What I’d Look for in a Social Media Manager

A fictional job description for a real-life challenge

CA-social media.jpgTo begin…a personal confession: I’ve been on social media for about 7 years now. It’s a way of life for many–it certainly is part of mine and my business. But it has also probably been the single biggest contributor to my struggles with anxiety. Without going into lots of detail, suffice to say that certain posts or topics have the possibility of  “triggering” my mind to go down into worrisome, unsettled, and unhappy paths.

While knowing social media is not good for me all the time, I love parts of it. The lively and respectful conversations. The helpful hints. Praises for local businesses. Learning about fun activities. Being able to greet someone in person a little more warmly because I recently saw their post on social media. Trying to be an encourager of others. And, using it both for my own business and for those I support in business. So, I’ll not leaving it any time soon.

So what’s this professional–and human being–supposed to do? How do I balance the good with the not so good?

I’ve decided to start by creating a job description for a “social media manager”–for Beth Beutler. What would I look for if I were hiring someone to do my social media for me?

 

Title: Personal Social Media Manager

Objective: to use the tool of social media to improve the lives of readers, specifically overwhelmed professionals

Skills and attitudes desired:

  • Creativity
  • Writing skills
  • Ability to maintain objective distance
  • Positive outlook
  • Desire to Collaborate and build friendly relationships
  • Focused, able to control distractions

Specific roles/anti-roles

Dialog prompter, but not cultural commentator: Shares thought-provoking questions that are not directly related to whatever the latest trending gossip is.

Helper, not savior: Shares items that can be of service, primarily to overwhelmed professionals, but also to people in general. Does not feel the need to encourage every person who expresses a need or a prayer request, yet does provide support at times.

Boundary keeper, not nosy Nellie: does not click on links that she knows cover topics that will make her depressed, angry, scared, or nervous, or otherwise fall into negative emotion. Refuses to engage in pointless dialog where each side is very set in their ways.

Bearer of good news/not complainer: makes a point to share positive observations and news and rarely uses social media to whine or complain

Positive influence, not political strategist: generally refrains from sharing her political opinion but uses the energy instead to see good in our country and pray for our country’s leaders

Self-indulgent, not selfie-indulgent: has fun sharing occasional updates of her activities or even her photo, but keeps the ratio of selfies to a degree where “less is more.”

Bridge–not wall–builder: Considers each post’s ability to build, rather than tear down relationships and people and to connect people to other people and services and information that would truly benefit or bless them.

Implementer not infuser: carries out client’s wishes for their social media without feeling the need to absorb all that information into her own thought processes.

Specific Duties

Create meaningful, entertaining, and friendly content.

Filter all posts through the following criteria before posting:

  1. Will this post contribute toward positive relationships?
  2. Will this post invite healthy dialog even if people disagree?
  3. Is the information to be shared true/verified?
  4. Have I shared too many posts already today?
  5. Is there a reasonable balance of what I’ve shared about my personal life vs. what can be helpful to others?

And other duties as assigned. :)

Most job descriptions are fluid, as is this one. But I like where my mind is headed on this.

Now you: What would you want in a social media manager for your personal social media channels?

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

An A-to-Z List of Important Character Traits for the Workplace

How would you like to be described by your coworkers?

if i asked

 

If I asked one of your coworkers to describe you at work, what words would they use?

Would they be words like these, which come from several of my Facebook friends as well as my own thoughts?

A – Affable, attentive

B – Benevolent, balanced, brave

C – Considerate, caring, customer-oriented, character driven, creative

D – Diligent, dedicated, dependable, detail-oriented

E – Efficient, excellent, eager

F – Flexible, friendly, fun

G – Gracious, genuine, goal-oriented

H – Hard-working, honest

I –  Integrity motivatedCA-ABC.jpg

J – Joyful, just, judicious

K – Kind, keen

L – Listener, loyal, leader

M – Meticulous, mindful, mighty

N – Nurturing, neat

O – Organized, optimistic, obliging

P – Persevering, professional

Q – Quality-motivated, qualified, quiet

R – Reliable, respectful

S – Servant-leader, skilled

T – Trainable, trustworthy, thorough

U – Understanding, uplifting, ubiquitous (available)

V – Visionary, Value-driven

W – Willing, wise, watchful

X – Xenial (hospitable, especially to visitors)

Y – Young-at-heart, yearning

Z – Zealous, zany

Question: Now you: What would you add to the list? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

Four Ways Criticism is Good for You

Not fun, but good

Receiving an insult

CA-criticism

I still remember being called into the Dean’s office in college.

