Is the business card dead?

Interesting thought about business cards, are they really dead? I think this one is a matter of opinion, but in this graphic designers mind, they are most certainly not.

Social media dominates our world. All you have to do is look at the phone book that was recently delivered. That book is an old dinosaur to most folks. I used to sit on the directory as a child when I needed to be higher up to the table, and it weighed quite a few pounds. The recently delivered telephone book was about the size of a journal. The bigger questions is how many times do you refer to that book in your daily life today? Never would be my answer because I go online and search for what I need.

This leads me to the topic of conversation, the business card. Will it soon join its friend in the land of the dinosaurs? I don’t believe so and here is why.

Let’s do a little scenario. You are at a networking event and have to introduce yourself quickly to multiple people. What is the quickest way to do that? Business card.

Second scenario. You have been invited to speak at a monthly meeting, and these people could be your potential clients. You have 3 minutes to leave a lasting impression, and you can hand out materials. Leave the brochure, leave the rack card but make sure you leave the business card too because that is what will get kept. It may go in a bowl or a Rolodex, maybe even thrown into a drawer but it will be there and when they think of you and what will they search for? Business card.

Third and final scenario. An existing client has a meeting and meets someone who could use your services, but you are not there. They chat about you, talk about what a fantastic business you are, it’s a perfect fit. Luckily what does the supporter have to pass on to this possible new customer? Business card.

Ok, I think that is all the role playing we need for now. Hopefully, you are beginning to see my point. In our world today I still firmly believe you need a card to identify and remind people what you do. A friend recently told me she heard a podcast where they were discussing why you no longer need business cards because social media was your story. I believe that is partly true. Social media is a great tool for showing people what we do on a daily basis. However, the beginning of the story, the cover of your book starts with you and your business card.

What’s in a Name? Typebird is Revealed!

So many times people have asked me where did the name come from? What’s Typebird mean? I guess maybe it’s time to explain in a little more detail.

This story goes backward. I started with a name, and the real reason for the name came about afterward. I promise it makes sense so please, keep reading.

Traveling home from a long trip, my husband and I started thinking about name choices for my business. As always I start with the domain name first, if you can’t get the website you will have a hard time directing people to find you. Typography has always been a big part of my life because of my profession choice, so that was a no-brainer to try and incorporate. Birds are different. I give people birds. No, not like I gift them birds in a cage, but I make them a bird in my mind. I know it’s silly, but to me, it’s means something. My grandfather was always told that he “watched me like a hawk” so now when I see one it reminds me of him. It’s comforting to me, and so when my husband said Typebird, it worked, and I immediately said that’s it!
During this time my father had been battling cancer. He was a Marine, a veteran who fought in Vietnam. His Cancer had come from being exposed to Agent Orange in the war. I kept thinking, why did it have to surface so many years later right about the time he retired. Sometimes life just isn’t fair. We got a year and a half with my dad after the diagnosis before he passed away. It broke me a little if I am honest, I don’t think one ever truly gets over losing a parent.

My father passed away in the summer and not too long after, a little yellow bird showed up at our house and slept night after night on a tree branch in the front of our house. It took me awhile to figure out what type of bird it was, and I kept saying to my husband, “I don’t know what TYPE of BIRD it is, but I will identify it.” He stayed there every night for three months, same tree, same branch, every night. I checked for him religiously. It ended up being a blue-headed vireo that visited for that whole time. He never came back, and I didn’t expect him to.

So the name sort of came about twice, if you will. I usually explain the first story because the second one is a bit hard to get through and a little deep for a business conversation, but it certainly means more. To feel comfort in something so simple does wonders for the soul. Now, everyday it makes me work harder as a small business owner and an artist. I had a little, feathered cheerleader for a short time that kept me going when I needed it most. Never will I forget that.

Netwerk Like it Ain’t Work!

Networking. Some of us love it, some of us hate it. Either way, it is essential in your small business!

I have been very lucky to have many clients through word of mouth over the years that I didn’t have to face the networking crowds when I lived in Florida. It wasn’t until our recent move to Georgia when I found myself needing to get out there and meet my new community. I didn’t want to work here without being involved in the local area and knowing what clients needed out in the low country.

Here are some helpful tips to boost your confidence and get you on the right track for networking in your community. You will be a pro in no time and remember, everyone, is just as nervous as you are so werk it!

