Do You Journal? 

Tonight I am sharing this wonderful article from Huffington Post, 10 Surprising Benefits You’ll Get From Keeping a Journal, written by Thai Nguyen. I am a firm believer in the power of writing and the power and empowerment of journaling. Mental and Emotional Health are so critical to maintain, and creative writing and journaling can significantly help people with that. I love all 10 of these benefits listed and felt this article needed to be re-shared. Please enjoy, share with others and give it a try! 

10 Surprising Benefits You’ll Get From Keeping a Journal

 When it comes to keeping a journal, stereotypes of Sweet Valley High and Napoleon Dynamite quickly come to mind; “Dear diary” is reserved for the high-school sweetheart or awkward recluse. Others see writing merely as a tool, a pragmatic means to an end, certainly without value in and of itself.

But science continues to dissolve skepticism. For those sitting on the fence, these 10 benefits of journaling will convince you to start writing.

1. Stretching Your IQ

A hot topic, but strong cases support the ability to change your IQ. A report by the University of Victoria noted that “Writing as part of language learning has a positive correlation with intelligence.”

Journaling is an exploration of language, you’ll have the natural urge to search for new words and increase your vocabulary. The report goes on to say, “One of the best single measures of overall intelligence as measured by intelligence tests is vocabulary.”

2. Evoking Mindfulness

It’s the buzz word for good reason. There’s a strong connection between happiness and mindfulness. Journaling brings you into that state of mindfulness; past frustrations and future anxieties lose their edge in the present moment. It calls a wandering mind to attention, from passivity to actively engaging with your thoughts.

3. Achieving Goals

Journaling often includes your dreams and ambitions, yet the idea that scribbled words can help achieve goals is understandably fanciful. But consider building a house without a blueprint. That makes more sense.

Writing goals signals to your brain “this is important.” Your reticular activating system (RAS) then flags relevant opportunities and tools to achieve that goal. More detailed goals provide a psychological blueprint, and increases the likelihood of achieving them.

4. Emotional Intelligence 

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to perceive and manage your emotions, and that of others. Journaling is an outlet for processing emotions and increases self-awareness. This internal familiarity becomes a bridge of empathy, you’ll better intuit and understand what others are experiencing.

Being able to get on the same page with someone is a mark of emotional intelligence, and allows for a much deeper connection.

5. Boosting Memory and Comprehension

There’s a unique relationship between the hand and brain, sparked by the composition of thoughts and ideas. Words are representations of ideas; the formation of letters and causes the mind to compose or re-compose ideas while journaling. This strengthens previously covered information and forces you to engage in cognitive recall.

6. Strengthen Your Self-Discipline

Setting time aside to write, whether morning or evening, is an act of discipline. And discipline begets discipline. Like a muscle, the more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes. And habits formed in one area of life have a tendency to spread; as keeping your office clean leads to keeping the bedroom tidy, your daily practice of writing will domino onto other healthy habits.

7. Improve Communication Skills

“Writing has critical connections to speaking” according to a Stanford report. Journaling is a form of written communication, albeit to oneself. Nonetheless, the subvocalization of tracing your written thoughts naturally translates in actual vocalization.

Of course, anyone journaling must have a deliberate aim to tidy up their writing in order to see benefits in their verbal communication. But making that decision during writing will benefit your speaking.

8. Healing

Expressive writing is a route to healing — emotionally, physically, and psychologically. Dr. James Pennebaker, author of Writing to Heal has seen improved immune function in participants of writing exercises. Stress often comes from emotional blockages, and overthinking hypotheticals. He explains, “When we translate an experience into language we essentially make the experience graspable.” And in doing so, you free yourself from mentally being tangled in traumas.

Studies have also shown that the emotional release from journaling lowers anxiety, stress, and induces better sleep.

9. Spark Your Creativity

Julia Cameron’s “Morning Pages” has become the panacea for unlocking creativity amongst anyone and everyone. Our struggle isn’t whether we’re creative, it’s how to let it flow.

Her powerful tool is simply to write without thinking — “stream of consciousness” writing. Beyond overcoming writer’s block, stream of consciousness writing brings out thoughts and ideas you never knew you had in you, and loosens up your expressive muscles. She recommends three pages, done first thing in the morning. Including even one page as part of your journaling will get your creative juices flowing.

10. Self-Confidence

Journaling about a positive experience allows your brain to relive it. And reaffirms your abilities when the ugly head of self-doubt appears. The release of endorphins and dopamine will boost your self-esteem and mood. These reflections can become a catalog of personal achievements that you continue to go back to.

As you work to incorporate journaling into your life, remember the elephant is best eaten one bite at a time. Patience and consistency are crucial in forming new habits. Begin writing perhaps three days a week, first thing in the morning or before sleeping.

Direct link to the article here (The original article also carries embedded links out to referenced studies and more insightful information. Check it out!) 


