Real Talk About Small Talk 


Small Talk. If you don’t like it, you’re not alone. In fact, 92% of Americans say they feel uncomfortable during “small talk” conversations and try to avoid them. Just kidding, I made that statistic up but it’s believable, right? I have never met a single person who says they enjoy small talk and try to avoid networking and other situations that require it. 

Why? Because it is artificial. From the moment it begins, signature small talk feels like it puts a boundary and limitation around the potential of the conversation. People who like to communicate feel limited and unnatural and people who don’t like to communicate by nature feel forced and awkward.

 

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Ick! Boring, awkward and often pointless since it usually ends with no deeper connection and both parties departing feeling indifferent. Small talk is just the only way most of us learned how to connect with others around us. It was the only way we learned to “break the ice.”
But the truth is, we have been silently guided by our society to never go “too deep too soon” or be obvious in our quest to connect with the community around us. Because “Hi, I feel like talking to you right now,” “I need more friends,” or “Hello, you look nice and I long for human interaction” would come across as overly needy and flat out strange.
So what can we do? Lets use our awareness on this issue and activate our communication skills to turn the dreaded small talk into small acts of kindness.
Lets think about this for a moment. What is the goal? If the goal is to connect, to begin something new or just to pass the time together in a more positive and less awkward way, why not use that time to make each other feel better and happier?
People communicate to make connections with other people. To feel good. Feel Important. Needed. Noticed.
Next time, try to ditch the small talk and use one of these ideas below. Notice how you feel. Does the person react differently to you? Does the conversation elevate? Do you feel better or worse? Was it more or less comfortable?
As with anything new, practice is important. So play around with this and try it often. After some initial adjustments, you will find yourself feeling more confident and comfortable in any surrounding, sans small talk!

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 A genuine compliment is so easy to give and yet we rarely do it. It makes other people feel amazing just hearing a few nice words, especially when they least expect it. You can compliment someone on their looks or something they have. But you can also compliment someone on how they behave.

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Now as a caution, this can backfire if your compliments are not appropriate for your environment. Complimenting someone is not the same as flirtation.
The goal is to make someone else feel good, not uncomfortable.

 
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 People like to feel needed, helpful and appreciated. While sometimes you really need to ask someone a question, this can also be a communication method to help break the ice.
Also, many people enjoy talking about themselves, so asking them a question or follow-up question and practicing your listening skills is a great way to come off as an expert communicator.

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If you don’t know what questions to ask, you can always work on generic follow-up questions that help open up a conversation deeper. The goal is to ask something that is open-ended and makes the other person engage a bit more.
The key with this is knowing when to stop. Asking too many questions can make people shy away or close up. Asking one or two open-ended questions that make people feel interesting and valued is perfect.
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Hold a door open, hand someone them a straw or a napkin. Let someone running late or with children cut in line ahead of you while in a long line. Small random acts of kindness are rare these days and really makes you stand out as a good, generous and kind person — with almost no effort.
Plus, you never know who you might bump into or connect with. Offering something simple to another person could open the door to a business card, new dream job or relationship!
Again, appropriateness is key. Offer to hold the door open at the store or coffee shop, not their apartment.
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 Non verbal communication is 90% of what you communicate to others. It is amazing how often we skip an opportunity to connect with other people around us.
We keep our heads down, don’t smile or connect with eye contact. Some of this is a learned behavior to stay safe from strangers when vulnerable, but it was not intended to be the norm. Mobile and electronic devices contribute heavily to this issue, but it’s also just become a bad habit. But more important to be aware of, it may be that you keep from making eye contact and smiling at others because you don’t want to be seen. Because you fear being noticed or, circling back to the initial topic, dislike small talk and awkward beginnings.

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Just try it again. Smile. Light up your face. Connect with eye contact and confidently say “Hi” or “Hello, have a great day!” You will be surprised how good it feels to do this and how positively others respond to it and to you. Because fundamentally, people do crave connections and communication more deeply than they realize.
Today, many signals get mixed up. Social media provides an artificial social scene providing attention, but minimal connection. Someone who may be craving a feeling connection and validation may instead seek a new relationship or sexual experience, when all they really needed was a compliment or to be noticed.
Just as we can mistake thirst for hunger, we can confuse our very normal inner desire to connect with others as loneliness or isolation. Affirm today that you want to contribute to a better community and work on turning boring small talk into small acts of kindness to make someone’s day!

By Katya Juliet Buzzword Consulting

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Relationship 101 – The 3 C’s 


Relationship 101: The 3C’s

Keeping this very short and simple. Only to serve  as a quick reminder before the new week. Make someone’s day! Show your loved ones that you care, even when life gets busy. Communication is  always the key…

1. Communication is the key to everything. It’s a two-way street, and 90% of what you communicate is non-verbal. Pay attention to your expressions, body language & practice listening to listen vs. to respond. 

2. Compliments go a long way. It can make someone’s day and change the chemistry in the room & body. Compliments show that you are present & paying attention. 

3. Have compassion for what other people experience. Take the time to show you care. Compassion is kindness, even when it’s not convenient to you. 

#relationship101 #communication101


🐝 Katya Lerner | Buzzword Consulting 

Choose Your Own Adventure 

As a child I remember driving from Oregon to California with my family in the car, windows down with hot air blasting as we had no AC. Mid way through our travels we always stopped in a small town to stretch our legs, fill up the car with gas and eat a snack. That town had a book store and that book store sold “Choose Your Own Adventure” stories, where you are the star of the story. 

