Can you self-sustain for 72 hours in the event of an emergency?

snow stormA great deal of time must pass before the city of Atlanta will be able to put behind it the chaos that took place due to the snow and ice storm of February 2014. Atlanta native, Allison Bailey agrees. She was one of thousands of motorists who were directly affected by the storm. “I had to pull over on the side of the road with my twin 2-year-old boys. All I had to give them was gum and they had to split one juice box. I was thankful when I finally got home right after midnight, but it was probably one of the worst experiences that I have ever had. I really wish the city had been more prepared for what came our way.” She said.

Allison is correct, the main lesson that we can learn from that hectic day is that preparation is key. This is especially true if we are to prevent history from repeating itself.  But, let’s face it. If you asked your friends and family whether or not they have an emergency kit in their car, do you believe many would actually say yes?  Even better, could you be self-sustained for at least 72 hours during an emergency?

Most people are so busy with life that they neglect to make time to plan for the inevitable. In fact, most people don’t think about  emergencies until they are in the midst of them. Unfortunately, by that time, it is far too late.

Mark Hoots opened his Smyrna, GA  based store Going Gear, in July 2008. His mission was to provide survival tools and resources to be used in the event of an emergency. Mark believes that some people have the wrong idea about being a survivalist. “Some people think that survivalist preparation is about preparing for a dooms day event or some type of apocalypse. But, if you can see from what happened right here in Atlanta, it is really about whether or not you have the key essentials needed in order to sustain yourself during the most difficult emergency situations.” Mark said.

Mark hosted a special event at his store recently. He invited the community in and showed them how to build a go bag. “A go bag is a bag filled with items that could help you during an emergency. You can look at it like an emergency kit. “He said.

Mark had YouTube sensation and fellow survivalist, Scootch  present at the event. Scootch was there presenting seminars on the types of items that would go into an effective go bag. Scootch says that the go bag is a very important component to surviving during an emergency. “ When building the bag, you should be thinking about things that you need at your disposal in the event of any emergency. Being prepared for the events that happen in life is very important and having a go bag is an aspect of this preparation. A go bag is something personal and it’s something that you need in order to sustain your life.” He said.

Even if you are fortunate enough to never encounter a catastrophic event during your lifetime, it’s still a smart decision to prepare for the worst. The following are essential items that you can have in your go bag and they will help you to do just that:go bag

1. Water: This is the most basic necessity. Store enough water to last for at least three days, which equals 1 gallon per person, per day. Water is especially important if you live in a warm climate or have children.

2. Food: Keep a three-day supply of non-perishable food on hand. Stock up on staples and canned goods that don’t require refrigeration, cooking or water. A manual can opener is also a must.

3. Whistle: A great way to signal for help and can serve as security.

4. Battery-powered or hand -cranked radio: The best way to stay informed and track inclement weather. Be sure to buy extra batteries.

5. First aid kit: Should include sterile gloves, sterile dressings, soap, antibiotic ointment, bandages, eye wash, a thermometer and prescription medications. Ready.gov also recommends over-the-counter pain relievers, antidiarrheal medication, antacids and laxatives.

6. Hygiene and sanitation supplies: Hand wipes, garbage bags, toilet paper and plastic ties can help keep you and your shelter clean.

7. Wrench or pliers: You never know when these multipurpose tools will come in handy.

8. Local maps: Learn different routes out of town in case some roads are closed because of traffic or others hazards.

9. Cell phone with chargers: Keep in contact with loved ones, emergency personnel or rescuers.

10. Extra clothing: pack a jacket, hats, mittens, scarves and one warm blanket or sleeping bag per person and an extra pair of tennis shoes really come in handy.

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Tips on successful networking

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Many statistics have proven that a person’s ability to network is a highly valuable life skill and can open up a world of professional opportunities. Although the most obvious benefit of networking is career advancement, there are many other benefits  as well. The art of networking can enhance the growth and proficiency of job seekers and entrepreneurs. It improves interpersonal skills, increases efficiency and effectiveness, builds confidence and it helps individuals to establish their very own professional brand.

