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smAlbany Small Business Day 2010

[tweetmeme] I started my day remembering a blog I’d read the night prior.  Tea Contains Less Caffeine Than Coffee on the Broken Secrets blog.  I couldn’t get my caffeine soon enough!  I rarely drink coffee, but when I do I get the caffeine kick I need.  Since I knew I’d be talking to people though – I did them all a favor and DIDN’T drink coffee.  Coffee breath stays with me all day — so I opted for Mountain Dew Typhoon instead.  (I needed something caffeinated to help me function on 2 hours sleep!)

College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering

Once Michael and I checked in at the registration desk and mingled some, we settled in to the auditorium at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering building (For those that don’t know it’s the big glass building at the corner of Fuller Road and Washington Avenue Ext. in Albany)

Below are some notes about the forums that were offered.
I found as I started writing this that it was VERY difficult to keep up with all the information the panels were presenting.  Many of the following sections will appear more as “notes” vs. a “narrative.”

Times Union:  Tools for Small Business Success

Speaker: Tena Tyler – News and Information Services Senior Editor 518.454.5324

To have your business information printed in the Times Union you need to understand your audience.  You need to know how to speak their language.  She stressed that a business needs to know when to call an editor.  If you’ve sent in a press release and two weeks have passed and it hasn’t been published, make sure you call in.  Tena stated that one of the biggest problems with small businesses in the region is that they don’t accept that online is a form of publication.  Many businesses are turning to Facebook and Twitter to market their businesses, but small businesses seem to be slower to use the online medium for marketing.

The TU wants to help small businesses in the region
If you have a story about your business: TUBusiness@timesunion.com
If you have a business event and would like it added to our business calendar: TUCalendar@timesunion.com
If you want your event to be in the print version – please contact them 3 weeks in advance
Eric Anderson – Business editor 453-5323

Speaker: Craig Eustace – Retail Advertising Manager 518.454.5529
Craig spoke about the paid marketing that the Times Union offers.
The Times Union now has Niche publications.
Life @Home – geared towards your home – design ideas, DIY projects, etc.
Healthy Life – geared towards women’s issues and things women would like to read about.
Explore – Where to go what to do – travel/tourism
In Motion – Automotive magazine
Vow – Brand New – Wedding magazine (Just launched Tuesday!)

You can advertise your small business in these publications to get your ad in front of a targeted audience.
Pay per click is also offered.  You will know how many people clicked on your ad.  It is track-able so you will know what your return on investment is.

They offer direct mail marketing.  They can provide demographic lists.  For example – If you’re a roofer – they can get you a list of all houses in the readership area that are 25 years or older.  You can target them and send your ad to those target customers.

Tim Cronin & Lisbeth Calandrino

Keynote Speaker:  Lisbeth Calandrino – Make It Happen
Lisbeth CalandrinoOwner of Lisbeth Calandrino Business Consulting, speaker, trainer, business coach and author of Red Hot Customer Service.

We have huge growth in the technology market in the capital region.

2 out of 3 jobs are created by small businesses

Earlier this month Sam’s Club did a survey of their small business customers.
“What is it that you need in order to stay in business?” was the main question.
The answer: MONEY!  Sam’s Club partnered with the National Business Association and the Small Business Administration to figure out how to get small business loans for the small business community.  If the small businesses don’t have money to maintain their businesses, it will directly effect Sam’s Club’s bottom line.  This act alone shows that Sam’s Club partners with their customers.

What do small businesses need around Albany?
Many have good business but it isn’t steady.
Figure out how to get your customer out to shop.
Consumers are afraid to shop.  Afraid to spend – need to save their money.
If you want to make it as a small business, you need to be a partner with your customer
It’s your job to be friends with you customers.

She quoted 212 – The Extra Degree by Sam Parker & Mac Anderson
“At 211 degrees, water is hot.
At 212 degrees, it boils.
And with boiling water, comes steam.
And steam can power a locomotive.”

Meet the Media Who Cover The Local Business News
Moderated by Lydia Kulbida from WTEN and Times Union Blogger

The Panelists
Larry Rulison
Lauren Rose
Mary Darcy
Mike Hendricks

Read your tweets and messages out loud.  Would you want to buy whatever your pitching?
Engage with your audience – have a fun personality.
Friend every reporter out there to get your name out in many forms of media.
Comment on the blogs, Facebook, Twitter….
Interact with your customers on Twitter & Facebook with personal tweets and comments.

