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Celebrating Our Digital Marketing Agency’s 10-Year Anniversary: A Then and Now Story

Because one of the services my agency offers is PR — and we’ve had some decent success obtaining meaningful media coverage for some of our for-profit and non-profit clients (as documented in our Public Relations Portfolio) — of course, we reached out to The Patriot Ledger to see if they wanted to do a “then and now” story about our South Shore organization since they covered our story nine years back. We’re still awaiting news, literally and figuratively on that one, but we figured why not go ahead and share a similar version of that story on our blog using the highlights we shared with them? So, here goes…

Our Then Story

Here’s the telling of our story by a local reporter about a year after we launched our digital marketing agency, which eventually developed a specialty in search engine optimization (SEO) — which is why we often refer to our business as a Boston SEO company too!

I prefer to refer to my business as a digital marketing agency vs. a marketing consultancy because we do as much as hands-on work as we do developing & recommending marketing strategies.

Our story actually began with me launching my own WordPress website without the help of anyone else, and my officially hanging my digital marketing agency’s shingle via that site. And, if I knew as much as I know about WordPress and website development now as I knew then, I would have originally launched my site with WordPress.org (the platform that it’s on now) vs. WordPress.org, so I could use the many great WordPress plug-ins from the get-go! Or, I might also have considered Joomla instead, but owning a business and getting it right is all about the journey. And, you can’t learn what you need to learn without making a few mistakes and getting your hands dirty, right?

What’s been particularly challenging as an organization who helps others with their own marketing is, sometimes, as I’ve been known to share, “the cobbler’s kids have no shoes.” That means often we are so busy helping our clients with their marketing, we don’t have time for our own. The aforementioned said, we make every effort to have our firm’s own marketing activities (such as our website and social media profiles) serve as a shining example of how to maintain a strong online presence, and it’s great that we’ve been able to use our own business to test and try out various marketing activities — therefore, serve as a bit of a guinea pig — before we test or try something brand new with clients.

We’re proud that, over the last 10 years, we’ve literally written and posted over 140 marketing, SEO, and health-related (yes, health-related — keep reading to learn more) blog posts, and we’ve had a few guest or co-bloggers along the way too!

This image is a light gray square one with the words "Celebrating 10 Years Of Using Our Digital Marketing Agency/SEO Company As A Platform For Doing Good." The image contains some colorful confetti in the middle and the logo of our Boston Marketing Agency, Results Communications and Research at the bottom.

Our Now Story

I believe and hope my story can motivate and inspire others considering opening their own business. Before, or right after I launched my business, I was told by one individual who works with entrepreneurs that 80% of female marketing consultants fail. I refused to be a statistic, and regularly told myself that during the first 5 years, which were the hardest. It takes a good five years to get the word out there and have business come to you organically/naturally thru referrals, leads, and recommendations from others — made by former co-workers and clients, existing clients, other marketing consultants and agencies, and other organizations who serve the same vertical/target audiences whom you serve.

My philosophy and dreams when I started my business have remained pretty constant and I’m pleased to report I’ve followed them. I’m particularly proud that I’ve been able to continue to offer what I believe, based on research, are very reasonable rates to small for-profit and non-profit organizations. Due to my years of experience and expertise, clients have access to the same level of knowledge and skills that they’d have access to via a larger marketing agency, but at much lower rates than what a larger agency might offer. And, because we have significant experience in both traditional marketing AND digital marketing, we can offer the majority of services a larger, full-service agency can.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned that I’d love to share with others starting a business is this: don’t think of others in your space as competitors. Think of them as collaborators – people who serve the same target audiences who may need your services.