This goody-two-shoe gal, who rarely got in trouble, was being scolded by the Dean of Women for gossip.

It isn’t fun to be called on the carpet–criticized for how you behave. Even smaller criticisms can zap the energy from your day–that snide comment you overheard about how you handled the project or that email from a disgruntled customer. We’ve all experienced it, and if you are in any position of leadership or influence, you’d better be prepared for a higher dose of it than some.

But criticism can actually be good for you–if you handle it right. Here’s why.

Criticism humbles you. Pride is a dangerous thing. On the one hand, being appropriately pleased at a project you have accomplished or something someone you supervise has done can be a healthy element of team building. But thinking more highly of yourself than you ought to can lead to bad feelings and embarrassment eventually. Criticism can be a helpful early warning sign that you think too much of yourself while others don’t feel the same way.

Criticism might contain some truth. Yes, some criticism is completely unreasonable. But most “jabs” do have at least a small element of truth to them. For example, a very friendly person can be a great asset to your team, but could also be too talkative. A criticism of “She just dominates the conversation all the time,” could hurt, but may very well be true. When you receive a criticism, ask yourself what part of it you can actually benefit from. The lesson in the Dean’s office helped steer me on a journey of learning discretion…one that would still take time to learn, but led me to many years of trusting, professional relationships later in my career.

Criticism can open dialog. Often a critic doesn’t welcome face-to-face dialog about the problem, especially if he/she has used a protected means to take the jab (i.e. email, Facebook comments, voice mail message, etc.) If you are courageous enough to confront the critic with sincere questions and a teachable spirit, you may actually build a deeper relationship that greatly improves from where it started.

Criticism can help you improve how YOU give feedback. If you’ve ever received a harsh, unfair criticism, let it remind you not to give criticism in the same way. We often don’t realize how we approach things until we’ve received the same treatment ourselves.

No one enjoys criticism but there’s plenty of it to go around. While it is unorthodox to consider it a gift, it really can be one.

Now you. Share about a time a piece of criticism worked in your favor.

You can leave a comment by clicking here.


Quick Tips for Organizing Your Cash

You work hard for the money, now organize it

Cash for blog

You do it for the money, right?

Oh, I know you work to serve. To use your gifts. To fulfill a calling.

But deep down, “make a living” or “bring home some money” IS a key reason you have a job, right?

It’s okay to admit it.

And managing that money takes some savvy thinking, much more than the intent of this blog and blog post–it’s not a money management blog. For that, feel free to visit Crown Ministries or Financial Peace for great resources.

I’m here instead to help you with a few practical tips for organizing that money-related stuff you carry around every day…the stuff that clutters your wallet or purse, or the console of your car.

Tip 1:  Consider using separate change purses, money clips or sections of a wallet as an “envelope system.”

Keep your most used cards in a handy part of the wallet and consolidate less frequently used cards into another section or even a separate change purse or clip. That way you don’t have to sort through a pile of membership/debit/credit/health/library cards to get to the ones you use most. Keep cash for personal expenditures, gas, eating out, groceries, etc. in separate sections. I use a wallet from Savvy Cents designed for this purpose.

Tip 2: Have a set place to put your receipts, either in the wallet or in the same section of your purse.

Put your receipts in the SAME place every time. Enough said.

 Tip 3: Empty your wallet when you get home.

Well, not all of it. Just take out the day’s receipts and coins and store accordingly. For example, I put receipts in my monthly receipt box and take loose change and put it in a container for myself or the household, depending on how the original cash was spent. (I keep the cash in separate pouches.) Then, every few months, I use the coin machine at the credit union to deposit the money back into our accounts.

Tip 4: Refill your wallet as necessary.

I try to live guided by a budget so I have a certain amount of cash for spending each month. I choose not to carry the entire month’s cash at once, so I replenish as necessary when cleaning out my wallet. Once a week, I replenish a couple of sections with cash as a sort of “mini” paycheck.

