This week a woman looked me in the eyes, really stared into my soul trying to see… me. She was looking; searching for meaning, depth, story. And then she smiled.
Just as she expected, it was there. She didn’t learn my story, but she knew there was one hidden in the quiet way I returned her gaze unflinchingly.
“You are a shining star! Keep on Manifesting your Magnificence!”
Could she see the tears I’ve shed along the way? The doubt I’ve felt on my path? The waiting for life to begin? Or was it the fact that I was there at all? I stood in front of her with the words ‘Be Bold’ echoing in my head. Could she hear them? Was she saying them?
‘Dream big,’ her eyes whispered.
I was at a book launch and inspirational evening hosted by TOAST! London. They invite visionaries to speak and share their stories of how they beat the odds, struggle against life and its challenges, and thrive, supporting their communities along the way. The woman who shook my hand was one of the authors in the book; a trailblazer in her own right. And she recognized something in me that spoke to her.
Do it. Take the step. Push yourself. Don’t be afraid. You will thrive. I have faith in you. Shed your insecurities and have faith in you too.
I get emails on a fairly regular basis from individuals and companies who would like to see me try out, read or review their product/book/event. Some go to my spam box and stay there. I am not kind enough to give decent reviews to everything and everyone out there. While I try to be honest, I also try to offer some modicum of positivity and if your event is too far, your book needs too much more editing, or your product just doesn’t jive in my world, I can’t help you. I don’t need to waste either of our time.
That being said, I have also come across some great offers. One of them was an offer to attend the upcoming Green Living Show in Toronto, Ontario. This year’s show is being held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre from April 7-9, 2017. It features simple solutions for leading a healthy and sustainable lifestyle, which is something I already support. With vendors including green-living chefs, exhibitors in the fashion and beauty industry, and artisans in the Ontario Wood section, I am excited to see what’s on offer.
The Green Living Show is Canada’s largest consumer show dedicated to simple solutions for leading a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.
What will I come away with? The opportunity to get an insider look into a successful trade show. A chance to meet green leaders in my community. Ideas for upcoming posts for existing clients. Maybe the opportunity to meet other bloggers, freelance writers, or potential clients who need someone to give a little oomph to their social media platforms. Or maybe just some green produce bags that I’ve been eyeing for a while.
The date is coming up fast, so stay tuned to hear how the show turns out. I can’t wait to share some of the green living products and ideas I come across with you and hope to maybe find some products that resonate with my family. Can’t wait to go Green!
This summer I attended a staff appreciation barbeque for a client. The hosts are great people and I had a lovely evening, chatting with guests, enjoying a campfire and dining on a sumptuous meal. Yes, I had seconds of everything, including dessert. It was that good.
As I am a sucker for delicious fare, I had to ask the chef about the yummy dishes he had prepared. Well, one thing led to another and the conversation swung around to social media. Chef Chad was in the process of setting up a new catering business. He had worked in several upscale restaurants over the years, but was hungering for a change. Starting his own business was great, but getting the word out about it was a different matter entirely. He was curious about what I did for CLC Tree Services. I don’t think he realized what he was getting into when he asked.
When I have the opportunity to speak about the merits of social media with people not overly familiar with it I have been known to go on, and on, and on… It apparently is a bit of a passion. So when Chad asked, “What’s a blog?”, I launched into my spiel.
As you are reading this, you probably already have some idea, but if you are new to blogging, give me a moment to share my passion. Old forms of advertising are falling by the wayside. The Yellow Pages have shrunk and their circulation is being curtailed. When people want to find information on something or locate a business, they pull out their smartphones and google it. Companies who do not have a presence online are losing out on this huge market where not only can you advertise that you exist, but you are can establish yourself as an expert in your chosen field, whether that be tree services, real estate, plumbing or junk removal (yes, I have worked for all of these clients). If you have a business, you need that market of people who want your goods or services. Social media helps them find you.
So how does it work? For starters, you can set up a website. Websites serve as a great place to let people search for what you have to offer. They want baby clothes? You’ve got them! Their children want to take an art class? You’ve got classes starting next week. In theory, it gives the public easy access to what they want to know.
BUT what about your competition? There might be dozens, hundreds or thousands of other companies out there who are offering the same or similar services/products. When people go searching for something and turn up a million hits, typically they will only peruse the first page or two of results. Where you want your business to be is on that first page. You have to be, or else consumers will never find you (unless they already know you exist and are specifically seeking you out). How do you up your chances of getting onto that all-important first page in search results? Search engines have to find you searchable.
Have I lost you yet? Stay with me. I’m getting to an important point here.
So search engines are constantly scouring the net for information. No easy task, as there are over 4.7 billion indexed pages out there. Mind-boggling in scope really. Finding your business on the web is equivalent to searching for that proverbial needle in a haystack.
Don’t be discouraged!
There is a way to increase your chances of being found. Most search engines tend to return local sites first (if you allow them to know your location or keep some cookies). That helps. Having a current website gives them a landing space too. The fresher your content, the more recently the web crawlers will visit your site. But if all you have is a website that was updated months or years ago, then I hate to tell you, but the search engines won’t have visited. And if they forget you exist, they aren’t going to be informing those desired customers you want that you exist either. You have to remind them that you exist.
“How?” you ask.
You have to be active. No one experts your website to be a constantly changing thing, so that is where social media comes in. The best way to be remind those search engines you exist is by publishing fresh content regularly. And there are lots of ways of doing that. I bet you can think of a few without me even having to tell you. There’s Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, not to mention the humble blog. Every time you publish a status update, picture, tweet or whatever, the search engines immediately visit. The more you do that, the more often they visit.
