Reflections of an Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs are a different breed, don’t you think? These are my observations

No, You May Not Pick My Brain!

I get this request often. And from what I can tell, other consultants and coaches who charge a fee for their knowledge and information do too.

can-I-pick-your-brainMy living is based on the expertise that I have developed for the last 10+ years. Well, built over the last 30+ years actually. (Now that I’ve dated myself!) I invest a lot of time and money in continuing education, reading, memberships, and conferences to stay on top of what’s important in my industry. When someone that’s not my friend or family member asks, “Can I pick your brain?” it’s akin to this situation:

Person goes to the doctor and says, “Hey, could you take a look at my throat and tell me what’s wrong? I don’t even have to come into an exam room, you could just do it here in the waiting room. Here, ahhhhhh.” 

Think doc would pull out his tongue depressor?

One of my favorite stories along these lines was when a financial advisor asked me if he could pick my brain over lunch. I wanted to say, “Sure, if you’re cool with putting a couple hundred dollars in an annuity for me and calling it good.”

I charge paying clients money for my strategies, which save them thousands of hours and countless dollars. Does a lunch at the local deli equate to that value? Nope, sorry. Besides, if you want the answers to your problems that tends to take more than an hour of my time. What kind of an expert would I be if I could give you all the answers in one sandwich-sit-down?

When someone is a subject matter expert and a coach/consultant, they get paid to give their clients their knowledge.  Instead of asking to pick their brain, try one or more of these strategies instead.

Read their blog. Look back through the archives of the consultant’s blog, Facebook profile, LinkedIn feed, etc. Ask them to share a recording of a previous free webinar or free call. Ask if they already have material on the subject you’re inquiring about. Who knows, they might have answered your questions before and turned it into an article like I did with this one: http://bit.ly/HowToCreateAFacebookPage.

GTS. This is my favorite self-made acronym. Google That S***! If your questions can really be picked out of an expert’s brain “real quick,” then chances are Google has the answer.

Ask about fees and how they operate. You might find they give you the answers you’re looking for in a thirty- to sixty-minute initial consultation that they offer for free anyway.

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Some other notes:
1. I’m not talking about close friends or family; chances are, when they ask for brain-picking, we give it to them, because they give back to us in many ways.
2. When people asked me this question 5 years ago (new in my business) I would jump at the chance to answer them, thinking if I helped them with this, they would hire me. What I found a vast majority of the time was this – if they wanted it for free in the first place, they aren’t willing to pay for it.
3. If your business model isn’t a coaching/consulting model, this rant probably doesn’t speak to you as much; that’s cool!

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I wanted to see what my colleagues (other subject matter experts and consultants) had to say about this topic. Looks like I’m not alone!

“I usually tell them to go on one of my free webinars that I run monthly; or listen to my podcast. I tell them that chances are they will get the answer to their question and more, all for free. If I did a coffee date or answered every email question from people that I received, I would never have enough time for paying clients.” –podcasting coach and lifestyle entrepreneur expert

“Mixed feelings. Usually I feel like it’s a typical “free loader” who wants your expertise to give them your services (or contacts) for free. And then there are times I feel like it could be a possible new connection.” –career coach

“Hate it. Of course. I encourage people to ask a more specific question and NOT to ask for a coffee. Anyone whose time is valuable hates that question.” –business coach

“That question usually makes me think they want me to work for free. I think I’m flattered and annoyed at the same time. If it’s someone I know or who truly expresses interest in my services, I’m happy to help cause who knows where that conversation may lead.” –content writer

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What do you think? What are some alternatives to asking the can-I-pick-your-brain question?

Peg Calvario Gets Clear On One Thing: How to Attract Ideal Clients

For 25 years Peg Calvario (PegCalvario.com) worked with her husband to run their family-owned business in the fitness industry. After selling that business five years ago she decided to move on to a new venture—coaching for professionals—but was surprised when her marketing didn’t come as easy as before.

“I had a lot of experience in social media and writing blogs from my former business, but this time around I couldn’t seem to find my voice,” Peg said. Peg Calvario

Then Something Pivotal Happened – Identifying a Tribe

Meghann Conter’s coaching clients almost always go through a vigorous tribe-identifying process. Peg was no different. While we did work together on messaging, social media profiles, and zeroing in on potential clients with email capture forms and teleclass development, each of those pieces hinged on identifying her new tribe: GOAL-DRIVEN PROFESSIONALS.

“Now I can articulate a crystal clear message to my tribe, especially as it relates to my process. And, as a result, my content marketing comes so much easier and faster,” Peg explained.

Social Media Marketing Is Only What You Can See. What About What You Can’t See?

I may be the Mistress of Social Media® and believe strongly in the power of social media, but I also believe that success does not lie in social media alone. That’s only the piece your clients can see.

