17 Tips to Travel Like a Pro

17-Tips-to-Travel-Like-a-ProI travel MANY times a year (more than I can count) and I used to hate it… well, maybe not hate it, but I didn’t love it. I was stressed, disorganized and found travel exhausting.

There are a few tricks that I discovered over time that make travel not just bearable but enjoyable. Whether you travel frequently or just once in a while, these are the things that have helped me to enjoy travel the most.

  1. Carry On Only – Whenever possible avoid checking bags. This is obvious.
  2. Bring an Empty Water Bottle – I always feel dehydrated and most airports have bottle fill-up stations.
  3. Check-in Online First – If you already check-in online you can still make your flight as long as you get to the gate before boarding closes (as long as you don’t check bags). This buys you time and relieves stress if you are running late.
  4. Always Bring Snacks – I hate being hungry.
  5. Get Lounge Access – I have access to the frequent flier lounges and it makes a HUGE difference (especially when flights are delayed and I’m waiting around the airport for a long time). They are quiet, have Wifi, free drinks and healthy snacks. It is like an oasis from travel noise.
  6. Accept that you Have No Control – This was the best piece of advice I got from a friend. Accept that once you get yourself to the airport you have no control over anything else that happens. Don’t get stressed over delays.
  7. Take the First Flight in the Morning – This is the least likely to have any delays.
  8. Give Yourself Buffer Time – I always make sure that I can miss at least one flight/connection and get where I need to be on time. This reduces my stress about delayed flights.
  9. Have a Backup Plan – I always have a backup plan for what will happen if something goes wrong with my itinerary.
  10. Avoid the Last Connection at Night – I HATE getting stranded at a random airport because my flight was late and I missed my connection. I’ll spend more $$ or even stay an extra night when possible to avoid a last of the night connection.
  11. Invest in Good Luggage – Good suitcases make travel better.
  12. Invest in Noise Cancelling Headphones – They make flights with crying children more tolerable.
  13. Have a Game Plan for Security – Know what you need to take out and have your bags ready to easily get items in and out.
  14. Smile – Be friendly to airport staff. The constantly deal with angry people and a smile goes a long way.
  15. Keep Your Boarding Pass and ID in the Same Place – I hate it when I have to search through my purse or bag or pockets for 10 minutes to find my ID or passes. I always put them in the same place in my bag to make them easy to find.
  16. You can Ask for Full Sized Cans – If you want more than the tiny cup they give you, ask for a full sized can. They normally say yes.
  17. You can Bring Mini-Alcohol Bottles as Carry-on Liquids – Sometimes you just need a drink. You can bring mini-alcohol bottles as your carryon as long as they are in the Ziploc bag.

Why You Should Ignore the “Next Big Thing” in Social Media

Why-You-Should-Ignore-Next-Big-ThingRemember QR codes? Google+? Ello?

All of these were “the next big thing in marketing” where marketers started investing their time and $$ in new social networks ahead of user adoption.

Marketers seem to believe that there is a first-mover advantage – if they get on the network first they’ll have an advantage and grow their audience bigger faster. So they jump in and invest their time and effort – even before people actually use the network.

Meet your Customers Don’t Beat Them

Unless your goal is to show innovation (which only really matters for tech or social media companies) you don’t need to beat your customers to using something. Meet them. Be where your customers are.

Wait for Some Significant User Adoption

Wait until you see that a significant number of people in your target audience is using something before you jump in and invest your time and effort. People started slapping QR codes on everything despite the fact that most people didn’t have the slightest clue how to use them.

QR codes had faster marketing adoption than user adoption and were ultimately a huge flop.

Optimize vs. Expand

You have limited time, money and resources. Use them wisely. Expanding into new and largely unproven networks takes your valuable resources. Instead of jumping in to something new, consider the results you could achieve from doing what you already do better. Evaluate the pros and cons of each.

Most New Networks Fail

Sorry to burst your bubble, but the reality is that most shiny new objects never reach mass adoption. Wait until you see real traction on a network – most of them will fail and you’ll waste lots of time.

It Takes Time to Get Big

Social networks don’t suddenly explode – they grow over time. Pinterest, which still seems like a new network was founded in 2011. It didn’t get big out of nowhere. There was a slow steady climb to reach mass adoption.

Get Over Your FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)

You won’t miss anything if you aren’t the first on something new. You’ll actually save yourself time and effort by waiting until there are some established best practices and case studies. Let other people experiment and learn from them.

You don’t need to be on the next big thing in social media. You need to be strategic and be where your customers are.

Want My Advice? Do This First.

