OK, so everyone knows how gaga I am over social media and the act of social networking. It is a key component to my overall networking (and marketing) strategy. Being able to connect with more people in more places across the globe has allowed me to stay up on industry trends, challenge my opinions on certain issues, and educate myself (yes, you can be educated through social networking…who knew!?). I often like to tell people I’ve been social networking since before it had a name! I’ve been using social media since the primitive days (and before that too had a name). As an early adopter I’ve had the distinct advantage on many occasions to get the pure essence of many sites and tools before they became overrun by the masses. Back when people were leery yet excited about the potential of a new site and the opportunity to connect with some great people. The one thing that always sticks in my ass these days is the way people and businesses take a site or tool and “commonize” it (is that even a word?) for all purpose marketing and dare I say harassment. Social networking sites have become a way for people to tout how many “friends”  or followers they have. It has become a sport and even worse, bombarded by marketing messages.

Coming from a recruiting background, I am all about the relationship. I’ve never been big on growing numbers for the privilege of boasting how popular I am. Call me crazy, but that’s never been my thing. I’m into organic growth and real relationships. Granted, I don’t know each and every person who follows or connects with me. But I am trying to make meaningful connections and get to know those people who find me interesting enough to follow and connect with. I’ve put my own quest to connect on hiatus because people are tired of getting invitations to connect. I can’t blame them. I get tired of trying to figure out the motives of those who try to connect. Are they genuinely interested in getting to know me? Do they want to connect and learn more about my expertise and possibly learn from me? Or do they just see someone who’s numbers are growing or who’s been on panels and in articles and want to connect to get a piece of that? Who knows these days. Especially when you get email after email saying “Hi I’d like to add you to my professional network on Linked In” without so much as a hint how they found you or why they want to connect. Well I say enough.

This week I decided I had enough and launched a new social networking project- Operation Social Outreach. No, it’s not an official name or or website or anything, I just like the sound of it. I don’t know about you, but I am so tired of connecting with people or accepting invitations to connect only to receive an automated response telling me to click a link, download a “gift” or check out a website. Or still getting those generic Linked In invites. People just don’t feel they need to take the time to introduce themselves. Would they come up to you at a conference and say “hey connect with me”? No, they wouldn’t. They would introduce themselves properly. So why don’t they feel the need to do it online? They wouldn’t walk up to you and say “you want to learn more about me, check out my website”. No, they would tell you a little about themselves. What the hell happened to common etiquette? A simple “thanks for connecting, tell me about yourself” or “thanks for the add, let’s connect via phone to get to know one another” goes a long way in building a relationship. So why aren’t people doing it? Well I have a couple of theories, but let me stick to three of my favorites.

Celebrities & so called Internet Celebrities have taken over.

Yes, you read me right. Every time something big gets going for the common folks, celebrities come on board. Now I’m not saying they aren’t entitled. But they take social networking to another level.  They set up accounts, gain tons of followers, then sit back and engage only with people they know personally. So they’ll have a couple of thousand (or in some cases millions) of followers and communicate with about 10. Well if you know them already, use the damn phone! A smart celebrity or public figure would tap into the power of social media to ENGAGE their public and build (or strengthen) their brand. As someone who is becoming more in the public eye, I use social networking as a means to engage in conversations, find out what my public wants to talk about, and educate by sharing my knowledge. I pay attention to what people say and want. And most importantly, I do my own communicating. Some of these celebrities hire people to communicate for them. Where’s the authenticity? And do I even need to talk about the Internet Celebrities?

Internet Marketers & “Gurus” told people it’s OK to blast their business services/products because it’s free or cheap and EVERYBODY is on it.

OK maybe it’s unfair to paint Internet Marketers with one broad stroke. But it seems like many of them are reading from the same manual when it comes to social media. There is nothing worse than being bombarded by marketing messages, especially when it’s intrusive.  I like to get to know about people, not their products or services, when I connect. Ease me into it. People buy from people they know and trust. If I just connect with you on Monday, what makes you think I’m going to buy from you on Tuesday? By immediately bombarding me with sales pitches and marketing messages, you’re showing me that I’m a lead, not someone you want to connect with. How do you expect me to take you seriously? So many of these people are so caught up on making a sale, they forget about the SOCIAL aspect of social networking. And besides, don’t you know that after a while, all of those messages all look alike. If you’re going to follow the Internet Marketing “Gurus” at least change up your style! A lot of those websites look exactly the same. Here’s a tip for you. If you even think I’m your “target market” get to know me and what my touch points are. Take the time to interact with me and learn how to work with me. I care more about relationships than I do making purchases.