Where to Go
There are many networking groups in every city, the number one place to start looking is the Chamber of Commerce if you are interested in starting with a trusted source. You can also google networking groups in your town. I highly suggest asking locals for advice; there may be smaller groups you didn’t even know that fit your niche better. The bigger the city, the more choices you will have. Choices are a good thing! Most groups allow you to visit once for free if they require membership dues. They get to meet you, and you get to see if it’s the right fit for you too. When trying out a group ask yourself after, did I meet enough people who might need my services? Was there anyone interesting I would like to get to know more and possibly use their services? Does the time of this meeting work for me monthly? Being able to attend regular meetings after you join is paramount so make sure you can benefit from the membership fee you will have to pay. With this in mind take advantage of these one-time expeditions. Network with the folks you meet, don’t pass up any opportunity.

Find an Event
Ok, hopefully by now you have picked the right networking group; it’s time to breathe! Let’s talk about going to your first event within that group. Make sure you dress the part. If the event is a formal one don’t show up in casual attire, impress them, so they remember you! If it is a monthly meeting, feel free to wear day to day work attire but try to amp it up a bit. I can’t stress this enough; you need to be you but still look professional! I sit in front of a computer all day. I wear jeans because they are comfortable and I love them. Attire for an artist is just as important as it is for anyone else in the business world. However, when I go to a meeting I still wear jeans, but I certainly like dress them up to make an impression. Fun jewelry or scarves can certainly make any outfit pop so get creative and be memorable!

Ask a Friend
Know someone in the group? Ask them to join you! Friends make things more fun so why not use this as an opportunity for you both to mingle together. It’s a lot less painful I assure you. Plus it is a great way to cross network, they may know business owners you don’t and vice versa.

Have Enough
When I say have enough I mean have enough on all accounts. Have enough business cards, have enough courage to talk to people, have enough energy to be present, have enough skills that you can openly talk about and look knowledgeable in your field, have enough confidence to know you’ve got this! There have been many times when I have gone to an event and walked in the room and though, wow, I should have gotten better sleep and I probably should have ironed this shirt a little better. If you don’t feel 100% you probably won’t perform your best so give yourself some slack. Know in your heart this just might not be the right day to show up, it’s ok to miss one meeting, don’t beat yourself up for it.

It’s not over yet
So the event is over, and you feel pretty good about it. You have passed out business cards and have received some in return. Now, what do you do? Go back to the office and get to work? Of course, but don’t forget to carve out some time later that day or the next morning to email those kind folks who connected with you and gave you a business card. Even if you email them and they do not respond, even if you probably don’t see yourself doing business with them directly…they will remember that email and maybe down the line need your services or know someone else who might. If you do get a response from them, ask if they would like to meet for coffee to learn more about them. You can advertise as much as you like, but word of mouth clients are truly priceless. You can only obtain them through your ambition and drive to make your business the best it can be. Remember to be polite and available to connect and it will be rewarded, I promise!

Photo by Hope Farm Co.

In closing I would like to say, I got really lucky. When I started looking for that perfect group that would fit me best in my new community I found a creative group that made me a better. A better businesswoman and a much better artist! They inspire me and I am so excited each month when I get to see them all at our monthly meeting. There is a constant feeling of support and collaboration, they want to lift each other up which is a true gift.  I have been honored to help some of them with their branding and in return, they have helped me so much as well. I also recently joined the Chamber of Commerce in our area too and I am looking forward to meeting more businesses in the future.

I will leave you with this last piece of advice, don’t be afraid. Others in the room are just as nervous as you are, know this when you walk in. Make eye contact with someone and just say hello to start that conversation. Now, put on your big girl pants and get out there, it’s time to NetWerk!

 

Is Blogging Painful?

People often ask me if I like blogging. You may be surprised to hear this but in the beginning, I despised it. Why? Because it use to scare me. I am talking knees knocking; I may be too sick to write this type of afraid when I began. Today everyone claims to be a guru on literally every topic of conversation out there so why would people listen to me? Am I redundant, do I sound educated, will I look like a fool, what can I add that hasn’t already been discussed? These thoughts would snowball in my head and then something that could have taken less than an hour to write takes me a week. It’s self-defeating and a waste of time. So, how does one overcome all of the emotions and move on? I think this is the point of the conversation where you want a quick remedy, right? I am supposed to provide that. News flash, there isn’t one. However, I have some suggestions to make your blogging life a little bit easier and keep those knees steady.