Our Impact: Local (South Shore of Boston), National, and International

  • I’ve helped a number of young adults who grew up on the South Shore, or elsewhere in MA, get hands-on experience that they were able to parlay into a post-graduation job elsewhere.
  • Related to the above, I’ve had the great fun and pleasure of working with my nephews, my brother, my brother-in-law, and my late sister-in-law on various client projects.
  • I’ve also met with a number of college or graduate school students looking to pick my brain about careers in marketing and learn from me – including one in my neighborhood who found me thru a Google search! Yes, because early on I recognized I needed to create a Google My Business Profile for my own business to be found by local, relevant searchers and this is something I regularly help my clients with now!
  • I’ve given a large number of pro bono hours to nonprofits as part of a totally free consulting/volunteer situation or discussion, or as part of their paid arrangement with me. I’ve had a number of very interesting local nonprofit clients, including ones in the faith-based space, arts and music space, ones serving vulnerable populations, ones serving individuals with special needs, and one providing financially challenged teens the opportunity to serve vulnerable teens abroad, and more! Some have an international impact.
  • One of my specialties is helping nonprofits apply for a Google Nonprofit Ad Grant. I, then, often stay on and manage the Grant for them – $120,000 in free Google Search advertising annually. I can explain more.
  • I also have a number of for-profit clients on the South Shore, but my client base is national and I have had clients in New Orleans, CA, Texas, and more!
  • I’ve served over 120 for-profit and non-profit organizations in the 10 years I’ve been running my digital marketing agency/SEO company.
  • I had no idea when I launched my business that I would become an expert in something that I only had very little knowledge of at the time when I launched my business – search engine optimization (SEO). Many of my referrals for or sub-contracted work come from other agencies, marketing consultants, and website designers who need to pull someone into their client work/project who knows how to get websites and Google My Business Profiles ranking well in Google via organic and paid search (Google Ads) SEO activities. I’ve become a self-taught SEO expert and very proud of it. I just read and watched everything I could get my hands on, took Google Ads certification classes, and attended free webinars. I still do that daily as Google’s Search Engine will be switching to an AI one, and I’m already helping my clients be proactive about that and prep for it (Google SGE).
  • As indicated above, while I do sub-contracted or referred work for other agencies, marketing consultants, and website designers, many of my clients are my own clients, and I usually have a plate of about 12 – 15 clients for whom I’m doing ongoing, digital marketing work for on a monthly basis, plus also juggling several one-off/one-time clients at the same time. At any given point in time, I’m normally doing work for about 17 – 25 clients with the help of some fabulous interns and associates, as they were/are available.
  • My clients are diverse – large, small, business-to-business, business-to-consumer, product businesses, service businesses. I’ve done a bunch of marketing work in the food space, legal space, education space, and more! 
  • I’ve given a number of free workshops for SCORE and other organizations serving entrepreneurs, and I’m a SCORE volunteer and have provided tons of free advice to entrepreneurs by meeting with them on a complimentary basis. And, related to all of this, I’ve had a blast partnering with fellow marketing experts to give presentations that address multiple marketing areas of expertise! Thank you! You know who you are!
  • I’m a data geek and SEO geek and proud of it. I’m a huge data slicer and dicer and that’s what separates me from a lot of others in my space. I always say I won’t encourage clients to start or continue with marketing activities that don’t make sense for them based on what data is showing. I consider myself to be my clients’ accountability partner, and I’m not afraid to give tough love when I need to. I’m not afraid to voice a different opinion than other marketers. If I think something isn’t going to work, or isn’t working, I speak up.
  • I’m also proud that my marketing agency survived our recent COVID-19 pandemic and was extremely proactive about providing helpful insights from the very start of the pandemic for marketers to appropriately respond to the pandemic/pivot, such as these blog posts about using paid ads during the pandemic and how to make sure your social media presence wasn’t offensive and was relevant.
  • I give back significantly to the community. I was involved with the Braintree Relay For Life Committee for a while, and now, I do a number of charity walks in addition to all the other beneficial work I mentioned above.

Our Focus On Health & Wellness

If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you’ll know that I’ll throw in a good blog post about walking once in a while. You can use the categories search tool/drop-down menu to search on “walking” to see the various walking topics about which I’ve written.

Since my corporate marketing days, I’ve always loved to share health & wellness tips — whether they be with fellow employees as part of an internal communications role, or with members of a health plan I worked for, and from the get-go with Results Communications & Research, I’ve aimed to inspire those with health (and other challenges) to never give up, and keep fighting via my “Keep Up The Fight” website page. And, I recently put up a new blog post about an invisible disease with which many health warriors who have battled or are battling other forms of illness have to contend.

Our Thank You

My digital marketing agency/SEO company and I would have never made it this far without all the help of great collaborators, cheerleaders (friends, family, my husband Jay, and other fellow small business owners), and most importantly, our clients who looked to us for expert marketing guidance and assistance. We have many clients with whom we’ve served as an outsourced marketing department for years, and we thank you for your faith in us! We’ve so enjoyed being a part of your business family! We also thank those who we haven’t had the opportunity to work with for as long as some of our long-term clients, but have enjoyed or are enjoying being a part of your organization’s success story.