Are you getting it yet? I think this is where overwhelmed people often have light bulbs start to glow in their heads. In order to be noticed, you have to make yourself noticeable. Makes sense, right?
I should note that quality is still important. It is one thing to make a presence and have web crawlers visit, but who you really want to visit are those customers. And in order for them to visit and convert to a fan and customer, you need to impress them with your quality of service and expertise.
If it seems like a lot to process, it is. And I realize it can be hard to find the time to jump into social networking, when you already have a company to run. I get it. But every little bit helps. And sometimes that means asking for help. Hence how I got involved in social networking myself. I understand enough about it to play the game. I am not necessarily active everywhere nor even on every social platform, but I do what I can. And as I am a writer by trade, I can help companies who would like to create a bit more presence do that. I blog. And I blog for others who need someone who is a bit more of an expert on the platform than they are. I have the time to research, write and edit articles on a wide variety of topics.
There are a few people who appreciate that enough that I have been working with them for a while. Now Chef Chad is interested too. I don’t profess to be an expert on everything, but I can manipulate words well enough to make an impact. Some people call me wordy, but when I start talking social media, I’ve had more than one audience interested. And if that gets me a few new clients at the end of the day, I guess we can all be happy about that.
After my conversation with Chad this summer, it got me invited to a #FoodBlogTour in Chatham, so I don’t regret a thing. More delicious Field to Fork meals for me makes me plump and happy. And happy to keep talking social media to whomever wants to listen.
So my coffee date got rescheduled. Right after I got all excited and wrote my last post about it. Sigh… ☹
But I am not going to let that get me down. As writers, we are slaves to deadlines and I completely respect that. So I used the setback to push me a little in other directions. Meeting new writers is great, but I happen to already know some great writers and it’s high time I reconnected with them too. So today I will be meeting with the lovely and talented Suzanne for a cup of conversation in the village.
Working from home is great, but the routine needs to be shaken up a bit every once in a while with human interaction. And I am due. I am looking forward to hearing about her life, her writing, and the teaching she does. I just might share a bit of my journey too. Our paths have had a similar bend that somehow drew us together and I value sharing those stories to benefit each other.
And I have to share that Suzanne inspires me. She faces the hurdles life throws at her and keeps going. Even better, she writes about them. I know she writes to understand, to process and to pull strength from those around her. We all have challenges and hers have been monumental in the last few years. Writing has been a way for her to weather her storms. While she might not always see her strength, I do, and I suspect she will emerge larger than life when she least expects it.
Why? I believe.
I believe in the power of hurt to transform. I believe in the power of self to fall on your knees, but continue to crawl. I believe in opening your eyes in the morning, even when you don’t know what the day will hold. I believe that tomorrow holds magic. And promise. And that we can all access that if only we believe.
Optimist? Sounds like it. But without the power of positive thought I wouldn’t have kept going when life threw storms my way. I wouldn’t have started writing my pains, sorrows and questions in journals even when those words wouldn’t change the outcome of the day. And I certainly would have put the idea of writing a book out of my head long ago. Those stories aren’t dead though. They still want to be told. And they will be. Because writing is sharing, and sharing helps to lighten many loads. And sometimes all it takes is a little inspiration from friends to keep those words alive.
So today I look forward to sharing a few words with an amazing person and basking in the inspiration I know she will fill me with, whether she realizes it or not.
Yesterday, I spent the day in Talbotville, ON learning about aerial rescues for arborists. No, I haven’t changed my career path. I have a client who is a tree services company and they offered me the opportunity to accompany their crew on a training day. Their thoughts were that I might learn something new about the industry to potentially share on their blog.
And lunch was included. I never pass up a free lunch.
One of the perks of working from home is that I have the opportunity to attend events like this. I had to make some minor arrangements for getting my kids to and from school, but other than that it was an excellent chance to get out and learn more about what my client does on a daily basis and the risks they face. I am a writer and can research anything I need to in order to write an interesting article about anything tree related (or anything else for that matter), but there is something to be said for real-time experience. I got to talk to the crew in person, plus other tree service companies, industry professionals and the instructors that were there. You cannot beat that for research.
I wrote pages of notes, which I now have to sift through for story ideas, but the better part of the day was the interactions. I got personal stories from the people I met. I took pictures of people and actual products that they use on the job. I listened to the instructor explain best practices in the language of the field and watched as the people in attendance soaked it all in. Plus I exchanged business cards with a few people, who may or may not cross my path again in the future.
The opportunity for networking wasn’t lost on me. Working from home is usually a solitary existence, so days when I have the excuse to get out and be amongst people are a blessing. Sharing the story of what I do and how I promote social media for clients is good for me, them and anyone who is still wondering whether they should be social too. I realize that not everyone has the time or inclination to do it themselves, but any business small or large that is operating today needs to face facts that they need to be social if they want to survive. And their lack of time and skill is what gives me a job. I can talk the talk and use the jargon. And like to think that I do a reasonable job of it. When I hear tell that industry professionals read and follow my client’s blog and social media sites, it tells me that I am doing something right.
So while I might not be able to hog-tie a beaner and personally tie in to a victim to lower them out of a tree, my client has had a refresher course in it and I have a better idea of what they face on a daily basis. A few people have personally asked me to send them a link to the article I will write, so I consider that a perk for my client. And I know a few others have thought a little more on the world of social media and how they can maximize or at least enter it. Promoting Social Media benefits the industry and my place in it, so I consider it a day well spent.