LinkedIn: A 5 Step Guide

I’m a big fan of repurposing content.  You might notice that I often link one blog post to another.  Call it lazy; I call it smart🙂

So when one of my fantastic clients recently asked me to come up with a step-by-step LinkedIn guide for her, I noticed, as I was hitting “send,” that this is a topic I get asked about quite often.  My father’s mastered the art of utilizing the social media site for our other business, The Best Medical Business Solutions, and I’ve even taken a few tips from him.  We’ve used LinkedIn to meet conference organizers, share bits of wisdom and, at times, the tool has even landed us new clients.

Looking to get started… or better utilize your static profile?  Keep reading.

#1- Build out your profile.  First, before looking to connect with other groups and individuals, build out your profile.  Include all relevant information, just as you would a resume.  Past jobs and bullet points about what you did, awards you’ve won, information under “Interests,” and your education.  Include information under “Background” to whatever degree you’d like as well.  (If you need an example, take a look at my page: www.linkedin.com/in/marashorr)

#2- Connect with all of your contacts.  This will continue to build your profile, and help with the next step… http://help.linkedin.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/118
#3- Ask those connections for recommendations.  Once you’ve built a rockin’ page, ask people for recommendations through LinkedIn.  Basically, allow others to brag for you, and use this as an easy reference page when people find you online, whether those people be potential new employers or clients. http://help.linkedin.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/96 
#4- Connect with new contacts. Now that the people who you know and love have supported you online, it’s time to get together with others and connect.  I would suggest two different types of groups: one for others in your industry nationwide, your peers, so that you can see who’s doing what, where, when and how, and the other of your potential clients in your geographic region. There’s a wide, wide variety, but better instructions on how to do that here: http://help.linkedin.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/186
#5- Posting to those groups.  For about a week or so, sit back and watch the feeds, looking at what the members in each of the groups do.  Are they asking for advice?  Are they posting about brag-worthy things?  How often are they posting?  I’d say no more than twice a week, but follow the lead of the others.
Have additional questions or tips?  Feel free to post them in the comments section below!
Winter Park Maitland Observer

Stay Positive and Productive (featured in the Winter Park / Maitland Observer)

I always enjoy writing for some of the community’s local publications; it not only allows me to extend my talents as a writer to publications I read myself but, an equally important reason, is that it showcases the talents of The Leone Company.

I highly recommend any industry professional with a passion for the pen do the same thing in their own industry.  We’ve found success with this for our clients and know it’s a fantastic tactic.  For example, this past year I’ve written several pieces for Orange Appeal Magazine (here, on Central Florida community leaders Flora Maria Garcia and Barbara Hartley and here on tips to get involved in your community)  and the Winter Park / Maitland Observer here on growing your business in a down economy.

Winter Park Maitland Observer

Last week, I was able to publish another piece for the Winter Park / Maitland Observer, a weekly publication, titled “Stay positive, productive.”  While the essence was based off of this post, published right here on The Leone Company’s blog more than a year ago, it was updated and tweaked to fit the new audience.

I invite you to read the full piece hereand, of course, let me know what you think.  What would YOU add for a positive and productive day?  Go on… don’t be shy!  Let me know!

Follow me on Twitter: @marashorr and @theleoneco.

Follow The Leone Company on Facebook here.

Speaking at Pookie’s RescueFest tomorrow

Last year, I was invited by Centers for Animal Therapies to speak on “Fundraising For Your Animal Non-Profit” at Pookie’s RescueFest, located here in Central Florida.   The crowd of intelligent, hard-working founders of rescues was incredibly engaged and interested, and I was able to combine my passion of pets and non-profits.

This year, I’ve been invited back to speak on “Social Networking to Market and Enhance Your Business,” open not only to founders of rescues but also anyone who has adopted a pet themselves.

(On a side note: The Leone Company actually established its first client from a similar lecture!)

See below for a short video from last year!  After all, how can you NOT love puppies?

Video by Henry Maldonado

And, if you’d like to join me in Lake Lily Park tomorrow at 1:30 p.m., you can see the full list of speakers here.

Follow me on Twitter: @marashorr and @theleoneco.

Follow The Leone Company on Facebook here.

Writing for Orange Appeal Magazine

Sometimes, my posts offer incredible insights into my life (like this one, right after we lost Janee). Other times, I offer tips on some of my favorite tools (like my post about HARO, HighriseHQ and Mint).  But today, as I’m traveling to Las Vegas, I simply wanted to share my most recent published work in Orange Appeal magazine’s “Women to Watch” section.

Orange Appeal January Cover

See my piece on Flora Maria Garcia, executive director of United Arts of Central Florida, here.

See my piece on Barbara Hartley, executive director of Orlando’s Downtown Arts District, here.

Chosen to write these two pieces because of my connections with the Orlando arts community, it was a pleasure to work with both Barbara and Flora Maria.  Writing is something I absolutely love to do, so connecting my two passions was a great opportunity to learn from two incredibly influential women.

Follow me on Twitter: @marashorr and @theleoneco

Follow The Leone Company on Facebook here.

