Posts Tagged ‘Toastmasters’

3 ways to benefit from events: Attend. Speak. Sponsor.

Last Wednesday, I visited a new (to me) women’s business group called eWomen Network. It’s a North American organization, with chapters in four Canada provinces (Alberta, BC, Nova Scotia, and Ontario) and 35 states in the US. Not surprisingly, California, Texas, and Florida have the most chapters.

The Phoenix chapter is under the relatively new management of Johnell McCauley – and she’s doing a fantastic job. You couldn’t precisely call the luncheon I attended a networking event, as it’s much more than just that – but you could definitely call it an experience.

The speaker, Cathy Alessandra, refers to herself as the Chief Innovative Officer for her marketing firm. She crammed a lot of excellent info into a

Cathy Alessandra

Cathy Alessandra

short, powerful presentation. Here are the biggest takeaways:

BE SEEN. This means showing up. But before you do, be sure you do your research, set great intentions, be willing to expand outside your comfort zone, and have a mechanism for following up. I’ve heard twice in two weeks: If you’re going to collect cards at a meeting and then not follow up, you might as well just stay home. Lastly, go with the intention of being of service, rather than selling. This takes the pressure off both you and the people with whom you’ll be connecting.

GET HEARD. As a speaker – even a free speaker at a weekly Rotary Club or chamber meeting – make sure you deliver a content-packed presentation with easily implementable steps. You will do your best if you exude both self-confidence and confidence in your area of expertise. Be sure to connect with your audience. If any of these seem wickedly challenging to you – start by getting yourself to a Toastmasters club, joining, and participating. Every speaker started somewhere – Toastmasters is an excellent place to get your feet wet.

CONNECT. Your end goal is to connect with others in a meaningful way. Do that AND be seen as a leader by speaking, sponsoring, or hosting your own events.

PLAN. As a speaker, you’ll need a one sheet (we’ll talk more about this in an upcoming post). You’ll also need to do your research to learn about live and virtual events seeking speakers with your expert knowledge. Set goals for how many events you will attend, speak at, and sponsor this year – and keep at them until you achieve your goals. Calendar these goals in pencil – and mark them in ink when they’re confirmed. Stand out from the crowd by picking up the phone and calling event planners, rather than relying exclusively on email. And check with prior speakers, vendors, and attendees to see what their experience was before signing up.

The main message here is that it’s easier than you might think to use events – and speaking in particular – to get noticed, sell books, and enhance your business. What are YOUR event and speaking goals this year? Please share them in the comment section below.

To being seen, getting heard, connecting, and planning!



We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Choosing the right networking event, group, or organization

One undeniable fact every author must face is the reality of the clock.  Twenty-four hours in a day; seven days in a week. Somehow, we have to fit it all in. So, I understand those who say they just don’t have time for networking. I also believe where there’s a will, you will find a way to make time. But if you live in a large metropolitan area like Phoenix, you can’t possibly attend every event. In fact, I just checked the Networking Phoenix site and counted 42 — YIKES, FORTY-TWO! — events scheduled for next Tuesday, a date on which Valley of the Sun Express Network, one of my member groups, is hosting its monthly meeting.

That’s a lot of competition for your time, energy, and money!

But Laura, just a few posts ago, you told us that your rule of thumb has always been that I can’t really begin to expect to see results from a group until I have attended long enough for people to miss me when I skip a meeting. If I can’t attend every meeting, how will I determine which ones to start with?

A fair question, indeed, my astute SBMs!* Time to put on your common-sense thinking cap and do some analysis. First, it helps if your community has an awesome site like Networking Phoenix, which has all the events aggregated for you in one place. If that’s not the case, you’ll have to do some research in your local paper (The Business Journal is a good source, if your town has one), online, and by asking around to the other authors and businesspeople you already know.

Then examine the components that will help you narrow down your selection.

PRICE. First, it helps to determine a monthly or quarterly networking budget. While free events like mixers can yield plentiful results, I would strongly advise making plans to pay for at least a couple events a month — but only you know what you can realistically budget for networking.

LOCATION. In some areas and/or communities, distance is not such a big deal. In the Phoenix Metro area, which covers nearly 1,000 square miles, distance can be significant factor in deciding on whether to attend an event and/or join a group.

TIME OF DAY. Some business owners I know prefer to network in the morning, because it leaves them free to do business the rest of the day. Many Phoenix-area groups seem to schedule lunchtime events, which make people-meeting easy but can tend to disrupt the day. Then there are no end to the mixers and cocktail hours which take place in the evening hours. Perhaps your schedule changes from day to day; so select the meetings that best fit your interests and work within your calendar.

OPEN/CLOSED GROUPS. Though you’re going out with the intention of meeting new people to grow your brand and your platform, it’s always a nice thing to attend events/groups where you already know one or two people. Some groups are closed, meaning they require that guests be invited by a member, while others are open and welcome all new people, regardless of how they come to the group. If there’s a closed group to which you’d like to be invited, it’s time to scan your LinkedIn connections and start expressing your interest to existing members of that group.

