REVIVING THE LOST ART OF CONNECTION

In today’s fast-paced, digital world, it gets easy in the hustle and bustle to overlook the human aspect of a business relationship. “The foundation for successful networking and relationship building is making a good connection—that initial contact with someone rooted … Continue reading

Learning from Successful Social Media Strategists

Business-to-consumer communication has been revolutionized with the advent of social media in the last decade. With nearly 80 percent of corporations now incorporating social media into their marketing and communication mix, the role of a social strategist is becoming more and more standard as a needed and respected part of the team. Mashable recently published an awesome infographic about what it takes to be a social strategist. Even if you have no desire to make social media your 9-to-5, what are some things you can learn from the social media managers and other social media professionals surveyed?

The characteristics identified as making these strategists successful at their jobs were, in order:

  • “I’m multi-disciplinary and can wear many hats.” (58%)
  • “I’m willing to take risks.” (46%)
  • “I can rally different stakeholders across the organization.” (45%)
  • “I can effectively lead a multi-faceted, cross-departmental effort.” (38%)
  • “I have experience in social media.” (37%)
  • “I have a long-term customer-centric vision for the program.” (24%)
  • “I can communicate the ROI to executive leadership.” (16%)
  • “I have been working at my company many years.” (13%)

 

What stands out in these numbers to me is that the key to success for these strategists has less to do with ROI or long-term plans and more to do with the ability to innovate – whether that be juggling disparate responsibilities and trying new things without the fear of failure.

I’m convinced that the connection between the two isn’t coincidental, either. Those who are able to take on a myriad of responsibilities – from creating content to coming up with strategies, analyzing metrics and adapting accordingly, spearheading campaigns, and evangelizing social media to stakeholders – are likely to manage participation in a myriad of media as well. They know how to work with varied audiences through varied channels, connecting consumers with companies adeptly, and they also know how to translate the benefits of social media into terms executives can appreciate and get behind, regardless of the executives’ familiarity with social media themselves.

Proactive social media professionals are those who are able to change and evolve along with the new shifts that come in technology. They are the ones who remain on the bleeding edge of new technologies, adopting them early and then advocating experimentation with them. These forward thinkers use the new media intuitively and find ways to extract the maximum ROI from the tools (remembering that ROI in social media is less about sales conversions and more about building relationships and brand loyalty).

Likewise, to get the most out of social media, businesses need to be willing to try new things – and to try lots of different things as well. The benefit of social media is that most of the tools are free. Not having to invest much overhead to dabble in different platforms leaves businesses wide open to experiment with new initiatives and see what resonates with their customers. Be willing to adapt to and adopt new technologies and integrate them into different parts of the business cycle – from marketing and sales to customer service – and you’ll be sure to find what works best for your particular business niche.

Learn To Become a expert with Social Media and Content Strategy http://garypasek.socialzing.me 

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How to Work a Room

Have you ever wondered how to master the art of mingling? At social functions, you can always spot a person or two who seem to effortlessly work the room, weaving in and out of conversations as they connect with almost everyone in their path. Networking with that kind of social finesse doesn’t come naturally to most – but thankfully it’s a skill that can, in fact, be learned and mastered through practice and preparation. Here are some tips to develop the skill set to catch the attention of those who will benefit your professional network:Â

  • Be positive – When you meet new people, what runs through your head? Your instinctive reaction may speak volumes in terms of the return you receive. Attitude often guides behavior, and what you think before you walk through the door will influence the “vibes” you give off to those you meet. Are you prone to negative self-talk? (“Why would they want to talk to me anyway?” “There’s no way I’ll stick out from the crowd.” “Meeting people just isn’t my strength because of _____.”) Believe it or not, many – if not most – people have the same reaction in group settings. When you shift from thinking you can’t to thinking you can, however, you can take the lead and bring others out of their shells. That kind of initiative radiates positivity and will make an impact on those you meet.
  • Make it all about them – In his seminal How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie emphasized the importance of sincerely showing interest in other people. A person’s name is the sweetest and most important sound in any language, according to Carnegie, and remembering it works wonders to win a good first impression. Try to find ways to make the other person feel important, like talking to them about their interests. It’s easy to find common ground with most people if you listen actively when asking where they’re from, where they went to college, asking about why they chose their career path or enjoy certain hobbies. Be sure that you do so sincerely, though – there’s nothing more off-putting than faked interest. Sincere interest is usually met with reciprocal sincere interest, however.
  • Identify clear goals – What is it that you’re hoping to take away from the event? Defining even one or two objectives for a networking event or situation will help you hone in on what you need to do to meet those as well as to measure success after the fact. Are you looking to learn more about a particular field? Develop prospective sales contacts? Meet a particular person about whom you’ve heard good things? When you have your objectives in place, work backwards and prepare how to meet those, thinking of what questions to ask, how to approach a new contact, etc. This will help you avoid being tongue-tied and uncertain when in the moment, instead coming off as confident and natural.

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After you’ve done all your preparation, make sure that you physically work the room – moving around increases the number of people with whom your path will cross, after all. Get out there and show them all you’ve got!

