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Mary Wu, Social Media Consultant

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Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

Tuesday Tip – Cloud Based Contacts

ID-10079666I've recently gotten a new cell phone. My former one wouldn't charge, and it was getting quite inconvenient. Getting a new phone is at once exciting and confusing. The average life span of a cell phone is two years, and a lot of changes happen in that amount of time.
One thing I haven’t had to worry about since 2008 though is how to move my contacts from one cell phone to another. Once I got my first Android phone, I discovered the advantage to having my phone linked to my Google account. All my contacts can follow me from my desktop to my laptop to my phone. I can have names, addresses, phone numbers, emails, birthdays, and any other information filed away in my contacts. This is not only convenient when changing phones, it also connects to other applications on the phone (the one I use most often is maps if I’m heading to someone’s house).
Woman Showing display of her new touch mobile cell phone

Woman Showing display of her new touch mobile cell phone

Another form of cloud-based contact storage is Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. A few clients and colleagues I know use a CRM platform called Contactually. This keeps all of a person’s information available on a phone or computer or tablet. Contactually (and I assume some other CRM platforms) also keeps your messages together by contact. So if you can’t remember when your meeting with Wilma is you, can go to her contact information and it will have your emails and your chats and your text messages together (except for Facebook messenger because sometimes Facebook decides it doesn’t want to coordinate with other platforms; and being Facebook, and being free, they can choose to do that).
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

5 Days of Celebrating Small Business #4

May 4-8 2015 is National Small Business Week. SBA_NSBW2015_FINAL_v2

I’m going to mark this occasion by posting some business tips (for small businesses) and articles each day geared toward small businesses.

 


Thanks and giving all year long.
Another tip from my own archives. Some tips for thanking your clients.

  1. ID-100113560Be specific. At a minimum, send out a note that says, “Thank you for your business this year.” But for special clients, if you’ve got the time, you can be more specific. “Thank you for allowing me to work on your project. I enjoyed learning more about Acme Widgets.
  2. Give a social shout out. If you have a client or service provider you’ve enjoyed working with, it’s a good idea to send them a note of thanks. It’s a GREAT idea to put that note of thanks in public view, whether through a shout out on their Facebook page or a testimonial on their LinkedIn page. If you do send a specific thank you note, be sure to let the person know they are welcome to use that information on their website or on LinkedIn. Give them permission to quote you in advance.
  3. Pass it along. If you have a service provider that has gone above and beyond for you, or if someone you know is always willing to help out or give just a little extra, don’t keep that secret to yourself. Your colleagues or friends might also be able to use their services.
  4. Go old school. Often it’s fairly simple to toss off an electronic thank you. Written thank you notes are even more appreciated. We all have mailboxes full of bills and junk mail. Send someone something that will brighten their day.
  5. Be authentic. When it comes time to send a thank you, be authentic. Your thank you note will mean more if it’s honest and heartfelt.

 

Related articles

Related songs 

Image courtesy of Naypong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

THURSDAY TIP – Give Credit Where it’s Due

ID-10079666Let’s say you’re starting up a business on a shoestring, because let’s face it, most start-ups are on a tight budget. You’ve heard that it’s important to have a presence on Facebook and LinkedIn and Twitter and that you need to have a GREAT profile picture. So you’ve found a friend that does wonderful photography and he (or SHE – KERRY LYNN) does a photo shoot for you and you find the perfect profile photo, as happened for me with Kerramel Studios when I first opened my doors two years ago.

You put this photo on Facebook and your friends say, “You look awesome!” There are two things you should now do. If your photo is drawing engagement, make sure to say, “And the photo was taken by _photographer_ making sure to tag @photographer on that platform. (I find a get more personal photo engagement on my personal Facebook profile, and not so much on my business Facebook Page.)

After that (I’m using Facebook as the example here), click on your profile photo (bottom left corner of your banner)

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In this example I clicked on the picture of me, and not on my logo.

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From here, we’d click on the words in blue that say “Add a description”

In this example, I typed “Thanks @Kerry Lynn at @Kerramel Studios”

Finding great people to work can be easy if we work together and give shout outs to the people with patented “awesome sauce.”

 

Images courtesy of:

“Tips,” Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mary Wu, Kerry Lynn at Kerramel Studios

Logo, Suzanne Wills

And a special thanks to Deb Zelman, my bestie, for asking the question which encouraged this post.

Thursday Tip – App Review

English: Gmail logo

English: Gmail logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In looking through my posting history, it does seem that some of my short tip posts are in praise of certain apps. I don’t mind being the person that tries things out so my readers can find out what works.

Longtime readers might have noticed that I tend to have a pretty high rate of use of Google apps (and — HELLO — FREE!!) I use Google calendar and Google Docs and Gmail, and often I’m one of the first people to adopt anything new coming out of Google.

But one frustration I’ve had with Gmail, (not enough of a frustration to CHANGE my email but a frustration nonetheless), is the inability to schedule mail.

Boomerang for Gmail was developed by Baydin and it gives you the ability to:

  • Schedule an email
  • “Boomerang” a message for later
    (for example, “resend” you a message the day before a meeting)
  • Track Responses
  • Schedule recurring emails.
  • Request read receipts and track clicks.
  • Manage scheduled messages

This is also available for phones, but after reading the reviews (and that it slowed down mail loading), I’ve decided that I’m going to keep it on my desktop, where I do the majority of my email.

