Tag: featured (Page 1 of 4)

Awesomeness in NEPA

NEPA BlogConThere are a lot of cool things happening in NEPA in the next few months and I’m thankful to be a part of several events that are sure to knock your socks off.

NEPA BlogCon: I am SO SO SO SO SO excited to be working with a group of smart, funny, and tech-savvy women from NEPA on this event. We call ourselves the Fearsome Foursome and we are: @mandyboyle @karla_porter @mhyrvnak and @darlingstewie. In a nutshell (pun intended), we squirrelly girls are putting together the 570’s first blogging conference. It’ll be held on September 29 at LCCC with all proceeds going to benefit the NEPA Multicare Alliance and the Arc of Luzerne County. Stay tuned for more updates as we ramp up for our site launch and other schweet shindigs. You can learn more and sign up for updates at NEPABlogCon.com. It’s going to be HOT.

Scranton StorySlam: A few months back, I had the pleasure of attending Scranton’s first StorySlam. The only way I can describe this event is pure energy. Each performer (there’ll be 10 total) will have five minutes to tell a true story from memory, centered around a theme (the upcoming slam theme is “dirty laundry”). The best story, as determined by a panel of judges, wins.  This next Scranton StorySlam will be on June 30 at The Banshee in Downtown Scranton and I’m honored to be on the storytelling roster.

Pecha Kucha Night Scranton: Back in January, the Electric City welcomed Brad Peniston and his brother on their annual trip to somewhere interesting. But they brought something special with them: Pecha Kucha. It’s a show-and-tell format for the 21st century where presenters get exactly six minutes and 40 seconds to tell their story in a speed presenting format. You get 20 slides and 20 seconds for each slide. It’s intense, but a heck of a lot of fun. Brad passed the torch of Pecha Kucha Night Scranton onto Brent and I, so we’re gearing up for the next one in July.

I’m also cooking up a new site/blog/venture idea. It’s something I’ve been thinking about doing for awhile, but recent events (and the advice of an AH-MAZING entrepreneur) has lit a fire under my ass. I’m ready to roll. Stay tuned.

NEPA Blog Fest, Story-Filled Weekends, and Feeling Reinvigorated

Mandy and Mike at Bowl for Kids' Sake

My co-worker, Mike, and I at Bowl for Kids' Sake on Saturday.

Weekends like these, I’m reinvigorated.

On Friday night, I met up with some of NEPA’s finest at the bi-annual NEPA Blog Fest. For a recap of the event, you can check out some of these accounts from fellow bloggers:

The evening included lots of handshaking, a few business cards, meeting my face twin (Hi, Leslie!), and a gigantic inflatable pig. There were a few more colorful characters who took part in the evening, but hey, variety is the spice of life. It was good to put faces to URLs and Twitter handles. Plus, it sparked some ideas for an interesting project. Let’s just call it the Fearsome Foursome for now. Stay tuned!

Yesterday was busy. I started out by bowling with some members of the Solid Cactus crew at Bowl for Kids’ Sake. One hundred and twenty three pins later, I raised a little over $125 for Big Brothers Big Sisters. Awesome cause – and so well organized! That event ran like a well-oiled machine and everyone had a great time. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Afterwards, I visited my grandparents, went to a retirement party with my Dad for a family friend, and then booked it back to the Electric City for the Scranton Story Slam. It was AMAZING! The stories, the energy…I couldn’t believe how many people came. I’d love the chance to be a storyteller next time around. It looked like so much fun. It also got me thinking about the next Pecha Kucha Night Scranton, which is in its early planning stages at the moment. Hopefully, there’ll be some news on that front soon!

Finally, today is one of those days where I’m flip flopping between productivity and complete bum-hood. I’m wearing comfy clothes and huddling under a blanket as the rain makes those little *tink* *tink* *tink* noises on the metal awning. It’s soothing. In between episodes of Scrubs, I’m getting some work done for the day job. March was a crazy month. I’m looking forward to the (hopefully) less crazy month of April.

This weekend also gave me some time to think about my blog. Over the past few months, I’ve spent some time reading through how-to guides, e-books, and even professional blog reviews to get a better idea of what exactly I should be doing with my blog. My problem seems to be focus. I know how to blog for other people (and do so quite well), but blogging for myself seems to be difficult. What should I write about? Should I stick to one topic? Will anyone read it? Will people LIKE what I have to say/write/post?

I’ve been going through the classic self-doubt and confusion that every writer goes through. It’s that moment where you’re like, “Hey! What am I doing? Really? What am I DOING?”

