Conference Feature Image

Midwest Travel Network Conference 2019 #MWTravelCon19: Why You Should Attend

Are you someone with a passion for writing in the digital space? If so, #MWTravelCon19 may be calling your name. The Midwest Travel Network Conference is heading to Medora, North Dakota in 2019. June 13-15, 2019 is when numerous travel writers, digital influencers and bloggers will set their feet in Medora. If you are seasoned in the space or a beginner, this conference is designed with you in mind. In case you don’t know, Medora is where the entrance to Theodore Roosevelt National Park is located.


Are you a smaller CVB that tries to find online writers to help you tell your story? At the Midwest Travel Network Conference you will have the opportunity to meet those with a passion of helping you tell your story. This conference is affordable for destinations and it’s also an opportunity to put your destination in front of those that truly do care.



How many times have you attended an event and walked away with connections that were not designed with you in mind? You will walk away with valuable connections in Medora. Anytime I have an opportunity to meet someone face to face, I always walk away with ideas on how to help them. You can attend as a sponsor and showcase your destination in new light. Does your destination market to visitors in the Midwest? This conference is also a great fit for you. Several attendees have large audiences in the Midwest.


If you are a blogger that struggles to find new content, come to this conference! You will walk away with new story ideas and places to explore.

Scoria Point Medora

Attendees will have the opportunity to meet one on one with our booth sponsors. You can find a fantastic sponsor list here! With 9 states represented, the attendees will have opportunities to explore many areas of the Midwest and beyond. Through networking and exploring, North Dakota will be sure to stir up new stories to share.


North Dakota is a bucket list state for many. This is your opportunity to fulfill that bucket list item. If you are wondering how this trip to Medora may look, take a journey on I-94. North Dakota has many stories to tell. If you drive or fly to #MWTravelCon19, you will have some beautiful Instagram photos, as well.


There are several educational sessions at the conference, including how to maximize your Facebook engagement from experts Steve and Ann from the Postcard Jar. Justin Ell of the Medora CVB will share tips on how to keep your destination marketable 365 days of the year.


Are you wanting to kick up your game, in regards to Pinterest? Nicole of Mom Saves Money is an expert when it comes to growing your business through the use of Pinterest.  The list of speakers that rock tourism, can be found here. 

Most of you know that I have a passion for the Midwest and this is one way that you can join me in placing the Midwest on the map! I hope to see you at #MWTravelCon19 in Medora, North Dakota.



Attendee Tickets can be purchased here. 

Sponsorships can be purchased here



Social Media Thrivent

Tips For Helping Your Business Shine In The New Year

With a new year upon us, it’s never been easier for business owners to introduce themselves to others. Social media has changed how we all shop, receive information and educate others about our businesses. How will you step up your marketing game in the new year? Here are some tips on how you can shine above the competition.


This is something we all hear often, but it is true. A recent study with a local business through Home Grown Social Media proved this point. When you do have a presence through social media, local media will quickly pick up on who you are and what your business is about. The business Home Grown Social Media was studying landed in a feature story in the local newspaper, due to the fact that they were present on their Facebook Business Page. When you are present, you and your business are easy to find and it’s easy for traditional media to feature your business.


Do you wonder if you are using the correct words or terms? When your spelling and punctuation are correct, you do look like a professional. A simple way to check up on yourself is to install Grammarly. 


If you do not know how to do something, hire a professional. It is NEVER ok to hire your 13 year old niece to manage your Facebook Business Page. And yes, I have personally dealt with three businesses that did this in 2017. The clean up of this practice is ongoing and does take months. If you know that hiring a professional is out of the question, I would highly encourage you to purchase the Beginning Tips For Facebook Business Pages Course. This course walks you through the set up of your Facebook Business Page, so you can get the best organic reach through your page. If you need a professional to manage your page, let’s talk!

Sara at SM Summit


When you engage through social media, your business shines and takes on a whole new meaning. Your business looks smart and sharp online. You quickly become the knowledgeable person in your industry and it gives you credibility. Many in the business of social media will argue that numbers are what give you credibility. I will not argue that the numbers look good, but when it comes to credibility; engaging and building relationships is where your business will benefit.

The new year brings exciting things to social media. Stay in tune with what is new, as your checkbook will thank you. If you are local to North Iowa, I would highly encourage you to join us for social media breakfast, which meets the 4th Wednesday of every month from 8:30-10:00 a.m. at Fieldhouse, located at 14 N 3rd Street in Clear Lake, Iowa. It’s free to attend with networking opportunities available. When you partner with other businesses, the opportunities for growth are endless. If you are interested in showcasing your business at the North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club, send me an email at and we can discuss the details.


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.


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


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: for a discount code for the hotel.


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.


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.


