Iowa Bloggers Conference

Tips For Attending The Iowa Bloggers Conference: 2017

 

There’s a blog conference coming to my hometown and I’m excited to be a part of it. Mason City, Iowa is not a large metropolitan area, it’s approximately 26,000 people and offers stunning architecture and art experiences. The Iowa Bloggers Conference is going to be held in the offices of the Mason City Chamber of Commerce, 9 North Federal, in the heart of downtown. The fun will start the evening before, for a smaller get together for those wishing to arrive the evening before.

BUSINESS CASUAL

One of the biggest worries that people have when they attend an event, such as a bloggers conference; the biggest hangup seems to be what to wear. Remember that first impressions can often be last impressions, so my advice is to dress for business casual. This can be a nice pair of jeans paired with a sweater and/or top. If you want to wear a jacket and dress pants, by all means, go for it. But know, that it’s most important to dress for you! When you are comfortable, you will enjoy the day much more.

Rascal Flatts

LODGING

The Hampton Inn & Suites is our host hotel. It’s located a couple miles from our venue, but easy to get to.  This is one of Mason City’s newer hotels and you will be greeted with smiles and will have a hot, complimentary breakfast. Email: HomeGrownSocialMedia@gmail.com for a discount code for the hotel.

MENTORSHIPS ARE AVAILABLE

There are not many places where you can book an appointment with a mentor. We have two mentors at the Iowa Bloggers Conference, available for you. Jody Halsted & Miriah Whitehurst are experts at what they do. If you want to kick up your blogging game to the next level, we would encourage you to reach out and book a session with one or both of them.

FROM BEGINNER TO ADVANCED BLOGGERS

We have geared this conference towards bloggers or want to be bloggers that want to do things the right way. Each presenter will offer tidbits of information that beginner bloggers, as well as advanced bloggers, will find value in.  For myself, the networking opportunities that a blogging conference provides, are simply priceless! Come ready to learn and you will find yourself eager to apply the things that you learned while at the conference.

BRING BUSINESS CARDS

Some people don’t like carrying business cards around, but in reality, they still work. If you are a beginning blogger, make sure that you have some way for others to stay in contact with you. Business cards may be your answer.

I look forward to seeing YOU at the Iowa Bloggers Conference. Do you need a ticket? Here you go!

http://homegrownsocialmedia.com/iowa-bloggers-conference/  (VIP tickets are still available, as of today)

Note: Sponsorships & Tables are available for business owners & destinations to showcase their community.

 

Blogging

Tips For Working From Home Without Feeling Isolated

Working from home can be one of life’s most rewarding experiences. If you are someone who enjoys a challenge and the opportunity to set your own schedule, working from home is a good solution for you. I have worked from home for the past decade and I have some tips that can help you enjoy your work from home experience.

ONLINE NETWORKING

Working from home gives you an opportunity to meet many new people online. Use this opportunity to grow your business and make real online connections. Twitter is where I have made more business connections than any other social media platform. Facebook groups, as well as LinkedIn groups, give you more opportunity to make more online connections than ever before. Use your online networking time wisely and you will reap the rewards. The best tip I can give you in regards to online networking is to take those online relationships offline and let the magic happen.

GET DRESSED DAILY

Many would argue that they work fine in pajamas all day, not this entrepreneur. When I get up and get dressed, I am ready to conquer the world. When I sit around in pajamas, not so. There’s something about feeling confident about being dressed and “meeting” a new client from my home, would you agree?

EXERCISE

Make exercise a part of your day. If I find myself dragging throughout the day, I go for a walk, hop in the car to run an errand or tackle a room in my home that needs some attention. An hour of moving around will often reset my mind set, which will increase my daily productivity.

LOCAL NETWORKING GROUPS

Find a local networking group where you can have face to face conversations with like minded people. This could be through your local social media breakfast club or even hanging out in your local coffee shop.

Social Media Thrivent

The best thing about these two things, they are usually a free activity. Face to face conversations do matter and it’s up to you to make them happen. When you sit at home, buried in your office, those face to face, real life conversations will not happen. Skype is a great tool, but those face to face conversations still come out ahead in the long run.

INVEST IN YOUR BUSINESS

Invest in your business, it’s as simple as that. Conferences, training sessions and anything you can do to help you be a better business leader in your arena, go for it. The real life meetups have always helped me and reminded me of how important people are in my life.

Working from home is a great opportunity for many of us, so use your time wisely. Network online and then build upon those relationships offline. There is no reason to feel isolated when you work from home in our ever-connected world of today.

So, tell me! Do you feel isolated working from home or have you found ways to avoid this awkward feeling?

