August 23, 2013Comments are off for this post.

How to network in Chicago with my tips

So honored to do a Q&A on networking with Crain's Chicago Business! Check it out, and add your own tips.

And of course, don't miss one of my pet projects, Network In Chicago and its Twitter feed.

August 23, 2013Comments are off for this post.

Friday picks: Top takeaways from #SXSWV2V

This was a tough post to write. Coming back late last Thursday night from SXSW V2V, the premiere event in Las Vegas from SXSW, I've been bubbling over with ideas and motivation. Like the Austin version, there was so much going on, and so much to see and do — and I wanted to see all of it. Unlike Austin, the relatively small size (1500 as opposed to 30,000 registrants!) contributed to a friendly, welcoming vibe. Here, some things that I gleaned from all that time.

1. Be mindful in your social media. I was unhappy with a pricey swag bag from an event, that ended up including very little. The response to my disgruntled tweet? A "sorry" with no response to my follow-up question, and another tweet thanking me for having a great time. Clueless, anyone?

No one is perfect, but treat people with some respect, especially if they've invested in you (and ostensibly, your brand). I had previously signed up for this organization's website, but I'm going to deactivate my profile. There are far more organizations who appreciate the individual.

2. Create more collisions. Downtown Vegas is undergoing an amazing renaissance with quite a bit of thanks going to Zappo's Tony Hsieh. His idea of "colliding" conversations that enable fruitful ideas and partnerships is amazing, and from meeting a few of the downtown entrepreneurs this past week, I can see the effect it is having on the downtown Vegas economy and its people. It's positively inspiring, especially to someone who works alone most of the time!

3. Celebrate your achievements. From Tech Cocktail founder Frank Gruber, it's important to celebrate your achievements, even the smaller ones. It's easy to get bogged down in the minutia of the everyday grind, but taking time to acknowledge your wins makes it much easier to push forward.

4. Be selfish. As Micah Baldwin of Graphicly said in his talk, "You are not your company. Be selfish." In short — take care of yourself, because very often, we are our company. And we need to be in good shape to keep it going.

5. Always be learning. In my sessions with my mentees, I was so impressed with the energy and options they saw. It's a problem so many of us have: We have so much we want to do, but where to focus? My feeling has always been that you do what makes you money and in your spare time (great concept anyway!) work on your passion projects until they can become the focus.

But overall, I was inspired by their eagerness. It reminds me of where I've been and where I want to be — and keep striving for.


Kudos SXSW V2V! I was honored to be a part in 2013, and can't wait for next year.


June 25, 2013Comments are off for this post.

Mentoring at SXSW V2V


I guess spending almost 10 years at anything makes one a bit of an expert — if in persistance (...if not entrepreneurship, business, finance, law, networking, marketing...)!


And SXSW V2V agrees! I'm incredibly excited to be a mentor at the inaugural fest in Las Vegas, NV, August 11-14, 2013.


English: This is a picture of Tony Hsieh, CEO ...

English: This is a picture of Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is SXSW V2V? Like the Austin SXSW, there will be keynotes (I'm excited for Tony Hsieh's), plenty of educational marketing, startup and tech sessions, along with a variety of mentors to counsel on your ideas, projects, portfolios, pitches, startups, and aspirations. I haven't even gotten to the parties yet.


Why Vegas? The downtown tech scene is growing by leaps and bounds — think Zappos for just a start — and this post gives some other great reasons this event is just the beginning.


What are the sessions about? "The goal here is for a less established professional to have a chance to ask career-related advice from a well established professional."


How do you sign up for a session? "Attendees will be invited to sign up for Mentor sessions before SXSW V2V begins (this interface will go live closer to the actual event)."


I can't wait to see you there — and stay tuned for info on discounted badges.

December 1, 2004Comments are off for this post.

New Year’s business resolutions

This past January, I came up with a list of business resolutions for the year. I'm going to recap them for the coming year—with some of what I've learned! Feel free to share your thoughts with our readership!

Delegate. You're not a one-woman or one-man show, so consider delegating your responsibilities.You are the expert in your industry, but that doesn't mean you should continue to focus your efforts on things best left to others—this includes marketing, legal matters, even purchasing office supplies! You may save money and learn something in the long run. UPDATE: This still holds true. There are great resources out there to get your business running, and they may save you money in the long run [I've had several clients reprint materials with me because I can guarantee quality and their original pieces were done poorly—and expensively!]

Plan ahead. It's easy to get lost in the day-to-day operations of our businesses, but that doesn't mean we should stop planning. Take some time on a regular basis—you may find weekly, biweekly or even monthly works for you best—to search out new opportunities, read an industry magazine online, attend a seminar or revise your business plan. It's always better to plan when business is up, rather than when it's down. UPDATE: I, myself, have fallen into this trap more than once. When you're too busy it's easy to forego networking and marketing activities. Now, I always have a stream of marketing materials going out and appointments lined up. I also always ask new clients where they found me and thank my referral sources personally.

