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.


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.


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.


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.


Social Media

How To Manage All Of The Facebook Groups That You Are In

Facebook groups have gained in popularity over the past 18 months, due to the ever changing algorithms that Facebook continues to have. If you belong to a group of two, there are some things that you do need to know.


Do not request to a join a group and then think that you can post whatever your heart desires. Facebook groups do not work that way. If the group administrators have said you cannot post ads in the group, this means you do not show up posting ads in the group. Saying, “I’m sorry,” is often not enough to let you stay in the group. Facebook Group administrators do not have time to babysit members, so make it easy on them and know the group rules.

If you are in a group that is working on sharing each other’s content, make sure you offer new content to share AND have updated information on your social media platforms.


I know this sounds like a broken record, but there are still people adding people to Facebook Groups without asking for permission. If you own a business, this is the quickest way to send business the other way.


When you give, your life will become much fuller. Seriously, Facebook Groups make it easy for people to be takers. Do not fall into that trap. Get to know the other members of the group, talk to them and work together as a team.


Remember, we’d all like to think that everyone in a “secret” Facebook Group will keep everything secret. It’s a good idea to remember that screen shots do exist and often times people are not afraid to take them.


The Facebook Group administrators are there to help you. If you have an issue, be sure to go to group members and click on Admin. Here you will find out who they are. If you have a question about the group, it’s perfectly acceptable to send them a direct message through Facebook. If you don’t have to, do not clog the feed of the group with please call me, please return my email, etc……..

So you see, Facebook Groups can be fun. Use some common sense and play nice! Are you enjoying Facebook Groups? I enjoy the groups I am in, although I will say that I get frustrated when people do not follow the rules of the groups. I’ve noticed more Facebook Group administrators are no longer giving people second chances when they post something they should not. Therefore, my advice is to follow the group rules and your life will be good!

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.

Social Media Signs

Has Sharing Through Social Media Gone Too Far When It Comes To Elections?

Social media is an interesting space. In 2012, very few people were sharing who they voted for through social media. Fast forward to 2016 and it seems that everyone expects everyone else to share who they voted for and why. This process is tearing friends apart, breaking up families and it’s even causing division in business relationships. Can I say this, “Stop it! Just stop it!”

We are better than this. To the best of my knowledge it’s ok to vote and be done. All because of social media, there are people that believe everyone has to share who they voted for. Not so. There’s a reason we have “secret” ballots in our country and you know what? There are some that like to keep parts of their lives private. I can respect people for that and will continue to. A young adult said this to me the other day, “Why should I go vote? All of my Facebook friends expect me to share who I voted for.”

Laptop and Phone Social Media
If I don’t see you posting who you voted for on social media, I will continue to be your friend. If you choose to post who you voted for on social media, I will continue to be your friend. Would someone enlighten me as to why this concept is so hard to comprehend?

I love social media, but it truly saddens me that an election has brought such divide in our country through expectations that are only hurting people. If you feel you are in too deep when it comes to pressure from your social media friends, by all means, take a break from social media. It’s OK to take a break from social media, as your mental health comes first.

I challenge you to do something good in your local communities. Go out and make a difference. When you can be part of exciting change in your local community you will feel good. Talk to your friends in real life, go for a walk in the park with your friends or mail an actual card to a friend. There are options when it comes to moving on after an election.

From my observations on social media, on the day after an election; it appears that many of you will benefit from a little break from social media. Let’s be kind to one another and make a dent in our local communities. We can be the positive change that our communities desire.

Tips On How To Use Social Media To Plan Your Next Vacation

Social media is one of those things that we all use on a daily basis and we often times forget that it’s a great tool for planning vacations. Here are some tips on how you can use social media to aid in your planning.


Ask your friends on your personal Facebook page where their favorite vacation spot is. Chances are, you will see photos, read stories and your friends may even link you to the resort they stayed at. This does not mean that you have to disclose the dates you will be gone, all it does is gets the conversation going. And let’s face it, our friends are going to be honest with you when it comes to recommending a spot for your next vacation.

Business connections through social media


Instagram is the ideal place to follow up on your vacation ideas. Key in the hashtag of where you would like to visit. If you want to visit Iowa, type in #Iowa. Here you will find several posts that others have shared that show Iowa. Maybe you want to go to California, key in the hashtag, #California. These may not be the official hashtags for these destinations, but they may be the key words that other travelers, as yourself, are using. There was that one time when my husband and I found a dream vacation spot in Florida, all due to a hashtag search on Instagram.


