I am not running for Governor, however, in the past two weeks, I have spoken to groups in 12 communities around the state of Maine, which might be as many as some of the gubernatorial candidates! I’ve been speaking to groups of business owners about topics that I’m really passionate about, including using the Internet to market and grow your business, as well as personal branding, social media and public relations.

Emily MacCabe and Nancy Marshall
Emily MacCabe from Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife put together the panel on social media for the 70th Annual Northeast Fish & Wildlife Conference in April.

Through a contract with the ConnectMe Authority, I have spoken to small business owners enrolled in local adult education programs over the past year. Just in the past two weeks, I have been in Lewiston, Mechanic Falls, Turner, Machias, Calais, Bangor, Lincoln, Rockland, Wiscasset and Topsham! I haven’t actually traveled to these places, however. Most of these presentations, with the exception of Lewiston, have been done via a “Tandberg” video conferencing system, which is a closed circuit video camera that connected me from the state office building in Augusta to schools in each of these towns around the state.

Using a remote control, I was able to toggle between my PowerPoint presentation and the audiences in each of the remote locations, sometimes three towns at once. The technology alone is amazing—connecting me from Augusta to these towns around Maine! Not only can I see the people in the audience in each of the remote locations, but I’ve been able to have a conversation in real time, so I can hear about their business challenges and respond to their questions in lively and engaging conversations. It has been a fabulous experience.

The ConnectMe Authority is trying to increase broadband Internet service to all parts of Maine. They asked me to develop this presentation for small business owners about how to better leverage the power of the Web to connect with prospective and current customers to grow your business. Over the past year, I have done 10 of these presentations, and we hope to do four more in the fall.

Just yesterday, I got a message from one of the participants saying that the session opened her eyes to all of the possibilities of how to grow her customer list and strengthen her brand. That makes me feel great, knowing that I was able to share knowledge that might help create jobs and long-term employment (and happiness) for Maine business owners and their families.

I’ve done two other speaking engagements outside of the ConnectMe presentations. One was a Social Media Panel this past Monday, April 14, at the 70th Annual Northeast Fish & Wildlife Conference. The panel was coordinated by Emily MacCabe from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife. I was on the panel with Tom Rogers from Vermont Fish & Wildlife; Brittany Howell, Pennsylvania Game Commission; and Patty Handy of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The conversation was mostly about how governmental agencies can best leverage the power of social media to connect with and engage with sportsmen and women in their states. I was the only non-governmental representative, and I talked about principles of Internet marketing and relationship building that can happen on various social networks.

Finally, I gave a talk yesterday to the Belgrade Business Owners Group at the Maine Lakes Resource Center about Personal Branding, and why it’s advantageous to businesses. We had a lively group that was very interested in understanding the concepts of personal branding and putting a human face on a business. Again, it all comes down to making human connections between a business and its customers in order to create long-term relationships built on trust and credibility.

I feel like I’ve completed a marathon of speaking, however, it’s not over yet. Next week I will speak in Ellsworth at their Hancock County Business Expo on April 24 from 2:15 to 4 p.m. My topic is “Dare to be Awesome!” ( I love the title!) The presentation will cover how to use your website to grow your customer list, how to develop a crystal-clear description of your products or services that will attract the attention of the search engines, ways to engage your customers through email and social media to build long-term relationships, and positioning yourself as an expert in your field to attract media attention and loyal customers. I will also talk about creating a marketing communications plan, and a strategy and budget to generate measurable ROI.

Do you have a conference or annual meeting coming up where you might need a speaker on any of these topics? Please get in touch with me at 207-623-4177 or nancy@prmaven.com. I would love to talk to you about how I can help.