How To Prepare For A Blog Conference

Blog Conference season seems to be kicking into high gear. If you are a first time attendee you may be asking yourself, “What have I gotten myself into?” Well, let me tell you this, if you utilize the tools you are given while attending, you will have a lot of success when you return home. How do I know? I’ve attended several blog conferences and have made life changing connections when it comes to building a business.

Bloggy Conference


The first thing you will want to do is make sure you have the correct dates written down. There’s nothing like finding the incorrect date when you go to print out a boarding pass for your flight. Take note of the transportation to and from the airport to your final destination. It’s not uncommon to have to rent a car or pair up with a few blogging friends and pile in a cab. Before the cab driver pulls away, confirm your final destination and the approximate fare to your final destination. Most hotels that hold conferences do charge a daily parking fee, so plan accordingly.

It’s also important to make sure that you are setting a positive tone. Engage through social media with conference sponsors, as this is a great way to begin new relationships. This is not the time to go online and complain about every little detail about the upcoming event. A lot of time and money have been invested by sponsors to put forth a great conference. Should you have a complaint, take it off of social media. This is the time when a private e-mail is necessary.

Remember, first impressions are often the last, so make it a good one! Be yourself, bring a smile and be ready to have fun. Blog conferences are the perfect time to set goals and build lasting relationships. So, tell me. What’s your favorite blog conference? Do you prefer larger conferences or smaller ones? I myself, tend to like the smaller ones, as there seems to be more time to network with others.

Most of all bring a smile, a little bit of spending money, something to write on, and an open mind. Be prepared to step outside of your comfort zone, as this is where you will make the best business connections. After all, you are investing time and money into a blog conference, so make the most of it.


Social Media Breakfast Is A Happening Event In North Iowa

I started our social media breakfasts in North Iowa in June of 2013. And in one years time I think it’s fair to say that all attendees, including myself, have learned a lot. It’s no secret that social media is continually changing, so there is always something new to learn! Just when you think you understand a particular social media platform there is an announcement with changes coming.

We met yesterday, July 15, 2014, and it was fun to reflect on where one year has taken this group.  I love heading out of my driveway and going to Social Media Breakfast in North Iowa!

Sara Bestlaminate Shirt


Bestlaminate flooring company was our sponsor yesterday (we can’t wait to show you our social media creativity, in regards to Bestlaminate, at our next meeting). We have had more than 60 people attend throughout the course of the year. The neatest thing about this group of people is that many are working together because they met at social media breakfast. Had they not stepped out of their comfort zone to attend, they would not be working on these amazing projects.

Yesterday we discussed paid posts and boosting posts on Facebook. To summarize, it’s worth trying a paid or boost post for your business. You will not know if the fans of your business will respond until you try. It was interesting to hear the success stories that several in North Iowa are having when they do opt to boost a post.

We also discussed online etiquette and touched on cyberbullying. I personally see several Facebook groups on a daily basis that I would consider groups that are bullying others.  Two pages that stick out in my mind are pages that were started as Business Facebook pages and they are not actually businesses. Groups like this should have a “secret” group when it comes to engaging through Facebook. Problem being, we live in a transparent society where everyone thinks they have the so called “right” to know everything about everyone. Not the case! The best example I can come up with, is that it’s not my business when it comes to how the President of the United States is handling a specific foreign affair; as there are parts of his job that should remain private. That is no different than 99% of businesses and organizations across the United States.

And to top yesterday’s meeting off- We made a video!  The folks of Udderly Smooth sponsored our June 2014 social media breakfast. And it’s fair to say that attendees are enjoying their Udderly Smooth Hand Cream!


Yes, our meetings are in North Iowa, but we have attendees that drive two or more hours to attend. So, if you have ever wanted to meet new people and learn how to use social media. Join us at Social Media Breakfast in August (date/time to be announced). Like Social Connections, LLC, on Facebook to stay in the loop in regards to meeting times and upcoming events!

Did I mention that there is no cost to attend? Bestlaminate will sponsor our breakfast in August- there will be fresh fruit, rolls, coffee, and a cold drink! Beautiful flooring samples will also be available and some fun door prizes. If Social Media Breakfast Club interests you, we’d love to have you as a part of this group!

* A special thank you to Everalbum, Bestlaminate and UdderlySmooth for sponsoring our breakfasts in June & July 2014! 


Old Age Means Nothing When It Comes To Facebook

Facebook is a social media platform that people of all ages are embracing. Do not think for one moment that so called, “old people” do not use Facebook. Head on over to your local coffee shop and I can guarantee you that you will see people of all ages using the Facebook app on their smart phone.