People just don’t care. They’re joining because everyone else is doing it.

I’ve seen this in the recruiting world a lot. A site will pop up and a few early adopters will try it out. Then someone like clockwork will write a book or post or teach a class that positions them as the “expert” of this site. Then everyone and their momma will go running to the site because it’s the in thing to do. I find Facebook to be the latest victim of this. In the beginning, people avoided Facebook. They dismissed it as being something kids used. But somewhere along the line, business crossed over into the personal and we got what we have today. It’s talked about on television shows, mentioned in magazine articles, it’s even part of every day life in movies. So now everyone is on it. Some people don’t even know why they are on. Whatever the reason, people are using it to avoid having to network in real life or because everyone else is doing it. In my opinion, this cheapens the experience and goes against the intentions of networking.

Networking, especially online networking, is about relationship building. It’s not about selling or popularity contests or number padding. It’s about finding people who add value to your life in some way. It’s not supposed to be about egotistical, selfish motives. It’s supposed to be about engagement. If you’re not communicating or opening yourself up to connecting with people, then why are you wasting time and bandwidth? It’s not supposed to be about You. Networking is a team sport. If you’re not ready to embrace that, perhaps it’s not for you. So I’m calling out the fakes. Don’t waste people’s time. We don’t care about your self serving purposes. It’s all about making real connections.

Til next time.

Adrienne Graham

Hello, hello! As you can probably imagine I am just giddy about my new website launch. After much blood, sweat, tears, prayer, false starts, hard work, and yes sometimes cussing, the official website for the Fearless Woman Magazine is now live! I have waited so long for this and have encountered so many obstacles along the way. I even considered quitting….yes, the “Q” word because I had a few people tell me I would not be able to get it done. But I’m here to tell you that not only am I still standing, I have a real live functional website to show for it.

Now I know a few sour heads are going to say “hey the site is up but what about the magazine itself?”. It’s a great question…and I have a great answer. As you may already know, Empower Me! is hosting the Fearless Woman Summit at the Georgia International Convention Center June 16-17 right here in Atlanta. Originally, I was planning to do a simple launch party to announce the magazine to the world. But my team has taken over and transformed this event into the must attend professional development event of the year, in addition to a kick ass launch party! So the soft launch or unofficial launch of the physical magazine will be June 16 and it will be revealed to the attendees of the Summit and Empower Me! members (they of course get their subscriptions for free with their membership). Everyone who attends the event will get an advanced copy and will be able to help us celebrate the launch. I am so excited I can barely contain myself. For the rest of the world, the official launch is July 1st.

Our first issue is focused on Diversity from Her Perspective and we have a stellar line up of articles that make you think, reflect, and take action. The magazine will motivate you to live your best professional life…fearlessly! From Dr. Ella Edmondson Bell to Barbara Corcoran to Audrey Lee, to Sarah Evans, to Aliza Sherman, we have some phenomenal ladies who share the distinction of being in our debut issue. I can’t wait for you to read it! Trust me, the website has NOTHING on the actual issue!

In the mean time, we want you to feel like the magazine’s website is your community. We have a top notch roster of Contributing Bloggers who will share their wisdom, encouragement and expertise each week. You can catch snippets of our videos, listen to Views From the Top Radio Show, join our Facebook Fan Page, and even follow us on Twitter. You will even be able to catch previews of our shows in the brand new EmpoweredWoman.tv. Soon, you will have the capability to translate the site into your chosen language!

Be sure you bookmark and share the website with all your friends, family and co-workers. If you’re a man, be sure to send your wife, girlfriend, sister, mother, female colleagues over to the website. I guarantee it’ll be the best thing they can do for themselves in the name of professional development.

Please stop by and let me know what you think.
Til Next Time.

Adrienne Graham
PUBLISHER
Fearless Woman Magazine (an Empower Me! Corporation publication)

People are good at making goals, New Year’s resolutions, dream lists and plans. But there’s a fundamental problem with them. They leave room for interpretation, revision and even delay. Where’s the accountability? So I gave it some thought, and I’ve decided never to make “goals” again. OK don’t be alarmed. I know I’ve told you in the past that goal setting is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your success. But I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want to do that any more.

