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Mary Wu, Social Media Consultant

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Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

Tips and Tricks for January

Every month or two I will be doing a posting on timely tips and tricks. For the most part these will be guided by the questions I run across from clients or while networking. In other words, if I have to dig out information, I’ll pass it along instead of having others need to look up the same information.

LinkedIn Recommendations. While helping a client update her LinkedIn profile, I ran across an article about getting and using LinkedIn recommendations. The link to the article is in the “Related Articles” section. While this article is mostly focused on people in the job market, many points are the same as for a solopreneur asking clients for LinkedIn Recommendations, especially #6 (reach out personally when you ask for a recommendation) and #7 (only ask those who truly know your work.) This emphasizes what was said in my post on finding your social media voice. Be authentic and consistent.

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Tips and Tricks for October

Every month I will be doing a posting on timely tips and tricks. For the most part, these will be guided by the questions I run across from clients or while networking. In other words, if I have to dig out information, I’ll pass it along instead of having others need to look up the same information.

Scheduling multiple people. Okay — first I have to admit that I didn’t find this on my own. I found it on the blog at barrymoltz.com. Doodle is an easy scheduler. You create a poll, invite participants, and then confirm the date and time that the most people are available. Instead of having multiple emails flying back and forth, you can get all of the information in one place. And it’s free. The only question I have is, “Where was this when I was trying to arrange meetings for multiple professors when I worked at the University of Illinois?”

Emailing multiple people. Every now and then you’ll want to send the same email to more than one person. Some email programs allow you to do this automagically, but Google doesn’t have a “mail merge” button (like Microsoft Access does). However, if you know where to look, Google does have a way to do mail merge. This 8-minute video gives a clear step-by-step how to. (Thank you Anson Alexander).

Limit your reading time. There are quite a few blogs that I follow. I get resourceful and timely productivity tips from Evie Burke at One Insight Closer. As mentioned above, I find useful information at Barry Moltz’s blog. It would be nearly impossible to keep up with the social media industry without reading Social Media Examiner. There are others. But I do not have time to visit all the blogs I read every day. I do spend a few hours a week checking all the postings by using Feedly. It took a bit of organizing to group the information I read into different categories, but now I can take a few minutes to an hour with a cup of coffee and read all of my news or short bits of it.

Comparing email Services. There are many email service providers out there. I have used MailChimp and AWeber, but those are the only ones I have first hand experience with. I found this article from April 2013 (before the MailChimp change) that describes some of the providers.

“E-troducing” people. One way to be known as a person that is a valuable resource is to help connect people. You may often meet someone that you think would be a great client, provider, or power partner for another person (for instance, a realtor and a mortgage broker).  I spent some time struggling with the right “formula” for doing email introductions. One day I decided that I was going to write a template for doing introductions, but (as I often do when trying to figure something out) I wondered if someone had already done this. I did a search and found a great article on the Forbes site about email introductions.

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Doodle Saves Time (barrymoltz.com)

Create a Mail Merge with Gmail and Google Drive / Docs (YouTube.com)

Comparing email services: Aweber, iContact, ConstantContact, MailChimp, and MadMimi (changetheworldmarketing.com)

How to make the perfect email introduction (forbes.com)

Tips and Tricks for September

Every month I will be doing a posting on timely tips and tricks. For the most part these, will be guided by the questions I run across from clients or while networking. In other words, if I have to dig out information, I’ll pass it along instead of having others need to look up the same information.

Moving Outlook contacts to your phone. This simple YouTube video shows how to transfer Microsoft Outlook contacts from your computer to your Android phone using a free app called Wondershare MobileGo. There’s another YouTube video showing the same transfer with music. There is also an article in PCMag titled How to Sync Android with Microsoft Outlook. The article itself is over 18 months old; however, there are many great tips (some recent) in the comments.  As I don’t use Outlook, I’ve never had to transfer contacts so I do not have first hand experience with these.

