Meet Matt

Matt Harnick, Keller Williams
Matt Harnick, Keller Williams

If you’re having trouble selling your home- you’ll want to meet Matt. He’s a Philadelphia-based realtor who puts a ton of passion and pride into his work, family and relationships. Sounds like this guy will do whatever it takes to get your house sold.

Perks Philly:   “Hey Matt, I’m so glad you can take a few minutes to hang out with us today!  So, what got you interested in real estate?”

Matt Harnick:  “I am a fourth generation real estate professional! My great grandfather was a builder and investor, my grandfather an investor, my dad an investor – and real estate as a business has therefore been in my blood from word go!  As a kid I helped my dad with his buildings, anything from Hechinger’s (before Home Depot!) runs for materials, to moving appliances, to building walls, running wiring, demolishing kitchens…you name it. But one of the best and most noteworthy experiences was going to look at properties with him…sizing up the amount of work it would need, and getting a good idea of how to move walls, windows, doorways…anything to make a property ‘work.’ I developed a great eye and to this day design is one of my key strengths as a partner in our investment business Equity Management Group. I began in the real estate business when I bought my first property, a multifamily in Elkins Park in 1996, and I lived there for 6 years. I got a chance to see how rental properties worked, got to experience ownership and management…and best of all I was able to experience in a very real way how it felt to get the tax benefits – and when I bought my first single-family residence in 2002 I was able to keep the rental property. Still own it!”

That’s all foundation however. To better answer your question from an agent’s perspective, it was in 2006 that my eldest son Josh was born, and I wanted to develop my investment business with my dad even further. I decided to get licensed to be able to buy and sell our own holdings, and started part time. Three years later at the heart of the recession, I made a decision to make a jump to full time as an agent!”

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Perks Philly:  “Wow, that’s wonderful. Tell us what sets you apart from other realtors?”

Matt Harnick:  “While I experienced a number of challenges making the jump to a full-time real estate practice in the heart of the recent recession, it also really helped me to form some great habits. I learned how to actively prospect for business versus passively market my business. I get really involved in my clients’ lives…and my relationship with them usually far exceeds the bounds of a typical real estate professional’s purview! I become even more of a problem solver than a realtor! When I meet a client, or clients, who have a property that needs to go on the market, oftentimes there are many different hurdles which need to be overcome in order to get the property on the market, then ultimately sold. My landscaping trailer has seen a lot of action over the last decade – I’ll bring it to a property to assist in getting a property cleared out if needed. I have relationships with companies like Impact, I coordinate with them to get all remaining belongings donated, then the trash, old carpeting, whatever is left will be removed by my hauler if necessary. Then I spend time making a thorough to-do list with improvements that can be made, rated in order in terms of the return they could hope to expect. Last I bring contractors through to get the work done. One time I helped a client paint the first floor of their house because they didn’t have the ability to hire someone, or the tools to do it themselves. That was a really great feeling to help someone like that!”

“There’ve been times I’ve started working with a client 6 months to a year before the property is ultimately on the market. You can imagine how that would help especially if the property is an estate for example – there could be decades worth of belongings, documents, and certainly emotions tied up in a property. That’s why my relationship with my clients begins long before the property is actively for sale. Once ready for the market – my background as a media professional comes in handy, as the property gets a marketing treatment. A full scale professional photo shoot, a high definition video shoot, and a customized website based on the address of the property is where it begins. From there I actively engage the neighbors, the community – door to door where appropriate, in order to ask the question – “WHO do you know who is looking to move into the neighborhood.”

“Most of all I think it’s imperative to have the tough conversations right away. I am honest to a fault with my clients. I give my sellers a very honest gauge of price. I believe selling at ‘the right price’ is best…not low, but “right.” I think it’s important to be on the same page and talk about the challenges immediately, so there are no surprises. There have been times where I’ve lost a listing to another agent who convinced the seller that they could get them much more for the property – in effect they ‘bought’ the listing, only to have that agent ask for a significant price reduction later on. In more than one instance that seller has come back to me as a second agent – and ultimately I would still sell the property. I feed my family with real estate business, but buying listings only hurts the seller, and I won’t do it. I also think it imperative to meet with my buyer clients right away, to get a wants and needs analysis. I prefer this – it gives us a great foundation for the relationship and right away I get to know exactly what they want, and how to help them best.”