If you get in the habit of cleaning out your wallet/purse regularly, before long it will be second nature.

Question: Now you: What tip do you have for keeping money organized? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Pointers for Professionals

Savvy pros share their tips for calendar management

Time is a gift

Do you find it challenging to maintain an accurate, helpful calendar? Take a look at these suggestions from professionals like you! Thanks everyone and also the Frontline Festival series over at Let’s Grow Leaders, upon which this post series is modeled.

Read on, click on links, support our contributors, and see below what our next topic will be.

Jeff Baker (@jeffbbaker) of Shoes Optional currently uses a combination of apps and browser extensions for Calendar management. Any.do provides a quick way to setup a task or to-do list that can be scheduled or assigned to others. His go-to app for calendar on his phone is Cal (by the same developers as any.do). The any.do extension for Chrome provides quick access to upcoming tasks and an easy way to check things off.  Connect with Jeff.

Jackie Beyer (@organicgpodcast) of Organic Gardener Podcast has found that Schedule Once is the best investment she could have made for scheduling interviews for her podcast. It’s easy for guests to pick a time at their convenience. It’s simple to use and integrates with many platforms like Google, ical, etc. Connect with Jackie.

Jessica Broadstreet of Triad Virtual Assisting  uses the calendar that comes standard on her computer. Events are displayed of the screen automatically. Less chance of missing something! Connect with Jessica.

Meredith Jones (@thismeredithj) of MeredithJ.com   uses Google Calendar to manage her calendar. She loves that it is accessible and synced to every device she owns and she can section out the different areas of her life to share her appointments with those that need to see it.   Connect with Meredith.

Holly Payne  (@hollyreneepayne) of HollyReneePayne.com has found that setting reminders in her calendar keeps her on task. After all, she can only keep appointments she remembers she has! Connect with Holly.

Amy Porter (@amylynn_porter) of Amy Gets Things Done  breaks her day into time blocks, giving her day structure as well as flexibility. Connect with Amy.

Suyenti Sunarto (@YentiSunarto) of Day 2 Day Concierge Service uses her most frequently used device (her phone) to manage her calendar. She consolidates all her calendars on my phone and is sure to enter any appointment, to-do, important dates, etc. to it. Connect with Suyenti.

Thanks again to our contributors!

Next topic: Tips for preparing for a vacation from the office

Deadline: June 19

Contribute at this link. New contributors welcome!

Question: What’s your best tip for calendar management? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

Four Things Your Team Needs from You

A reminder for busy team leaders

CA-teamwork

If you are a team leader, there are two facts about you. You are busy. And you have followers.

To do your job well, keep your sanity, and develop your team, you have to provide them with some important things that ironically, will also ease your stress. Here are four of them.

Clear expectations. It is difficult to read someone’s mind. When you clearly share what needs to be done and what the priorities are, your team members can plan their work accordingly and may not have to ask as many questions later. When in doubt, spell it out. Warning: don’t be patronizing.

A listening ear.  You can learn a lot by listening to your team members. Prompt discussion. Ask questions. Find out how things can be better, from their point of view. If they feel you care, they will go to bat for you.  Warning: have healthy boundaries so that discussions don’t turn into rambling detours…example, have 30 minute meetings or take someone to lunch so there’s an expected end time for the discussion.
 

Time. Particularly if you are new leader, your team will need time to learn how you like to do things. Don’t expect them to adjust to your preferences overnight. Once they do, you’ll be saving time and stress. Warning: find a balance between being specific about your preferences, and being unyielding or fussy.

Space. Micromanaging doesn’t help anyone. Give your team members some authority over their projects. For example, allow reasonable freedom in writing and formatting documents. Allow them to suggest changes to a long standing task…you might find a much more efficient method to getting it done! Warning: even the most proactive team members need some guidance. Don’t throw them to the wolves, but don’t require them to report on every step they take, either.

Now You: 

Question: What do you want out of your team leader? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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Should I Accept Your Coffee Invitation?

10 Questions that help me choose wisely

CA-coffee 1

“Let’s grab coffee sometime.”

How do you respond to that?

Do you add the coffee appointment to your already brimming calendar? Do you refuse all coffee appointments? Do you put off answering? 

