stepping outside your comfort zone

Making Connections Outside Your Social Comfort Zone

social media comfort zone“Life begins at the end of your [social] comfort zone.”

~ Neale Donald Walsch

Many people treat social media as simply another way to communicate with friends or personal acquaintances. In other words, they engage, but only with people within their comfort zones. Of course, there is nothing wrong with doing this. However, in my opinion, they miss out on making connections with a world full of potential friendships, collaborations and possible business opportunities.

In my own experience, I discovered how much I enjoy making connections with people from all over the world. I often compare my casual social media interactions to cocktail parties. In an article I wrote last year for Doina Oncel, one of my “virtual” friends, I touch upon how easy it is for anyone to get involved in social media. Making connections with people from a variety of experiences and niches can be a life-enriching experience. When you are willing and open to taking chances – and stepping outside your social comfort zone – you may find opportunities you never knew existed.

So, are you ready to dip your toe into the social media waters – or dive in headfirst? These are a couple of ideas to get you started.

Making connections through online chats

One of the quickest ways I know of for making connections is by participating in Twitter chats. Hundreds of chats take place on Twitter every week and the variety of topics seems to offer something for everyone. [Click on this link to see a current list: Twitter Chat Schedule]. When you participate regularly and relevantly in the conversations, you begin to feel a camaraderie with other chatters, and most are open to connecting. The best part? If you lose interest or become offended by particular chat topics, you can easily bow out.

Another good place to meet and converse online is on LinkedIn. In Connecting 101: LinkedIn, I provide some best practices for making connections on LinkedIn, including the benefits of joining LinkedIn groups. Closed groups often offer moderated chats with relevant topics for its members, but good discussions take place within open groups as well. Making connections on LinkedIn may be more complicated than on Twitter, depending on how open others are to accepting invitations. It never hurts to ask though.

Making connections through blogging

Blogging for your business involves a lot of time and effort, but the rewards make it worthwhile. Hubspot’s 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Annual Report provides promising statistics for businesses that blog:

  1. 43% of marketers generated a customer from their blog this year.
  2. 79% of companies who have a blog report a positive ROI for inbound marketing this year, compared with just 20% of those companies that do not have a blog.

Bloggers who focus on making connections usually experience increased visibility and exposure for their posts. Blogging communities, such as Triberr, bring groups of bloggers (known as “tribes”) together to share and offer feedback on blog posts. Just like Twitter chats, there are hundreds of tribes with people who blog about anything and everything. Triberr also gives you the opportunity to start your own tribe if you prefer.

Another effective way to increase readership for your blog is through contributing to other blogs and/or accepting guest blogs on your own site. If you have the time and opportunity, you may find it beneficial to publish blogs about different topics in which you also have knowledge. This is a great way of making connections outside your social comfort zone, as well as expanding your readership.


What are some of the ways you go about making connections outside your social comfort zone on social media? I would love to hear about them, or tweet me @jennghanford anytime!



Doina’s Infinite Solutions: How Social Media Brings Worlds Together

Search Mojo: Not Blogging Yet? 10 Statistics That Will Convince You to Start Blogging

Guest Post: How Your Family Can Benefit from Social Media

Today, the lovely Olga Hermans let me post on her site, The Choice Driven Life.  My post is called “How Your Family Can Benefit from Social Media.”.

Here is a snippet:

“Okay sweetie, let me take a picture so I can post it on Facebook for grandma.”

“I saw where you tweeted you ate at Olive Garden!  Was it good?”

“Oooh, I love the pin of that recipe you made last time you were home.”

Any of these sound familiar?

Social media has integrated itself into our lives – both professionally and personally.

I always blog about how social media can benefit your business, but today I’m blogging about how families can benefit from social media.  Yes, families can benefit.

Example: me.

Born in Iowa, I moved to Missouri when I was 10, then Georgia when I was 16.   I have lived in a lot of places.  My mom was an Army brat.  My dad lived in one town for the first 28 years of his life.  Moves and military have my family spread everywhere.  My parents live in Louisiana, I am in Georgia, my sister is in South Carolina (until October, then the Marines are moving them to Southern California) and my extended family lives in Missouri, Texas and Tennessee.  Without social media we would have such a disconnect.  But thanks to it, we stay in touch more than we did B.F., you know, Before Facebook.