Perks Philly: “What is your most memorable experience as a realtor?”

Matt Harnick:  “I have a lot – but two in particular were my favorites. One listing was especially memorable because it had been listed twice before I met the sellers, and it was on the market for a year between these two agents. Both were very big names in the area, and the sellers listed with them for the same reason – they believed both agents had the exposure and experience needed for a quick sale. The first agent priced the house at $1.4M, an ungodly list price for this house. It sat for months with few showings and no offers. The second agent priced the house at $1.3M, still well above actual value, and it sat for more months. Few showings, no offers. The sellers were understandably frustrated and with good reason. I had just sold a home for a friend of theirs in a similar situation, and met with these sellers. We came up with a much more accurate list price, and I brought my staging team in to change the entire look and feel of the property. A photo shoot and video shoot, the website was done…and the whole house was transformed. Within a few weeks the house was on the market again, and we sold it within a month.”

“My second experience was with a buyer. I remember it vividly that this couple was referred to me to help them rent an apartment…and after some number crunching we discovered they could afford to buy. Not only did they buy a home instead of renting once again, but we were able to get them a property with USDA 100% financing! WOW…that was amazing. What a feeling to walk away from that settlement table, and this awesome couple was in shock. Their kids were crying they were so happy…they’d have their own rooms! That felt great!”

Perks Philly:  “We want to know about the very first time you sold a house.  How did that make you feel?  Were you nervous?”

Matt Harnick:  “Nervous…absolutely! A real estate purchase is a HUGE investment for a buyer, and that carries a lot of responsibility for me as their agent. The first time I paired up with a friend of mine who was an agent and had him shadow me through the entire process start to finish, including settlement, just to make sure I did everything right. It went great and I even remember being so relieved that I gave the listing agent a huge hug afterwards…she was NOT expecting that.”

Perks Philly:  “What advice would you give someone who is just starting out in real estate?”

Matt Harnick:  “There are lots of real estate companies out there. There are lots of realtors out there. Anyone starting in this business should get from the start that it’s not a 9-5 business. They’ll be working plenty of nights, and weekends…and if that part is fine – then they need to make absolutely sure to check out as many brokerages as possible to find the right fit. Some brokerages in my opinion are much more adept at working with new agents than others. I can’t express how important it is to find the right one, because it will make or break your business. In fact I invite anyone reading this article – who is interested in getting into the business – to meet me and discuss, I would be happy to sit down and talk about what to look for!”

Perks Philly:  “What do you think is the most important thing a client should look for in a realtor?”

Matt Harnick:  “For me the awards on the wall, the designations, the testimonials, the years in the business…it’s all helpful to show commitment to the business – but GOOD OLD FASHIONED CUSTOMER SERVICE is where it begins and ends for me as commitment to the client. There is no substitute. I have the awards, I have the testimonials, I’ve been in the business of real estate for almost 20 years in total…but in my mind that is not at the forefront of my clients’ minds when I meet with them, and advise them on how to buy or sell one of the largest assets they may ever buy in their life. I don’t discuss any of that with them when I meet them initially. I don’t really talk about me much at all, certainly at first – unless asked. I talk about them – because it IS about them. I also do much more listening than talking. It’s about their goals, their wants and needs, it’s their home or home to be, and it’s their life…and I consider it a privilege to join them in that journey. I think it’s important to be aligned in goals and strategies, and to have excellent communication. This is a living, breathing business – and the communication is of utmost importance. I think it’s also important to establish expectations from the beginning!”

“I also point out to each of my clients that my relationship with them is ongoing. It doesn’t nearly end the day of settlement. I am in this profession for the long haul, and whether a day or a decade after settlement we will still be in touch. I ask my clients to consider me a resource – if they have questions about the house, or real estate, or investment – or if they need a contractor…anything…to call me. I am not going anywhere!”

matt3

Perks Philly:  “It’s obvious that you work really hard, how do you spend your time on your days off?”

