Tag Archives: networking

Giving Thanks to the People You Care About

One of my favorite things about this time of year is the opportunity to give thanks to the people who make a difference in our lives, whether special mentors, colleagues, or friends.

thank you

Who made you smile, supported and helped you this year? How can you make a difference in their day? Think about what would mean a lot to them. Here are some quick ideas:

  • Send them a handwritten note
  • Write a recommendation or endorse their skills on LinkedIn, tweet a call out complimenting them, write on their facebook profile, post an Instagram photo thank you, etc.
  • Comment on and share their blog posts
  • Introduce them to someone you think they would enjoy meeting
  • Take them out to coffee or lunch
  • Share a book or article related to their interests or goals. Or share music in the genre you know they love
  • Support a cause that is important to them.

This is also such a great time to give back by reaching out to help someone the same way others have done for you. I have learned so much from people I have mentored and it is very fulfilling to see them reaching their goals and happy.

Consider volunteering for causes you care about, or promote the nonprofit in your community and on your favorite social media site. Think about how you would like to make a difference in the next year.

Building strong relationships is one of my core values. My article Tips for Building a Strong Professional Network offers more ideas like reviewing your network periodically for how to strengthen it.

Who have you thanked lately for the difference they make in your life?

 

Social Media SOS: Help! Do I Have to Be on ALL the Sites?! Am I Doing the Right Things?

I hear this question all the time: With so many social media sites and so much information swirling around about what you are “supposed” to do online,  does it mean I need a presence everywhere? How do I know what to say on all these sites and understand them all? Can I just post the same thing on all of them? Oh, and how am I supposed to get anything else done?! And is this really going to help increase my sales, revenue, donations, number of members, or fill in the blank?

It’s enough to give anyone a panic attack, especially given how busy we all are. Whether you’re a small business, nonprofit, practitioner, association, or entrepreneur, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done as it is. But what people share all the time is their nervousness and growing dartboard_successfulrecognition that social media can be a powerful tool and not having at least a modest presence and level of knowledge could leave them at a huge disadvantage. In fact, harnessing social media strategically can and has given many small organizations or practices a big jump on their competition, even those that are much bigger.

So what is the answer? Start with what you are trying to accomplish, who your audience is, and what your business goals are. Then prioritize which social media platforms and approaches will be most worth your time and effort. Step back and think about what is the right answer for you and your organization. Check out my article on developing a quick and straightforward social media plan, but in the meanwhile, here are some tips:

Prioritize Your Time. Be realistic about what you can accomplish with the resources you have. Do you have staff who can spend time on this or should you be seeking some outside help? It’s better to really engage well in one or two social media sites that hold the most promise for success then spread yourself too thin and not do a good job on any of them. Or to accidentally ignore comments your receive online because you didn’t have time to notice them.

You can have some modest presence on a site like Google Plus for the sake of enhancing your SEO (search engine optimization) so that your content is easier to find when people do keyword searches on Google. However, it’s hard to do Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter well if you’re only going to pay attention to it a couple of times every month or two. You can casually use them, but will you be accomplishing your goals?

Use the Right Language and Don’t Say the Same Exact Thing on Multiple Sites.  Think about who your most important audience is, what their needs, interests, and problems are. Use words and expressions that resonate with your audience. Customize what and how you say things to the culture and environment of the site you’re posting on. Tools like Hootsuite allow you to post to different social media sites in one convenient place and listen to  and engage in online conversations. But using Hootsuite to broadcast the same message in multiple places without sensitivity to the unique environment of each place can make your postings seem out of place or at the least not as effective.

Spend time “listening” and learning the culture of each site you want to engage in and the typical practices and style of each. For example Twitter has a very different feel than Facebook or LinkedIn. Small touches can really increase your success.

Think creatively about imagery you can use to engage people and express your story and message. If you spend time on social media you’ll see the increasing usage and impact of images in all formats, including photos, graphics, and videos.

Compare What Other Organizations are Doing.  You can get great ideas looking at how different organizations are using the same social media sites you are. Especially watch what similar kinds of organizations are doing, though you can also learn from organizations in different fields and apply it to your industry, especially if they seem to have similar goals.

Please Share Your Experiences. Which social media sites are you focusing on for which purposes? Has that helped you use your time and effort wisely? I would love to hear about what is working for you.

 

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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Using Social Media for Customer Service, HR, Operations and the Rest of Your Organization

Social media has grown way beyond being a marketing, public relations, and communications tool. At its heart the core of social media is connecting people, an ever evolving opportunity for people to engage, discuss, and share  perspectives, opinions, and information. So by definition social media impacts most aspects of an organization including product development, customer service, HR, and crisis management.

image of the world globe against digital backgroundAre you thinking through the best ways to use social media effectively throughout your organization to meet your goals and build community? Here are just a few examples of the many applications social media has across the organization:

Customer Service. Customers and potential customers are most likely discussing your products and services online, providing a constant virtual focus group. If customers do not get the service they want or something goes wrong with a product, they will be quick to share it online. Be sure to respond quickly and helpfully, remembering your response and the customer’s are in a very public forum.The positive is when you shine, you also may get complimented in that same public space. Obviously you want the positives to go viral, not to be a negative example used by social media experts for years to come (as happened with “United Breaks Guitars“).

This is all one more reason why most organizations want to have a strong presence on primary sites like facebook and twitter to provide outstanding customer service while also supporting their branding and messaging goals. Many organizations also encourage customer reviews on their own web sites getting the opportunity to address issues as they arise and get honest feedback about their products.

New Product Development. Listening to customers’ conversations on social media can provide invaluable input and pinpoint trends to help hone current products and services and get ideas for new ones. Innovative organizations have set up special web sites to invite customers to share new product ideas and vote on favorite ideas others have submitted, for example “My Starbucks Idea.” The sites often offer incentives such as potential prizes for winning ideas.

Crisis Planning and Management. The power of social media to build community and communicate makes it a critical interactive tool in a crisis. Messages can be communicated on the fly to the public and the media. Conversation on sites like facebook and google plus about ongoing issues can keep people up-to-date and get their questions answered.

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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.