8 Top Tips to Survive Your Next Conference!!

Attending an international conference isn’t always as glamorous as it sounds. As any seasoned delegate will tell you, it’s not all rubbing shoulders with famous speakers, impressing online connections in real life and closing big business deals over gourmet dinners and fancy cocktails. In fact, a long day at a conference, spent rushing from talk to talk, gulping down fast food and desperately trying to remember which business card matches which new face, can leave you feeling a bit like a deflated balloon.

Luckily for you, I’ve attended my fair share of international conferences and have picked up a few handy survival tips along the way. Here’s how to make it through your next conference intact:

1) Practice Your Elevator Pitch

Whether you’re just chatting to someone in a coffee queue, introducing yourself at a make-or-break meeting, or shouting into a potential customer’s ear at a beer-soaked after party, it’s helpful to have your elevator pitch prepped and ready to go. Vague and generic elevator pitches aren’t memorable, so make sure you communicate your unique selling point right off the bat. What sets your business apart from your competitors? Make that the focus of your elevator pitch.

2) Wear Comfortable Shoes

Part of your game plan is dressing for success, I get it. But keep in mind that conferences typically involve long hours of standing and walking. Nothing throws you off your game quite like aching, blistered feet.

3) Pick Your Top Talks and Workshops

Chances are, you can’t attend every single talk at the conference. Study the agenda beforehand and work out which speakers you absolutely can’t miss. Then, check the venues and make sure you know how you’re going to get from one to the other; conferences centres can be much bigger than you imagine and some events might take place off-site.

4) Treat Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner as Meeting Slots

Snagging one-on-one meetings with key prospects and customers should be one of your main conference goals. When you’re contending with a jam-packed agenda, however, finding a time to meet that suits you both can be tricky. Take advantage of the breaks scheduled for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and coffee when booking meetings.

5) Record Useful Details on Business Cards

There’s no point collecting business cards if you can’t remember the first thing about any of your new connections. Keep a pen handy and jot down key conversation points on each business card you receive. This could be something you have in common – maybe you’re both avid fishermen or you have children of a similar age – or a business-related point that will help you hone in on how you can work together in the future. Doing this will not only help jog your memory when you’re sorting through the pile back home, it’ll also help you personalise your follow ups.

6) Stay Well Hydrated and Well Fed

At the risk of sounding like your mom, don’t skip meals and make sure you drink enough water. Keep your energy levels up by eating properly and keeping a bottle of water on hand. If you’re someone who needs to snack regularly or if you have any special allergies, it’s a good idea to stash some snacks in your briefcase or backpack – like a few nuts, a protein bar or an apple – to avoid plummeting sugar levels and a catastrophic loss of your sense of humour.

7) Make Time for Play, as well as Business

Tequila isn’t just a social lubricator, it’s a useful business lubricator too. Conference parties are often where the best connections are made, so don’t spend the evenings hiding away in your hotel room. That said, beware of going too big: attending a business conference with a stinking hangover is a cruel and unusual punishment indeed.

8) Pick your Conferences Wisely

To get real ROI from business conferences, you need to make valuable connections with new prospects, nurture relationships with leads and existing customers, and bring home practical learnings that you can actually use in your own business. This means you need to pick which conferences you’ll be attending based on not just the keynote speakers, but also on who else is going to be attending.

 

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8 Mistakes Even Professional Content Writers Make (And How to Avoid Them)

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I’ve done a lot of dumb things as a writer. But that’s okay. Mistakes are the best way to learn, right?

When we make a mistake once, we usually don’t make it again. And the less time we have to spend correcting our mistakes, the more time we have to actually get things done.

I’ve outlined a list of eight common mistakes that professional content writers sometimes make below. The idea is that once you learn about these mistakes, you’ll be less likely to commit them yourself. Let’s walk through them …

8 Mistakes Even Professional Content Writers Make (And How to Avoid Them)

Mistake #1: Thinking that you can’t break through writer’s block.

Some people tend to think that writer’s block is an unbreakable force — nothing can be written until the block is broken.

The truth is, you can break writer’s block. Some people stand on their head, but there are other helpful tools you can use, too.

