"Get Your Learn On!"

How do you pique interest in new technology that, in the long run, can save time, aggravation and money? I am on the board of a nonprofit that meets early in the morning and invariably, someone shows up late due to a traffic snarl and is in dire need of a cup of coffee. We all know how anxiety-producing it is to show up late, but being that we are volunteers, we are spared some leniency. To minimize travel and maximize time, I suggested that we try a Google+ Hangout for a change of pace. The response to my email suggesting this idea was lackluster at best, and I realized that it was most likely due to a lack of familiarity with Google+ and Hangouts. However, one member was interested and sees the value in testing out this unique online video conferencing tool.

There are different variations of Hangouts and my plan is to teach my friend about a live video call that allows us to hold meetings that are not for public consumption. To get started, she only needs the basics; a computer with a webcam and microphone, earbuds and an internet connection. Once I take her through the process, we can then demonstrate the procedure to members of the nonprofit at a future in-real-life meeting. I will bring my laptop to the meeting and connect with the member via a Hangout as she sits in the comfort of her home and participates fully in the discussion. Seeing is believing and I am confident that once everyone sees the positive benefits of Google Hangouts, they will eagerly jump on the bandwagon. 

I would like to know how you persuade people to take a look at new technologies when you are confronted with disinterest? I think that maybe I need to brush up on my skills of persuasion!

 

It's All in the Journey

I belong to Toastmasters and and one of the portions of the meeting is Table Topics. This is a chance for all of us to practice our public speaking skills by talking extemporaneously about a topic. The Table Topic Facilitator takes the lead and we all try, to the best of our ability, to polish our skills at talking "off the cuff." We meet weekly which is very advantageous because it forces us to practice. This leads to increased confidence since we are practicing in bits and pieces without those feelings of overwhelm and apprehension. We are learning to be cognizant of our "ums" and "aaaahs" and talk in cohesive sentences. I am partial to the word "so" and use that between sentences, which has kindly been brought to my attention numerous times. Toastmasters is a win-win situation in my book. Not only do you meet interesting people but you are prepared for that big Ted Talk which could be in your future! For a Toastmasters group near you, check out the Toastmasters International website.

Eliminating Spam

I'm sure most will agree that spam is annoying. I try to minimize the chance of spam by having an email address exclusively for promotions, newletters and fluff. I have no problem with the uninvited newsletter that easily allows me to unsubscribe. As long as there is an unsubscribe button posted, I am a happy camper. If I have opted-in to receive a newsletter and subsequently decide I don't want it anymore, I want it to be an easy task to eliminate and not require me to sign in with a password to change my mailing options. But how about the emails you receive regularly, that you never opted to receive, that are impossible to stop because there is no unsubscribe option available? What do you do when spam creeps into your primary personal or business email account and will not go away? Report it to Spamcop, a service which researches the source of the spam and reports it to the Internet service providers linked to the spammer. It may not work every time, but it is a step in the right direction.

 

 

Is a Facebook Business Page Necessary?

There has been alot of buzz lately about Facebook and it's everchanging algorithm and newsfeed. Number of likes does not translate into rabid fans and often is an insignificant number when it comes to actual engagement. So what is a business to do? A Facebook presence is important since over one billion active users on the platform cannot be discounted or ignored. Plus, one must remember that although Facebook is a free platform, true marketing principles suggest that paid ads must be used to gain maximum benefit. Social platforms are malleable and respond to constant change and take time to build trust and engagement. I always say that "Rome wasn't build in a day and neither is your social media strategy!"

A Facebook Business Page is necessary due to its popularity and the sheer volume of users. A good strategy is to start simply by creating a message that conveys the uniqueness and strengths of your brand. Reach out to your current customers and start the conversation. Encourage interaction and respond in a timely fashion. Think about incentives to increase engagement such as a newsletter, coupon or eBook. Eventually, start a group to discuss your area of expertise and connect with others via a Facebook group. Eliminate overwhelm by focusing on your niche market and combining your online persona with good, old fashioned, face to face networking. Once you begin to become more comfortable in the marketing space, take a look at other social platforms. Eventually, through trial and error, you will find the social combination that works best for you and your business.

Easy LinkedIn Strategies

LinkedIn is a good tool for promotion and engagement in the business world. People want to connect and be found and LinkedIn can be considered your sales brochure. Write your profile to attract your ideal client and stand out from your competition.

To be successful on LinkedIn:

Write in the first person.

Create a stunning profile that attracts potential clients.

Build your network strategically with quality connections.

Communicate and share with your network on a regular basis.

The more people in your network, the more opportunity and the more visibility for you.

Here are some steps to help you create an engaging LinkedIn profile:

Optimize Your Profile

Use key words and phrases in your profile that attract your ideal customer/client. Make sure you use the exact words or phrases that they are using to search for you. It is important to interject keywords and phrases because of search engine optimization but you need to be strategic about it so that it is not an obvious turnoff.