 4.23.2017| Katya Lerner | Buzzword-Consulting 

Developing Your Negotiation Skills

IMG_5552 By Katya Juliet

Negotiation Skills and Interpersonal Relationships

It seems that there is a small misconception out there: that negotiation only takes place in business, while conflict in our personal relationships is merely having a conversation (interpersonal communication) and/or argument about an important issue. The truth is, negotiation is not a process limited to the business world — it is a unique kind of communication that is consistently present in our personal relationships and daily lives. While negotiation may come naturally to some individuals, for most, it is a skill  – even an art – that has to be both learned and developed over time. 

Consider how negotiation has been used over centuries. In the public eye, mostly we negotiate over large-scale disagreements; war, battles, trade agreements, power, boarders, money and so on. But just as often and only more privately, negotiation in our personal relationships is taking place. Negotiation is how one individual (or a group) is successful in achieving their goal over another’s and/or finding a mutually agreed upon outcome.

Maybe you and your partner are trying to decide how to spend (or save!) your savings, which school to send your children to, how to divide up daily family responsibilities, etc. Or perhaps you are trying to negotiate with your child over which college to attend. People are constantly negotiating with their families and partners in personal relationships and may not even realize it. By becoming more aware of this particular type of communication and choosing to further improve your negotiation skills, you will ultimately have more success in achieving your long-term desired outcomes and potentially avoid future conflict with the most important people in your life.

Learning negotiation skill-sets ahead of time will help you navigate through important communications much easier. But don’t worry, if you are already amidst conflict and need to find a resolution, it’s not too late. In this post, I am providing some suggestions which you can apply immediately to help further develop or refine your negotiation skills.

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For starters, please note that negotiation is not simply about winning, losing or being right. In order to be an effective negotiator, you must employ great active listening skills, refine your non-verbal communication skills and be willing to truly consider both sides of the discussion with an open mind. If you allow your own bias to cloud facts or reality, then you are negatively impacting both yourself and the potential outcome, since part of the negotiation process includes revisions, clarity and compromise.

So, how can you personally improve and develop your negotiation skills? 

Start by abiding to the following relational “negotiation basics” listed below:

  • Negotiation, just like communication, is a two-way street; a give and take. If there are two opposing positions or interests, then a negotiation should take place.
  • Conflict is inevitable. Don’t run and hide from it, resolve it!
  • Separate your feelings and deeper emotions from the issue at hand.
  • Remain calm and kind: no yelling, anger, name-calling, threats, or violent behavior, etc. (this is NOT negotiation!)
  • Be flexible. Effective listening, revisions, compromise and seeking the best resolution possible are all part of the process.
  • Focus on the end-goal, not the opposing sides or positions. In order to negotiate well, you are trying to resolve something. The end-goal is what is important, not who is right or wrong.
  • Check your ego before beginning important communications. Ego will not benefit you in any way if your goal is to resolve a conflict of interest.
  • Seek mutually agreeable solutions.
  • Practice Empathy – put yourself in the other person’s shoes as best you can.
  • Don’t give up! It is easy to get tired of talking and listening, but in order to come to a final negotiation, it may take several rounds of discussions. Be patient and stay dedicated.

Practice-Makes-Better-gray-free-downloadThe list above gives you a basic outline of negotiation ground-rules. But what are the best ways to work on improving your negotiation skills using the guidelines above? Start by putting your negotiation skills into practice regularly and take some time to prepare in advance before hand, whenever possible. There are books, videos, and even schools on negotiation you can look in to, to become more of an expert.  But first, here are some suggestions on how to start practicing your negotiation skills right away:

 

  • Role-play and practice your talking points with another (unbiased) individual who is not involved. This will help you identify potential strengths and weaknesses in your positioning.
  • Write down the following:
    • Your positions:
      • I think, I feel, I need, I want, & maybe we could try __ (Fill in the blanks).
    • Supporting arguments/talking points that uphold your positions and feelings.
    • Your desired end-goal.
  • Focus on the end-goal and the benefits that the end-goal will have for everyone involved.
  • Take turns to avoid interruptions. If needed, employ a talking stick, stone or object you can pass back and forth — the person who has the object is the speaker and the other, the listener.
  • In ALL conversations, practice your ability to refrain from interrupting the other person. This will help during negotiations as it will become more of a communication habit overall through consistency.
  • If you get completely stuck and neither party will budge – as long as the issue is something that can be attempted in multiple ways – consider a trial period of each position for a specific and equal amount of time. Then, each person can come back to the negotiation table with a list of what did or did not work well for them and continue towards finding common ground. (Obviously, this wouldn’t work for things of permanent nature, like deciding to get married, have a baby or start a business, etc.)
  • Note: If you have a temper, practice responding in a calm fashion even if what is said gives you an emotional rise. This is important. The second strong emotion arises, especially anger, it will disrupt the entire negotiation process. Meaning, if you use anger and more threatening behavior to get what you want, you are no longer practicing negotiation and have moved into a realm of bullying and taking by force. Replace typical reactive behavior with empathetic phrases such as, “Ok, I understand that is how you are feeling,” or simply “I hear you.” People are looking for validation in most situations. When it is your turn to officially respond, hopefully some of the initial emotion has calmed, and you can try putting your frustration into productive statements that help reiterate why you feel differently. You can also try using a hypothetical situation or metaphor to help the other person understand your position more empathetically.

