Your Personal Brand and LinkedIn.

linkedin tipsI spoke with a niece of a friend recently who had just graduated from college and we were talking about marketing. I asked her if she was on LinkedIn and offered to connect with her.

She mentioned that she didn’t have her profile filled out just yet. I was surprised since I assumed that the younger generation was more hip on social media and that she would know that LinkedIn is the single most important place to post your digital resume.

My dad works with his local chemical engineering association to line up speakers of interest for events. He recently had a recruiter speak that emphasized LinkedIn as the number one place where businesses and recruiters go to find talent.

If there is only one thing that you do today for your personal brand, go out and make sure your LinkedIn profile is filled out 100%.

  • Optimize your headline for your job search. What keywords will people search for you?
  • Ask friends and colleagues for a reference – LinkedIn makes it easy.
  • Make sure you have skills identified as those are searchable for employers.
  • Fill out past positions with keywords and descriptions of your past jobs.
  • Personalize your LinkedIn URL.
  • Use a professional picture on LinkedIn.
  • Have a blog? Add a link to it. Use anchor text with keywords in the link (select Other and name the blog using keywords).
  • Add social media accounts like Twitter.
  • Check the apps and add any that might apply like Amazon Reading List, Slideshare or TripIt.
  • Join a relevant group in your industry. Talk with others in the group.
  • Ask a question in Answers. The community is very helpful.
  • Keep your profile updated as you go. It will always be a work in progress and updates keep your profile fresh.

Now you are ready to go. Also, build your network before you need it. Connect with everyone that you have done business with and make it an ongoing process.

Small steps can go a long way to ensure your future!

Image by smi23le on Flickr.

Women, Beauty and Advertising.

I recently watched this video from Peter Shankman (to his wife and female friends) that my friend shared on Facebook. He explains that he saw an advertisement at a local Wal-Mart while on a business trip. An ad for women in the clothing section that shows a woman putting on makeup and saying that she can be beautiful. His message is refreshing – that women are beautiful. No matter what time of day, what they are wearing or what makeup they may or may not have on.

So much of advertising to females – women, teens and girls – sets a high standard of beauty. Body image and definitions of beauty for girls usually start with Barbie, princesses and Bratz and it only gets worse from there.

“Girls’ perceptions of their femininity and appropriate behavior are largely formed before they even hit first grade—good reason to consider these dolls a lot more than child’s play. “Until children are about five, they can’t distinguish fantasy from reality,” says Lyn Mikel Brown, Ed.D., coauthor of Packaging Girlhood. “So what they see is how they think the world operates and what it means to be a girl.” – Glamour

Read More http://www.glamour.com/sex-love-life/2007/04/sexy-children#ixzz1wZhKMciH

The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty was one of the first to expose the unfair standards of beauty set by the media and to show real women, confident, independent, beautiful.

“Based on the findings of a major global study,The Real Truth About Beauty: A Global Report, Dove® launched the Campaign for Real Beauty in 2004. The campaign started a global conversation about the need for a wider definition of beauty after the study proved the hypothesis that the definition of beauty had become limiting and unattainable. Among the study’s findings was the statistic that only 2% of women around the world would describe themselves as beautiful.” – Dove

Females grow up comparing themselves to unrealistic images of beauty in magazines, advertisements, on television and in movies.

As a mother of two young girls, it is my hope that they will be more self-confident than I was growing up. I want them to realize that they are beautiful, intelligent, capable women and that they are a gift to this world.

Common Sense Media – Girls and Body Image Tips

Image via BeautyRedefined.net

Business Trends in Social Media.

I recently attended a webinar from Mari Smith and Guy Kawasaki entitled The 7 Hottest Business Trends in Social Media. It was very informative and relevant for all businesses.

The top trends include:

1) Big Brand Bypass – New platforms are allowing consumers to bypass big brands and buy, sell and exchange directly with each other. The internet has leveled the playing field for businesses of all sizes.

