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The agenda for next Monday has come together.
Here’s a quick overview:
- There’ll be a brief overview of this professional social network and talk about its relevance (or lack thereof) to the restaurant community.
- Katherine Gray of The New Civilization will go over the ins and outs of Twitter. Whether you’re a newbie or regular tweeter, you’ll pick up some great insights and tips. Besides being social media savvy (with great insights from participating in events like SXSW and BlogHer), Katherine is (in my opinion) one of the best web producers in town (she’s the brains behind these two distinctly different and great sites: TripWire and Al’s Garden Center).
- Lizzy Caston of Lizzy Caston Communications will share best practices for restaurants using Twitter, including a case study featuring one of her clients that has generated national press interest. I’ve described Lizzy’s background and expertise before — she’s been a generous contributor to this group and many attendees have and continue to benefit from her PR strategies. Also, her food cart blog is not only a great resource for us locals, it received national mention in today’s New York Times. She’s @misslizzyc on Twitter.
- Marlynn Schotland is one of the most in-demand women in town, and we’re lucky to have her join us next Monday. A successful entrepreneur and an inspiration to many, Marlynn uses Facebook to promote Mamapreneurs, Inc., Urban Bliss and Mama Lit. She’ll share how she uses Facebook to manage three distinct audiences, as well as how she leverages it to market new products and special promotions. You’ll find Marlynn to be an energetic, positive and creative force.
Don’t forget to RSVP so we know how many to expect.
See you next week!
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Even those of us on Twitter are probably tired of the onslaught of press coverage this social media-media darling has received of late. But behind all the hype, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and the like represent a not-so-subtle shift in how millions of people increasingly prefer to communicate.
Sure, it can be annoying to be “friended” by someone you barely remember from high school, but the truth of the matter is, social media is rapidly transforming how people not only connect with each other, but also how they behave as consumers. Beyond relying on online communities and blogs help them make purchasing decisions, people now rely on the instantaneous chorus of opinion to shape their opinions and inform them of what’s new and cool — and that includes where to eat.
Social media — especially Twitter — has been a hot topic that’s been bubbling up since last November, so we’re going to tackle it with an overview of what the differences are among a few of the more popular applications as well as a live, how-to tutorial on Twitter. We’ll have an informal panel discussion too — which is another way of me saying, “I’m still throwing the event agenda together.”
It’ll be fun and informative, so I hope you’ll come. Many thanks to Amanda Oborne for hosting us again — her large and lovely living room is really conducive to our group. And if you need farm-fresh eggs or premium grass-fed bison from her parents’ ranch, contact her at aoborne[at]yahoo.com and she’ll hook you up.
Social Media Potluck, Monday, May 18
5:30-6:30 PM: Mangia!
6:30-8 PM: Discussion
RSVP here (click through to see the event address).
We’re planning the next meeting for 5/18 — to discuss all things social media & how you can leverage them for your business. (Do not be afraid of Twitter!) Invitation to the member list & details to come very, very soon!
“Networking” is often used to describe this group. But when you move beyond the handshakes and exchange of credentials and business cards, what really matters are personal stories. Maybe it’s because there’s always a story behind the foods we love to eat, or the cuisines we decide to master. Family tradition, foreign travel, childhood fixation, self-emancipation — no dish is simply a sum of its ingredients. And one of the most rewarding aspects of last night was hearing people share what made them who they are today.
By lucky accident I facilitated the session on personal bios. I can’t but wonder why so many of us (myself included) struggle to describe who we are and proudly put our achievements out there. Perhaps it’s because our interests and skills are too complex to boil down into a few paragraphs. Or because historically, women are raised to be “good girls” which includes not bragging. Maybe our passions create a blind spot because we’re inseparable from that which drives us to create.
Fortunately, with some brainstorming, gentle coaching, and instructive examples provided by Lizzy Caston (which you can download at the end of this post), most everyone was able to capture some bio ideas on paper that will get put to good use in a web site, blog, resume or press kit.
Here are some key takeaways from that discussion:
- Even if you don’t have a current business need for a bio, creating one is an exercise in focus and expression that enables you to clearly articulate what you have to offer and what sets you apart. Cover letters, informational interviews, cocktail party conversation — you never know what leads to your personal pot of gold. Create a bio so you’re know what to say when the opportunity of a lifetime lands in your lap. And because many people in the food business do end up starting their own businesses, you’ll be that much farther ahead of the game when you’re ready to do so.