Want-My-Advice

A lot of social media practitioners, consultants and “social media experts” complain about people constantly asking to “pick their brain”. Most of the posts complain about people asking for free advice and explain in great detail how and why this is offensive.

While I agree with these posts, many years ago I received some GREAT advice about how to handle these requests.

When someone asks you for help, give them something to do first. Some small first step that they have to complete before you spend your time helping them.

Here are some examples:

Request: Krista, I’m looking for a new position and I was wondering if you could introduce me to some people.

Response: I’d love to help you. Can you take a look at my LinkedIn network and identify a few people who I am connected to who could help you?


Request: I have a startup and I think we need to use social media. Can I pick your brain about what we should consider?

Response: Sure. I wrote a few blog posts about this topic already that I think would be helpful. Could you read them first, let me know your thoughts and then we can schedule a meeting.

Response: Social media is great for startups. Could you send me links to social media accounts of some of your biggest competitors? I’m curious to see what they are doing.


Why This Works

This strategy works for a number of reasons:

1) If I’m going to invest my time I want them to invest theirs.

    It is easy to ask for advice or for a favor. Asking the other person to do a small amount of work before you invest your time shows that they are really interested. It also shows that they really value and want your help since they are willing to do the follow-up step that you suggest before you dive in and help.

2) They are more likely to take action.

    I really don’t mind occasionally meeting with people to help them out. Lots of people helped me with advice to get to where I am. What annoys the heck out of me is when I spend my time giving someone free advice that they don’t follow.
    Asking them to do something upfront shows that they can follow-through on something.

3) It shows that you are thoughtful and value your time.

    It is so easy for people to ask for advice or opinions. A lot of the people who ask for advice don’t realize that they are asking you to basically do your job for free. I like to use this approach because it shows that I have considered what they asked me for and have given them a thoughtful and specific next step. This shows that I value my time, even though I will give it to them for free.

4) Most people don’t do it.

    The reality is that in my experience well over half of people don’t follow through with the simple next step. This weeds out requests that would be a waste of my time since the person doesn’t have great follow-up. It also lets me focus my time on helping people who are action oriented and willing to invest their time when they ask for mine.

5) You don’t have to say no and get all cranky.

    I don’t really like saying no to people – even when they ask for free advice. This helps me to not have to say no and feel like a jerk.
    I know some social media experts who are highly offended by requests for free advice and often respond with cranky rants along the lines of “How dare you ask for free advice?!?! Don’t you know this is how I earn a living?!?!?! Have you no common decency?!?!?!”

6) It is nice to help people sometimes. Even for free.

    I got into what I do because I actually love it. I love talking about social media. I love helping businesses and people. I got to where I am because a lot of people helped me along the way. I’m happy to give back.

This approach has helped me tremendously – I wish I could remember who suggested it to me initially. Giving the requestor a simple next steps shows if they are willing to do something prior to me investing my time. As a bonus I don’t have to say no 😉

Marketing Strategy: Optimization vs. More

Marketing-Strategy

 

Many businesses that I work with are looking for strategies to get more traffic, more followers, more likes.

They want to grow their footprint and reach more people.

One thing to consider is whether or not your time is better spent getting more or optimizing what you already have.

What gets you a better ROI:

  • Spending time/$$ to get 100 new website visitors or turning more of your existing website visitors into customers?
  • Getting more Facebook fans or driving engagement with current fans?
  • Reaching more people or making sure that your message actually grows your business?

The point is that we sometimes focus too much on more when we aren’t even getting results with what we already have.

As marketers it is important to weigh the investment of time/$$/other resources spent on growth vs. optimization. Figure out how to build a system that works before you spend money driving people to something. Get a conversion strategy for your site to turn visitors into leads before getting more traffic.

Carefully weigh your options – often optimization provides a better ROI than growth.

Defensiveness is Killing You

Defensiveness-is-Killing-You

 

I’ve been consulting and training companies on social media for 10 years now (time flies!!!). Companies pay me to go in and tell them what they should do to get better results. As an outsider it is really easy to see their mistakes – when you are in the weeds you don’t often see them.

My job is to tell them what to fix. They proactively reached out to me asking me to help them. They know they are making mistakes and want to improve.

One of the things I’ve noticed is that many people, when confronted with how they can improve naturally respond with excuses and reasons. They know they aren’t getting results (that is why they hired me) but they have a hard time not being defensive when shown how to improve.

I think it is a natural reaction.

It is difficult to hear that we aren’t doing something well.

I tell them that their Facebook posts aren’t getting results because the content isn’t optimized. They get defensive even though they know it isn’t working. Then we have to waste time talking about their excuses/reasons and I have to convince them to listen to the advice that they paid me for. It is a bit of a dance where I try to make sure they don’t feel attacked or offended.

