10 posts categorized "Social Networking"

May 06, 2011

Never say, "I'll never..."

Amy Kolln, Considerate Done Appreciation Marketing, has me eating my social media words. That's because I am sure I once said, "I'll do LinkedIn, I'll try Facebook, but I'll never be on Twitter." But after attending two of Amy's information-packed workshops on social media this week, I'm on Twitter. Amy told of getting her Twitter account and spending months just taking it all in before she ever Tweeted. That sounded like a good first step, as well as a good avenue for practicing my listening skills. Plus, I was sitting right there with someone who could hold my hand every step of the way!

Amy's first career was as a kindergarten teacher, which translates well into one of her current passions: teaching social media as a way to help others build relationships. As a teacher, she is patient, lovingly laughs a lot at the boo-boos of her students and provides superb one-on-one attention when needed (which is often when you're five years old, as well as 60+). She's all about giving and showing others how to master relationship marketing. Amy's a life-long learned who loves to read. So she's connecting professional women in Booked for Lunch. And her faith and love of family comes alive in the "Momentum" group she started for mom entrepreneurs, as well as her commitment locally in Women of Faith. 

She's all about connecting. In addition to teaching me Twitter basics and pledging to make herself available for many of my "how do you do...." questions, she opened my eyes to many social media tips and I'll share just three:

• how to convert your Facebook URL to your name (or your company's name) instead of a mass of numbers, symbols and letters,

• how to link Facebook posts to Twitter, and

• that one needs a clear social media plan or you'll flounder, especially on Twitter. 

This is probably why I've avoided Twitter; my social media plan is hit or miss. In other words, nonexistent at the moment. So for now, I'm "listening" on Twitter. We'll see what I can learn there. Thanks, Amy!


August 10, 2010

Thank you, Social Media!

Okay, I finally gave in to Facebook and at least one excellent thing has happened. I set up an account after attending Banded Together's social media gathering on July 20. While I really only wanted a P.S. Writes Facebook page for business, one has to have an individual page first, so that's where I've been bending my learning curve. Special thanks to Karey Bader, Blizzard Communications, for my private tutoring. Looking forward to more learning at your August gathering.

My Facebook friends now number 110 and I've been keeping tabs on other business owners, friends and even family members for a couple of weeks. The value of social media for a business like mine has been a big question mark for me, but that question mark became more of an exclamation point this week. The most excellent happening: I won a free 60-second Web video from Munoz Productions. I "like" them and their Facebook post said they were giving three free ($150+ value) Web videos away to the first businesses to contact them. 

I'd managed to find my "news feed" area, and was exploring all that my Facebook friends had been doing when I saw Dave and Margie's post. Looking forward to working with these two pros and to saying that "I won something for my business!" the next time someone asks me how social media is impacting my bottom line. 

July 08, 2010

"Customers will expect you to find them..."

I'm finding it impossible to keep up with the social media frenzy. But I'd better keep trying. At today's luncheon for NAWBO-CI (National Association of Women Business Owners - Central Iowa), Adstringo's Gabriel Glynn told all-too-busy business owners that in the future "people are going to EXPECT YOU to find THEM." I'm having trouble with a vision of reading the minds of potential customers and knowing precisely when to enter their lives and have them look up from their cell phones and say, "I'd hoped you'd be in touch. Here's what my company needs communicated..."

So they won't be LOOKING for me anymore outside of their preferred social media networks. It's just assumed I'll be there. One NAWBO member said a 40-something woman told her that if she couldn't find a company on Facebook she wasn't going to use them. Facebook was her TOOL, and that was that.

So I came home and decided to explore Foursquare, the location-based social network which as 1.9 million users and nearly 13,000 are new each day. I've heard and seen the name a lot, but didn't know how it worked.

I wanted a clear definition of their service and when nothing happened when I clicked on "What is Foursquare?," I typed the same thing in the search box. Up popped 22 venues in Des Moines, West Des Moines, Johnston, Urbandale, Ames, Clive, Ankeny, Perry and Ames (including the ISU recycling trailer). I hadn't told them my geographic location (Big Brother is watching!). If you're the top (and sometimes only) visitor to one of these venues, you're the mayor. You can see who on Foursquare has been there. You can even earn badges. Is this to appeal to my inner Girl Scout? I am clueless on the value of this. I will have to try harder. Next week, next year, next something.