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!  (VIP tickets are still available, as of today)

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


How To Start A Social Media Breakfast Club

Are you someone that enjoys being a connector? A fun way to help connect people in your home town is to start a social media breakfast club. Here in my hometown of Mason City, Iowa we have been gathering to talk about social media for 3 1/2 years now. Our meetings are very simple and they bring people together. Each meeting is different an it’s not uncommon for us to focus on doing something good through social media for our community, as well.

Social Media Thrivent

Let’s face it, everyone is going this way and that way. Nobody wants to take the time to slow down and talk to their neighbors. Our North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club is just that. We talk to each other, we share stories and we also talk about social media. Some of us do have our smartphones out and others have a notepad and paper. But, the best part out of the day is that people are making new business connections.

When people connect with others, they have more self confidence and their communities begin to thrive. The most rewarding part of leading our social media group in North Iowa has been the fact that businesses are growing, out of the contacts that they are making at these monthly meetings. It’s not uncommon for an attendee to walk away with a “paid” gig in their pocket and a new friend or two.

My phone started ringing a year ago and it was then that I started to write my experience down. Several communities are now hosting their own social media breakfast clubs, as many started based out of the model we have in North Iowa. If you would like to start a social media breakfast club in your area, here you go How To Start A Social Media Breakfast Club is available for purchase at$2.99.

SM Breakfast Book Cover

As an entreprenuer, I have found that this is a great way to meet other people that are also working in their homes. Those that work from home are often longing for the opportunity to meet new people that think like they do, and this is the perfect opportunity. Go ahead, start your social media breakfast club and update me as to how it is going. I’d love to hear about it!

Social Media Breakfast Group With Jody

Social Media Has Changed Christmas- Time To Embrace Social Media For Good

The Christmas season is upon us and today I was reflecting how social media has changed our lives. It’s true, our lives have been changed all year long, yet Christmas is a little more unique. I was thinking back to the day when our boys were young. They are now 21 and 25. There was no social media when they were young and excited for Santa. Oh yeah, and then somewhere along the line the Elf on the Shelf entered the scene. Thankfully I never had to deal with it. Those that choose to participate in the Elf on the Shelf, more power to you, enjoy the season!

The season of giving

Here are some things to remember as we celebrate Christmas this coming week.


Let’s face it, kids will be kids. How often have you tried to get that perfect family photo to post to Facebook? I have, many times. And I honestly kick myself afterwards and wonder why I do that to myself. Sometimes the photos that are the best for social media are the “real” life experiences. Now, that does not mean it’s OK to post those photos of your kids in the bathtub or on the potty chair, but it’s OK to show your kids in real life. Maybe your son and your dog enjoy ripping open a Christmas package or two, now that would be something fun and less stressful to share on social media.


Make time to enjoy Christmas, not your Facebook account. Your kids will not care to remember that all Mom did was  to worry about what to post on Facebook on Christmas morning. Your kids will want to remember how you joined in the celebration of Christmas! It’s not necessary to share every single present your kids get for Christmas through social media. In my opinion, that sends the message that the more presents you get, the more “likable” you are. Think before you post and don’t be that over sharing parent come Christmas morning.


Does your community participate in a food or clothing drive over the holidays? Gather some items and take your kids with you when you make your donations. Often times your local food pantry will ask if it’s ok to take a photo for social media use. This is when you say, “Yes, please do!”

Social Media For Good

Your family tradition is now something that is shared through social media. You can share it from your personal Facebook account and let others know that your family is using social media for good. This also demonstrates to your kiddos a positive way to use social media.

If you would like to learn more about social media for good, join us at the North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club on December 28th. We meet in the Heritage Room at First Citizens Bank, 2601 4th SW, in Mason City from 8:30 – 10:00 a.m. Attendees are invited to bring items for the Hawkeye Harvest Food Bank. Specifically: Toilet paper and soap are in high need. Any and all food contributions are also welcome. Let’s load up a truck!

Thank you to Warren Torkelson for bringing this event to our social media breakfast and to Shannon Latham of Enchanted Acres for preparing a catered breakfast!

Shannon Latham

Come hungry and come ready to learn. A special shout out to Thrivent Financial for giving us the opportunity to host this event in North Iowa.


Cupcake Bakers

The 1st Annual North Iowa Cupcake Throwdown Was A Smashing Success

The North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club was recently home to the 1st Annual North Iowa Cupcake Throwdown. Several cupcake makers from all across North Iowa brought their cupcakes to share, and social media breakfast club attendees learned how online reviews work. This event came to fruition after a few of our attendees noticed that North Iowans were flocking to the out of town cupcake truck that comes to North Iowa. We thought this would be a great way to showcase what our North Iowa Cupcake bakers have to offer.

I would personally like to give a shout out to Sweet Tooth Cupcakes, Cupcakes By Ivy, Nameless Gourmet and taste by Unc’s Cheesecakes, Inc. and Happy Sweets Cupcakes.


