Business // March 24, 2014

When you are trying to launch your upcoming project, career, or business, Twitter is a great platform for networking. Because the majority of users are public, and anyone can read and interact with your tweets, it allows access to top entrepreneurs, motivators and mentors.

These are our picks for best Twitter accounts to follow in order to boost your business and entrepreneurial efforts.


Eric Knopf (@ericknopf)

Knopf is a serial entrepreneur and has been involved with a variety of small ventures and startups. He is the co-founder of web technology startup Webconnex and his Twitter feed is full of tips and ideas to inspire and empower other budding entrepreneurs.

Penelope Trunk (@penelopetrunk)

As the founder of leading career development community Brazen Careerist, Penelope Trunk’s Twitter is a must follow stream, with tweets on balancing life, business, entrepreneurship as well as some humorous thoughts on life. Look to Trunk’s tweets for ideas on becoming a better leader and thoughts on how to live a more successful life.

Richard Branson (@richardbranson)

As the founder and driving force behind the Virgin Group, Branson is everyone’s favorite quirky entrepreneur, leading the way for workaholic entrepreneurs to “have their cake and eat it too.” Look to Branson’s Twitter feed for not only his thoughts and insights into business leadership and entrepreneurship, but also for his ongoing volunteer efforts, including eco-friendly, conservation and social good campaigns. Branson also frequently responds to followers, making him an accessible resource for insights on many different topics.

Information & Idea Sharing

Melinda Emerson (@SmallBizLady)

Looking for someone whose tweets are going to shame you into making your entrepreneurial dreams come true? You’re in the right place. Melinda Emerson is a Twitter favorite; Forbes even named her the #1 Influential Woman for Entrepreneurs. She is an author on becoming your own boss and leads weekly live Twitter chat #SmallBizChat Wednesdays 5-6pm where her community flocks to discuss the latest and provide insights and tips for successful entrepreneurial and small businesses success.

Guy Kawasaki (@guykawasaki)

Guy Kawasaki is the Co-founder of Alltop, an information and headline sourcing powerhouse, a contributor to Entrepreneur Magazine and a Twitter favorite with over one million followers. Kawasaki is a brilliant businessman and his tweets (lots of them) show his apt dedication to marketing in the digital age, social media and tools to power businesses and personal branding. His feed always keeps you guessing, as he will occasionally throw in some tweets on other subjects, llike politics, health and pop culture.

Jeff Bullas (@jeffbullas)

Need some answers on digital marketing, social media or how to harness them for your business? Jeff Bullas’ Twitter feed is the perfect place to look.  Touted as one of Forbes Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers, he tweets the latest on trending news, social media tips, case studies and insights into social media marketing to help power brands, and businesses.

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Chris Brogan (@chrisbrogan)

Speaker, author, publisher and CEO/President of Human Business Works, Chris Brogan is helping power your career one tweet at a time. Brogan offers digital courses, mentorships and coaching, and followers get insights into his digital marketing, sales and self-motivating tips through his tweets. Keep tabs on Brogan’s feed for sneak peeks, behind-the-scenes photos and for responses to questions.


Sumaya Kazi (@sumaya)

Entrepreneur, speaker and thought leader, Sumaya Kazi has worn many hats, and followers get a peek at her insights and thoughts on topics like entrepreneurship, young leaders and professionalism, career development, non-profit work, social media, technology and diversity. But don’t be surprised if you spot a couple of tweets on family, college football and salsa dancing sprinkled in her feed.

Brian Moran (@brianmoran)

Business owner Brian Moran describes his work as “helping entrepreneurs and marketers navigate the small and medium-sized business space.” Moran’s followers get all of that and more. Moran tweets his experience as an entrepreneur and publisher and mixes his own views, as well as experiences, tips and advice from other established entreprenuers.

