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Mary Wu, Virtual Assistant

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Yearly Archives: 2014

7 Ways to keep the “social” in social networking

social-network_110002683-012814-intThe ability to use insights and do statistical analysis on websites and for social media is interesting and can be endlessly fascinating (especially for nerdy people that love looking at numbers).

For day to day use of social media, however, we need to remember to keep the “social” in social networking.

Here are some tips.

  1. Find Your Tribe.
    When you are adding people to your social network, remember to add the right people. Find your ideal client or your people that are good joint venture partners. Remember that you’re addressing people, and not just analytics.
  2. Be Yourself.
    Yes, you want to portray your “best” self when you’re on social media. Just as people don’t go to meetings wearing coffee stained yoga pants, you do want to put your best “verbal” foot forward. Keep this in mind whether posting to your own pages or making comments on other pages.
  3. Maximize Information (minimize promotion).
    You want to share content and information that is of interest or helpful to your audience. Some experts recommend having 80% of your content being information or communication and 20% of your content being promotional. Some experts recommend having 40% of your content being informational, 40% being conversational, and 20% being promotional. Whichever way you look at it there’s always a maximum of 20% promotional content. If you wouldn’t meet someone at a coffee shop and spend 30 minutes saying “buy my stuff, buy my stuff, buy my stuff,” then don’t do that on your Twitter account or Facebook page.
  4. Converse and Engage.
    In addition to being attentive to what you are putting on your page, also be aware of what you’re putting on other pages. Comment on pages of industry leaders, engage in conversations on your clients’ pages, and share information from your clients or your joint venture partners.
  5. People Before Tech.
    I’ve seen people get worried about how to handle ROI or SEO, and I’ve seen people avoiding getting involved in social media because they are afraid of messing up. Picture your social media platforms as a great big coffee shop (or networking event). “Walk” around, see what other people are doing, and say “hi.”
  6. Don’t Lose Time.
    Unless most of your clients are virtual, don’t devote time to social media networking at the expense of in-person networking. And, if you find it difficult to get “work” done without resorting to the temptations of crushing the candy or feeding the farm animals, find a way to walk away. You can use different windows for “work” and “personal,” you can have a set schedule for “work” time and “play” time, or (if all else fails) find yourself a social media manager or a virtual assistant to help with the business.
  7. The Internet – It’s Forever.
    A few weeks ago a politician (or, most likely, his social media manager) posted something insensitive and confrontational on his Twitter account. Ten minutes later the post was removed. However, in that ten minute time frame (on a Sunday evening — let’s face it people are always paying attention), someone from the opposing camp managed to grab a screen shot of the offensive post. Within 24 hours it went viral.

Just treat social media like a coffee shop, with pleasant conversation and a “give and take” mentality, and you’ll do just fine.

There are two articles below. One of them talks about in-person networking but some of the same rules apply to social media networking.

“If you seek to form personal, mutually beneficial connections rather than the comparatively parasitic kinds, networking may seem more palatable to you.”

Keep this in mind both online and off.

OH — and just for fun, read the article below about the Grandmas. Sometimes we really need to spend an extra moment or two on proffraeding. (<– Okay, that’s really not a good example because it would get highlighted as a misspelling, but you get the idea).

How to Add a Video on LinkedIn

Nederlands: Linked In icon

Nederlands: Linked In icon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In order to give potential clients (or employers) an idea of the type of work you do LinkedIn allows you to show media samples on your profile.

One of the notes from the LinkedIn help center states:

“You must use a compatible file type or content provider for best results.”

Or – to quote William Shakespeare, “ay, there’s the rub.”

The (amazingly simple) trick to this is to know what content providers work well with LinkedIn. Two that I’ve found work for all purposes that I need are slideshare.net and YouTube.com

So, first step is to upload a slide show to slideshare or upload a video to YouTube. (If anyone needs tips on that let me know, I’m always looking for more blog posts).

Now it’s 5 easy steps:

  1. Go to your LinkedIn profile page.
    (It’s the second tab on the top)
  2. Now, hover over where it says “Profile” and click on “Edit Profile.” This will put you in edit mode.
  3. Go to the section you’d like to add the video or slideshow to (I often use the “Summary” section.)
  4. Click on the icon that looks like a box with a “+” sign. LinkedInicon
  5. Now, add the link.
    After you’ve added the link it will give you a chance to change the title and the description.