Whether you want to become a better negotiator in business or personal relationships, these tips can help you get started in refining and developing your skills. In today’s world, we are constantly inundated with messages (noise), distracting us from the ability to truly focus on what is most important or making it harder to stay on task. Because of this, it is important to focus on developing and improving our communication skills regularly. Also, the art of oral communication and negotiation, in particular, are ones that can easily fall behind, with such tech influence and focus in our daily lives – prompting us to use more written and visual communication, over oral and non-verbal skills in person, face-to-face.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this post and feel that these tips may help you in your next important negotiation. Comments are always welcome!

blackBLOGO-coral-grey-beigeFor additional support or consulting services, feel free to contact Katya Juliet anytime through her business website, Buzzword-Consulting. Buzzword Consulting offers affordable digital marketing services, consulting, copywriting & PR for small businesses, start-ups, entrepreneurs & non-profit Organizations.

To Blog Or Not To Blog?

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By Katya Juliet

 

Have no fear, Buzzword is here (!) to let you know that starting a blog is not as scary as you might think. There are many reasons why people make the decision to start a blog. Blogs can be personal or professional, opinionated or factual, designed to raise awareness for a great cause, showcase a talent or passionate hobby, for promoting your business and engaging with your customers and even, a little bit of everything.

Blogging is an excellent way to build more authentic relationships with others, by relating and engaging with your audience through passion and experience.

I want to write a blog, but how do I get started?

Starting a blog can be intimidating at first. Mostly, because people worry that starting a blog may be too technical for them to set-up and maintain. Also, many experience some initial challenging emotions, such as anxiety and fear, from the concern that other people may judge them or not like their blogging style, writing or topics. While you may feel that way now, please don’t ever let that stop you from getting started!

I am here to reassure you that starting a blog with today’s blogging platforms is much easier than one might assume. There are embedded tutorials and support to walk you through the process. However, you can also easily get support from marketing and consulting businesses (like Buzzword Consulting!)  if desired. So never let the fear of set-up and design scare you away if this is something you want to pursue.

A few top blogging platforms to consider: WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr and Weebly.

As far as anxiety over content and writing goes – two things. First, know that it’s completely normal to worry about how other people may perceive or judge your writing in the beginning. But that will go away with time and experience. (Everyone was a beginner at one time in their lives…) Second, other than some general suggestions for success and formatting, there really aren’t any “official” blogging rules, so you can use this opportunity to be yourself and make something your own. You can never fail as long as you stay true to yourself and are motivated to make it happen.

If you want to start a blog, but writing and content is something you are either not confident in or simply do not enjoy doing, you can also hire someone (copywriter) to write for you. Just make sure that the individual or business shares the same level of understanding/expertise on your chosen subject and can represent you, your business and your brand authentically.

How often do I have to post?

Again, there are no official blogging rules to follow. You can post daily, and many do, but you don’t have to. Putting that pressure only adds to the stress of getting started. If you are blogging for your business, I would suggest making sure your blog stays relatively active, with at least 3 posts per week. But putting out content just for content’s sake, is not necessary. The idea behind blogging for business is to promote useful, interesting and relevant content that your audience (peers and existing/future customers) can engage in and relate to with ease and comfort. In a world of constant advertising and promotions, finding a friendly blog with helpful and interesting content is refreshing!

seo-blog-tips-newIf you want to start a personal blog, that is wonderful. Go for it! If I had my way, everybody would have a blog. I believe it is an extremely healthy way to relate to others and work on improving your communication skills at the same time. But if you also run a business, a blog for your business is not only a great idea, it needs to happen. Here are some benefits you can expect from blogging for your business, as well as some suggestions on getting started.

Business Blog Benefits:

1. Increase online traffic and new leads to your business website. You can build in links and information to your website when relevant. Also, by producing original, useful and relevant written content, you can more easily attract new leads (future customers) without pressuring them. I would recommend having business social media links connected to your blog and if you have one, an invitation to join your email newsletter (in addition to just following your blog). Getting leads into your email funnel will help you reach out in a series of more nurturing emails prior to ever “asking for the sale.” This turns a cold lead into a warm lead in a very natural and progressive way.

