Wednesday, June 20, 2018

STOP the Madness! Affirmations and Meditation With Maddox (My Thumbed Cat)

Editor's Note: I don't know why cat-led meditation with Maddox didn't take off in 2015, when I first introduced it to the public. Perhaps the world wasn't mad enough. Or I didn't bother with SEO. None of that really matters now, though; the important thing is, Maddox can help you calm the flip down! Will you let him?


Notice: Neither I, nor Maddox, are certified meditation instructors. Frankly, we don't know what the heck we're doing. This is a parody. That said, we dare you not to smile.

Welcome, friends! It's been a tough go of it (your day, life, endeavor to become a professional magician, etc.) and we want to help! Do you have three minutes (of course you do; you're on the internet looking at social media)? Yay! Let's meditate for a bit. But before we start, here are a few helpful hints:

  1. Sit down. If you can't sit (because you're standing in a subway, for example), for dear life, tether yourself to something, so you don't doze off and fall on something sharp! (Note: You won't doze off. Unless you're on the toilet, in which case, I hope you doze off, and your reading device falls in. Because ew! That's just wrong.)
  2. Imagine you're sitting beside a picturesque waterfall, NOT Niagara Falls, though. Too violent.
  3. Get over any issues you might have with giant tabby cats who have thumbs. Especially old ones named Maddox, with crooked whiskers and eyes slightly cocked. Maddox and his paws are a gift to stressed humans. Trust me.
Alright, you're almost there! To start, Maddox will say several affirmations directly to you (feel free to read them out loud; no one will care), and then he'll lead you through some calming imagery. Ready?! OK, shhhh....


waterfall graphic with cat face avatar

affirmations

The sun is shining through your window and through your heart.



Today you will take one step toward your dreams.


Snacks make you smile.


You feel a deep connection with your feet.


Today you will be pleasantly surprised.


You are in a state of pure joy.


You are grateful for your breath, no matter how bad it might smell.



You are a calm airplane passenger.


You look for humor and fun in as many situations as possible.


Meditation is calming and will help you not have road rage.


meditation

And now, repeat the word "catnip" while viewing the following photos (and remember to breathe).

catnip


catnip


catnip


catnip



catnip


{Now, do that again, in reverse.}

end of session

Please use caution not to stumble while exiting, and have a pleasant day. ☺

Note: Maddox will not accept money.

Bonus Sound Effects


Maddox is a former shelter cat. We adopted him in 2012 from the Richmond SPCA. He was nine years old and on a prescription diet to maintain his urinary tract health. He is a polydactyl, and my soul man.

Friday, April 6, 2018

#BlogPaws Sponsors Are (Pet) People, too: Networking Tips for Newbies

Squidward, however, is mean and scary. 


I had no idea what to expect interacting with brand sponsors in the Exhibit Hall at my first BlogPaws conference. It ended up feeling like speed-interviewing at a pet industry job fair, only I wasn't sure what I was applying for, nor frankly, whether--in some cases--I even wanted the job.

Well, guess what? I didn't get any jobs! OK, let me clarify: I didn't make any connections with brands at that conference that led to paid jobs. I did, however, make one connection that led to a bunch of non-compensated writing jobs...which led to many unrelated paid jobs (you can read more about that here).

As they say, hindsight is 20/20. And looking back, I can totally see why I managed to make that one connection (with a rep from Petfinder.com), and none with any other brands: I was already a HUGE fan of Petfinder and had a personal connection. All I wanted to talk about was my rescued cats and how Petfinder was doing a great job partnering with bloggers to promote less-adoptable pets, and that I'd love to help in some way with that...

The rest is history. But I hope you can see my point: I had a "story" with the Petfinder brand and I wanted to tell it. My blog was brand new. I didn't have tons of numbers to sell. But frankly, even if I did, it would have been less genuine (and impactful) had I approached the conversation like a numbers transaction. I might not have seemed authentic and hence, missed a tremendous opportunity.

And so is Patrick!

To that I say, what a relief, y'all! Yes, you should go to BlogPaws knowing how you can bring value to your favorite brands. But when making conversation, please, talk to sponsors about the things that make you love your pets (and how their product/service can/might help you love them better). The person you're talking to loves pets, too!

Related: BlogPaws - The Introvert-Friendly Conference

Feel better? I hope so, but either way, I've got more help for you, starting with a description of the general Exhibit Hall layout. Check it out!

What Does a BlogPaws Exhibit Hall Look Like?

Ever been to an expo in a convention center? Walked through vendors at a craft fair or home and garden show? This is what the BlogPaws Exhibit Hall setup feels like to me, except it's located in the conference hotel's ballroom, always adjacent to the main conference gathering area.

