It’s Time for a Personal Board of Advisors

BoardofAdvisorsBuilding a business from scratch is hard work; and it’s even harder if you’re an On-Ramper—a person who took time off work to raise children, enjoy a sabbatical, or care for aging parents. At the age of 40 I started my business and one of the first, and smartest, things I did was assemble a personal board of advisors. To succeed in business, it’s important to be self-aware. That includes knowing that you don’t know, as my father always said.

I didn’t have 20 years to figure out the art of doing business, so I needed to surround myself with the most successful people that I could connect with and ask if they would kindly serve as my personal board of advisors. How did I do that? I reached out and asked. Fortunately for me, each one said Yes.

What did I ask of my board? If they would be willing to be accessible, to listen, and to guide me in the best direction for success. They helped me answer the following types of questions:

  • Should I pursue a WBE certification?
  • Should I invest the time to compete for a state contract?
  • Should I volunteer service on another board?
  • How do I approach a client who is 60 days past due?
  • How should I respond to a company who wants to co-brand?
  • How do I navigate the hiring process?
  • Should I negotiate a 3-year or 5-year commercial space lease?

As an entrepreneur, I had to make good decisions the first time, and my board was critical in helping me grow.

I felt it was important to have diverse industries and ages on my board. I wanted people who could help me think of unintended consequences and bring skills that I didn’t have. One advisor is a successful family practice physician who is leading the country in electronic medical records implementation; one is a business owner who founded an institutional bond firm; one is a mother who started her IT firm after leaving IBM and ramped up to crest $5 million in revenue; one is a 30-year veteran in land development and the automotive industry leading a company with $80 million in revenue; and one is a business owner of a commercial mortgage banking firm.

All have deep experiences with growing their companies, making decisions based on the bottom line, navigating workplace challenges, and rebounding from recessions. I soon realized the value of that level of guidance—priceless. In fact, it’s probably worth more than an MBA.

Dr. Robert K. Nielsen jokes that he’s still waiting for our annual board meeting to be at The Greenbrier. That’s an aspirational goal for me, but every day I look at the picture on my desk and am thankful for how much each one has played a role in my high gear journey.

Whether you’re just thinking about your business idea or ready to launch a new service, I strongly encourage you to assemble your own personal board of advisors to capture decades of business wisdom and the objectivity to send you to the next level.

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5 Tips for Building a Positive Personal Brand Online

Anne Deeter GallaherWhenever I speak to a group of young people, I learn something from these bright Millenials—it’s a mini-focus group that helps me stay connected to the ideas, curiosity, and adaptability of digital natives. Whether I’m sharing with a social media savvy audience at Social Slam in Knoxville, TN, or with a small group of students who are members of Harrisburg University’s Social Media Club, I reinforce that managing our reputation online is imperative.

As founder of the Harrisburg Social Media Club and owner of a marketing/PR firm that integrates digital into every client’s marketing plan, I see the power of positive personal branding firsthand.  Although the channels have changed since I graduated from college decades ago, the same rules of good manners and self-discipline apply. … Read more

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3 Business Reasons to Join a Social Media Club

C Panel at the Harrisburg Social Media's Social Media at Work Conference

Our Harrisburg Social Media Club has been active for two years now, and we have a diverse membership of entrepreneurs, media, academics, B2C, B2B, and the public sector.

Why would business people, joined by the principle of If you get it, share it, want to spend time after work tweeting, Instagramming, and Facebooking with strangers? Is there any business value to this stuff? Isn’t Twitter inane chatter?

With Facebook’s user base surpassing 1 billion, it’s inane to waste time discussing the communications heft of social media. New media has collided with traditional media at such force that entire industries and careers have been born—Content Creator, Content Curator, Social Media Manager, Digital Strategist. It’s hard to find a news channel that isn’t running a Twitter hashtag at the bottom of the screen directing the viewer to integrated information. Even The Wall Street Journal cites tweets as sources. So to “get it,” puts you at a business advantage.
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3 Business Reasons to Join a Social Media Club

Social Media at Work 2011

The C-level panel at Social Media at Work 2011. Join us in Harrisburg for this year’s event on Wednesday, October 17!

Our Harrisburg Social Media Club has been active for two years now, and we have a diverse membership of entrepreneurs, media, academics, B2C, B2B, and the public sector.

Why would business people, joined by the principle of If you get it, share it, want to spend time after work tweeting, Instagramming, and Facebooking with strangers?  Is there any business value to this stuff? Isn’t Twitter inane chatter?

With Facebook’s user base surpassing 1 billion, it’s inane to waste time discussing the communications heft of social media. New media has collided with traditional media at such force that entire industries and careers have been born—Content Creator, Content Curator, Social Media Manager, Digital Strategist.  It’s hard to find a news channel that isn’t running a Twitter hashtag at the bottom of the screen directing the viewer to integrated information. Even The Wall Street Journal cites tweets as sources. So to “get it,” puts you at a business advantage.

The first presidential debate on October 3, 2012 distinguished itself by the attention, predictions, and sentiment analysis paid to conversations on Twitter. More than 10 million tweets piped the Web in the 90-minute debate.

Why are your friends in Social Media Club priceless? They help you keep up with the platforms, the analytics, and content creation and curation. To survive as a communications professional—or even in business—understanding social media is a must-know, not a nice-to-know.

So, what’s the business value in joining a Social Media Club?