The reality is that if they would just be open minded and listen they could fix things faster and move on more quickly.

Other clients have no ego, no defensiveness. They are eager for feedback, ask questions and implement quickly.

If you can be less defensive you can get better results faster.

We can all improve. I can improve 5 things about my writing style or headlines now. Getting actionable feedback encourages me to do better.

Consider your approach to feedback. Are you defensive? Are you open to it and eager for advice?

In my experience the less defensive you are about feedback, the more likely you are to change and grow.

Want to Grow Your Business? Focus on What Matters.

Want-to-grow-your-business

I read something yesterday (I’m tired today from 12+ hours of international travel so I can’t tell you where I read it or even who said it) that resonated with me about driving focus in your business.

  1. Make a list of 20 things that you could do to grow your business.
  2. Then cross off everything except the top 3-5 – the best ideas.
  3. If you find yourself working on something NOT on the LIST STOP IMMEDIATELY.

The idea is that we lose focus too quickly and don’t do the things that really matter most.

I read a book a few years back called The One Thing that suggests focusing on the one single thing that is most likely to impact your business and letting go of as much else as possible.

Success in business is just as much about the things that you don’t work on as the things you do.

This was a great reminder for me to stay focused and really be careful about how I spend my time and energy.

Relentless focus on what really matters wins.

Don’ t allow yourself to be sidetracked.

Keynote Speaking: Entertainment is Just as Important as Education

Entertainment-Just-As-Important

I recently gave a social media keynote at a conference and had the opportunity to watch the other keynote speakers. Most of the other speakers were respected industry experts with great knowledge and sound advice.

The problem was that they spent all of their time on their presentation and no time on their delivery.

The slides were perfectly crafted with beautiful charts and they shared interesting, timely and relevant data.

But they were boring!

Looking around the room people had a difficult time paying attention.

Why?

The delivery missed the mark. They focused all their time on content and none on delivery. So how can you easily improve delivery? Even if you aren’t an experienced speaker, these 3 tips will help you succeed.

3 Tips to Deliver Your Presentation Like a Pro:

1) Make use of space

Move around the room, or at least move around the stage. This makes you seem comfortable and confident and keeps people paying attention. Plus, if you stand at a podium or near the computer you tend to constantly look at it and not make eye-contact with the audience.

Get out from behind the computer and move!!!

2) Build-In Engagement

People are more interested when they participate. Build participation in to your presentation upfront. Bring someone on stage, ask questions, have them vote…. There are plenty of opportunities to engage people.

Build this into your presentation to keep people paying attention.

3) Add variety into your speaking style

Speed up. S L O W D O W N. Get excited. Be creepily calm. Speak quickly. Emphasize and repeat slowly to make a point. Move a lot. Stand still.

Even great speakers become monotonous after a while because they use the same tone. Mix it up. Especially if you are speaking for over 20 minutes.

Practice parts that you’ll go slow and parts to go fast. Try using different tones of voice to grab attention.

Even if you are a great speaker the same voice gets hard to listen to for long time periods.

The bottom line is if you want to be a great speaker and keep people engaged, focus beyond your presentation and spend as much time (if not more) crafting your delivery.

What is the Next Big Thing in Social Media?

What-is-the-next-big-thing

It isn’t a shiny new object.

It isn’t the newest social network that social media marketers join in an attempt to get first mover advantage.

It isn’t Google+, Ello, Peach or whatever else people are buzzing about.

The next big thing in social media is innovation from the existing social networks.

It isn’t about finding something shiny and new. It is about optimizing and improving on the sites that you already use.

This is the next big thing.

This is where you’ll get better results faster.

 

How to Say YES to Every Request

How-To-Say-Yes

I hate to say no. I really hate it when someone asks me for something and I have to say no to them. I try not to say no, but the reality is that I can’t do everything for everyone. I have limited time. I have to focus on things that pay the bills.

A number of years ago I read some great advice about how to avoid saying no and how to say yes to everything.

When someone asks you for something give them a next step. Simple. Ask them to do something first.

Want me to check out your Facebook Page? Read these 3 articles and let me know how you can use the advice. Then I’ll take a look.

Want to “pick my brain”? Awesome… Review this report on social media and start ups and let me know what you think are your top 3 opportunities.

Want help getting a job? Great! Review my LinkedIn contacts and let me know 5 – 10 that would be helpful for me to introduce you to.

Instead of saying no say YES. Every time.

But give them something to do first.

This allows you to never say no but to filter out requests that will waste your time.

Most people won’t complete the follow-up. If they aren’t willing to invest their time why should you invest yours?