As the reader, you got to choose at the end of each chapter what the story did next and then skip to that section of the book to find out what happens based on your choice. It was so much fun getting to participate in the outcome and not just being stuck reading a story without any input.

Making choices was thrilling. Part of the excitement as children growing up is that one day we get to start making our own independent decisions. We empower our children by letting them choose one of two options in an effort to help guide them. But then we grow up and many times want to run from the very responsibility. 

I was talking with a friend the other day who was struggling to make a decision about something important in her life. “I wish I did not have to make a decision for myself. I wish someone else would choose for me,” she said

I have heard that said before by others and I’m pretty sure that I have said that in the past as well. It is becuase at times we feel overwhelmed with the amount of choices and decisions we are faced with throughout our lives.

But the power of choice and taking ownership of our path is the most thrilling and critical part of our achievements in life. 

If life was completely destined and our choices did not matter, life would lose meaning. If we only took a reactive path, our life would feel boring and pointless. Part of what makes us unique is our ability to choose. Part of what helps people survive and not give up is our ability decide who, what, where, when and why. So why would any of us want to give that up? 

Because it feels hard. 

We are emotional creatures and our choices effect other people around us. It feels hard to make a choice that may emotionally hurt another person. It also feels hard to make a decision that could possibly cause ourselves to feel pain. It feels hard when we can’t accurately predict the future or total outcome. Making our own choices means taking risks and taking an adventure to an unknown destination. 

If we were to let go of the opportunity to choose and give up that adventure, allowing others to make our decisions for us, then what’s the point? 

Sometimes it feels easier to wish and hope for a sign of what to do, but they won’t always come. I once prayed for someone to show up at my front door and hand me the manual to my life, telling me exactly how to fix something. But then, would I really be living? 

Getting the answers handed to you essentially ends the adventure of your life and you would lose your desire to build and thrive over time. Instead, the inevitable default would be that life become a reaction field of victimhood and confusion. 

By making choices, we claim the drivers seat in the car of our lives. We live empowered and free. So, how can we make this process of making important decisions feel a little less hard? 

First, try to indicate whether this choice has to be governed by your mind or your heart.

Even if you consider yourself someone who is guided more by one or the other, you cannot let both of them take priority at the same time. The mind/heart clash is part of the struggle in the first place. To take that challenge off your plate the first action is to chose mind or heart. (You can use both to guide you, but one has to take the lead.) 

Next, try writing down a list:

  • Your ultimate Goal related to this choice 
  • Your Top 3 priorities in life now 
  • Your Top 3 priorities in life future 
  • Your Top 2 obstacles 
  • What you’re afraid of 
  • Your emotions (i.e. Confused, worried, challenged, sad, etc.) 

After you create your list, evaluate it. What does the list tell you? Does it help you move in one direction over another? Were you honest? Did you write down what you really feel or think you should feel? It might take you a few tries. 

If you are still struggling after your list, I recommend a personal role-play or daydream, if you will. Play out the situation 2 different ways, not in your head, but out-loud verbally and write it down. What does the cause and effect scenario look like visually? How does it sound? How do others react? How does it make you feel? Do you like it? Where do you end up? 

Communication is not just an important skill set with others. You communicate with yourself  24/7, consciously and unconsciously. How do you communicate with yourself? Is your tone typically negative and pessimistic? Encouraging and supportive? Worried and stressed? 

Talking, writing and drawing yourself through various feelings and obstacles can help you get out from feeling stuck and back on the road to making key choices that will get you closer to the life of your dreams. 

But, regret. 

Ah, the fear and worry of regret is often what keeps us in a state of paralysis when needing to make an important choice. 

But what if the biggest regret of your life ended up not being because of a choice you made, but rather from your inability to make choices along the way. Letting fear and worry win. 

Non action, while it could technically can be considered a choice, is really you just sitting idly by, letting the world around you effect your life over and over. 

Make a choice. Be bold and courageous. Be adventurous. I’m not saying you have to live a wild life. Life can be adventurous and simple at the same time. It just has to be yours. You have to own it. You GET to own it though a series of choices. You get to be the star in the story of you.

 
May 10th, 2017 | Katya Lerner
Buzzword Consulting

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The Lost Art Of Listening 

Focus outward. If asking questions, giving compliments and listening are not your strengths, it’s time to practice! 

Take notes – write down some good opening questions and general compliments you can practice making while meeting and networking with others. 

Listen without thinking of your response and simply take a genuine interest in what others have to say. You will make them feel important and they will want to communicate with you again in the future. 

While communication is a two-way system, it is not always necessary to communicate verbally. 

Especially when learning about someone new, listening and other forms of non-verbal communication, such as eye-contact, head nodding, body language, smiling and so on, is often received more positively than listening to immediately reply with a personal story or reference. 

Most of us are so focused on what we are thinking about, what we’re going to say next or want to say in response, that we lose sight of the importance of listening to what others have to say. We lose sight of how our never-ending words and lack of effective listening affects other people.

Take time to listen and learn about others and they will then in return take a genuine interest in you as well. Sometimes the two-way construct confuses people into thinking both parties need to be continuously talking back and forth. 

Listening is a critical skill in business and personal life that is significantly under-practiced. If you listen with greater focus, you will most likely find it easier to respond with more thoughtful questions and insight, and in turn, improve your social network & circle of friends. 


Katya Lerner | Buzword-Consulting.com 

Get People Buzzing About Your Business

#buzzwordconsulting #communication101 #networking #entrepreneur #quoteoftheday #listening #friends #social 

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.