- Ask someone who knows you really well to tell you why you’re so great. Seriously. We do a lousy job holding up mirror to ourselves so let our biggest fans — be they family, a friend, a co-worker or significant other — point out the strengths we didn’t realize we had.
- Treat the bio writing process like you’re doing a performance appraisal on yourself. What have you accomplished this past year? So much time gets diverted into so many different directions we don’t realize that, cumulatively, that volunteering or seemingly small projects all add up to something worth crowing about.
- Different aspects of our bios expand and contract based on the experience we accumulate. So, out of school, we tend to go deep into our educational background. As our careers progress, it’s totally fine to discard aspects of our experience that don’t apply anymore, or to severely scale back certain details. Don’t try to say it all; focus on what’s important and relevant.
- What if your background includes a radical departure or shift from what you used to do? Use it if it’s relevant to who you are now. If your anthropology degree inspires and informs your baking, explain why. If you’re much happier doing something that has nothing to do with your MBA, talk about the wake-up call. People — customers — connect with stories, not resumes.
- Produce long and short versions of your bio for different purposes. Who are you in 50 words? 100? 250? Having these for different circumstances will help prevent someone else butchering your bio into something unintelligible.
Since I facilitated the bios all evening, I don’t have notes from the other roundtables. Lizzy ran the discussion about developing a communications timeline, and Julia Wood of Litmus Design & Architecture led the discussion about developing a company description. However, the attached documents from Lizzy provide step-by-step guidelines along with handy templates for tackling all of last night’s exercises.
Many thanks to Amanda Oborne for hosting everyone in her lovely home last night. There was plenty of room to spread out and the buffalo burgers were awesome!
Next meeting topic: Social Media for your Business
In about six weeks (mid-May), we’re going to have a full-blown session on social media. In January everyone learned, from a public relations perspective, how much buzz can be generated with a personal blog. And there have been numerous questions about how to optimally use Twitter and Facebook to promote your business. With Portland being the Silicon Forest, we have a number of local experts to tap in to for this next session. It will be an ambitious agenda that includes a ground-level tutorial on “What is Twitter?” for the uninitiated.
As soon as we set a date and location, I’ll send post an update here.
What’s in a name?
Lastly, I want to point out we’re going to rename this group. Originally we had aspirations to be the regional chapter of Women Chefs & Restaurateurs, but we’re more of a grassroots organization that embraces people from outside that strict definition of membership. So while we don’t have the final answer, don’t be surprised when you see an email that doesn’t say “PDX WCR” (perhaps the most awkward combination of letters possible).
Download files from last night’s meeting
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Following up on the popularity and robust content of the last meeting, and heeding the wails of “When will I ever find time to write my bio?” — we’re going to have a working session this month. My friend Amanda has graciously offered to host everyone at her lovely Craftsman home in NE Irvington.
Volunteers will work with you in small groups to help attendees develop drafts of these PR essentials:
- Your bio (“about me” — a critical piece of your press kit and web site or blog)
- Elevator pitch (succinct summary of your food business or professional interests)
- How to write a press release
- Communications timeline (plot out your PR/marketing opportunities over the next 12 months)
Here’s the framework:
- 5:30-6: People show up with hors d’ouerves and wine donations
- 6-7:30: Small group activities, with each group working on 20-30 minutes on one of the above assignments before rotating to the next one
- 7:30-8: People who want to can share what they wrote and ask for group feedback
Depending on the size of the turnout, we may not get through all four of these topics, but we can probably do at least three of them.
Don’t think you need the workshop?
If your business is mature and you don’t feel the need to work on this, come for the networking. If you don’t have a business to promote because you are working in foodservice or are currently looking for work, come to hone your personal pitch or pick up some business skills (and network).
It’s an appetizer & drinks potluck
Because we want the bulk of the time to focus on the workshop, we’re curtailing the call for food. Please bring some simple hors d’ouerves or wine (or some other beverage) — and we’ll nibble and drink through the evening while we work.
Details and RSVP link
- Monday, March 30, 2009
- 5:30-8 p.m.
- Bring: pad of paper and pen (or laptop), and any reference materials you think you might need. We’ll have templates for each activity, courtesy of Lizzy Caston
- RSVP here to see the address & phone number (in NE Portland)
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I came across this story in my Twitter feed today and thought it worth sharing.
Sure, this example lends itself better to hotels than restaurants, but take notes for the relevance, timeliness and free publicity that was generated. The right combination of opportunity and creativity could definitely deliver similar buzz for dining establishments.