Jeff Barrett (@BarrettAll)

As the founder and President for Status Creative, Jeff Barrett not only offers great insight into the developments of the digital world, including marketing, social media, PR and more, he is a great networking resource for entrepreneurs and the business-minded individual alike. He runs the weekly #BareItAll live Twitter chat on Wednesdays at 11 am - noon, often including a guest host and a discussion  on a range of food-for-thought topics on digital, social, PR and pop culture. Barrett also makes himself a resource for others to connect and engage with him.

Who are some of your favorite mentors and motivators to follow on Twitter? Share your thoughts with us and tweet us @madewomanmag!

Published in Business

Business // April 22, 2013 

Whenever I work with clients, I’m a little bit of a party pooper. I’m always reminding them about CAN-SPAM laws and Facebook regulations. I’m not the cool consultant who lets you underage drink at my house and won’t tell your parents. Over here it’s lights out at 10 with a cup of warm milk.

That might not be for everyone, and I totally get that. But it’s my job as a professional to work ethically and keep my clients up-to-date.

And there’s a reason I really like following the rules – because as a consumer, it really irritates me when brands break them! Especially when it comes to email communications. Recently, I’ve received a few emails that I never opted in to receive and that have no way – that I can identify – to opt out. So, my only option would be to send an email directly to the person and hope that she removes me from her list. That’s not cool. It’s awkward and annoying. And, it’s against the rules.

Spamming people does not make them want to buy your product. It does not make people want to refer their colleagues to you. It just makes them mad and then, in turn, makes them passively aggressively write nasty articles about you.

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So, if you’re thinking about sending emails to your clients and prospects (which can be a very effective strategy for some businesses) here’s what you should do:

  • Set up an account with MailChimp. It’s free and very easy to use.
  • Create a list and opt-in form in your new account. You can even add a code on your website and Facebook page to capture addresses.
  • Promote your sign-up form. Publicize it on Twitter, Facebook and in your email signature line. Send personal emails to your contacts asking that they sign up and give them a great reason why (discounts, tips, VIP access…)
  • Generate great content and send it to the people that WANT it.

When you use a service like MailChimp, you are sure that everyone has opted in and that they can easily opt out if the information is no longer needed. It’s a simple and free process and it will actually help build your list beyond people you know personally or have met at a networking event.

Published in Business

Business // October 7, 2013 

So you’ve got your blog or website up and running, and are posting regularly on Facebook and Twitter. But, if you’re not on Pinterest, you might be missing the boat. Pinterest has garnered substantial attention as a major traffic referrer and purchasing powerhouse. The visually-oriented community consumes photographic content in order to inspire direct purchasing (33 percent of users buy directly) and traffic. An active Pinterest community can take your little known blog or site to the next level.

Pinterest allows users to collect photos (pins) from around the web or those already uploaded to Pinterest from other users and organizes them onto “boards.” Imagine the bulletin board above your desk and how you would pin up photos of outfits, quotes, great photos or articles for reference and inspiration. The same idea has now moved to the web in the form of Pinterest. Here, you can group all those great recipes, outfits, your favorite quotes, artwork or any other category you might be interested in.

Pinterest, although only launched in 2010, grew to see more than 10 million users in 2012, a significant amount more than Facebook or Twitter saw only two years after launch. The site has also clearly become a hotbed for female interaction with more than 80% of users being women. The most popular pins include crafts and DIY, fashion and food. If there are people blogging about it and taking great photos, there is a rabid Pinterest community clamoring for more. So if you’ve decided to take the plunge and get your blog started on Pinterest, here are some tips to get you started:

Optimize your profile

Start with the basics. Make sure you fill out all of the information in your profile, including verifying your website. Make sure your “About” section describes your brand and your website succinctly, and make sure to use your targeted keywords because this is indexed by search engines.  Upload a photo. For a major brand or business, a logo will work, but for an information website or blog, a headshot of the founder makes is more personable.

Develop Your Voice

When creating boards, make them specific and targeted to allow users to be able to determine exactly what kind of content is on your board. Instead of just one board for a generic topic like “fashion,” make a few boards that describe different types of fashion or explores different styles. You can have a board for street style, one for great shoes, stripes, and other trends or similar themes.