2. Helps you build authority and lasting relationships. What do I mean by authority? When you produce high-quality written content in your field, it will resonate with others and you will be seen as a qualified “expert” – granting authority to yourself and your business. You can become a go-to source for others in the same industry and will be someone they rely on to keep them up to date on news and important insight. In addition to authority, you will strengthen your relationships with others as they begin to feel more supported and involved, by being able to comment on your blog posts and/or social media. (Important note: if you share content regularly on your social media accounts, be sure to share the content from the blog instead of copy/pasting the same info into Facebook, for example. You always want to link traffic to your blog site which in turn, links traffic back to your website as well. Think of social media as the delivery service, and your blog as the host.)

3. Increases SEO. As long as your blog topics are focused and relevant to your business, using proper keywords, categories, tags and embedded links (and media!) will support your business SEO efforts. (For some additional insight here, consider reading another blog post I wrote, SEO: Friend or Foe?)

4. An inexpensive way to reach a wider audience, allowing you to engage with ease and share news faster. Starting a blog can be completely free if you use the standard domain name provided and free templates. But you can also invest a small amount to personalize your domain or upgrade to a particular theme. A blog is significantly less expensive than starting an official business website and can be a good way to build an audience if your business in not yet up and running. A blog – at minimum – gives you online presence and content online that can be searched and shared with social media, which is critical in today’s marketplace.

5. Syncs beautifully with social media platforms. Blogging platforms are designed to be shared, so they include widgets (buttons) for sharing online through social media, and the shared content itself looks great. When shared, it provides the image of your post, title and some content, so it looks just as professional as major publications do. If you have a business website, but it is not optimized for social media and high-quality sharing, consider starting a free blog to route important news and articles that can be shared in an aesthetic way. Always make sure to include your contact information and links back to your official business website in every post as well.

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Suggestions for getting started:

Decide on a title and theme for your blog. Your title becomes part of your domain name and in many cases, you can’t change it later without a personalized and purchased domain. To avoid having to start all over again, know what your title is ahead of time. You will use it when setting up your account along with a designated email address.

Make a list. Brainstorm a bunch of ideas for future blog post topics and various themes. It does not need to be perfect, but by having a basic list created that you can re-visit and expand on later, it will help you by always having ideas at your fingertips.

Read and follow other blogs. What makes some great and others just so-so? Get a feel for blogging in general. Follow other blogs and see what kind of writing, content and style you enjoy the most or if anything turns you off. Consider this part of your “research” for your own blog and pay attention to the types of things communicated that you do or do not like, and why.

Pick a platform and a theme that initially attracts you. You can always change your theme later and do take advantage of any “getting started” tutorials and help menus.

Write down anything that moves you, no matter where you are. I have noticed, most of my best ideas for business or writing doesn’t come to me when I’m sitting at my desk with a blank screen or piece of paper staring back at me. I use my “notes” application in my phone constantly, and write down ideas while on-the-go that I can elaborate on later. Most mobile devices also have free recording applications as well, which you can use to leave yourself voice memos on ideas, thoughts or potential articles and listen to later, so you never lose a great idea or any momentum.

If you have “writers block,” walk away. I know real deadlines exist, but when you are really struggling, most likely you will need a slightly new perspective or approach to pull it off. Even a short walk around the block can help you “re-set,” and other times, you may need to just not think about the topic or project for a short time. Temporarily switch gears on another project and come back to writing later. I have noticed, I tend to write and brainstorm better late at night, which doesn’t help my efforts during the work day. So to combat that, I will brainstorm and bullet out my late-night revelations in note form and revisit them during the work day. This has helped tremendously.

blackBLOGO-coral-grey-beigeFor additional support or consulting services, feel free to contact Katya Juliet through her business website, Buzzword-Consulting. Buzzword Consulting offers affordable digital marketing services, consulting, copywriting & PR for small businesses, start-ups, entrepreneurs & non-profit Organizations.

 

SEO: Friend or Foe?

Improve your SEO in a natural and productive way 

By Katya Juliet

Try not to overthink the process of creating content that will generate positive SEO results for your business website. The truth is, SEO is an ever-changing wave in a sea of tech innovation and just when you try to lock down all the best SEO “secret ingredients,” some part of the algorithm dissipates or evolves.

So, what can you do? Make sure to focus most of your efforts on creating interesting, useful, relevant and original content that you can share consistently with your target audience. Also, always incorporate creative elements (think direct links and multimedia) to help with your audience and social media engagement.

Below,  I am sharing a little extra insight to help you improve your SEO in a very natural and productive way. (Alert: You do not need to be a mathematician or web-coder to make progress on your SEO and business website ranking!)

Write for people, not robots.

High quality content that is designed and written for your target audience is wonderful for improving SEO and will also increase overall client engagement.

Make sure to focus your message. Often, businesses make the mistake of trying to address too many topics inside one post or article, believing it will widen the target audience reach. But the reality is that adding too may themes just diminishes the natural content you have written. Keep messages on topic.