Thanks to Beth Tomas of BTomasDesign for the question.

 

3 Tips on Who To Delegate To

Yes, I’ve talked about delegdelegateation before. It’s a topic that comes up often. The other day I was reading a Facebook Status from a friend that has a spouse in the construction business.

“Watching all these shady contractors on the news ripping people off makes me sick when there are good guys out there like ____________ who follow all the guidelines and have insurance and proper registration and do a great job for their customers and lose jobs to these clowns that rip people off. If the bid is low, there is a reason. You get what you pay for.”

Sometimes we think it’s hard to find the “good guys,” but if you do your research ahead of time, you’ll save time and frustration in the long run.

Here are three tips that should help you whether you’re looking for a plumber, a lawyer, or a virtual assistant:

  1.  Just ask. Ask everybody you know. Ask your friends, ask your neighbors, post a request to Facebook. Rest assured, if you don’t know somebody, you know somebody that knows somebody.
  2. Do background checks. I’m not talking about the background checks that go with hiring bank employees or Sunday School teachers*. But if you do a Google search on a name, look at a service like Angie’s List, or look at a person’s profile on LinkedIn, that will give you an idea of their professional persona.
  3. Interview. Most reliable service providers, in any area, are more than willing to sit down and talk to you for some amount of time for free (or at a greatly reduced rate) so that you can see if a working relationship is possible.

I honestly can’t think of a single time I’ve made a decision based solely on cost that I’ve been happy with that choice. On the other hand, I’ve often been happy with work done by people that have come with strong personal referrals.

Think about what you can do if you release some of the things that make your life difficult. No dollar amount can be placed on time with your family or on peace of mind.

No Secrets (Carly Simon album)

No Secrets (Carly Simon album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 *As an adoptive parent what I often tell people is that if I had any skeletons in my closet, they would have been found during the background check process. I’m like Carly Simon and I have no secrets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Halfway there (Google apps and taxes)

Apps Keys Shows Internet Application Or AppIn the U.S., July 4 is the celebration of our nation’s birthday. We often spend the weekend with parties or picnics or family reunions or weddings. The weekend often ends with tired, but happy, people. When you look at a calendar though, July 1 is sort of like “hump day” for the year. The year is now half over (or half begun) and it’s a time to take stock, assess what is or is not working, and plan for the rest of the year.

This might also be a good time to realize that it’s only 6 months until the end of the year and I’m willing to bet that there are a few people that haven’t even begun to think about taxes yet. (WHAT??? You want me to think about taxes in JULY.)

YES, I actually want you to think about taxes in July. Actually, it’s something you should be thinking about every week, or at least every month, and you should be doing some record keeping so that when you do your taxes (or go to see your tax preparer) in 2015, you are somewhat prepared. I realize that sometimes it’s easy to procrastinate, and I want to encourage you to not fall too far behind.

I’m a big fan of various Google Apps (HELLO — FREE!!), so I’m going to point out a few ways that Google Apps can be used in keeping track of your expenses.

Google Calendar https://www.google.com/calendar
Besides allowing you to keep track of your schedule, share your schedule, and syncing with a number of other applications, Google Calendar keeps track of where you’ve been. If you use Google Calendar thoroughly and faithfully, at the end of a week (or month, or 6 months) you can go back through your calendar and check what you’ve done. You can look at each event and see if there’s anything you’ve done that needs to be documented.

Google Maps https://maps.google.com
After you’ve checked your Google Calendar, you’ll realize that you’ve had some travels (meetings or lunches you’ve attended) that you forgot to write down mileage for. This is where Google Maps comes in handy. Just enter your starting location and your destination and you know your mileage (double it for a round trip).

Google Docs https://docs.google.com
Specifically Google spreadsheets. You can use a Google spreadsheet to enter your costs (mileage, advertising, office expenses, deductible meals and entertainment, etc. etc. etc).

Anytime you’re using any type of spreadsheet (Excel, Google Drive, Numbers), I highly recommend beginning with the end in mind. If you’re looking to do your own bookkeeping so that you can either do your taxes or send them to a tax professional, figure out what you’ll need at the end of the year and input the proper categories. (For myself, and many solopreneurs, look at Schedule C).