You see, people set out to achieve their goals and genuinely have good intentions. But often life, work, circumstances, family, health, and a host of other things often get in the way. Goals are flexible in people’s minds and we’re often inclined to postpone them or disregard them altogether. We’ll say “well I couldn’t do that today, so I’ll get to it tomorrow”. Or “my money is short this week, let me put this training/course/coaching/conference off until next month, or maybe next year when I’m ready”. The intentions are there, but some times the execution and implementation are off. And we rationalize why we couldn’t meet the goal to try to excuse ourselves or make us feel better when we don’t meet them.

Here’s what I propose. Instead of making goals or resolutions, we should make promises. Yes, make a series of promises to yourself. You see when we make promises, we are held accountable. When you make a promise to your child, you move heaven and earth to make it happen so he or she isn’t disappointed in you. When you promise to get a task done on time at work, you do what needs to be done to get the job done so your boss isn’t disappointed in you. So why not make promises to yourself? Think about it. Some of the mot successful people are successful because of the promises they make to themselves. “I promise I will never be poor again”. “I promise myself I will move up within my company”. “I promise I will start my own business”. Making a promise to yourself is much more effective than setting a goal. Goals are fine, but promise yourself success. There’s something psychological about a promise. It means you WILL get something done. There is no postponing or forgetting. You will make it happen by any means necessary. Think about how you feel when others make promises to you that they don’t keep. It isn’t so nice. Well can you live with breaking a promise to yourself?

The next time you sit down to write your goals, rephrase them into a series of promises you make to yourself to guarantee your professional success. And to give them extra added incentive, assign time lines to those promises, then fulfill those promises to yourself as if you were your child, boss, spouse, parent, etc. What “promises” have you committed to make to yourself? Please share!

Til next time,

Adrienne Graham

Remember when you were kids. Everyone had dreams about being a doctor or lawyer or firefighter or circus performer (WHAT!?). You get what I’m saying. When we’re young we were idealistic and the sky is the limit. We’re told to dream big and aim high. Then we go to school, graduate, and we’re thrown into the work world. Unless we’re in a highly skilled profession such as doctor, lawyer or accountant, we end up taking some entry level or management training job “for now”.

That’s fine by most standards, but what if your heart is somewhere else? There are so many people who settle for jobs for the sake of getting a stable paycheck. The problem with that is they then become trained to work for a paycheck. Huh? I know, I can hear you saying “huh?” in your head. Again, there’s nothing wring with that for the average person who is only concerned with just getting good benefits and a paycheck. But if you have a dream in your heart, I for one say you should follow it.

How many times have you said “I’ll just stay in this job for 2, 3, 5 years then I’ll look for something else”. Ten years later you’re still doing what you hate just to get a paycheck and benefits. Let me ask you some questions. What did you go to school for? Why didn’t you pursue your dream job? Did someone tell you “no, you can’t do that”? Well let me tell you. I’ve never been the corporate type or one that does well working for other people. I was a half Black half Puerto Rican girl who grew up in the projects where it was expected that we went to school, but it was also expected that we got a comfortable job with benefits. In fact, when I was younger I always dreamed that I would run my own business. But my parents were not interested in hearing any of it. I got my first job at 17 at a department store. I loved fashion but was told I could never make a real living in that. I moved on to banking to follow my Mom. Hated it! Left that to go to work as an Admin in a recruiting firm. Within six months I was upgraded to Recruiter. From there I opened my first business.

For the longest time, even though I had a successful business, it wasn’t my passion. I remember years ago I wrote in a journal how I wanted to have a magazine. I was told how I needed tons of money and that the market was super competitive. I said after that I would love to have my own cable channel. I was told I didn’t have the resources, money or connections to do that. So I stuck with recruiting even though I wasn’t happy. Last year when I turned 40 I stepped back and and evaluated my life. Yes I made great money recruiting. Yes I had a fabulous business. But something was missing. I wasn’t doing what I wanted. I thought back to what I wanted over the years and my mind kept coming back to TV channel and magazine. Again, I got the same comments about money and resources. But this time something was different. Social Media had leveled the playing field and I had a kick as network of people in my corner. So I went for it (not in the traditional sense but I still went for it).

Why did I share that? Because I wanted to show you that even I have had times where I went against my heart to do what I had to do to bring in income. But why should you continue doing that? Why should any of us? Don’t let this economy bring you down or keep you from exploring what your passions are. You may want to try a new industry, job title, company, or even leave corporate altogether for entrepreneurship. Don’t let other people keep you from exploring your dreams. I always say that people who try to talk you out of something you love do it because they themselves are either afraid that they can’t do the same or they’re angry because they don’t have the guts. Don’t carry other people’s junk. And definitely don’t let the talk of this economy scare you from taking chances. There is no reward without taking risks.

