Friends Become Good Clients via Social Web

Filed in Interview , Sharisax Is Out There 18 comments

Whenever Leora Wenger’s photo icon pops up on my Facebook and Twitter pages, I get a very warm, happy feeling. It’s only been a few months since we met online through super-networker Larry Brauner, but I now consider Leora one of my really good friends and someone whom I can count on for support and comraderie.

Over these past few months I’ve learned so much about Internet Marketing, Web Design, and social networking in general from Leora that I wanted to introduce her to all my friends online. From stay-at-home-mom to Web Developer and Designer, Leora’s growth has inspirational lessons for us all.

Follow your passion like Web Designer Leora Wenger . . .

Learn how to build great relationships for business and pleasure

Here are a few questions Leora answered about building her business:

1) Has your life made a dramatic change in the last few years, and if so, can you describe it.

Can’t say drama, but I have increasingly been doing more and more business.
In the past year, I’ve made many connections via social media, and a few of them have become clients.

Fourteen years ago I was a stay-at-home mom; I totally wish social media had been available in the way it is now so I could have connected with others so easily.

Last year I did some great in-person networking in New Jersey with people I met via Twitter.

2) How did you begin building websites?

I’ve loved the internet ever since I was an administrator at the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science in Cambridge, MA.

With another staff member, I wrote a program to put the Lab’s phone directory online (I was doing human resources for the Laboratory and taking computer science classes at night). This was years before there even was a World Wide Web!

The web came out when my boys were little; I heard about the job of “webmaster,” and despite the masculine title I decided that was what I wanted to do. So I taught myself online and by reading tech books — and asked questions of anyone with a technical background.

3) When did you get started with what you want to call social media, and why did you start?

Almost three years ago I wanted to learn WordPress. Also, I liked the idea of sharing art via a blog.

Here are two of Leora’s watercolors:

Not only have I become an expert in WordPress, I’ve made friends around the world, learned photography by connecting with photo bloggers, learned how to encourage comments on a post, and had a great time, too.
I would encourage anyone who wants to blog for business reasons but is timid to try a personal blog. You can even do it anonymously and get good blogging practice. Unfortunately, my original idea of sharing my art via blog is happening less and less; business and family come first, so I have less art time. I still take photos every few days and on family trips.

4) What behaviors do you practice that are “Social Media”?

Like the Barney song, say Please and Thank You: If someone visits your post and leaves a comment, try to visit one of her posts and comment. It’s called “social” for a reason – good manners are important.

On Twitter, learn to RT (retweet) – read what your followers are tweeting, and pick a few favorites to retweet. Answer and ask questions – both are interactive.

5) What are the top lessons you have learned about life and/or business since you began your Life on the Net?

  • Listen to your client. If client is being difficult, perhaps it is because you haven’t set clear enough boundaries. Make it clear what you can and cannot do. And find ways that you can both agree, so you will both be happy. Don’t sacrifice your own needs for your client, and don’t say nasty things to your client when you are angry. Catch your breath, assess the situation, talk to someone else about it, and figure out a way to resolve it, if possible.
  • Put it in writing. You can do this formally or informally, but this is related to setting clear boundaries about what you will and will not do for client.
  • Do work that is fun. Or sometimes fun. Sheesh, if you hate what you are doing, it will show in your work. Sometimes I get boring assignments, but I like all my clients. Love hearing from them. They make me smile.
  • Work on your strengths. Gravitate toward people who encourage you, rather than the naysayers. Listen to critics only if it’s constructive.
  • Established businesses have an easier time paying than startups. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do work for someone with grand ideas, but in my experience, it is important to be careful, especially if you really, really need the income. Choose clients wisely.

6) How do you deal with balancing work and family?

Years ago I read the 1985 version of What Color is Your Parachute? On page 222 (I still have my copy) there is a long list of handicaps one might have such as “I am too shy” or “I am a foreigner” or “I come from another planet.”

The point is, whatever your handicap is, there is an employer or client who is NOT put off by your handicap.

If your handicap is being primary caretaker for 2 or 3 or 4 or more kids, then you have a common handicap, one that many share. Figure out how to schedule work time, family time and me time in a way that works for you. Connecting with others with similar restraints via social media can be beneficial and encouraging.

