Top Marketing Events in Chicago This Week

Edition: October 17, 2016

There’s always fun ways to advance your career throughout the week – their called networking events, where it’s okay to drink and do business at the same time.

Every week, I like to find Chicago networking events that will help me meet my business and personal goals. Since I’m in marketing and currently developing a 2017 Marketing Plan strategy, my main objectives are to learn:

  • lead generation
  • content creation
  • partnership opportunities for speakers and writers
  • best practices for marketing

So, since I do this, I thought I would share the top marketing events this week for my fellow marketing strategy and execution colleagues in Chicago.

Wednesday:

Business Marketing Association (BMA) Chicago is hosting a breakfast event this Wednesday, October 19, 2016, at Loyola Quinlan School of Business. Suzanne Martin, the vice president of marketing at The Mx Group, will be sharing insights about content marketing strategies and main takeaways from the Expo Content Marketing World. Find out more here. 

Thursday:

SheSays Chicago, a global, award-winning organization that wants to help women success, is partnering with DigitasLBi on Thursday, October 20, 2016 for the event, “Social and the Sexes: Do Men and Women Use Social Media Differently?” Panelists include: Terez Baskin, Social Media Expert, Liz Caradonna, VP of Social Strategy at DigitasLBi, and Chase Turner, Creative Strategist at Tumblr. Find out more about past events here and about this event here. 

Friday:

Big Branding for Small Start-Ups with Leo Burnett session is one of many during Chicago Ideas Week, a time when authors, politicians, entrepreneurs and everyone in between participates in a week-long series to grow curiosity and spread ideas. Sessions are $15 each. The session begins at 3 pm. Find out more here. 

Have something to add to future lists? Feel free to email: windycitycosmo@gmail.com or connect with me on LinkedIn. 

 

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

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Using Social Media to Build Your Brand and Gain Sales

There’s a lot of people addicted to social media or taking vacations from it. But, with any tool, it can be used to make a profit or be used to waste time or just not used at all.

Windy City Cosmo sat down with Nicole Smartt, author of “From Receptionist to Boss: Real-Life Advice for Getting Ahead At Work” (www.nicolesmartt.com). She is the  co-owner and vice president of Star Staffing in Petaluma, Calif. She also is co-founder of the Petaluma Young Professionals Network and was the youngest recipient of the “Forty Under 40” award given by the North Bay Business Journal.

We caught up about social media and how to power our personal branding to reach sales goals.

Windy City Cosmo: With social media it’s a lot more difficult to actually get likes than it is to simply use. For instance, a photo put on a wildly followed site will have more likes/comments than the same photo placed on another account. So, following is important. How do you build a following? 

 

Nicole Smartt: Building a following on social media is important. Start by engaging with your current followers. This can be done by daily interactions, a friendly hi, a shared article you think they may like, or commenting on their posts. It’s always about quality over quantity. Many social media pros have a huge following but when you look deeper into their account, you’ll notice they don’t have many comments, likes, or interactions. Be personable and engage with your audience. If on Twitter, join Twitter chats and dive in, not only commenting, but also providing answers. And interact with other chat members. On LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram, comment on posts. This allows other users to see you and you’ll pick up more followers.

 

Windy City Cosmo: How do you maintain a following? Once you have 1k plus followers, like Windy City Cosmo, how do you keep your followers engaged. You can’t like 1k photos everyday. 

 

Nicole Smartt:  I post about 70% original content and 30% shared content to keep my followers engaged. I review my Twitter analytics to make sure I’m attracting the right audience so that I can keep them engaged. Understanding your audience is key to your online success. Schedule tweets throughout the day with valuable content and also take time to be on those platforms each day dedicating human interaction to the platform.

 

Windy City Cosmo: What is a brand and how do you start to build one? Are their certain components or platforms that you need to be on to create your brand?  

 

Nicole Smartt:  Your brand is what people think of when your name or product is mentioned. You want to be where your customers are. If they’re on social media, then you need to be on those platforms too. In a field like mine, staffing, a vast majority of my connections utilize LinkedIn regularly. If you’re in tech, Twitter or Google+ may be where your peers live. For wineries and product-based companies, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest are solid platforms. Use analytics to see where your audience “lives” and make sure you have a strong presence in those places.

 

Windy City Cosmo: There are a lot of lifestyle brands out there that are all encompassing. How do you make sure there is enough of a focus even though you cover a lot of topics? 

