Passion, authenticity, and unapologetic joy: Women of Influence Summit 2016

This post is a continuation of the previously posted: Women of Influence Summit: A can’t-miss event

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The Women of Influence Summit 2016 presented by Next Monday (the first of its kind) promised”to give your influence a name, to identify what makes your power special.” A movement, this conference intended to help you continue to carry on your influence to all those around you, each and every day.

And it did not disappoint.

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With over 300 women gathered together on a rainy day on the campus of the College of St. Benedict’s, the summit kicked off not with a bang, but with a swell. A swell that continued to grow and expand with every conversation – every connection – made throughout the day. But what began as a whisper left as a roar, thanks much in part to the amazing speakers and willing attendees present.

There was so much to be gleaned from the influential minds in the room that day, but an overarching theme became more apparent with each speaker: Be true to yourself, stop apologizing for doing what you love, and follow your heart & passion wherever it leads you. Several speakers hammered this point home, and while I didn’t get to experience them all, I can summarize here some of what I learned at the 2016 Women of Influence Summit.

1. Be aware that you are rare. 

This came directly from a breakout speaker, Trace Wiese, as a reminder for us all that we are each unique, different, and a little weird – and that’s wonderful. Her session, along with several others, emphasized the importance of living authentically. That is to say:

“Who you are, at the core, when you’re at your best, with and for others.”

If you have trouble defining your authentic self, or being able to communicate your values, think about what your mentor or best friend would say about you. What would they say is your greatest quality? That’s likely your #1 value you can own, emanate, and be proud of. Me? I discovered my intentional value is “Helpful.” And in every way I can, I’ve tried to keep that top-of-mind in what I’m doing. You know what? It’s pretty darn accurate.

“The trick is to not let people know how weird you are until it’s too late for them to back out.” – Zac Galifianakis

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2. Slow the &$%@ down.

Jaci Finneman… where to even start with this woman. Her talk on being “Mrs. Over Do It” resonated with me to my core. Her struggles with not putting herself first, and her desire to be helping others at all times – even when it wasn’t needed or wanted – is something that so many women battle with every day. Why is it that we as women feel the need to exercise control, balance and perfection over everything? Where did this expectation come from, both internally and externally? Who knows, really, but the point is that it’s time to slow the &$%@ down and notice what the world is telling us. Watch for signs. Keep your ears and eyes open to those around you. Pick up on cues and hints. And know when it’s time for you to make a change for yourself. Know when to say “enough is enough,” and when to indulge yourself in your dreams and wants. Once you reach that point, tear up your to-do list, grab a glass of wine (or pint of ice cream or whatever your vice may be), and remember that it’s perfectly okay to put yourself first.

“That was the day she made herself promise to live more from intention and less from habit.” – Amy Rubin Flett

3. Stop making choices out of fear.

To paraphrase Katie Manar’s breakout session, we make 100’s of choices daily – how many are out of fear? Well, that answer may lie in this next question: When was a time you reacted less than your best? Chances are, when we react less than our best, it’s because we’re making a decision out of fear – fear on the surface level as well as fear that is hidden deep down in a place we may not even know about. When we let fear drive our decisions, we get stuck. We either avoid situations that we’re afraid of, or we react in a way we wouldn’t have under normal circumstances. If we remember to put love first – to think with our hearts and not with our fears – we will be able to portray our true selves better each day.

Fear is a real thing – but we can change how it effects us by how we allow ourselves to react.

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4. “Remember, everyone else is faking it too.”

A quote shared by Maria Surma Manka, who heard it first from her boss. What an important reminder, especially when we find ourselves caught up in the haste, the bustle and the craziness of everyday life. In Maria’s session, we talked about worry, and the fact that humans are built to worry. It’s natural. It’s common. It’s expected. It’s universal. So how can we best handle our worries to remain productive, positive and happy? By looking at our types of worry – practical versus hypothetical – we can determine how to best approach strategies for dealing with them. If we’re worrying about concrete, literal issues, deconstructing them into hard facts and absolutes helps. If we’re worrying about the future and all its vagueness, we should schedule time to let ourselves worry, but not go beyond that. And the best remedy for worry? Celebration. Celebrate the big things, yes, but celebrate the little things. Because in the end, life is pretty dang great, and we need to remember and appreciate that as much as possible.

