Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Importance of Adding Value

October 13, 2009

Once your social media plan is up and running, with a clearly defined goals and objectives, you will want to continue to build relationships, establish professional credibility, and increase your visibility.  In order to retain your following and keep their interest you’ll want to be sure to:

  •  Be compelling, providing a reason why folks are happy you contacted them
  • Provide advice freely and openly without being at all self-serving—give FIRST and generously
  • Tap into your network for insights on trends and industry news

One mistake people make is building a contact “empire” of 500+ connections, friends, and followers only to find that they don’t know who these people are or what would be of interest to them.  What value do they bring in terms of business insight or shared interests and values?  What information from you will make them more interested and engaged?

It’s not easy to sort through this.  But unless you have an organized plan to reach out to contact people, you will never answer these questions.  And, importantly, if you don’t contact them, the relationship becomes weakened. 

Participation in groups on LinkedIn that focus on specialized expertise, interests and industries, and organizing followers into categories on TweetDeck or FriendFeed for Twitter, are two examples of ways to start sorting through the maze, identify connections with shared interests, and segment them as you develop a targeted touch program.

Remember, as I said in a previous blog, it’s not all about getting business.  It’s about establishing a connection—building a relationship.  People will differ in their approach.  A colleague of mine with a natural gift of gab can connect with people–and does so with sincerity.  If you make yourself available as a source of helpful assistance and advice and listen attentively, people will naturally gravitate toward you.    Remember too that people love to be asked for their opinion.  So if you seek their input, then again you benefit from solidifying a relationship. 

Whatever your way of connecting with others, make it part of a consistent plan and remember to give generously and be responsive.  That way you establish yourself as a valuable resource and a relationship can develop that is mutually beneficial.

The 5 Cardinal Sins of Social Media

October 1, 2009

Social media is all the rage these days. So many things to do, a multitude of options, and so little time. Often individuals and businesses alike forge ahead with reckless abandonment. The result can be overall confusion and bewilderment, with businesses deciding social media is not worth the time or effort. In all likelihood though, these frustrations are the result of some or all of transgressions that we call the “5 Cardinal Sins of Social Media.”

Before you throw in the towel, decide if you are guilty of any of the following:

  • Sin #1: Having no plan.
    You can waste a lot of time the key is to define your business objectives. Every part of your business should have a plan, so why not social media? Since we all want to grow our business, these should include multiple levels, such as marketing to increase awareness and promote your company’s message, and sales to get followers, connections, friends who respect you and are likely to buy or refer your services. Be sure to be generous and incorporate ways you can help others.
  • Sin #2: Providing little information
    Create robust profiles. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to a lesser degree, among others, offer ample opportunities to define your business objectives and who you are, complete with pictures, the ability to list interests, hobbies, education experiences, and attach blogs, ezines, videos, etc. Why go to all this effort? Allow me to answer the question with another one: How can someone appreciate your value if they don’t know you? People want to do business with people they know and trust.
  • Sin #3: Not participating
    Commit to dedicating 15-30 minutes a day pursuing and actively engaging in the networks to which you belong. Go beyond your immediate connections. LinkedIn has groups. Look at those to which respected connections belong, join these, and participate. Facebook has fan pages, and Twitter allows almost immediate ways to post links with a shortened url to maximize character space. Check group/fan pages, post questions, comment on and/or answer questions of others, attach articles of interest and ask for feedback. When you do this, ask yourself: “What is important to my prospects and clients? What will make them want to connect and respond?”
  • Sin #4: Not reaching out to build your network.
    Fill your network with quality people. Twitter in particular has some people who promote the “get followers quickly” scheme. I do not advocate this. While having critical mass is important, as a business you want to be sure you target the right people. You want to be sure to focus on engaging folks. Having 1,000+ friends on Facebook or 500+ connections on LinkedIn is all well and good if you have a plan to connect in some meaningful way with your audience, one that gets them to buy your product. Keith Ferrazzi, author of Who’s Got Your Back?, talks about having a list of key go-to contacts. These are personal or professional connections with whom you have stronger relationships, for whom you would extend yourself and who would genuinely and willingly assist and offer advice to you. These should be people who are most important to your personal and professional development and the success and growth of your company.
  • Sin #5: Not giving
    Give first. You share with friends, right? Self-serving, promotional postings are a real turnoff. Sure, do it once in awhile to cheerfully announce a recent success, but you need to mix things up a bit. A more reliable way to build credibility and trust is to share good content from outside sources, ask via a personal message how you can help someone else today, and respond to the updates and postings of others by offering to assist.

