Modern Rolodex

As a reporter, sources were key to my success. In public relations, it’s all about networking. Either way, business cards are the lifeblood of communicators.

20141029_112515I miss the days of my big round Rolodex. I could spin it and find anyone at my fingertips.

Yes, I know I can store and search for contacts using electronic contacts or LinkedIn. For me, though, there is a difference – I can no longer see the business card. Sometimes I forget the person’s name, but I can clearly recall the logo or image on the business card.

One of my contacts has his image artfully drawn on it. I can forget his name, but I don’t forget the card. Or I’ll recall that you work at Ohio State University, but, again, I can’t remember your name. I spin the Rolodex and suddenly I see the Ohio State logo. I’ve found you.

So without the Rolodex, I’ve struggled. Until recently. That’s when I heard Jill Chappell say, “I get paid for my Rolodex, so it is really important that I know who these people are.”

She calls herself a professional stalker, but in actuality she books interviews for Wolf Blitzer on CNN.

When she files a person’s name and details, she puts a key word under the company name. That key word helps her remember what she needs to know about a person. If she has met a doctor who treated Ebola, she puts the word Ebola in the company name. When she searches for Ebola, the doctor’s name appears. She includes other critical details, including company name, in the notes section.

I’ve totally embraced this idea. Everyone I met at a recent conference is now listed in my contacts under the same company name – that of the conference.

Thanks for a genius idea Jill!

What I wish I knew when I was new

Listening and researching can place you on the road to success. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

Listening and researching can place you on the road to success. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

You are starting a new job. Congratulations!

Are you ready for the first few months on the job? Here are a few things to consider:

Meet your colleagues within your division. You should know what each person’s role is. In addition, they can provide you with important information about how to do your job, what paperwork you need to complete and who really knows the 4-1-1. They also can provide you with practical tips, such as the best places to eat.

Secure early wins. You are new and want to prove yourself. That’s great, but you don’t want to over promise and under deliver. Instead, identify opportunities to build personal credibility. At one company, my boss told me that he would consider my hire a success, if we had a newsletter within the year. I delivered a newsletter within the first quarter, and continued to publish it regularly during my tenure.

Listen. In the first few weeks, meet with key stakeholders. Hear what they have to say. Learn about what opportunities exist for success. More importantly, learn where the land mines exist. Don’t come in thinking you have all of the answers. Instead listen to people who can help you understand the environment.

Research. Ideally, you reviewed the annual report, website and social media sites, as well as any news clips about the organization before you interviewed. Now that you are on staff, find out if there are other documents with which you should be familiar. You most likely won’t have time to read them during the day, so make them your homework.

If you follow these suggestions, you should be on the road to success.

How not to give a good presenation

At least once each year, I attend a workshop, lecture or training in which the speaker does not do the topic or himself justice.

If you are giving a presentation, here are four things NOT to do:

  1. Don’t read the slides. Your back should never be to the audience. Don’t try cheating by standing sideways. I’ll allow the reading of one slide if it’s a quote, but realistically, we can all read the quote so instead tell us why the quote resonated with you. As for the rest of your slides, if I wanted to read them, I could go on SlideShare or another sharing site and find relevant slides on the topic. I want to hear from you the expert. I want to hear your insights and your experiences.
  2. Don’t be boring in your delivery. A monotone delivery will put the audience to sleep. Ideally, you should be passionate about the subject and your energy will excite us, and we’ll be engaged with you and/or the subject. If you are that bored, you should not be presenting. One of the pieces of advice I was given when I first started offering workshops was to stand in front of the audience, smile and share how delighted you are to be presenting. It sets a positive tone for everyone.
  3. Don’t go past your time. This is rude on many levels. You aren’t being respectful of my time as an audience member. If you are on a panel, you aren’t being respectful of the other speakers. And you aren’t being respectful of the venue, which most likely needs to clear the room to set up for the next event. To avoid running long, be sure to practice. You should always ask your facilitator how long he expects you to speak and adjust your talk accordingly.
  4. Don’t deliver something other than your topic. Most speakers possess a wide skill set. But if the program tells the audience they are going to get tips on building an airplane, don’t give them tips on building a sailboat. The audience is there because they expect to learn something about the topic, and you are the person who will deliver it.

If you follow these tips, you most likely will deliver a workshop or presentation that not only resonates with the audience, but leaves them wanting more.

Good luck!

Speaker checklist for presentations

Several years ago I was asked to give a crisis communications presentation for a group to which I did not belong. It was, however, a group of professional communications so I was confident that everything would run smoothly.


Computer, presentation remote, jump drive

Having the right tools is essential to your success as a speaker. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

Overall, it did run smoothly except that the podium with the laptop and keyboard sat further back from the audience and there was no remote clicker. The result was that I needed to remain tethered to the podium so I could advance the slides. It was frustrating.

The next weekend I went out and purchased a presentation remote so that I would always be able to advance my slides.

Many facilities provide the projector and computer, but  I have run into problems with a jump drive not working on the provided computer. The result is that I bring my laptop and a jump drive, knowing that one will work. I’ve even emailed my presentation to the facilitator as a third back-up.

I always plan my outfit in advance. I need to stand out but not to the point that the audience is distracted by the stripes on my suit or by dangling earrings. It’s also important to ensure that you are comfortable in your clothes. If you are tugging at your top or grimacing because your shoes are too tight, it will show in your presentation.

Most organizations have water available for their speakers, but just in case, it’s good to bring your own.

