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?Â

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.Â

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.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 – 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.


Teaching the Traits for Top Sales Performance

Are great salespeople born? Or can anyone learn the tricks of the trade that make for sales success? While certain personality traits and natural abilities translate well for those in a sales-oriented career, much of what creates a successful sales professional can be learned with proper training in three areas: attitude, ability, and action. Â

  • Attitudes develop bit by bit over years. Those who believe they can and will achieve great things tend to succeed in whatever they pursue, as long as they’re willing to couple that ambition with hard work. Switching over to a positive attitude requires effort if you tend to focus on the glass being half-empty, but in time, a can-do outlook will become second nature. Positivity isn’t the only helpful attitude for sales. Other attitudes to cultivate include modesty, reliability, goal-orientation, curiosity, healthy competitiveness, and a lack of self-consciousness.
  • Abilities, or skills, can be acquired, thanks to teaching, coaching, and repetition. According to Steve W. Martin of Harvard Business Review, there are four skills beyond the typical list – hard work, tenacity, integrity, empathy, etc. – that really make a difference for self-made salespeople: language specialization, modeling of experiences, political acumen, and greed. Language specialization requires becoming a maven in your sales field, going beyond the standard recital of a product’s benefits and features to discuss domain-area expertise – and in the field’s jargon, to boot. “Modeling” refers to linking similar data and experiences into predictable patterns that influence future behavior. Developing a methodology of analyzing sales calls and sales cycles helps you to learn from each interaction, successful or not, to breed future success. Using acumen to understand human behavior and actions based upon self-interests helps the salesperson to accurately map out a decision maker’s influences and motivations. Finally, greed in this sense isn’t miserly or corrupt – rather, it’s a desire to be paid fairly for the time and effort invested in the sales process, pushing beyond the comfort zone to close a sale. 
  • Actions are the measurable steps you take to execute a sales strategy. These require planning as well as follow through and reporting. While the proper actions might seem intuitive to some, they can be learned by reading and studying from the plethora of sales advice available online and in print. Some actions to incorporate into your business cycle include setting sales goals in writing, tracking progress, reconnecting with customers every 30 to 60 days, and preparing scripts to overcome potential objections. Don’t overlook the importance of continued education and professional development. Dedicate a set amount of time to researching your customer’s industry, attending sales training courses, or meeting with a corporate coach to improve your value as a sales professional.

Keep in mind that someone could have all three areas understood, and if they don’t have an environment that’s conducive to what they’re selling, then they’ll still find an uphill battle. Those circumstances are rare, however. Once you learn the proper attitudes, abilities, and actions, you’ll be on your way to sales success.Â


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.

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.


Consistency is Key

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Planting the Seed for Good Referrals

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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

Creating Quality Connections

Picture this scene: You’re at the birthday party of a friend you regard highly. The friend is someone you crossed paths with years ago, and you currently have few mutual connections, which means the party is filled with people you don’t know – but who come pre-approved to a degree, if they gained this friend’s friendship. While grabbing another drink, your ear catches a snippet of conversation. A friend of this friend is talking about a subject you’re passionate about, and you’re impressed. This is someone you’d like to get to know. Do you step in and start sharing all the information you have on the topic?Â

In a social setting, you wouldn’t walk into a conversation and immediately dominate it or flash your smarts – at least, not if you’re trying to be socially adept and establish real connections. Rather, you’re more likely to ask questions and to learn what this interesting individual has to say first. After all, connection is a two-way street – if you want this person to value what you have to say, you have to be authentic and show that you value him or her first.Â

The same rules apply to business networking: focus first on connection before sales, whether the object you’re selling is yourself as a worthy contact or a good or service that puts bread on your table. Dr. Ivan Misner, founder of Business Networking International (BNI), shared on his blog about attending a networking event once and asking the attendees how many of them had come in the hopes of making a sale or doing business? Half of the audience raised its hands. However, when Misner asked the same crowd how many had come with the intention of buying something, not a single hand went up.Â

Misner called this a “networking disconnect.” The standard practice of networking too often focuses on selling instead of connecting. He refers to it as hunting – moving in on a specific prey in a single moment – when true networking is about farming, cultivating relationships with patience and care. Down the road, these relationships are likely to lead to business leads, but the connections are the focus, not the sales.

Here are four ways to cultivate that relationship for a quality connection:

  • Find out what is of value to your desired contact.
  • Determine what you can offer in the way of adding relevant value to that person.
  • Figure out how to deliver that value in a genuine, meaningful way.
  • Keep connected through periodic contact that centers on adding more value to him or her, whether of a personal or professional nature.


Building Rapport

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