Avoiding these mistakes and carefully taking one step at a time, can lead to social media success.

Twitter, The Follow, The Agenda

July 13, 2009

I’ve become a fan of TweetDeck as I try to organize my tweets and social media interactions. Someone observed that I had non-business related groups, such as music, food and wine, inspirational, green or eco-friendly. “Why,” they asked, “do they follow you and you follow them when you’re not going to get business from these people?”

My perspective on Twitter, and more generally with networking whether in person or through social media sites such as LinkedIn or Facebook, is that they are effective vehicles to build relationships, which means you take an interest in people and learn more about them and their world. My hope is that someday I can help these people even in some small way.

But the question really made me think of agendas. Some people are frankly too purpose-driven (to use an overused and often misrepresented term these days). They need to see people and their relationships with them in terms of what they can get from them.

So, for example, Opus Partners’ focus is on sales consulting, business growth and sales on-boarding. Based on that, some might say, my contacts and relational universe should consist of people in sales and marketing and vertical industries in which our company tends to specialize.

But some of my most interesting contacts and connections are from groups or organizations in which I participate for pure pleasure. We strike up conversations that often delve into matters both business and personal. These are the people who end up being supporters, cheerleaders when the going gets tough and just good to know. And they have often brought unexpected surprises—leads, business and additional valuable connections.

I usually assert that I don’t have an agenda, though perhaps I should more accurately say that my agenda is to help an organization or company while putting my own personal interests aside. That’s why my network consists of people from diverse backgrounds and industries.

In the end, I recommend you follow the people you like, think you would like and want to know better. Forget the agenda. Go ahead, accept the invitation to connect, friend and follow (assuming you know the person or they come highly recommended from a trusted source). And remember to reciprocate. No agenda. The results may surprise you.

Using LinkedIn for Job Searches–What’s the Problem?

June 15, 2009

Recently, I’ve heard people voice concern that LI has become too much of a network of job seekers.

Given the economic environment this isn’t particularly surprising. LinkedIn’s multi-functionality enables the satisfied, disenchanted and unemployed to build their professional network, grow their business and identifies new opportunities.

What is more noticeable is the extent to which people have become more brazen in announcing their plight in group postings or status updates. Indeed, certain groups can be cluttered with requests for work.

In an inappropriate forum or stated in desperation, constant postings and requests to “hire me” diminish the purpose and value of LinkedIn. They also can damage personal credibility.

How you reach out to your connections makes the difference between successful interactions and social networking failure.

Too often, people ask for help without attempting to develop a relationship. If you are seeking a job and nothing more—no connection beyond that—your use of LinkedIn will likely fail. It’s a matter of evaluating your social capital, being careful to avoid the “what’s in it for me” approach.

That’s not to say a direct approach is bad. But help yourself by asking for advice from your sources—not just a job. If they don’t have one, they won’t speak to you because they don’t think they can help. And in this economy, there may not be many jobs posted.

If, however, you ask for guidance or want to bounce around some ideas regarding your career direction, you flatter them in seeking their input (assuming, of course, it’s genuine), and you may be surprised to get offers to connect you with others who might get you that next job.

Finally, there are several terrific job boards on LI—great places to post desired opportunities and skills, as well as seek the advice from others. Some of these can be found at the top of the home page (“Jobs”) as well as on group pages, many of which have a tab for jobs.

So go ahead and use LinkedIn to build your professional network and prepare for your future, regardless of where you are in your career.