 

Tips For Networking At The Women In Travel Summit

The Women In Travel Summit is a conference where travelers and connectors unite. If you have not purchased your ticket to attend this year, I’d encourage you to do so here. I attended last year, and it’s fair to say that I made some connections that literally changed my career in the space of a travel blogger.

I would also like to invite 2017 Women In Travel Summit attendees to the Wanderful Happy Hour that Midwest Travel Bloggers is excited to be sponsoring!

Lisa and Sara

Join us for a drink and pizza on April 20th from 6-8 p.m.. Lisa, of The Walking Tourists, and I will be introducing you to six amazing midwest destinations that helped bring this event to fruition.

Here are some networking tips to help you get the biggest return on your investment.

ATTEND SESSIONS

There are several opportunities for you to hone in on your skills. From taking stellar photos to pitching magazines, there’s a lot to be learned while attending the Women In Travel Summit. The other neat thing about attending sessions is that you will meet someone new. Last year, I reconnected with Suzanne of Adventures of Empty Nesters, met Tam of Travels With Tam and Melody of WhereverImayroamblog. Guess what? We all four had something in common. We were all midlife travel bloggers. Fast forward to 2017, Suzanne and myself, along with Anne Parris of Mildlife Boulevard, are on a panel at the summit talking about how you can soar while writing travel in midlife.

Suzanee, Anne, Sara

Again, attend the sessions, that is where the magic can happen. The four of us now have a private Facebook group where we encourage each other and plan events together.

MENTOR SESSIONS OFFER 1:1 MEETINGS

I attended a mentor session last year at the Women In Travel Summit and again, it helped me grow my blog. This year, I am honored to be offering mentor sessions to attendees.

Sara WITS Speaker Badge

Local is very important to me. If you are wanting to step up your game on the local front, I have tips and some secrets to help you be the rock star blogger in your hometown. Want to start your own social media breakfast club, I’ve shared how to do it and now it’s up to you to start!

You can register here to sign up for one or two of these sessions. Again, by stepping out of my comfort zone while attending WITS and booking a 1:1 session, I was able to take things up a couple notches.

SMILE AND OFFER A HANDSHAKE

A smile and an occasional handshake go miles when it comes to meeting new people. The last time you met someone were you smiling or hanging your head low? Raise your head, smile, and offer your hand. It’s simple, yet very easy to do.

These are three very simple things that you can do while attending the Women In Travel Summit in Milwaukee. I hope to see you there and I’ll be ready to shake your hand!

 

 

 

 

 

Social Media

Tips For Reaching New People Through Your Business

Business owners are always looking for new ways to reach new people. Social media, in my opinion, is one of the simplest ways to do this. Find people that have the same passions as you and start talking. Yes, social media is a place to talk. Have a conversation on a Facebook Business Page, send an open tweet through Twitter, and comment on Instagram photos. When you have a conversation through social media, you are having a conversation with people.

North Iowa Bloggers Tweeting
Bloggers having an online conversation with others about their experience at a local restaurant.

I often find that business owners have a “private” Twitter account and my advice is to make it public. You will not find new people with any private social media account. People want to know who they are doing business with and why they should do business with you. They will quickly learn who you are through the things that you post online. Remember, as a business owner, people are watching.

Once you have developed an online relationship, take the relationship offline. Meet up at a local coffee shop or meet up at a conference. Chances are you have a lot in common and you will find that you both have the same needs and desires. This is where your entrepreneurial skills comes into play. This is an opportunity to brainstorm as to how you can partner together and grow your businesses together. Let’s face it, when you have someone cheering you on in your court, it’s a lot easier to meet even more new people.

Find a local social media gathering. Here in North Iowa, we have the North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club that meets the 4th Wednesday of every month from 8:30- 10:00 a.m.. The best tip I can give you, is to attend! Have a conversation with attendees and then meet up with them outside of this group. Folks with an interest in social media usually enjoy people and want to learn more about what makes you “click.” As an entrepreneur or business owner, this is one simple way to meet new people.

Owning a business is fun and challenging at the same time. What’s stopping you from taking your business to the next level? Step up today and make it happen!

Want to meet people in North Iowa that are also interested in growing their business using social media? Make plans now to enroll in “Bringing Social Home” on April 6th in North Iowa. You will walk away with new business connections and tools that you can implement to grow your bottom line. There are limited seats available, as this is a hands on event.

 

Rascal Flatts

Tips For Getting Ready For Your First Blog Conference

Your first blog conference is on the horizon and you may be asking yourself, “What have I gotten myself into?” Relax. The fact that you have purchased your blog conference ticket and made the commitment to attend is hurdle #1. You are on your way to ramping up your blog.