Next time you experience writer’s block, try shifting your mindset. Don’t think, “Oh no! I can’t write.” Instead, think, “Okay, I’ve got this. I’m going to make it.”

Want more advice on how to beat writer’s block and actually enjoy writing again? Check out this post.

Mistake #2: Not editing your work.

You need time to edit your writing when it’s cold. In other words, let some time pass before you go back and work on that article again. You’ll view it with a new sense of curiosity, perspective, and insight.

Not everyone loves editing. I get that. Look at it this way, though: Editing turns something great into something even greater. That’s something to look forward to. For advice on how to approach a piece of content, check out these strategic editing tips from HubSpot’s Ginny Soskey.

Mistake #3: Not proofreading your work.

After you edit, you need to proofread, too. Editing is making those big changes to the content itself. Proofreading is making the tiny changes to the grammar and spelling.

I’ve made a habit of never releasing a word of content until it’s been edited or proofread at least four times. Proofread, and proofread again. You’ll be glad you did.

Before you publish your next piece of content, check out this helpful proofreading checklist.

Mistake #4: Not doing any research.

You may be the world’s most brilliant writer and master of your subject, but you should do a little bit of research on your subject matter. People aren’t as impressed by your opinion as they are by a breadth of studies, data, evidence, and other information that corroborate your opinion.

Get ready for hard work, though. Here’s how one researcher described the research process:

Research is not only a science but also an art and it is not easy. It requires honest and hard work with patience and perseverance. Not everyone is a born writer and authors can fall ill with headaches and backaches during the process of writing the research results.”

Research can be fun. When you realize that you’re providing your readers with insight and advanced knowledge, a simple writing project can take on a new level of excitement. Need help uncovering credible statistics to support your content, check out these nine reputable resources.

Mistake #5: Not defining your pronouns.

Huh? What does “not defining your pronouns” mean? Allow me to explain …

The following words are pronouns:

  • It
  • This
  • These
  • Those
  • That

There are a lot of pronouns in the English language. Pronouns are helpful, useful, important parts of speech.

What is the problem? Not defining them:

  • Those are bad. What are bad?
  • That’s no good. What’s no good?
  • It’s a problem. What’s a problem?
  • Destroy these. Destroy what?

You should define all pronouns either within the context of your writing or within the sentence. Undefined pronouns lead to unclear writing.

Mistake #6: Writing too fast or too slow.

There’s no correct writing speed. Each writer should write at the pace that suits them and allows their creativity to flow. However, be aware that your speed of writing influences your quality of writing.

  • If you write too fast, you could make sloppy mistakes.
  • If you write too slowly, you could make clumsy mistakes.

When reading, the mind goes over information faster than while writing. Keep this in mind when you write. Your mind easily processes long sentences or big words when you’re writing them. But to the reader — whose eyes are skimming across your content at 300 words per minute — your writing is dull, ponderous, slow, and agonizing.

If you write fast, your brain is moving at a closer equivalent to the normal reading speed. Of course, you should still pay attention to your words, sentences, and structure. But at the same time, you’ll be able to get down those thoughts in a more fluid and natural way.

Here’s how the The Huffington Post reported on one writing speed researcher:

Typing can be too fluent or too fast, and can actually impair the writing process,” Srdan Medimorec, a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Arts at Waterloo said in a statement. “It seems that what we write is a product of the interactions between our thoughts and the tools we use to express them.”

A 2016 study from the University of Waterloo discovered, “the quality of your writing will likely get better if you simply type slower.”

Does this mean that you should try to move your fingers slowly, type with one hand, or just trudge along at a lazy pace? Not necessarily.

Each person has their own right pace. And different types of content demand a slower or faster pace. You move at the pace that’s best for you.

In some situations, the ideas and words are coming at an incredibly fast rate. You have to type as fast as you can. In other cases, you might be doing careful research, searching for the precise word, or writing about a sensitive subject. Slowing down is a good idea.

Mistake #7: Not understanding who your readers are.

If you want to become a better writer, become a better student of your reader. It’s actually pretty simple.

Great writing is connecting with readers in a meaningful way. You won’t be able to perform that task unless you get in their heads. I challenge all writers, before putting a single word on a page, to do as much research and gain as much understanding of their potential readers as possible.