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Pin Your Own Images

This is one of the most important part of your Pinterest strategy, because this is what is going to drive people to your website to view your content or your products.  Make sure all of your content has great images to accompany it and if you have your own photos, watermark them with your logo or website. You can go a step further and also put a text overlay with the title or topic of your article or post. If you don’t have access to Photoshop, you can use a free service like PicMonkey.

Develop Inspirations

Pinterest is a great way to tell a story about your brand, the motivations and personality of your website or blog. Connect with major themes and align them with your brand’s goals. Have a board of inspirational quotes. If you have a fitness blog, try doing a board of great outdoor hikes. Create boards that are going to be aesthetically pleasing, but also connect in some way to your target communities.

Take time to connect

Just as you put in effort to read and comment on other people’s blogs, take time to follow interesting people in your community. Network with them by liking, repining and commenting on their pins to develop and build relationships.

How are you developing your Pinterest community? Tell us in the comments below!

Published in Business

MW of the Month // December 30, 2013

British born, Barbara Sealy’s story is marked by many things. Pain and poverty, hurt…numerous trials and tremendous growth. But her story also represents the essence of achievement, of victory. Last week, I was honored -- or shall I say, “honoured”-- to hear some of Barb’s remarkable story first-hand. In her lovely English accent.

Born and raised in Forest Gate, a community in London’s East End that she compared to US’s inner cities, Barb had a rough childhood. Originally from Barbados (an English colony), she and the rest of her large family arrived in the East End of London in the ‘50s to find a new, diverse community with people from a variety of backgrounds. Growing up, Barb faced extreme poverty and abuse from her father, until her mother took on raising her and her brothers and sisters alone. From an early age, Barb loved music and started using it as an escape: she would lose herself in music and film, and she and her siblings would sing together to cope with their often tumultuous environment. As early as her teens, Barb had inherited a strong work ethic from her mother; she remembers vowing that she would do everything in her power to keep other children from experiencing what she had in her household.

As an adult Barb visited the States on a vacation in 1987, and a year later she decided to make the move permanent. Whereas back home she had never been encouraged to think about career options (she was more focused on survival), she knew deep down that there had to be something more.  By now she knew that she wanted to help people and be a philanthropist, but she wanted her work to be tied into music somehow. “Music lifted my spirits,” she reflects. “I said if I can help another child not feel isolated or scared, and show them -- through music -- that they can achieve what they want, it would be really cool.” And that’s just what she set out to do.

Barb’s first jobs in the US included working for companies like Disney, as an administrator in the Video Division, but she credits her time working with the Grammys as the biggest learning experience of all. As the assistant to Michael Greene, the President of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Barb was truly tested. “Because of how I was raised, I didn’t really have the social skills to help me to see how the corporate side of the world really works... I saw how somebody ran a company from the inside and it really set me up to do what I'm doing now.”

During this time, she met Robert (Bob) Brodhead, and they immediately clicked. They came from similar backgrounds and both had a mission to help young people. The two were asked to start the West Coast operation of the Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz, an organization that has been thriving in Washington, D.C. for years. In this role, Barb worked to bring the jazz program to inner city kids by building after-school programs and other ventures to keep music education alive. She spoke to music departments at South-Central schools like Hamilton and Washington and found corporate sponsors like Nissan and the NBA to help support the programs. At one point, she coordinated a multi-school jazz band with, Reggie Andrews of Locke High School, that would play pre-game and halftime shows for the Lakers!

During her time with the Institute, she put together a scholarship fund and raised well over a million dollars to help students go to college. “Kids who would not have the opportunity financially were able to attend UCLA, USC, the Manhattan School of Music and the Berklee School of Music. The Monk Institute was very successful.”

What’s more, she taught these students that a solid career in music is not about fame. “I always taught that it’s more about having a career and supporting themselves doing what they loved. Do what you love and the money will come. In the meantime, you must know how to run a business and balance your checkbook.” These weren’t official classes, but kids would hang out after the program and ask Barb and her team about these realities. “They weren't learning this stuff at home. Nobody told them what would happen if they didn't do these simple, but life-changing things.”