Blog on topics you feel comfortable discussing.

No one wants a lesson they can get from a handbook, but they want to be informed. Try picking topics that you are knowledgeable in but home also some life experience with as well. It’s great that you are a photographer who knows all the rules but can you help me apply them to my daily photo shoots. Give some real life examples and feelings about the subject to want to explain. People are interested in the facts but want to feel a part of the conversation, and it’s important to do that with words.

You may be an expert on a subject.

Experts are great but opinions are too, and that is the freedom of the blog. Speak your truth, tell us what you know but don’t leave out the “real world” stuff because that is what usually drives a reader. How can you help us? What do you like better? Use links, photographs and videos to tell your story. Make it comfortable for the reader and I promise they will be back to read more!

 Time yourself. Painful but true.

Give yourself a time limit and then walk away. Now, if you are on a role and can’t stop, don’t. But if you are writing while Snapchatting, checking Facebook and coloring in your new adult coloring book then walk away. Focus is key and you are not getting through this with a colored pencil in your hand.

 Listen to great music and have coffee at the ready.

Get your groove on! What helps you write? For me, it’s Miles Davis, Kind of Blue. I love Miles and the music just keeps me going, it truly helps. Coffee is self-explanatory. Who doesn’t enjoy a good cup of joe and maybe a scone to nibble while typing away!

Be prepared to have at least 800 words to write. Seriously, don’t kill me, this is 501 right here!

Some blogs will be longer than others. I usually shoot for around a thousand words myself; it’s a personal goal. Just make sure your blog has meat to it, not the kind you eat. You need words to justify those pretty photographs. Plus it is great for your SEO! Try hard to think about what you want to say and before you know it you will have written a hundred words without even realizing it! See, we are already at 583, my time flies by fast.

Give yourself talking points, just like these.

Talking points are helpful because not only do they keep the writer on track, but they let the reader skip to the points they are curious about without having to read the entire blog.  If you break down the blog into mini-stories, it accomplishes more with your reader and lets you connect. Does this defeat the purpose? No, because even if they absorb certain talking points if the writing is of quality to them they will return.

Pay attention to your font sizes and make it pretty.

This is a personal preference, but I believe if you take to time to break down your thoughts and create a fantastic blog you should make it look good. For example, your talking points should be bold or different from the paragraph text. Photographs should be the best quality you can find. Often if I have a photo I love but is not perfect, I try to do a little editing before sharing it. People are visual; they want images along with their text, give them what they want! A photograph just won’t do? Hire a graphic designer, explain what you need and see if they will work with you within your budget. Itl gives you an edge not many have, a unique look.

Find your voice.

Be you, we want your voice. We want your fantastic personality and views to shine. Tell us what you think because that is what we are interested in, that is why we are here.

Check you’re grammar.

Yes, I know that is wrong. I did it on purpose because we make mistakes, all of us make them. However, try to make as little as possible in your work. Check things, question yourself and make sure you check your grammar.

 

Probably the most important, save your work.

We have all been there. Working until the wee hours of the morning, so proud. We step back admiring our work, and the power goes out. Complete panic mode sets in. Why didn’t you spend the extra $5 on that surge protector with battery backup? Why didn’t you save it when you were done 5 minutes ago instead of gazing into your creation like it was the first time anyone in the entire world had ever written something. WHAT WERE YOU THINKING? Now this I have a simple solution for, SAVE YOUR WORK! It’s easy, but we all forget from time to time. I try to save at the end of each paragraph to give you a quick idea of how easy it is. Trust me, it only takes one or two times to learn this most valuable lesson. Ok, maybe three times, but whose counting.

 

So here we are, at the end. Now that I started this blog I realize I could go on, but we have made it to over a thousand words in under an hour. You can create fantastic content in a timely manner but don’t be too hard on yourself in the beginning. People will comment, sometimes complimentary things and then you have the trolls. Ignore it, you need the experience. Answer comments politely and move on. You will be a better person for it and a better writer too. Remember practice makes perfect, or at least pretty close!