Category Archives: Outreach/Partnerships

What Are You Thankful For This Holiday Season?

Hopefully it’s easy to think of things we are thankful for in our personal lives (which is so important to do!), but this is also the perfect time of year to think about our gratitude in the professional sectors of our lives. The people who make a difference in our daily lives, profession, and network from the baristas who smile patiently when we rush through, people in our network who made an introduction or shared advice when we needed it, the colleagues who rushed to meet a last minute deadline, and the mentors we turn to regularly.

bonsai photoWhen was the last time you reached out to your network, said thank you, shared an article or amusing (appropriate) video or comic that reminds you of someone? What more perfect time of year than now. It can be challenging to squeeze in when the holidays can be packed with personal and professional obligations on top of family travel, but staying in touch enriches our lives. And no one wants to only hear from people when they need something. I talk more about networking in this article on Tips for Building a Strong Network.

Heading toward the end of the year invites reflection on all that you accomplished this year as well as who helped you. I confess to a tendency to gravitate to what else I want to get done (and wish I could have also gotten done) rather than taking a moment to appreciate what I’ve achieved, but that reflection is important. To feel good about the positive and to show appreciation to those I worked with professionally and my family and friends’ support.

For example this year I am so thankful for all the wonderful support for my sister Vicky Keston and I launching our Gooseling startup’s parenting blog and Cavity Dragon PNG_edited-1first ios apps to teach children life and social skills through video games.  We are very grateful to the many people and organizations who helped spread the word about the Cavity Dragons apps designed to motivate kids to brush their teeth. And I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to work with my best friend-sister, fellow Mom, business partner Vicky. My beloved family’s never ending support is the essential ingredient for success as any budding entrepreneur has undoubtedly experienced.

Wishing everyone a very happy holiday season and the opportunity for reflection and thankfulness that it can bring.

 

Maximizing LinkedIn to Reach Your Career Goals

Networked SpheresLinkedIn can be a powerful tool for networking and enriching your professional life. But to really capitalize on its strengths it’s important to reflect on your professional goals and what you want to accomplish by using LinkedIn. You can spend a lot of time exploring the different features of LinkedIn but to be successful, know what you want to achieve:

  • Meet new professional contacts within your field
  • Attract new clients, customers, members, or donors
  • Find a new job
  • Gain visibility for your business or start-up
  • Recruit new employees or partners

The more you can articulate about that big picture purpose and then the specific outcomes you are seeking, the easier it is to finetune which tactics and LinkedIn features are best to use to accomplish them. For example, if you want to use LinkedIn to find new clients or business contacts, think through as many details about who your ideal client is as possible, such as industry sector, organization size/type, geographic area, job type/titles, interests, past experience or education.

Then picture what success will look like. How can you measure that?  An example might be that your active engagement in LinkedIn would result in 6 prospective clients and 3 confirmed new clients of XYZ type in the next six months.

Key Steps to Maximize Your LinkedIn Presence

Explore how you can use the different Linked features and functions to make your goals a reality such as:

Review your profile. Does your profile position you with the right keywords and accomplishments to appeal to people in the way you wish to be viewed? Use your headline as your personal brand and emphasize concise highlights of your results and impact. Complete your profile sections such as education, certifications, honors and awards, volunteer roles, and interests to reinforce your expertise while also showing that you are a well-rounded person. Do the same review of your organization’s LinkedIn page, taking advantage of features like the ability to highlight your products and services.

Regularly share useful information related to the expertise you would like to showcase, such as links to insightful articles, data, or research. Give an update about an important project you completed or that you are giving a presentation at an upcoming conference.

Join the right groups and engage in conversation. Search for groups related to your interests and professional goals, looking to see if they have active discussions happening. Show your expertise by answering questions in the Answers section of LinkedIn.

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Engaging the Next Generation while Remaining Relevant to Your Other Constituents

Are you making attracting and retaining the next generation a priority to sustain your organization and benefit from their fresh insights and ideas? Quite simply, they are the future. Which is why empowering and cultivating the next generation of leaders in your organization, association, industry is so vital.

Balance bar with steel ball on either side of itWhile appealing to and engaging younger people is the lifeblood of the future of the organization, balancing that with staying relevant and nurturing the rest of your customer/member base is also critical.  It is a delicate dance in a time of limited resources.

For example, many membership associations and nonprofits face the dilemma that the average age of their members and donors are now over 50 years old, making involving younger people more critical than ever. Yet budgets and staff time are also at their tightest and they worry that focusing on engaging young people will mean not paying sufficient attention to their core membership and donors.