The process is as simple as going through the exercise of creating a persona, and reminding yourself of that person every time you write. (Check out this free tool to get started.)

Mistake #8: Not outlining an article before you write it.

Outlining might bring back memories of high school English class. Don’t worry. That’s not what I’m talking about here.

The process of outlining is simply creating a structure for your article.

I do a lot of writing, and one of the things that helps me write with clarity and speed is outlining. First, I jot down a quick introduction and conclusion. This helps me to lead up to my subject matter, and then sum it up. Doing so also makes me fill the empty space between with something relevant and meaningful.

Generally, my outline simply looks like a few bullet points. My goal is to write down the main things I want to talk about. Usually, they aren’t even complete sentences. (No big deal. I’m not writing my article at this point. I’m just outlining it.)

The whole process takes me ten minutes or so, but it saves me hours of time. Plus, it gives my article more clarity.

Ready to Write?

Writing better is about blowing apart old habits and horrible mistakes. Even though I’ve been writing almost every day for ten years, I still make mistakes. Hopefully, my mistakes are becoming fewer and fewer, but I still catch myself making them sometimes.

At the same time, however, I feel like I’m improving. And that’s what becoming a better writer is all about.

What about you? What mistakes are you eliminating in order to improve your writing?

Snapchat is Growing Up

ThinkstockPhotos-503712028-742067-edited.jpg Whether or not you use it, we’ve all heard of Snapchat. And regardless of your preconceived notions about it, this photo/video sharing app has quickly become popular with adults over the last year, making it a serious contender in the social media world. Snapchat is no longer just for teens, but for moms too! So how can marketers take advantage of this increasingly mainstream tool?

The Scoop on Snapchat

When it was initially released in 2011, Snapchat was an instant favorite among teenagers, largely due to the fact that content would disappear after being viewable for only a brief amount of time.

Basically, you communicate in real time by taking a picture or short video (called a “snap”), adding a quick caption, and sending it to people who are connected to your Snapchat account. The snap is available for viewing for only a few seconds after it is opened and then it disappears.

You can also create a “story”, which strings all your snaps together and allows them to be viewed by any of your Snapchat connections for 24 hours. To connect with someone on Snapchat outside of your phone contacts, you have to look them up by their username, Snapcode or QR code.

Snapchat Doesn’t Keep Score

Snapchat is stripped down social media and is all about living in the moment and sharing authentic experiences.Their photo effects aren’t made to give a “professional” look to your images, like on Instagram. There’s no editing, like on Facebook. There’s no popularity contest for who has the most Snapchat friends. There’s no keeping score. Period.

Life on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, for example, tends to be more about the rush of scoring likes and comments. Many Instagram and Facebook users even view these things as a barometer of popularity and self-worth. Many users will create content designed for the sole purpose of collecting “likes”, and delete posts that haven’t drawn enough attention.

Those who follow you on Snapchat can view your snaps and stories, but there’s no option to “like”, comment, or share them. That takes a tremendous amount of pressure off of users to create content that will receive a lot of “likes” versus creating content that is authentic. Society in general could take a cue from Snapchat’s stripped down approach. Marketers should follow this same philosophy in creating authentic content and not just focusing on the popular vote.

Discover – Marketing on Snapchat

Unlike Facebook, you can’t pay for ads to pop up on a news feed in Snapchat, because there is no news feed. If you want to see what someone is up to, you have to follow them. Which means that anyone following you actually cares about what you have to say.

Snapchat’s current large scale marketing opportunities appear in the form of an online magazine layout in the Discover channel feature. Discover channels allow select publishers to have a permanent place on Snapchat where they can post content from various sources, use a mix of text and photos, and long or short form videos. These publishers can then include some advertising snaps in the middle of their stories.

When this feature launched a year ago, there were only eleven channel partners (CNN, Comedy Central, Cosmopolitan, Daily Mail, ESPN, Food Network, National Geographic, People, Vice, Yahoo News and Warner Music). That number has now more than doubled to twenty-one channels, and will no doubt continue to grow.

While Discover partners is an exclusive club limited to high-traffic media companies, all marketers should take note on the creative concepts being used on these channels. Any person or business can create a SnapChat account (like Audi, GrubHub< and even the White House), but you need to generate creative and interesting content in order to gain more followers. Your audience may not yet be as broad as it is on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, but you will know they are genuinely interested in what you have to say.