Next, always use the natural language of your audience. Using consistent keywords that will help people locate your content is important, but talk to your audience naturally and make it easy for them to both read and relate. Never intentionally overload any post with extra keywords. This can actually impede on your SEO efforts, as search engines recognize this trend as “gaming the system.” Search Engines can now also understand synonyms and pull content that would answer a question asked, even if the words aren’t a precise match. So, write with flexibility and use a variety of words to give your content a more natural feel, making it more relatable and enjoyable to your readers.

If you are writing a new article or press release, consider planning ahead with a few questions to make sure your message is delivered in a clear and precise way. This can help drive organic SEO traffic in your direction.

Consider the following questions:

  • Who is my target audience?
  • When is the best time to publish or send it?
  • What is my article or press release really about?
  • Where will it have the best impact?
  • Why should my audience care? Think WIFM: What’s in it for me? And put yourself in your audience’s shoes

Always incorporate creative and multimedia elements. 

New Trends: more and more content is now being searched and viewed on mobile devices and inside Social Media applications. Thus, it is important for your content to read and view well on mobile devices and sharing your content on social media is important. It helps your audience build an engaging relationship with you and your business, inevitably helping to promote your website. The average person checks into mobile social media applications 5-7 times a day and many check their applications more than 15 times a day. You can also now search news and general information using a social browser like Facebook has and this has once again, initiated more changes in the long list of SEO best practices.

Titles and Links: If your website allows, title and link any images in your articles with relevant keywords for SEO, and always use direct links to your articles, press releases and general website pages inside any posts to ensure link building from other outside (trusted sites) is consistently happening. SEO is also positively impacted by your audience engaging with your content; sharing your multimedia, articles and direct website links with others. (Tip: stay away from adding several links. Add the most relevant link and if you are writing about a less common or more complex topic, consider adding links to wiki or an outside study/source, as long as it is coming form a well-trusted and established site.)

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Media: Adding photos, logos, quotes or promos on photo images, videos and other multimedia content makes all your messages more compelling and increase reader engagement. Search engines do pay attention to social interaction on content, so do invest time and budget in your marketing plan to ensure you have proper customized multimedia to share along with your written content. The old saying “A picture is worth a thousand words” is extremely relevant today with both SEO and Social Media, so keep that concept front and center.

Bottom line: by spending a few extra minutes thinking through your content/message goals ahead of time, writing naturally for your audience, narrowing your topics per article, and adding multimedia and relevant and direct links, your SEO will steadily improve. But SEO won’t happen over night, so don’t become discouraged. Stick with it!

There are lots of DIY (do-it-yourself) guides, videos, blogs and books out there that can help you improve your SEO. However, many resources tend to give it a technical edge that easily intimidates.

blackBLOGO-coral-grey-beigeFor additional support or consulting services, feel free to contact Katya Juliet through her business website, Buzzword-Consulting. Buzzword Consulting offers affordable digital marketing services, consulting, copywriting & PR for small businesses, start-ups, entrepreneurs & non-profit Organizations. Get people Buzzing About Your Business!

Lost in Translation: Our Human Touch In Today’s Digital World

By Katya Juliet

In a sea of digital technology and mobile apps, are we missing vital opportunities to communicate with others in more meaningful ways?

Social media, text messages, email, dating apps, and other new communication tools being developed daily are all handy-dandy but when it comes to more meaningful relationships, digital forms of communication still lack the ability to convey critical elements, such as tone, expression and other non-verbal qualities including basic body language, energy and chemistry.

But what about emojis? Bitmojis, Gifs and Memes!? Yes, we have bridged some of the issue by implementing digital variations of emotional expressions, but it’s still lacking that genuine human experience of meeting with someone face-to-face. (Not to mention the confusion online with sarcasm, used often, which is extremely difficult to convey and/or receive without a high risk of potential misunderstanding).

Have you ever had an amazing connection with someone through email or online communication and then met them face-to-face and been totally turned off? (Online dating included) Yes – our digital world gives as most of what we need to stay in connection with others and even connect miraculously with others out of our area we otherwise may never have had the chance to meet (great opportunities!). BUT online interaction alone does not grant us the meaningful bonds and relationships our DNA craves to feel understood, loved and whole.

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Communication is also more than words or conveying emotion. It is about sensations; appearance, physical touch, smell, a sense of Interconnectedness and visual understanding. When we engage with others in-person we take in so much more than words and tone, we receive each other in sound and energetic wavelengths, which is what gives us the ability to “vibe” off one another and experience chemistry.

When we communicate online, we are also using a different method to communicate – mostly written communication and use significantly less oral communication – which is detrimental to the practice of professional speaking and practicing our spoken and non-verbal interpersonal communications within important or intimate relationships.

I am a big advocate of online social networking,  promotion and marketing. But also feel the need to remind us all that there must be a strong balance of in-person engagements and live phone calls in order for us to remain effective communicators.

