How do you establish a connection with someone youâve just met? A crucial element to kicking off any relationship is building rapport based on trust, understanding, and commonalities. Power networking works best when you can build rapport quickly and genuinely. … Continue reading
An old adage says that 80 percent of success is just showing up. But how do you accomplish that other 20 percent â particularly following a networking event like a tradeshow or membership meeting? What comes after collecting a stack … Continue reading
In todayâs fast-paced, digital world, it gets easy in the hustle and bustle to overlook the human aspect of a business relationship. âThe foundation for successful networking and relationship building is making a good connectionâthat initial contact with someone rooted in mutual interest or experience that breaks down the wall that exists between us,â said Randy Haim, managing partner of Atlanta-based Bell Oaks Executive Search. âThese connections should emanate from your genuine desire to learn about the other person and determine what you have in common.âÂ
In his whitepaper âConnectingâ¦ The Forgotten Art of Social Interaction,â Haim outlines 10 connection-building skills to develop before your next big networking opportunity. Here are a few:Â
- Ask questions â This may be one of the oldest pieces of networking advice, but it holds true: you are more interesting when you ask questions. People love to talk about themselves, particularly to someone they can tell is listening with genuine interest. As you get them talking, listen actively, looking for common ground.
- Get personal â Weâre often trained to avoid personal information in business conversation. However, conversations are human interactions, and those personal components â faith, family, values, perspective â are what make us who we are. Donât shy away from sharing your values and talking with someone about theirs. However, getting to this personal level is uncomfortable for some, so gauge the reaction you receive and proceed accordingly. When done well and with a warm reception, this is a powerful way to an authentic, deep dialogue that can lead to a strong relationship.
- Use humor â Laughter is one of the easiest icebreakers. Jokes veer toward awkwardness, but when you use humor by making light of a situation or poking fun at yourself, it can build an instant â and positive â bond.
- Connect through content â Donât be afraid to take the next step in showing someone youâre genuinely interested in what they have to say by putting that interest into action. If your contact mentions struggling with a professional development challenge and youâve recently read something on the subject, go ahead and send them an email with the link to the article or a review of the book. This creates a point of discussion and follow up for future interactions.
As you work to better connect with new contacts at a personal, human level, youâll be surprised at how naturally and easily networking becomes. Focusing on individuals as people, not stepping stones to success, forges a deeper bond that may sustain beyond the business at hand.
Networking is undoubtedly an important professional activity, but could you use it for marketing â or even as your sole means of marketing? By harnessing word of mouthâs power while providing a quality good or service with potential to help … Continue reading
In todayâs world of social media, it seems like everyone and their dog has a blog. (No, really â Iâve seen âdog blogsâ!) However, blogging can and should be valued as a platform for differentiating yourself from peers and competitors. Not only is it a space to opine, but itâs also a way to find and create opportunities you never knew existed. Here are a few ways that blogging could lead you to bigger and better things:Â
- Build a personal brand â A blog provides a platform in which you can share your personal passion and expertise, whether that be related to your profession or not. Some hobby bloggers have gained such followings that theyâve made blogging a lucrative full-time gig, like Ree Drummond, aka The Pioneer Woman. Reeâs quirky personality and killer recipes made so many fans that sheâs gained sponsors, national exposure on morning shows, and even her own series on The Food Network, not to mention publishing a cookbook. Her success is one in a million, but it showcases how much people connect with passion and stories, no matter in what specific area. If youâre an avid golfer, tell some of the experience that stand out from your time on the course. Draw analogies between your golf game and business or life in general. Help your personality shine through. Many bloggers have made their way to the corporate speaking circuit or the realm of consulting.
- Increase your network â One of the interesting dynamics of todayâs online world is that perfect strangers can find one another by connecting over content, whether it be vigilance over car-seat safety or a shared interest in bird-watching. Place relevant, engaging content in the blogosphere, and then take the time to find bloggers with a shared passion. If you comment on their blogs and engage in a conversation â not merely trying to direct traffic to your own blog â then you will be able to find like-minded online friends. Increased connections up your chances of professional opportunities, either from focusing your blogging energy on a professionally relevant issue or by making new friends who might know someone with the ability to get you to the job you need.
- Keep current on whatâs hot (or not) â Blogging can be a great way to learn what connects with people. See what people are talking about in the blogosphere, and notice what posts you write draw the most comments and debate. Donât shy away from being a little controversial. Donât purposefully incite a fight, either â but if you have strong opinions on a particular subject, be bold in stating them. Listen openly to those who counter, and respond thoughtfully. Not only will everyone benefit from a reasoned discussion, but it will also help frame you as an individual who is willing to take a stand.