What’s Next

I don’t know what the future holds for Results Communications & Research, but I’m excited about what’s to come! And, I know I will continue to try to give back as much as possible with the platform that this fun, educational, and interesting business provides!

Want To Benefit From The Marketing Services Of A Digital Marketing Agency/SEO With A Long Tenure And Who Gives Back?

Reach out today to schedule a complimentary discussion about how we can help your organization create awareness and/or drive inquiries and sales via our outsourced marketing and/or strategic marketing planning services.

Acceptance of Circumstances, community involvement, keeping up with trends, LinkedIn, Making Connections, Making Connections and Introductions, making time for things you value, Networking, relationship building, sales, staying current, target audiences, warriors, fighters, doing good, giving back, paying it forward

How to Pivot Your Business Toward Relationship-Building in the Time of COVID-19

By Guest Blogger, Bethany Clarke

Running a business these days is no joke. The global pandemic has put many small businesses into a tailspin. No one’s seen anything like this before and everyone’s talking about “pivoting,” but what does that actually mean? What does a pivot look like for you? 

You’re great at running and marketing your business. You’ve got the branding, social media, and your new client funnel down to a science. You’re turning a profit and you can’t believe how far you’ve come since the first days of starting out, but this COVID-19 deal is uncharted territory.

You’re not alone. Sales for many businesses have dropped this month due to the distraction provided by the pandemic, but particularly, due to its associated social distancing practices. Yes, the latter are a matter of national health, but man, are they a pain for conducting in-person sales activities. And, our current world scenario has made all forms of sales and outreach activities far more difficult and far less effective, whether they be in-person, phone, or e-communications ones. That’s why we recommend that your pivot be one that includes relationship building.

Generating Leads And Sales Thru Relationship Building & Networking

What’s the deal with relationships? They will be what sustains you through this crisis and after it is over. By reaching out to potential clients now, you can be certain that you’ll be one of the first people they come to once the crisis has receded. You can establish yourself as a credible, helpful and friendly resource in your field, and even a “thought leader.”

How To Make The Pivot Toward Relationship Building And Networking

  1. Establish connections online by devoting a half hour to posting and being present on your social media each day. That’s enough time to reply to comments on your posts or to comment on others’ posts. Always make an effort to do this, especially on Facebook and Instagram since that’s part of the algorithm that drives your posts to the top of people’s feeds. 
  1. Direct message followers who are your dream clients. Now’s the time to reach out and say “hello” and offer to help or provide information they might find particularly beneficial at this point in time. Most people have more free time lately and are craving connections. If you’re making a practice of extending your olive branch now in a very genuine/authentic and heart-felt way, you’ll be remembered by people for helping make this hard time a little easier for them.
  1. Reach out to people who operate in fields adjacent to yours and who serve the same vertical (target audiences) you’d like to do work for. For instance, if you’re a copywriter, you could connect with someone who does graphic design. In the future, when you meet a client who needs a website re-done, you can provide your client with the copy they need, and then refer them to your colleague who will design their fancy new logo or design their new website. If you help nonprofits with marketing, but there are other firms that don’t compete with you that offer bookkeeping services for nonprofits, then why not try to be referral sources for each other? These referrals can go both ways. People in your identical spaces could be competitors but what if you shifted that perspective? What if you turned them into collaborators or work referral sources? Developing a “referral circle” is an excellent way to broaden and strengthen your network and increase your customer base.

Aside from all the business benefits that come along with establishing and maintaining relationships, having these positive, collaborative, helpful relationships just feels really good right now. In this time of isolation, it’s human and healthy to crave connection with others. Making the pivot toward relationship building in your business will not only make your business stronger, but it may help make you healthier and happier as well.

Acceptance of Circumstances, Consulting, Enjoying What You Do, integrated marketing, lead generation, Making Connections and Introductions, marketing consultant, staying current

What I’ve Learned From 5 Years of Running a Consulting Firm

comfortzone

Ninety percent of my blog posts cover marketing topics and trends, particularly digital ones. This, of course, makes sense as I want to be a resource for “all things marketing” for my existing and prospective clients, as well as demonstrate my expertise, and remind folks, in need of marketing help, that I’m here to assist them with both marketing strategy development, and hands-on, day-to-day execution of marketing tactics. That said, for a while now, I’ve been wanting to share with friends, colleagues, and particularly those considering starting a consultancy of any nature, the great, the good, the bad, and the ugly of being a consultant.

