The World Needs More Storytellers

As a public speaker, I have a dream of creating my own TED Talk. Spending eighteen minutes on stage expressing a passionate idea I believe can change the world. (Of course, my concept would center around rebooting the way we teach, talk, and share information about money and retirement.) Yep, it is on my bucket list. Last night, I added another dream on to the list: become a better storyteller. (And maybe, one day, be a speaker at The Moth.)

Last night, we had the opportunity to attend a showing of The Moth, an organization dedicated to the art of storytelling; it was an amazing night. The stories were compelling and interesting and the storytellers themselves were absolute pros. They had ten minutes to create a connection with the audience and they did. We laughed, cried, applauded like crazy and during the intermission we yapped up a storm about what we’d heard and, more importantly, what we’d felt.

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Three Easy Tips to Elevate Your LinkedIn Usage in 2014

ShoeFitts Marketing President Sheri Fitts explains how LinkedIn can improve visibility, strengthen client and competitor knowledge, and provide strategic business opportunities and connections.

Portland, OR

December 23, 2013

With the year quickly drawing to a close, now is the ideal time for retirement plan professionals to improve their LinkedIn profile and make better use of the business-oriented social media site in 2014.

“Optimally harnessed, LinkedIn can improve your visibility, strengthen your understanding of clients and competitors, and provide strategic business opportunities and connections,” explains marketing and social media strategist Sheri Fitts.

“In late December, and every time I prepare for an upcoming financial services conference or marketing strategy meeting, I take a few minutes to review my LinkedIn profile,” furthers Ms. Fitts, president of ShoeFitts Marketing.

LinkedIn profiles do not have to be lengthy to be effective. Instead, Ms. Fitts says Three Easy Tips to Elevate Your LinkedIn Usage quickly improve messaging and utilization include:

1. Optimize Your Profile

“Too often I see incomplete profiles that lack professional headlines, summaries, and business-appropriate photos,” according to Ms. Fitts. “These are such missed opportunities. Beyond the gaps, ask yourself: what is my profile communicating? If you don’t like the answer, maybe it’s time to make some changes.”

Remember, Fitts says: “LinkedIn profiles let you control a part of your digital footprint.” At a minimum profiles should feature:

  • Professional looking photo, not a poorly cropped picture from a costume party. Retailers Target and JC Penney still offer photography services, or a friend can take a photo using diffused or indirect lighting and minimal background distractions. For tips on using a phone’s camera see: How to take amazing photos with your cameraphone.
  • Vanity URL. Instead of the standard, non-specific link to a profile, professionals should create a custom URL by clicking on the pencil in Edit Profile. The URL should be unique and feature a name or a business to elevate search engine optimization (SEO).
  • Six-second elevator pitch for Your Professional Headline. Just under a profile name is a 120-character space for a quick and meaningful sentence to explain unique and valuable services.
  • Summary statement. “Make this an interesting and compelling story offering your personal insights and knowledge,” says Fitts. “People prefer doing business with someone they know and trust so write in the first person, be sincere, and don’t restate your resume!”
  • Website and email links. In the Contact Information rolodex icon below the profile photo are spots for an email address and up to three website links. This area also includes links for instant messaging and twitter, plus phone and address information.

2. Cyber Sleuthing

“Google Search is a great way to conduct research, but LinkedIn lets you glean information directly from the profiles of your key contacts, clients, and competitors,” Ms. Fitts notes. With a little LinkedIn sleuthing she says professionals can learn the following:

  • People’s interests and hobbies. Look for business, education or personal connections to ease introductions and elevate contact.
  • Marketing strategies and positioning; particularly useful with competitors.
  • Business and professional emphasis; learn what’s important to clients and potential clients.

For more LinkedIn sleuthing suggestions visit: What Did You Learn Today?

3. Build Contacts, Curate and Share

“Build LinkedIn contacts as you would your friendships,” Ms. Fitts says. Make contacts meaningful by using common sense and etiquette:

  • Send Connection requests immediately after conferences and meetings while the contact is still fresh.
  • Don’t send generic Connection invites. Delete the standard request text and replace it with a personal note.
  • Reject requests. Not all requests are good ones; if a request seems questionable, reject it or send a reply asking for more information.
  • Watch out for compliance issues with endorsements. Most retirement plan professionals cannot accept endorsements or recommendations; hide these by selecting “do not show my endorsements” when editing Skills & Expertise.