5 Tips When Traveling on Business


010813 BLOG travel tips

Photo Source

The Leone Company has a client that takes me out of town, on average, once every four to six weeks.  I now have him speaking regularly at industry conferences across the country, as sharing his expert knowledge with hundreds, if not thousands, of potential clients within his target market is the best way to cultivate new business.  (Side note: I’m happy to discuss opportunities like this for you!)

Without a doubt, this increased amount of business travel took a bit of getting used to.  I had grown accustomed to staying in town and, most recently, I had been used to working from my home office, enjoying organic snacks throughout the day with a set routine.   But, let’s be honest: there’s something exciting about breaking up a regular work schedule with the bright lights of Las Vegas.

Here are just a few tips, tricks and systems (would you expect any less from me?) I’ve picked up and created along the way:

  1. Use travel time to catch up on reading.  For some people, a few hours on a plane may be an extension of regular office work, but for me, it’s pure, uninterrupted time to get those things done that have been piling up on my desk.  Literally.  Like that stack of industry publications that I love to read but always come in quicker than they hit the recycling bin.  (Driving instead of flying?  Audiobooks are still amongst my favorite ways to pass the time.)
  2. BYOS.  Bring your own snacks.  One’s brain, stomach and budget can only survive on the mini-bar and sugary morning danish for so long.  My personal favorites include my own stash of herbal tea, apples, peanut butter with crackers and a few protein bars.  For others, it’s their own coffee with their favorite creamer.
  3. Remain loyal to your hometown time zone.  As tempting as it may be, know that it’s just going to be harder to get back in the groove when you return to the office.  That series of late nights in Sin City hits harder than you think when returning to the East Coast.
  4. Let your staff (and other clients) know of your change in schedule.  If you’re going to be generally unavailable for more than a day, make your staff and clients aware of the best way to reach you, even if you think they won’t notice you’re out of town.  When you’re new to the role of freelancer, contractor or agency employee, people sometimes forget they have more than just one company to report to.  And, let’s be honest, you’ll need to plan ahead with them anyway.
  5. Be sure to get a few minutes of YOU time daily.  With conferences, client dinners and answering emails in the day’s remaining minutes, it’s easy to go a few days without a breath of fresh air, a walk to clear your head, or a few stretches to your favorite tunes.  In order to continue to be productive, make sure you re-group.

Have a favorite tip?  List it below!

Follow me on Twitter: @marashorr and @theleoneco

Follow us on Facebook here.

3 Tips: Making a Difference in the New Year

Happy New Year!

It’s no secret we often make New Year’s resolutions around becoming better people.  (I blogged about this last year as well… here.)  Whether it’s fine-tuning something old or creating something new, volunteering is on the top of that list.

Orange Appeal- Philanthropy

I’m sharing a piece I wrote for Orange Appeal magazine, published in November around Central Florida’s National Philanthropy Day event.  (This was my second year as part of the committee, and, once again, I was honored to be a part of such an incredible group of fundraising professionals.)

Check out my three tips on how to become a star volunteer for the organization you dream about assisting.  And, let me know if there’s anything else you would add below!

And remember, you can always see more of my published pieces here.

Like my blog posts?  You can always find more great content when you “like” The Leone Company’s Facebook page here!

Growing a Business in a Down Economy

With a new year on its way, I wanted to share a piece I’ve written, published in an issue of the Winter Park/Maitland Observer last month.

WP Maitland Observer

I’ve had an incredible amount of inspiring discussions outlining how, in its own way, The Leone Company has grown.  Amazing discussions with both casual colleagues and close friends, all over coffee, tea, juice, breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks and, on one occasion JUST after Thanksgiving, pie.  (Thanks for that delicious slice of homemade apple love, Emma!)

And so, this seems like a great time to share the piece.  Head on over to their site for the full story and incredible amounts of my wisdom, and let me know what you think below!

For a full list of previously published work, head on over here.

My Voice- WMFE

In the midst of a busy season, I neglected to post the spot I had recorded for WMFE 90.7 FM.  (Something I would never allow my clients to do!  Shout your accomplishments, press and community involvement from the rooftops!)

As you know, I got my start with Central Florida’s NPR affiliate.  (That’s where I met Ani, who I’ve talked about here, when I was interviewed about friendships in the workplace.)  Ultimately, that’s where I learned so much of what I bring to the table to day, as non-profits often force young professionals to grow quickly.

Want to hear what I had to say about professional growth in Central Florida?  Listen to the spot here: “My Voice: Professional Growth.”

Blogging for Good: United Arts of Central Florida

*Note: This blog is a part of the “Blogging For Good” Program.

Remember that mention last week of being ready to grow again after a rocky, rocky year? That’s meant bringing in a bit of contract help to get The Leone Company’s website updated and social media channels moving.  (Shameless plug: if you haven’t already, follow us on Twitter @TheLeoneCo or “Like Us” on Facebook at facebook.com/TheLeoneCompany.)  With hundreds of new fans and followers, we’re rocking and rolling as we strive to bring you great content.

But two of the things I’m most excited about go hand-in-hand: my current involvement with United Arts of Central Florida and next weekend’s sold-out Central Florida Blogger’s Conference.  (Remember last year’s post about the 8 Things I Learned From Growing Bolder’s Marc Middleton?  It’s that time of year again.  Let me know if you’re attending!)

