. I think most people are not very self-reflexive. Not by default, but rather people don’t give themselves the luxury of thinking about their own needs first. Do you believe that if you put their own needs first — especially if you’re a woman — that you are being selfish, self-involved, and basically a horrible person? If so, you’ve fallen into a trap that turns into a very viscous cycle. Well there’s great news for you: That’s not how it has to be. And what’s better — it may not take a whole lot to snap out of it.

Here are a few things that I did to kind of get out of this funk of feeling far away from everything that was important.

Going back to the things I enjoy. There are a few things that I really like doing such as kick boxing, hiking, and road trips. I haven’t let myself do much of those 3 things in a very long time. But that’s all changed. I’ve been hiking in the park a few evenings each week — and the warmer weather is making that possible. And I’ve been kick boxing at a great new women’s fitness facility called, R Studio.

Getting organized. I wasn’t ready to start freelancing again so soon. In fact I had kind of hung up my freelancer cap for a while. But, situations dictated otherwise. So, this weekend, I took some quality time to find a great web-based project management software (product review forthcoming). And also did some needed spring cleaning to spruce up my work and life sacred spaces — how’s that for balance.

Getting reaquainted. As much as people say it doesn’t matter — human connection is one of the most powerful connections we can make. And for me, I find my batteries recharged by developing new relationships — like I do in learning new things. So, I stepped up networking. More than meeting new people, I decided to return to those emails with invitations for coffee and lunch to which I had not been particularly response. And I’ve enjoyed catching up with people. As an added bonus, there have are some great professional opportunities developing — go figure, all that from networking.

Now I don’t want you to think I’ve got beer goggles on or something. These three little changes are not a magic bullet. The good news is, making the mental decision is the first step to changing your demeanor.

So, at the beginning of this article I asked if you were feeling little disconnected with your life. After reviewing how to snap back into things — upon second thought what do you think now?

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Posted by on April 11, 2011 in business

 

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I’m Fired Up! (or Why getting fired helped me get out of my own way!)

I’m fired up! That’s what I’ve been saying to myself — and more importantly — out loud and to others! I’m fired up and pissed off about some things and that’s just the way it is for a while. Maybe you’ve noticed some of my recent blog articles and Digital 411 programs. If you havn’t buckle up and settle in for a few hundred words, it’s about to get interesting. As a disclaimer: This post is a rare personal one.


A few weeks ago I started my dream job. Working as an account executive at RMD Advertising. A great company with an excellent reputation for growing food brands. I worked hard there — about 6 days. I did like every new employee hoping to learn the ropes as quickly as possible. I stayed late, took work home, tested my knowledge as I accomplished tasks, and asked questions when I couldn’t figure things out on my own.

Then I heard the words no one ever wants to hear. “I gotta let you go” followed up with, “I just don’t think you’ll be happy here.” Now, I’m not sure what the second part means, but I’m fairly certain I know what the first part means. That’s right! RMD Advertising fired me after just 6 working days. Now, since I wasn’t snorting bumps in the bathroom or secretly defecating on my boss’s desk, I can’t figure out how a person gets fired in just over a week. But being the overachiever that I am, I had accomplished the task.

It’s likely I’ll never learn why I was prematurely let go and it’s not important to this story. So, what is important is how getting fired helped me get out of my own way. Here’s what I mean by that.

Considering I’ve never been a very good “employee,” and I’ve heard the stories about entrepreneurs getting fired from every job they ever had, I got to thinking. May be this major blow to my self esteem is the universe telling me that I’m supposed to be an entrepreneur. A role I have resisted for a while because entrepreneurs are rouge, outerliers and risk takers. I didn’t want to be those qualities because the aren’t typically used glowingly. However, we’re experiencing a huge paradigm shift. Now 15 year olds are successfully starting businesses, securing start up capital, and learn business basics in summer camp. But as an entrepreneur, you’re constantly working the hustle. Another thing I wanted to avoid.

Working the hustle is a big part of the life of an entrepreneur. You are consistently selling yourself, your business, networking and seemingly up against what seems to be great odds, only to find yourself strategizing as to how you’re going to overcome those challenges. That seems hard. What I failed to recognize (and the universe did see clearly) is that’s what I’ve been doing my whole life. And in my case — having a full time job with little flexibility was getting in the way of doing what I’ve always done: work the hustle.

So what did getting fired do to help you get your own way to do?

That’s a convuluted way of saying: What are you doing now? Well I’ve resisted working full time as a consultant, but when I was approached to do a consulting project 3 days after I was fired and negotiated a contract  just 6 working days after being fired for not doing bumps in the bathroom I got the hint. It’s time for me to stop attempting to be traditional — which I’m not — and make my own way.

So, what am I so fired up about? Well, initially I was fired up about getting fired — of course. But now I’m fired up about being an entrepreneur, about finding obstacles as opportunities, and helping people with social media and digital PR. Also, I’m fired up about doing what you were born to do — and not what people have determined you should be doing. Since everyone has skills and talents, that means we should be using what comes naturally and easily to us to fully be your authentic self.

I say if you have to get fired in order to realize that, then so be it. Everything does in fact happen for a reason.

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2011 in Productivity, self empowerment

 

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