I truly believe people can lose touch with reality  if they spend too much time online – and run the risk of forgetting that behind the fancy profile and username – is in fact a living, breathing human being with an entire life, family, friends and raw emotion. Online interaction can benefit many people by giving them an outlet and boost of confidence to say or share more than they might otherwise feel comfortable to say in person, but the counter effect of that is also frightening, when people feel so far removed that they can bully others or say hurtful and horrible things with little to no regret.

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Bottom line: Don’t get lost in cyberspace!  Enjoy and appreciate the abundant ways the online world and digital technology has enabled us to do more great things than ever imagined possible. But stay grounded and prioritize the beauty of our human touch when it comes to effective communication and relationship building.

Don’t wait for weeks and months to meet someone you’re interested in online, learn who they truly are as a person in real life.

Don’t just email or text your family to keep in touch, pick up the phone and hear each other’s voices and share stories and laughter together. Prioritize visiting together – life should never be so busy that we neglect spending time with those we love. Life is short.

Don’t just post articles about the upcoming election or any other controversial issues you feel passionate about – share your message with others face-to-face and help them understand your passion and why you feel the way you do. Be courageous.

Being human and our ability to connect and communicate is our gift! Let us never forget how important a gift it is and always continue to use it with great impact and intention.

blackBLOGO-coral-grey-beigeFor additional support or consulting services, feel free to contact Katya Juliet through her business website, Buzzword-Consulting. Buzzword Consulting offers affordable digital marketing services, consulting, copywriting & PR for small businesses, start-ups, entrepreneurs & non-profit Organizations. Get people Buzzing About Your Business!

You can also join our newsletter for other communication and marketing related tips!

Help Wanted: Communication Intern!

Why you should embody the qualities and dedication of an Intern when it comes to improving your communication skills.

By Katya Juliet

Can you imagine if everyone really did get an intern or personal assistant to help them improve and master their communication and relationship building skills? That would be amazing! Interns are hungry; motivated to learn and soak up opportunity to improve and be the best. Interns don’t necessarily get paid a lot (or anything at all !) for their devoted efforts, but that doesn’t stop them from the desire to keep climbing up that ladder. They understand it takes time to become an expert – maybe even a lifetime.

busy-intern-800x430Effective communication can be seen in that same light – we must relentlessly practice our communication to attain a higher level of emotional intelligence and interpersonal communication skills. Our communities, workplace and personal and professional relationships benefit so much when effective communication takes place. Even if you consider yourself a highly-skilled and effective communicator, everyone has room to learn, grow and improve. Thus, the notion that you should embody an intern-like mindset and consistently strive to be better.

Communication is the key to success and central in all aspects of our  lives: intimate relationships, work, health, mental health, finances, personal and professional reputations … and the list goes on. When we dedicate time and passion towards becoming better communicators (think effective listening!) we are truly investing in ourselves and our continued success. The moment we “settle” and simply communicate on autopilot, failing to seek consistent improvement and/or refinement of our skills, is the very moment we miss the mark and could potentially miss out on a great opportunity.

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8 qualities of an intern translated into activities to improve communication

1. Work Hard and Take Initiative: Be relentless in your pursuit to educate yourself. Practice makes perfect. Take time to read, write, practice public speaking, role-play an interview or even an important conversation with yourself on a monthly basis. Knowing lots of big words doesn’t necessarily make you a better communicator. However, having a wider vocabulary at your disposal does allow you to communicate more precisely and efficiently in various situations. (See also Colorful Communication for more insight.) Strive to learn at least 1 new word on a weekly basis.

2. Be Proactive: Don’t wait for someone else to initiate important conversations in your relationships. Typically there is one person who initiates communication first, but it really should be done by both people equally in a given relationship. Practice learning how to bridge topics and initiate communication especially if you tend to be the kind of person who  waits for someone else to do it. This activity would be on-going as opportunities to practice arise.

3. Be Humble: Learn how to mirror people’s speaking (style and rate) and behaviors (non-verbal) according to various environments – especially in professional & networking settings. Don’t over boast, but do know when to share your expertise and most of all – learn how to generously give compliments. People love compliments. In communication, there is always an opportunity to compliment another person. Make that a new habit: to leave each conversation having validated or complimented the other person.

4. Under Promise, Over Deliver: There is nothing worse than a big talker that doesn’t follow through on anything. This correlates with staying humble as well. Check your ego at the door if you really want to wow other people with your strengths and abilities. I’m not advocating that you avoid sharing important positive qualities about yourself or your business, but do let some things simply speak for themselves. You don’t always have to do all the talking in order for something to be communicated – sometimes it’s about the delivery and timing of a behavior, product or performance following an initial verbal communication that is most impressive.