How Do You Get Started on Snapchat?

Signing-up for a Snapchat account is not much different from setting up any other social media account. You’ll need to provide an email address and birthdate for your company (make it over 18 so you don’t end up classified as a child). You’ll be asked for a phone number, but you can skip over that.

Be sure to keep all of your social media branding in sync so that users can easily find you across all of the social channels. 20th Century Fox is an example of what NOT to do when setting up your SnapChat account. If you went to look them up on Snapchat as “20thcenturyfox”, which is how they are listed on Twitter, you wouldn’t get a match. No suggestions will appear at all. That’s because their Snapchat account is FoxMovies. So if your business is already listed as ClearPivot on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, then it’s wise to also use the ClearPivot name on Snapchat.

What Should You Post?

After you setup your Snapchat account, practice posting some snaps to get used to capturing experiences while you’re in the moment. Remember, Snapchat users like authentic content and the interaction is all about sharing experiences. Also, be sure to post often since content disappears after a brief amount of time.

If you really want to increase the human connection between the company and its audience, have one employee take over the company Snapchat account every day and make a story about their day. Having a different employee do this every day will show the personalities of the people behind the company, and further strengthen your relationship with your Snapchat connections.

Tidbits for Specific Industries

Cosmetic Companies

Snapchat has a very useful timelapse and fast forward feature, which would be great for how-to stories. This would be a very effective way to showcase a new product and how to best use it. Also, every makeup wearing woman loves tips on how to apply makeup like the pros. You could have a different story everyday on how to properly apply lip liner, mascara, brow liner, eye shadow etc. Stories on how best to store, care for, and replace makeup would a hit as well.

Hardware or Craft Stores

Customers of these businesses tend to be do-it-yourselfers, so what better way to connect with these users than with a DIY story. Home improvement stories can range from large construction projects, like building a deck, landscaping, or finishing your basement, to smaller projects such as replacing a light switch, installing cabinet hardware, or which light bulbs are the most energy efficient. Craft DIY stories can also have a variety ranging from quilting to scrapbooking, or anything in between. The sky’s the limit with DIY stories.

Local Coffee Shops/Bars/Boutiques

These types of businesses tend to host frequent events that appeal to those within their community. Wouldn’t it be great to post live snaps from the event to draw more interest from those who perhaps didn’t know about it or forgot to mark the event on their calendar? Since these businesses are local, a user could see your snap from the event and drop in to check it out before the fun ends.

Don’t Miss Out on the Next “Big One”

The full marketing potential of Snapchat remains widely untapped. That could change very quickly this year. Gary Vaynerchuk declared that 2016 is the year for Snapchat:

“…if you’re running a business in 2016, you need to be thinking about Snapchat as a channel to grow your customer base. Period… I haven’t seen this much consumer attention on one social platform since early 2007 and 2008 with Twitter.”

The millennial generation makes up the majority of the workforce in America and are quickly taking over the world of business. They are increasingly not tuning in to traditional media like broadcast TV and print newspapers.. The most effective resource to reach this prime target audience is through social media, and more importantly right now – Snapchat!

Singapore Airlines Social Media Promotion: A350 Social Engagement

Terms and Conditions:

