Thursday, June 30, 2005

Meeting Flubs and Stuffed Ferrets

I was going to talk about a flub I made at a coffee meeting yesterday, but I've got one better to talk about today. One of the many newsletters I subscribe to is called Early to Rise, which I've mentioned here in the past. To those who don't know about it, I recommend this newsletter very highly for sheer quality AND variety.

Today the guest article was by Ilise Benun, called "How to 'Work A Room.'" There's lots of advice on this topic - my good friend Rick Silva does seminars on it - but one thing in this article struck me.

Here's today's issue of Early to Rise The article is midway down. By all means read it through; there's plenty of great information. But pay attention to number 13, titled, "Wear an Unusual Accessory."

Now, anyone who knows me knows I've had an unusual accessory since I started showing up to networking events. Namely, a little plush blue ferret I call Bloo. Once I have some professional photos taken, I'll have pics of him too. I stick him in my pocket and only refer to him if someone asks.

This little mascot of mine has carved me out a powerful brand identity and image recognition over the whole of the Bay Area. I've had strangers walk up to me and say, "Aren't you that ferret writer guy?" To which I usually have to say, "Yes, I am...who are you?"

I guess I feel vindicated in this Early to Rise issue. A gimmick I've been using for a long time was recognized as a valid networking trait in one of the biggest newsletters on the Web. And, I now have some more tidbits of advice to use at my next event!

P.S. - The meeting did go extremely well otherwise - all 5 requested people showed up, and despite my flub describing my services, we were there for 90 minutes building some great relationships.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Meeting Madness Moment!

Ever glanced at your PDA (your dayplanner if you don't use a PDA) and thought, "How did I squeeze all those things into one day?!"

I did that earlier today. I call it a "Meeting Madness Moment." Somehow, I scheduled three meetings, two errands AND three phone calls all on one day! My only saving graces are that one meeting is right after another, and the errands are both close to the meeting sites.

So I'll just be fidgeting in my car and muttering things about not being able to accelerate to "Speed of Light" for a few minutes at a time.

Monday, June 27, 2005

We get reminders in the oddest ways, don't we?

I was heading out to Oakland today, to get my fictitious name statement published (yes, I didn't have it already, bad Blue Ferret). While driving on 580, I suddenly heard a tremendous boom, like a cannon being fired off. The left rear tire of the water van (Arrowhead, I think) directly to my right had blown, and violently too. I watched a big strip of rubber sheer off and tumble down the street.

Gave me a big shock, to be sure! The driver pulled off to the shoulder quickly and wasn't hurt. It made me wonder, though - how do those big heavy tires blow like that, and little ones like my Toyota's keep on going? It's not like I take stellar care of my tires.

I suppose the good that came out of this little episode was that I made an appointment for a tune-up and maintenance check for my Toyota. It hasn't been checked in a while, and I think this served as an, *ahem* "explosive" reminder.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

A Quest! A Quest! In Search of the REAL Blue Ferret

I received an email during the night from a Joanne at the Ferret Corner Shelter in Arizona (here's there website), saying that blue ferrets DO exist!

She says they are angora ferrets, and very rare. Angora ferrets are typically known by their much longer fur, looking almost like a mustelid poodle. Here's some information on angora ferrets: Ferret-Universe on Angoras

This intrigues me greatly. According to Joanne, such animals as Blue Ferrets actually exist (without putting a shiny object in a can of blue paint, at that). So, this means I must find one! A picture, at least. Copywriters must be honest and back their words up with evidence; I can't do any less for my own mascot! (Besides, he's lonely.)

Thank you Joanne, for pointing this out to me. Today begins my Quest for the Blue Angora Ferret!

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Who You Know AND What You Know Pays

Today goes to show you that patience IS a value.

I spent the bulk of the day on the road, as a favor to my grandmother, to ferry my brothers from their home to hers for their annual week-long summer stay. So of course, I got no work done. I planned for that, though!

But I get back, and I've got voicemail. It's Gary, the web developer I'm working with to get the two insurance brokers' websites done. He's calling me about...ANOTHER potential client! Much bigger one, too, and very technical (which I love doing, having been an IT administrator for years).

He needed to bid for it, and wanted to grab a quick quote from me to put in the bid. I think I messed that up a bit, but I made sure I used my referral rate and got him his information. I wished him luck too, for the both of us. Just from what he told me, it sounds like a perfect client for me - very technical stuff, lots of information needed, good developer to work with, reputable company.

Can't go wrong there! Now, let's hope we get the bid, eh?

Sunday, June 19, 2005


I read many blogs. I have so many bookmarked I can't get to them all every month, let alone every week. I enjoy the perspectives, the myriad topics, and the styles & tastes present in this vast cornucopia of the Web.

Today I went back to the blog of a man whose experience I respect greatly: Bob Bly, the ultimate copywriter. He posted a very poignant question that I believe everyone should read:

Has the Internet killed writing and literacy?