November 23, 2009

WBO Pet Project

We aren't our work. I've been telling myself that for years whenever I get too caught up in being a business owner. Work is not my identify. So I get excited when other women business owners show their passions in ways other than building a profitable business. With expertise and good customer service we can meet client needs, but sometimes what most fills our hearts is in the nonprofit arena.

Three women I know — Becky Mollenkamp (Becky Mollenkamp Creative Services), Sara Henderson (SOS-Small Office Solutions) and Karla Rendall (Liberty Bank) — have recently combined forces with two other concerned pet lovers (Monica Wimber of McKee, Voorhees & Sease and marketer Holly Hartling) to create The Pet Project Midwest, a non-profit that complements current local animal organizations by providing services they don't offer. They started Iowa Pet Alert -- sort of an "Amber Alert" for animals -- and use social media (Facebook and Twitter [@IAPetAlert]) to let folks know that a pet has been lost or found. The goal: speed the reconnection of pets and their owners. Aren't these women something?

They're also paying attention to the economy. You've no doubt heard of the increase in homeless pets; their owners have fallen on hard times and can't afford the cost of feeding and caring for their animals. So The Pet Project Midwest plans to open a Pet Pantry -- sort of a food bank for animals -- in January and is accepting donations of products to stock their shelves. Of course, they're also accepting dollars, but their 501(c)(3) status won't come through until early 2010 (so $ are not tax deductible yet, but will be soon).

They need unopened puppy and dog food, unopened cat and kitten food, collars, leashes, pet beds, kennels, dog houses, cat litter, litter boxes, flea/tick medicine, pet shampoo, nail trimmers/ files and brushes. They'll also take manufacturers' coupons to help them purchase pet products at reduced prices. Please consider putting them on your holiday list. I've never bought dog food...before last week! And it was for them.

October 20, 2009

IQ, EQ and now...TQ

Yes, there was a Trust Quotient (TQ) even before unscrupulous investment bankers caused consumers to question everyone's truth in the marketplace.  But your mother's advice to "Just trust your gut" has morphed. Now the world even has "trust consultants."

Today we're connected worldwide, but it can be impersonal. In this age of social media relationships and speed networking opportunities, people are trying to determine who to trust (because that's who we want to do business with) as well as how we can best exhibit our ability to be trusted (so people will want to do business with us). 

In 2001 David H. Maister, with Charles H. Green and Robert W. Galford, published The Trusted Advisor, stating that professionals must earn the trust of their clients and keep re-earning it throughout their careers. They broke trust into component parts that, when assembled, could move an outside advisor to a client's inner sanctum. Green's work is the basis for a TQ self-diagnostic formula/equation from The Trusted Advisor. Basically the equation is "credibility + reliability + intimacy and a low level of self orientation = TQ (trustworthiness).

In 2008 Jeffrey Gitomer came out with his Little Teal Book of Trust: How to Become a Trusted Advisor in Sales, Business, and Life. He says there's no simple formula for trust, but gives a step-by-step game plan to achieve it. This year Andrew Sobel  published All For One: 10 Strategies for Building Trusted Client Partnership. He also has a model for developing enduring client relationships.

And on Friday of this week, there's a Trust Summit in New York City, featuring four leading consultants on trust in the business world: Maister and Green (mentioned above) and social media gurus Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, co-authors of the 2009 book Trust Agents; Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust. Brogan and Green say the most valuable online currency isn't the dollar, but trust itself. 

The economic recession has created changes internally and externally for most companies. Perhaps the people who loved doing business with you and only you are gone from a client's company. Or maybe clients have cut back on purchases of products and services you painstakingly provided in the past. Some might have pulled projects in-house to provide work for their own employees. Whatever the case, take a minute to think about trust and its role in solidifying your business reputation. 