Without these participants this event would not have been held. Pat Palmer of The Computer Guy put a program together that shared how online reviews impact businesses. He also hosted a Facebook for Business Class that was held a couple days before the event.

The North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club is a group of people that meet monthly to learn how to be smarter and safer online. From online safety to building your business through social media, several topics are covered throughout the year. Meetings are held in the Heritage Room at First Citizens Bank, 2601 4th SW Mason City, on the fourth Wed. of every month from 8:30-10:00 a.m.

If you have an interest in social media, you will enjoy these meetings. The group is casual and eager to learn more in regards to social media.

Congratulations to Kim of Sweet Tooth~ Kim was the winner of the North Iowa Cupcake Throwdown.

Kim of Sweet Tooth

Online reviews are important when it comes to your business. If you are a business owner, are you paying attention to what people are saying online about your business? It’s important to remember that it’s up to you, the business owner, to share your story. The fact of the matter is, if you don’t, someone else will share it for you and it may not be in the way you would like it shared.

If you are a cupcake baker we would love to see you participate in our 2017 event. Follow Social Connections, LLC Facebook page for business and social media tips, as well as information about the North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club.

Angie and Andy

My Three Biggest Takeaways From The Global Leadership Summit 2016

I recently had the opportunity to attend the Global Leadership Summit in Clear Lake, Iowa. It was a couple days filled with excitement and “my people.” Have you ever felt like you needed time to be with the people that really understand you? If your answer is yes, make it happen today or tomorrow! I always feel re energized when I am surrounded by like minded people. There were three big things from these two days that stood out for me and I thought I would share them with all of you.


This one really hit home with me, as I find that it’s easy to fall into a trap of thinking “that” person doesn’t need anything. Fact of the matter is, we all need friends, support and people that believe in us. When we add value to people, we all win.


Ever have a brilliant idea? We all do at different times and we often talk about it and fail to act. When we do something we actually have an opportunity to be a ripple and make positive changes in the lives of those around us. Sounds pretty simple, right? The next time I find myself talking about doing something I am going to take a long hard look at how I can bring it to fruition.


When I surround myself with people that want to dream with me, I find that lots of amazing things begin to happen. Bishop T.D. Jakes said, “If you can accomplish your dream on your own, your dream is too small.” Boy, those words hit home with me. I hope the fellow dreamers in my community are ready to dream big, because my mind is spinning with lots of awesome things.

Global Leadership Summit

If you want to connect with like minded people I would encourage you to attend the North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club. We meet the fourth Wednesday of every month in the Heritage Room of First Citizens National Bank in Mason City from 8:30- 10:00 a.m.. There are many dreamers and connectors in attendance that will help move you and your business to the next level. If you have an interest in social media, you will find value in attending. And if you are reading this post, you are interested in social media; so plan now to attend. Blogs are a part of social media and help people make new daily online connections.

I would encourage you to plan to attend the Global Leadership Summit in 2017 at a host site near you. Stay tuned to the website for speakers and be ready to be inspired to make a difference in the lives of those around you. If you attended the 2016 Global Leadership Summit, I’d love to hear what your biggest takeaways were.

*Thank you for Clear Lake sponsors for providing me with a Media Pass.

Michele on stage

Dr. Michele Borba, Best Selling Author, Parenting & Bullying Expert Is Coming To North Iowa

Dr. Michele Borba is coming to Mason City, Iowa on September 28, 2016. Best selling author Dr. Michele Borba offers nine proven habits to help nurture empathy in children- from birth to young adulthood- and explains why developing empathy is a key predictor of which kids will thrive and succeed in the new global, digital driven world.

Dr. Michele Borba

Caring about others isn’t just about playing nice; it’s a skill that’s vital for children’s mental health, leadership skills, and continued well-being, today and tomorrow. Dr. Borba’s nine-step plan for raising successful, happy kids who also are kind, moral, courageous, and resilient provides a revolutionary new framework for learning empathy and is culled from 30 years of research and traveling the world to find the best solutions. Her findings show that empathetic kids will thrive in the future, but the seeds of success can be planted today- one habit at a time.

Best selling author, Dr. Michele Borba’s book Unselfie, offers a 9-step program to help parents cultivate empathy in children, from birth to young adulthood—and explains why developing a healthy sense of empathy is a key predictor of which kids will thrive and succeed in the future.


Unselfie book


Dr. Borba is an internationally recognized educational psychologist and parenting, bullying and character expert whose aim is to strengthen children’s empathy and resilience, and create safe, compassionate school cultures. She has spoken to parents and teachers on five continents and delivered keynotes to over one million participants including Harvard, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, USA-FA, Common Ground,, Kaiser Permanente, Johnson & Johnson, Girl Scouts of America, Wal Mart, McDonalds, Santa Clara University, and at a recent TEDx talk. She is a regular NBC contributor appearing 135 times on the Today Show, featured on three Dateline specials as well as Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz, Dr. Drew, The View, NBC Nightly News, The Doctors, Fox News, The Early Show, CNN and others. A best- selling author of 24 books and former classroom teacher, she is a wife and proud mom of three sons.