Next week we’ll look at a few other Google Apps that can make your life easier.

*Disclaimer, I’m not a tax professional.

Starting out

Naperville North High School

Naperville North High School (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every year Naperville North High School does a report about their senior class. This year the number one college location for the 2014 Huskies is College of DuPage (a local two-year community college). The number one major … undecided.

It seems like a wonderful plan for many students. We’re lucky to live in a country with so many options for our young (and not so young) people. Before you send a high school graduate off to wherever they’re going next, how can a parent best help them?

Anita2This brings us to our fifth (and final) introduction for National Small Businesses. One way to help guide high school students is to contact an educational consultant such as Anita Gajula at College Prep Mentoring. Anita can work with students and their parents to find their way through the confusion that is the collection decision and application process.

(And really, anyone that can get more than two words out of my son deserves some recognition.)

(Click on the video below, you’ll be “Happy” you did).

Related articles

Starting Over

Recently I was reading about how President George H.W. Bush (41st President of the United States) celebrated his 90th birthday by skydiving.* You can watch the video at this link. While I’m pretty sure that I would never actually jump out of a perfectly fine airplane, I have to give kudos to President Bush for following his passion.

For the fourth in my small business series, I’d like to introduce you to Felicity. Sometimes it might be hard to pinpoint your passions. You might have so many that it’s hard to narrow down (and not all of us have the means that someone in the Texas oil business has to chase all our dreams). But for those of you rethinking your future goals and desires, or for those looking toward a promotion or career change, you can contact Felicity Solomon at Savvy Services.felicity2

Whether you’re thinking of a new career opportunity or trying to realize your dreams, a life coach would be a great person to have on your team. (After all, our 41st President couldn’t have jumped out of a plane without an entire team to help him).

Related articles

*He announced the jump on his Twitter feed. The fastest growing demographic on Twitter is the 55-64 year old age group.

 

Little Bits at a Time

Michelle croppedStarting a Virtual Assistant business was, for me, a rather pleasant accident. I was taking courses at the local community college to update my skills while I was thinking about re-entering the job market. There was a course under Office Technologies titled Virtual Assistant, and since it was an online course I knew I could work the course work around my schedule. Fast forward 16 weeks and I had done a basic business and marketing plan for my course. Once I decided that would be my next course of action, it was easy to move forward.

As I did last year at this time, I’m celebrating National Small Business Week by doing a 5 part series of small business owners that I have had the pleasure of working with.

Today we’ll meet Michelle Smith at Z & B Consulting.

Michelle is known as an “idea person” who works to help companies create awareness, strengthen relationships and ensure success. She is the creator of the “Marketing Morsels”, “Magnify Your Marketing,” and “Maximize Your Marketing”, a 3-pronged strategic approach to business success. She also publishes a newsletter, which you can subscribe to on the landing page of her website.

That’s what she does for a living. But what she really does is create connections. Michelle is a walking business directory of local small business in the western and southern suburbs of Chicago. She’s great at getting to know people, and she absolutely walks her talk.

I will often tell potential clients that if they have a project that I can’t help them with, I am usually able to find someone who can. As a person that has many connections (and makes a point of getting to know all the local virtual assistants and some not so local VAs), I can make that statement with almost complete confidence. As a friend and colleague of Michelle Smith, I can absolutely make that statement with complete confidence. We make a pretty strong team, and typically we can find someone that can solve most any small business problem.

 

 

 

 

Branding and Popeye

How do these three things relate?

English: Popeye Village in Anchor Bay, Malta, ...

English: Popeye Village in Anchor Bay, Malta, scenery of Popeye film. Deutsch: Popeye Village in der Anchor Bay, Malta, Kulisse des Films Popeye – Der Seemann mit dem harten Schlag. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  1. A 5-part blog series on small business owners
  2. Branding
  3. Popeye

They really do relate and I’ll get to that in a minute.

Recently a graphic designer I know wrote a blog post about logo design and how you shouldn’t be afraid to make it personal. (You can read it here).

Before I started my business, I took a virtual assistant course at the local community college. One of the topics covered in the course was logo design, and as part of the assignment I came up with the butterfly idea.

Six months later, when I met with my graphic designer, I realized that I was really tied to my butterfly. They represent (to me) freedom and growth and “becoming” what you truly are. This is what I want not only for me and my business, but for my clients and their businesses.