The pieces they can’t see are what drive your business. I’m talking about a marketing foundation (messaging, voice, packaging, pricing, promotion methods and processes) you can stand on and a marketing plan you can execute easily. Once you have these two items in place, the magnetic content—and the financial results—will come…just like it did for Peg.

Peg said she now feels better about her marketing and being able to implement it with greater ease, but it’s more than that. The results speak volumes.

Her SEO has improved thanks to targeted blog posts. In fact, she recently got a call from the US Naval Safety Center, an outstanding opportunity, after they found her website. On top of that, she has acquired clients from both Facebook and LinkedIn since sprucing up her profiles with content that attracts her ideal clients.

“Meghann over delivers,” Peg said. “She consistently provided value, even sending me notes from our meetings, and connecting me with valuable resources, and was never someone who focused on cost. She really did a great job.”

Peg Calvario

2013; A Reflection in Photos

I was wondering why it felt so difficult to write this blog post. Or to send Christmas cards. I mean, all that’s required is that I give people a little bit of insight into what 2013 brought for me. Then I remembered, I have transformed so much this year and time is pretty relative for me. I live in the presence so much that reflecting on the past or projecting in to the future brings me out of bliss.

“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.” Laozi

I have ultimate gratitude for the incredible individuals who contributed to my professional, personal and spiritual growth this year and celebrate everything we all accomplished together. I truly have the most phenomenal professional community, friends, and family who love me for exactly who I am. Thanks to the spiritual journey I have taken, I no longer feel the need to change or the need to be any different because I have beautiful, unconditional self-love.

If you are still reading, thank you for being my friend and my supporter. The following is a photo collage of some of my fun adventures this year.

I LOVE my friends and continuously adventure with them!

I had numerous fun speaking engagements throughout 2013

I had numerous fun speaking engagements throughout 2013

Family Christmas 2013

Family Christmas 2013

My parents and me, Christmas 2013
My parents and me, Christmas 2013

 

 

 

I work out at Blunt Force Training with some of Denver's best trainers

I work out at Blunt Force Training with some of Denver’s best trainers

Me, Joe Pulizzi and Alexandra Briggs at Social Media Marketing World 2013

 

 

My sweetie and I went to Chicago to visit his family

My sweetie and I went to Chicago to visit his family

I host events for Certus Professional Network and serve the President of the FRICAH 3to5 Club

 

I facilitated the first Denver Social Media Marketing Mastermind - the most amazing group of women

I facilitated the first Denver Social Media Marketing Mastermind – the most amazing group of women

I adventured in  Puerto Vallarta with some friends

I adventured in Puerto Vallarta with some friends

 

Nate and I adopted the world's cutest puppy, Layla, a retriever- terrier mix

Nate and I adopted the world’s cutest puppy, Layla, a retriever- terrier mix

 

Looking for New Ways to Serve your Target Audience and Make Money? Try Affiliate Marketing!

In case you haven’t yet tapped into it, affiliate programs can be a *great* source of additional income for anyone who has a sphere of influence.

How big does that sphere of influence have to be you ask? Well, if they are like-minded and share similar interests, it doesn’t have to be very big at all – maybe a couple hundred people. The more important question is – how influential are you to that sphere of influence?

Where to start? Are there products/services/providers you LOVE? Chances are, they have an affiliate program. Go to their website and look. Probably near the bottom of the home page, sometimes near the top. There could be a link that says “Affiliates” or “Referral Partners” or “Referral Partner Program.” <see example illustrations at the bottom of this post> Click that link and find out how to sign up to be an affiliate. If you don’t see a link, and you believe that the company is big enough to have a program, send them a message via the contact form on their website.

As you blog/post on Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn, etc and speak about your daily life and interests, you can insert your affiliate links and when someone clicks your link to find out more, their IP address is generally “hard coded” to your link and whenever they return to the site to make purchases, you get an affiliate commission. Typical affiliate programs pay 20-50% commission on the products bought through your affiliate links! In some cases, that can mean some serious dough!

And, think you don’t have time to recommend these products? WRONG! Most quality affiliate programs give you sample posts/tweets to use which you can use to promote their products and just insert your affiliate link. Then you can use a tool like Hoot Suite to schedule posts to go out on your various social networks, or include them in your email updates, or blog posts.

**Things to Note**

  • The more of an ‘invitation’ that you are to these products and programs, the more effective you will be. Natural communication about them rather than straight promoting
  • Keep in mind that when promoting on social media, you should only promote less than 20% of the time that you are online. If you ‘use’ your online networks strictly for promotion, your sphere of influence will stop paying attention to you. Use a majority of your posts to provide value and engage your audience.
  • Know that in order to get people to click on your affiliate links and take action, you may need to post things several times on a variety of the social sites you participate in. This isn’t a ‘post it one time, make a million dollars’ gig. Although, anything is possible!
  • Ask yourself if the products/services that you would like to recommend from a certain provider will resonate with your tribe
  • The more connected you are in various niches, the easier this will become. For instance, being an active member of a hiking group online and then evaluating hiking equipment and sharing that info within the hiking group will be more effective than just posting it to all of your Facebook friends in general.