Your Name 

Write your personal name, not your company name.

Post a Recent Professional Photo

People are engaging with you so it is important that the image you provide is professional. Heads and shoulders are ideal The image is critical when people are making an initial assessment on you – smile! Research has shown that when people look at your profile, they initially look at your name, your photo and then the headline.

Your Headline

Underneath your name is a space for you to give yourself a headline. This is an important area of your profile because it comes up in the search engines. The default is your current job title but you can embellish this. Use as an opportunity to describe yourself in your own words. So use keywords to highlight your skills and sell yourself.

Summary

The Summary is a critical piece of real estate. After giving your profile an initial glance, people read the summary. This is where you explain who you are, what you do and what you offer your clients. This is a great place to include a call to action such as a special offer, an E-book, a newsletter or a free giveaway. After this is read, people will often decide if they want to connect further and know more about you. This too needs to be keyword rich for search engines.

Current Experience

Write a carefully crafted description of what you do. 

Past Experience

Pay attention to this section because it helps to give a more rounded view of you and your background.

Websites

List your websites or blog addresses on your profile. If you have one website, you can refer to different pages of your site. Or add the web address of your Facebook Page to your website addresses. 

Claim Your Personal URL

LinkedIn gives you a URL with lots of numbers included. Change this to make it personal and easily identifiable with you.

Use Your URL to Connect

Add your URL to your email signature, along with other social networks you belong to.

Add a Video

This is powerful! Seeing is believing. Upload through Slideshare and make a statement about what you do, current projects you are working on, anything that will sell yourself and your abilities.

Skills and Expertise

This feature allows you to list all of the skills you have to offer. Choose from those already listed or create your own to showcase your expertise.

Recommendations

Recommendations are very important because they establish credibility. Be generous in giving and the favor will most likely be returned if you have have had a positive business relationship. Referrals and recommendations are impressive and a great way to obtain new clients and establish social proof.

Education

List your educational pursuits.

Groups

You can join up to 50 groups on LinkedIn and create up to 10 groups of your own. Often, members join groups where their competitors belong. Why not hang out where your potential clients are instead? Belong to groups which focus on your niche and become visible and a known expert to potential clients. Join in on the discussion and answer questions. In my opinion, groups are one of the major strengths of LinkedIn.

List Your Interests

Here is an opportunity to tell more about yourself, your hobbies and interests. 

Personal Information

Share information you are comfortable with and definitely your business email and phone.

Contact Settings

You set up these settings when you opened your account and may be edited.

Status Updates

From your home page, you can broadcast to your own network what you are doing, ask or question or communicate anything of value. Status updates are not saved or visible on your profile so you are dependent upon people catching them in the newfeed. 

I hope these tips are helpful to you! 

Dial N for Networking in 2014

We can all spend way too much time online and lose track of real time engagement. One of my New Year's resolutions is to take the time to explore more networking opportunities. Here are some networking tips for getting out there in the real world and building authentic relationships.

  • Arrive half an hour early to the get-together. This is especially helpful if this is an event with a large number of people attending. When you arrive early, it is much easier to meet people and less nerve-wracking. 
  • It takes time to nurture and build business relationships. Do not go on and on about your business in hopes of gaining a new client or customer immediately. 
  • Always provide tips and suggestions without expecting anything in return. Think in terms of giving, not receiving.
  • Follow up with those your meet. I like to invite them to connect with me professionally on LinkedIn. Do not immediately add the business cards you collect to your email list. That is annoying and borderline spam. If you meet someone who genuinely seems interested in your business, follow up with them and ask them for permission to add their email to your list.
  • Introduce people to one another; be a connector.
  • I never learn anything listening to myself talk so finding out about what makes others tick is always interesting and informative. Make an effort to remember names and listen more than you talk.
  • If you are asked to give a 30 second promo about your business do not even attempt to sell. Instead, introduce yourself and the name of your business and say something that will invoke curiosity and leave the audience wanting to know more about you.

I hope you find these tips useful. What suggestions to you have for increasing your networking mojo?

 

Facebook is a Piece of the Pie

How do you, as a small business owner, monetize social media to help your business grow and flourish? How do I explain to you that having a business profile on Facebook is a good idea? Not a time waster or another thing to worry about, but a productive use of your time?

Social media is fluid and ever changing. Facebook changes its algorithms weekly so what you see is not always what you get. Change is inevitable and you need to go with the flow and not get hung up one particular marketing strategy. Every business is unique so what works for one may not work for another. Luckily, there is something called Facebook Insights, which allows you to measure, analyze and compare engagement, reach and popularity. The first order of business is to decide what metrics you want to measure to gage your social media efforts. Some common metrics are:

  • Number of fans who like your page translates to brand awareness
  • Engagement translates to reach and influence
  • Conversion translates to lead generation and sales conversion

The correct analytic tools will allow you to compare the data and give you a good understanding of your Facebook page. However, analytics are only one piece of the puzzle. As always, online or offline, local retail shop or vast conglomerate, 100 fans or 100,000 fans; customer service rules the house. Value comes from engagement of your potential customers or clients and then identifying those that really support and have the capacity to grow your business. And you must know who your target customer is, right down to their core values and beliefs. Once you know your ideal customer, you can develop a strategy targeted at creating interest in your product or service.