So, I’m going to start from scratch. Here’s what’s on my mind. I’d love to get your feedback:

  • For awhile, my blog has been a blend of personal branding, communications, and then whatever tickles my fancy. So far, it works, but it doesn’t draw a consistent readership or even a consistent amount of engagement. Communication (i.e. PR, marketing, writing, SEO, social media) is what I KNOW and what I do in my day job. I’m passionate about it and I share my knowledge of it on a few other blogs – but should I be sharing it here? Or should this be a place for something else? Maybe another interest?
  • I’m not 100% happy with my blog design. I like it but I don’t like it. It could be because I’m just feeling antsy. Maybe a few tweaks and I’ll feel better. Thoughts?
  • I’m REALLY comfortable guest blogging. Right now, I’m guest blogging on an internet marketing site, an SEO blog, a personal finance blog, and a few others. That’s working for me because it allows for my scattered brain to indulge in its varied interests. But what do I  make THIS blog about? Do I continue tying in what I’m already writing about or do I do something completely new and different? Speaking of which, does this post format work, where I just write about whatever is on my mind at the moment?

All in all, it feels like I’m looking for someone to just say, “Here’s what you should be doing.” Part of me knows that the answer has to come from within myself. It’s my blog and I need to actually like what I write about. But I want to write for me and for YOU.

I’ll think on this for awhile, but I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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They Don’t Make Them Like That Anymore

When I was a small child, my great-grandfather introduced me to the movie business. It wasn’t in any sort of dramatic way. Mostly, it was looking through his old photo albums at pictures of him standing in the lobby of the Comerford, Ritz, and Gateway Cinemas. Men in suits lined up with movie posters in the background. As my aunt likes to say, “The Boys Club.”

My great-grandfather was in the movie business for many years. He started out as a footman and usher and worked his way up to a managerial position for several movie theaters. He had a great run and looked back on his memories affectionately. But there was one thing that he always used to say that stuck with me: “They don’t make them like that anymore.” Movies.

While I was growing up in a world of push-the-boundaries plot line, special effects, and the beginnings of computer animation, he was looking back at cinematic epics, Technicolor, and the famed movie musical. As a result, I got exposed to a different time.  He and I would watch old films together whenever they aired on TV. I can remember the first one we watched together. The Wizard of Oz with the fabulous Judy Garland. I was in love. Ever since I can remember my Poppy talking about the movies and watching them with him, I was hooked on that silver screen.

A few weeks ago, I was reminded of what made me fall in love in the first place. I went to see The Artist.

Trailer #1

The Artist





Today’s movies tend to assault the senses. Incredibly loud sound effects, special effects out the wazoo, and camera work to make your head spin. Unfortunately, many are thin on story. But then, every now and then, you get a stunner. What I loved most about The Artist is that it told a story – beautifully – without spoken dialogue.

I’ll admit – it took a few scenes to get used to the fact that this was a “silent” film.  It was odd not to hear John Goodman’s booming voice when I saw him on screen, or hear the tap tap tap of heels on pavement. But then again, I didn’t need to. After the first few scenes, I caught on to the magic of the film and just ENJOYED myself. No expectations. No predictions on how the story would go. I was just completely captivated – and that’s what reminded me of why I love movies so much.

It’s easy for a movie to tug at my heartstrings, and with The Artist, it did so in more ways than one.

I’m a movie crier, so if there’s a trailer featuring a running horse or an emotional montage, forget about it. I’m gone. Break out the Kleenex. The Artist was able to make me cry and I didn’t need to hear anything besides the music or alternately, the silence, to be moved. But I left the theater with a sense of hope, having smiled through one of the best scenes in the film (I won’t spoil it for you). Not to mention, The Artist was rare in that it could make me both genuinely laugh and cry all at once. You laugh, you cry…what more could you ask for your price of admission?

But besides the power of what was happening on the screen, I was also moved by the memory of sitting with my great-grandfather, watching The Wizard of Oz. Like the transition from black and white to color as Dorothy enters Oz, The Artist tells its story in a way that’s so unique from what we’re used to. So lively but simple.  It reawakens our senses with just a few lines of spoken dialogue right at the end, reminding us that stories happen everywhere, in every medium.