LEADS/NETWORKING GROUPS. There are a few important distinctions between a leads group and a general networking group. Most notably, the first goal of a leads group is to pass leads. They do this most successfully because they almost universally limit membership to one person from each industry. Additionally, every member is expected to refer business to others in the group BEFORE referring business to anyone else they may know who does the same kind of work. For instance, say your cousin is a real estate agent and you also have a real estate agent in your leads group. One day, your husband tells you his boss is looking to sell his house and asks if you know anyone. Your duty as a member of your leads group is to refer this business to your fellow leads group member before (or perhaps exclusive of) referring them to your cousin. Leads groups tend to work well for highly competitive industries, like real estate, insurance, and financial planning. I’m not  certain how useful an author would find them.

Networking groups, on the other hand, tend not to limit membership by industry. Leads happen within them, but organic networking (as opposed to the specific passing of leads) is the primary focus of these types of groups.

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT GROUPS. Different still from networking groups, business development groups place a certain emphasis on teaching and/or enhancing their members’ business skills. They often feature speakers at their events and may also offer workshops or other opportunities to grow your business skills. Most also usually dedicate a portion of their meeting time to personal intros/networking.

AUTHOR/WRITING/PUBLISHING GROUPS. Depending on where you live, writing/author/publishing groups may be plentiful. In the Phoenix area we have the Scottsdale Society of Women Writers (formerly associated with the National Society of Women Writers), Arizona Book Publishers Association, and Arizona Authors Association, to name a few of the more prominent ones. As we discussed earlier, the benefits of attending groups like these are numerous and include things like spending time with others who share your passion, sharing tips and tricks of the trade, developing your knowledge of the publishing process, and sharing professional resources like editor or graphic design referrals.

SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS. These might be industry-specific groups, like the American Association of Office Nurses or the Financial Planners Association. They might be religious groups like American Christian Writers or those affiliated with particular denominations or houses of worship. They might be ethnically affiliated groups like Irish Networking Phoenix. They could be civic groups like Rotary or the National Organization for Women. If you have a specific interest (beyond writing and publishing), there’s probably a group out there for you somewhere. And if not, there’s probably someone else waiting for somebody to start one — maybe that somebody should be you! A good resource for researching and locating almost any kind of association is the Center for Association Leadership website.

SPEAKING ORGANIZATIONS. If you’re serious about growing your platform and you are not already an accomplished public speaker, Toastmasters should be one of the first groups you join. With 280,000 members participating in 13,500 clubs located in 116 countries around the world, it’s a good bet there’s a club near you. Not only will Toastmasters give you great practice at speaking in public, but it will also help you develop two essential L’s: listening and leadership. Additionally, it’s great networking! The Phoenix Book of Lists, published annually by The Phoenix Business Journal, consistently ranks Toastmasters as one of the top ten networking groups in the Phoenix area. On a personal note, of all the groups I’ve joined over the last 10+ years in Phoenix, some of my closest and longest-lasting friendships have come from my Toastmasters club.

If you’re already somewhat accomplished as a speaker and really want to move your speaking career forward, you may want to consider joining the National Speakers Association, which has 47 chapters across the continental US.

MEETUP GROUPS. Then there’s Meetup.com. The people who came up with this concept are pretty smart cookies! Meetup is the world’s largest online network of local groups. Their website makes it easy for anyone to organize a local group or find one of the thousands already meeting face-to-face. More than 9,000 groups get together in local communities every day. Whether it’s writing/publishing, personal development, stamp collecting, or hog calling, chances are you can find a Meetup near you on your specific topic of interest. And if there isn’t one, the site keeps a tally of those who’d be interested in joining one if someone — why not YOU? — started one.

The fact is that the only way you’ll know whether a group is for you is by visiting it. If you like the people and the energy, go once or twice. Try out a few different groups before you decide to join a formal organization that requires paid membership. And once you do join, make it a priority to attend your new group’s events.

By the way, though it’s thorough, this is NOT an exhaustive list. If you know an aspect of networking groups that I’ve overlooked, please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Next up, we’ll discuss setting goals to meet particular kinds of people at your next networking event.


*Savvy Book Marketer


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Marketing lessons from the cast of “Saturday Night Live”

A couple days ago I did a post about guerrilla marketing. I ended the post by encouraging you: “Guerrilla/mischief marketing is just a piece of the puzzle, but an important piece, so please don’t neglect it out of fear of looking a little foolish. Just relax and have fun with it.”

The “fear of looking foolish” part got me to thinking about people who look foolish for a living, and the lessons we can learn from them. From the title of the post, perhaps you think I’m talking about Jimmy Fallon, who’s now pitching for Capital One, but that’s not really who I have in mind. I’m thinking more along the lines of the current cast – people who get paid to stand up in front of a live audience every week on a show that’s broadcast to millions around the world and sometimes make utter fools of themselves.