The definition of old age has changed with the times, as I can recall when I thought 60 was old. Hello?! 60 is a number and that’s about it. For many folks, 60 is the time of their lives when they have the time and energy to embrace new things. With social media being so popular right now, Facebook is often one social media platform that recently retired folks hop on. Don’t ever say that you will never use Facebook, as that word never may come back to haunt you.

Facebook is a great tool to use when it comes to finding places to travel. All you have to do is type in a destination and several Facebook pages will pop up.

Facebook Search Bar

If you want to be more specific, key in a specific word by using a Hashtag (#) with a specific word. Example: #Florida #Iowa

There are several groups that you can join on Facebook. If you happen to be an auctioneer, there are several auctioneer groups you can join. Maybe gardening is a passion of yours. There are several great groups you can join where you can talk all things gardening. The best part of all of these Facebook groups is the fact that you will connect with like minded people. It’s fun to belong to a group where people are passionate about the same things as you are. If you have an interest, there’s probably a Facebook group for you. It’s important to remember that it’s never a good idea to join every Facebook group out there, this is the time to choose wisely.

Another great reason why folks of all ages should be on Facebook is the fact that it’s a great way to keep up with what your relatives are doing. If your family has a Facebook group, that’s a great way to connect. Your family group can be set to private or public. It’s up to you and your family members to decide how open you want your family happenings to be on Facebook.

Old age means nothings when it comes to Facebook and it appears that seniors are also changing how marketing companies are using social media. There’s a whole new market out there when it comes to seniors and social media. Were you reluctant to start a Facebook page? If so, how did you overcome that hurdle? I’d love to hear about your experience.


Engage In A Face To Face Conversation- Your Conscience Will Thank You

Social Media has changed how we all interact. As you know, I love social media and the new experiences that come with it. Some of my closest friends are folks that I have met online through social media. The best part of it, is getting to know them in real life. Yes, meeting them in person and having a face to face conversation is the icing on the cake! There’s something to be said about attending blog conferences, such as Bloggy Conference and other events.

Bloggy Conference


I have continued to watch some groups online and their behavior in general makes me a little sad. Why is it that people no longer feel it is necessary to have a face to face conversation with others? Is it too easy to send out an e-mail, “like” a post on Facebook, “favorite” a Tweet, or send a text? I am guilty as charged, as I do all of the above. However, I make it a goal to have a face to face conversation with a lot of people I have met online. I love meeting people in real life and getting to know them as a person.

These groups that I have watched online seem to have a goal of bringing others down. I’m not sure what the joy of this type of behavior is; but I can tell you that it is tearing communities apart. Due to the fact that we can hide behind a computer and post things anonymously, the doorway to bring others down is wide open.

My solution: Instead of going online and ranting on and on about something, pick up the telephone and schedule an appointment to talk to the person or group you have a complaint about. There are times in our lives when a face to face conversation is warranted, right?

I wish it was all this simple, yet in all reality it is not. We cannot lose the ability to sit down and have a civil, face to face conversation with others. Will you make a conscientious effort to have a face to face conversation with someone in your life? I do think you will reap the benefits and quite honestly, you will probably feel a little better about yourself.

Locally, our Social Media Breakfast Club is a great way to have face to face conversations with others here in North Iowa. I challenge you to start one of these in your hometown. It’s a great way to have face to face conversations!

Social Media Breakfast Conversation

So, the next time you want to go online in a group and rant about the same thing over and over. Make it a point to have a face to face conversation. I can guarantee you that your conscience will thank you.

Social Media Is Not A Dumping Ground

Over the course of the past couple weeks I have been approached by a few people to help them grow their businesses. Bloggers specifically need to realize that social media is all about interacting.  If your goal is to grow a business, it is never ok to dump blog posts onto a social media platform and never engage. Social media is sharing, interacting and engaging; it is not a dumping ground!

It’s no secret that bloggers have posts and they are excited to share them. Hey, I get that, as I am also excited to share my work through social media. Did you know that if you never engage through your social media platforms, your chances of growing a business are very, very hard?

Bloggers are gearing up for Fall Conference season and several are looking for blog conference sponsorship. The ideal partnership in any business is through someone you have worked with in the past, present, or future (someone you really want to work with). If you have been using social media as a dumping ground for your blog posts, it’s going to be extremely hard to find a company that will want to partner with you for blog conference sponsorship. This applies to all businesses and anyone using social media, definitely something to think about.