2) Humanize to Monetize – Brands need to show a human side to make a more personal connection with consumers. Brands with personality such as Zappos, SouthWest Airlines, Starbucks and Virgin are succeeding online. The size of your business no longer matters. People crave a human connection and receiving acts of kindness.

3) Cause-based Consumers – Consumers’ growing concern over the environment calls for companies to communicate charitable and green initiatives. Companies need to be transparent, share ethics and how policies are shaped and regulated to build trust and credibility.

4) Super Social Status – Badges, gamification, influence scores are all increasing in social media. Status ratings such as Klout are changing the way society regards influence. One example is restaurants using FourSquare and rewarding the mayor and those who check-in to make customers feel extra special.

5) Awesome vs. “Flawesome” – Consumers realize that companies aren’t perfect. Companies that admit they made a mistake and quickly take action to right the wrongs achieve a Flawesome status. Showing transparency and empathy will keep customers and fans satisfied. Handle negative comments and reviews, don’t delete them. 68% of consumers trust reviews more when there are good and bad scores. (Source: Revoo.com January 2012) FedEx and Comcast are great examples of brands embracing social customer service.

6) Mad for MobileMobile device usage outnumbers computers 5-to-1 worldwide. How is your business adapting to mobile marketing? Websites, email, video and online marketing messages need to be optimized for mobile devices.

7) Privacy ParanoiaPrivacy backlash with Facebook and Google show a growing concern about information misuse. State your privacy policy upfront – your terms, what you are going to do with the data – and that will help people feel safer and want to buy more of your products.

Natural Foods Warehouse Crabapple Allergy Friendly Grocery Store Tour & Tasting, Monday May 14th

Natural Foods Warehouse on Crabapple Rd., is hosting an allergy friendly grocery tour and tasting on Monday, May 14th in honor of Food Allergy Awareness Week. This is an opportunity to sample the newest allergy friendly products on the market.

Vendors will be on-site and allergy friendly samples will include Bearitos, Just Tomato, Galaxy, Mina’s, Enjoy Life, Earth Balance, Udi’s, Dandie’s, and Tofutti products, just to name a few!

Allergy friendly cookbooks such as Allergy Free Desserts and the Food Allergy Mama’s Cookbook, plus many more will be available for purchase.

There will be door prizes, giveaways and more!

Food Allergy Kids of Atlanta will receive 5 percent of all sales on that day as part of the allergy friendly grocery store tour & tasting, hosted by Natural Foods Warehouse and Food Allergy Kids of Atlanta. Proceeds will help place food allergy educational materials in Georgia schools.

This nonprofit organization helps raise awareness of food allergy management and the seriousness in food allergy reactions in schools, daycares, and restaurants. The organization also hosts support group meetings, mom’s night out dinners, and provides a safe environment for food allergic children to participate in, through yearly activities and programs.

President and Founder Karen Harris say they plan to use most of the funds to purchase educational materials and stock epinephrine for Georgia schools. Delivering educational presentations and ensuring schools are stocked with life-saving medication can help to reduce the risk of food allergy reactions and fatalities in food allergic students.

Be sure to stop by the resource table to browse our food allergy educational materials. Natural Foods Warehouse hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday with the tour taking place 11 a.m – 2 p.m. The store is located in in Roswell at 12315 Crabapple Rd. For more information, call (404) 512-7983 or visit the FAAW event webpage at www.fakidsatl.org

Food Allergy Awareness Week is May 13 – 19, 2012.

Food Allergy Kids of AtlantaFood Allergy Awareness Week is the week of May 13 – 19, 2012. My daughter was diagnosed at age two with a peanut and egg allergy. She is now five and will be starting kindergarten in the fall.

I am preparing now for keeping her safe at school and that will require meetings with teachers, lunchroom staff, bus drivers and creating a health care plan. I have concerns such as peanuts brought in to the school for Georgia day where they were eaten outside by the playground (the dust is dangerous and can cause anaphylaxis) as well as other concerns such as candygrams given to children and peanut butter used in projects. This is why it is very important to establish a team based approach with your school and to communicate clearly what it is that you want for your child at school and writing it in a plan.