  1. The promotion period is from 4 April 2016 to 2359 hours (Singapore time) on 17 April 2016.
  2. The following persons are not eligible to participate in the promotion and any entry by any of the following persons will be disqualified:
    • The employees (whether permanent or temporary) of Singapore Airlines Limited (“SIA”) and its subsidiaries and holding companies.
    • The employees (whether permanent or temporary) of SIA’s associated agencies and other entities involved in the conduct, implementation and/or administration of the promotion (as determined by SIA in its sole discretion).
  3. By participating in the promotion, the participant fully and unconditionally accepts these terms and conditions and accepts that the decision of SIA regarding the promotion and all matters related to or connected with it, including, without limitation, the awarding of any prizes and the interpretation of these terms and conditions, is final and binding and no queries shall be entertained.
  4. To participate, participants will need to share on social media why the Singapore Airlines A350 is the ultimate A350 experience. This can be done through the submission of a photo, video, or text along with the use of “#SingaporeAirA350” on Facebook [via the comments section of post(s) on this contest], Instagram, or Twitter.
  5. SIA will notify the prize winner(s) through Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. The prize winner(s) must confirm acceptance of the prize within the time period stipulated in SIA’s notification.
  6. To be eligible for the prize, winner(s) identified and contacted by SIA must be agreeable to the actions required by the promotion as stipulated in this TERMS AND CONDITIONS, and accept and acknowledge the conditions stipulated in the WINNER’S ACKNOWLEDGEMENT AND AGREEMENT FORM.
  7. Up to a maximum of two winner(s) will receive, each:
    • A pair of (2x) return Singapore Airlines Economy Class tickets on the A350 inaugural flight from Singapore to Amsterdam on 9 May 2016
  8. The prize is subject to the following terms and conditions (as applicable):
    • Both winner and companion must be above 18 years of age.
    • No refunds or exchanges will be offered for any prize received or redeemed via the promotion
    • SIA may change the date, time and nature of any prize may change at any time.
    • No prize or any component thereof may be exchanged for cash or any other item.
    • SIA reserves the right to vary these terms and conditions governing the prize at any time without prior notice.
    • Any prize may be cancelled by SIA at any time.
    • Such other terms and conditions as may be imposed by SIA.
    • If the prize winner is not available or is otherwise unable to travel on dates set by SIA, such winner’s prize may be forfeited by SIA at SIA’s discretion.
    • The winner will notify SIA of the return date and flight which has to be within 3 months from the originating flight date, subject to availability.
    • Each air ticket is not interlineable, refundable, upgradable, transferable or re-routable.
    • Air ticket shall not be eligible for mileage accrual and is not to be used with redemption of KrisFlyer miles or any other frequent flyer miles for any upgrade awards.
    • Travel shall be valid on Singapore Airlines’ services only and both passengers must travel together on the entire itinerary.
  9. By accepting the prize, the prize winner agrees to participate in all reasonable media publicity relating to the prize prior to and after the prize has been collected. This includes being featured in social media content and promotions as required by SIA.
  10. By accepting the prize, the prize winner shall not take any action in any manner that might reasonably be anticipated to adversely affect SIA’s reputation, financial condition, business prospects or agreements or arrangements with any other person or entity.
  11. In the event that for any reason whatsoever, the prize winner does not claim the prize at the time stipulated by SIA, the prize may be forfeited at SIA’s sole discretion. Cash will not be awarded in lieu of the prize.
  12. The prize is non-negotiable, non-transferable and non-refundable, either in part or in full. The prize may not be sold or bartered. No Frequent Flyer points will be given as part of this prize.
  13. Unless otherwise specified, SIA is not responsible for and will not bear any of the expenses including but not limited to spending money, meals, drinks, transfers (including travel costs to and from the point of departure), travel insurance, freight, excess baggage, accommodation, laundry charges, activities, incidentals, government taxes, airport charges, gratuity, services charges and all ancillary costs. i. Payment for taxes and airport charges must be made prior to ticket being issued and are payable by cash or credit card only. ii. Passports and visas are the responsibility of the winner.
  14. It is the sole responsibility of the winner to arrange and pay for all government, federal, state and local taxes (such as gaming tax) and duties levied in connection with the prize, together with any fees imposed by any relevant governments and authorities and other expenses of a personal nature.
  15. The winner and his/her companions will not be reimbursed for any time they may have to take off work or other commitments in order to utilize the prize.
  16. SIA shall not be liable for any claims, losses, damages, injuries, costs and expenses suffered, sustained or incurred (including, but not limited to, indirect, consequential loss including death) or costs incurred due to unforeseen circumstances as a result of, or arising out of, or in any way connected with this promotion. In this regard, SIA recommends that the prize winner obtain the appropriate insurance.
  17. If SIA is prevented from continuing with the promotion or the integrity and/or feasibility of the promotion is undermined by any event beyond the control of SIA, including, but not limited to, fire, flood, epidemic, earthquake, explosion, labor dispute or strike, act of God or public enemy, satellite or equipment failure, riot or civil disturbance, war (declared or undeclared), terrorist threat or activity, or any federal, state or local government law, order, or regulation, order of any court or jurisdiction, infection by computer virus, unauthorized intervention, breakdown in equipment, technical failures or other cause not reasonably within the control of SIA, SIA shall have the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to abbreviate, modify, suspend, cancel or terminate the promotion without any further obligation.
  18. SIA, its directors, officers, employees and assignees, will not be held liable for any claim arising from the prize.
  19. A person who is not a party to this Agreement has no right to enforce or enjoy the benefit of this Agreement.
  20. The laws of Singapore will apply to these Terms and Conditions. In case of a dispute, the courts of Singapore will have non-exclusive jurisdiction.