Take a few moments this evening to write down the different things you’d like to try. Then work on making them happen. Don’t think about it, don’t rationalize it, just do it. When you free yourself from convention thinking (ie: paychecks and benefits) you find what you truly love. We only have one life to live. And it’s too short to be miserable. Don’t let anyone make you defer or abandon your dreams. Find your bliss.

Til Next Time,

Adrienne Graham

When a woman decides it’s time to leave the corporate world and head off for entrepreneurial pursuits, it can be an exciting time in her life. She gets visions of freedom and no boss or time clock in her head. She imagines what it will be like when she gets her first big six figure order. She even thinks about the day when her business is given an award for being outstanding in her industry. The first couple or months or even years are filled with wearing the many hats of the business and facing some hard realities. Then she hits that wall. You know that wall. Where you feel like a tons of pressure is on your shoulders. You’re doing the accounting, the marketing, the networking, the client development, the sales calls, the HR, and every other hat that comes along with running a business. And you stall out. There’s a disconnect between where you want your business to be and where it is at this moment.

Well, shortly after Thanksgiving 2009, 8 phenomenal women took a chance on me, their businesses and themselves and enrolled in the Next Level Business Coaching Program. Each had different concerns about their businesses and were at different points, but the common trait they had was that they were stalled. Between the intensive weekly one on one coaching sessions, monthly group calls, special guest education calls, etc, the ladies initially didn’t know what to expect. But as we got a rhythym going, each started experiencing phenomenal breakthroughs with their businesses. I am so very proud of the success they’ve all achieved and my only regret is that I don’t get to work with them longer. I made a promise to them at the beginning of the program that we would take this journey together and that I would be brutally honest. And I was. While it is a business program, we worked on strengthening their confidence and the way they looked at their businesses.

If you listened to my radio show this past Friday, Views From the Top, I had the ladies on the show (yes all 8 of them) to talk about their experiences in the program. They shared their initial fears, obstacles they had to overcome and the milestones their businesses (and they) have reached. Below is a brief introduction to the ladies and what they had to say:

Mel DePaoli is the president of Omicle, a change management company and author of CONTRACTORS: Doing it Right Not Just Getting it Done. She works with companies on the various aspects of how the core of their business directly affects the perception of their brand, which in turn affects their bottom line.

“Adrienne was a great resource for finding new technologies to help me grow my business. She also is very successful at making you step outside of yourself so you can look at how to approach situations in new ways.”

Quantane Higganbotham is the owner of Virtual Possibilities, LLC. With over 10 years of administrative, customer service, sales and legal experience, Virtual Possibilities, LLC provides administrative support solutions to business owners.  She supports business owners who are looking for me to partner and grow with their business.

“The Next Level Coaching Program has challenged me to take my business to the next level. I appreciate Adrienne for taking the time to direct me and challenge me to not only look at what my competitors are doing, but also what they are not doing. You have no idea how much you have helped me. You have carved years off the development time in relation to my concept. She is awesome. The coaching program is not mediocre. If you are not ready to take your business to higher heights, this program is not for you.”

MaryBeth Reeves is a busy mother of quadruplet 3 year old daughters and the Chief Executive Mamma of Scrapbook Mamma, a custom photo book company. When she found herself without a job a the end of 2008 she took the entrepreneurial plunge.  Scrapbook Mamma makes custom photo books for those who want to do something wonderful with their pictures, but don’t have the time or the inclination to do it themselves.

“Working with Adrienne was the kick in the butt I needed to put my business growth into overdrive. I had stalled in my pursuit of a major development of my company before working with her and I did not even realize it. In 2 months of working with Adrienne, I accomplished more than I had in 9 months on my own. Her direction, motivation, encouragement and deadlines propelled me to the next level faster than I could have imagined. I just hope I don’t lose the momentum on my own.”

Cynthia Coleman is the Founder of Coleman Communications is the media brand of Cynterprise. We have plans for cookbooks, magazines and other print media along with to television and radio broadcasts. Our first release, Sports Cynts, is a sports talk cooking show where listeners can follow along with her as she prepares recipes and engages her audience in sports conversation.