Times Union – Panel on Social Media, Blogging and Your Customers
Moderated by Mike Huber – Interactive Audience Manager at the Times Union

The Panelists
Sonja Stark

Merci Miglino
Lissa D’Aquanni
Rev. Alan Rudnick
Vic Christopher

Questions that you should ask yourself prior to blogging are:
“Why should people read your blog?  Why should they care?
People blog for different reasons.  Some blog to market their business, others blog to build a sense of community.
“Careful what you put out there.  Count to 10 before you hit publish.”
“What degree do ethics play in a community?”
Rev. Alan Rudnick spoke about people who “hide behind the veil” AKA – Anonymous bloggers.
Merci reminded us that “Blogging is a knee jerk – reactive media.”
“If you don’t believe in your product, in yourself, and that you can cheer yourself out of a corner – you shouldn’t start a blog.”
“Be a follower OR have a following.”  Your choice.
They spoke about the recent “Ding Dong Ditch” incident that happened locally last week.  Why did it become such a firestorm?  It was a story that contained emotion.  It could happen to any home owner.    Social Media helped that story spread like wild-fire.  So much so that CNN picked up the story.

An audience member Karen McGowan spoke that she hadn’t considered a blog for her business until today.  The panel encouraged her to start blogging about her business Capital Interior Scapes an interior plant scape business.  By blogging she would humanize her business and she would appear as an expert in her industry.  She could post customer recommendations, pictures of plant-scapes she’d designed, lists of plants that people could consider and so many other things.

Going Mobile – The Mobile Revolution in Social Media
Presented by Rhea Drysdale of Outspoken Media and Verizon Wireless

Why is  mobile taking over everyone’s lives?
It makes our lives easier.

What is social media?
“Social media are media designed to be disseminated through social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques…  They support the democratization of knowledge and information and transform people from content consumers to content producers.”

Benefits of social media
New customer acquisition
Current customer outreach
Loyalty rewards
Corporate branding
Personal branding
Brand monitoring and management

They spoke about using Facebook, Twitter, Ning, Yelp, FourSquare GetListed and Know Em to market your business.  Go to these sites and fill out your business profile.  They stressed to fill in EVERY blank and as many keywords as are relevant to help your business come up in internet search engine results.

54% of the phone users in the local market use Verizon service.
30-40% of them are smart phones.
52% of the phones sold last week in his store were smartphones – ie. Droids, Blackberries, etc.

Top 10 Things Your Small Biz Website Needs in 2010
Presented by: Miriam Paska – Creative Strategist from Intellisites

She didn’t present them as a “Top 10” but some of the key points were:

Have a unique Design
You need to know who you’re competing against and what their web presence and marketing strategies are.
Keep your important information “above the fold”
You want the viewer of your site to see the important information without having to scroll down the page.
Use keyword phrases in your blog and on your website so you will organically show up on Web search results.
She also spoke about using Google Alerts to monitor the online activity of your company name.

Using Social Media For Your Job Hunt
Presented by: Alexis Grant

Use social media to:
Tap into your existing network
Expand your network s to include contacts at the companies where you want to work.

Facebook
Biggest online community – most bang for your buck – IT’S FREE!
People know you, like you, and WANT to help you
Great excuse to keep in touch with people who could help you

She stressed the importance of making small-talk first.  Don’t friend request someone and immediately ask them if their company is hiring.  Make some small talk and as the conversation evolves, your job search will be mentioned.

Alexis spoke about using your Facebook privacy settings to control what potential employers could see on your profile.    You want to be personal, yet still professional.

LinkedIn
Connect with professionals you might not want to see your personal life on Facebook
Your resume will appear on Google, showing potential employers what you want them to see.
LinkedIn has job boards as well as groups you can join based on your alma mater and industry.
You can find out background information about potential employers
There is an introductions feature that you can use to meet someone who a mutual friend knows.

Twitter
Network outside your circle of friends
Prove yourself as an expert
Hear about jobs
Keep on top of new trends in your industry
Make connections with companies and employers who may not have otherwise noticed you)

Tips when using social media
Fill out your profile completely
If you’re not going to do it well, don’t do it at all
Rather than being on every network – choose a few and grow quality followings

Thank you to Tim Cronin and Larry Zimbler for the invitation to be a VIP Guest Blogger at the smAlbany Small Business Day 2010.  I look forward to interacting with you in the future.

smAlbany Image from: http://www.smalbany.org
Mountain Dew Image from: http://thishelpdesk.com/mountain-dew-typhoon/
College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering Image from: http://todaysfacilitymanager.com/facilityblog/2009/12
Tim Cronin and Lisbeth Calandrino image by Michael T. Henry: http://tcrpmg.wordpress.com

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Betty White with the cast of The Golden Girls

Something occurred to me around the time of the Super Bowl.  At what point are we proud to be old?  I got thinking about it when I saw Betty White all over the place.  We all know her from The Golden Girls but that was 20ish years ago.  She’s been in many things – just check out her IMDB profile…  Recently she was in the movie The Proposal with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds.  She won a Lifetime Achievement Award at the SAG Awards.  (The press release from them was awesome!!)  Then she was in the Snicker’s commercial during the Super Bowl.  Next I was asked to join (back then it was still join – instead of “like”) the Betty White to Host SNL (Please?)! fan page on Facebook.