Just as you’d expect to see at an expo, there are rows of tables/stations set up for each sponsor. Some stations are much more elaborate than others (with life-size props and walls of branding, product stacked feet high, and brand reps galore). Other sponsors will have small tables, with modest branding and only one or two reps present. That said, all sponsors, no matter their size, want to meet YOU, and provide boundless opportunities for connections.

Exhibit Hall from BlogPaws 2017! Click the image to see lots more on the BlogPaws Facebok page!


Tips to Maximize Your Time with Sponsors

Start Getting to Know Them BEFORE the Conference.
FOLLOW them on social media. BlogPaws makes it EASY to follow sponsors on Twitter. Check out the up-to-date Sponsor list, and interact with the ones you most care about connecting with at the conference. In addition, learn about their products/services and think about how they fit with your brand (blog/social media), and how you want to convey that message in person. If you do all this before the conference, the conversations you have in person should flow naturally.

Related: A Guide to BlogPaws Conference Goals

Attend #BlogPawsChat(s) on Twitter.
This fits under the previous subheading (especially if a sponsor you love is the special guest during the chat), but there’s more: lots of #BlogPawsChat attendees are conference veterans. Conference veterans impart LOTS of wisdom during chats, especially leading up to the conference. AND, you’ll meet people – not sponsors necessarily, but other conference attendees. The more people you meet, the more potential buddy support you’ll have. And, everything is better with a buddy – EVEN THE EXHIBIT HALL! So, go to the next chat! (As of this writing, there's only ONE more opportunity before the conference: Tuesday, April 10, from 8:30-9:30 p.m. Eastern). Hope to see you on Twitter!

Remember, BlogPaws Sponsor Reps are (Pet) People Just Like You!
I've already covered this, but it cannot be stressed enough: THEY’RE HUMAN (vs. aliens who enjoy vaporizing newbie pet bloggers with laser beam eyes 👾). They are stakeholders whose brand paid to be at the conference--not to scrutinize and/or judge attendees, but to, hopefully, make meaningful (authentic) influencer connections. Have a story and just be you!


More Exhibit Hall from BlogPaws 2017 (See? Those sponsor reps are totally real people!)

Don't Forget to Leave a Business Card, in a Meaningful Way.
Don’t forget to leave it, but don’t just toss it in a bowl, say “hi,” and hope that someone will get in touch. The handing off of your card should be with a purpose: do it while you’re having thoughtful conversation. Make sure you make eye contact!

Use Mingle/Social Time Outside the Exhibit Hall to Continue Conversations With Sponsors. 
So, you made a connection during your initial Exhibit Hall conversation – YAY! If it feels natural, strike up another conversation somewhere else. You’ll see people all over the hotel. In 2014 (Las Vegas), I had a nice chat with a Bissell representative IN THE POOL. (Full disclosure: We didn’t talk much about vacuums and steam mops; we might have talked about the cabana boy a little. Truly, it was a nice hotel.) My point is, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to connect with sponsors. You got this!

I repeat: You got this!

What questions do you still have? Which sponsor(s) are you most excited to meet? Tell me in comments!


I know you're planning on attending the 10th Anniversary BlogPaws 2018 Conference (why else would you have read this far down), but in case you've waited (until the last minute-it's almost here!) to officially register...I have the link RIGHT HERE! 




Don't forget to register for and take the brand new, Newbie prep course in the BlogPaws SLC! 

And, of course, follow BlogPaws on social media for the latest tips and updates!


Thursday, April 5, 2018

How Not to Fail at #BlogPaws (or any) Conference Networking (as Illustrated by Dogs)

For the purposes of this post, "networking" is defined as the specific interaction between two or more people in order to expand one's contacts. Keyword being, expand (also known as the opposite of shrink).

How Not to Fail at Networking caption on t-shirt graphic


Stephen Huneck, the late artist who carved the original design that's printed on my t-shirt in wood, knew a thing or two about networking: It works best when all parties involved are well-behaved and have the exact same, outgoing personality. Whether you're a butt-sniffing dog or a business card-trading human at a conference, if you do it precisely the right way, you can make a conga line and thusly, increase your career potential 10-20-fold!

Except wait. Stephen Huneck was a humorist who specialized in dog-imitating-human parody.

Y'all! Even he knew that NOT EVEN DOGS--short of an unethical cloning experiment--are capable of networking as illustrated on that t-shirt! (Still, it's awfully cute and clever, which is why I purchased it to take with me to BlogPaws in 2014.)

HOW DOGS ACTUALLY NETWORK

OK, let's get real: Dogs RARELY have opportunity to hang out in packs for the sole purpose of expanding their contact lists. Nevertheless, they do occasionally get together--doggy daycare, family reunions, parks, pet-friendly festivals, training classes, BlogPaws conferences--you get the idea. And when they do, they socialize in a wide variety of ways. I happen to have a few real-life photo examples, featuring my own corgis, Jon Farleigh (red fluffy) and Dewi (blue merle).


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