July 29, 2009

Leverage to "Uplevel Your Business"

ChristineKane-promo4 SInger and songwriter Christine Kane has carved out a niche as a coach for creatives. Her Wednesday teleclass, "Uplevel Your Business: The In's and Out's of Clients, Creativity and Cash," previewed the four-month program she's kicking off to bring clarity, action and a blueprint for living an empowered 2010 to business owners. Wednesday she shared five power sources for entrepreneurs and her stories of growth in each. 

One story surrounds the word "leverage." Kane told of arriving to do a show to find only 150 people, a half sold-out venue. A professional who would still give her best to her audience, she asked herself how to take where she was right then and lengthen out the end point. Call it leveraging, making lemonade out of lemons, maximizing an opportunity or indefatigable marketing. She thought about the women's seminars she was doing that she hadn't "put out there in a big way" and some other seminars she'd "done quietly." Kane decided to start connecting all the parts of her brand, her package and her creativity with those before her. These were people in the audience by choice; they had already "opted in" to a relationship with her.

So between numbers she told a couple of funny stories from a women's retreat and from creativity training she'd done for the CIA. "I just talked about that work with enthusiasm," said Kane, who gave energetic insights into her other talents as well as her soulful music. After the show, five women came forward and wanted to get information on her next retreat. Two people wanted to hire her to speak at their companies. The additional income: $18,000. The lesson in leveraging: priceless.

After listening to her free telesession, I'd say that lesson in leveraging was no one hit wonder. She gave a 75-minute sample of the savvy and business brain behind the songwriter to 1,000 people from her social network. By sharing insights and telling her stories as a creative and coach, she further built her brand and gave her audience something of value, as well as a choice in how to grow as creative entrepreneurs. The goal: entice up to 50 people to sign up. Yes, the word is "leverage." 

July 10, 2009

What can sharing on social media cost you?

Have you tried to attract business by using social media to tell about a successful project you completed for a noteworthy client? A LinkedIn user reported that doing so actually armed a competitor with a source of leads. And the competitor began targeting his clients. He asked if others found social media marketing to be a double-edged sword? My thought: Time to refine that social media strategy!

Lee Witcher of Database Marketing Solutions in Oklahoma City, reminded LinkedIn Answers readers that "social media marketing is about building trust with your target market and positioning yourself as an authority. Direct selling in the social space tends to be ineffective. People are looking for information and/or connection there...Companies are increasingly using social media to build communities of devoted followers...Once they have been sold on you, people will seek out your products, services, and recommendations. In this sense, social media marketing is a longer term lead generation process."

Mike Volpe, vp of inbound marketing at HubSpot, said social media is one of this company's top five sources of leads and sales. He answered: "I don't think what your competitors are doing will be effective. The last person they should want to call is one of your super happy case studies! Also, while they are cold calling your happiest customers, other people (like me maybe) see your case studies and then want to call you! The right way to do lead generation in social media is by answering questions and posting useful information. This builds authority and makes people curious about what you do, and makes it more likely they will read some of your resources (blog, videos, etc).

Volpe gave four basic steps for implementing this form of inbound marketing:
1) Produce useful content (blog articles, videos, webinars)
2) Optimize that content for search engines
3) Promote that content by using social media (Volpe gave links to his company's Web
resources and a free July 9 Webinar, as well as his Twitter moniker)

4) Convert using offers, calls to action and landing pages 

Volpe: "The key step for lead generation is to use the links you leave within social media to start your prospects down a path to get to know you better. You should have some great content, but also calls to action next to that content for them to fill out a form or subscribe to your list. Over time as the relationship progresses you can call them and ask them how you can help, or send them some product info."

And like any business relationship, the real sharing begins in "private" when you feel there's a connection and all parties involved want to move forward to develop something of value together. 

Your social media strategy is fluid, something to be revisited and continually refined to avoid getting stabbed by a misstep of sharing too much. The good news: course corrections can be made quickly. Social media opens doors, but you can't win the "sell" without proving your worth.

June 19, 2009

Have you joined a group on LinkedIn and found value in that move?