After the success of the Thelonius Monk Institute, Barb turned around an after school program called Colors United, and then she and Bob Brodhead founded Creative Counseling Network (CCN) in 2006. Both programs were supported in large part by Barb’s close friend and January’s Made Woman of the Month, Barbara Vohryzek.

With CCN, Barb and Bob created a program that offered performing arts training, as well as mental health treatment. “One thing we noticed when working with other nonprofits was that we were providing great shows and entertainment, but the kids still had to go back to their environments and lacked the mental tools to carry the positivity through.” Sanctioned by the Department of Mental Health, CCN offered psycho-social rehabilitation, and involved social workers and therapists.

After CCN, the unthinkable happened in Barb’s life. She experienced a huge health scare that left her bedridden and fighting for her life. During this dark time, her former students and friends gave her another reason to keep fighting.  “I said, I can't just lay here or I'm going to die.  Part of what kept me going is that many of my students, like Miles Mosley, had called me; they had graduated and gotten their degrees, but the music landscape had changed and they didn't know where to start. So it came to mind that I should create a music management company to represent some of the people that had come through my programs over the years.”  So Barb decided she would See it into Being -- and created SB Music Management.

Photo By: Kristine Ambrose

Barbara started managing multiple artists from her house, even though she struggled just to leave her bed each day. Many of her artists weren’t even aware of her illness, and knowing she had to make a call or send an email was what gave her the resolve to move from her bed, to at least her couch (“I contemplated calling it On the Couch Productions!”); this was literally the difference between her life or death. “Other people give you things to fight for, so you start to fight for yourself,” Barb recalls.

Today, Barb’s music management company is thriving, and she has seen artists like Miles Mosley, described as the Jimi Hendrix of the upright bass, grow to have hugely successful careers. Miles’ group, the West Coast Get Down, is a collective of jazz musicians who have traveled the world together, playing for people like Carlos Santana, Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, American Idol and the Voice.

By setting her artists up for longevity, Barb is “trying to change the face of management and the music industry by showing artists that they can have well-rounded music careers.” Miles Mosley, for example, has also carved out a niche in the film and video game trailer world, composing scores for major film trailer houses, publishing companies, web series and multiple Viacom projects.

The amazing thing is that through it all, Barb has stayed true to her life’s purpose. She has helped countless young people not only overcome seemingly insurmountable odds, but to gain independence and thrive as well-rounded artists and individuals. “I wanted to teach people to become adults the best way they know how... Just because you came from a hard background, it doesn't mean that you can't have dreams. Young people need to see that they have a place in the world, regardless of their circumstances. But they also need to know that nobody gives you anything; you have to work for it.” If they’re in need of an example of hard work, they don’t need to look too far.

Published in Business

Business // December 30, 2013

We’ve all had those moments, chatting away at a dinner party, vino in hand ... you ask the smokin’ hot hipster sitting to your left what he does for a living. “Oh, I’m a resort water slide tester,” he casually replies like that’s something you hear everyday. “Excuse me—a what?! Awesome ... I didn’t even know that was a job.”

In today’s world, countless unique careers exist that your parents and college counselor probably never mentioned (or even knew about for that matter.) At a young age, most of us are plopped onto a track heading straight to Normal Jobville. Few kids grow up wanting be to a roller coaster designer, hair stimulation supervisor, menu engineer, ice cream taster, fortune cookie writer, or conlinguist—but they are all very real vocations.

While some high schools and universities are attempting to better prepare future young adults for occupations that are unique or don’t yet exist, most haven’t found effective ways to make students more aware of the wide variety of positions that are available, beyond the basics. So, how does a modern girl discover unconventional career options? It’s not as difficult as one might think.