For over two decades, Sherry Lowe-Cook has been a resource to industry leaders. As a professional human resources consultant, Cook coaches team leads, managers and supervisors on how to become better leaders.
She started her career in human resources twenty five years ago, while working with a global, fortune 500 corporation.

For the past four years, she has owned and operated  Coach N Works, a human resources consulting firm. When speaking with Sherry about what she does, it is evident that she truly enjoys it.  Her passion has played a key role in the success and longevity that she has experienced in an ever changing industry.

“When you enjoy what you do, you typically excel because of that passion that you have and a strong desire to do what drives you. I enjoy seeing people succeed, and there is no greater feeling than to see someone realize their dreams. I also enjoy assisting individuals with identifying their talents. I do this by pinpointing, acknowledging and focusing on their passion.” She said.

Sherry points out that the  professional networking strategies that she implemented earlier on has played a key role in her being able to build a client base quickly. “Networking has allowed me to meet different types of people and it has also provided me opportunities to help others by sharing what I have learned.” She said.

She sees networking as a two way street, where mutually beneficial relationships can be honed. “I have met people and participated in various programs and organizations. Without networking, I may not have otherwise been exposed to these opportunities.” Sherry stated

“Networking provides exposure, education, support and training. In business you need to generate clients, sales and leverage relationships in order to get to the next level. Networking can be a fun and non-threatening way to meet potential clients and to help generate new business.” She stated

Sherry has advice for other individuals who want to know how to start networking. “Start with joining a referral group that is comprised of small business owners who are trying to generate business via referrals. There are a number of these types of groups within the Metro Atlanta area and nationwide. I would also advise on joining a professional or trade association for your particular business and industry. These types of organizations provide education and training for its members and networking opportunities too.” She said.

There are a plethora of networking groups in the Atlanta area to choose from. But, Sherry says that these groups offer a one size fits all solution. She believes that there are enough groups out there that anyone can find the right one.“It’s best to identify the group which best meets your needs and go with that one.” She said.

Atlanta area boutique sees tangible return on investment from savvy social media marketing startegy

Susie Simpkins owns the Atlanta based store, Embellish Boutique. Embellish is a consignment shop, which specializes in plus-size clothing and also accessories for women. Simpkins started the business after taking a leap of faith and leaving her management position at the Avenues store in Alpharetta, GA. Fortunately for her, the transition was easy and Simpkins has never regretted her choice. “Things happened very quickly for me, three weeks after I resigned from that position, I was  opening my own store.” She said.

Simpkins contributes the success of her boutique to both an effective and focused branding campaign and a consistent social media strategy. She has remained true to not only her strategy, but also to the target market that she identified early on. “I found my niche by catering to the plus-size market and it has really worked for me.” She said.

Simpkins has been spreading the word about Embellish on various social media platforms since it opened back  in June, 2011. “I first noticed the power of social media when I started using Facebook for my own personal use. I then realized that it was a great way to market my business and to stay connected to customers.” She explained.

Simpkins is pleased with her choice. “I like using social media in order to market my business. There are so many benefits, but the most important for me are the fact that they are easy and inexpensive.” She said.

Much like the clothes at Embellish Boutique, the many social media platforms that are currently available to small businesses, do not offer a one size fits all solution to marketing.

Simpkins notes that each company is different and has to discover which platforms work best for them.“For me, I see more sales and new customers with Instagram and this is closely related to the nature of my business. I can post pictures of new store items, use the hash tags that Instagram offers, seek out new customers, and find certain keywords that help me to engage with current customers.” She states

Simpkins plans to open another store within the next year, and sees this growth as an obvious return on her investment from actively branding and marketing through social media. She has some sound advice for other small businesses that are courageous enough to embark upon the social media frontier. “Find a way to balance it all by identifying which platform works best for you. It is unwise to be stretched across every single platform available out there. Also, save time by using software that can send one post out to all of the platforms you use.” She added.

Simpkins sees abundant value in her social media marketing strategy. “I often think about all of the money that I save in advertising and marketing costs. Twenty years ago, I would have needed much more money in order to market my business with traditional marketing tactics and I still would not have the huge reach that I have today.”