Enjoy playing with this, it can be a really fun way to make extra income!! There are people out there who make a tremendous living from just affiliate marketing alone!

Here are a few affiliate programs I participate in and recommend:

Rikka Zimmerman, Consciousness Facilitator, World Changer, click here.

REI, Inc. (Recreational Equipment, Inc.), for the best in outdoor equipment, click here

Certus Professional Network, Denver’s best Networking Organization, click here.

Social Media Manager School, quality training program to turn you into a social media manager, click here.

 

REI affiliate program, REI.com

REI affiliate program, scroll to the bottom of REI.com

Rikka Zimmerman's referral partner program

Rikka Zimmerman’s referral partner program, scroll to the bottom of RikkaZimmerman.com

Coming out of Darkness and Overwhelm into Happiness and Joy

How much easier can spreading consciousness be?? One of my favorite clients is Rikka Zimmerman and working with her and attending her classes, I have already experienced such amazing shifts in my life. Some of the areas I’ve done complete 180′s in: Relationship, Business, Money, Health, just to name a few.

Why am I blogging about this? I am an entrepreneur. Many of you reading this may be also. So here’s my story. January 2011 I was overwhelmed beyond belief. As an entrepreneur, I was always ‘broke.’ I was barely sleeping because I felt that I had to work a ton in order to ‘get to the next level and make money.’ I was dating energy sucker after energy sucker. I cried pretty much all the time, depression was the ‘new black’ for me. Feeling fat and gross, completely stressed out, lacking energy at all times and feeling… well… devastated.

What if all that was required was choosing change. If I was myself a year ago reading this blog post, I would likely have said “it’s not that easy Meghann, you have no money and you’re not courageous enough.”

And here’s what I’d say to my January 2011 self:

  • Stop cutting off your awareness – you know, that gut feeling inside that helps you know what to do and what not to do
  • Start trusting your KNOWING. Yes, you know.
  • Get out of judgment – of myself, my body, and others
  • Stop hanging out with people who don’t contribute to you going in the direction you have chosen to go. I always remember this quote “you are the sum of the 5 people you hang out with most.”

The results I have achieved thus far using Rikka’s teaching and my knowing because I have chosen to use them on a daily basis have resulted in the gift of my life, completely redesigned and rejuvenated. I have gained courage I never thought I had to do things like: go out on my own in business and be the potent captain of my own ship, resulting in exponentially increased happiness, clients and profits. Trademark myself as the Mistress of Social Media™ and stepped into a leadership role in my life and my community. Choosing a healthy lifestyle which again added more fun to my life. I’ve stopped dating men who are a suck on my energy and life and have been with an amazing, conscious man,  who is a constant positive contribution to all of me and I to him. I have a more profound relationship that is full of supportive energy and positivity with those family and friends I have chosen.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, desperate, devastated, like there’s no way out and this is “just what life’s going to be like,” stop. All that is required is to choose something different. Do things different. Start with one thing a day.

I would highly recommend beginning with some free resources from Rikka.

Oh, and there are a bunch of free resources out there too:

Rikka Zimmerman:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’d love to hear your comments. What do you love most about your life? What are you choosing to make it better every day?

The Top 5 Things to Remember When Public Speaking

As I sat in my umteenth leads group meeting today, I realized how much I’ve grown as a business owner in the last 3+ years. If someone would have asked me 5 years ago where I thought I’d be today, I don’t think I could have guessed. When I started out as an entrepreneur, in my first leads group, I remember standing up and giving my 60 second commercial in front of a room of other business owners felt slightly torcherous. I would rehearse my ‘speil’ in front of video camera (and watch it!) and my voice would usually tremble while delivering said rehearsed commercial.

Now I have no problem getting up in front of my leads groups, or in front of a room of people during one of my social media seminars or workshops. I actually love it! I have perfected the “healthy blend between dry, sarcastic humor and bountiful golden-nugget packed speeches. 60 seconds, 60 minutes — bring it on!!

To the newbies of leads groups or networking experiences, just know this – it will get easier with practice! As I sang as the lead in my 2nd grade musical “Practice Makes Perfect.” You are credible; you do know what you’re talking about!  Remember a few keys:

1. Smile!! Be positive!

2. Do NOT criticize your competition – it’s tacky and it does nothing to help your cause!

3. Ask questions whenever you can – get the audience engaged!

4. Get a video camera or at least use the voice recorder on your phone and record yourself and listen to yourself!

5. After practicing for a while, listen to your words – do you use a lot of “um’s, uh’s, you knows or Ok’s? Work on limiting those – you have plenty of intelligent words to speak – no need to use fillers!

Yay! What else is possible?!