Social Connections, LLC has partnered with the Mason City Community School District and the Mason City Police Department to bring you this event. I firmly believe that when a community learns to embrace empathy, the culture changes. Dr. Michele Borba is an excellent presenter and I guarantee you, that you will change how you think about others when you attend this event.

There will be more information to come, as this event gets closer. If you would like to be a financial sponsor of this event, please email and we will figure out how you can best contribute. Thank you to everyone for helping bring Dr. Michele Borba to North Iowa.

Financial Contributors:

Mason City High School 7-12 PTO

Laura Weers

SM Breakfast February 2015

Tips For Networking At The North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club

Networking is a word that I get excited about. Did you know that the 4th Wednesday of every month, you can network at the North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club? We meet from 8:30-10:00 a.m. in the Heritage Room at First Citizens Bank in Mason City. Businesses sponsor the room and breakfast, waiting for YOU to show up and network! Do you want to sponsor this event? Message me, and I will get you connected with a month that works best to promote your business. Here are some networking tips to help you get more out of your 1 1/2 hours at the North Iowa Social Media Breakfast.

December North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club



Business cards are often an ice breaker when it comes to meeting a new face. Make sure you have your business name, name, email address, website, and social media channels on your business cards. If you want to take phone calls, add your phone number to your business card, as well. Telephone calls do still work! This makes it easy to stay connected after the meeting.


Your smart phone can be your best friend at the North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club. When you meet someone new, ask them if they have a Facebook Business Page. If they do, get out your smart phone and like their Facebook Business Page. Are they on Twitter? If your new acquaintance is, open the Twitter App on your smart phone and follow them. This makes networking at North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club super easy!


You will learn something new at every meeting with the North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club, so come and be ready to learn! Our speakers are all open to your questions and want to help you grow your business, and as a person. Make it a point to learn something new, on top of all the new people you will meet. This will help you grow and you will be so glad you got up early to attend the North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club.

Be sure to join the North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club Facebook Group, as this is where you can connect with attendees that also have an interest in social media. It’s up to you to follow up with the people you meet at social media breakfast, not anyone else. When you make the time to go the extra mile, your hard work will pay off. It’s been pure joy to watch all of the amazing business connections that have been made out of this 1 1/2 hours every month.

Want to stay up to date with what’s happening in the world of social media and the business world? Be sure to follow Social Connections, LLC on Facebook.




Tony Halsted

What To Expect At The Midwest Social Media Summit

Marketing Midwest Logo

The Midwest Social Media Summit is slated for October 24, 2015 at the Muse Norris Center at NIACC in Mason City, Iowa. You may be wondering what this day is all about. Here’s a quick run down of what you can expect and what you can do to prepare for the day. It’s also important to note that lunch is included in your ticket price.

First of all, the Midwest Social Media Summit is being organized by Social Connections, LLC, NIACC John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center, Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce and the Webster City Chamber of Commerce. We want folks in North Iowa to understand how to market their businesses when it comes to social media. Marketing today is much different than it was 15-20 years ago.

Just yesterday I read a quote that said that the seven most expensive words in business are- “We have always done it that way”. Can you relate? Like it, love it, hate it- Change is a part of our daily lives. When social media is used as part of your marketing program, your business can grow. Notice I said the word part. Social media cannot be all of your marketing, it’s a small slice, yet extremely important part of your marketing program.

If you think your community is to small for social media, think again.

Tony Halsted

Speaker Tony Halsted runs Hoover’s Hatchery in Rudd, Iowa (population 360) and his topic is: How we used social media to reinvigorate a 70-year old family business to multiple year-over-year sales growth greater than 30%. This is just one example of what you will learn while attending the Midwest Social Media Summit.

Attendees that want hands on help in setting up a Facebook Business Page, the North Iowa Bloggers will be on hand to assist. They will also offer tips on how you can be successful using your Facebook Business Page.

Want to learn more about Twitter and Instagram? We’ve also got that covered.  Lori Lite of Stress Free Kids  met with the sharks on Shark Tank during Season #1. Lori has used Twitter to grow and evolve with her business.

Lori Lite

Social media gives business owners the chance to have daily conversations with their customers. Come and learn how to begin the conversation and grow your business. We want to see you at NIACC on October 24th.

What to bring:

Business Cards

Laptop or tablet (especially if you would like some one on one assistance)

Notebook/writing utensil

A willingness to learn

There you have it! Be ready to have fun and learn. Social media is a fun and exciting topic and I look forward to meeting all of you on October 24th.