If you saw the movie Bridesmaids, you saw the softer, subtler side of Kristen Wiig – but if you watch Saturday Night Live with any regularity, you get to see her wacky and sometimes just plain bizarre performances as a whole host of zany characters. Here’s the thing: I’m sure at some point in her career (or life), Kristen Wiig – as well as Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, Seth Meyers, Bobby Moynihan, Andy Samberg, Jason Sudeikis, Kenan Thompson, and the others – must have thought, “This is soooo embarrassing.” But she pushed herself beyond the fear and developed an amazing talent.

Now I’m not suggesting you abandon writing to become an improv or sketch comic – unless it’s what you really want to do. But I am suggesting that getting over ourselves and our fear of embarrassment are really good ideas if we ever want to grow beyond our comfort zones and achieve any real measure of success. As you well know, the best product doesn’t always dominate – it’s the product with the best marketing. This is also true of books. As an author-marketer, how willing are you to go all out to sell your books? Would you don a penguin costume? Would you walk up to someone famous you met by chance and pitch them? Would you make a hilarious video? Or are you too worried about what people might think?

Seriously – can you ever imagine an SNL production meeting when they’re assigning new skits and hearing Kristin Wiig say, “No – I’m not doing that because it will make me look stupid”? If you’ve never seen her, make it a point to do so. Whether you don’t like SNL, you watch something else in that time slot, or you’ve just got a way more active social calendar than I do, go find an episode that features Kristin Wiig and study it! There are always reruns, Hulu, YouTube – really, you have no excuse.

And then if you’re inspired, go join a Toastmasters club, take an improv class, buddy up with a stand-up comic, or just practice talking to strangers in line at the grocery store. Chances are you will uncover something fantastic if you just give yourself permission to look a little foolish.

Happy comfort-zone busting!



We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.


Visit the Write | Market | Design Facebook page to meet other authors and aspiring authors who have a sincere interest in writing, publishing, and selling the best books they can. And if you need a self-publishing consultant in your corner for anything from advice on structure to developing a marketing strategy, drop us a note at MarcieBrock@WriteMarketDesign.com or give us a call at 602.518.5376!

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Take a page from the Boy Scouts: Always be PREPARED!

(Please click on image to enlarge.)

So now that we’re familiar with relationship marketing as it pertains to becoming an SBM* and have made that aspect of selling books part of our daily ritual, practice, and mantra, it’s time to start seizing the opportunities as they present themselves. I recommend taking a page out of the Boy Scouts’ playbook and always BE PREPARED.

Once you train yourself to recognize them, you will begin to notice opportunities everywhere. You will meet people in line at the grocery store or the DMV. Your spouse will come across someone who can help promote your book. You will attend a lecture and make connections who invite you to speak the next time. Whatever shape or form they take, make sure you’re ready to capitalize on these limitless opportunities!

It’s possible that right now you’re thinking, “What are you talking about, Marcie? I’ve NEVER met anyone who could help me market my book on Irish vegan wedding recipes.” Here’s the thing: the opportunities are out there, but you must learn to see them.

I had a mentor who was so good at seeing opportunities, I like to say that he was able to look at a plain white piece of paper and see 27 opportunities on it, while all I saw was a plain white piece of paper. But after spending time with him, I began to do a few things that allowed me to start seeing opportunities the same way he did:

  1. I decided exactly what I wanted.
  2. I figured out the kinds of help I would need to get there.
  3. I learned to be a better listener.
  4. I got over my fear of talking to people about my products and services.

Think about the times people have asked you for help. If the request is reasonable, people are mostly willing to help. Now there’s one big caveat here: you do NOT want to go at people with your hand out the second you meet them. This is not about learning to use or manipulate the people you know. It’s about figuring out how to create mutually beneficial arrangements with them.

Nothing will come of any of the opportunities, though, if you aren’t prepared to leverage them.

  • How are you at public speaking? If it’s less than stellar (or if you’re terrified of public speaking), join a Toastmasters Club today! 
  • Do you have an article ready to go if someone were to ask you to submit one to their publication? How’s the resource box and your call to action?
  • Is your media kit current?
  • Are your bio, resume, and introduction updated?
  • Have you rehearsed your 15-, 30-, and 60-second descriptions of your book so that they roll off your tongue?

As my friend, international sales trainer Connie Kadansky, always says: “Opportunities are never lost. They just go to the person who is ready to take advantage of them!”

See you Thursday!


*Savvy Book Marketer


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Thursday, June 16 Are you using the 80/20 RULE when it comes to marketing your books?

Monday, June 13 – RELATIONSHIP marketing is the only way to SELL something personal like a book

Thursday, June 9 – Savvy Book Marketing is all about the RELATIONSHIP

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