“Worry is like a rocking chair: it gives you something to do, but never gets you anywhere.” – Erma Bombeck

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5. Don’t give up on your dreams.

The opening keynote spoke of extreme tragedy. As a young, vibrant, talented dancer, Nicole Marquez’s life nearly ended after a tragic accident that left her physically impaired. She was told she would never walk again, let alone dance. So what did she do? She got her mind in the game, she gave every ounce of focus, grit and determination she could muster, and eventually – she danced. Her story along with several others throughout the day spoke of the importance of the determination, grit, and heart that it takes to achieve your dreams. The key things to remember? Surround yourself with supportive people, and know that you have to choose to make the best of the situation – only you can truly find your strength.

“Not only can you reach for the stars, but you can grab them, and girl – you can fly!”

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The closing keynote had many of the same messages as Nicole. Gaia Nova moved from Bulgaria to France at age 18, and now lives in Chicago and has founded her own company, Power Tower. Gaia’s story is also one of resilience and never being satisfied with less than her ultimate dreams. The most inspirational part of her speech was not in what she said, but how she said it. Mid-speech, it became clear that she was extremely nervous and having a hard time communicating to us. So what did she do? Took a step back, admitted that this was really hard for her, and confessed that she was facing her biggest fear by speaking to us. And what did we do, after a long day of inspiration, passion, and women empowerment? We cheered. We clapped. We shouted words of encouragement. We stood together for the remainder of her speech, providing a wall of support for Gaia. And she finished her inspirational story, faced her fear, and we all celebrated with her.

“If you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.” – Thomas Jefferson

Whew! Feeling like you can take on the world yet? Ready to kick some a$$? That’s how I felt after the Summit, and that’s how you, as a woman, should feel every single day. The hard work of Next Monday organizing this event and the amazing speakers (I wish I could have heard them all!) made the 2016 Women of Influence Summit a day to truly remember forever.

So don’t ever forget: be true to yourself, put your needs first, don’t let fear rule your decisions, worry within reason, and never, ever give up on your dreams.

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#EmilyFayeSays

This is why you network

As you may know, I spent the last 2.5 years as an account manager at an advertising and marketing agency in St. Cloud, MN. Flint Group was my home, and I loved nearly every moment there. But unfortunately, as life in the agency world so often goes, my position was recently eliminated in some agency restructuring, and  I found myself thrust into the world of job hunting.

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From hourly refreshes of Indeed.com to numerous LinkedIn messages and dozens of resume and cover letter tweaks, I felt like a college senior again. After scheduling many interviews, I started to notice a common theme. Each interviewer I met with told me that they really want me to be interviewing them and their company as well… and I knew my pause was palpable. I tried to swallow this pit as I smiled and nodded, praising the companies and expressing my extreme interest with as much enthusiasm as I could, but my lack of excitement lingered.

Then one night, my phone beeped with a Facebook message, and when I opened it up and saw a name I recognized only professionally, I froze. It was the Executive Director of the St. Cloud Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. She had an opening for a marketing position, and had gotten my name through a mutual contact who knew I was facing the end of my time at Flint Group. Would I be interested in learning more?

I almost fainted with excitement.

Later that week, I scheduled an afternoon meeting with her, Julie, from the CVB, and it took me approximately 2.38 seconds to realize that my dreams were about to come true. 2 weeks later, I received a phone call. The job – Social Media & Marketing Specialist position at the St. Cloud Area Convention and Visitors Bureau – was mine if I wanted it. And I never even had to apply for it.