Here are some quick tips and ideas that are working for a number of organizations:

Avoid making generalizations about the “next generation.” Take the time to find out the priorities, motivations, interests, and habits of the younger customers, members, or donors  in your audience. Which social media sites and online communities do they use for what purposes?

Conduct market research and have anecdotal conversations with younger and older people in the segments you want to reach. You may find they have common core needs and interests that will help define your messaging and services you might want to develop for them despite being in different ages ranges.

Look at your marketing materials and online presence – do the photos and graphics represent diversity including in range of ages? Are your main messages consistent with the needs and values of your most important younger and older customers/members?

Consider creating a mentoring program and/or online discussion group that give seasoned customers and members the opportunity to share their expertise and life experience with younger people. This can provide a meaningful experience and resource to both parties while involving them in your organization. Invite some key older and younger people to moderate the discussion group on your web site or a social media site like LinkedIn.

Seek other meaningful ways that customers, members, or donors in different age ranges and with different needs and interests can engage with your organization. Invite some articulate, insightful  young people to serve on your Board and key committees to ensure you get their input while making them feel valued.

Younger people expect respect and a seat at the table. They are not going to tolerate waiting 20 years to “earn” their place. Encourage their ideas, give them the opportunity to create a new program or service, or to host an in-person or online discussion panel. Ask them to serve on a task force to take a fresh look at a business line or program area.

Share success stories about accomplished young professionals or customers and how your organization or products/services helped them achieve their goals. Ask a few articulate, successful members or customers to serve as ambassadors for your organization, featuring them in articles, print and online ads, your web site, blog, and social media vehicles. Encourage them to share their stories as well and to ask their friends or colleagues to participate in your organization.

What have you found effective to engage the next generation while nurturing and sustaining your other key members, donors, or customers? What impact have you seen?

Tips for Building a Strong Professional Network

An effective, supportive network can serve as your own personal advisory council and see you through life’s twists and turns.

While it can be tempting to reserve networking for job hunting, cultivating your network on an ongoing basis is a powerful strategy for meeting your business and career goals. The best networks are built by seeking opportunities to connect and enrich people. It can’t be just about what you can get from people but what you can do to help them.

Look at your network regularly to explore how you can enhance your relationships and expand your connections. For example:

  • What are people’s different strengths and experiences that you can learn from?
  • What can you share – information, experiences, contacts – that would be most helpful to them?
  • Are there kinds of people with particular experiences or strengths that you would particularly like to find?
  • Who could you offer to mentor or ask to mentor you?
  • What are people’s interests, affiliations, volunteer connections?
  • How are different people you know connected? People are often connected to each other in ways you might not have expected.

 

Social networks like LinkedIn and now Google+ are invaluable tools for learning more about your current and potential contacts and sharing updates and information. However, nothing beats a relaxing coffee chat or engaging phone call.

Making the Time

We are all very busy but scheduling time for strengthening your current relationships and starting new ones is well worth your time. You can’t only turn to your network when you need something and expect an enthusiastic response. Cultivating real relationships takes time, care, and listening to what is important to the other person and sharing value related to that need.

A Note about Welcoming Outreach

When you are very busy – especially if you are in the kind of position in which you are frequently contacted by job seekers and other networkers – it can be tempting to brush people off. But try to fit in a reasonable number  of contacts by controlling how often you do it and for what length of time. I really believe that what you give comes back to you in kind; generosity of spirit begets generosity. And you never know when the person you brush off could end up in a position that would be pivotal to your organization or career.

Is Your Social Media Outreach on Target?

Are you getting the maximum impact from your social media efforts? Many organizations have implemented the first stages of social media engagement, typically including a facebook fan page, someone tweeting occasionally, and perhaps a LinkedIn group or Flickr feed. Experimenting with different tools and techniques, promoting a specific event or product is always great.

But to be truly effective and promote your brand and mission, you need to have a strategic social media plan that outlines the objectives, strategies, and outcomes you are seeking. It should align with your organization’s strategic mission and objectives and how you are using other traditional marketing and public relations techniques to meet them. And it needs to clearly define what success looks like and how you will measure it.

This doesn’t have to be complicated or lengthy. It does need to be fluid and continuously updated as you learn what works and doesn’t work for your organization and goals, and as the social media world constantly changes.

The Direct Business Impact of Social Media Outreach and Engagement

A huge benefit of social networking for most organizations is that the more  you can engage and involve your current and potential customers, members, or clients, the more likely you are to retain them and to increase your share of their business. One of the greatest values of social media is to better understand your audience, get instant feedback, and provide an opportunity to listen and engage.

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