Let me explain: I’ve been asked to sit on a grant review panel for the United Arts of Central Florida’s Organizational Project Grants this year, and have happily accepted.

More information about United Arts of Central Florida, pulled from their website:

United Arts of Central Florida is a dynamic collaboration of businesses, governments and school districts, foundations, arts and cultural organizations, artists, and individuals. This partnership works to enhance the quality and variety of cultural experiences available throughout Lake, Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties. Since its inception in 1989, United Arts has invested more than $121 million in local cultural organizations and arts education. United Arts envisions a diverse, well-attended, fiscally sound arts and cultural community that serves residents and visitors of the Central Florida region. 

Granting means fabulous local arts organizations apply for funding for their individual projects, not year-long programs, and I, along with a panel of my peers, review those applications. In my previous life, I’d spent countless hours working with my team to construct the grant applications for submission, and it feels fantastic to be on the other side, being able to help those organizations who deserve funding to present their hard work to the community.  As someone who still works with non-profits and small businesses, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit the geek in me is stoked.

Of course, this means my weekend will be spent buried in the process, but, I’m honored to have been invited and excited to see the great work on this year’s horizon.

Because next weekend, it’s off to proudly fly my geek flag at the conference!

Tell me: what community involvement do YOU feel honored to participate in? How did you become involved?

Remember Janee

One of the first posts I ever read by Kate Walling, founder of Scrappy Face, was this one; that post was dedicated to her grandmother, who had just passed away.  When I emailed Kate for the first time (we met on Twitter),  she let me know that, although she may not blog consistently, when she does, she has something to say.

And now, I have something to say. Truth be told, since this past Memorial Day, I’ve taken time to wrap a bandage around my heart after June 11 left it broken.

This is a longer post.  With that said, let me start from the beginning.  Know there’s a lesson in here somewhere, but, truly, I’m getting “back on the blogging horse.” This is my story:

Over the past two years, my father had created a brilliant, much-needed consulting business, The Best Medical Business Solutions, helping practices strengthen their operational, financial and administrative core; it took off faster than anyone thought it would.  He and my stepmother had big plans to travel around the country in what they called their “retirement,” as neither one could sit still.  Janee couldn’t wait to cheer him on as he spoke at conferences, giving his wisdom to others who so desperately craved it.

His client list grew, and their own medical practice was booming.  (My father had served as Janee’s practice’s vice president of operations.)  Janee’s  tiny, high-heeled, well-dressed pace quickened, and they were excited at what their futures held.

And then my stepmother, a brilliant doctor, got sick.

What started as back pain turned out to be horrific, mind-boggling, stage four terminal cancer, diagnosed the week of Thanksgiving, the week of her 65th birthday, in 2011.  Their dreams shattered into a million pieces: the dermatology practice she worked her entire life to build fell to shambles with her inability to consistently see patients, and touring around the country for my father to see clients and attend conferences became impossible, since planning for tomorrow beat planning for next week.

I had started writing a post of her journey nearly four months ago, but Janee didn’t want her illness broadcast at that point in time, seeing cancer as a sign of weakness.  She held her head high for as long as she could, and, when she wasn’t strong enough to do so any more, just after this past Memorial Day, she entered hospice.

I spent her final weeks with her in hospice, as did the rest of our family.  We remained with her around the clock.  I took my trusted MacBook Air with me, and my clients were understanding, many relating to what I was going through.  They were patient with me, and, for three weeks, I worked at whatever hours I could, sending e-mails at midnight… because the days were filled with spending time with Janee.

On June 11, this strong, courageous woman, lost her battle.

I purchased and edited her obituary through my tears, sitting across from my father at their kitchen table.

Once the final Shiva visitors had left and I had stocked his freezer with as many prepared meals-for-one as the shelves could hold, I left my father’s home in South Florida to come back to Russ, our dogs, cat and life in Orlando.  I returned a different person.  A person who felt defeated; for the first time, there was nothing I could do.

But life had to go on, and I had a business to run, as did my father.  I took time to re-strategize with my current clients, regrouping with them on anything I had missed.  But, for the summer, I held off on additional growth until I knew I was ready for it.

And now, I’m ready.

With the help of one of my best friends, I’ve laid out a plan, which we’re currently activating.  (Even the strongest of women need a crutch when they’re broken and a compass when they’re lost.)

Perhaps you’ve noticed we now have a Facebook page, allowing The Leone Company to share snippets of knowledge with you daily.  I’m blogging again.  We’re creating an e-newsletter.  I have client prospect meetings and I’m again an active part of the non-profit organizations I love so much, sitting on committees and grants panels to boot.

All of the things I typically do for my clients, I’ve finally done for myself.  Because the stronger The Leone Company is, the better I can serve my clients.

And, as I’ve said before, I know I can’t do it all myself.  Because if there’s anything this year has taught me, it’s exactly how important it is to work with clients I value… and who value my role as a family member, too.

And so with that, I’m dedicating this post to my father, in honor of the ninth anniversary of his wedding to Janee.