I know already I’ll be commenting on or editing this post as pros and cons of consulting come to mind that I neglected to include!

Let’s start with the GREAT!

  • New People, Partners, Connections: You meet so many interesting, knowledgeable, passionate and creative individuals — whether they be fellow small business owners/entrepreneurs/consultants or employees of small, medium, or large for-profit and non-profit client organizations. And, on certain client work, you get to partner and collaborate with fellow consultants who are experts in their particular field.
  • New Industries, Products and Services: You learn about so many different industries, and unique products and services, and you get skilled at getting up-to-speed quickly on various industries. You know the types of questions to ask and the information you want and need to hunt down.
  • Diverse Service and Solution Provision: No two clients’ challenges and opportunities are the same, so with each engagement, you are required to step back and think about which of the solutions and services you offer would most benefit a client and have the most immediate impact on whatever pain point they are struggling with. In my case, because of my line of work, this means I have the opportunity to oversee or assist with a large, diverse set of marketing activities and analytics.
  • Money and Time Savings: If you’re a consultant who works out of a home office — like me — or a local, shared work space, you save time and $$ commuting to an office. You also can spend far less money on work clothes and lunches.
  • Pajamas and Sweat Pants: I don’t do it very often, but yes, you can work in your pajamas and sweats and even attend phone meetings wearing the aforementioned. Before I hit my home office and computer, I prefer to get dressed for the day in something a little less comfortable than sweats or pajamas, so I don’t feel too relaxed and feel more professional and in “work mode.”
  • Flexible Schedule: For someone like me, where past cancer treatment left me with some chronic health issues, it’s nice to have the flexibility to take care of my health and work at a slower pace, if and when required, and to be able to go to doctors’ appointments when I need to. I can also take a longer break to meet up with a friend or colleague for lunch or coffee, knowing that I can make up the lost work time at night or on the weekend.
  • No Difficult Office Politics or Managers: I don’t think the former really needs explaining…keep in mind, though, you can end up with difficult clients, or clients with difficult office politics.

Now, the GOOD!

  • You Are the Boss of You — I’ve always been driven and self-disciplined, so I treat every week day as a work day and rarely run personal errands and/or do personal chores during that time,  but for some being their own boss and not having someone tell them how to use their time or what their deliverables should be, doesn’t suit them. That’s why I listed this as “good” vs. “great”, even though I personally love being my own boss.
  • Nobody Rains (or Snows) on Your Parade — Literally and figuratively. If you don’t have face-to-face or in-person meetings scheduled, you can stay warm and dry on cold or wet days, and you don’t have to deal with negative co-workers dragging you down.

And, the BAD!

  • You Have to Look Good in Hats — You’ll be wearing a variety of them — CEO/President, junior- or entry-level staff person, bookkeeper, business development/sales manager, and marketing person, to name a few.
  • Friends & Family Think You Don’t Work — Friends, family, colleagues, etc. will think they can call or visit you anytime on a workday or you’ll drop everything to meet up with them because “you aren’t working” – hah!
  • Support May be Lacking — No matter how long your consultancy has been up and running, you’ll still frequently get asked by contacts, including friends and family, when you plan to return to a “corporate” job. Your circle may struggle with the fact that running a successful consultancy isn’t a temporary or short-term choice, it’s an active, long-term decision you made.

Boo hoo for the UGLY!

  • Client Work Gets Pulled — Promised work doesn’t come to fruition or projects for which you’ve officially been engaged or you’ve even started get put-on-hold or shut-down completely for a variety of reasons, such as:
    • your contact at your client’s office leaves
    • your contact’s manager or manager’s manager isn’t on board with proceeding with a project even if your contact is/was
    • your client has budget cuts
    • your client has new senior leadership or your contact at your client has a new manager
    • your client’s priorities shift — something unanticipated happens at their firm, in their industry, etc. that makes your work for them less of a priority
    • your client gets bought out by or merges with another firm

One of the most painful and expensive, but also beneficial lessons I’ve learned in the past five years of consulting is never leave “capacity” for a particular client unless you have documented approval of engagement for the work in-question.