 Nicole Smartt: I have many clients who come from a wide array of fields and industries. On a given day, I may share content about the wine industry in northern California, knowing my wine clients will enjoy it. On another day, I may share information about manufacturing trends in the United States for my industrial clients. Sometimes I share data about jobs for my candidates. But there’s something that ties it all together—my desire to help companies and individuals improve their business prospects. So my brand is very consistent, though topics vary.

 

Windy City Cosmo: Getting people to like your photos or tweets is one thing. How you transition to influence your followers to go to an event or subscribe to your newsletter is another. What are some steps people can take to facilitate sign-ups? 

 

Nicole Smartt:  You influence followers by being personable, trustworthy, and consistent in your content creation. Once your followers trust and believe in you, they are willing to subscribe, purchase, or attend an event.

 

 

 

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

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How to Transform Leaders: Insight From a Former Southwest Airlines Executive

Businesses have invested in Leadership “training” for many years. According to Forbes, US companies spent $70 billion on corporate training in 2014 alone. Of this amount, 35% was allocated to leadership training. Sadly, companies are not developing effective leaders.

The ultimate objective in any leadership training is to transform leaders’ thinking and behavior on a long-term basis. Smart companies, therefore, have turned to “Leadership Transformational Training” versus “Leadership Training”.

Companies like Southwest Airlines, renowned for the quality of their training, have known this for years. As the manager for the University for People at Southwest Airlines, I was tasked with creating transformational development, not just provide a one-time educational session. How did we do this? Here are some tips:

When in a classroom, make training “fun”. Adults learn better when they are having fun.

Try this: Create trivia teams at the beginning of the class and have them compete throughout the day for “fabulous” prizes. Make the trivia relevant to the topics you are covering. We did this routinely and found that people stayed more engaged and remembered the information they learned while having fun.

Curiosity Helps Stay Ahead of Competition:

Make the experience “real”. One of the leadership competencies in today’s fast-changing environment is the value of curiosity. Curious leaders are always looking for new ideas in order to stay ahead of the competition.

Try this: Introduce your leaders to that concept in your session by having them break for lunch and, in teams, go to different restaurants. Before they return to the classroom, have them find someone to have a “curiosity conversation” with, then have them share their conversation with the rest of the class. We’ve had teams watch police chases, talk to homeless vets, and chat with bartenders who gave them the behind-the-scenes details of working at Disney. They then took the concept back to their teams.

Comfort Zones:

Take them out of their comfort zones. Create opportunities for the participants to get uncomfortable…very uncomfortable. We remember and learn from our “uncomfortable” moments because we don’t want to repeat them. Leaders should possess the ability to speak credibly in any given situation. Jerry Seinfeld said, “According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking… if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

Try this: Prior to class, give leadership participants a book to read and tell them they will have to give a report to the class about the book. Then assemble an audience and when the participant comes into the room, have them present this report in front of a group of strangers. Add a twist by telling them it is a contest and the audience will be voting on who delivers their report the most effectively. When we did it, this exercise resulted in leaders realizing they needed to improve their presentation skills. Many left the session and signed up for Toastmasters.

Key Leadership Trait: Adaptability

Push Their Limits. Adaptability is another critical element in leaders today. Immerse them in an outdoor environment. Nature is unforgiving. Mountains don’t move. The individual has to adapt.

Try this: Take your group on an outdoor hike up a mountain. Equip them with everything they need (including a professional guide) and have them work, as a team, to physically push themselves to reach the summit. When we did this, the teamwork and individual lessons were rich.

Senior Leaders:

Involve senior leaders in the training. When participants see senior leaders participating and contributing to their learning, it helps in two ways. First, it shows that the senior leaders are open to learning and helping, and secondly, it allows the senior leaders to interact with and get to know the participants on a more personal level.

Try this: As a senior executive, volunteer to attend a series of classes with a group of high potential leaders. The CEO of one particular company I worked with was so committed to the learning journey of his senior executives that he attended every single session for a year. As a result, once the learning journey was completed, he was able to reassign some leaders to roles that better fit their strengths.

Leadership Training ROI:

Are you ready to take your training dollars and get a better return on your investment? Try these techniques and, like Southwest Airlines and many other smart companies, you will see your leaders’ thinking transformed. Stop investing in “training” and start “transforming” your leaders.