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Needless to say, I accepted the position immediately, and I’m currently in my fifth week of employment. The job is more than I could have ever hoped for, and while I’m qualified because of my skills, I really got the position because of who I know. So now, time for a shout-out to…

NET-FREAKIN’-WORKING

Through my time at Flint Group, I was fortunate to have the flexibility to go to numerous networking groups, stay very actively involved in the community, and meet a number of influential people in the St. Cloud business community. I built relationships with business owners, young professionals and everyone in between.

In my 2 weeks of “unemployment,” I received at least 4 other calls from people who I knew through networking groups who wanted to see if they could help. I was offered short-term positions, side jobs, references and more. And in the end, I technically didn’t even have to apply for my new position at the CVB – my name was referred by a mutual contact through a networking group. I would never have gotten this job without her referral.

The point I’m really trying to make here, is to never give up on your networking, because you never know how it will help you. Sure, I was always representing Flint Group at my networking events, hoping to drive sales, awareness, etc. But really, I was representing myself even more than I knew. Was I attending meetings to find a new job? No, not even a little. But because I’ve taken the time & effort to build relationships with other business professionals, I now have a network that I can rely on for more than just sales calls. And honestly, that feels pretty good.

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To sum it up, I’d like to thank all those in the St. Cloud Area who put their names on the line for me in the name of helping me find my next (absolutely amazing, dream) opportunity. You know who you are, and I cannot thank you enough for believing in me, supporting me, and proving to me that networking really does work.

And to the new group of amazing ladies I now get to call my coworkers, thank you for welcoming me with open arms and making me feel like one of the gang from day one. I’m so excited to see what the future holds for me at the St. Cloud Area CVB!

#EmilyFayeSays

 

 

Women of Influence Summit: A can’t-miss event

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When was the last time you spent an entire day focusing on the most important thing in your life: YOURSELF? … Stumped? Probably. Luckily, Next Monday seeks to fix that. Enter, the:

2016 Women of Influence Summit

As women, we have a lot of influence. Women hold over 80% of the buying power in the U.S. and own over 40% of the private businesses in the U.S. To quote one of my favorite movies, My Big Fat Greek Wedding:

“The man may be the head of the household. But the woman is the neck, and she can turn the head whichever way she pleases.”

So when Next Monday, a personal and professional leadership coaching group, set out to reach women, they knew there was no better topic than that of our influence. Our influence on other people, on the economy, on our surroundings, and most importantly, ourselves.

So if you’re not already convinced that you should attend the 2016 Woment of Influence Summit, let me give you some more temptation…

SUMMIT

  1. Prizes!Okay so let’s be honest with ourselves for a second ladies: it feels good to win stuff. Admit it! You love the potential to get prizes. And let me tell you, the giveaways at the Women of Influence Summit will be WELL worth your time. Remember, they have ladies in mind. So be prepared to be wow’d and you just might win!
  2. Learn about your own influence. Like I said before, you as a woman have a whole lot of influence on your surroundings and on yourself. Attend the summit to learn more about how to harness that influence, whether through learning to handle stress, how to connect with others in a meaningful way, or by learning when (and how) to say no.
  3. Rub elbows with other amazing women. If you’re lucky, you might already have some great connections with remarkable, influential women in your life. I know for me, I have a few family members and friends who I am honored to say that i know, and who have taught me so much about my own influence already. If you attend the summit, you will have the chance to grow your own network of amazing women and make lifelong connections. That alone is priceless!
  4. Socialize with like-minded people! As I was chatting with Kelly from Next Monday, she said “Women don’t have a golf.” At first confused, she explained how many connections she sees (and that I now see) that men are able to form on the golf course. Friendships, business deals, and fun all blossom from the game that unfortunately women are not often a part of. So think of this summit as the women’s equivalent to golf. Get social, connect professionally, and have some dang fun while doing it!
  5. Treat yo’self. As I asked you in the beginning, when was the last time you really did something for yourself? The Women of Influence Summit gives you the chance to not only have a fun day with other ladies, but to really learn how to treat yourself more in the future as well. You deserve a break sometimes. Everyone gets stressed out sometimes. We all have trouble connecting with others sometimes. The summit is here to tell you that it’s okay, and to give you tip to help you in the future. We, as women, deserve to take a break here and there, and sometimes we need to be reminded how special we really are.