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10 Ways to Piss Off Your Twitter Followers

Ah, the joys of Twitter. Some days, Twitter can be a great place for information and conversation. On other days, it’s damn annoying. It’s amazing to me how so many people haven’t picked up on what works and what doesn’t work on this social network. As for what doesn’t work, well, here are 10 easy ways to piss off your Twitter followers:

  1. Auto DMs. That’s all I’m going to say.
  2. Only retweeting other people’s tweets. C’mon. Say something! Anything!
  3. Never following anyone back because you a.) don’t know how to use Twitter or b.) are a snob.
  4. Include the words “guru” or “expert” in your bio.
  5. Leave your default user picture as an egg.
  6. Tweet the same message on 6 different accounts.
  7. Make three tweets a year.
  8. Tweet only links. All day, every day.
  9. Retweet something without actually opening the link, watching the video, reading the post, etc.
  10. Only tweet about yourself, your work,  your achievements, you, you, and more you.
Now, we’re all not perfect. In fact, I bet all of us have done at least one of these things at one time or another  – especially retweeting without reading or only making time to retweet without adding to the conversation.
Forget about the Klout score and what the “experts” are telling you to do.The easiest way to succeed (and enjoy yourself) on Twitter is to not over think everything. Just be yourself, have some fun, and actually join in on the conversation. Share things of value. Respond to other people. Ask questions. Take a step into the stream.
Treat Twitter like a party. Don’t be the drunk girl that falls down stairs. Don’t be the guy that tries to sell you something as soon as the handshake is over. Don’t be the person who stands in the corner staring at the punch bowl all night long. I can’t promise that it’ll be a great experience every time, but I can promise that you’ll feel better about Twitter if you make yourself more of a party guest (or a party host) instead of someone who becomes the uninvited later on.


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Building The Brand: LinkedIn

Image representing LinkedIn as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

So, when I sat down to write this post on building a personal brand using LinkedIn, I had a few false starts. Over the course of the past few months, LinkedIn has played a pretty big part of my activities online, so I needed to find my focus before writing about how I actually utilize this network. First, it started with someone sending me information about a job that I should apply for. Then, a friend asked me about how to beef up her profile and another asked for help on using the LinkedIn advertising network. Finally, last week, I got a promotion at work. Needless to say, my profile needed to be spruced up.

As for what to do with your LinkedIn profile, well, therein lies the challenge. If you’re already active on Facebook and Twitter, you might not want to jump right in to being active on another network. But if you’re job searching and want an opportunity to get some attention, you should absolutely be a presence on LinkedIn. For me, LinkedIn is where I get my industry questions answered. It’s also a place for me to establish a bit of credibility because really, at the end of the day, that’s what your online reputation is all about.

So, let’s dive into the three main parts of LinkedIn that I think are critical to personal branding: your profile, LinkedIn Answers, and LinkedIn Groups.

The first thing that you should know about LinkedIn is that it allows for you to announce your skills to the world, as well as the network you’ve built on there. Skills such as public speaking, writing, and marketing are just a few of the things you can emphasize when you put together your LinkedIn profile and luckily, this is a network that is very flexible. With tons of apps to be added to your profile, searchable skill sets, a resume-like setup, and the option for people to recommend you with testimonials, LinkedIn is a job searcher and networker’s best friend.  This is where professionals find each other. 

So, if you:

  • Are looking for a job,
  • Want to expand a skill set,
  • Need to build up your network,
  • Just graduated and need to start building a personal brand,
  • Want to improve your online visibility and reputation,
  • Want to establish yourself as an industry expert,
LinkedIn is the place to be.

LinkedIn Answers

One of my absolute favorite features of LinkedIn is the answers community. It’s sort of like Yahoo! Answers, only without the teenage drama. Most of the questions are industry or professional base, so in a way, you get to use this feature to pick the brains of people in the business without having to pay for a consulting fee. In the past, I’ve asked questions about copywriting, public relations pitching, and what books I should be reading outside of school, but really, you could ask about anything. If you have a question about what you should be doing or how to handle a professional or work-related issue, then this is a wonderful and free resource to consult. Plus, it’s a great way to expand your network.

When you participate in the LinkedIn Answers, you have the option to not just ask questions – you can answer them too. Answering questions and connecting with other professionals in this community is a great way to expand your personal network and show off your expertise. If someone sees that you’re a frequent presence in the Answers, they may come to know you as an expert in a particular subject or a resource in another. If they see you asking lots of questions, they may think that you’re someone who is always learning and inquisitive – two skills that can be a great match for a variety of positions. I mean, there’s no way to really tell how you’ll be perceived, but one thing is for sure: activity on LinkedIn will keep you at the forefront of your network’s minds and if you’re looking for a job, being on someone’s mind is a good thing.