On the day I began writing this, an article from Entrepreneur magazine called Why I Don’t Want to Have Coffee with You was being circulated.  It was an interesting take by a small business owner, and a couple of fellow small business owners I respect praised the article for encouraging discipline when it comes to this practice. Then a respectful rebuttal article, Why I Do Want to Have Coffee with You was written, which was also interesting.

So, I decided to share the article on my Facebook page and ask for feedback. It generated lively dialog, which was fascinating. 

Initial feedback on my page was completely opposite of what appeared on my other friend’s. Most felt the author’s take leaned toward being self-absorbed. As is often the case with me, I land somewhere in the middle.

So, if you ask me to coffee, here are some questions I may ask myself before I say “Yes” or “No.” Feel free to use these questions yourself when you have similar opportunities. 

  1. What’s the purpose of our get together? Are you wanting to have coffee so we can make a real connection (not necessarily a lifelong friendship but a sincere, warm acquaintance) or under the guise of “tossing ideas around” so you could push me to buy or join something? You know the difference.
  2. Could something bigger than business be happening? There are times that a conversation becomes something more important than business. (Those practicing a faith may consider these “divine appointments.”) If I have a hard-and-fast rule not to have coffee with someone unless it would be good for my business, I may miss something very important.
  3. Could you become a good friend, or at least a pleasant business acquaintance? Sometimes you hit it off with someone and make a good friend out of what started as a networking opportunity. And even if you don’t become personal friends, there may be value in our having a warm business-based acquaintance–if nothing more than for the joy of knowing a good person.
  4. Would it be good for future business? While I may wonder whether the time will have an immediate “payoff” for current business (and let’s be honest, many professionals think this way) is it possible that the seeds we plant now will pay off later? For at least three of my VA clients, we met weeks in advance of any money changing hands for my serving as a VA.
  5. Does our meeting have a reasonable goal/agenda? While the above points may be valuable, I probably don’t have time to have several “Let’s grab coffee” meetings a week. There’s nothing wrong with being wise with my time. Can we have at least a loose purpose to the meeting? (Although, I admit, one of my best client relationships came about because someone else said, “You two need to know each other.” At first we weren’t sure why. It became evident the more we talked.)
  6. Can the meeting happen in some other way? The original article mentioned this, and in the case of two of the above clients, we met at a conference we were already attending, and with the other, via Skype. Technology can be of help and a 20-30 minute phone or online call saves the additional time spent commuting, chit chatting over the coffee, etc. This works particularly well with ongoing relationships where you already communicate regularly (i.e. with clients)
  7. Do we currently do business together? The original article noted the “difference” between small and large clients and the attention they would get. That’s a slippery slope. A “small” client now may have more work later, or be connected to a potential “bigger” client they would recommend you to. If we currently have a working relationship–small or large–it’s probably wise for me to be open to cultivating that relationship, if for no other reason than to appreciate you for trusting me with your business.
  8. Have we had coffee before? Depending on the purpose of getting together, I may need to discern whether these sessions are becoming complaining sessions (i.e. if a colleague or co-worker goes over the same stuff each time) and to evaluate how our meetings tend to go. Do we walk away uplifted or frustrated over what feels like a waste of time?
  9. Are you suddenly more interested in me because I could help your business? I’ve had at least a couple of occasions where I run into someone I’ve known for years but don’t have regular interaction with, and either the conversation ends up being all about them (i.e. lacking mutual back-and-forth small talk that would be expected) or they are suddenly interested in talking with me because they now own a new business and think I would be great for it, when I am pretty sure if they weren’t in this new business, they wouldn’t be reaching out to me. I can see right through that and I’m not inclined to go further in the conversation.
  10. Can you or I be of true help to each other? In some cases, a person who wants to have coffee needs some encouragement, resources or even some coaching/counseling–or maybe just be put in touch with another company or vendor that can serve them better. If I discern that is happening, be prepared that I may give you a referral and decline future invitations. Or, it may be a great opportunity to get to know what the other does so we can make referrals in the future to one another.

 

The question of whether I should have coffee with you can’t be answered in a black or white way. It really needs to be considered on a case-by-case basis, with humility balanced with wisdom.

 

Now You:

Question: Do you accept coffee invitations? Why or why not? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

 

Teamwork Activity: Are you puzzled?