At the end of the day, you should choose to attend the summit based on your own intentions. There are going to be so many amazing speakers and topics that are relevant, relatable, and really interesting, and I hope you don’t miss this opportunity! Really, this is not an event, it’s a movement. As Next Monday so eloquently puts it:

“WE WANT TO CHALLENGE YOU TO TAKE THE DAY’S MOTIVATION, INSPIRATION, AND INFLUENCE WITH YOU WHEN YOU LEAVE. FORTIFY YOUR LIFE. MAKE AN IMPACT ON OTHERS. LIVE YOUR OWN INFLUENCE.”

Are you up to the challenge?

The 2016 Women of Influence Summit is taking place at the Gorecki Center at the College of St. Benedict’s in St. Joseph, MN Thursday, September 22, 2016. General admission tickets and VIP tickets are available for purchase.  For more information about the schedule, speakers, topics, and sponsors or to purchase ticketsclick here. 

My Grey Face: Eddie

This post originally appeared as a guest post on the Grey Face Rescue blog. Read more at http://www.greyfacerescue.org.

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When I was 11 years old, my two family Golden Retrievers ran away.

My family has always been hugely into dogs.  My mom and I are the types of people who will see a random dog in public and squeal with joy, asking wary owners if we can pet their dog. So when our two beautiful family dogs, Simba and Shiloh, disappeared, it was devastating to our family. The dogs were my mom’s father’s dogs originally, and he had passed away less than a year before and left them in our care. They were not only beloved family pets, but a strong connection to my Grandpa “Papa Dad”. Family and friends spent months hanging posters, making calls, and pleading with the powers that be that they were returned to us. Every lead turned up empty.

We wouldn’t let that dissuade us from being crazy dog people, though. About six months after their disappearance we adopted Molly, a shy, beautiful Golden from the Tri-County Humane Society. And about three months after that, we got a call.

A farmer down the road had been graced with the presence of an adorable yellow ball of fur in the form of a stray 6 month old puppy. After asking several other neighbors if they knew where he came from, she called us on the off chance that this dog could possibly be one of our missing pooches. Both Simba and Shiloh had been female dogs, so when she said “boy” we knew it couldn’t be. But my mom, being the dog person she is, couldn’t help but go look.

About an hour later, without so much as a phone call to my father to make sure it was okay, she returned home with the most precious, funny, floppy, adorable pup I had ever seen. The farmer couldn’t keep him, so she insisted that if we wanted him he was ours. And from the second I laid eyes on him, I was in puppy love. My brother and I took him for a walk the next day, debating back and forth the perfect name for him. I’m not even sure anymore what the other name options were, because as soon as my brother said it, we knew: This would be our Eddie.

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Eddie Bear, EdFred, Eduardo, Fredward, Eddos, Duardo, Bear, Edward, Teddy… Whatever you want to call him, this bundle of love would grow to be the light of our lives. He and Molly hit it off famously, and the older, amber-brown dog with this little yellow pup made quite the pair. We knew right away that Eddie was different. He was the kind of dog that would look you right in the eyes with his chocolate brown, dreamy gaze and make you feel like he was looking into your soul. He was always the most tolerant dog in the bunch, no matter where we took him. Little kids playing “pony?” Sure. A body pillow for someone tired? Why not. Nothing fazed Eddie Bear.

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We never had to train Eddie, either. He came to us knowing how to sit & shake, fully potty-trained, and never a wanderer. We lived in the country so we went for many walks in the woods, and Eddie never strayed too far. His only flaw was that, because of when we found him, he was neutered a little later in life than most dogs. Which means… Eddie never lost his “drive,” we’ll say. But we all learned to laugh at the occasional “episode” Eddie had – just another quirk of his personality.