This article was written by: Lorraine Grubbs

Lorraine Grubbs recently co-authored “Beyond the Executive Comfort Zone: Outrageous Tactics to Ignite Individual Performance.” Grubbs is president of the consulting firm Lessons in Loyalty. As a former 15-year executive with Southwest Airlines, she takes principles and practices she helped develop to companies that strive for better employee engagement and loyalty.

 

 

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

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How to Build a Valuable Network

Congratulations. You have 500+ contacts on LinkedIn. You have them. But do you know your network?

Recently, I took a marketing job at an innovation consulting firm, PreScouter, Inc. I love it for several reasons. Besides working with smart people (corporate America, Ph.D. students, and critical thinkers in general), the first and the main reason that I love marketing is because I can connect with people.

I have been building my network for years by interviewing CEOs and learning from startups, going to Paris Fashion Week, attending networking mixers at 1871 and Ms. Tech, and meeting new faces at niche events or rooftop parties.

While that’s a good step, it’s the first step.

After you have had your fill of free wine and pizza, I invite you to look around the room.

How to Build a Valuable Network:

Here are the top four ways to build a network of value – a network that can help you meet your business goals and personal goals.

Have a point.

This is the reason you are all here. Why are you networking, to begin with?

Ask yourself:

  • Do you want a job?
  • Do you want to do business with this company?
  • Do you see yourself needing their services or partnering in the future?
  • Do you have common interests like cooking or attending events?

When you find out why you want to connect, it’s easier to search for people who can help you meet your goals. It’s also easier to see which events to attend that align with your goals.

BUT, remember….

Don’t nix people. I went to a networking event, and someone was like “oh, you’re in marketing, I don’t want your business card.”

You never know how you can leverage your contacts in the future, so the general rule of being nice to everyone applies. However, as marketing and sales people know, there are warm leads, cold leads, and hot leads. Categorize the people you meet so you can better approach them people on LinkedIn or Twitter or at events. It will help you meet your goals faster.

Key takeaway: Not everyone in your network will be valuable.

Be helpful before you need help.

One of the reasons you build your network is not just for yourself, it’s also to help other people. A niche interest group might need a local Chicago designer, and you are part of SheSays Chicago so that you can connect a new contact with your network.

One of the rules that Robert Cialdini shares in his book, “Influence: Science and Practice” is the rule of reciprocity. When you do something nice for someone, they want to return the favor.

Key takeaway: Give first.

Do a maintenance check.

Are there people in your network who you don’t know?

Just because you cannot help each other at the moment, doesn’t mean that you should delete them from your database. Keep up to date notes about how you met (you can add private notes on LinkedIn profiles to remind you) and how you might be able to help each other based on interests and projects.

In the book “Never Eat Alone,” Keith Ferrazzi shows readers how to build a spreadsheet to keep track of contacts in terms of the last point of contact and how you might help each other. You can download the template here. 

After you find a method to keep track of your contacts. You want to make sure to stay in touch. The longer you go without talking with someone, the harder it becomes to connect – especially if you only met at a 3-hour networking event.

Key takeaway: Reach out to your network at least two times per year.

Be interested and up to date.

Most importantly, find ways to be on your network’s radar. There are great resources like Google Alerts and LinkedIn Updates, to name a few.

Subscribe to other people’s blogs. Check the updates from your LinkedIn updates section. Share an event that one of your friends is planning. Send an email to reconnect every six months.

You will miss so many opportunities because you don’t pay attention. Your friends, your family, and your connections are doing some amazing things, and unless they are in PR, they probably are bad at promoting them. So, dig in and get interested in what other people are doing. This is how you can see how to help one another.

Key takeaway: Pay attention to other’s people’s lives (and the headlines) for conversation starters.

Ultimately, there are many ways to start relationships. I find that the hardest part is to turn an introduction into a relationship to meet your goals and help others meet theirs. I hope some of these approaches will help you meet your business goals.

 

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

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3 Things I Struggle with on Monday

During my commute this morning, I counted a number of expletives I said in my thoughts on the way to work.

Expletive, I have to get up.

Expletive, the train isn’t here.

Expletive, I might not be able to get my coffee.

And, all of those things happen nearly every weekday morning because I hate waking up in the morning.

This is a simple, first world problem that you learn to overcome when you start your first job. I’m at my 20th job, and I still find it difficult to do some things every Monday. I’m not happy to admit that I still struggle with simple, basic tasks, but enough people write about these every day, that I know there is an audience that struggles with them as well. So, honestly, I’m going to share the struggles that are real and how I’ve learned to overcome them.

