I am a firm believer in the saying, "Luck is where the crossroads of opportunity and preparation meet." This quote is attributed to Seneca, a first-century Roman philosopher. I actually don't believe in luck as it is commonly defined: Success or failure apparently brought by chance rather than through one's own actions. The point of the Seneca quote is that it takes individual action to be prepared when opportunities arise, which can lead to positive outcomes (the so-called luck). This is the area in which I have notably excelled recently, but has been a common theme running throughout the better part of my life.
Seneca clearly lived well before the time of Facebook & Twitter. But is it too far of a stretch to think that part of what he was referring to was social networking? In my case, I can definitely apply "the crossroads of opportunity" to the internet and, more specifically, to social networking sites and even blogs. As for the preparation, I've put in hours of "research", mostly by connecting with industries, companies, individuals & organizations that share common interests.
One of the great things about the prevalence of the internet in our society today is the ability to communicate information more quickly and to a broader audience. In addition to running promotions or contests via traditional methods like mailings, printed coupons, billboards and radio/tv ads, it is fairly easy to set up a contest on your website or Facebook page. You can take an even simpler route by asking people to share or respond to one of your posts with the option to pick your favorite comment or just randomly draw a name from all of the entries.
I could go on & on about all of the possibilities of using social media to your advantage, but the point of this post is to explain how I've been winning lately. Since we moved to Portland at the end of January, I have won at least six "contests!" None have involved money, meaning that I did not have to contribute financially or purchase anything in order to win. I didn't even have to be physically present anywhere!
I'd estimate that I enter an average of two contests per day, most either directly through Facebook or via links that are posted on Facebook. Note that I generally do not enter large, national contests but prefer to focus my efforts on local companies & events. Nor do I enter a contest for something I don't really want to win. Thus my odds of winning can be as high as 1 in 3 (sadly, I didn't win that particular contest which was chosen by random draw) and as low as 1 in 100+. But these odds are great compared to winning the lottery!
Since I do not have a tv or unlimited mobile phone plan, I use my computer for everything - news, entertainment, social networking, etc. I have created location- and topic-specific Facebook lists to help me prioritize my time and make sure I don't miss an important post from a close friend or family member and to also keep me informed about local events and, of course, contests! I allow about 30 minutes every morning to check for updates and to do any necessary follow-up.
Here's what I've won in the past three months (all, with one exception, directly via Facebook):
- One large 1-topping pizza & 2 liter soda (Papa John's Superbowl promo)
- Leopard print pajamas (Hotel Vintage Plaza)
- Burnside Brewers Dinner at Brasserie Montmartre (PDX Pipeline blog)
- Cocktail Camp tickets (PDX Pipeline)
- Cochon 555 tickets & I'm Delicious t-shirt (Cochon 555)
- Trek Atwood Eco-bike (Mellow Mushroom Portland)
To some extent you could even call my extra work on Grimm, at least initially, as similar to winning a contest just because I discovered the opportunity while researching local events on Facebook. For that matter, the only reason I'm in the March/April 2012 issue of Beer Magazine is because they posted a request for submissions on Twitter and mine was selected to be featured.
The way I see it, that 30 minutes I spend every day scanning Facebook & Twitter is my way of coming to the crossroads where opportunity and preparation meet. I don't attribute my good fortune to luck but to creativity, hard work and dedication. So be on the lookout for a cute gal on a new bike, sipping a Signs of Life cocktail, wearing nothing but leopard print pajamas, with a box of pizza & a growlette of beer in her basket!