Over the years, this puppy became a dog, and a big dog, at that. To put it in the nicest way possible… Eddie was fat, or “FatWard,” as my brother affectionately calls him sometimes. But he was our snuggle bug, our big bear, and we wouldn’t have him any other way. He watched my brother and I grow up, become teenagers, young adults, graduate high school, college, move out, move home (and move out and home again), get married, and more. And he never lost an ounce of love for us, nor us for him.

Molly passed in 2013, and Eddie mourned her absence as he became an only dog for a while. We got another dog, Rook, in 2014, who tragically became ill in 2015 and passed away. Eddie was confused at the quick loss of his new friend, and sadly went back to being an only dog. In early 2016, with Eddie at the ripe age of 13 (or 14, we’re not sure), we did something we had never done with Eddie; we got a puppy. A 4-month old Golden Retriever puppy the exact same color as our Eddie Bear. Enter: Louie.

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Remember, Eddie is 13/14 years old. So for a crazy, active, hilariously uncoordinated and innocently annoying puppy to enter his life 24/7, that’s a big change. Did Eddie bat a beautiful, black eyelash? Not a chance. Eddie instantly took on the role as Louie’s mentor, his teacher, his big-brother, of sorts. He keeps an eye on Louie on walks, always knowing where he is when my mom asked. He lets Louie nibble on his neck skin for hours, always tolerant. He has made the transition for my family into puppy ownership as smooth as possible, and we’re so lucky to have him.

We don’t know where Eddie came from, and we don’t know why he chose to come into our lives when he did. They say everything happens for a reason, and maybe that’s true, in this case at least. The fact that such a tragedy like losing our two dogs led us to such a joy as Eddie Bear is one that never ceases to amaze me. And sometimes we wonder if my Grandpa Papa Dad didn’t just call his dogs home with him and send us Eddie in return, knowing how much love and happiness he would bring us.

Eddie Bear has had an amazing life, and has given us many amazing memories. Sure, right now he’s extremely chubby, his hair is course and always a little stinky, and he has several masses on his body that make it hard for him to walk. But when I look in his eyes, all I see is the puppy he once was, and the puppy that will always be in my memory. His grey face is not simply a sign of an old dog, but a badge of honor he’s earned over the years through being our playmate, our listening ear, and our snuggle buddy. He has lived an amazing, full, wonderful life, and he has changed ours for the better. When his time comes I know I’ll be very sad, but I’ll also be thankful that we were lucky enough to learn and love with Eddie. Because though his face may be grey, his heart is pure gold.

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SMS Marketing Done Right

UNRELATED INTRO: I’m finding it increasingly amusing to document my own run-ins with various marketing tactics, and I hope that you find it interesting as well. I can’t help but laugh at myself every time I realize I’ve “fallen victim” to a marketing ploy. I feel that the least I can do is to share my experiences to prove that I’m fully aware that I’m a sucker. Anyway, on to the reason you’re here.

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It all started with a text.

It was a Monday in mid-May, the sun was high and bright, and the hunger? It was real. I was on my lunch break, running errands with good intentions of securing a healthy lunch at a local Herbalife shake shop (that I’ve just so happened to have written about previously). Suddenly, my phone chimed.

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  • Chipotle: “Treat your BF/GF/BFF to lunch with a BOGO. You can thank us later. [LINK] Expires 5/29 @ 11:59pm”
  • Me (thinking): “Huh. Too bad it’s already after noon, so most of my friends in town have already had lunch. Maybe another time, Chipotle.”

I continued on with my errands. After stopping at a fabric store to pick up a blue-jean button (since one of mine had fallen off, not at all related to my desire to eat healthier, okay, stop questioning me, whatever), I made my way to the shake shop. Upon walking up, I realized devastation: UNDER CONSTRUCTION. read the sign. No delicious, healthy shake for me today.

