Today I attended my first Toastmasters meeting and it was extremely helpful! I was invited by my friend and "Poor Journalist Gets To Business Fan" Kristin Echternach. Not only was the meeting helpful and fun, but Kristin very thoughtfully brought a magazine to the meeting for me with an article that she thinks will help my sales career based upon what she has read in my blog. I was really touched by the invitation and the magazine (which I plan to read before I got to bed last night). I have to claim this as a great victory in social networking. As a former newspaper journalist who misses the smell of wet ink and the sound of the press rumbling, I complain about blogging and facebook quite a bit. But I have to claim this as a real victory in social networking! I know Kristin a bit from swing dancing. But I haven't been swing dancing in more than a year. I also had the pleasure of sitting at the table next to hers at the wedding of some mutual friends of ours last summer. But outside of that, I've never hung out with Kristin before. But because of social networking and blogging, she was able to really extend a hand of friendship to me and help me with my career and personal development goals.
Yay Kristin. Yay Social networking! Yay for blogs! I'm very happy with the new media today.
And in addition to Kristin's help I also received some tremendous help this week from my childhood friend Patty Snoblen who is a librarian in Jackson. Patty used her librarian skills and found me some great leads! She sent me wonderful stack of pages of leads in the mail and I received that yesterday! Wow! Thank you, Patty. I used to swim in Patty's pool when I was a kid. In fact, I learned to swim in Patty's pool. I learned to dive there and do dolphins and play Marco Polo. We had a ball in Patty's pool. It was on the property of the Tawas Motel which Patty's parents owned and operated. Her mother generously let Patty host wonderful sleepovers for the girls in the neighborhood and we would stay up late watching the Twilight Zone and raiding the pantry after swimming all day and night. It was a glorious life having access to the Tawas Motel pool!
Until I established a Facebook Account about two years ago, I hadn't seen or heard from Patty Snoblen in YEARS. Her family moved away before we started high school, even before we started Junior High School, I suppose.
So, social networking and blogging isn't all bad. It's mostly good, actually! I still feel I prefer writing at the Google Blog, although I feel a bit sorry that I've apparently upset the Open Salon editor, Kerry Laurerman, by leaving Open Salon. He dumped me as his Facebook Friend after I quit blogging on Open Salon. I think Open Salon is mostly a good thing. But I just feel more comfortable blogging this Poor Journalist series here in Google. On the other hand, if it hadn't been for Open Salon and the attention I received from being an Editor's Pick, I wouldn't have even started this series. So, I do feel a little bit bad about leaving Open Salon. It was just a lot to keep up with socially. You are expected to read and comment on your favorite's blogs. I don't have time for that. In addition, there are all sorts of funny battles in there. I just don't like the fighting. It feels like combative therapy. Maybe someday I'll have space in my life for combative therapy. No kidding. I think it has its purpose. I'm not being sarcastic here. But today isn't that day.
I also want to thank the many, many, many wonderful people who read this blog -- and especially those of you who comment. I am sorry that I have such trouble adding favorites and commenting here in Google. I hope you don't feel unappreciated at all. I value each person who reads this series sooooo much! Seriously, you cheer me on and inspire me. It's wonderful! I couldn't do this without you, no kidding.
So, about the ums... One of the best things about Toastmasters was that I had the opportunity to give an impromptu speech tonight. It was 1.52 minutes, perfect length. But it had SEVEN ums in it -- according to our grammarian (a bald thirty-something man in a plumber's t-shirt). Already an opportunity to um improve on an um bad um habit! I have a bit of an overconfidence problem. I don't notice these areas where I need to improve. So I appreciate the opportunity to work on this stuff! If I become a member -- and I think I will -- I will have to pay 10 cents for every um with a 50-cent cap. I had the most ums tonight by far. I think the next-most-frequent-um-sayer said the expression just two times!
So, I am very grateful for this opportunity to learn and grow.
AND I am extremely happy to report that I secured three new small businesses as groups. A restaurant (which happens to be my favorite place in Washtenaw County for breakfast) a dog grooming place, and a used clothing store.
I also gave away stuffed ducks at two of my current groups today. One goes to the son of a policy holder. He jammed his toe playing sports and went to the doctor for x-rays and treatment. The other duck goes to a woman who tripped on her patio and injured her hand. She had to have stitches and went to the emergency room. I sat with her for a few minutes and showed her the claim forms and how to fill them out. She really liked the stuffed duck I gave her. It has sunglasses that she can push up on top of it's head when he's inside.
I like giving the ducks out to people who have claims. I think it's a nice way to do business and I think I will keep up this practice. In addition, all those notes I dropped in the mail were apparently quite a hit. During my follow ups today two people mentioned them. In fact, the doggie boutique owner told me she decided to do business with me because of the note she received. She has had two other Aflackers stop in and try to get her business but she told them she has decided to do business with me because of the note and because of the fact that I paid attention to her dogs. Seriously -- she has two adorable little dogs. My thank-you-note also was very well received by the owner of a slightly larger business. It's a manly business. They do heavy lifting work and things like that. He isn't ready for Aflac yet. He's an immigrant for one thing, and just getting prepared for National Health Reform. But he will be ready to do business sometime in the future. And when he does, I know he'll do it with me.
Thanks everybody for the kindness! My kind blog-readers are teaching me gratitude!