Social media does a wonderful job of keeping grandparents up on what their grandkids are doing.  Parents overseas in the military can Skype each day with their loved ones back home.

Social media is meant to be social.  We can let those who cannot be with us be a part of our lives.  I know my mom appreciates seeing all the pictures of the things my two girls do – she feels likes she’s here while being 12 hours away.

Some benefits of families using social media are…

Click here to read the rest of the article.

How to Use Facebook’s New Post Scheduling Feature

This week I have a guest post over on  Liz and Angela were sweet and invited me to post on their awesome page.

The article is “How to Use Facebook’s New Post Scheduling Feature.”  It will take you step by step on how to use this great new feature!

Here’s a sample of the article…you can read the entire article here.

How to Use Facebook’s New Post Scheduling Feature

In the last week Facebook unveiled a super cool new option on their Business Pages – a post scheduling feature.  This allows those who are not using social media management software they option to schedule their posts for future times.

Why should we be excited about this?  For one, it helps small business owners.  In order to schedule posts before, you had to use a social media management program, which range from free to $1000/month+.  If the business owner didn’t want to do that, he/she had to sit and post in real time.  Trust me, that was not their priority or first-choice.

Now that Facebook has given page administrators this option, it opens up to better use of time on business pages.

A good majority of people are not aware of how to use this new feature, so I am going to walk you through it!

Read the rest of the article here.

Struggling with Social Media?

Today, my blog post is a video post!

I know everyone has struggles in their business, especially when it comes to adding social media to your marketing plan.  I want to hear your struggles!  Check out the video to find out how I can help!

Please post your struggles in the comment section below, or on my Facebook page:

I look forward to reading your comments and answering your questions!

Guest Post: Demystifying SEO – Easy Keys to Implement Into Your Online Content

Demystifying SEO – Easy Keys to Implement Into Your Online Content

Creating Online Content For Your Audience & The Search Engines

So you did it! You created an awesome looking website, have content that is valuable, and are now ready for the flood of traffic. Right?

You might want to hold on waiting for that flood, especially if you forgot one extremely important step–SEO.

Without taking a few key steps in SEO, it won’t matter how attractive your website looks, the traffic you envision will not find you.

Now before you run away, SEO is not as scary as it may sound. Intimidating, maybe, but after you learn a few easy to implement steps, you will understand the basics of getting your awesome site found!

Don’t get me wrong, there are experts out there that study SEO from the inside out and can tell you everything you want to know and then some. However, as long as you are able to implement a few key ingredients, you can easily get your site heading in the right direction.

Are you ready?

One of the most important places you need to focus your SEO efforts is through your content. With a little content tweaking, you can drastically change your SEO results.

3 Easy to Implement SEO Keys for Your Online Content

  1. Know your audience: Before you do anything with your SEO make sure you understand who you are speaking to. With each piece of online content, you need to know who your customers are and why they would want to read what you have to say. Your content is about them, not about YOU.
  2. How are they finding you: After you know who you are writing to, you need to understand how they find you. Think of it as if you are doing a Google search for your business. What would you type into the search? What words would your customers use to find what you provide. Make a list of 5 to ten keywords that you want to be found for online.
  3. Add keywords to your website: When your list of words is completed, you will need to go back through your online content and add the words into the pages. Any page that you want your audience to find needs to have keywords included. Make sure you include your keywords 3% of the time. Don’t use more than 3 keywords per page.

Yes, SEO can be extremely detailed and there is much more to learn, but if you are looking for a starting point, these keys are easy to implement and will result in increased traffic to your site. Add your keywords into any content you write online, including your blog, social media, and even press releases.

Whatever you do, make sure you are writing to your audience first, then write to the search engines.

Gretchen Pritts is a social media manager and online content writer, with a passion for connection! Whether she is meeting people face to face, or learning about someone through social media, she loves building lasting relationships!

Gretchen helps her clients build trust with their customers, by speaking their language and creating lasting relationships. She helps businesses who don’t have time to commit to their online growth, but want to reap the benefits of an online platform. You can find her at