“The Next level Coaching Program has helped me to focus what I need to do to take my business to where I want it to go.  With the information I received, I have no doubt that my company will be a success and I recommend it to anyone who is thinking about starting a business, who’s business is already running and needs a boost or a business who is looking to grow and take it up a notch or to the next level.”

Esther Phahla is a Certified Public Accountant with broad experience in all phases of taxation and accounting . She works with clients in a variety of industries including:- Health care (physicians, etc), manufacturing, construction, real estate, distribution and service. She is interested in small businesses and their owners.

“This Coaching has helped me to get out of my comfort zone and take action in growing my business. By implementing the strategies that I have learned from Adrienne Graham, I have grown personally and professionally.”

Bernie Frazier is the President of CareerVolution, LLC, a career navigating and job search skills training company, Bernie offers a comprehensive curriculum for people who are seeking their next career opportunity but aren’t sure how to make it happen.  She offers effective; “can do” insights that can help jump start a career, propel it to the next level, or catapult it in another direction.

“Adrienne has been a God-send!  Her willingness to share her experiences and ideas has been very valuable in helping me develop my own business.  She has an uncanny way of taking your ideas and stretching them and you beyond the comfort zone in order to reach the next level.  Adrienne is a walking “rolodex” of great resources; it’s remarkable!  I feel much more confident in where I’m going and what I can do, and I know Adrienne has played a key role in bringing this to life.  I can’t thank her enough.”

Kristina Cox is the Founder and CEO of Prime Accumen Creations. P.A. Creations is for business professionals and individuals seeking a lasting impression with their audience and is a one stop shop for marketing, design and communications.  Kristina was named VIP Woman of the Year for 2009/2010 by The National Association of Professional Women.

“The business coaching program has been a blessing. Adrienne was the miracle worker I needed to help me restructure my company. She brought out the six figure mindset that I needed to get to the next level.”

Maisha Hart is the owner of Legal Plus, a boutique staffing company in Los Angeles.  Legal Plus (also known as LP Staffing) has been in business since 1979 placing administrative support personnel with companies both small and large throughout the southern California area.  LP Staffing, offers temporary, temporary to hire and direct hire services and in addition to personnel services, they also offer our clients payroll services.
Now, don’t just think this was all about me “teaching” these ladies anything. It was a learning experience for all of us. They helped me put the finishing touches on this incredible coaching program. From well known special guests to candid conversations to the group interaction, this program is designed for women serious about stepping outside of themselves and focus on doing what needs to be done to get to the next level.

Not everyone can be accepted. There is an application process and only ten women are chosen each quarter. So if you’re ready to take it to a whole other level, stop by the website today and complete your confidential application. Applying is free and everyone who applies is interviewed and screened.

So, are you ready to go to the Next Level?

Til next time,

Adrienne Graham

I am so very thrilled. Last night I received an email from the Director of Programming over at Blog Talk Radio. I found out that my show, Views From the Top was not only selected in the Top 100 Heavy Hitter Shows for business, but it is one of only EIGHT shows selected from Blog Talk Radio’s roster to have made the list! I am humbled and honored, not to mention totally surprised! Thank you to everyone who continues to listen to the show and support it.

http://blog.blogtalkradio.com/books/small-business-trends-radios-top-100-list-top-heavy-blogtalkradio-shows/

Small Business Trends Radio’s Top 100 List Top Heavy with BlogTalkRadio Shows

If it wasn’t already apparent that BlogTalkRadio has got what is arguable the Internet’s best business-show roster, now comes a ranking to prove it.

Small Business Trends Radio has released its annual list of 100 Best Small Business Podcasts and guess what?

In all eight of BTR’s business shows made the list, right alongside those of such powerhouse media outlets as The Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, The New York Times, CNN and the BBC.

To boot, one show from BTR’s Cincast.com community—where creating short, snappy podcasts are a cinch—made the list as well.

“Each year we scour the Internet for you and choose 100 of the most useful and informative podcasts we can find for entrepreneurs, small businesses and small
business owners,” the weekly show says on its website.

Congratulations to all our heavy hitters:

Blake Landau: Customer Management IQ

Adrienne Graham: Views From the Top

David Mathison: Be The Media

Kenneth Darryl Brown: The Passionate Entrepreneur

Sherry Borzo: Entrepreneur People

Barry Moltz: Business Insanity Talk Radio

Wayne Hurlbert: Blog Business Success

Zane Safrit: Zane Safrit

Robert Scoble: Scobleizer

To read the Small Business Trends Radio report, click here.

To check out Cinchcast.com, click here.

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