I weighed my other healthier options in town. Subway? Wasn’t really in the mood for a cheeseless, mayoless, soulless sandwich. Panera? Too far away to drive. Fast-food salad option? Not feelin’ wilted lettuce & soggy tomatoes today. Say screw it and get a burger somewhere? NO WAY I’M A GROWN WOMAN ON A DIET, HELLOOOO.

Then I remembered my phone in my pocket, and my brain began to reel. What if – now hear me out – I got not one, but TWO fajita bowls at Chipotle… FOR MYSELF. I know, crazy. But I could choose all the healthier options (brown rice, fajita veggies, chicken, and mild salsa, to be exact), and save the second one for lunch the next day…

Needless to say, decision = made.

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Had I not just received that SMS coupon at the absolute perfect time, would I still have gone to Chipotle? Hard to say, but I’m guessing probably not. Fortunately, Chipotle had the healthier options I was looking for, too, otherwise I may have chosen elsewhere given my goals for the day. But the text was an absolute win for Chipotle (thanks to great timing & great understanding of their audience) and really an absolute win for me and my lack of hungry friends. Thank goodness for that.

SMS marketing is most effective when you know your audience, understand their expectations, and know what kind of incentives to offer. Chipotle did just that, and it earned them a $7.04 transaction and a very satisfied customer.

Want to delve deeper into SMS marketing and find out if it’s a good fit for your business? Here are a few good reads from my favorite blog, Convince & Convert, otherwise feel free to reach out to me and we can chat about it some more!

#EmilyFayeSays

 

A completely unpaid, raving customer experience review of DiscountFilters.com

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Think about what gets you excited every day. What is your passion? What fuels your inner fire? What do  you really care about? What really gets your wheels turning?

Let me guess: refrigerator water filters

No? That’s not it? I’m not surprised. They don’t do much to spark my interest either. I just need them once every six months or so to make sure that my water stays clean & pure. Pretty basic stuff. Pretty easy to gloss over, to even forget. Unless, that is, your buying experience is one that will stick with you forever. Which it what happened to me. Let me explain.

Phase one: research

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We have an LG refrigerator with a push-button water dispenser that we love (it’s  the little things, guys). The fridge came with our house, so when it came time to replace the water filter, we had no idea which one to get since we weren’t sure where to find the model number. What’s a millennial to do when they can’t figure something out? Google, of course.

One quick search for “LG water filters” gets me more results than expected, and I hit up the first unpaid listing (I know, marketer that I am, terrible) that appeared – the LG website. Let me tell you, I thought our fridge was newer, but as it turned out I was mistaken. I spent hours looking through LG fridge models on their site to locate mine, to no avail. It was too old.

Say it ain’t so!

Phase two: Ah-ha moment

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Ready to give up and purchase a random filter, hoping that it would work but not knowing for sure, I tried one more search on Google “LG refrigerator model search”. Against my (normally) better judgement, I clicked on a Google AdWords ad for a website called DiscountFilters.com that promised to find me my LG filter. I was wary of the site at first – usually anything with “discount” in the name makes me question it. But I forged on. (Don’t worry, this is where it gets good, I promise).

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I was brought to this page.

From there, I could select…

  • Brand: LG
  • Style: French 3-Door
  • Filter Location: Upper Right Interior
  • Removal: Twist to remove

And BOOM. I had found my filter.

In all my hours (and hours (and hours)) of online activity, I have never had a more pleasureable, easy, understanding user experience. I felt like there was a person on the other end asking me these very specific questions, and the diagrams with each question helped to further assure me that I was making the right choice. I’m telling you, even if you don’t need a water filter, go through the experience to try it yourself. It. Is. Amazing.

But that’s not even the best part.

Phase three: Cha-ching!

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For one, ONE of the same filters sold by LG on Amazon? $49.23 with free shipping.

For a three, THREE pack of these filters from DiscountFilters.com? $47.55…. with free shipping!!

You guys, I can’t make this stuff up.

Like I said before, I was wary of the word “discount” in the name of the site, but the excellent user experience had helped gain my trust, and I felt confident placing my order with them.

But wait, there’s more.