Start by digging deeper into the world in which you want to work. Food, fashion, photography, medical, writing, hospitality, travel, entertainment, interior design—in each industry, there are a plethora of uncommon jobs. Talk to as many people as you can who work in fashion, if that’s your passion, and Google! The answers are there under simple searches like “unique jobs in fashion.” Another option that yields results—visit the “career opportunities” section on websites of companies you’d like to work for. Often you’ll see job listed that you never knew existed. Here’s an example on

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There are also occupations that are highly unusual by nature and require unique individuals to fulfill the duties—i.e. sea urchin diver, coconut safety engineer, and snake milker—all examples of work that definitely qualify as unique, but also are not for everyone. Because most women I know (not all, but most), don’t want to learn how to extract venom from snakes and sell it to research labs for use in anti-venom medications, here is a list of unconventional jobs that might actually be of interest:

Fashion - beyond the buyer, model, and fashion designer

Textile Distributor

This person is the middleman/woman between textile manufacturers and designers. The job involves a fair amount of travel, as many fabrics are sourced in other countries. It also provides plenty of freedom from being stuck in a office cube. Textile distributors make an average of $105,000 a year.

Fashion Colorist

It’s the job of a colorist to make sure that fabrics are the right color and of the same dye lot. If you have an amazing eye for color differentiation and know how different light sources effect the way we see color, this might be your next job in fashion. Colorists make an average of $53,000 a year.

Other unusual jobs in fashion: Fashion Forecaster, Set Designer, Personal Shopper

Food - beyond the chef and restaurant

Recipe Developer and Tester

Today you don’t have to have a professional culinary degree to get sell your recipes if you’re an amazing cook, uber detail oriented and can write precise directions. Magazines, brands, and even celebrity food personalities are hiring home-chefs to help fill their plates, pages, websites and cookbooks with delicious recipes. This is typically freelance work and it helps to have a food blog to showcase your talents. Recipes are generally sold for between $275 and $1,000 each. If you’re skilled at food photography, you can charge more.

Gourmet Food Buyer

If you have a passion for food, this could be a dream job. Stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Costco all employ people to find and purchase the foods they sell and to decide which items to take off the shelves. To qualify for a position like this, it’s best to have a background in hospitality and gourmet food, but Trader Joe’s is known for promoting from within if you have the drive. Other skills needed: excellent palate, ability to negotiate with vendors, product sourcing, inventory management, marketing, and an understanding of trends in consumer taste. Travel is sometimes involved and salaries range from $50,000 to $80,000.

Other unusual jobs in food: Food Stylist, Culinary Trendologist, Test Kitchen Taste Tester, Restaurant Publicist, Chocolate Explorer

Hospitality - beyond the concierge, front desk, and hotel manager

Cruise Director

This is an amazing way to travel the world, entertain people, and avoid sitting behind a desk all day. Cruise directors are responsible for all on-board hospitality, entertainment and social events. They act as the public face of the company and are constantly interacting with the guests. For this job you’ll need a charismatic personality, tons of energy, the ability to be away from home for extended periods of time, and experience working in recreation, entertainment and/or hospitality. Here is an example of a job listing for Cruise Director for Royal Caribbean. Salaries can range from $45,000 to $150,000.

Vibe Manager

Hot hotels today are hiring “Vibe Managers” to create the overall “vibe” of the hotel—from the music in the lobby, spa and elevators to creating unforgettable corporate meeting experiences for hotel clients, e.g. setting up a DJ booth in the conference room so the CEO can be spinning pre and post meeting. Read more about the Vibe Manager for Hard Rock Hotel, San Diego here. Salaries range from $50,000 to $75,000. Here is a list of other unique jobs in the hospitality industry.

No matter where your passions lie, you can be sure there are unique jobs that exist in that field … you just have to do some digging to uncover your first or next unconventional career!

Published in Job Hunting
Monday, 16 December 2013 17:12

Business | Green Marketing 101

Business // December 17, 2013

These days, going green is more than just a trend, it's the smart thing to do in the business world. If you want to make sure your customers know that you care about the earth, your business needs to integrate environmentally-friendly marketing decisions at every turn. Some of these choices may sound simple, but they are a great way to let your audience know that your brand is one they can trust, and that what matters to them also matters to you. 