Matt Harnick:  “Days off? It’s a great question – because I DO consciously take scheduled time off to enjoy time with my wife Jane of ten years and my two sons, Josh 9 and Danny 6. I am a professional musician, and am involved in two different music projects. One is a classic/progressive 70’s/80’s rock and funk cover band called “Karma,” and the other is a Who tribute project called “Who Better You Bet.” I am an avid fisherman and enjoy offshore big-game fishing with my dad and my boys whenever I can, as well as enjoying the Jersey Shore! I love photography and videography, I study Tae Kwon Do with my boys, I practice hot yoga. I am all about working hard and playing hard as often as possible!”

Perks Philly:  “What are your three top Philly area hangouts?” 

Matt Harnick:  “Tough one…because I see a lot of the area hangouts as both a patron and as a musician! For Bucks County, as far as both food AND music goes for me it would have to be Havana in New Hope. Just love the atmosphere, the mix of food…and the national acts which play Havana make it a prime choice. Their burgers are simply…sublime, by the way! Locally for me in Montgomery County I really enjoy both Magerks and The Lucky Well in Ambler/Fort Washington…for the music, the mix of craft brews and bourbons – both of which I’m a huge fan. In the city – I’m a BIG fan of Budakkan. My wife Jane and I both are huge fusion aficionados and it’s one of our favorites!”

Matt Harnick
Matt Harnick

Perks Philly: If you need to buy or sell a house, OR if you’re a new realtor looking for some great advice, give Matt Harnick a call! It’s obvious that he knows his stuff and is very dedicated to his profession.Keller Williams Real Estate

910 Harvest Drive
Blue Bell, PA 19422
Office215.654.6093
Cell215.576.5500

**If you are a small business owner in or around Philadelphia and would like to advertise on Perks Philly, give us a ring at 215-801-2412.  Or check us out here.

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Halloween Ghost Cookies

Halloween Ghost Cookies
Halloween Ghost Cookies

This is a super easy cookie to make. It’s also fun for the little goblins in your life because they are simple to decorate. A great gluten-free halloween cookie that’s also low fat.

Ingredients:
4 egg whites, room temperature
1 cup castor or super fine sugar (we don’t really have this in the States, so grind up a cup of regular white sugar in your food processor or mixer for about 30 seconds and you’re good to go)
1/4 tsp of cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp nutmeg, cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice (these add a nice fall kick)
a large pastry bag
1 large round piping tip
eye balls or chocolate chips to make little eyes
sparkles and sprinkles and such
Directions:
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Place a silpat liner or parchment paper on one or two cookie sheets.

With a hand mixer or standing mixer whip the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium high until soft peaks form.

The egg whites should look glossy. Add the vanilla. Slowly add in the sugar and spices. While the mixer was running I just continuously added spoonfuls of sugar until it was all in. Scrape the sides of your mixing bowl and give the whole thing one last mix up.

Fit the piping tip into your pastry bag, cut the tip of the bag off so that the tip peaks through the corner of the bag. Fill the bag with meringue. Squeeze one large ball onto the prepared cookie sheet. Squeeze a second large ball onto the first ball, and there you have your first little ghost! Make sure to pipe ghosts about an inch or so apart from each other. They don’t expand too much in the oven, but they certainly do a bit. They might even lean over a touch. Once you’ve piped the cookies, adorn them. Use your sprinkles, have fun with it! You can these fabulous wilton eyeballs at most craft stores.

Bake the cookies in the oven for 1 1/2 hours. Turn the oven off, and allow the cookies to sit in there for one more hour. EAT!!!!

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Meet Scott

Scott Bridgehouse of Direct Line Development
Scott Bridgehouse of Direct Line Development

Meet Scott, Pennsylvania native and Sales Manager with Direct Line Development

Hey Scott, can you tell us a bit about Direct Line?

“Sure!  It’s a multinational website design and software development company. Our CEO, Aleksei Kudimov, founded his company over 15 years ago while he was still in college in Russia. He recently brought the company to Philadelphia here in the United States. We specialize in building sleek and modern websites, mobile applications, and optimizing sites for search engines. We have a fairly unique development process in the sense that we build our sites and applications based on our clients’ needs rather than giving them a selection of templates from which to choose. This always results in great business partnerships.”