Phase four: Surprise & delight

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Within about an hour of ordering, I received a personalized email from Jon at DiscountFilters.com asking me to verify my mailing address (since I have a PO Box it gives me problems sometimes). I responded, and 5 mintues later he had sent me another email confirming and thanking me. In this day and age, I’ve come to expect my interactions – especially online – to primarily be with computers, software, automated programs, etc. So it was the cherry on top of my already delicous water-filter-heaven cake that I received a personal email – and so quickly!

As for the filters, they arrived as expected in less than a week, & have my refrigerator pumping out pure, clean water again – hallelujah!

Phase five: the aftermath

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As you can expect from a company that is clearly digitally advanced, after placing my order I received the occasional marketing email and retargeted Facebook ad. But it didn’t bother me. My experience had been so pleasant – so seamless – that I was okay with them following me around for a bit, so to speak. Their emails even include – you guessed it – more discounts!

Their effectiveness at staying top of mind for me lead me to making another purchase from them recently. I knew I wanted to order from them again, so I just Googled DiscountFilters (with my part number for my filter, which I now have written down), clicked on the first paid ad that appeared, clicked 2 more times to order my replacement 3-pack, and went on my merry way (you’re welcome, marketing analytics team at DiscountFilters.com)

Lessons learned

As a (extremely part-time) blogger & marketing nerd, I can’t resist summarizing the many valuable lessons learned from this experience. I’ll try to keep it brief…

  • UNDERSTAND THE STRUGGLE: DiscountFilters.com clearly understood that customers looking for filters probably don’t know their refrigerator model number. So they made it extremely easy to figure out. Know what your audience is struggling with, and how you can help to solve it. Simple as that.
  • TOUCHPOINTS ARE KEY: DiscountFilters.com shows up in my email, on my Facebook page, and in my Google searches, and stays top-of-mind for me when I need replacement filters. Be aware of all your customer touchpoints, and optimize each for the best experience.
  • GO ABOVE AND BEYOND: DiscountFilters.com has an auto-delivery feature you can sign up for so that you receive 3 new filters every 18 months at a fixed rate. You literally don’t ever need to think about refrigerator filters again. Unless you want to, then go for it. This unexpected feature sets them apart from others – how can you set your company apart?
  • BE A TRUSTED SOURCE: As I mentioned, I was wary at first. But clearly displayed on DiscountFilters.com are McAfee Secure, Google Trusted and BizRate Excellence badges. Trust building: initiated. The customer experience, then, put it over the top. Building trust is the first step in a long-lasting relationship (and the first step towards getting reactions like mine to your customer experience :))

I told you this was the review you didn’t know you needed. I hope you’ve learned something from it. And I hope that, if you ever need water (or air!) filters, you use DiscountFilters.com. And I assure you, this review is completely unpaid, unsponsored, un-anything except for a marketing geek documenting a really, really great experience.

For more nerdy stuff like this, subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter at @emilybertram3

Thanks for seeing what #EmilyFayeSays!

Networking vs. Connecting (there’s a difference)

Those who know me in a professional sense know that I love to network. I love going to happy hours, morning get-togethers, lunch and learns, socials – pretty much any opportunity to meet new people. But recently, I attended three events with a week of each other that really started to change the way I think about networking.

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Event #1: NEXT MONDAY LADIES LUNCH, LEARN & NETWORK

This event is put on by a company called Next Monday that specializes in “supporting women with leadership training and executive coaching to hone in on their why – which is their passion and intent and what drives the majority of their decisions.” And they act as a catalyst for bringing smart, talented, driven women together. A friend of mine (who I met through a networking group, go figure) Kelly, has recently started working at Next Monday. She introduced me to their quarterly LLN events. The most recent one was called Connecting with Intention. Tara, the speaker, talked to a group of about 100 women about going beyond the basics in networking. Like how to really connect with others, placing more value on relationship building than network-growing. It was a really inspirational speech (aided by Tara’s sense of humor) that got me thinking about how I can be better at connecting with intention. How can I take it to the next level with my connections? How can I really start to form relationships? One exercise that Tara had us do was to write down 5 people we’d like to have lunch/coffee/drinks with in the next month. So I wrote down my (ambitious) 5, left the meeting feeling inspired, but didn’t actually take any action.