Volunteer. Share your expertise or product with a needy group; you'll get a write-off and great exposure, and they'll get your much-needed work. People always remember where they got a break...UPDATE: I've realigned myself with organizations who follow missions I believe in and that make me feel better about volunteering overall.

Promote your business often, and consistently. Check out how your logo is represented on your web site, your stationery, your marketing materials: Is it the same throughout? Differing looks confuse viewers [is this you, or your competitor?] and confuse your brand. Update your web site as often as you can, with success stories, expert tips and articles and fresh design elements. UPDATE: Soon I'll launch a new web site with more articles, links to resources and more, since my web site has proven to be a great marketing tool. I've also found that my new marketing materials are quite well-received and give me the confidence to come out ahead of other small design firms and one-person shops.

Take time out for yourself, and let your employees do the same. If you or your coworkers are overworked, it's not a good recipe for furthering your business. Schedule some downtime in every week. UPDATE: I'll always prescribe to this one! 'Nuff said!

Reevaluate. Take stock of your current marketing and networking efforts, and drop what's not working for you. What can you do in the new year? Keep reading Gizmo Notes, and give us a call if you need some suggestions. UPDATE: I have evaluated my advertising avenues and reallocated resources to those that worked best for me. I've also dropped associations that were drains on time and money and spend more time getting involved in more supportive, engaging ones.

Visit a new networking group. One of the best networking tips I've ever heard [which I can't place the source of; maybe you can?] advised one to join or visit six different types of networking groups if you really want to be seen: Two for your specific industry or job, two for general networking, and two in industries that have nothing to do with what you or any of your clients/competitors do. You never know where that next great lead or friendship may develop. UPDATE: I've benefitted from many different networking groups, creating new business relationships and friendships along the way. 

November 1, 2004Comments are off for this post.

Networking tips

Networking is one of those things you either love or hate: Throw together a bunch of professionals in a room, all looking for new business and partnerships, and it can seem like a pool of sharks, or a great gathering of like-minded individuals interested in helping one another out. Repeat these experiences dozens of times, as I have in the last year and a half, and you'll have a far better idea of what works for you and your business.

Some tips to further your networking:

  • Keep up-to-date. My networking event calendar [yep, personal plug!] is always fresh & you'll never be without something to do.
  • Network both online and off. Check out online systems such as LinkedIn and Twitter and and try to make local and national connections. Don't hit every person with a sales pitch, but rather read each profile and suggest relevant assistance with his or her needs.
  • The rule of three. I can't recall where I heard it, but I've come to believe in variety. Visit at least two networking events in your industry, two in your ideal customer's industries, and two that have nothing to do with your business. The result is a variety of people who can suggest different avenues for you, and you can narrow it down to the associations that work best for you.
  • Get involved. Once you join an association, be sure to join committees and take an active role. This pro bono work can expand your network and make you an indispensable member.
  • Have a pitch in mind. If you can, listen to the other person's pitch, then tailor your elevator pitch to their business. Spend time to get to know them and their needs. If you can nail down what you do in a short sentence or two, you'll keep their attention longer and be easier to refer.
  • Don't discount anyone. If someone is not a perfect prospect but seems like a great person, try to keep talking to them. You never know whom they know, and whom they can refer to you. It also pays to always be nice and not dismissive—your reputation often precedes you.
  • Create goals. Once you enter an event, it can be a free-for-all or a carefully targeted evening where you walk away with a number of good prospects and possible partners. To create the latter situation, set a goal of a specific number of people you will talk to, and a smaller number of qualified prospects you'll get before you leave. As you better your pitch, you'll walk away more often happy with an event.
  • Follow up. It seems like a no-brainer, but following up with those you've met with an email, written note or call is simply good manners, and a lot of people don't even bother.
  • Offer assistance. Especially for new entrepreneurs and those looking for additional help, share your network of reliable contacts and you'll soon become a knowledgeable source. [This is coming to Gizmo's web site soon!] shows that you are interested in keeping in touch.
  • Email your contacts on a regular basis. Once someone has become a contact, keep up with him or her. It doesn't matter if you have a relevant article or a newsletter such as this one, but keeping up with your contacts keeps you in mind and imparts relevant information. It is a low-stress way to keep in touch and share your knowledge.
  • Recharge. Don't knock yourself out networking every night, or even every week. Pick the events that fit your schedule and your budget, and keep selecting down to those that matter to you, and your business will grow markedly.

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