Social Connections Connecting


The easiest way to grow a business using social media is to stop using social media as a dumping ground. Remember the 80/20 rule and stick to it! 80% needs to be sharing, interacting, and engaging with others. And that 20% that often includes the “dumped posts” is showcasing you! Share your pictures, blog posts, life happenings and dreams in that 20%, as this is how you can grow your business. You will never grow by never engaging and interacting, period.When you share the work of others, it will all come full circle. Others will begin to share your work and that’s how social media should work.

I want to see people grow businesses, as I don’t like seeing people spend hours writing blog posts and wondering why they never get anywhere. It’s also important to remember how important those real life relationships are. Technology is wonderful, as it does allow us to connect with new people on line. I can tell you that from experience, if you take the time and invest some money in a conference related to your business; your business will grow. It’s through the interaction and new people you meet that your business will start growing at lightning speed.

When you return home from a conference, continue to engage, interact and share things through social media. Do not return to your old ways of using social media as a dumping ground. Once you learn how to apply the 80/20 rule, your business will grow!

Social Media Connections at Breakfast


Oh yeah and then there’s that local social media breakfast club that I started, talk about amazing! Our June meeting was sponsored by UdderlySmooth and Everalbum, two companies that are growing and appreciate the work that we are doing to expand on social media in North Iowa. And I can tell you this,  it’s through social media that my relationships with these two companies has grown and been a positive experience for all of us involved. Engage, interact, and share- make things happen- social media can rock your business today!

Tell me- Have you fell into the trap of using social media as a dumping ground? If so, how did you turn things around?


Meet Jason Smith of Dream Dirt: An Iowan Utilizing Social Media Day In And Day Out

When I hopped on the Twitter train several years ago, I looked for Iowa folks to connect with. I will admit, that in 2009, it was hard to find Iowans on Twitter.  And my own first tweet was pathetic! It is clear that I had no clue what Twitter was and what the proper terms were.
                 First Tweet Screen Shot

I found Iowan Jason Smith, of DreamDirt.  I followed Dream Dirt on Twitter and found him to be a fun person to converse with. Fast forward to February 2014. After presenting a session on social media at the World Wide College of Auctioneering auction school, I saw a student sporting DreamDirt clothing. I began chatting with him and learned that he was a cousin of Jason Smith, the owner of Dream Dirt. I was ecstatic to have indirectly met the founder of Dream Dirt. I asked Jason Smith to tell his story here of how he uses social media. I think you will find it interesting and intriguing. He’s had a lot of success with social media, as I’ve watched him grow over the past five years into a social media success story!  Meet Jason Smith of Dream Dirt.


Jason Smith Broker/Auctioneer

Prior to my life as an auctioneer and real estate broker I spent nearly 20 years as a police officer and police chief.  I was no stranger to talking to people I didn’t know, and as a policeman I’d learned ways to communicate with every person I encountered.  When I retired I was faced with moving to my 2nd career.  The lure of selling appealed to me,as I would get paid what I was worth.  Meaning if I went to work and worked hard I’d get paid for it, if I decided not to I wouldn’t get paid.  I had already discovered as a police chief that the Internet was a quick and inexpensive way to get the word out about anything, but in 2006 when I left that job social media had not quite caught on.  Everybody had a website and that was great, but getting people to your website often cost something.  I can remember the first time I saw Facebook.  A light went on for me, I knew this was a way that I could get people to visit my website to read my blog posts and see what was for sale and it wouldn’t cost me much more than the effort.  I went on to join Twitter as well and the two are our main staples.  We have spent time experimenting with other sites but to be honest the big 2 keep us as busy as we want to be right now.  

Something we have learned over the years of using social media is that its always changing and if you don’t have something you have nothing.  We go to great lengths to portray the lifestyles of our client base.  Our company DreamDirt is a land brokerage and auctioneering firm.  Our typical buyer client is a hunter or a farmer.  Our typical seller client is literally anybody!  Connecting with sellers is much more difficult for us using social media than buyers but to date we have completed 9 real estate transactions with sellers that stumbled across us on social websites.

Our buyers have a dream to fulfill and the sellers will likely only once in their life work with a company that provides our services.  High quality photography has been the best tool we’ve found to connect.  We work to instill pride in the hunting or farming lifestyle through our own story of being hunters and farmers.  Because we do actually live the lifestyle of our buyer clients its easy to connect with them, its very natural for us to create photography that shows something that appeals to them. With today’s cell phones and photo apps life in social media has become almost unbelievable simple.  In the past we used to carry around a large DSLR camera and then transfer photos to a computer, edit them prior to posting.  Mixed between those things they like are short commercial messages, blog posts, occasional auction photos that are not overbearing, we try to make them as natural and tasteful as possible and we never reach beyond that imaginary boundary our followers would expect from us.  We prefer to show them what we do versus telling them what we do and it has worked very well for us.