1. Stick to Email

If you've printed business flyers before, you know how expensive and wasteful the process can be. Eye-catching mailers are still great for certain promotions and times of the year, but e-newsletters and electronic coupons are great all the time. Give your customers the option to subscribe on your website, but don't inundate their inboxes. Instead, focus on messages that really give them value. 

2. Recycled Printing

When you do need printed material, switch to recycled paper and vegetable-based inks whenever possible. You can also use these methods in packaging, letting your customers know that you don't simply talk about going green - you actually do it. They will get a positive feeling from picking up your flyers or buying your products if they know they are supporting a company who supports saving the planet. Don't forget to print the source of the materials right on the paper for them to read!

3. Green Promotional Products

When you're exhibiting at a trade show or just doing promotions for your business, think about investing in green promotional items that show your overall company philosophy on helping the environment. There are plenty of options, from eco-friendly tote bags and apparel to LED lights, recycled stationary, and everything in between. These freebies can help introduce you to colleagues who share your attitude towards eco-friendly business.

4. Offer Customer Incentives

Don't just set an example with your business, encourage your audience to go green themselves. Offer discounts for shoppers who participate in local environmental cleanups. Give coupons for green products and incentives to reach your business by bicycle or public transportation, or bring in reusable shopping bags. You can get creative with promotions designed to get people thinking about green lifestyle changes.

5. Use Green Technology

The shift toward internet-based business also gives a boost to the environment, and when they visit your website, customers should be aware of how electronic buying is actually environmentally friendly. That also means you should look into going green with your IT department, including hosting your site on the most energy-efficient servers possible. Sustainable web hosting solutions are available now which are mainly powered by wind or solar energy, and that's a great thing to communicate to your site visitors.

The benefits of green marketing campaigns are enormous. You will not only build a great reputation for your business, you'll ensure customer loyalty from people who take environmental issues to heart. Going green should be more than just a fad to you, because your customers will know the difference. It's okay to spend a little more time and money, and it's great to think outside the box. Your earth-conscious brand will earn staying power and a whole lot of respect. 

Published in Business
Thursday, 12 December 2013 23:03

Business | New Year's Workplace Resolutions

Business // December 15, 2013

A new year is a upon us, ladies, and that means it’s time to pour something sparkly and make a toast to new resolutions. Not only is this a great time to make some changes or new commitments in our personal lives, but it’s also an opportune time for a fresh start in the workplace. Whether you’ve been in a slump at work or are flying high loving your current job, let’s all make some New Year’s workplace resolutions together. Here are a few of mine:

Avoid office gossip

I don’t know about you, but on occasion (okay, maybe on a weekly basis) I find myself getting frustrated with people at the office and really needing to vent. But venting can quickly become gossip if I take it beyond my closest confidantes. In 2014 I am resolving to watch what I say about other people to other people. No good can really come of it.

Watch the extra office goodies

This may be in part to my current pregnancy, but recently I’ve adopted the bad habit of reaching into the office candy bowl and snacking on meeting leftovers too often. Every now and then I think it’s okay to treat myself, but making a habit out of it only leads to extra empty calories, which are often the hardest to work off. When I return to work after maternity leave, I’m going to focus on keeping my desk stocked with healthy snacks.

Seek a mentor 

Sometimes it can be hard to find a mentor at work. Most of us have supervisors or managers whom we report to, but in 2014 I’d really like to find a mentor who can provide guidance beyond my day-to-day work. This year I resolve to spend some time getting to know a colleague I admire and whose career path is one to which I aspire . Even just asking him or her to coffee would be a great way to learn more about how they achieved their career success.

Dress for success

 I’m going to blame pregnancy for this one again, too, but I find myself choosing the more casual side of “business casual” at work these days. We have a very laid back dress code, so it’s been easy to trade in my previously polished look for something comfier. But hey, if I want to reach the top of the ladder, I need to dress the part, right? I’ve decided 2014 will be the year I bring my wardrobe back to the professional level that makes me feel strong and successful.