“Write” it down. As many productivity experts can tell you, having written lists is wonderful for keeping track of things. I discovered something else in the past month. Twice, when I was “writing” (well, once writing in pen on paper and once typing a question to one of my Google+ groups) something down, in the process of writing I discovered the answer to my question.

Multitasking. According to an article (must move laundry to the dryer)  in MailOnline, women might not be (was that the door) better than men at multitasking. It seems our brain copes well with well-practiced routines (driving a car and listening to the radio) but some things need our entire focus.

Once I took my car in for repair and decided to take a walk in the neighborhood adjoining the repair shop. During this time I was texting my husband with reports on the car. I found I am not capable of walking and texting at the same time. I’m fairly proficient at either, but I cannot mix the two. (However, I’m perfectly capable of typing a blog post and drinking my coffee.)Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s not just men who can’t multi-task: New research says women are just as bad at juggling tasks. (dailymail.co.uk)

What’s Your (On-site) Backup Plan?

Last week we talked about online backupsID-100179303. I’d like to continue that discussion this week with on-site backups.

Type the phrase “how to backup your computer” in Google and you will receive “about 235,000,000” results. I’m going to assume that you don’t want to go and read them all. I listed a few of the more interesting ones in the “Related Articles” section.

Backups are like exercise. There are many articles about how to exercise and when to exercise and why to exercise, but the best exercise for you is the one that you’ll do. It’s the same with backups. We all should be doing them, we all need to be doing them, but unless you find something that you’re going to keep up with, it’s rather useless.

On my current computer I use the Carbonite Mirror Image to backup to a hard drive. This is kept safely off-site (bank safe deposit box). On my former computer (Windows XP), I used a program called Rapid Backup. When I was looking for a backup program for my Windows XP machine, I did my usual method for finding software. I went to Tucows Downloads, typed the appropriate search term in the box, and found a program that was shareware with a high popularity and a high “cow” rating. I love free software, but I also like to know if it’s tested virus and spyware free (as it is on Tucows — but be wary of the ads).

In addition to that, just to make sure I always have (almost) instant access to customer files, I have my “Documents” directory and my “Downloads” directory copied to a thumb drive, which is also held in my bank safe deposit box. (Luckily my bank is 1/4 mile away, and an easy walk or drive).

One thing every person needs to assess is what their most important files are, and make sure that those files are accessible in an emergency.

Related Articles

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

(Oh, and if you think all that I do seems to be too much, I’m sure some of my IT friends would be telling me some steps that even I am missing).

What’s Your (online) Backup Plan?

ID-100179303There’s a quote you may have seen on refrigerator magnets and coffee mugs: “Life is all about how you handle Plan B*.”

A few months ago the next town over had some major flooding. This brought to mind businesses (and individuals) that might not have a backup plan. If you lose your home and your computer and your external disk drive how can you retrieve all of the information you had?

There’s an interesting article from Popular Mechanics  about a test done to data where they took a hard drive and stuck it in salt water for a few days. They were able to send the data to a retrieval service to the tune of $1200 for a normal consumer.  When I look at my hourly rate and compare that to my overhead costs (and I don’t pay rent), I realize that $1200 isn’t really an item I want to make room for in my budget. So TODAY I want you to figure out your backup plan.

This week, we’re going to discuss online backup services, and next week we’ll talk about backing up at home. Something I’m hesitant to admit is that I was …… less than stellar in my backups in my personal life. *ALL* my photos were on my computer AND online in Picasa but everything else (documents, software, etc.) had haphazard backups at best. I’m not proud to admit it – but I realize it’s normal.

There is an ABUNDANCE of information on the Internet about Online Backup and Cloud Storage. Which one is best for you? What’s the difference between Online Backup and Cloud storage? I’ve put a few of the articles that I’ve found most useful at the end of this post. (Let’s appreciate for a moment the number of useless articles and one blatantly plagiarized article I had to muddle through to bring you 4 quality articles.)