  • The 50/50 Rule — At most, you will only be able to spend 50% of your work time, actually completing “paid” work for clients, this includes attending client meetings or participating in client phone calls. The remaining 50% of your time will be allocated something along these lines, unless, of course, you out-source some of this work:
    • Creating and issuing invoices, tracking expenses in an accounting system, such as QuickBooks — 2.5%
    • Posting to social media — 7.5%
    • Staying educated in your particular area of expertise through reading, webinars, and other trainings — 7.5%
    • Responding to RFPs/Creating Proposals – 10%
    • Phone or In-person meetings with prospective clients — 10%
    • Following up with individuals and organizations in your sales pipeline — 5%
    • Reaching out to individuals via LinkedIn, e-mail, etc. for the first time to see if they are open to a meeting — 5%
    • Attending short phone calls or responding to e-mails for which you can’t charge a client, since you don’t want to be viewed as “nickel & dime-ing” them. It’s just expected that a consultant will provide some “pro bono” hours – 2.5%

In sum, if you’re going to run a consultancy, you have to accept that about 50% of the work you do, will be “unpaid” work, i.e., work for which you won’t be able to bill someone.

  • If You Don’t Work, You Don’t Get Paid — enough said, and as I described above, even when you do work, much of it is work you can’t bill for.
  • No Employee/Employer Perks and Benefits (Both Tangible and Intangible) — when you are self-employed, you don’t have access to the following perks and benefits of a “corporate” employer:
    • true “paid”/”employee” benefits like health, dental, and life insurance, 401K contributions and matching, paid vacation time and time-off, short-term disability
    • office parties and celebrations
    • friendships and socialization that an office provides
    • support of and ability to brainstorm with co-workers, plus the ability to delegate work if you’re a manager
    • coverage of training and travel expenses
    • in-house training opportunities
    • and more!
  • You Work 60+ Hours, So You Don’t Have to Work 40 — So, I revamped this phrase that I snagged from Shark Tank, “entrepreneurs work 90 hours, so they don’t have to work 40”. But, basically, when you own and run your own business, it’s very unusual to have a week where you only work 35 or 40. Even if you’re not actively doing client work, you’re constantly checking your work e-mail at night and on the weekends, and quite honestly, often you you do have to work nights and/or weekends to stay on top of your accounting, proposals you need to create and send, blog posts like this one that you want to write, and client work that needs to be completed. And, yes, most consultants I know are thinking about their business 24/7 — while they are lying in bed at night, taking a shower, going for a walk, etc. It’s hard to turn your consultant brain off, particularly the part that knows that you need to constantly be creating new leads for your business.

One factor that both a corporate job and consulting have in common — workloads fluctuates. There will be times when you have far too much work, and times, when you have too little.

Despite some of the more difficult consequences and challenges of being a consultant, there is so much upside, and I wouldn’t change my work situation right now. I so enjoy where I’m at in my career — serving as an advisor and extra-hand to both clients and fellow consultants and marketing agencies — and I enjoy the challenges that come along with it. They’ve pushed and continue to push me to step outside my comfort zone and develop or enhance skills like sales and public speaking. I so look forward to what lies ahead for me in the next five years as a consultant!

A special shout-out to my niece, Angelique Snow, who alerted me to the expression in the image at the top of this post — one that is particularly fitting to my situation and that of other consultants — and to Angelique, who lives her life fully by stepping outside her comfort zone.

Making Connections and Introductions, marketing consultant, Networking

Oh Yes, I’m The Great Connector…

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Photo Courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

 

Okay, maybe I’m stretching the Connector and Pretender rhyme a bit, but I’ve had so many reminders recently of the power of connecting individuals to each other that I wanted a punchy phrase and tune to kick off this discussion.

One of the best characteristics I inherited from my mom, Terry Snow — through observation and/or genes — is recognizing the value and importance of connecting people to each other, and taking the initiative to do so.  My mom is one of the classiest, kindest people I know, and while being a mother of six children didn’t allow for a corporate life, she always introduced individuals from one social or community/volunteer organization circle to people in another circle.  She didn’t care how different the people she introduced were.  She wanted everyone to feel included, loved, and supported, and she saw great value in ensuring that people with diverse backgrounds got to know each other.

Probably because of the above, I’ve always been a connector on the romance front.  Two of my closest friends can attest to my introducing them to their husbands.  My love of playing matchmaker dates back to my early 20’s and I continue that practice to this day; however, as my career and professional life grew after college and graduate school, I’ve also enjoyed and saw the great importance of connecting individuals on the professional front.