When an update came from LinkedIn recently showing that two of my contacts had joined the "NAWBO group" on LinkedIn, I checked it out (since I am also a member of the National Association of Women Business Owners). I signed up for the group and a day later got an email that I was approved. So I now have a "plus sign" beside the word "Groups" when I log into LinkedIn, as well as the NAWBO logo on my profile page. I also get the group updates on my opening page and as emails (per my settings). 

The NAWBO group site has an overview, discussions (the content appears to be a duplication of "overview" so I will look forward to some improvements here), news (some of the same things that have already appeared and I'm asking: "Why isn't the association promoting next week's conference in Chicago?), jobs (none posted) and more (lists group members—only 1028 at the time of this writing—plus updates and a place to determine one's settings).

The "discussions" option, which offers a few words about each WBO's posting, including one on Thursday by Cherish Anderson summarizing organizational steps to the successful Summit our chapter held earlier this year. This offers opportunities to comment and start conversations. One posting is from a WBO looking for a Wordpress expert; another asks women to take a quick survey; a third wants green vendors for her catalog. WBOs are sharing their expertise, building their brands, exchanging chapter best practices and promoting NAWBO events in their local area using LinkedIn.

There's a search feature in "members" so that one can find out who is LinkedIn via name or a particular chapter. There's also an advanced search with industries, language preference and what one is interested in (potential employees, consultants, deal-making contacts, industry experts, etc.). There I can search by relationship to me (1st and 2nd level connections), relationship + recommendations and keywords. Playing around with the search features revealed some insights.

Many NAWBO members (like ME) just put "owner" in their title. I've now changed my profilt to "owner, writer, project manager" to enhance my ability to be found for the work I do. And I'm going to go back and review my profile thoroughly. The more details there are, the more opportunities to be identified in a search. Try doing searches (not just in groups, but using all of LinkedIn) to be sure that you can be located for the talents and strenghts you possess.

Check out 20 Ways to Use Linked In Productively by Leo Babauta. The post is two years old, but still applicable for neebies.

May 29, 2009

Connecting with WBO Bloggers

Why are women business owners adding blogging to their workloads? Well, we're always looking for ways to connect with people. Here are three blogging WBOs who are members of the Central Iowa Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO-CI) and insights on how they use blogging to benefit their businesses and lives.

6a00d83453ad4169e200e55006e56d8834-150wi Kathy Towner of Win Communications in Des Moines was excited to see me blogging, something she's been doing since late in 2005. She's inspired to add links on her Web site to the blogs of other women business owners. So don't be shy about coming forward; comment here to promote your blog or post links to the WBO blogs you read. We can share a lot of "been there, done that" business knowledge this way. 

Kathy started blogging to establish herself as an expert in Internet marketing and permission-based e-mail publishing. One impressive result of her efforts: Kathy has improved her search results on Google. Her blog is purely professional and serves as a resource center for tips and ideas on e-mail marketing programs. When she's making a presentation to get new business, Kathy frequently responds to potential customer questions by simply pulling up her blog and showing them the answers. She lets her work (not just her verbal sell strategies) speak to the depth of her knowledge. And when someone e-mails her a question, she can frequently save the time it takes to craft a meaningful response by simply referring them to a specific blog post. Kathy's favorite recent post is a strategy for social media marketing.  

Pic_cindy When Cindy Helgason, owner of ten-year-old Soapourri Natural Bath & Body, LLC, isn't handcrafting glycerin soaps, her hands might be found on the keyboard. Cindy has been blogging for two years and says it's a "good way to communicate with my customers and others about my products, my life, my city and more." She's run contests and polls on her blog. 

Last November 17 she got tired of fearful media reports and depressing conversations about the economy. So Cindy wrote a "good news" blog, asking readers to post something positive going on in their lives. She rewarded them with a low priced "economic stimulus/good news soap" in a sugar and spice fragrance. She's posted a few times about personalized soaps she's made (one with a picture of five hearts, each topped with "I love you" in a different language). A picture was worth a thousand words: that post resulted in a lot of orders from people who came across her blog post while searching for personalized soaps. 