Food Allergy is an immune system response. It occurs when the body mistakes an ingredient in food — usually a protein — as harmful and creates a defense system (antibodies) to fight it. Food allergy symptoms develop when the antibodies are battling the “invading” food.

Symptoms of a food allergy can range from mild to severe, and the amount of food necessary to trigger a reaction varies from person to person and can even be triggered by just a trace amount of an allergy-causing food. Symptoms of a food allergy may include:

Rash or hives
Nausea
Stomach pain
Diarrhea
Itchy skin
Shortness of breath
Chest pain
Swelling of the airways to the lungs
Anaphylaxis (a severe or life-threatening allergic reaction)

Food Allergies are a potentially life-threatening medical condition that afflict as many as 15 million Americans including almost 6 million children.

Children with food allergies: 1 in 13. That’s two per classroom.

Emergency room visits caused by food-allergic reactions each year: 203,000. That’s one every three minutes.

Food allergies are life-altering for everyone involved — not just the kids (I know this from experience!)

Only eight foods account for 90% of the food-allergic reactions in the United States: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish. And for those who may be unaware, even trace amounts of a food allergen can cause a reaction; there are no cures for food allergies.

It is the second anniversary for Food Allergy Kids of Atlanta. Food Allergy Kids of Atlanta was created to support families who manage food allergies, educate those who care for our children, and create a safer environment in the local area for food allergic individuals. I am thankful for this wonderful group of people and their dedication to educating schools and restaurants to help keep our children safe.

If you or your loved one has been diagnosed with a food allergy, or you think they have symptoms of one, go to an allergist and then find a local community support group. My daughter and I have learned so much from the wonderful families and doctors and you really feel like you are not alone as your learn to navigate in this food-centric world.

Resources:

Food Allergy Kids of Atlanta – local nonprofit in Atlanta

Food Allergy Statistics from FAAN, Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network

Food Allergies By The Numbers – FAI

Safe@School flyer – FAAN – Presentation for schools about food allergy management and the seriousness in food allergy reactions (up to 25% of first time reactions in children happen in school.) 

Food Allergy Awareness Week – FAAN

Helpful Information and Documents – FAAN

The Balancing Act (video) – Food Allergy Awareness for Parents

Articles

Tips for Visiting Disney World on a Budget.

Disney World on a BudgetI married into a Disney family. My father in law is a member of the Disney Vacation Club and we have been fortunate to be able to stay at the Old Key West resort for many years.

We visit Disney a few times a year if we are lucky. We have found ways to see some sights on a budget. I just sent this to a friend whose family member is going for the first time.

Disney World on a Budget tips:
1) Pick up Disney toys/stuffed animals/clothes at Wal-Mart/Disney Store before the trip and hide them/bring them out during the trip.

2) Bring snacks and water into the parks – we brought cereal bars, raisins, etc. They check your bag, but it’s allowed. Also, pick up some rain ponchos at a dollar store and bring them in case of rain.

3) Take the monorail around to the Grand Floridian, Polynesian and Contemporary resorts and walk around each resort to see each theme, eat at the restaurants.

4) If you stay at a Disney world resort and plan on going to the parks, each day one park is usually open an hour early and closes late for Disney resort guests only. These hours are called extra magic hours and are available to resort guests only, not the general public. Each guest will have to have a resort pass and their park ticket. Visit www.disneyworld.com, click parks, then park hours for more information and specific days for which park remains open late.

5) Eat at Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney – great sandwich, low cost – they even have breakfast. While you are at Downtown Disney, visit the Lego store and let the kids play with hundreds of legos for free. You can also take a boat ride and see some of the resorts.

6) Walk on Disney’s Boardwalk – it’s just like New Jersey and there are carnival games up and down the boardwalk. There are restaurants, a bakery, ESPN zone with arcade, boat rides, a large family bike rental, you name it! You can see the fireworks at Epcot here too on the bridge.