Type in a hashtag of a destination you would like to visit. Search #FindYourPark to find all things related to national parks. If you are looking for a particular attraction, you can often search an attraction with a hashtag in front of it. Remember that tweets are short, as they are limited to 140 characters. Twitter is a quick, simple way to search out anything.

There you have it! These three tips will easily help you plan your next vacation. When you ask your friends and search out hashtags that interest you, things will come together nicely. Have you planned a vacation through social media? If so, I’d love to hear about your vacation.



Social Media

Tips For Not Letting Social Media Consume Your Life

There are certain times of the year that social media can consume your life. Election time is an easy time to get sucked in. If you find yourself searching social media for all things related to an upcoming election, it’s time to take a break.  And if you are not careful, your friendships will suffer.

As I was recently scrolling through my Facebook and Twitter feeds, it was sad to see that many are consumed with the current election season. I understand that an election is important. In the United States we do have the opportunity to vote and we should exercise our right to vote. Why do we turn to social media to vent and share our anger? Life is too short to become angry.


Call a friend. This means you actually call them. A private message through social media does not replace an actual phone call. I challenge you to call a friend that you have not spoken to in months. This will keep you off of social media and remind you how important those actual conversations are.

Donna and bloggers


Friendships are important. These North Iowa Bloggers “get it” and have real life conversations with each other.


Local coffee shops are a fantastic way to meet up with friends. The biggest challenge is for you to not take your smart phone with you. Talk and laugh with your friend. Trust me, you will feel good about yourself.


I know that many of you have a purpose when it comes to social media. I love that my friend Beth Ann of It’s Just Life writes a blog post every month featuring a different cause. She encourages her readers to leave a comment and then she donates money to the organization she features each month. She shares through social media and it’s a positive message. And then there’s my friend Pat, of The Computer Guy. He’s on a mission to help locals deal with issues they are currently having with the local cable company. He’s asking what types of issues people are having through social media and people are responding. He’s on a mission to offer solutions for more reliable cable service to his rural community.

Let’s turn our social media pages to positive messages. I honestly tune 90% of the political posts out, so for those of you continuing to post, I’m not sure who you are reaching. I think it’s fair to say that you are reaching and connecting with some angry folks. I will not partake in the negativity and will march forward and continue to make a positive difference in my little corner of the world.



Laptop and Phone Social Media

Simple Tips For Using Instagram In Your Small Business

Instagram is a beautiful place to be on social media. From photos to life experiences, there’s a lot of beauty shared on this social media platform. Do you recall the last photo you loved on Instagram? Chances are, you probably do and you will return to that Instagram account.

Social Media

Small business owners have an opportunity to share what they do on a daily basis through Instagram. It’s one of the simplest ways to share your story. Here are some simple tips to help you grow your business through Instagram.


I meet many small business owners on a weekly basis that do not own a smartphone. That is the first step you need to take when it comes to using Instagram in your business. Small business owners need to invest in a smartphone. Posting photos to Instagram is so easy and it will seriously take less than five minutes out of your day.


Post photos on Instagram that are eye catching. This means that your photo is not blurry and rich in color. I personally own the Samsung Galaxy S7 Smartphone and love the photos that it takes. I have very little photo editing to do with the majority of the photos I post.


Hashtags are fantastic on Instagram! Be sure to use several. On Instagram it’s OK to use 10-15 hashtags on a post. Keep in mind, this large number of hashtags is spam on other social media platforms. Use hashtags that are relevant to your business. For example, if you are a farmer, you can use #agriculture #harvest16 #soybeans #wheat #corn. If you own a jewelry store, your post could include the hashtags #jewelry #bracelet #fashion #MothersDay or others specific to your area. When you use these hashtags, more people will stumble on your Instagram account and hopefully click on follow.

Instagram is a fun platform to use. I use Instagram a lot when I travel. In fact, my husband and I rerouted on a recent road trip, due to a hashtag search on Instagram. We found an area in Florida that we had no idea existed, due to a quick Instagram search.

I’d love to hear how you are using Instagram in your small business. It’s an easy social media platform to use and it will not take a lot of time to use. These simple tips can help you grow your business through Instagram. Most importantly, download the Instagram App and start!

Looking for a new Instagram account to follow? Travel With Sara has some great travel ideas for you on Instagram.

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.