What is your position with the company?

“I am currently the Sales Manager at Direct Line. I manage a growing team of Sales Executives as well as meet with my own clients directly. Along with this, I work closely with Aleksei as we further progress our company’s presence in the United States.”

What do you find most challenging about your job?

“I would have to say the most challenging aspect of this position has got to be convincing our clients that Russians aren’t the scary, ruthless people that they see on TV and in the movies. They hear “founded in Russia” and are immediately on guard. I mean, I understand that with any big project there has to be a level of security and trust established, but that this protection comes from our custom code and genuine relationships with our clients, not from the mob they assume we’re affiliated with… but because of the persistent preconceived notions about Russia, however, I think our process of working with clients has actually improved drastically since they quickly learn that we are the exact opposite of what they may initially fear and are greatly relieved.”

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If you had a day off and could spend it anyway at all, tell us what you’d do!

“I’d definitely spend it exploring Philadelphia and the various scents its streets have to offer… Come to think of it, I’d probably just hold my breath until I got to the Art Museum.

So, really important and very relevant question here, if there were a fight between Darth Vader and the incredible hulk, who would win?

“This is a no brainer: Darth Vader. Sure, the Hulk may be massive, but the force is something you just don’t mess with.”

Tell us why Direct Line is lucky to have you.

“Hmmm… probably my sense of humor. I like to laugh a lot and can usually make others laugh with me. This makes me get along with all of our clients and my co-workers. Plus I took enough Russian in college so that I am able to learn all the Russian words they’d like to hear me butcher with my American accent.”

How does Direct Line benefit the small business owner?

“Like I said before, we build our sites and apps based off our clients’ needs rather than the “plug n’ chug” template method. With a design and development team of over 60 people, we have the capacity to take on large corporate projects with ease, but at the same time are able to use our expertise to provide small businesses with exactly what they want. Most companies our size won’t even acknowledge a small business, but we understand the value in catering to companies of all sizes and treating our clients with intense care, regardless of size or experience.”

If you were on American Idol, what song would you choose to sing?

“Anything by Mariah Carey or One Direction.”

Scott3a

What’s the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?

“I was just recently sitting on the train on my way into Center City. I was wearing this pair of funky polka dotted socks. I’m talking pinks and purples and blues and reds etc. because my philosophy is, the crazier the sock, the cooler the person. Maybe this is just my weird way of justifying being ridiculous. Anyways, I was wearing these socks and two people next to me started making fun of them in Russian. When I say making fun, I mean really getting creative about their insults. I didn’t say anything and let them ramble on until my stop approached. When I had to get up from my seat to get off the train I said to them in Russian, “Excuse me, but this is my stop” and waited for them to make room for me to slide by. Needless to say, I had to step over their jaws as they hit the floor and their faces matched the red dots on my socks. I saw them at the same stop hours later and the one guy offered me a dollar, as if it was an apology or something. I told him to save it for a pair of personality socks.”

Tell us your favorite Philly (and/or philly burbs) hang outs.

“I spend a lot of my time during the day at The Pyramid Club in Center City because it is a great place to meet great people. Plus the view is spectacular. During the weekend nights I can typically be found at Howl at the Moon, a fun piano bar, or in the various beer gardens Philly has to offer. There’s just so much to do here I never go to the same place too many times before I have to try something new.”

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dld2

Hey Small Business Owner, How Strong Is Your Online Presence?

Small Business Owners in Philadelphia

If you own a small business, you know that online visibility is one of the keys to success. And these days, harnessing the Web is crucial to any marketing plan.

“While most small business owners know they need a strong Web presence, many of them are not taking enough action to build and maintain it,” says Tim Carroll, Vice President of Small Business Engagement at Deluxe Corp., a provider of marketing services and products for small businesses.

In fact, of those small business owners who put a high level of importance on Web presence, 70 percent spend less than one hour a week maintaining it, according to a new Deluxe study. In contrast, only 1.2 percent spend 10 or more hours each week on their Web maintenance.