Let's have some fun...

illinois puzzle

Through the years, I have used a puzzle of a United States map to demonstrate principles of personality, productivity and communication at workshops I conduct. When preparing for my latest workshop, I discovered that Illinois had come up missing. My husband carefully took a printout I made of the state and crafted a brand new piece. Sweet, right?  (It worked at the event, but guess what I found a couple of weeks afterward?)

Puzzles are a great way to inspire teamwork in the workplace, so today I’m offering you a practical suggestion to build a sense of camraderie with your coworkers. That type of culture helps us all beat stress and feel a little less overwhelmed.

Objective:

This exercise requires cooperation, strategy, and project management. It cannot be completed by just one person, although various employees may spend more time on it than others. The goal is to complete a project using something from everyone, and to celebrate the accomplishment without having to identify the “best” contributor.

What you’ll need:

  • A puzzle made up of enough pieces that you can equally divide among all employees in a particular department.
  • Sandwich baggies or envelopes to divide the pieces equally. Each employee should have no more than 10 pieces.
  • Flat surface in a reasonably open area, but not in the way

What to do:

Announce that the team will be assembling a puzzle together over the course of a period of time that you select. (I recommend your first puzzle take no longer than two weeks to complete.)

Distribute baggies or envelopes with an equal number of puzzle pieces to employees to each employee.

Tell employees that they are to contribute to the puzzle one time per day. Contributing can be as simple as laying one of their pieces on the table, or spending a couple of minutes trying to fit together pieces that are there. They can only “work on” the puzzle for less than five minutes per day (either contribute pieces or trying to assemble.)

Throughout the time period (for our example, two weeks) you should begin to see the puzzle come together. At first, there will just be loose pieces on the table. However, as the supply grows, there may be some attempts to fit pieces together.

Be sure to encourage along the way and establish some type of reward the whole team can enjoy once the puzzle is completed (i.e. lunch brought in.)

You may wish to frame the puzzle and hang somewhere to remind team members of the fun you had!

Report back: Submit your photo of your team with your completed puzzle by May 30, 2015. I’ll do a drawing for a free copy of my book, Boost Your Workplace Morale: A Practical Guide for Employees (and Their Managers) from the submissions and share the winning photo (be sure all in the photo are okay with it being publicized.)

A Thank You and a Special Message

Looking back, looking forward

Beth at coffee shop

I’m sitting here at one of my favorite writing places, enjoying a cup of coffee, thankful as I wrap up the 10th Birthday month of HOPE Unlimited. I thought it fitting to take today’s blog post to reflect a bit and share with my reader family my thanks and what they can look forward to in the future.

By the time this post goes live, and the birthday month is over, I’ll have given away 10 Chick-Fil-A cards, thanks to Sims & Karr Financial Solutions, provided several blog posts with lists of 10 great helps to overwhelmed professionals, shared our first collaborative post (thanks, contributors–join in the next one here!) and have added several new clients.

On a personal level, I celebrated a birthday, enjoyed a meaningful wedding, got into a bowling league, (enjoying the surprise of reaching a personal goal and bowling my highest game ever) and journeyed through the sometimes confusing and frustrating process of discerning some vocational/business choices with the help of God, my husband and family, and dear friends. I’m also seeing the effect of stress on people as a whole and coming to understand that I can continue to be of help to overwhelmed professionals, whether directly in client support or indirectly in providing resources.

The tricky part of that is to make wise decisions about what and how much to offer and when, since HOPE is a business with a mindset influenced by ministry and I hope, generosity, and I need to be careful not to become too much of an overwhelmed professional myself! I’m taking it one leading at a time.

So this month (May 2015), I am offering access to the Virtual Training Classroom (VTR) Conquer Your Calendar: 12 Keys to Taking Control and Feeling Less Stress with Your Commitments in a unique way. I want ANYONE to be able to access these materials because I believe they will help you become less stressed. I don’t want finances to keep you from getting this resource. At the same time, the information is valuable and the education is worth some investment. So I’ve decided to offer the class at a “Pay What You Want” basis. Passes are available from now through the end of the month. The quicker you join, the more time you’ll have to go through the materials on your own and if you wish, be part of the Facebook group.  Please join in! (or at least view the free 5-minute class.)