Blog Buttons

Business Cards

Business cards are important. They are often the avenue that a conversation begins with someone. You may be in a loud room when you meet someone and not be able to talk. By exchanging business cards, you can continue the conversation once the conference is over and you are in a quiet place to gather your thoughts. I will admit it, business cards can float around for a while, but they are important. I personally love it when I can ask someone for their Twitter handle and BOOM- we are connected!

Facebook Groups

Most conferences have a Facebook group where attendees can enroll. Here is where you can often make arrangements to share a cab or even find a room mate while attending the conference. Often times there are attendees that decide where to meet for dinner, as reservations are often needed. By interacting in the conference Facebook Group you will also know some of the attendees before you actually meet in real life.

Be Flexible

Most blog conferences have a schedule listed on their website. Look it over, but be prepared to be flexible. Often times you will find that a session you want to attend is just not what you were looking for. Be open to changing your schedule up and attending a session that you did not think would be a good fit. By stepping out of your comfort zone, you will more than likely walk away with more knowledge than you ever imagined.

Blog conferences are a great way to meet others with the same interests as you. They are also a way to learn how bloggers are monetizing their blogs and what types of businesses bloggers are working with. By going to a blog conference with an open mind, you will learn more and meet more people.

And you just never know— Rascal Flatts or some other awesome music group may show up! A note about this photo: I went to Blissdom and did not know these other conference attendees before this conference. I met Robyn, 2nd gal from left, through the Blissdom Facebook Group and we were room mates. I met the other ladies through the conference and we have stayed in touch, ever since.

Rascal Flatts

If there is one thing that I have learned in my 6 1/2 years of blogging that it is OK to change things up now and then. My path has not been A to Z. Heck, it’s been from C to S and from Z and back to P. Take a ride off the beaten path and your blog will thank you!

So… tell me. What was your first blog conference experience like? I’d love to hear about it!

 

Marketing MidWest Logo

Twitter Chat Talking #MarketingMidWest On Monday, September 14, 2015

We are gearing up for an exciting social media event in North Iowa and we would love to have you participate. Marketing in the midwest is a topic that Social Connections, LLC, the Webster City Chamber of Commerce, the Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce and the NIACC John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center are passionate about. We have partnered to bring you a full day of learning and fun on marketing in the midwest at NIACC in Mason City on October 24, 2015.

Marketing Midwest Logo

On Monday, September 14, 2015, you can hop on Twitter to learn more about this event and even have the opportunity to win a ticket to attend. Laura of Life on Skyview is offering a ticket to attend the Midwest Social Media Summit on October 24, 2015.

This full day event brings national speakers and regional social media practitioners and information technology experts together with business owners, operators and entrepreneurs. Learn and apply the new tools to help customers beat a path to your door.

Check out the amazing speaker list here!

We can’t wait to share more with you! Learn about what North Iowa has to offer, connect with other business owners and we will see you Twitter on Monday, September 14, 2015 at 7 pm.

Here’s what you need to know to participate:

New to Twitter? Here’s a handy step by step guide on how to participate in the chat.

Follow on Twitter: @Socialsarab, @WebCityChamber, @ClearLakeArea, and @Life on Skyview to participate.

The Hashtag is #MarketingMidwest

Time: 7:00 pm (cst)

Prize: One attendee will win one ticket to attend the Midwest Social Media Summit on October 24, 2015 in Mason City. Thank you to Laura of Life on Skyview for offering this giveaway. The ticket is non-transferable and not valid for cash.

We look forward to chatting with you on Twitter on Monday, September 14, 2015 as we learn how to be smarter with our marketing in the midwest.

Social Media

Four MidWest Social Media Events To Consider Attending Fall of 2015

Fall is a busy time of year when it comes to blog and social media conferences. There are several right here in the Midwest, which is where I call home. I’d like to introduce you to four conferences that I think you should consider attending. You don’t have to attend all of them, but why not consider attending one of them? Keep in mind, this is just four of several that are available in the Midwest.

Social Media

 

Midwest Influencers Conference

Chicago is home to the first of its kind- Midwest Influencers Conference, which is focusing on bloggers that call the Midwest home. Oct. 2-4, 2015 is its first appearance and I am delighted to be speaking at this event. Being a Midwesterner myself, I hope to inspire others to make local connections, as they do matter. Interested in going to the Windy City? Here’s were to register and what you can expect to learn.