Event #2: NEXT MONDAY HAPPY HOUR

Hosted by the same great company, Kelly invited me to a ladies happy hour at a nice bar in town on the following Monday. For women only, this was just a low-key opportunity to get out of the house one night of the week, meet other women in a relaxed, comfortable setting, and not have to commit to anything (other than a glass of wine, probably). Upon arriving, I saw two women who I knew from other networking groups, so I began to chat with them. One of them, Sarah, introduced me to two of her coworkers. After chatting for a while, I realized that one of them had graduated from the same college, the same year, with the same degree as me. And, we now live within 5 minutes of each other in a small suburb of St. Cloud. We exchanged numbers and promises to meet up at the local watering hole sometime, and I left feeling wholly fulfilled. Not because I had exchanged business cards with every woman in attendance, but because I had made one, real, genuine connection. It felt amazing.

Event #3: WOMEN IN BUSINESS MENTOR MORNING

The following morning, I woke up early to get ready to attend another event I had registered for the previous week. Mentor Morning was another women’s networking-ish event put on by a local media company. I had discovered it the previous Friday, and signed up immediately. Essentially, it was speed-dating for mentors. The event brought around 20 local woman who have excelled in their professional lives, from COO’s to college presidents, to CFO’s to business owners. Mentees could choose 5 women to spend 10 minutes with each to learn a little more about what they do, how they got there, how they overcome professional struggles, etc. As it turns out, two of the women I had on my list from Tara’s event the previous week were mentors – lucky me! I was able to spend time with each of these woman and three others, and it was inspirational, educational, and an absolute blast. Taking notes from Tara’s session again, I followed up afterwards with thank-you’s and we-should-meet-up-sometime requests, and now I am having coffee with one of the women in two days.

Whew 🙂

Let me first say that  I don’t usually attend quite that many events in that time span, but it just worked out that way this time. I will also say that there is something so… satisfying about attending women-only events. We all have something in common. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll happily take advice from or do business with successful gentlemen, but the ability to be real with other women is what makes it so much fun.

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My top pieces of advice that I gathered from all three events?

  • Listen, listen, listen. Everyone loves to talk about themselves, and if you listen well enough to be able to follow-up on certain things – personal or professional – the next time you meet, that’s how relationships grow.
  • Ask questions. Go deeper. Someone mentions they have a son? Don’t just say “that’s great” and move on. Ask his name. Ask how old he is. Ask what he likes to do. Show genuine interest. And remember the answers.
  • Follow up. Send a text, make a phone call, write a note, or even deliver a small, relevant gift – do something after the fact to say “Thank you for meeting with me, I enjoyed it, good luck with XYZ life-event, keep in touch” – simple as that.
  • Don’t blow a connection. At the LLN event, I sat next to a woman I’d never met before, and we had great conversations throughout – laughing, sharing advice, etc. However, when the event was over, I stupidly didn’t ask for her card. I may never talk to her again. I can’t remember her name. I blew that connection. Don’t do that.
  • Be helpful. Find out what that other person needs help with. Whether it’s a referral to a business you’re familiar with, some advice on a resume, or a recipe you talked about, be helpful with your knowledge and abilities – it will be reciprocated.
  • Enjoy yourself. This is probably number one. If I didn’t enjoy meeting people, getting to know their stories, taking the time to develop relationships etc., I wouldn’t be very good at it. Find out who you enjoy connecting with – it will be mutually beneficial.

So there you go. Next time you meet someone that you’d like to get to know better, think about how you can make a geniune connection. Don’t be afraid to take them to coffee. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If they’re not interested, you will know it, and then you can move on. Now go forth and let your relationships blossom 🙂

#EmilyFayeSays