Someone once pointed out that there may be people that think that the logo is less than “professional” looking (and sometimes it’s a good thing to point out pros and cons of any business decision when someone is consulting you), but I knew that this had become such an integral part of my vision for my business that if someone was bothered by it, they probably wouldn’t really want to work with me. And that’s okay (I’m always meeting new Virtual Assistants and if someone wants someone else to work with I can arrange introductions).

This brings us to the two introductions I want to do for my series on small business owners.

Beth Tomas is a graphic designer and the person that posted the blog post that got my mind going in this direction. Beth’s tagline (I love Beth’s tagline) is “I turn your dreams into pretty pictures.” She will sit and she will listen to you and try to get to know you and create a logo (or web images or brochure or flyer or …) that best represents you and your business.

Melissa Noto is another graphic designer. I’ve seen some of the cards and flyers she’s created for other business owners I know and she does a fabulous job at representing you and your business.

Yes, I’m promoting two different people in the same field, and yes neither of them is Suzanne Wills, who I wrote about last year. I have seen work from both of these women and they both do a fabulous job.

The important thing when working with any service provider is to find someone that you are comfortable working with and who can best relate to you and tell your story, because when it comes to telling your story through your brand. You want to person that can best understand your story.

(You may now ask “Okay Mary, what on EARTH does any of this have to do with Popeye?”)

One thing Popeye always says is, “I am what I am and it’s all that I am” (except he says “yam” sometimes.) Be who you authentically are and you will soar like one of my butterflies.

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Record Your Legacy

mifunAs I did last year at this time, I’m celebrating National Small Business Week by doing a 5 part series of small business owners that I’ve had the pleasure of working with.

Today, we meet Wanda Schlafly at MiFun.

Recently I was taking one of those ubiquitous quizzes that one finds on Facebook. I’m sure you’re familiar with them. They propose to answer questions like, “Which TV mom are you?” when in reality they exist to mine data. One thing I’ve noticed from questions in some quizzes and results of some polls that are taken is that most of the data mining is trying to reach millennials. On the one hand it could make one surmise that once you reach a certain age, nobody cares what you have to say.

This is not true. And not only does Wanda Schlafly care what people have to say, she also cares to document it for posterity.

Wanda Schlafly is the owner of MiFun. Part of what she does is to teach seniors (or anyone) how to get the most use out of their iPads: how to connect using Face Time or Skype, how to share photos, how to connect with your children and grandchildren, and how to play gtames.

But the other part of what Wanda does is to help people make audio or video recordings of their life story. This is something to think about especially around Mother’s Day (or Father’s Day) when we realize that even if the data miners might not be interested in what certain groups of people have to say, it’s never too soon to get the family stories on tape, so that your children (and your children’s children) can connect with your parents (and your parent’s parents). No matter how independent we think we are, there are deep connections that run through a family.

 

*Okay, originally I was going to talk about how Wanda can, and does, help business people do videos that can promote your business on LinkedIn or YouTube. But let’s face it, we all can get a bit sentimental around Mother’s Day.

**On the other hand, you could surmise that if nobody cares what you have to say, you could say whatever you dang well please. This is why we love Betty White so much.

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E-troductions

business_1100010234-012914-intFor the last day of my Administrative Professional’s Week 5-part series, I’m going to share one of my favorite tips: the e-introduction.

One goal in my business (and my life) is to be a resource to people. I truly enjoy finding ways to help other people out. One way to be of assistance is to help people find the right resource providers or joint venture partners. For some time I struggled with the right format for making introductions between people until I hit upon a article at Forbes.com titled “How to Make the Perfect Email Introduction” (see “Related Article” section.) This article describes a basic template for introducing two people via email.

There is one point that the article misses, which I’d like to add. BEFORE doing an e-introduction, double check with both parties that they are willing to “meet” a new person.

This is a very valuable way of allowing two people to meet because you can describe in detail why you think they would be able to connect, they will both have each others email address, and they both have a common connection.

People are most likely to do business with people that they know, like, and trust. But if someone cannot find a person they know, they may feel a bit more at ease working with someone that comes with a strong common connection.

Related Article:

How to Make the Perfect Email Introduction. Andy Ellwood. (forbes.com)