Thursday Tea Time Tip

IMG_5364People who know me, especially those who know me well, know that I’m rather a coffeeaholic*. I don’t function in the morning without my java. Usually the coffee is made (in the programmable coffeemaker) the evening before, and I’m greeted in the morning with that lovely smell of the bean. Some days it’s the only thing that gets me moving.

In order to improve both my sleep and energy levels, I need to be caffeine-free in the afternoon. Some afternoons though, I either run into a wall or get frustrated or get overwhelmed and can’t figure out what my next step should be. Often when that happens I find that my best next step is

DOING NOTHING!

More specifically, doing nothing while making myself a nice, hot cuppa.

Because sometimes (whether it’s a Thursday or a Monday or a Saturday), you can find yourself about to spin out of control; you need to just stop and get re-centered.

*Really dictionary? Coffeeaholic isn’t a word. I have to talk to the Merriam Webster people about that.

Thursday Tip – Herding Cats

social-media-network-connection-doodles_GyHqG5uOHave you ever tried to arrange a meeting time with several people and had difficulty finding a time when everyone was available?  Sometimes it feels like herding cats (which is extremely difficult to do).  We’re all busy and our calendars are filled.

Fast forward to 2015, and yes there is, in fact, an app for that, and it’s called Doodle.

Doodle is a free app that you can use to manage a simple schedule for multiple people. There is, of course, a version where you can spend a bit more money and get more features if you find that works best for your business.

Basically speaking though, Doodle is great time saver and you can use that time to work on your business, make follow up calls, get dinner started, or pick up a pen and paper and doodle. Don’t we all love free things that free up our time?

 

 

 

Thursday Tip – those annoying requests.

On Off Switch Shows Energy SupplyI’ve heard this complaint many times (and I’ve made this complaint a few times). Our phones* devices are constantly chirping at us. I realize that sometimes things happen and we need immediate notification. The school nurse might be calling you about a problem a child is having, or you could get a call from a parent or an in-law with an urgent situation at hand, or you could be waiting for a call from a health care professional with test results. Sometimes we NEED to get found.

But then, sometimes we don’t need and don’t WANT to be found. What if you could turn OFF the notifications for those silly Facebook games.

I ran across this article by Ryan Neal in International Business Times. ‘Candy Crush Saga’: How to Turn Off Facebook Notifications for the Popular Social Media Game, Forever

(*Yes, I still call the device I carry in my pocket a “phone” even though I use it for so much more. Some habits are hard to break.)

 

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.

 

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.

Tips and Tricks for March

ID-10079666Occasionally I do a post on short tips and tricks I’ve picked up. I often find the most useful information while I’m looking for something else.

Good, short comparison of social media sites

If you’re just getting started in social media, this article by Scott Levy in Entrepreneur gives a brief overview of social media platforms. “How to Choose the Best Social Media Platform for Your Business

Calendar tool

Calendly,  calendar tool, used by one of my fellow virtual assistants, is a simple, clean scheduling tool that syncs with Google calendars and is free. You can read Rhonda’s summary at this link.

Screen sharing

Back in the day (okay yesterday), I was having a meeting with a client and we each needed to be able to “see” what the other was doing. We used FuzeBox and we were able to share screens and switch screens. Both of us are visual people so it was great to be able to see what we were each doing. FuzeBox is free for the first 60 days; so if you need to have an on-line meeting, give it a try.

Mother of Invention

It’s said that necessity is the mother of invention. 20140213_230013I have quite a few clients that wanted business cards entered into spreadsheets. I discovered that spreading the cards out on my desk was not exactly the best thing for my posture. I “invented” a card holder (pictured). Now you know that if you ever need business cards entered into a database, you can contact me, and if you ever need to borrow a copy of Conceptual Physics, you can also call me.

Public Service Announcement

For those of you in Illinois, Tuesday, March 18 is primary election day.

  • Why does this matter? In the primary you get to determine who will run for office in November. In Illinois you can declare your party for EACH primary election so you can determine which ballot you want by election (not by party affiliation).
  • Why does this matter to Mary? During the election season I am a field representative for the DuPage County Election commission. This means that prior to each election I spend time training technical judges on any changes that have happened since the previous election and reviewing the policies and procedures that are in place (especially in regards to the machines that are used in the polling place on election day.) A large number of people spend a large number of hours working not only on election day but in the months before an election and the weeks after an election. Think of it this way, the more people placing votes for an election, the less the process costs per vote.
  • What on earth does being a Field Representative have to do with being a Virtual Assistant? More than you realize. Training election judges to use the various electronic machines is very similar to training clients on the use of social media tools. Making sure policies are followed is very similar to following procedures for client work (or for my own work). And there’s an awful lot of trouble shooting, problem solving, and thinking on my feet.
  • But what if I need one really good reason to vote? This is Illinois and this is the year we elect our new governor (or reelect our current governor). The way things have gone lately, it’s really important to decide who to put in office, because there’s a non-zero chance we’ll be paying for the prison sentence at some point in time.

HAPPY ELECTION DAY

Smileys Showing Happy Cheerful Faces