  1. Google Juice. The information we tweet and share on Twitter is Google gold for your brand and your business. It’s valuable for both the SMC members and the host business. And it’s fodder for blog posts, op-eds, and videos. An added bonus is the regional broadcast power. Harrisburg has been suffering from a fiscal crisis and any news that shines a positive light on our region is considered oxygen. The more we tweet about our smart people, strong businesses, vibrant tourism, and special places, the better Harrisburg looks on Google. When we tweet and post pictures about our events, a riverboat ride, or the state capitol building, it gives the world a better, more holistic story of who we are.
  2. Your friends in Social Media Club are priceless. In-the-trench social media leaders give an insider’s look at how to market, share content, respond to snarky comments, and build communities. The digital channels are evolving daily and our SMC colleagues are the first people I turn to when I have a digital question.  And it’s a wonderful community to build and foster should your company need support in a public relations crisis.
  3. A digitally active region is a vibrant region. Although social media is not new to tech savvy people and early adopters, it still remains nebulous and elusive to many small businesses. QR codes, Yelp, Pinterest, and Instagram are good marketing tools for small business. When you help local small business understand new marketing tools, you help the entire region and economy.  A rising tide lifts all boats, and it’s time to share the knowledge—If you get it, share it.

 

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The Ripple Effect of Company Culture

McClure Company employees team up for the YMCA Corporate Challenge.

By Anne Deeter Gallaher, CEO/Owner of Deeter Gallaher Group LLC

The familiar proverb “The apple does not fall far from the tree” refers to parents and children, but I think it also has meaning for employees and employers. If you want to understand the culture of a company, watch and interact with the employees. What boards do they serve on, what organizations do they support, where do they spend their leisure time?

High-performing, solution-driven, good-citizen companies attract high-performing, solution-driven, good-citizen employees. They create a framework for workers like Dan Kerr to thrive, and they afford them the freedom to give time, energy, and resources back to the community. … Read more

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How to Leverage an Opinion Editorial [Infographic]

How we leverage the content we create is critical to any marketing strategy. If your strategy involves multi-channel media, you’ll be using a range of traditional and digital platforms to reach specific audiences. For influence and Google juice, one of the most powerful and persuasive tools is an opinion editorial.

Although we value the information shared in 140-character tweets and depend on “first knowledge” found in social media, the earned media value of 800 words of original content is still an extremely potent currency.

To illustrate how an opinion editorial can be used to tell a business story, follow the Ground Truth in Harrisburg infographic below. The capital city of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, has experienced a cloud of negativity stemming from the city’s fiscal paralysis. Local media, The Wall Street Journal, and even foreign TV stations have covered the distress in depth. The business community was challenged to tell its story to offset the negative branding effects.

Using an op-ed as their workhorse piece, three business men shared Ground Truth in Harrisburg and leveraged the story for positive regional and statewide mentions in print, blogs, a digital magazine, two radio shows, social media channels, and two in-person presentations—all from 800 words in print.

 

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Seven Strategies for Women Business Leaders

Helping women ramp up their businesses, not only to add jobs, but to increase profitability and financial independence, is one challenge I’m looking forward to discussing at The Wall Street Journal Women in the Economy Task Force, on April 30—May 2.

Improving the competitiveness of the American workforce is the overarching goal: “To that end, the Task Force will address ways to drive change beyond the organization focusing on leadership and innovation in sessions that identify opportunities for action in influential areas from education and entrepreneurship to science/technology/math and politics.” … Read more

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A Year to Finish Well: 5 Tips to Make It Happen in 2012

Entrepreneurs by nature are performance driven. We have no guarantees of long-term employment, retainers, or even work into next week. What drives us is the desire to do great work—and to keep good clients. To be independent and successful.

A significant event for me in 2011 awakened fresh clarity in my business. My father died in May, at the age of 90, and as our entire family surrounded his hospital bed, I was struck by the preciousness of time. It’s the ultimate non-renewable resource. … Read more

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13 Ways to Reach Your Audience on Social Media

Thanks to Dan Christ, Director of Audience Engagement for The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., I was invited to speak to newspaper executives attending the 2011 Inter-State Circulation Managers’ Association (I-SCMA), in State College.

Connecting with Customers in Social Media might seem an ironic topic to share with a room full of newspaper circulation managers, but they earnestly desired to know how to engage and leverage interaction on blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

In front of 50 representative newspaper organizations, I began by holding up The New York Times photo of “The Occupied Wall Street Journal.” An outgrowth from the grassroots anti-Wall Street-and-corporate-America protests is the production of a newspaper. Amidst chants from protestors and tweets on iPhones andiPads, it appears the protestors crave ink on their hands. … Read more

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The Business Case for Social Media: Straight Talk to the CFO

“If you doubt that social media is effective or delivers ROI, count the business owners who have flown to Social Slam 2011, in Knoxville, Tennessee, at our own expense. We own marketing/PR firms and generally bill by the hour. What’s the cost of a firm’s time? What’s the value of engaging on a panel of social media practitioners? Is there a business case? We are your proof.”  – Anne Deeter Gallaher

“Strategy is all about how to deploy scarce resources.”  – Dale Evans, CFO, The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company

CFOs are thinking about how to create shareholder value: tell them how social media will help with better communication, investor relations, wiser investments, better returns, more referrals, more press, and stronger communities. … Read more

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