Finally, be sure that your contact information is easily accessible. My final slide isn’t “Questions,” but rather my name and contact details, including email and Twitter handle. It’s also my first slide so that individuals who want to tweet during the presentation can do so. I also have business cards available. I set them out on a table so that individuals don’t have to wait in a line to ask me for my card.

Finding your slow

When is the last time you did nothing?

Sitting and checking your Facebook updates or reading email is not nothing.

Today we are all so wired and connected that we forget to slow down. If we don’t slow down, though, we don’t recharge, which keeps us from being at our best.

Here are a few suggestions for slowing down:

Feed the birds. In “Mary Poppins” an old lady sits on the steps of St. Paul’s and sings, “Feed the birds, tuppence a bag.” It’s good advice. I have several bird feeders and I sit and watch the birds come to eat. It’s fun to identify them and watch how they interact with each other. I often sit for 20 minutes or longer simply watching. I don’t think about anything.

Unplan your vacation. Yes, you need a destination and you should know something about where you are going and where you will stay. But after that, don’t plan anything. Wake up each morning and then decide. Better yet, walk out the door of your hotel and start walking. We did that once in London and came upon the premiere of one of the Star Wars movies. Outside the theater were Storm Troopers so we had our photo taken. I think that day we had planned to go to the Tower of London. It’s been there since 1078, but how often do you get to hang out with Storm Troopers?

Eat at a table. This does not mean your desk. Take time to eat lunch. In the evenings, even if you pick-up your dinner, sit down at the table and eat it, preferably with no television. If you ordered carry out, take the food out of the plastic and Styrofoam and put it on a plate. Enjoy the taste, the sight and the smell of your food. In other words, slow down and savor the meal.

Adult coloring books are a great way to slow down (photo by Cynthia Price).

Adult coloring books are a great way to slow down (photo by Cynthia Price).

Connect with nature. This can be anything from walking in a park to planting a small garden. If you don’t have room for a garden join a community garden. The idea is to play in the dirt, feel the grass beneath your feet and look up at the sun and clouds.

Color. The latest trend is coloring books for adults. I’ve been coloring my entire life. I have always find it relaxing. I guess I was just a head of the trend. I often purchase a child’s coloring book from the dollar store, but now there is an entire line of coloring books for adults. I just bought “Splendid Cities: Color Your Way to Calm” by Rosie Goodwin and Alice Chadwick (artists). Not only does it relax me it lets me daydream about my next travel destination.

How do you find your slow?

Future of blogging

Capture2014Most people find my blog not by visiting it, but by reading it on a variety of social media sites. That’s part of the future of blogging, which is really the here and now.

Other things to consider with a blog include:

Video and image focused Visuals are powerful when used to communicate an appropriate message. According to MDGAdvertising articles with images get 94 percent more total views.

Mobile focused This is one I don’t have to worry about because my blog is hosted by WordPress, which is mobile optimized. However, if you built your own site, you need to be sure you are mobile optimized. Global Web Index found that 80 percent of internet users own a smartphone. And The Radicati Group, a technology market research firm, found that mobile devices in use, including phones and tables, will grow from more than 9.5 billion in 2015 to more than 14.8 billion by 2019

Varied content Variety is the spice of life, and that maxim holds true with blogging. I switch up my content. Sometimes I’ll summarize a workshop I attended and share key take-aways. Other times, I’ll offer a how-to guide. Sometimes, I try to be a bit more creative while still sharing communications or leadership tips.

Attention grabbing headlines I recently won a first-place award for headline writing so I must be doing something right. I try to write headlines that let you know what the topic will truly be about. Sometimes, though, my uber-creative side comes out and wants to make the reader guess as to the real subject matter. When that happens, I usually rewrite the headline. After all, the blog is for you the reader; not for me.

As for the future of this blog, I’m continuing with it. I’m also pulling together previously published posts for a book. I’ve developed a plan, and now I just need to work the plan.

Driving traffic to your blog

Field of Dreams“If you build it, they will come” works in the movie Field of Dreams, but it doesn’t work when you write a blog.

That was the advice Jeff Wilson of PadillaCRT shared with a group of PR practitioners recently.

He’s right. You can’t write a blog, post it and expect that people will find it, let alone visit it.  Recent studies show that more than 60 percent of companies have a blog. A study by IBM notes that 80 percent of companies with blogs have five posts or less. Five posts do not make a blog, nor does it entice one to come back.

I’ve written about the care and feeding of a blog. Today, I wanted to share how I go about driving traffic to my blog so that people will come to it. Heck, maybe Kevin Costner will visit my blog!

Post regularly. I’ve been writing my blog for six years, consistently posting each week. I achieve this by creating a content calendar. I go through the calendar and identify possible topics and upcoming workshops I will attend, which could provide fodder. I also schedule time to research, write and edit. I also spend time finding artwork – usually by taking photos – to illustrate the blog.

Share automatically. I have my blog set up to automatically post to my Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. If anyone comments on the blog on one of those sites, I respond. I am able to do this quickly because I have notifications turned on. Forbes reported that social media is now the number one driver of all website referral traffic based on a study by Shareaholic.

Tweet often. One advice I was given was to write five to 10 tweets for each blog post I write. My blogs are intentionally short. If I followed this advice my tweets could conceivably be longer than the original post! I do try to write three to five tweets for each post. It’s part of the writing process, and I schedule the tweets for the immediate weeks after the post has published. These tweets help me reach others who currently are not reading my blog.

Feature your blog on your website You want your readers to easily find your blog. If you are a company, the blog should feed into the main website. For me, my blog is my website, so I have enhanced the blog with additional pages that I want to share with my readers. This is important as I continue to build my coaching business.