Also, people want to connect with other knowledgeable people in their industry. When you show that you’re knowledgeable, people notice and may seek you out to connect with you to pick your brain, offer you a job, or just say, “hello.” All good things.

My Profile

Now, when it comes to your LinkedIn profile, this is where the personal branding business comes in. If you look at my LinkedIn page, you’ll see that I’ve filled it out almost in its entirety. Taking advantage of the space it offers is a good thing for me, since it gives you a much more well-rounded and complete picture of someone. There’s only so much a resume can tell you. LinkedIn lets you be creative and more importantly, expand upon those resume items that you usually note in your online profiles: position name, company, dates worked.

As for best practices, here are my biggest takeaways:

  • Underneath your name, in the headline, that’s reputation gold. Most LinkedIn users will notice your headline, name, and photo in quick succession and those are the things they remember (in my ultimate geekyness, I actually read a study about this a few weeks ago). So, for that headline, make it count. Most people go with their current job title, but you can also get creative with it.
  • In your profile, I think it’s also good to list some of your responsibilities and experiences to go along with your job, just like you would a resume. Maybe put 3-5 or so points below each position held, detailing what you did as well as any significant successes (e.g. Aided in coordinating Project X; grew budget by 50%, etc.).  This gives dimension to the jobs you’ve listed and can be a great way to emphasize what you can do.
  • Don’t forget about the Skills section. Add in specific skills, like Microsoft Word, as well as more “abstract” skills, like marketing, communication, project management, organization, public speaking, etc. These are things that people look at and say, “Hey, this is someone that could really fit well with the organization.”
  • Choose a professional picture. For the love of God, this is not Facebook. A simple head shot where you can clearly make out that it’s you will do. Aside from the headline and your name, this is one of the most heavily viewed areas of your LinkedIn profile.
  • Beef up your additional information too. Don’t be afraid to share a wide array of interests. If you love cake decorating, say so! Really into yoga? Note it! Again, this is something that people can connect with you over. Plus, it gives a much more “human” side to your professional achievements.
  • Link to your Facebook, Twitter, website, etc. If content is part of what you do,  having touch points for people to find it is important.

You can also play around with different LinkedIn add-ons, like WordPress, SlideShare, Amazon Book List, etc. to add dimension as well as portfolio material. Anything that you can share to show another user who you are and how you’d fit in their network makes a difference.

Using the SlideShare LinkedIn app, I’ve added a copy of my portfolio. Granted, my portfolio is always a work in progress, but this was a great way for me to show a little bit more about the work I’ve done without cluttering up the page. My portfolio is just your basic PowerPoint presentation. I’ll get into my portfolio in more detail in another post, but the goal is to convey examples of some of my best work in a variety of media. That media option is HUGE when  you’re job searching because it eliminates that extra step for people finding your work. You put everything you want right in front of them. Convenience is a powerful thing.

Finally, get some recommendations.  People may give these to you without asking, but don’t be afraid to ask for them if you need them. You’ll want to reach out to your connections and try to get recommendations for your work personally, academically, and professionally. There’s a reason that word of mouth is so powerful. Recommendations make you more than a resume – they make you a person. They establish trust. They give a feel for what you’re like.

LinkedIn Groups

I love the groups feature. Just like Facebook Groups or Facebook Business Pages, LinkedIn groups is a place where you can connect with others, expand your network, and again, show off your industry expertise. If LinkedIn Answers is like the library, then LinkedIn Groups is like that coffee shop you really like. Conversation is the name of the game in Groups, so if you want to have some more in-depth discussion on a particular industry issue or get some thoughts or feedback on some of your recent work, a Group may be the place to do it.

Most groups are divided into categories based on geographic location, industry, interest, professional society, etc. There is no shortage of opportunity for you to connect over something you have in common with others. Groups (as well as Answers and your profile) can sometimes lead to job offers or introductions to new people. They can also result in real-life connections, speaking invitations, collaborative projects…the list really goes on and on.

I’m sometimes bad about participating in groups. I would say about 80 to 90 percent of the time, I’m a lurker. I’m observing the conversations taking place. I should really chime in more, but sometimes, it’s just nice to listen.

As for developing your LinkedIn presence, I could write about how I manage my page, how I expand my network, etc. But I’ll save those topics for other posts in the future. These are really the three core features that I feel are most important if you’re just getting started with LinkedIn or want to start making something of your page.

Thoughts? Feedback? Discussion is welcomed!

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