About ShoeFitts Marketing
ShoeFitts Marketing is a Portland, Oregon-based company specializing in marketing strategy and social media development for the retirement plan industry. The company’s approach is simple: use the right tool for the right job. ShoeFitts knows how to work within the parameters of the regulated environment from decades of experience working in the financial services marketplace. The company has galvanized industry marketing and social media efforts by developing a cache of premium products and customized training sessions, and using progressive strategies to provide fresh opportunities for clients to establish standout roles in their industry.

401kWire Names Sheri Fitts to 100 Most Influential People List

Expertise from a 20-plus-year career in defined contribution market brings ShoeFitts Marketing President Sheri Fitts accolades from retirement plan industry members.

Portland, OR

December 23, 2013

ShoeFitts Marketing President Sheri Fitts is one of the 100 Most Influential People in the Defined Contribution Industry according to the recently released annual 401kWire.com survey. “I’m extremely honored to be recognized and join such esteemed company in the defined contribution industry,” said Ms. Fitts.

ShoeFitts is a marketing and social media strategy leader that specializes in helping retirement plan advisors, third party administrators, and financial service organizations. “Our specialized focus allows ShoeFitts to hone in on industry-specific solutions for social media and digital marketing best practices within the parameters of this highly regulated marketplace,” Ms. Fitts explained.

Ms. Fitts launched ShoeFitts in 2012 and has quickly created recognition for both herself and the company. The 100 Most Influential People in Defined Contributions survey conducted annually by 401kWire.com is the most recent accolade for Ms. Fitts.

Ms. Fitts is also a celebrated global speaker and presents keynote addresses, breakout sessions, webinars, and daylong boot camps. She engages audiences by sharing stories of her own experiences and experiments, successes and learning moments, as well as a sweeping range of marketing and social media strategy-based topics, weaving humor and sincerity into her delivery.

About ShoeFitts Marketing
ShoeFitts Marketing is a Portland, Oregon-based company specializing in marketing strategy and social media development for the retirement plan industry. The company’s approach is simple: use the right tool for the right job. ShoeFitts knows how to work within the parameters of the regulated environment from decades of experience working in the financial services marketplace. The company has galvanized industry marketing and social media efforts by developing a cache of premium products and customized training sessions, and using progressive strategies to provide fresh opportunities for clients to establish standout roles in their industry.

LinkedIn: Three Tips to Elevate Your Efforts in 2014

Every time I prepare for an upcoming financial services conference or marketing strategy meeting I take a few minutes to review my LinkedIn profile and do a little homework on fellow attendees and participants. Why? Because optimally harnessed, LinkedIn can improve your visibility, strengthen your understanding of clients and competitors, and provide strategic business opportunities and connections.

Here are three tips to elevate your efforts in 2014!

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First Impressions are Lasting Impressions

Our opinions of a company or a person are formed in that introductory split second. That impression—positive or negative—shades our experiences and actions going forward. Unfortunately, that first assessment may be absolutely incorrect. But when we define these initial perceptions, as seen through our [metaphorical] lens, as fact, they can be difficult to reframe; it’s challenging to entertain alternate viewpoints. When our own prospects, clients, colleagues, or communities’ view us through a skewed lens, we may never have the opportunity to shift the perception of who we are and the value we bring.

This is what marketing and branding is all about; helping people and companies create that invaluable positive first impression providing clarity to ensure 20/20 vision. Spending time and resources on brand development is paramount to establishing a robust and legitimate client base—a linchpin of our success formula.

Most of us know that the web is the first place people interact with companies. Have you ever passed over a restaurant or salon because the website looked disorganized? I know I have. I truly believe the chaotic energy of a poorly executed website is an indicator of what I can expect if I were to patronize the business. We relate to what we see and react with our money based on how we feel. In business, it is so important to be mindful of people’s feelings.

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