Update professional goals 

Each year I try to set three to five career-related goals. Sometimes I’m not sure where the year is going to take me, but I always at least get something down on paper to help me dream big and work toward new aspirations. True to my own tradition, I plan to get my 2014 career goals down on paper as soon as possible. With a new baby coming in February and a desire to find a balance between motherhood and my current career path, this is one of my most important New Year’s resolutions for 2014.

We all need to tend to our professional growth, and now is the perfect time to take a look at how things are going. So, now it’s your turn. What are your workplace resolutions going to be this year?

Published in Business

Business // November 18, 2013 

When I was in college, my idea of professionalism was a power suit, back-to-back conference calls, early mornings, late nights and black coffee. I guess I watched too many movies in the 80s. When I actually got into the workforce – outside of my part-time college gigs – I realized it was more about prompt follow up and knowing your stuff.

Whether you’re climbing the corporate ladder, launching your own business or working in a non-corporate capacity, a certain level of professionalism is sure to kick your career up a notch. Here are a few unspoken rules that all true professionals hold dear:

  • Be on Time. It shows that you care and it shows that you’re responsible. With all of our access to technology, it’s easy to run late because we can call/text/email/tweet our explanations while we’re on the road. Give yourself extra time, and don’t make excuses.
  • Kick it Old School. Technology is awesome, but there’s a time and place where it’s more appropriate to pick up a phone, write a letter or make an in-person appearance. People really appreciate it when you show up and make the extra effort. [Side note: handwritten thank you notes are still the business. Write them to your clients, bosses and anyone else that you want to impress. It works every time.]
  • R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Use your manners -- even in your online communications. Also, recognize when someone has helped you or taught you something new. With instant access to information, it becomes easy to forget how important the transfer of knowledge really is.

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  • Don’t Flake. When you are dealing with other professionals and flake on them, not only do they lose respect for you, they waste their own time and efforts. Flake one too many times and you will find yourself out of a job, deal or maybe even a friendship.
  • Keep Your Private Life Private. No one wants to hear all of your boyfriend drama. Hour-long calls with your Mom should be left at home. Your personal life is not the burden of your co-workers or your clients, even if they’re your personal friends. Save all of the drama for wine night and not the boardroom.
  • Know Your Stuff. The best way to look like a professional is to be one. Study, learn, mentor, work and continue to perfect your craft. Be confident without being cocky; add value whenever you can.

Being professional never goes out of style. What are your tips for impressing your colleagues and clients? Tell us in the comments below!

Published in Business
Sunday, 22 September 2013 21:18

Business I Start-Up Spotlight: SmarterBucks

Business // September 23, 2013 

Debt. It just doesn’t seem to go away. Whether we’ve racked up credit card bills during the summer wedding season or had to give in and get a new car, many of us have some form of debt to our name. More than likely, however, most of us have debt in the form of the good ol’ student loan. According to American Student Assistance, today in the U.S. there is approximately $902 billion to $1 trillion in outstanding student loan debt.

Fortunately there are programs out there that help students and recent graduates pay off their loans more quickly and efficiently. One such program is SmarterBucks – a website dedicated to helping reduce student loan debt (and don’t worry, it’s legit. SmarterBucks is an FDIC member).

A website that promises to help pay off student loans faster? Sign me up! As a woman who is more-than-eager to pay off her grad school loan, I eagerlyaccepted the invitation to check out SmarterBucks and explore how the service could help me out. After all, that hefty monthly payment would be much more useful in my savings account, or for charity, or …perhaps the occasional extra pair of shoes.

The Gist

Through using a special debit card issued by SmarterBanks or simply making purchases through preferred vendors, SmarterBucks will give users up to 10% back in rewards to help pay down student loans. Users can also invite family and friends to contribute to their account.

SmarterBucks offers great tips and resources for debt management, as well as exclusive discounts and deals for users.