New Facebook find: Kennesaw area Embellish Boutique

58806b_f2a8a2e65896ac257ee06241b28c948c_jpg_srz_877_684_75_22_0_50_1_20_0As a chick with curves, I know the difficulty of finding cute and trendy clothes that celebrate my body without spending an arm and a leg to get them. This task became daunting until I stumbled upon the Facebook page of Embellish Boutique one afternoon.

Embellish is located about fifteen minutes outside of Atlanta, in Kennesaw, GA. To me, they are a gem because they carry trendy clothes for not so skinny girls like me at drop dead prices.

The fact that they cater to the plus-size market makes them unique. This is a  demographic that many  retailers, especially consignment shops, have shied away from in the past. All of the clothes, shoes, and accessories that Embellish carries are consigned.

The clothes are not the only thing that I am impressed with when it comes to this boutique. Their social media strategy is very effective as well. They use platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Flickr. You can find them on these sites running contests, announcing sales, growing relationships with their clients and posting pictures of clothes.

Embellish is not just a savvy small business, it’s leading the pack and thriving in an overly saturated retail market. The boutique has been courageous enough to delve into a not so popular niche market and are successful because of it.  Additionally, the social media marketing strategies that Embellish employs allows the boutique to be seen as relative, current, credible and engaged among their target market.

Listen up jobseekers, LinkedIn is your friend

DSCN0027Recently, I met up with Melissa Williams in order to give her the final draft of the cover letter and resume that I wrote for her. She retained me about a week prior in order to write an effective resume that would help her make a major career transition.  Melissa had just earned a certification as  a pharmacy technician. In recent weeks, she had become an avid jobseeker, looking to make a change as quickly as possible.  I handed the resume to Melissa, who was very pleased with the outcome. It was clear that she felt I had fulfilled my mission of branding her as an organized, proficient, and skilled professional who was ready to hit the ground running in her next position.

Melissa was not only excited about her new resume, but she knew she could be proud of it when submitting it to job postings. After chatting with her in more detail about her job search strategy, I realized that she had never been involved in any form of professional networking . Aside from chatting up a checkout girl at her local pharmacy, (an excellent way to network by the way), Melissa was yet to actively engage with fellow professionals in the pharmacy industry. This was a missing piece in Melissa’s quest for her dream job. Networking was key in her making the quickest transition possible  from daycare worker to a professional  pharmacy technician.

In order to get Melissa on the right track, we immediately logged into LinkedIn. This tool is an excellent platform for job seekers, because it provides a wealth of information, tools, and resources. LinkedIn allows those seeking to improve their reach in any given industry to get introduced to key industry influencers and network with thought leaders and fellow professionals.

Melissa was surprised to see that her professional brand as a professional pharmacy technician could be established almost immediately. We added her new certification under the education section of her profile,   wrote an attention grabbing headline that announced her new set of skills, and then searched for some professional networking groups that were related to her career goals. She also sent networking requests to several of the decision makers who work at the company’s that Melissa is interested in working at.

In a matter of moments, Melissa’s professional brand went from someone who worked at a daycare to a capable and competent certified pharmacy technician. With her new resume and enhanced LinkedIn profile, Melissa is on her way to landing the job of her dreams.

Develop a career winning personal brand

 defaultMost businesses find it difficult to achieve any type of quantifiable success without making an investment into a marketing strategy. In today’s business world, marketing is the best way that any given company can gain the much-needed attention to sell services and thrive.

Although a savvy business strategy, marketing is no longer just an obvious need for growing companies. Job seekers are realizing more than ever that in order to achieve success and thrive in today’s hidden job market, it is vital to launch a personal marketing campaign.

This campaign, if executed with precision, can help one individual stand out from the hundreds of other job seekers who are competing for that one job.

One of the most important marketing strategies that can be used to achieve this ultimate goal is personal branding. Webster dictionary defines branding as promoting a product or service by identifying it with a particular brand.

Each individual has his or her own set of unique talents and gifts. These coupled with prior work accomplishments, special certifications, a stellar two-minute elevator pitch and a polished LinkedIn profile can lead to an excellent personal branding campaign.