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The Tipping Point of Networking

In his famed work The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell discusses what he terms “The Law of the Few”: “The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts.” Gladwell breaks these socially adept individuals into three personality types – connectors, mavens, and salesmen. How does each of these personality types propel social epidemics – and how can you improve your networking by taking a page from each profile’s playbook?Â

  • Connectors – Have you ever met someone who seems to “collect” people? Six degrees are more than they need to determine their separation from everyone on the planet – with connectors, it’s more like three. According to Gladwell, Connectors have a gift for bringing the world together by spanning different worlds with “curiosity, self-confidence, sociability, and energy.” To increase your connectivity, be aware of others’ needs and how you can fill them. It can be as simple as connecting two acquaintances with complementing needs and abilities (i.e. a contact needs a good graphic designer and you happen to know one in the area). When your focus is not on what you can take from others but rather what you can offer, you build “social capital” and cultivate a genuine bond of trust and respect that will pay dividends down the road. Generosity gets noticed.
  • Mavens – Where connectors gather contacts, mavens gather information. They’re the type to find a great hole-in-the-wall restaurant and then broadcast this knowledge to everyone in their network (even via fax, according to one anecdote Gladwell shares in his book). Mavens want to solve other people’s problems, almost to the point of being “pathologically helpful,” and enthusiastically share newfound knowledge. Thanks to this, Mavens start “word-of-mouth epidemics” by sharing and trading their information capital, making them an invaluable contact. Make yourself an asset to the networks of those with whom you come in contact by adding value to their day. If you have a great tip, don’t be afraid to share it – but be judicious in quality and quantity. As you build a reputation for being in the know, others will listen up when you have a message that needs sharing.
  • Salesmen – Some people are born with the charisma and persuasive personalities that make them powerful negotiators. Salesmen often have some indefinable trait beyond their words that makes them successful persuaders. While that may not be learned easily, you can learn to show integrity and trustworthiness in every business interaction. As you conduct yourself with honor and teach others about who you are and what you do at every opportunity, you’ll build relationships that will engender trust (and referrals). This will help you build a salesforce with a wider reach than your own network.

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Whether you’re a connector, maven, or salesman, don’t forget to follow up with your contacts. Marketing statistics say it takes 7-12 impressions before a consumer makes a purchasing decision. Don’t stop building your network after an impression or two. Take that extra step – a phone call, email, lunch date, etc. – to continue feeding those relationships that will tip the scales toward success.

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What Does Your Business Card Say About You?

A business card might only be a few inches of cardstock, but that small piece of ink and paper plays a critical role in business networking. It’s this card that you leave behind to remind someone that they met you and that you are someone worthy of their time and connection – but it’s also small enough to fit in one’s palm, meaning you’re pretty limited by space with what you can say.Â

How do you develop a catchy business card that sums up the essence of YOU? Here are some ways to make an impression with the right information:

  • Less is more – Intrigue is everything, according to message expert Laura Allen of thepitchgirl.com. “My basic rule of thumb is, ‘clear and concise equals cash; vague and verbose equals trash,’” Allen said.
  • Be catchy – Coming up with a compelling catchphrase is the best way to make an impact that will draw the receiver in. “If I meet 40 people at a conference, I don’t have time to go back and look at their resumes,” she said. “But if somebody gives me their business card and the front of it says, ‘closed a $5.5 million deal from a cold call,’ … that’s something worth following through on.”
  • Be concise – While you should have a good message, make sure to keep it short. “It’s all about filtering down to the most important point,” Allen said. “You take the 15-second pitch — four sentences — and make that even smaller.”
  • Looks are everything – Remember, business cards are visual – much more so than a resume of LinkedIn profile. Therefore, rules of good design apply: using graphics to tell a story, paying attention to color theory (particularly the emotional responses attached to the hues you choose), and embracing white space as your friend. The most successful advertising campaigns often include iconography. You don’t necessarily need a logo on par with Volkswagen or Pepsi to make an impact, but do try to determine a visual brand that ties in with what you’d like to be known for the most.
  • Go pro – Just as design matters, production is important for a quality business card. Don’t buy a packet of cardstock and print these off at home! There are countless design and printing vendors online who can create professional business cards for a great price. Start with a small quantity at first – this will allow you to adapt your card as you feel out how effective the first model is.

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Take time to look at the business cards you’ve received. Which do you like? What is it about these cards that speaks to you? Spending time to deconstruct what people have done well (or not) in the past will help you create a winning business card that leaves the right impression with those you come across while you network your way to success.

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Consistency is Key

Although Ralph Waldo Emerson once called consistency “the hobgoblin of little minds,” consistency’s role in success should not be underrated. To achieve any goal – personal or professional – requires consistently doing what it takes to reach the objective.  … Continue reading

Four Ways to Forge Networking Connections

The heart and soul of networking is to connect with other human beings, creating sincere relationships that may “pay off” down the road with personal and professional opportunities. How do you create those relationships, though? Here are four ideas: Get … Continue reading