Betty White with Sandra Bullock in The Proposal

Betty White at the SAG Awards

After it was confirmed that Betty White will be hosting SNL, Larry King had her on his show Larry King Live for an interview.  (March 17, 2010)  Larry made a comment that Betty was 88 years young.  He said when you get to be that age you’re proud to say it.  Betty replied that she didn’t know where the breaking point was.  “at first you try to hide it and then you begin to brag about it.  Now I’m to the point of hello, I’m Betty White, I’m 88.

KING: How do you explain your longevity?

WHITE: Sheer, blind luck.  I’m the luckiest old broad that ever drew breath.

KING: Just luck?

WHITE: Just…

KING: No talent?WHITE: Well, I mean I think – I think the reason for the longevity is that people have generations – several generations have – have gotten to know me over the years.  So I’ve become sort of part of a – you know, you have relatives that you’re not thrilled with – sort of part of the family.

Later in the interview Larry asked her about her age again:

KING: Did you ever think you would be 88?  Or you don’t think about it?

White: I think I learned at my mother’s knee, we never thought age.  Everybody else is so age conscious.  You go for a long time – no, not wanting anybody to know how old you are.  And then you pass a breaking point.  I can’t tell you where that comes, where then you brag about it.  I don’t think – it’s my health and my energy that I’m so blessed with and so grateful for, that I’m busy being grateful for that, rather than worrying about how old I am.

Betty White on Larry King Live

I got a good laugh when Larry asked her about if she got “romantic urges” and then later said “Last night was terrific, right?” and then about a month later he and his wife are separated….

Betty White

This weekend is what 509,240 (at the time I’m writing this) fans of the Betty White to Host SNL (Please?)! page have been waiting for.  This Saturday night May 8th Betty White WILL be hosting Saturday Night Live.  I’m planning to set my DVR for it, but I’m also hoping to be able to watch it live from my hotel room while I’m on vacation.

I wish I knew at what point we’re supposed to go from “29 and holding” to being proud of our age.  I asked my Mother when she noticed it in my Grandmother and she thought it was sometime in her 80’s.  It’s almost as if she was thinking “I’m proud to be 97, I’ve outlived all those other people!

Hopefully one day I’ll be a bold, full of life, outgoing older woman like Betty and my Grandma 🙂

Have you ever thought about this?  Do you see it with some of the older people in your life?

Please comment and subscribe.

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While brainstorming about what to write blogs about, I wanted to find a way for my readers to get to know some of the awesome people who I know.  The best way I could come up with was an interview series.

This week’s interviews all have a military connection.  Meet my friend SaraSara and I met on MySpace through our friend KimSara is an army wife.  She got to know my good friend Lisa who was featured in yesterday’s blog when she moved from Yakima, WA to Ft. Hood, TX.

Sara and her hubby Mark

Name: Sara Caraway Kowalski

Blog link: http://armywife1208.wordpress.com/

Age: 34…almost old enough to be offended by giving out my real age! lol

Location: Fort Hood, Texas

Sara & Mark ~ December 27, 2008

Relationship Status: Married since December 27, 2008

Occupation: Mother and Army Wife Extraordinaire

Caitlin, Celsie and Cyler

What is the most challenging part of your job?
Dealing with children who rarely listen and putting up with the frustrations that come along with the Army life. I’m a married single mom, that is the easiest way to put it!

Last picture saying goodbye to Mark


You’re new to the Army Wife world. What are the biggest difference between being a civilian wife and an Army Wife?

Well first and foremost the Army comes first and everything else comes second. It is something that I am still trying to get used to. As a civilian you only spend time away from your spouse because one of you needs or wants time away with the Army separations are part of the job description. I find that I have distanced myself more from friends and family back home because they don’t understand exactly what I’m going through. Unless you actually are a military spouse you will never truly understand what one is going through.

What is the best part of being a military spouse?
Friends who become family very quickly. I feel closer to my friends that I have made here than some of those who I have been friends with for years. The extreme pride I feel for my husband when he puts on his uniform each morning.

The kids saying goodbye to Mark

Your husband is currently deployed in Afghanistan, and he’s been gone for about a month.  How are you coping?
Mark has been gone for a little over a month, although it feels a lot longer. I was a wreck when he first left but I am starting to get a routine down which make things a little better. I seem to have thrown myself into my kids and working on the house more than I have since we have been here. I don’t want my kids to feel like their mother can’t cope just because their dad/step-dad isn’t around.