Thus I would say for myself, finding others online who are balancing work and family has been great in encouraging me to move forward, even if we have very different professions.

7) What business advice have you found confusing?

Recently, I read a branding expert that said “pursue your passion.” Unfortunately, some people would then end up sitting on the beach all day.
In my early twenties, every few months I would change my career direction, based on what interested me at the time. I never got very far with any of the career options. Someone wise then said to me, “Leora, just pick something and stick with it.”
OK, that works for me.

Follow Leora Wenger on Twitter and tell her I said hello.


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Posted by Shari Weiss   @   18 April 2010
Tags : , , ,
Apr 18, 2010
6:58 pm

Shari, I love how you organized this post! I feel like I’m reading about someone else. The pullquotes are great, especially “The point is, whatever your handicap is, there is an employer or client who is NOT put off by your handicap.” That quote from What Color is Your Parachute sums up one of the qualities I love about social media – you discover that you are not alone in your struggle, whatever it may be.

I enjoy how you included some of my art work. So appreciated!

Author Apr 18, 2010
9:23 pm

Very, very, very well deserved. And the advice that you offer at the end is priceless.
Thanks for everything you do.

Apr 19, 2010
12:10 am

Very good interview Shari. Some of Leora’s advice can apply to various working areas.

Author Apr 19, 2010
12:26 am

Ilana, we should ask Leora to put those “Business Lessons” on her Facebook page.

Apr 19, 2010
12:36 am

Very good idea.

Apr 19, 2010
3:06 am

A big Leora fan here! Agree about your “business lessons.”

Apr 19, 2010
7:33 am
#7 Mrs. S. :

Thanks, Leora and Shari, for this wonderful interview!

Whenever Leora Wenger’s photo icon pops… I get a very warm, happy feeling.
Me too! 🙂

Apr 19, 2010
1:20 pm
#8 Jew Wishes :

What an excellent interview, thank you both!

Apr 22, 2010
5:39 am
#9 Gail :

I really enjoyed reading this interview. I love the way you have been a self-directed, pro-active learner and have utilized and generously shared what you’ve learned on your blog so effectively, Leora.

Author Apr 22, 2010
10:36 am
#10 Shari Weiss :

Gail, after reading your comment, I probably ought to have Titled this interview: Role Model Extraordinaire!

Apr 22, 2010
10:43 am
#11 Leora Wenger :

Gail, what a nice compliment! Everyone needs to find a path that works for them… I feel fortunate that as an adult, I’ve been able to do so.

Shari, I’ve already had three separate discussions with people in the past three days about how they have found social media difficult. It works well for me, but others find it scary. Or they continue to do things the way they have learned, despite hearing about new methods.

Author Apr 22, 2010
2:19 pm
#12 Shari Weiss :

One think I’ve learned is to emphasize the Small Steps theory.
. . . and one small step at a time.

Apr 22, 2010
3:39 pm
#13 Leora Wenger :

OK, so with the small steps theory in mind, one client now knows that social media exists. And my newest client has already asked me to set up a Facebook fan page – but I said let’s get the website working first. So maybe I should look at the other half of the cup.

It’s my friends that almost never go online but need jobs that scare me.

Author Apr 22, 2010
4:55 pm
#14 Shari Weiss :

Facebook Fan Pages [or “like” pages, given the most recent changes] can be great platforms, but my opinion is that two big things need to be done first:
(a) The person needs to understand how to use the Internet as a whole to present themselves as a Go-To Source for info
(b) Have a clear plan of activities/events/graphics BEFORE publishing a page, so that when you gain Fans, you gain people who really want to visit your page every day to see what you are posting.

Apr 22, 2010
5:51 pm
#15 Leora Wenger :

“every day” – ah, if any of my clients would update their fan pages every day, then a miracle would have occurred, along with peace on earth and everyone being polite to each other…

Thanks for the overall way of looking at the Facebook page. I might use your words in an email, when we are up to that stage.

Author Apr 22, 2010
6:21 pm
#16 Shari Weiss :

Good luck . . . to all of you

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