Social media measurers Klout announced that they reached the milestone of 100 million people with âKlout Scoresâ that indicate the individualâs influence from data across 10 networks, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Foursquare. Thatâs a significant chunk of online users … Continue reading
When looking into Twitter success stories, a lot of the most obvious winners are major companies and national brands â Ford, Dell, Johnson & Johnson. However, if you think that means Twitter is only for the âbig dogs,â think again. … Continue reading
Recently I was talking with a friend whose baby girl has just started to crawl. While watching footage of this little gal get around â hesitantly and haltingly at first â it made me think of how important it is … Continue reading
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?Â
The characteristics identified as making these strategists successful at their jobs were, in order:
- âIâm multi-disciplinary and can wear many hats.â (58%)
- âIâm willing to take risks.â (46%)
- âI can rally different stakeholders across the organization.â (45%)
- âI can effectively lead a multi-faceted, cross-departmental effort.â (38%)
- âI have experience in social media.â (37%)
- âI have a long-term customer-centric vision for the program.â (24%)
- âI can communicate the ROI to executive leadership.â (16%)
- âI have been working at my company many years.â (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 â whether that be juggling disparate responsibilities and trying new things without the fear of failure.Â
Iâm convinced that the connection between the two isnât coincidental, either. Those who are able to take on a myriad of responsibilities â from creating content to coming up with strategies, analyzing metrics and adapting accordingly, spearheading campaigns, and evangelizing social media to stakeholders â 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 executivesâ familiarity with social media themselves.Â
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).Â
Likewise, to get the most out of social media, businesses need to be willing to try new things â 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 â from marketing and sales to customer service â and youâll be sure to find what works best for your particular business niche.
Recently I came across a post on Social Media ExplorerÂ that showcased a bullâs-eye graphic to discuss exactly what it takes to provide relevant marketing communication. Â
âOptimal communication takes place when a marketer can deliver a relevant message to a relevant audience in a relevant location at a relevant time,â wrote post author Mark Smiciklas.Â
This concept meshes with a social media quote Iâve lived by for several years. Steve Rubel of Edelman PR once spelled out his recipe for social media success: âCreate high-quality content in high-interest areas again and again.â None of these ingredients can stand alone from the other. What you create will depend on who youâre trying to reach and where they turn for information, not to mention when they will be looking.Â
Iâll pose the same question Smiciklas asked: How can you become more relevant? Here are some thoughts on each of the categories needed to hit the relevance bullâs-eye with successful communication:
- Relevant Message â What is it that youâre trying to convey? Try to boil your unique selling proposition down to an elevator pitch, a 60-second explanation of why your product or service matters. From there, try to hone in on a story that can express the message in a way that will connect with your audience. Is there a case study or success story that you can relate? Focus on the pain points your customers face. How do you offer a solution to this pressing problem? Why is your solution superior to others out there?
- Relevant Audience â How defined is the audience youâre trying to reach? Targeting a specific group of people â or even multiple groups â will make all the difference in making your messaging effective. Speak to their unique needs and wants. If you have a product or service that benefits a general audience, then you may need to find a way to tell your story multiple times to multiple consumer profiles. Also think of how to tell the story â which medium is best. Will your audience watch a YouTube video, or are they more likely to benefit from a podcast or blogpost? One size does not fit all where effective marketing is concerned.
- Relevant Location â Where does your target audience turn for information? As Rubel said, it matters to place your message in high-interest areas. Think about the model used in traditional television advertising or film trailers. Would you want to advertise chainsaws during childrenâs programming? Conversely, would it be effective to show a trailer of the latest My Little Ponies film right before a testosterone-fueled slasher flick? You want to connect with your audience where they look for information, whether that be mommy blogs, traditional news vehicles, corporate websites, or social media outlets.
- Relevant Time â When will your target audience need the information you can provide? One of the top ânews valuesâ by which journalists judge a storyâs importance is timeliness.Â Even the best message will fall on deaf ears if it doesnât matter to the audience at the time. Pay attention to current events. Is there a way to tie your story into a larger news item or story that has the public buzzing? Can you use the activities and emotions tied to the various seasons of the year to make your message hit home better? Tell stories that will resonate with whatâs on peopleâs minds right now.