Social Media Summit Midwest

Are you a small business owners in the Midwest? NIACC in Mason City, Iowa, is where you will find The Social Media Summit Midwest, on Oct. 24, 2015.                                                                      Marketing MidWest LogoThis may be the conference that is just perfect for you and your small business. As a co-sponsor of this event, I can tell you that you will be inspired and ready to turn up your marketing game. Our speaker line up is a nice variety and our goal is to give you tools that you can use immediately after the conference. How often do you leave a conference and have no idea how to use the tools you have been given? We hope to take care of that issue. Co-sponsors/organizers along with Social Connections, LLC are Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center and the Webster City Area Chamber of Commerce. Register here to attend the Social Media Summit Midwest on Oct. 24, 2015. One day packed with information to help you turn up your marketing game in the Midwest.

Bloggy Conference

Bloggy Conference is held in Sandusky, Ohio on September 18-20, 2015. If you want to learn more about stepping up your blogging game in a smaller setting, this is your go to conference in the Midwest. This is the fifth year that I have attended this event and I have made valuable connections every single year. Myself, Jennifer Flaa and Donna Hup of the North Iowa Bloggers, are speaking on a panel and talking about how you can be successful blogging anywhere. It doesn’t matter if you live in a big city, rural America or a farm- bloggers can have success. And another cool thing about this conference, is the fact that it is family friendly.

Bloggy Conference 2015 Preview Video from Bloggy Moms on Vimeo.

While you are attending a conference, your kids can have fun at Cedar Point– the roller coaster capital of the world! Tickets are still available- register here!

Social Media Rockstar Event

Southwestern Minnesota is home to the Social Media Rockstar Event. This conference is held on September 16,2015 and offers a nice variety of sessions on social media. Pat Palmer, a local North Iowan, owns a computer repair business (The Computer Guy) has attended this conference and recommends it to folks that attend the North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club. He states, “The Social Media Rockstar Event is something I go to so I can gain a different perspective of Social Media. Their conference is fast paced, but has 2 different tracts so that no matter if you are just a beginner or a bit more advanced, you will get something out of the event. This will be my third year going to the event and it looks better than ever. Jason Falls is once again the headline speaker and always provides technical, but practical advice for those who dabble in social media! Sarah and her staff deserve a bit pat on the back for the work they put into the event.” Want to be a Social Media Rockstar in your business? Buy your ticket here.

The Midwest offers several opportunities for all of us to step up our marketing game this Fall. It’s truly up to each of you to make the plunge and jump in and attend. It is an investment of time and money, but in the long run, you and your business will be the winners. I hope to see you at some of these events this Fall.

Three New Year’s Success Strategies For Your Blog

Strategies for blog 2015

The New Year is upon us and it’s time to think about your blog and your goals for the New Year. I have never been much of a New Year’s resolution person, but I can tell you that it’s important to develop a strategy for success when it comes to you and your blog. Many folks blog as a hobby and several blog to make money. No matter the reason, you will feel better about things if you set some goals and try to meet them. After all, doesn’t everyone feel good when they can reflect upon a success story?

PLAN TO ATTEND A CONFERENCE

The easiest way to meet new people and be inspired is to attend a blog conference. Yes, there are conferences for bloggers. Two conferences that I would highly recommend would be Type A Conference and Bloggy Conference. This is where I have met some of my best friends and some of the most inspirational people on the planet. And you know what? Here is where you will surround yourself with people that “get'” you. How cool is that? Need a little financial help getting yourself to a blog conference? Find a sponsor and make those travel plans now!

ATTEND LOCAL NETWORKING EVENTS

Local does matter! Join your local Chamber of Commerce and dive in. This is one of the simplest ways to meet new people in your local business community. Volunteer for an event or two and I do think you will be pleasantly surprised. Is there a social media breakfast club in your area? If there is, attend asap! If not, start one.

NEVER APOLOGIZE

Let’s face it, even bloggers need a break now and then, as bloggers are human. Never apologize to your readers. For example, if you need to take a little break from blogging, that’s your choice. Your blog is online and always available. I often see bloggers take a little break and come back with, “I am so sorry…..,” really? There is no need to apologize when in fact several of your readers may have never noticed your absence until you brought it to their attention.

Most importantly be yourself online and I can guarantee that you will have great things come to you. It’s ok to check out what other bloggers are doing and ask questions. Bloggers can be your best resource when it comes to growing your blog. Chances are good that they may have the same questions you do or have had the same question in the past. When you do your thing you will have the most success.

Make 2015 your best year yet and embrace change. Step out of your comfort zone and I think you will be pleasantly surprised as to where your blog will take you. Tell me…. What are your goals for 2015? I’d love to hear about them.