I'm sure we've all gone to websites and read content we couldn't understand. We've all received emails from colleagues, friends, even family that look like they switched their spellcheck with a garbage disposal. I find it extremely frustrating, particularly when businesses do it. Yeah, I'm a copywriter, it's my job to turn out copy that's crisp, on-message, and geared toward a specific job. It's also assumed that I won't make any typos or big grammatical errors.

So, as an example, what am I supposed to think when I go to an ad agency's website - one I already know from word-of-mouth, to boot - and I find typos ALL OVER their homepage?

Will I be impressed by their snappy site design? No.
Am I going to think they're a very professional firm, one I'd be proud to work with? Unlikely.
Am I going to contact them about doing business? Only if they want to get their content redone!

If you've got a website, double-check its content for typos. Read it through and say it aloud, to see if anything sounds wonky or doesn't flow. It's the little things, folks. The little things like sentence structure & correct spelling, that make all the difference between a professional look and an amateur.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Postal Work - That One Part of Business We All Take for Granted (And Shouldn't!)

Every now and then I'm reminded of how useful the Postal Service still is.

While most of my communications occur via phone and emails, I can't send contracts that way. I'm sure stuffing a contract into a cellphone would just result in some burned-out transistors. I COULD send them by email, but contracts require signatures. My clients would have to print them out, sign them, mail them back for my signature, and then I'd have to resend them one back.

Way too many steps. Much easier to print out two copies here, sign them myself, mail them out, and include a SASE. Much fewer steps that way, it's no big effort on my part, and the clients don't have to do as much. Everybody's happy! And it's all thanks to the Postal Service. So here's a raised glass for all of you guys. You do good work, and it IS appreciated.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Curious Mixing

I'm really surprised. I went to the Pleasanton Tradeshow last night - and the event was half the size of last year's setup! Last year it had booths circling the patio, down the back pathways and even around the pool. This year, the pool and back pathways were empty.

I could presume booth sales were just down, but I kept hearing different opinions on why it was so much smaller. From there being another mixer at the same time, to weird weather (it's supposed to rain anytime), to summer vacations, to quarterly speculations!

Mind you, I'm not disappointed by all this. I met many good people there, and at least a half-dozen new-to-me faces. But what I found interesting was the variety of opinions on a common, unconscious question. Everyone KNEW there were fewer booths, but they each tried to come up with their own reasoning.

Where am I going with this? I'm not sure. But it does demonstrate a curious social phenomenon - universal question, individual explanation. Something I think we'd all benefit from considering more often.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The Int@rWeb, it draws me iiiiinnnnnn.........

While this article may be titled, "Internet connects freelancers to faceless clients," I think it's much more positive than its title suggests. Faceless clients, ooooh, sitting up high in shadow, booming voices saying, "We need this done by next week!"

Naah. Much nicer than that.

The fact of the matter is (and this is something the article above says very well), it no longer matters where you base yourself. Freelancers, independent consultants, turnkey teams, and more can work with just about anyone, just about anywhere.

To tell you the truth, I really like the idea of a 'faceless client.' Not because of its more sinister overtones (though horror movies are a great passtime for me), but because it makes the project flow more smoothly. Phone calls are fast, emails are faster. Project gets done without wasting time on travel, meetings, mailings.

I also prefer it because, I admit it, I can be very shy in some situations. Walking into corporate boardrooms to basically request a signature on a contract was never my strong suit. But on the Web, I can send off proposals by email, get confirmations by phone, even negotiate over IM! No leaving the office. That's what I call efficiency in communication.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Event Choices!

I have lots of business events to choose from this week!

Pleasanton Chamber Tradeshow (Warning: PDF File)
Livermore Chamber Mixer
Pleasanton B2B Gathering
San Ramon Chamber Mixer

My main concern's the Livermore and Pleasanton mixers, because it looks like they're being held at the same time. Having gone in the past, I can attest to both being very productive Chambers. Being a tradeshow, the Pleasanton event will undoubtedly pull more people, but that can backfire in certain instances.

Where am I going with this? I don't know. I suppose I'm simply mulling it all over on here before I decide. And hey, if you're in the area, you're bound to run into me at at least one of these!

Friday, June 10, 2005

Networking guru Rick Silva ( ) gave me a business card holder at the meeting Wednesday, so I've taken some time out today to sort through my cards.

And I have a LOT of cards. Over 250 of them, in fact. And that doesn't include the contacts put into my PDA! Must be an additional 100 in there at least. I kept my cards in a big stack with a rubber band, so the holder wasn't nearly enough. So I picked up ten card-holding sheets at OfficeMax and put them in a small binder. That took care of the rest of them.

If you don't have a PDA (or even if you do!) a good card holder is well worth the investment. This is a much neater and easily-searchable method of storing contact information.

Not a lot of update, I know. I have two articles I'm working on right now though, so hang in there!