5. Ask a lot of Questions: Ask a lot of questions. Period. Listen to others with focus and find opportunities to ask more questions about what they share. A basic rule to live by is to try to listen at least twice as much as you speak. A common habit in communication is to want to relate your own experience back to the other person as a way of affirming you understand their message. There is a time and place for that, however, it is not always the best way to interact. Practice this in your next conversation: when you want to relay back something about yourself, instead, just simply reply something like “I understand” or “I hear you.” This validates the other person without turning the focus away from them onto yourself. Also, instead of rushing to offer advice, try to ask at least two additional questions to further understand the other person’s situation. Use this guideline as a rule of thumb to practice more effective and supportive listening in at least one conversation every day.

6. Treat Everyone as Equal: Do you tend to speak differently to different people? Are you more relaxed or even short with the clerk at the store but very eloquent and professional to a colleague or superior? Practice speaking to everyone with the same level of respect and professionalism. You will be surprised at how often we slack on our communication efforts or how often we may actually not communicate anything at all! Take notes of these “Ah-ha” moments as they occur and seek improvement on-going.

7. Be Observant: Take notes of what went well in an interaction and what went poorly. When communications becomes aggressive or negative, often if you reflect on the situation, it involved a level of misunderstanding and had a pivotal “trigger” moment where it went from being positive or neutral to becoming negative. Make an effort to pin-point those moments and create an on-going list of what seems to be the triggers. If you’re able to successfully resolve a situation that started negative, take note of what helped. Consider actual words spoken, of course, but especially consider your tone, body language and facial expressions (non-verbal communication). Often times, when people are upset, they will share that it was not what you said, but how your said it.

8. Take Advice from Others: Ask for feedback from friends, family and co-workers and try implementing any suggestions received in your next communication opportunity. Also you can try to practice body language and facial expressions in the mirror to better understand what “silent” messages you might be sending other people. Do you fidget with your hands? Twirl your hair? Tap your feet? Cross your arms? Slouch? Smile? Scrunch your face? These are all common non-verbal habits and most of the time a person has no idea the are doing them!

blackBLOGO-coral-grey-beigeI Hope that you enjoyed this post and you will take some extra time each week to improve and refine your communication skills. For additional support or consulting services, feel free to contact Katya Juliet through her business website, Buzzword-Consulting. Buzzword Consulting offers affordable digital marketing services, consulting, copywriting & PR for small businesses, start-ups, entrepreneurs & non-profit Organizations. Get people Buzzing About Your Business!

FREE GUIDE! Over 30 Low-Cost Ways to Promote your Business…

A Getting Started and DIY Guide for Entrepreneurs

By Katya Juliet

Buzzword Consulting is dedicated to providing affordable rates for various digital marketing services, communication consulting and PR to small business owners, non-profit organizations and start-ups and entrepreneurs.

Promoting your business online for greater exposure is crucial and this special offer is to help you get started without breaking your bank account or depleting your marketing budget. Hope you enjoy these special tips and if you would like any future services from Buzzword Consulting, code “BUZZ25” entitles you to $25 off any service.

For a full list of online communications and marketing services offered, visit the BuzzWord Consulting Homepage today or contact us anytime for a Free Quote!

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Search Engines 
It is important to make sure top search engines know that your business/website exist. Get started by submitting your link directly to them (usually in the admin console). Once you accomplish that, the best way to improve your search engine presence is with great original & relevant content, keywords and overall SEO maintenance on your website. I will also note – if you don’t have website up and running, get one asap. Or at minimum, a blog. Businesses today greatly suffer by not having a strong enough online footprint. Top 3 Search Engines are:

Google and Bing both offer a free listing for local businesses:
To get listed on Google, go to Google My Business.
To get listed on Bing, go to Bing Places for Business
Yahoo charges, but with their service, Yahoo Localworks, it costs $29.99 a month and lists you in 50 directories including Yahoo Local, Yelp, WhitePages, Bing, Mapquest and more. If $29.99 is not in your budget, get started with Google and Bing directly today and independently route content to those additional directories (see Online Directories below)

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Online Directories
You want to ensure that your business and website are both listed and linked! Submit your business information, including location, contact and business categories, for example, to ensure your business is found when an individual is conducting a subcategory search in your field. Making sure you have your website linked from these popular/trusted directories can help your website rank higher and be found easier, thus driving in more traffic and potential customers!
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Social Media LINK BUILDING
This is crucial. Not only a quality way to gain backlinks to your website, but it is the most popular web activity and intersects with both mobile and app users – which is gearing up to take over a share of what SEO previously has done alone. You want strong mobile presence anywhere you can get it WITH relevant content and quality (not spammy) links directed back to your business website or landing pages.

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Photo Sharing

Photo sharing websites give people the opportunity to display visual and creative content that is related to your business, and most importantly, it can be used to refer and link back to your main website. Any business can use these sites to post images of events, coworkers, news and everything from A-Z, as long as it’s keeping up your positive reputation, professional and connects to your website! Here are a few photo sharing websites to consider:

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Blogs / Article Submission

Blogs and article-submission websites are a terrific way to promote your site. All you need to do is write an original article related to your business and submit it to these sites. While it’s important to keep these articles informative, try to keep your tone friendly. Articles that sound genuinely well-intentioned and have a less aggressive marketing tone will likely draw more interest to your site than self-promotion alone. Blogs and articles are also great for promoting link building for SEO benefits.