But instead of rehashing those articles I’ll tell you what I use (in the online/cloud world) and why.

  1. Google Drive. I’m unabashedly a Google Gal. As I mentioned earlier my photos have been backed up online (for YEARS) in Picasa folders. Google Drive doesn’t only keep files online; you can also share files (with colleagues or clients or friends). For instance, a friend and I are planning a program coming up at our church. Within 5 minutes of planning that I started up a spreadsheet on Google drive and share it with her. It’s a convenient place to put notes and keep things scheduled. And it’s always available as long as you have an Internet connection.
  2. Dropbox. Another online service where you can share files with friends, colleagues, or clients. I’m assisting some clients with an event, and share files on Dropbox is very convenient. Things can be written by one person, proofread by a second person, and edited by a third person.
  3. Carbonite. I could tell you that I went to Carbonite because it ranks highly in most reviews (which it does). I could tell you I chose Carbonite due to the UNLIMITED storage (hard to resist). But what drove me to look at Carbonite was because I kept hearing about it (which either means that people are talking about it, or it means I spend too much time listening to podcasts like Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me or The Nerdist).  (OKAY — once I got there the unlimited thing was quite tempting.)

Next week we’ll talk about backing up your files at home, and there will be a call to action to do SOMETHING to protect your files.

*Me, I’m glad there are 26 letters in the alphabet – because sometimes in life I’ve gone well past Plan B

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Tips and Tricks for August

Every month I will be doing a posting on timely tips and tricks.

It’s back to school time. I know people who recently started, some that are starting in a few weeks, and mine are going back next week. But what does this mean for you as a small business owner, entrepreneur, or coach?

$ALES$ That’s right, even if you don’t have kids, or your kids are well before or past the age of school, you can still take advantage of all those school supplies being on sale. You might not think that you need crayons but all those things that you need for your office are on sale. For example, mini staplers that can fit into a middle school locker can also fit in a purse or briefcase. Yesterday I grabbed some notebooks so that when I need to give a client a printout of a report or action plan, I can do so in an organized manner. Unless you have a locked office I’m willing to bet that sometimes your pens wander off your desk.* I plan to hit Target this week with both the family credit card and the business credit card in my pocket.

Sharing contact information for business partners. Did you know you can send someone’s contact to someone else if you have his or her cell phone number? Two different ways I’ve discovered to do this on my Android device are through the “message” app and through the “contact” app. In the “message” app (where you would normally send and receive text messages,) type in the name or the number where you’d like to send the contact. On the side (where you have the “send” arrow,) there is an “attach” (paperclip) button. Click on the paperclip and choose contacts. Search for the contact you wish to send and then select that contact, click “done,” and send the contact. Another option would be to go into your “contact” list, choose a contact, go to the “menu” and click “share namecard via,” choose messaging (or email or the best option), then (if you’ve chosen messaging) enter the name of the recipient. You should be carrying business cards of your power partners with you; but when you don’t have them, this is another way to easily share their information.

Just ask for help. The other day someone asked me how to do something. I didn’t know but told her I’d look into it. For this particular issue, I was fairly certain that someone on my personal Facebook page would know (I tend to know a few geeks.) So I posted the request to Facebook and had an answer within a few hours. I’ve also been known to post questions to virtual assistant groups or other groups I’m in.

Just give help. Last week at a networking event I was near a woman who asked a question about business cards (which was touched on in two of my earlier posts). When I got home, I sent her my posts on business card organization, both part 1 and part 2. Later that week I ran into her at (yet another) networking event whereupon she gave a rather complementary testimonial on how helpful and organized I was. This was well worth the 10 minutes of my time it took to send out an email with some links.

What are your favorite tips and tricks? Please share in the comments.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

*In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams has a theory that ballpoint pens slip off to their own planet and live (the ballpoint pen equivalent of) the good life. For their sake, I hope it’s true, because the ballpoints never stay on my desk.