Sandy062007 Sandy Renshaw, Purple Wren, started blogging in mid-2006 after attending a blogging conference. Her Web site and static pages grew from her blog. She uses blogging to express herself and finds that she's not only expanding her thinking, but her world. Sandy's attended SOBCon (Successful and Outstanding Bloggers Conference -- tagline: Biz School for Bloggers) to learn as well as meet bloggers in person. Sandy blogged on arounddesmoines.com and then purchased the site. She's collaborated on two books with other bloggers and has also designed book covers, logos, and Powerpoint presentations for other bloggers. 

Sandy, who also does live blogs from local events, is big on using visuals and has urged me to add more photos (so I did and maybe one of these days you'll find videos -- talk about a demanding learning curve). Her Wordless Wednesday posts are photos she finds to share. One of her favorite posts--with words--is about creating a treasure map of your goals

May 06, 2009

Living "Little" on LinkedIn

I always think I'm the last one on earth to embrace new technology, but this week an internal software designer asked me what a Tweet was, so there are still people out there who might benefit from learning my meager steps into the world of social networking media. I'm not Tweeting (yet), but here's my experience to date on LinkedIn. 

A couple of years ago I was invited to connect on LinkedIn by Julie Gammack, a Washington D.C. area business coach. Today, I'm still just scratching the LinkedIn surface. Julie and I were friends from her Des Moines days and spent many an afternoon together in a small writing group. She billed LinkedIn as "Facebook for professionals." I wasn't on Facebook (still am not). LinkedIn has been around since 2003, and today someone joins this online networking community about every second. There are some 40 million members representing 170 industries in over 200 countries/territories around the world.

LinkedIn says it exists to "connect the world's professionals to accelerate their success" and to help us "make better use of our professional networks and help the people we trust in return." And I love these words from the short intro video: "It's about helping YOU be more productive" by showing you who knows whom to create a visible path for reaching people who are potential clients, suppliers or subject experts. I'm not more productive yet, but I haven't exactly chosen to be joined at the hip to LinkedIn. 

I didn't upload my address book. I started small by inviting some contacts to connect with me (just to see what happened). Some folks declined. LinkedIn tells me that my 26 connections now connect me with more than 1,300 people. Hmm, time to expand the holiday card list. I can visit the profiles of each of my connections and access the names and companies/organizations of their connections. I can see the names of our shared connections.

So far I've set up my profile, which tells my education and my current experience, honors, group interests, etc., and links to my web site and this blog. Other than a photo, I haven't posted personal information (address, birthday, phone, etc.) and don't see a reason to. I have two recommendations from women business owners I have worked with (though my profile says there's one recommendation -- a system-wide problem that software folks are working on it, I hear) and I've given one recommendation, with others to follow now that I've figured out how to do that. Judging by the number of FAQs in the customer service area, I'd say there are a lot of us trying to navigate little LinkedIn challenges. 

I can join groups, create my own group and follow discussions in areas of professional interest. I can post questions and get expert answers (a great option when one is writing an article/brochure and wants to find someone to quote on a highly specific subject), and I can search past questions and answers. Folks, I have done none of this. I accept responsibility for not living large on LinkedIn. 

One of the hardest things to embrace about all the new "opportunities" in social media is that every hour I add to sitting at the computer is an hour I'm not face to face with another human being. I admit I've had wonderful sharing via email (researching an article on biking in Connecticut a couple of years ago connected me with a retired gentleman in that state who I still would love to meet...and I don't even bike). But I will continue to put the highest value on face-to-face networking, getting to know new people and connecting with those I care about. I'm not sure how much more productive all this online stuff will make me, but I won't know unless I jump in and explore. I'll keep you posted on my learning and results.

It's about time for another round of invitations to see if some of you want to give this a whirl. I'd love to know if this has been a business-building tool and pathway to productivity for you. At any rate, the LinkedIn updates I get about the professional people in my network are providing little snippets I might not otherwise know (nothing juicy, but perhaps they're conversation starters...as if I ever lacked for words). 

By the way: In December, Julie Gammack sent me an invitation to view her Facebook page where she can post pictures, videos and events. I'm not ready for that yet. Baby steps.