Tag Archives: social media for business owners

Six Tips For The Care and Feeding Of Your LinkedIn Account

Webinar2Today’s  “Social Media for Old Folks” webinar topic was LinkedIn. Here are six recommendations we made that may be useful for you too:

1. Make invitations personal. The form-letter invitation generated by LinkedIn is not all that friendly. “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” just doesn’t strike the same tone as “Hey, Joe. Great to see you today. Want to link?” In the same vein, when you accept an invitation to connect, take two seconds to send a message back that acknowledges you’re both human beings. It takes two seconds to type “Thanks for the invitation. Hope you’re doing great.”

2. Don’t make your personal update too personal. LinkedIn is not Facebook. Let your LinkedIn update be some fairly major business milestone or at the very least, business related. Also, you don’t need to update this one as often as you might on other networks. It’s perfectly acceptable to leave the same update up there for a month or so. (As long as it doesn’t say something like “Two days before the Christmas rush is over!”

3. Skip asking for recommendations. If you’re a high-level professional, we don’t recommend having recommendations on your profile. If you’re still in the early years of your career, or job hunting, they’re fine. But everyone knows how those recommendations get there (a message from you asking your contacts for a recommendation) and that they’re sort of a command performance of glowing praise.

4. Participate in the Answers discussions. If you see a question that you can answer, take a minute to do so. It’s good to invest in helping others, so you’re not using LinkedIn exclusively for getting what you need. Besides, it’s nice exposure to be the guy who knows what’s what. Also, when you need to know something, use this Answers feature. You can access some legitimately useful expertise on just about anything you need to  know, and it gives other people a chance to be an expert on something.

5. Join groups. Your group memberships offer a quick snapshot of your interests and affiliations. If a friend or contact invites you to join their group, it’s showing support for them to join, as long as it really is a topic appropriate for you. Then, participate in the discussions. Making comments there is a good way to be involved in the LinkedIn community.

6. Start your own group. This is an excellent way to claim your area of expertise, particularly if you can narrow the scope of the group to a small niche or audience. You can begin to own that niche (or at least to be recognized as one of the players) by starting and maintaining an active group.

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Social Media for Old Folks, in an Old Media Format: the 52-Card Deck

smcardpileThey’re back from the printer! Our Starter Cards deck called “Build Your Brand With Social Media” is hot off the press, literally.

If you’re one of those people who’s got a LinkedIn account but you don’t really get how to use it; if you’re using Facebook, but mostly to spy on your kids, if you’re just  plain confused by the 140-character hullaballoo of Twitter, then this is the tool for you.

Build Your Brand With Social Media” was created for those of us who were born before faxes were invented, much less outdated. This is a way to easily get up to speed and be linking and friending and tweeting like people half your age.

Here’s the idea. There is no shortage of information out there about social media. In fact, there’s so much information, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

Can’t somebody break it down into a series of manageable steps? Isn’t there anywhere you can get all the basics of LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and blogging, all in one place?

As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what this “Build Your Brand With Social Media” deck does. It walks you through the whole process, one step per card, with simple directions for that step on the back of each card. It’s as close as possible to having me sitting there with you, taking you step by step.

Want to give it  a whirl? You can find the cards on the Starter Cards website.


Friday Afternoon Feng Shui Ritual

photoHow do you like to end the work week? I have this thing about clearing everything off my desk and either filing or tossing all the stuff stacked on my credenza. Then I wipe it all down to remove the week’s accumulated coffee circles and other debris.

Our Feng Shui consultant got me started on this, years ago. She said it was important to clear out all the old energy of the week, to make things ready for a fresh week to come. She advocated the use of Clorox Wipes, and suggested leaving a blank pad of paper square in the center of your work space to signal to the universe that you’re open to receive more business.

I swear, I think this weekly ritual helps. I love coming back to my office Monday morning and seeing that wide-open expanse of uncluttered desk space. And somehow, it lets me leave Friday afternoon feeling like I’ve got everything squared away, with no loose ends hanging.