How are your children handling it?
They really seemed to struggle at first. They were asking on a daily basis when he was coming home and now that he has been gone for a bit they have eased up on that. Although my 6-year-old still tells everyone she meets that her daddy is in Afghanistan killing the bad guys. It isn’t exactly what I want her telling people but she knows her daddy and his friends are making it possible for her to go bed at night and sleep safely.

What are the toughest times not having your husband home?
I think it is hardest when something needs done around the house that he would normally take care of. The front porch light burnt out two days after he left and I just cried. It sounds silly because it’s just a light but it caused my first mini-breakdown. The nights are hard too because we normally hangout watching movies and things after the kids go to bed and now there is just me here. I also hate sleeping alone and even when one of my kids crawl in bed with me it just isn’t the same.

Do you find yourself glued to the news stations?
Actually I promised Mark that I wouldn’t do this just for my own sanity. I watched CNN for a few hours one day and found that I could learn more accurate info by just talking to my hubby.

The family

Do you have a huge homecoming planned for him?
I don’t have anything set in stone for his homecoming. I know that I am hiring the photographer who took our family pictures to photograph the homecoming but that’s all I have for now. I would rather do something small and simple with just us and the kids rather than something huge.

I think this picture is soooo cute!!

What advice do you have for a new military spouse?
Don’t get mad at your spouse for things they can’t control. Your plans will always get screwed up by CQ, Staff Duty, or late nights for no reason. Learn to be laid back and to go with the flow, you will be much less stressed. Nothing in the Army makes sense, they sooner you accept this the better off you will be. Febreze does NOT cover up the Army smell…you will eventually learn to like it, you’ll even miss it when/if your spouse deploys.

What got you interested in blogging?
I accidentally clicked on the most popular blogs on Myspace one day a few years ago and one of them caught my eye. I read it and I was hooked on reading them. I eventually started my own just to get things of my chest. I did it mainly for my friends and family. I started to get more and more readers that I didn’t know which made want to write more for some reason. I quit for a while because of getting married and moving, I’m slowly making some sort of comeback.

Do you feel that there are perks to having so many years between your youngest and oldest child?
It has it positives and it’s negatives. They aren’t very close because of the 10 year difference but since they are so spread out I can enjoy different things with each of them. I can play with my son, watch cartoons, and just be silly and with my oldest I have someone to hangout with or someone to go do things with. I can take her shopping or to the movies and not have to seem something rated “G”. Also with the huge gap I always have a sitter if I need it! lol

Sara & Lisa

Lisa & Sara ~ I just thought this was such a cute picture!!

Tell me when you’re going to come visit NY with Lisa….
Oh I wish we could. I have never been to New York and would love to at least say I have been there. Sadly the Army doesn’t pay too well so I just can’t afford it right now. So when are you coming to Texas to visit us? You only have a limited time ya know, she is moving soon!:(

You got to have a video conference with your husband this week. What was it like? How did it go?
Do you feel like seeing him helped you miss him less? What were your feelings after?
It was amazing and depressing at the same time. We only were allowed five minutes each because there were so many soldiers who signed up. It went well and I didn’t cry like I thought I would…well at least were he saw (I waited until we were done). I think it made me miss him more because I was wanted to feel him so bad and yet I couldn’t.

You lived at Ft. Hood during the shootings here earlier this year. What was it like that day? What were you doing when you heard about it? How have things there changed since then??
I was working that day and got a text message from my husband saying there was a shooting and the next thing I knew he was texting me saying all of Fort Hood was on lock down. All I could do was watch CNN to see what was going on because all of the phone lines were busy. I finally made it home to an empty house because my girls were locked in their schools, the neighbor had my son and they were locked in the school as well. I sat on my couch glued to the tv and basically just answered phone call after phone call from people back home making sure we were all ok.  All of my family was separated in different locations around post, which was the worst feeling because when something major is going on you want your family with you.  When the finally opened Hood back up it was close to 9pm at night, my poor babies had been at school all day. I had a lot of questions to answer from my kids and had to deal with the fears that something or someone would come hurt them. My husband’s company had 11 wounded and 4 killed that day. So there is a constant reminder of that day when I’m at the company. My husband was actually supposed to be at the SRP building that day and was fortunate enough to need some medical and dental work done before they could stamp him as deployable.  I never though that a bad back and a cavity could be such a blessing.

Happily Ever After....

Do you have any questions for Sara?
Ask away, she’s got lots of time while she waits for her hero Mark to come home….

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