Connect with Jason on Twitter and Facebook and be sure to visit his website, as you will have a new friend for life!

Thank you Jason for sharing your story with us!

Connections Are Vital To Growing a Successful Business

All because of blogging, Social Connections, LLC came about. My passion for connecting others and helping businesses grow is what I love to do. After all, who doesn’t like to be a part of something grand, right? I know I sure do!


Social Connections Connecting

I have met many leaders in the blogging industry over the past five years and it’s through their dedication that I was able to see myself in a leadership role. North Iowa is where I reside and I love that local folks are embracing social media and are grasping the idea that social media does matter. There is a lot of work to be done and I look forward to being a part of the positive changes that social media can bring to North Iowa. Social media reaches far beyond North Iowa, as it allows us to connect with folks all around the world.

Businesses and bloggers are working together 24/7. It’s through these partnerships that amazing things can happen! I am continually asked, “Where can I learn more about social media?” I can tell you that Social Connections, LLC, is planning several events that will help business owners understand and better utilize social media. There are also several events all around the world where you can meet industry leaders and learn a lot of information!

Pat Palmer, of The Computer Guy, recently attended EntreFest in Iowa City, Iowa, and this is what he had to say about this Iowa event. “It was a great time for entrepreneurs to get together to exchange ideas, learn from experts and to pick up valuable nuggets from the many guest speakers they had at the conference. This was my 7th time and I’m going back next year as well!” This is just one, of several, social media events where you can learn more about the industry.

Donna Hup, of, attended an event that Social Connections, LLC, hosted in Mason City on May 20th and she had this to say, “It was so great to see local North Iowa businesses come together to better themselves and our region.”

And then there was this from the great folks over at UdderlySmooth.  A huge to thank you to UdderlySmooth for offering such a “grand” door prize at Creating The “Buzz” In Social Media

Landon With Udderly Smooth

Bloggers often ask me, “What blog conferences are out there?” Here are a few that are out there and I might add, I have attended most of these or known bloggers that have, and highly recommended these conferences. These are the places where you meet fellow leaders in the blogging industry, connect with brands, and learn about social media.

It is true, when you step out of your comfort zone to learn new things and meet new people, exciting things will happen in your life. The people that I have met while networking at conferences have literally changed my life. The connections I have made, have helped me grow a successful business. If it can happen to me, it can also happen to you.

I challenge you to attend a social media event in the near future. Locally, nationally, or internationally- you will be grateful that you did!

I look forward to seeing you at one of the events that Social Connections, LLC, will be hosting in the near future!

Your Kids And Online Safety

Each day I hear someone say, “I really don’t know how to handle this.” What makes my head turn is the fact that this person is referring to the internet and social media. The internet is a part of our lives and it is not going anywhere. We all need to step up to the plate and do our part when it comes to keeping our kids safe online.


There has been discussion that kids are leaving Facebook, when in fact they are still there and actively involved in several other social media platforms that Mom and Dad do not know exist. Sue Scheff, really dove into the Are Teens Really Leaving Facebook issue. If you ask kids, they will tell you they are everywhere when it comes to social media.

Here are two tips to keep you and your family a little safer online.

#1 Tip: There Are No Do-Overs When It Comes To Online Activity

From words to pictures, once these are posted online they are there forever. Kids like to argue that Snapchat is great because the photos disappear. Keep in mind, there are data bases and screen shots everywhere in our world today. Once it’s online, it’s there forever. This is something our kids cannot hear enough of, it bears repeating day in and day out.

#2 Tip: Know Where Your Kids Are Going Online

Most major cell phone carriers offer parental controls for smart phone users. Parents can follow where their kids go online and help their kids choose smart apps. If your kids are under the age of 13, you may want to think how they will utilize their smart phones. Most social media platforms are not designed for a child under 13 years of age. If you do opt to lie about your child’s age, be sure you have the passwords to all of their accounts. Should a cyber bullying issue come to light between kids, law enforcement often contacts the owner of the account. If you have been an active participant in your child’s online activity, you should have an idea that this visit was coming.  It’s beneficial for parents to understand where their kids are going online and how to use all of the apps themselves. My advice- If a parent does not understand how an app works, there is no reason for a child to have the app installed on their smart phone.