Lately though, I’ve started to notice  how action-packed that 4:00 to 5:00 PM hour is in the social media world. Tweets are flying back and forth, Follow Friday is in full force, people are posting on Facebook, checking their LinkedIn account. Twitter, particularly, is like a weekly 60-minute cocktail party you don’t want to miss. Maybe it’s people killing that last hour of the week when they feel like they should be at their desk, even though they’re not about to start something new that close to the weekend bell.

So either I’ve got to start my little OCD clutter-clearing ritual a little earlier, or I’ll miss some of the fun online. What do you guys do to close out the work week? And what’s your must-click time of the day or week on social media?

500+ contacts on LinkedIn? Can you really know that many people?

LITurns out you can. I used to be skeptical of my few friends who had that 500+ notation beside their names. I had a hard time believing they could possibly know that many LinkedIn contacts if they ran into one of them on the street.

I also used to think LinkedIn was kind of dull, compared to the friendliness of Facebook and the concise wit and wisdom of Twitter. My opinion was that LinkedIn was probably a great tool for jobseekers, but that there was nothing in it for me.

Recently, I decided to jump into my LinkedIn account with both feet. At that point, I had 178 contacts, but only because a colleague had challenged me to a competition a year or two ago. We were sitting through a long day of shooting a TV spot, and to pass the time between shots, we each tried to invite as many people as possible to connect. The one with the most connections at the end of the day would be declared the winner. (I think Stacy won.)

My collection of 178 contacts included lots of interesting, accomplished and well-connected people. But the list was a little random, and depended heavily on people I had in my email address book or that I just happened to think of, off the top of my head.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve about doubled my number of contacts. Now I’m up in the 350s somewhere. And I gotta tell you, LinkedIn becomes a much more colorful and lively cocktail party as your number of contacts grows.

My assumption was that after the first couple of hundred contacts, you’d be stretching to find any other people you actually new. But the opposite is true. The more people you connect with, the more names you think to search — and the more people find you. Tons of old co-workers, clients, vendors and acquaintances have popped up, many of whom I was delighted to be in touch with again.

As your list of contacts grows, it also becomes less weird to invite someone you know less well. I’ve reached out to people who are peers in the industry, although we’ve never actually been introduced. You can invite those people who know of you but don’t really know you — and vice versa. You can link with people you’ve emailed with but have never met in person.

How do you decide if someone’s too far removed from you to invite? You don’t want to overstep your bounds and ask someone who has no idea who you are. Some people say stick to people you know and trust, or people you’d like to know better. My rule of thumb is to ask myself if that person would pick up the phone if their assistant said I was on the line. If I think they’d take my call, I feel comfortable inviting them.

LinkedIn would appeal to a border collie, or any herding dog — if only  dogs could get online. LinkedIn lets you herd everybody together and corral them in one place. The more people in your corral, the richer and more interesting a resource LinkedIn becomes.

So yeah, I think I could end up with 500 or more contacts on LinkedIn, and still recognize everyone if we bumped into each other on the street. If nothing else, I’ll be familiar with their little headshot at the top of their profile.

“Have you made any money from your blog?”

Webinar1_25Yesterday, we gave a Webinar on how to start your own blog. We talked through the business reasons for having a blog, worked with participants to help them define the topics of their blogs and then walked them through establishing the beginnings of their blogsites on WordPress.

Afterwards, one of the participants called my office and asked me, “Have you made any money from your blog?” The short answer is no. A blog is not a direct sales channel.

But the answer would be yes, if she’d asked a slightly different question. Has blogging been good for our business? Definitely. Has blogging helped us connect with people who are key prospects for our company? It has.

One of the most important benefits of blogging is that it changes the dynamics of the sales process. Instead of making cold calls, trying to set meetings with people who’ve never heard of you, blogging allows you to reach out as more of a peer. Instead of trying to force your foot in the door, you start out as part of their community already. As a blogger with a special expertise in your narrow niche, you’re beginning the relationship as someone who has something to offer, as opposed to someone trying to get them to buy something.

A blog also can give you a great excuse to introduce yourself to a key prospect. Call them up and ask to interview them for a post. If someone is a highly desirable prospect for your company, that person probably has plenty to say that would be interesting and helpful for the readers of your blog. Rather than having your first conversation with a prospect be all about you and how wonderful your company is, you begin the relationship by listening to what they have to say. Just like your mother always said, one of the best ways to make new friends is to ask questions that get them talking about themselves.