7) Make a reservation for character dining and make it the end of the brunch time around 11 – 11:30 before it ends. You have more time for characters and less people by then. (our favorite place is at the Contemporary – Chef Mickey’s)

8) You can get a mini-fridge and stay at the Pop Century or All-Star resort and take the bus to the parks. Also buy the refillable mugs and get free drink refills at your resort during your stay. Check out your resort’s activity calendar for outdoor movies, crafts and more at the pool.

9) See the characters at the Epcot Character Spot – they are all lined up inside the building and if you go early, there is little wait time.

10) Go “Around the world” at Epcot:
– We like to eat at the Rose & Crown in England – make advance reservations – good kids menu, great food.
– Get a cheese plate in the bakery in France and have wine.
– Pick out an oyster in Japan and get a pearl – under $20 – our girls LOVE this.
– Sample foods from different countries, watch shows.
– Log flume ride in Norway (a little dark/scary for younger kids – Vikings)
– Take a boat ride from the world showcase back to the other side of Epcot.

For more tips, Sue Rodman from Field Trips with Sue recently wrote Free Things to Do at Disney World – I especially like the free hula lessons at the Polynesian resort.

The key is to get creative and mix the higher cost events with lower cost activities to stay within budget.

What else can you share that helps your family on a Disney trip? Happy trails!

Facebook for Timeline Business Pages – 21 Key Points.

If you have a Facebook fan page, you are probably aware that your page will automatically convert to the new Timeline design on March 30, 2012.

Mari Smith, a social media speaker and author, has put together an informative post which covers the majority of basic settings and features you need to know. She has also included a great infographic that highlights all the key elements of the new layout. [Facebook Timeline for Business Pages – 21 Key Points To Know]

Facebook timeline for pages guide

5 Small Business Website Tips

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Your small business website is the hub of your online marketing strategy.

First impressions of a business happen in a few seconds. Be sure that visitors are engaged with these five tips.

  • Who are you? Clearly define who you are with a clean logo and keywords that people might search for your business.
  • Who is your customer? Describe your target audience and how you can help them. Keep it short and sweet.
  • How can we reach you? Social media buttons, phone number, email and address should be readily available on the home page as well as in the footer on every web page.
  • What are you up to? Be sure your events and news postings are current and the navigational panel is simple to use.
  • Tell me more about yourself. Use your About page to add a human element about your business. Tell your story in a clever way and offer why someone would want to do business with you.

These are just a few small business website tips. A website is a work in progress. It should change and evolve just as your business does. Keep it up to date and regularly ask your employees, customers and other audiences for input.

Seven areas of a site draw users’ attention the most, according to a new eye-tracking study. Is your site up to par?

Is Your School Allergy Ready?

Food allergy symptomsIs your school allergy ready? States are in the process of passing epipen bills to stock schools with epipens in case of food allergy or allergy attack. In fact, 25% of allergic reactions happen at school for the first time.

In Georgia, you can schedule a Food Allergy Kids of Atlanta Safe@School presentation, or share the following online resources to help your school prepare for 2012 – Allergy Ready & Allergy Home both offer online courses for school staff.

Allergy Ready – Free, Interactive Online Course on Managing Food Allergies and Anaphylaxis in Schools http://allergyready.com/

Allergy Home – Managing Food Allergies in Schools: What School Staff Needs to Know http://www.allergyhome.org/schools/management-of-food-allergies-in-school-what-school-staff-need-to-know/

Image from Canada Safety Council.

Email Marketing Infographic, Tips and Tricks

Thrust in the shadow of social media, email marketing is still an important part of an integrated marketing strategy.

For marketers, the challenge is communicating to customers and prospects when, where and how they would like to receive information. Email marketing can help businesses build profiles through list segmentation to provide the best possible experience.

An infographic from Mashable shows the best days and times of day to send an email. It also shows  what words are most effective in subject lines as well as those words that are not. Image