These are the three things I struggle with every Monday.

I struggle with being on time to work.

In school, you learn the importance of punctuality. You get a detention at school. You can lose the job or be cut from the soccer team.

Part 1 of being on time.

Being on time sends a signal to you and other people in the room that you are focused, and you are taking whatever event, job, or task seriously.

Part 2 of being on time.

But the other component is that you want to show up on time and with the right mindset, ready to go. Every morning, you may start your computer, make coffee, ask your coworker a mindless question, but you know you’re ready for work when you are on time and willing to work. You are prepared to show up dressed nicely, you have a smile on, and you have all of the materials to make this the best work day.

If you are struggling in this area, take note that just because you wake up 10 minutes earlier doesn’t mean you can start doing your hair and makeup and making breakfast in the morning. I found that I was still rushing in the morning, despite waking up earlier. So, as a remedy, I made a few changes.

I started getting up 30 minutes earlier.

I left 10 minutes earlier than I usually would leave my house.

I started doing my makeup on the train and styling my hair the night before.

I planned my calendar for the week and picked out my outfits on Sunday so that a) I still had time to do laundry and b) I was prepared for whatever event I had to attend after work.

I brought my breakfast with me for the week, so I didn’t have to think about it.

I started drinking the office coffee instead of going to 7/11 every morning. (I still go there, though).

Now, I’m still not perfect at getting into work 15 minutes earlier or being completely put together in the morning, but I do feel happier when I walk into the office because I took the time to put intention into my workday and start it off on time and smiling.

I struggle with going to the gym.

I hate thinking about going to the gym. I think so much about going to the gym that it feels like I went there because of the amount of mental effort dedicated to getting ramped up to go there. To be honest, I love a good workout. I love sweating. I love feeling stronger. I love stretching longer in yoga or running that .3 miles per hour faster during a run, but putting on the clothes and going to the gym has always been a dread for me.

So, I decided to change my mindset.

Don’t think about it.

First, I had to make sure I wasn’t thinking about it. So, I picked out a few classes at the gym. They were at convenient times when I would already be awake. Sorry, I’m not magically going to wake up at 5 am for spin when I don’t get up till 7:45 am every day.

Be realistic/awake.

I started going to the gym when I had more energy. I found that if I waited until the end of the day, I would either forgo my other social plans or would have to be tired. So, I started going to the gym during my lunch break. This helped me have a more intense workout because of the time crunch, and it helped me look forward to working out. I hate sitting all day. I hate it.

Feel comfortable.

Lastly, unless you look sexy in yoga pants, you don’t have the desire to go to the gym. I always feel awkward working out under fluorescent lights with everyone bored out of their minds, so they look at you. So, I’ve decided to take classes or go for a swim or go during off hours.

I’ll keep you posted on my gym body. 

I struggle with putting in my all into every task.

This last point is hard to write. I have a hard time focusing. Usually, I find that the jobs are not that hard, I have just built them up in my mind as these enormous obstacles, which makes getting work done challenging.

Find your optimal time.

I read The Productivity Project, and one of the key takeaways is that we aren’t meant to be productive all of the time. We have times throughout the day when we are most focused and times when we are not at our optimal performance level. So, I’ve decided to focus on the time of day when I do have more time and attention. I shift my other tasks to when I don’t have much energy.

Find the right medium.

Not only do I find the right time of day to do tasks at work, but I also find the right medium. For instance, I love thinking and reading. But, I need to make sure I’m consuming news and books in the right way. So, for news, I use TheSkimm, a daily newsletter. I also listen to The Daily Show or read a Politico article or listen to NPR morning edition.

For books, I’ve found that I pay attention better when I listen to an audiobook. So, I’ve used free tools like Hoopla Digital, a free online resource linked to your library card and recently subscribed to Audible.

For reading articles, I realize that newsletters, Twitter feeds, etc. have posts that I’m interested in, but I cannot read them all at once.  So I save them to Pocket and read them on my commute home or when I need a mental break.

Conclusion:

Focusing on the small things takes time. It’s weird because we think that these details should be engraved in us. We should know how to dress nicely, be on time, and stay focused because we essentially have been trained to do that our whole lives. But, if you ignore that you are struggling with the small things then you can’t fix them. And more importantly, you can’t grow into meeting bigger picture goals.

Do you struggle with any of these things? How do you overcome it?

 

 

 

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.

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