 

The Four Doors And And Your Online Resumé: Your Blog

 

Bloggers at Bloggy Con

 

 

I recently returned from a speaking engagement at Bloggy Conference in Sandusky, Ohio. I talked about how your blog is your online resumé. I shared with attendees how I had built a business out of my blogs, by building relationships online and then following up offline. The event was a great success and I was honored to have met so many awesome bloggers that are sharing their stories to inspire all of you!

A friend of mine, Beth Ann of It’s Just Life, Finding the Ordinary in the Extraordinary, had recently given me the book; The Four Doors by Richard Paul Evans.

The Four Doors Book

 

I read it after I returned from my speaking engagement and can say that I honestly hope I left a positive note with all of the people I met at Bloggy Conference. I have tried new things, I have stepped out of my comfort zone, and I do want others to succeed. It’s not about the money, it’s about people. Blogging is all about relationships and once those relationships flourish, that’s when your business flourishes. This book, just reinforced that what I was doing is a GOOD THING!  Thank you, Beth Ann, from the bottom of my heart!

If you are afraid of leaping forward, being imaginative, or even hard work, can I ask? Why are you doing what you are doing? Life is too short to do something you do not enjoy and are not passionate about. Richard Paul Evans’ book, The Four Doors, just reinforced that what I had shared at Bloggy Conference was from the bottom of my heart.

My life has been blessed with challenges, new experiences, a supportive husband, two young adult sons that are two of my favorite fans, a great extended family, and the opportunity to work towards success. In order to move forward, it is true; you often have to give and work hard. We’ve all heard the saying, “It is better to give than to receive.” Make that your mission and see where life takes you.

In the world of blogging a lot of folks focus on the numbers. I have never focused on the numbers and I know my banking/accounting friends are cringing right now;  but for me the number of followers I have do not matter. What matters is when I have a new “follower” and they are a true friend- a connection has been made!

So, tell me, have you read the book, The Four Doors? If not, I would highly encourage you to read it. I do believe it will reinforce that you are doing what you need to be doing or be the kick in the pants that you need to change things around.

 

 

 

 

Five Tips For Meeting New Friends At A Conference

I’m personally attending a couple conferences in the next month and I’m also hosting an afternoon one in my hometown, Creating The “Buzz” In Social Media.

Creating Buzz Logo

 

I hope to make new friends and help others make some connections that they have not been able to make. It’s no secret that many folks that are involved in social media are introverts, so when the opportunity is placed out there to interact in person, it’s easy to freeze up. Here are five tips to help you meet new friends when attending a conference.

And if you don’t think you can meet new friends at a conference, think again! It’s been through networking events in North Iowa that Jeni of JeniEats , Beth Ann of It’s Just Life, Finding The Extraordinary In The Ordinary, myself and Donna of Donnahup.com have became good friends!

 

Bloggers North Iowa

#1: Be Yourself

You are probably saying, “Of course I will be myself.” Seriously, don’t spend hours trying to change who you are. Wear clothes that you know fit and are comfortable. Chances are you have a beautiful profile picture on your social media platforms, so it’s also not the time to get a fancy new haircut. Be yourself and who you are! If you can do that, things will fall into place.

#2: Shake Hands

When you meet someone new, provided you don’t have a cold, reach out to shake their hand. A personal connection, with a hand shake and eye contact goes a long way.

#3: Introduce yourself to a stranger

A conference is one place you don’t want to think about stranger danger. The attendees have spent money and taken the time to come to this event and are probably there for the same reasons you are. If you need to practice your Elevator Pitch, do it before you leave home! BTW- An elevator pitch is a short introduction of who you are and what you do.

#4: Invent Your Own Schedule

You should stick to a schedule for an event that is only a few hours. If the event is a couple days or more, it may benefit you to step away from the conference schedule to meet face to face with someone you’ve been wanting to get to know better. Keep in mind, most conferences don’t allow the participation of passing out swag or attending off site parties- understand the rules of the conference you are attending, before you make plans. I have found some of the best networking I have done is through conversations in a hallway that have lasted a couple hours.

#5: Ask for Business Cards And/Or Social Media Connections

Hand someone your business card and ask for theirs. I personally appreciate it when someone says, “Hey, can we follow each other right now?” Both attendees take out their smart phones and connect with each other on the spot- makes the connection super easy! Business cards work, but it’s no secret that they do get misplaced.

Most importantly go to a conference with an open mind and be prepared to meet new people. If you feel like you have had to step out of your comfort zone, that means your money and time have been well invested!

So, tell me! What’s the last conference you attended and did you meet new friends?

Thank you to Bill Schickel of KCMR Studios for the picture!