And Carroll offers some top tips for maximizing your company’s presence online.

1. Interact
Since current and prospective consumers use social media, you can’t neglect this marketing approach. Social media marketing isn’t just about gaining followers. It becomes a vehicle for sharing your company’s message, as well as driving traffic to your website. This will ultimately help generate new customers and referrals.

Don’t be afraid to use Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites to ask customers for feedback and show your personality. Use calls to action to acquire new followers, engage them further and encourage reviews of your services.

Many small businesses turn to consultants or social marketing services for help with developing and executing a social media strategy. When effective, these efforts will place a brand in front of its target audience. Small business owners should look for a service that also tracks results in order to gain insight into how its customers engage online.

2. Website
“Today, a business without a website is a business without a face,” says Carroll. “A clean, easy-to-navigate, and mobile-friendly online presence is one your customers will remember.”

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Click Here To Advertise With Perks Philly

Unfortunately, less than a third of small business owners think they are proficient or extremely proficient at maintaining their individual company websites, which is why many seek outside help developing a site and building content.

3. Search engines
With 91 percent of Internet users utilizing search engines, according to the Deluxe-commissioned study, search engine optimization can be your key to better visibility online. After all, a website is hardly useful if no one can find it.

Additionally, consider search engine marketing services to help your online advertising and to make use of local searches by more effectively targeting your customer audience.

Shop Local, Save Big, Perks Philly

4. Email marketing
Small business email marketing is the centerpiece of any effort to stay in touch with existing customers, while reaching out and finding new ones. Use it to promote new items and offer special discounts to loyal customers or to simply keep in touch.

Small business owners know they need to be online. It just takes commitment and the right tools to capitalize on the potential. More tips, strategies and information about marketing your business online can be found at our website, www.Deluxe.com.  For local Philly solutions, try Directline.com.

(Article Originally Posted on StatePoint)

Meet Joyce!

Joyce Heisen of Casual Candids

Bucks County native Joyce Heisen started her photojournalistic-style wedding photography business in the late 70’s.  Originally a Jersey girl,  Joyce and her husband of 51 years, Peter, settled in Yardley.

We at Perks Philly wanted to learn a little bit more about Joyce Heisen, how she started Casual Candids photography and what makes her tick.

Casual Candids Wedding

What made you become a wedding photographer?

“I love Love! I love the romance, the costumes, the flowers, the decorations, the excitement, the emotions and the delicious food! I love people abandoning themselves to celebration and cheering the affection and commitment that a couple give each other. My favorite story as a little girl was Cinderella and I still marvel at how her sweetness and persistence got her the prince. I love to see each man and woman get their own royal companion and to think that I can be right in the middle of it sharing their joy and recording it forever!”

Philadelphia Weddings

How long have you been doing this?

“O Lord, I tell people not long. Only 40 years. But my excitement has never diminished. My abilities to record intimate and fun-filled days have been supplemented by newer equipment and lots of practice, but I still get goose-bumps when I see that bride walk down the aisle!”

Wedding Photojournalist

What’s been the most challenging thing about running your own business?

“The buck stops here. I am responsible for what all our photographers create and record and I have to juggle lots of different personalities. So many factors affect the success of a wedding coverage: the personalities of the bride and groom, how the photographers relate to them, the weather, the light, the venues. Most of our clients make our jobs a true pleasure, but some need more hand-holding. I have found over the years that to approach each situation calmly is best because we truly want to please!”

What advice do you have for young photographers wanting to get into the wedding photography industry?

“The wedding photography industry can be very lucrative, but when you figure out how much you work compared to how much you make, that information can be discouraging. And there is more and more competition all the time to further dilute those bucks. So you must have a passion for recording weddings to make it worth your while. Maybe you can make more money doing other things, but the best wedding professionals I know absolutely love what they do. And you know what they say: if you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. That is the truth!”

What’s your favorite thing to do when you have a free weekend?

“My two favorite things to do other than being with family and friends is walking my outrageously rambunctious English Springer Spaniels (they are an acquired taste) and going to the movies. Give me a movie about love and romance or a captivating adventure flick any time!”

Casual Candids Pictures

What are you most proud of?

