Thursday, June 25, 2009

Baby Steps, the e-book.

I recently had a revelation—the kind that literally stops you in your tracks and makes a cartoon lightbulb appear above your head—which has me to a new, very exciting project. I am thrilled to announce that I am writing an e-book, to be titled "Baby Steps: A New Mom's Guide to Navigating Mommyhood and the Workplace."

"Baby Steps" started to take shape months ago, after I put together a list of my "top 25 new mom tips" for a friend's baby shower, when my daughter was only six weeks old and I was still on maternity leave. A self-described Type A control freak, my life was turned upside down by the birth of my daughter in December 2008. I read every book under the sun in preparation for her arrival, but all the reading in the world did not prepare me for the reality. Motherhood and maternity leave was more demanding and more wonderful than I had ever imagined. And control? I had none: it was all in the hands of a tiny 8 lb. infant.

As the primary breadwinner in our family, staying home was never an option for me, and I returned to the office full-time at the end of February 2009, when my daughter was three months old. Now that she is almost 7 months old (where has the time gone?), I feel like we generally have a pretty good routine. However, my first few weeks back in the office were really difficult, and I realized that I had never had a good handle on what to expect—both while I was on leave, and especially when I came back to the office. And I wished I had. Enter "Baby Steps."

If you are a working mom (whether you had a baby six months ago, or sixteen years ago!), I would love your comments and feedback for this project. Please email me at sarasgraham {at} gmail {dot} com with the following information:

1. Your name (if you would prefer, you can remain anonymous in the e-book)
2. City and state
3. How many kids you have, and their ages
4. Age of kid(s) when you went back to work
5. Occupation
6. Your tips for new moms:
a. while still on leave
b. transitioning back to the office
c. juggling it all

7. Anything else you would like to mention.

I will be working on this project over the summer and hope to publish the e-book in Fall 2009. Thanks in advance for your comments!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Inbound Marketing University - a must for marketers!

I just attended a fantastic series of FREE webinars, hosted by Hubspot and dubbed Inbound Marketing University. Consisting of 10 virtual classes over the course of 5 days, Hubspot recruited some of the industry's smartest experts to share their knowledge, with classes including the following:
  1. How to Blog Effectively for Business, with Ann Handley & Mack Collier, MarketingProfs
  2. SEO Crash Course to Get Found, with Lee Odden, Top Rank Marketing
  3. Social Media and Building Community, with Chris Brogan, New Marketing Labs
  4. Successful Business Uses for Facebook and LinkedIn, with Elyse Tager, elymedia
  5. Viral Marketing and World Wide Raves, with David Meerman Scott, author of New Rules of Marketing & PR and World Wide Raves
  6. Advanced SEO Tactics: On Beyond Keyword Research, with Rand Fishkin, SEOmoz
  7. Calls to Action and Landing Page Best Practices with Jeanne Hopkins, MECLABS, Marketing Experiments
  8. Inbound Lead Nurturing, with Brian Carroll, MECLABS, InTouch
  9. Successful Email Marketing with Eric Groves, Constant Contact
  10. Analyzing Inbound Marketing with Marshall Sponder, Monster.com, Web Analytics Association for Social Media

The series concluded with a wrap-up session, led by Mike Volpe, a Hubspot VP, and also included a certification exam. I dutifully attended all of the classes, tweeted with my classmates, attended the review session...and found the test (surprisingly) challenging. Makes the certification very desirable!

With a very few exceptions, the speakers were all outstanding. I especially enjoyed David Meerman Scott's presentation—if you ever have the chance to hear him in person, run, don't walk, to buy tickets. I had never considered writing an e-book before hearing David's class, but he was so inspiring that I recently added that to my "must do" list. Chris Brogan's discussion on Social Media and Building Community was very enlightening; they don't call him a social media rockstar for nothing. And the SEO classes made me wish that I had the budget to overhaul my corporate website again—but that's a topic for another day.

The Hubspot team did an amazing job coordinating this massive project, and also went above and beyond the call of duty to help us all keep in touch with our fellow classmates, developing its own online forums, and creating groups on both LinkedIn and Facebook. Bravo!

If you're looking to get up to speed on all things inbound marketing, you MUST attend IMU. For those who didn't attend the series, Hubspot is offering more classes later this summer, and the full IMU program will make an encore appearance in August. Don't miss out.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A marketer's primer to networking - Part Two.

We all seem to be doing a lot of networking these days. Whether you're looking for a new opportunity yourself, or helping a friend, former coworker, relative, etc. find their next calling, you simply can't help but get involved.

I attended a wonderful Boston Women Communicator's breakfast meeting this morning, where the topic du jour was—of course!—networking. Marilyn Edelson, President of Ontrack Coaching, had some outstanding tips that I thought were well worth sharing.

So, without further ado, here are the principles of relationship networking, according to Marilyn:
1. Set your intentions
2. Be present
3. Suspend judgment
4. Follow up
5. Take care of others in your network


Happily, these principles aren't much different than what I posted myself a few weeks back in Part One of this primer (good to know that an expert and I are on the same page!). But Marilyn also offered these tips:

1. Believe in abundance
2. Be generous
3. Know your strengths
4. Be authentic
5. Include supporters, shakers, and mentors in your network

These are quite succinct points, and very well stated, but I'd like to expand upon them.

To Marilyn's first two points: I truly believe you can't do enough networking; Marilyn actually shared with us that she keeps a database of some of her key contacts' interests, so that she can keep in touch appropriately. Brilliant idea! And in this economy, we can all afford to be generous: helping someone make a great connection may only take a few moments, but the good karma that will come your way (and perhaps a return favor at some point down the road!) will last for a very, very long time.

Knowing your strengths ensures that you aren't wasting your time—or anyone else's. If you don't have expertise in online advertising, don't go down that path. If you DO, by all means, share the wealth. Sharing best practices is a wonderful benefit that comes from having a network made up of savvy, seasoned professionals.

Marilyn's fourth point, be authentic, is so incredibly important. Be yourself! Yes, everyone has an "off" day now and again, but being your true self is the only way to be your best self. No one wants to connect with a charming Dr. Jekyll, only to find out that he is in reality a slimy Mr. Hyde.

Marilyn's last point is a great pointer for building your network effectively. If the only people you meet and mingle with have similar backgrounds to your own, the world would be a very boring place. Our differences go a long way to define us! In addition to surrounding yourself with peers, connect with people you admire, people who admire you, and people who are just a little removed from your core "circle," and you'll be well on your way to building a strong, dynamic network.

Good luck—and if you have other tips for building a strong network, please do share.