Chris Brogan and the Spirit of Helping in Social Media

palmWho could not love Chris Brogan? He looks like some tough guy, and he turns out to be sweet as pie. He’s been doing some video blogs the past few days on his “Overnight Success,” mostly it seems, to prove the point that it’s not all that glamorous, and that his fame in the social media arena certainly didn’t happen overnight. In his Part 2 video, he opens shooting down from his hotel balcony to the pool below, surrounded by palm trees and lounge chairs. Then he shows us around his room, explaining how it’s not a big vacation, but is actually where he gets a lot of work done. “It ain’t all pretty,” he says, “This is where it all gets done. It’s just doing what needs doing.” (One of my favorite parts is when he’s swooping the camera around to show his laptop on the hotel room desk and pans by a row of miniature Maker’s Mark bottles lined up neatly in arm’s reach of the computer.)

What I really love about his Overnight Success, Part Deux, is Brogan’s ernest plea that we all reach out and help other people. This willingness to help seems to me the most powerful undercurrent in the social media world right now, and it’s a far cry from the business attitudes that were prevalent in the early part of my career, back in the 80s and 90s.

That makes me wonder if some of this might be the influence of Millennials in the workplace. The under-30 crowd offers a much less selfish approach to business, and they believe they can change the world, starting right now. When people my age were coming along, nobody was talking about win-win. We believed if one person one, someone else necessarily lost. Us Boomers also assumed we had to pay our dues before we could have much of an impact. These Gen Y kids seem to believe they’re ready to be the CEO from day one. I like that about them.

In fact, that attitude of doing it right now is another part of Brogan’s hotel room rant. He urges his viewers to take action, to quit talking and get in the game, to get some projects out there in the world. He says, “Let’s help people. Let’s lift each other up.”

What’s not to love about that?

The Cliff Notes of Social Media for Old Folks: Webinar One

EB&JBWebinarThis afternoon, we sat on the couch in my office and took about six or seven small business owners through an overview of what social media can do for them. My business partner Jennifer and I were presenting to a creative director, a literary agent, a strategic marketing person, a sales rep, an account planner, an expert on world poverty and an accupuncturist — all of whom were sitting in their own offices in front of their own computers.

Social Media for Old Folks is our five-part Webinar, covering everything from blogging to linking to friending to tweeting. We’re not social media experts, by any means, but we have learned a great deal about using social media in the last year or so. We’ve also discovered that we’re quite passionate about sharing that knowledge with others.

If you’re in a business that involves sharing what we call Odd Knowledge, social media is the most powerful way out there to build your business. Whether you’re a financial advisor or a large animal vet or an event planner or a Pilates trainer — or a world poverty expert or accupuncturist — you offer an expertise in a specific niche.

If your business depends on clients trusting you to be the one with the right answers, then social media is a powerful way to establish that trust. It’s also a place for you to share your unique perspective on your particular field of expertise.

Here are a few highlights from our Webinar today:

1. Social media can connect you with the whole world — but make it feel like you’re doing business in a small town. Despite the fact that it depends on technology, it can be an extremely human and personal form of contact.

2. The two most important things social media can do for your business are to A) promote your expertise and B) build your connections (which can become a following). This creates a beautiful dynamic: Instead of you always reaching out for new customers, you’ll find them seeking you out instead.

3. The model we recommend is this: a blog to showcase your expertise and social networks to drive traffic to that blog. Your blog is your content; the social networks are ways to start conversations about that content.

4. Your website and your blog are two different things. The website is your company talking, and is a destination for background information and evergreen materials. Your blog is you talking, is more fluid because it’s updated more often, and gives you a venue to share your expertise in a narrow niche, usually more narrow than your actual business. We recommend keeping your website and your blog separate, although each would include links to the other.

Next week we cover Facebook in more depth, and in the following weeks we’ll talk about LinkedIn, Twitter, and how to develop your own blog. If you’re interested in  more details, you could go to the Seminars page on the Starter Cards site.