In addition to the above, I plan to continue the weekly blog post on Mondays, the 5 on the 15th newsletter on the 15th of each month and remain active on several social media channels, sharing tips and encouragement to bring HOPE to overwhelmed professionals. I also plan to continue to create resources/books for the foreseeable future. (I’m available for speaking, consulting, and virtual assistant opportunities as well if that is applicable to you or someone you know.)

So, thank you for celebrating HOPE’s 10th birthday with me last month. Please stay in touch and let me know how to bring HOPE to you so you can feel a little less overwhelmed at work!

10 Cool Products for Overwhelmed Professionals

CA-ten

If you are like me, you love to find products and resources that can help you be a more efficient professional or that make your life richer, easier, or both. Here are ten that I recommend as I wrap up the 10th birthday of HOPE we’ve been celebrating all month. (One more chance to win the Chick-Fil-A gift card here!) (I have personal experience with each product and can recommend it based on that experience.)

All products with an * can be purchased through my store.

1. Stainless steel straws*: I use these tall straws in my insulated mug (from Quik Trip–great insulated mug that doesn’t sweat) for drinking water and sometimes tea. The straw conducts the temperature of the drink, and they come with a small brush for cleaning. You can also put them in the dishwasher.  metal straw

2. Out of Milk app. This app is great for the “third space” of my life–when I’m out and about. It has both a to-do list section and a shopping list section (as well as listing store deals.) It syncs with my husband’s phone, so when he does grocery shopping (bless him) he can hit “sync” when he gets to the store and see anything I’ve added to the list at any time prior to his stop. I also use the to-do list section when I’m doing a number of errands. I like how you can easily rearrange the order of the tasks, helping me map out an efficient loop.timer app

3. Books.* I try to finish a book a month and track it on a pad and Goodreads. So far I’ve been successful at this goal since January of 2012. Recently finished: More Than His God Card.

More than His God Card

 

4. Platform University/Platform book. I’m a charter member of this online resource founded by Michael Hyatt. Each week, new content is added specifically related to expanding your influence and all the elements that go into that, including your “why” and “how.” Plus it has helped me connect with other like-minded professionals. Enrollment is available only once or twice a year, so I recommend the book if you can’t enroll.


Platform UPlatform Book

5. Timer apps. I use a few. Multi-timer Alarm Clock Xtreme free and Thyme. These apps are great for helping me keep track on time spent for my clients, or if I want to try to stay focused on one type of activity for a period of time. Timers are your friend!

timers too

 

6. Essential Oil diffuser.* I use this water-based diffuser mainly at night, to contribute toward a pleasant night’s sleep (something all overwhelmed professionals need.). I like the nightlight effect and that you can see steam coming from it. diffuser

7. Blue Apron. We’ve been using Blue Apron food delivery for a few weeks. I have pros and cons on this one, but share it because I think it can be a big help to busy professionals. You do have to allow time to prepare the food, so if you enjoy cooking as a relaxing hobby, but don’t really like meal planning and shopping, this type of service might be for you. It is helping me grow to enjoy the prep/cooking process more, and skip the shopping/planning part which I enjoy less. It is introducing us to a number of interesting dishes we would probably never try otherwise. Overall we feel it is about 75% successful for our current lifestyle as empty-nesters. We had the opportunity to try one week free when a friend had free weeks to give away. (If you are interested in a free week, contact me.)

blue apron

 

8. Dry erase board. I’m a big fan of keeping a dry erase board at my desk so I can jot quick reminders or do some quick figuring and then erase it. I prefer this over using sticky notes that can tend to proliferate on desks and monitors.

dry erase board

9. Samsung Galaxy. My smartphone is a mini computer with me all the time. I like the ability to check email, take photos, take notes, use timers, have an up-to-date calendar, and more.

Galaxy

10. My books and resources. I believe in the information I offer you and ask that you consider buying one of my books. Next enrollment for the Conquer Your Calendar online class is coming up soon too. Stay tuned.

Beth books

 

I hope you’ll visit my store to purchase some of these products. And, if you shop at Amazon anyway, would you like through my site first? At no extra cost to you, I receive a small portion of your purchases.

 

 Your turn…what is a favorite product to help your overcome overwhelm?