Meet the Tesla Model 3: Elon’s EV for the Masses Revealed

The Tesla Model 3 is a car eager prospective owners have been plunking down $1,000 deposits for sight unseen, and lining up for the opportunity to do so. It’s a car that could forever change the way the masses think of electric vehicles. It’s a car Tesla is betting its future fortunes on.

To say that the Model 3, which was just unveiled to the world tonight by Tesla CEO Elon Musk at Musk’s SpaceX facility in Hawthorne, California, has been the most anticipated car of 2016 isn’t hyperbole. And that’s just the way Musk wants it. In many ways, Tesla has become the Apple of the auto industry and Musk its Steve Jobs. It’s a company – an American one – that’s built hype and buzz for its cars that few others in the car business have ever been able to achieve. But after the hype dies down, actually bringing the Model 3 to market will be a huge test for the EV automaker.

“Even at its base price you will not be able to buy another car with the features this one has,” Musk boasted during his presentation in which he also highlighted the reasons why he believes EVs are the way forward for the future of transportation.

Tesla Model 3 in motion

There have been a ton of rumors about the Model 3 dribbling out over the past few months, and now we finally have the verifiable facts straight from Musk’s mouth. There weren’t many, but here’s what we learned:

  • The Tesla Model 3 will indeed be priced at $35,000 to start, before government incentives. It’s important to note, however, that once Tesla sells 200,000 units total in the U.S., those incentives will begin to run dry, although it remains to be seen yet when exactly the incentives will expire. So get one while you can, because it won’t be long before they hit that number if they can deliver the Model 3 in the quantities they’ve been talking about.
  • It will come with a 215-mile range for a base model car, according to Tesla.
  • The 0-60-mph time will be less than 6 seconds for the base model car.
  • It will be incredibly safe, according to Musk, who said it will aim for 5-star ratings across the board.
  • The Model 3 can fit a 7-foot surfboard and it has front and rear trunks.
  • It will come standard with Tesla’s autopilot hardware.
  • There will be rear-drive (base) and dual-mode models.
  • A 15-inch, landscape-style screen dominates the center stack.
  • As of 10 last night (March 31), there were more than 133,000 pre-orders for the Model 3.
  • Tesla is sticking by its claim that the Model 3 will hit the streets in late 2017.

As for its looks, the Tesla Model 3 is certainly a departure from the Model S, at least from the front, where there’s a big block of plastic in the traditional grille area. Glass is used extensively to provide a sense of space in the cabin, with a panel that extends from the roof all the way to the back. The greenhouse is reminiscent of the Model X, and is designed to provide plenty of rear seat headroom and overall space for three passengers.

We also had an opportunity to get a very brief ride in a higher-spec, dual mode pre-production Model 3, and it moved out with authority, thanks to the initial surge of torque EVs like Teslas provide. Musk likes his cars to go fast too, and from our run up and down the block, we don’t think that’s going to be problem.

Are You Stressed Enough?

“I wish I were more stressed.”

I’d guess that you’ve never heard anyone utter that phrase. Almost everyone is on the hunt for ways to avoid or better manage the amount of pressure they experience.

But what if I told you that introducing a little stress into your routine might make you more productive?

According Yerkes-Dodson Law, increased mental arousal can actually help improve performance, but only to a certain degree. You see, this positive form of stress — known as eustress — marks the highest peak in the human performance curve. However, most people struggle to achieve such balance, leaving them feeling either under-stimulated or distressed.

Want to learn how to better measure and manage workplace stress? Check out the infograpic from Bryan College for more detailed research, as well advice on how to leverage positive stress in the workplace.

 

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