The User Experience

Signing up for the SmarterBucks account and inputting all of your information is easy. In order to actually pay down a loan, users will have to link their SmarterBucks account to their student loan account so that SmarterBucks can track it. The site seems really secure, so this shouldn’t be a concern.

The actual process of earning rewards and paying debt down has been a bit of a challenge for me thus far. Since I don’t necessarily need to make purchases from vendors within the SmarterBucks marketplace, I have yet to actually earn any rewards to go toward my loans. Still, for the diligent buyer who is determined to pay off her loans, the process is simple and each dollar will add up quickly.

My advice is to sign up for the SmarterBank debit card. This is the fastest way to make qualifying purchases that will help erase that debt. It works like any rewards Visa where you earn points or cash back for everyday purchases, except you get SmarterBucks back instead – and those go toward your designated student loan. It’s a win-win!

If you have student loans to pay off, you should definitely give SmarterBucks a test drive to see if it will work for you. Every dollar toward those loans helps, and soon (okay, maybe a few years from now) the debt will disappear.

Published in Entrepreneurship

Business // July 15, 2013 

Can you define your personal brand?

If you had to think about it, you can’t.

Why does it matter?

In the words of business icon Warren Buffet: “Your premium brand had better [be] delivering something special or it’s not going to get the business.”

In the last five years the idea of a “personal brand” has become more important, even if you’re a corporate employee.  Perhaps especially if you’re a corporate employee! With the uncertainty in the economy, people realized that they couldn’t afford to skate through their workdays unnoticed if they wanted to keep their jobs, much less earn a promotion.

If you want to build your career and success, as any MADE woman does, you need to take the initiative, show up every day and look for ways to innovate and stand out.

You need to define your Personal Brand. The POWER of a brand lies in its ability to speak for you and before you.

As any marketing executive can tell you it takes a lot of work to create a brand. So sit down and take some time out to create your own, strong personal brand:

Personal Brand Element #1 – VALUE

Creating your personal brand starts with understanding the value you offer. What differentiates you? What makes you stand out from the competition or your co-workers? Brainstorm your unique skill sets as well as your unique attributes. Are you a good communicator? Do you stay cool under pressure (Emotional Intelligence is just as important as IQ)?

Personal Brand Element #2 – VISIBILITY

What kind of an impression do you want to leave with co-workers, colleagues, clients or managers? This means becoming recognized for something so that even others are talking about you. However, it starts with YOU showing up and stepping out to make yourself visible. Attend networking events, ask for introductions and also offer introductions. All while keeping in mind what it is you want to be known for as the go-to expert.

Personal Brand Element #3 – AUTHENTICITY

It’s personal for a reason. It’s all about YOU. If people sense that you’re being inauthentic, even if it’s with good intentions, they won’t trust you. This means that if you’re trying to be a certain way because that’s how you think you’re supposed to be, you’re inadvertently coming off as untrustworthy. OWN all of YOU.

Personal Brand Element #4 – IMAGE
As the uber-successful Tony Robbins shares, “Initially, style is more important than substance. If you don’t have the right style, you won’t get to share any of your substance.”

Your style and presentation is a visual representation of your brand. Communication is 55% visual. You are communicating who you are before you even get a chance to speak. Your favorite color to wear subconsciously tells people a bit about your values. Your accessories, hair, nails, shoes, etc. is evidence to your attention to detail. Your outfit hints at your personality.  Finally, your image must be appropriate to the audience without completely sacrificing who you are. For example, if it’s a suit culture, add color, accessories and heels to bring in your personality and brand.

Personal Brand Element #5 - CONSISTENCY

Whether you’re going for coffee or leading the meeting, your focus on your visual presentation should be the same. You don’t have to put a lot of effort into your ‘coffee casual’ look to still be polished, professional and confident if you happened to run into a potential client or colleague. The same is true with all written communication – whether on Facebook, in email or on LinkedIN, write with the intention of building your Personal Brand.

What is your Personal Brand? Tell us in the comments below!

Published in Business
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