I’ve shared many a headhunter/recruiter name with fellow job searchers, and am always passing contract and permanent job leads on to individuals who might be interested in them.  I’ve passed many a friend’s or colleague’s resume on to another friend or colleague in a hiring mode/capacity, and friends have landed jobs or interviews that way.  I also regularly share information about someone else’s services with others who might benefit from that service and/or who might be in a position to take advantage of that service.  My belief is that there’s always plenty of work, and permanent and contract job opportunities to go around, so why not help facilitate some discussions in situations where both parties might benefit?  My other belief — and I’ve experienced this many times over — is that when you help someone out, they are likely to return the favor, and what you put out there in the universe is returned to you.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if I can make a “connection” on your behalf — I’m glad to do so.  While I’m well-situated on the romance front — in fact, a lovely friend match-made me and my wonderful husband over 15 years ago — I hope you’ll consider “connecting” me on the professional front, as appropriate.

I’d love to hear your great stories about how the personal and professional connections you’ve made changed someone’s lives or how someone “connecting” you to the right person changed your life. During this holiday season, don’t forget the importance of connecting individuals who could really benefit from some new personal and/or professional connections.

Making Connections, Making Connections and Introductions, marketing consultant, online advertising, Passion, sales

The Perks of Networking

While I’ve done contract marketing and market research work in the past — during times when I was looking for a permanent position in my field — it’s been about six months now that I’ve devoted my energies full-time to making consulting work my permanent employment.

Trying to get a consulting practice started is not for the weak of heart, particularly a marketing consulting practice.  Part of the reason for this is many organizations I approach about the expertise I can offer already have a marketing agency or consultant in place.  If they are an organization that’s been around for any length of time, marketing is essential to their well-being and it’s likely they’ve already solicited outside help to optimize marketing efforts. In fact, many have long-term contracts in place with marketing agencies that can’t be easily severed.  And, I’m also finding the newer, start-up businesses are difficult to identify and many use family members or friends to help them out on a pro bono or low-rate basis while in start-up mode.

Bottom line of all the above is that, in order for me, or any business offering consulting or other services to make a successful go at it, we have to be skilled at networking. It’s imperative that we use our connections or the connections of our connections to get our feet in the door.  Being more of a strategic behind-the-scenes person, that’s a challenge for me, but I’m rising to the occasion and I’m glad my business is causing me to grow this skill for a couple of reasons.

First, as a marketeer, even if I didn’t need to be out there trying to make sales and there was a sales team in place whose work I supported with marketing materials and activities, it’s very beneficial to understand the challenges, roadblocks, questions, concerns, etc. that a sales team faces on a daily basis. Secondly, the need to network is causing me to reconnect with individuals with whom I worked closely and had strong friendships with at different points in my career.

30

I’ve been working in the Boston area now for about thirty years.  Thirty years.  After studying in France my senior year and graduating from UCONN with a French degree, I attended the Katherine Gibbs’ three-month entree program. I always refer to it as a program that gave liberal arts majors the office skills they needed to get jobs. I will say attending the program served me well. After completing the program, I was able to obtain temporary office work at great organizations like Stone & Webster and Dana Farber, and soon landed permanent jobs at BayBank Harvard Trust and Fidelity Investments. After obtaining my M.B.A., mostly at night, I’ve been employed at Market Facts, Berklee College of Music, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of MA, Bay State Federal Bank, Best Doctors, Network Health, and BMC HealthNet Plan.

I list all of the above because it’s a good reminder that I’ve worked a lot of great places and made a lot of strong friendships and working relationships throughout my career — of which I should never lose sight.  I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people (since I’m a transplant from CT to MA, many of my closest friends are former co-workers). The need to network has caused me to reconnect with some of the many individuals with whom I haven’t stayed as closely in touch, but with whom I really enjoyed working. It’s been so much fun learning what former colleagues are up to, both professionally and personally.  So, I’m grateful that networking has prompted me to “catch up” with these people.  There’s nothing like tight schedules, heavy workloads, and what seem like impossible challenges for forming strong bonds.  I’m really enjoying revisiting those bonds. If you aren’t already doing so, I encourage you to reach out to former co-workers. I know you’ll benefit in a variety of ways from the experience.