“Personally I am most proud of my family. My son, daughter and husband have each chosen to do exactly what makes them happy in life while giving to others, and I think that is a well-lived life. Professionally, I am proud of my photography passion. I was born after World War Two, and my father, who loved taking pictures, named me Joyce for the uplifting spirit in our country. Photography has reinforced that joy in my life. It has added beauty to this world while giving my clients the gift of a special day well-recorded and their own story well-told.”

What’s your favorite local hot spot or restaurant?

“I am definitely not a hot spot person, but I do love excellent food well-prepared. My favorite restaurant right now is surprising because I refused to try it for years because of its name: The Saloon. It is right next to my favorite nail salon, Hollywood Nails ( I live most of my shopping life in Newtown) and thought The Saloon must be a dive. Not so, it has the best martinis (also I am not a drinker but can’t resist their DELICIOUSLY flavored martinis- one will put me on my ear), and lovingly prepared and flavored dishes. I have never been disappointed there. Most restaurants that my husband and I go to disappoint after a while. Never the Saloon, but we live in fear that it could……….”

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Tell us what you love about living in Bucks County!

“I love the sense of freedom: fresh air and room to walk, run, breathe, and drive without too much traffic. I love the old buildings, and devotion to farming, preparing wonderful food, raising animals and children that I see all around me. I love the canals that my dogs can swim in and watching the Delaware River swell and recede. I love the sense of history and art in Bucks County and the people who tolerate yet another quirky person- me!”

Lahaska Wedding, PA

To hire Joyce and the Casual Candids crew, give them a call at 215-493-6792 or email them at info@casualcandids.com and, to see more of their work, head on over to Casual Candids.

Social Media Do’s and Don’ts for Small Businesses

socialmedia

We found this article on QC Career School’s blog and thought it would be a great one to share!

“Social Media for Business: Dos and Don’ts
When it comes to using social media for business, there are many things you should consider and be aware of. Your social media sites are a way for people to find you, engage with you, and to get to know your brand. Projecting a professional image is key, especially in a public forum where everyone can see exactly what you’re posting and how you respond to certain situations. Good or bad, this can drastically affect whether or not a potential client who follows you wants to give you their business. Check out our do’s and don’ts when using social media for business in order to get the most out of it and avoid getting into any hot water.

Do: Be prompt and courteous

If you’re using social media for your business, be aware that clients and potential clients will use this as a means to communicate with you. This may be a post to your Facebook timeline, a comment on your Instagram photo, or a reply to a tweet on Twitter. Whatever the case, you should reply in a timely manner and be polite! Your social media business page is visible to the public, and if you’ve written a poor response to someone, everyone can see it. By replying quickly and professionally, you’re giving your followers a taste of the quality of service you provide.

Tips for replying:

Say “hi” first
Thank them for reaching out
Be polite but not overly formal
Stay friendly and upbeat (use emojis and exclamations!)
Provide relevant links to your website when applicable (like pricing information, samples of your work, contact info page, etc.)

For Twitter in particular, because you are limited to only 140 characters, you probably won’t be able to follow all of these tips. Provide as much information as you can, use shortened links, and don’t be afraid to respond in multiple tweets if you need to.

Don’t: Get into heated debates

When browsing the social media world and engaging with other users through your business account, try your very best not to get into heated debates. Everyone has an opinion, and you should be confident in yours but understanding to those that differ. If someone tries to spark a debate with you, remember to respond with dignity and grace (should you decide to respond at all). I like to follow the motto of “kill them with kindness.” Even if it’s not on your own business page, your followers are sometimes notified of your activity and you don’t want them to see you in a pointless debate with someone you don’t even know. This reflects poorly on your business and followers will be hesitant to work with you.

On the other hand, you might have someone causing trouble on your own social media page. Before you do anything, like “hiding” their post/comment, blocking the user all together, or responding back, you should investigate. Are they simply being an “internet troll” (someone who starts fights over the internet for their own personal amusement), are they just being plain rude or offensive, or are their negative posts justified? After you’ve investigated, decide whether or not it merits a block or a direct response from you. But don’t go on a blocking spree! If someone gives you a bad review, however, you should address it professionally instead of blocking it from the public. Learn more about dealing with bad reviews here.