Parents can lead the way when it comes to teaching their kids internet safety. By being active participants with their kids on their smart phones, families can utilize technology in a good way. If Mom and Dad are Facebook friends with their teens, it’s important for Mom and Dad to follow the rules, as well. The same rules apply to Moms and Dads that apply to kids, once it’s online it’s on the internet forever.

So, the next time you decide to post something online, maybe think about the “Grandma Rule.” If you would want to show your post to your Grandma, by all means, post it! If you even have to ask yourself, “Is this post OK?” Do NOT post it!

Are you and your family enjoying your smart phones or are you struggling with how to use them? I’d love to hear about your experiences, as I know we can all learn from each other.



Building A Community Through Social Media

Social Media Breakfast Club


Have you ever been a part of a community through Social Media? Here in North Iowa we are making things happen when it comes to Social Media. Several people from all across North Iowa gather once a month to chat about all things Social Media.

June of 2013, I took the plunge and decided that I was tired of having to travel hours away to find people that were interested in Social Media. I kept telling myself, “I know they are here but I just don’t know where to find them!” So, I set up a time to meet at the local coffee shop and was praying that three to four people would show up to set around a table to chat about Social Media.

At that first meeting we were six people and over the course of the past 11 months, we have had more than 45 different people attend. We have now graduated to a room that can hold 100 people. Real life connections still matter, Social Media is just the icing on the cake! This is exciting for me, as I have been involved in Social Media for more than five years and so many events have been out of state. I have had to travel many miles to find folks with the same interests as me. Five years ago people in North Iowa said to me, “Oh, Twitter? I don’t get that!” Now, five years later they say to me, “Oh, I’d like to learn about Twitter!”

If you have considered doing something different with your life or your business, I would highly encourage you to build a community through Social Media. The business connections that are being made at these monthly Social Media Breakfast get togethers are priceless. The friendships are fun to watch and after we meet, it’s all taken online to an online Social Media group through Facebook.

If you build it, they will come! Social Media is a terrific way to build a community and I would encourage anyone to do it. Whatever your passion is, make the real life connections happen and build your community through Social Media. Hey, if I can do this here in North Iowa, you can too!

Have you ever built a community through Social Media? If so, I’d love to hear about it!

Creating The “Buzz” In North Iowa: How To Run A Successful Facebook Contest & More

Contests are a popular way for businesses to bring awareness to their products. Facebook and other social media platforms have rules that many do not know exist. It’s important to be smart when you use social media to promote your business.

On June 17, 2014, you have the opportunity to learn more about using social media to engage with contests. Attendees will learn how to run contests through Facebook that meet Facebook’s current (TOS) Terms of Service. Other platforms will be discussed, but not in as much depth as Facebook. We are offering a HANDS ON class at the North Iowa Regional Commerce Center at 9 North Federal, Downtown Mason City.

Donna Hup will be our lead presenter! Here’s the expertise that Donna brings to this class:



Donna Hup blogs at She blogs about giveaways, recipes, reviews and much more. She has 2 years experience of running daily giveaways on and with Facebook as well as other social media channels. She has worked with numerous companies including Disney, Staples, Build a Bear, Suave, Hasbro, P&G, Hickory Farms and more. She has run more than 3,000 giveaways and all have been Facebook and FTC compliant. She builds bridges between companies and their consumers. She is able to increase both fan base and interaction through giveaways on multiple social media platforms.




Sara Broers of Travel With Sara and All In An Iowa Mom’s Day will also present at this session. Sara has worked with several companies to help them grow their social media presence by hosting giveaways through social media. From Universal Studios Orlando, Cedar Point Amusement Park, to  U.S. Cellular, Sara has participated in several social media promotions to help promote several businesses. Jane Fischer Century 21 and Hoover’s Hatchery are two local businesses she continues to work with.

Social Media promotions are a fun way to grow your business and even a better way when you do them the right way! Be smart and your presence through social media will continue to grow!

What: Creating The “Buzz” In North Iowa:  How To Run A Successful Facebook Contest & More

When: Tuesday, June 17, 2014 2:30- 3:45 p.m.

Where: North Iowa Regional Commerce Center 9 North Federal Mason City, Iowa

Cost: $35 per attendee, payable at the door (cash or checks made out to Social Connections, LLC)

Please register here, as there is limited seating for 22 people!

To get the most out of this hands on session, it is recommended that you bring your laptop with you.

Once you attend this class you will understand why it’s important to understand the rules of contests through social media. You will also be inspired with new ideas on how to make your next Facebook Contest a successful one!

See you on June 17th!