 

Nix the Quick Fix

Social media is a confusing topic for local business owners. The amount of information is overwhelming and analysis paralysis can quickly set in as one weighs the pros and cons of different social media strategies. Due to the constant, ever-changing nature of the social sphere, asking the right questions can be problematic. Preconceived notions of exactly what your needs are can cause one to disregard relevant solutions and focus on a path leading to less than stellar results. So nix the quick fix and take time to assess your situation, set realistic goals and create a plan. Here are five assumptions that business owners often make that could lead to trouble down the road:

  1. "Since I have a Facebook business page, my work is done."
  2. "All social media managers and consultants are similar so I'll select the one that charges the least."
  3. "Social media is not a major part of the marketing piece; I'll hand it off to my administrative assistant."
  4. "A social media consultant should be able to offer me a package of services and prices during the initial phone consultation."
  5. "Social media is a waste of time because I don't see results."

Here is the skill set to look for in a social media consultant/manager:

  1. An affinity for the social sphere, online and offline. Business networking, in person, is important and can help you grow your brand.
  2. A love of the written word is very helpful. If someone is not writing their own content and is dependent upon others feeding them material, it is not a good sign. 
  3. To truly excel in the social media space, I think research is very important to understand the business you are helping. I can spend hours pouring over information and researching topics; reminds of the olden days of quiet, musty libraries!
  4. An ability to be organized amid the chaos; in other words, a multi-tasker.
  5. Trustworthiness, integrity and a high level of emotional intelligence.
  6. And last but not least, look for a good listener. 

 

 

 

Has Social Media Piqued Your Interest?

Are you interested in learning all about social media?

Sign up for one of my interactive classes on a variety of social media topics.These classes are ideal if you have a group that wants to learn together or if you want to do more hands-on learning yourself. Because these classes aren’t private, the information is general and there is no customized learning. Classes are limited to 10 people per session. If you are interested in one-on-one learning, please email me and we can discuss your specific situation.

Customer Service Without An Answer

Common sense would tell you that with the advent of the internet, customer service would be a prime focal point of attention for companies seeking to grow and cultivate followers. This may or may not be the case. It is easy to set up a Facebook business fan page, especially if you are a well-known brand, and immediately rack up many followers. You can even set your parameters so that your fans can post on the page. This is the case with a well-known department store. I was wondering why they do not accept a debit card, which is attached to a checking account, for payment of their bill in-store. They will accept a check but not a debit card from the same checking account. Customer service at the store was not sure why, but thought it had to do with rules dictated by their bank. I then called the 800 customer service number and asked them the same question. They did not know either but the representative promised to let her supervisor know. My next move was to post an inquiry on the company's Facebook page. I received a good number of responses and opinions, but none from the company itself. This was a month ago and I'm still waiting, which leads me to the conclusion that they are out-of-touch with their customers and are not going to respond. 

Having a social media presence for your business requires a commitment to keeping tabs on your customers. With a company the size of the one I was attempting to communicate with, that means a full time awareness of what is going on and timely responses to questions and concerns. I do like to shop there, the sales people are very friendly but I would like an answer to my question.

 

 

Twitter Chats

I must admit that I've been remiss when it comes to Twitter Chats. I plan on participating more because I do see value you in them and think they are a great way to help engage and learn. Twitter Chats are discussions, usually lasting about one hour, that focus on a particular topic. A moderator leads the conversation, although it can get a tad confusing with people chiming in at any point to add to the discussion. I think with practice, one can follow along quite easily. For more information, check out this article from Social Media Today.

Networking Angst...Can You Relate?

A networking mixer in real life. You walk into a large tent on a beautiful summer's day and don't know anyone. You circle the room, people are huddled in groups fervently talking with each other. You feel intrusive and insecure all of a sudden; reminiscent of the way you felt in high school all those years ago when they were choosing sides for basketball. I run into this scenario every once in a while and I always have the urge to flee! I am not an introvert but then again, I am not an all-out extrovert either. I enjoy socializing but these mixers sometimes get the better of me. Can anyone relate?


Putting the Personal in LinkedIn

Which brings up the question of why LinkedIn has a feature whereby anonymous people can look at your profile. Aren't we supposed to be transparent and be in connection mode?

And when you invite someone to connect, include a personal message. Sure it is easy to click on a name and send LinkedIn’s generic invitation, but how impersonal is that?