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Find Great Coupons for Local Philadelphia Businesses!

Do: Post original content

Social media is one of the best ways to get your original content out there. When you post a blog article to your website, share it on all of your social media sites so that your followers can check it out and then share it with their friends as well. When posting your own content, this shows your followers that you’re the authority on the subject and their go-to guru when they have questions or need to hire a professional for the job! Want to learn more about blog writing? Check this out.

Don’t: Steal images

When working in a creative field like makeup artistry, event planning, or home decor, it’s almost impossible to log on to your social media sites without seeing a stunning eyeshadow application, an exquisite centerpiece, or a perfect kitchen design that you want to share with your followers. But you should never save an image you find on social media and pass it off as your own – that’s a no-brainer! But what a lot of people don’t know, is that you could still get into a lot of trouble for using other people’s images without their consent, even if you don’t try to claim it as yours. That’s why you should always use the share/retweet/regram functions available if you want your followers to see something you loved, unless you have received explicit permission to use the photo from it’s original owner. Using the designated sharing functions is a perfectly acceptable way to pass something on to your followers.

Note: Be careful when asking someone permission to use their images. Even if they say “yes”, they themselves may very well have stolen the image from elsewhere… and you can be held liable for using stolen pictures.

Do: Stay relevant

Remember to post things that are relevant to your brand. If you’re a makeup artist sharing blog posts about your favorite restaurants downtown, that might not be something your followers will appreciate! If you’ve branded your site as a source for makeup inspiration, then that’s what your followers are expecting from you and will most likely engage with.

You can, however, post things that are in the same ball park of your particular industry, but may not be 100% on-brand. For example, if you’re an event planner, you might share a cool video of cake-decorating, or as a professional organizer, you may share an article about the best natural cleaning products for the home!

Do: Find a voice

One of the first things you should decide when starting your social media business pages, is what sort of voice and personality you want to project. This will ultimately depend on who your audience is. Are they more mature individuals you would appreciate a more formal tone? Or are they younger, dare I say “hip,” people who would engage more with a funny or informal tone? Regardless of the tone you decide to take on, you should be attentive to grammar and avoid using too much slang.

Don’t: Get too personal

Save the more personal things for your own social media accounts. One of the worst things you can do on your business sites is rant about something totally unrelated to your following base. This projects a negative image of yourself and your followers will question your professionalism. If you’ve decided to take on a relatable, more casual voice on your social media pages, you can definitely get away with posting more personal content, like a funny picture of your cat or a family photo at Christmas time.

The selfie: While some of your followers may not appreciate a daily picture of your face, there are times when it can actually be totally appropriate. Remember to keep it relevant to your brand and industry. For example, as a makeup artist, you may want to post cool looks you’ve created on yourself or just show off your makeup for the day. Selfies can give a personal touch and allow your audience to relate to you better! But there’s a time and a place, and you don’t want to over do it.

Do: Research best-practices

As you’re well aware, social media is a great way to connect with your potential and past clients and will help grow your business. Because it is such an important tool, you want to ensure you’re using it correctly and getting the most you possibly can out of all your efforts. Perhaps there’s a particular image size that gets more views than another, or maybe there’s a time of day when it’s best to post something. Whatever the case, you should be aware of it and use that to strategize your posts. Consider subscribing yourself to a blog, do a few Google searches once in a while to ensure you’re still on track, and read more articles about social media like this one.

In the social media world, there’s a lot to know and most of it will come with practice, trial, error, and eventually, success. Play around with the “do’s” mentioned above, but don’t ignore the “don’ts!” Find your voice, keep educating yourself on the best practices, and stay positive, upbeat, and respectful.”

To learn more great tips, check out their blog and on-line courses.

Meet Laura

Shelter Us, a novel, by Laura Diamond
Shelter Us, a novel, by Laura Nicole Diamond

Penn Grad, Laura Nicole Diamond goes on tour with her debut novel, Shelter Us and we want to hear all the details!