Other ideas for writing: Always look for something unique and unusual about you and/or your business to promote and publicize. People love reading of new interesting topics, contents and good story-telling is essential.

You can submit press releases about your content individually to local newspapers, radio stations, magazines and even cable TV! Never sell your business, yourself or your writing short – let the journalists and publications decide whether or not they want to promote your work. Your job is not to make that decision, but rather, focus on creating the greatest original content and story line.

A few helpful notes:
1. Editors and Press are more likely to use your content if it needs less work/revision. Send a long a great photo to partner with your piece, a link to your “About You” section of your business website and make sure to follow any specific submission or editing and format directions they list on their submissions page.

2. Always share what you have expertise on! Don’t keep it a secret – if you have extensive experience in a particular field that could help and benefit others, make sure you promote that and share it with the world!

3. Always provide easy contact information. There is nothing more frustrating that wanting to help promote a business or individual and not easily being able to find out how to communicate with them. Make sure it is both easy to locate on your website and attached to any communication you send out.

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Networking and the power of the Business Card
Never underestimate the power of communication and interacting with others. People love making new quality connections. You need know who you might be standing next to in line or chatting with on the street. Always be ready to promote yourself and your business.Get your business cards into the hand of anyone who can help you in your search for new clients. Never be too shy or intimidated to network yourself with friends, family and coworkers. If you interact with someone at a local business, share your card. Hand out short stacks of them and mostly, keep them with you! I can’t tell you how many times I have heard someone say they forget to bring them along.Talk to all the vendors from whom you buy products or services. Give them your business card, and ask if they can use your products or service, or if they know anyone who can. If they have bulletin boards where business cards are displayed, ask if yours can be added to the board.Attend meetings of professional groups: Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, or online via meetup.com for professionals. Bring Business Cards to network but here is a very handy tip: Focus a lot of your attention on LISTENING to other people and asking what THEY do for a living. Ask Questions and show genuine interest in their responses. They’ll be flattered by your interest, and better remember you because of it. While we want to promote our own business and person, not all time spent devoted to what it is that you do is the best time spent. If people like you, and have a great first impression, they will have more interest in everything you do.Network with others who are doing the same type of work you are. Let them know you are available to handle their work overloads. It is not considered stealing clients when you network yourself professionally and volunteer to take on any extra referrals. Businesses well established may very well take you up on your offer and share extra work load they cannot handle.

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TEST DRIVE AD PLATFORMS
Even if you aren’t certain that a particular ad platform will work for you, its important to still test them out – get your feet wet! Make sure you can throw at least a small monthly budget towards targeting news customers and getting your message out.Consider some of the following:
  • Google Adwords
  • Test buying Pay Per Click (PPC) ads on search engines
  • Facebook Ads
  • Twitter or Instagram Ads
  • Local ads in college or city papers
  • Local ads online with other business that share a similar client demographic as you

And if you have a slightly larger budget, get creative and invest in high traffic locations with movie theaters, bus stops, or even billboards. But, generally speaking, those last few options are a bit more costly.

If you are unsure how to design a social media ad campaign, there are many online trainings to help you and businesses like Buzzword Consulting and others are also available to help create them for you if you would like a serve and experienced person getting you going.

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Other Ideas and Tips to Promote your Business:

If you’re just starting out and don’t have a business card and business stationery, have them made up — immediately. It speaks to potential new clients and shows you are a real, professional business. Be sure to list your website address on your business card and, letterhead and any handouts you create. If you do not yet have a Business Logo, that is also essential. Make sure your documents have a consistent look and message that captures your brand and product.

Create an online Email Newsletter! Free and paid subscriptions are available from providers such as Mail Chimp and Constant Contact.

Offer to be a speaker. Industry conferences, volunteer organizations, libraries, and local business groups often need speakers for meetings. You’ll benefit from the name recognition, contacts and publicity.

If your product or service is appropriate, give demonstrations of it to whatever groups or individuals might be interested. Or, teach others how to use some tool you use in your work.

Put videos of your product or service on YouTube and other video-sharing and slide-sharing sites.

Learn to ask for referrals. Ask existing customers, prospects and casual acquaintances. Create a referral card and incentivize clients with discounts. When you get them, follow up on the leads.

Run a contest. Make the prize something desirable and related to your business — it could be a free gift basket of your products, for instance, or free services.

blackBLOGO-coral-grey-beigeFor additional support or consulting services, feel free to contact Katya Juliet through her business website, Buzzword-Consulting. Buzzword Consulting offers affordable digital marketing services, consulting, copywriting & PR for small businesses, start-ups, entrepreneurs & non-profit Organizations. Get people Buzzing About Your Business!