Tell us about your ties to Pennsylvania. “Even though I grew up in California, I always wanted to experience the East Coast. I loved my four years at Penn (class of ’91), especially being part of the theater community with Quadramics, Penn Players and Art House Dance. Five years after graduation, I ran into Christopher Heisen (also Class of ’91, and a Mask & Wig member) at an alumni event in Los Angeles. We started dating…and this year we will celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary. Christopher’s family had deep ties to Pennsylvania, and his mother, father, and grandfather all attended Penn. He grew up in Yardley, and most of his family lives nearby in Philadelphia, Bucks County, Main Line, and New Jersey, so we spend many wonderful visits here. Some of my favorite things to do are walking along the Canal in Washington Crossing, attending the Franklin Institute, ice skating at Penn’s Landing on New Year’s Eve, and eating at Reading Terminal Market.” laura-nicole-diamond-headshot-2015-4-251 Was there any ONE defining moment where you just knew you were going to be a writer? If so, tell us about it. “It snuck up on me. I kept a journal on and off for many years, and I knew that I loved writing to express myself, or record memories. When I decided to stop practicing law and be home full-time with my then-2 ½-year old son, I realized that I would have more time to write. That was when I began writing more about daily life, which developed into stories like the ones I published in Deliver Me: True Confessions of Motherhood. One day I started making things up, about a young mother with two little boys, and I followed that thread into a fictional world that became my novel, Shelter Us.” What are some of your stops on the book tour? “I will be at Barnes & Noble Rittenhouse Square on July 16, 2015 at 7pm. In New Jersey I will be at Words Bookstore in Maplewood on July 7th, 7pm, and Watchung Booksellers in Montclair on July 12, at 7pm. More dates are on my website, and I’m adding places all the time.”  lauranicolediamond.com How long has this novel been brewing in your head? “I began the first draft in 2008, which I declared to be “the year of the novel!” It took a lot longer than that, but I did complete the first draft in a little over a year.” If you weren’t a writer or a lawyer, what dream job would you hold? “That’s easy. I’d be a star in Broadway musicals. If only I could sing.” Find Great Coupons for Local Philadelphia Businesses! When you’re not writing- what are you doing? (for fun and just life in general) “What am I doing most of the time? Being a mom to two boys, and since January an 18-year-old foster daughter – which means making dinner, going to the market, helping with homework, cheering on basketball games and martial arts classes, doing dishes and laundry. Repeat. My two favorite appointments every week: Torah study, with my brilliant, progressive rabbi (educated at Philadelphia’s own Reconstructionist Rabbinic College), and Hip-hop cardio funk dance class. Together they cover mind, spirit and body.” upstart-1warwicks-1 Here’s a bit about Shelter Us: “Lawyer-turned-stay-at-home mom Sarah Shaw is struggling to keep it together for her two young sons and law professor husband. Since the death of their infant daughter, her husband has been buried in his career, her friendships have withered, and Sarah remains lost in a private world of grief. Then one day walking in L.A., Sarah’s heart catches at the sight of a young homeless woman pushing a baby in a stroller―and saving them becomes her obsessive mission. An unlikely bond grows between Sarah and the young mother, Josie. When tragedy threatens Josie, Sarah discovers that she is capable of deceptions and transgressions she never imagined. Her lies unleash a downward spiral that will threaten her marriage, family and her sanity. Shelter Us speaks to the quiet joys and anxieties of parenthood and illuminates a place all parents know: that shadowy space between unconditional love and fear of unbearable loss.” Got home around 10 pm tonight and maybe a half hour later I picked up Laura Diamond ‘s Shelter Us to continue reading. I was on page 135. Next thing I know, I’m crying and it’s midnight and I’m 100 pages further into the book and have to literally force myself to put the book down or else I’ll be up for another hour finishing it. I’d like to savor this book a little longer plus I’m sure I’ll be woken up (hopefully only once tonight) by my 4 year old so I need to go to sleep ….a wonderfully emotional night for me it seems! Anyone looking for an amazing read, go get Shelter Us!” -Hope Horwitz Get the book now on Amazon. Know someone local, or know a local business who should be featured on Perks Philly?  Let us know!  Contact us on Facebook, or email us at info@perksphilly.com.

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