Can Your Organization Afford to Ignore Social Media?


Is Social Media a Phenomena?

Some people think that Social Media is just a passing fad; many are the same people that thought the Internet was a passing fad in the mid-late ’90s. Whether Social Media is a passing fad or not; you cannot afford to ignore it, because it will not ignore you!

You Cannot Ignore the Power of Social Media

Companies large and small are learning the lessons of Social Media. What they are finding is that Social Media provides happy and unhappy customers, clients, and patients with an opportunity to comment about products and services.

Participating in Social Media provides organizations the opportunity to respond to customers, correct misinformation, clear up confusion, and resolve issues. Left to its own device; Social Media can create major problems. Organizations must have a presence and monitor the information on the Internet that pertains to them.

I just read a Blog article by Augie Ray, a researcher for Forrester Seven Things Your Organization Must Do Because of Social Media. The article starts with the statement that when the Internet started businesses asked the question: What can the Internet do for my business? The question they should have been asking is: What can the Internet do TO my business? That second question must be asked today in regards to Social Media: What can Social Media do TO my business?

What is YOUR attitude toward Social Media? Do YOU look at it as a waste of time and a passing fad?

Passing Fad or Not Social Media Cannot Be Ignored

The reality is that Social Media cannot be ignored. Organizations whether they like it or not, have a Social Media presence. That presence can be created by the organization or the organization can leave it to be created by someone else.

If left to someone else the presence may or may not be what the organization wants. If it is not what the organization wants, they must take action to counter the negativity or correct the situation. Being on the defense does not allow an organization to work from its strengths; it is now playing by someone else’s rules.

An intelligent organization wants to play from its strengths and therefore must be proactive in the Social Media arena. Organizations cannot wait until they must respond, they must be building their presence from the beginning.

The world is changing rapidly and organizations must be changing along with the world. Look at the situation with Movie Gallery/Hollywood Video or Blockbuster. These are example organizations that have not changed with the times and have either lost the battle as in the case of Movie Gallery/Hollywood Video or are losing the battle as in the case of Blockbuster. Although these failures are not directly related to Social Media, they are the result of the Internet and new technologies.

Current failures related to Social Media include BP with the Oil Disaster in the Gulf; Nestle/Greenpeace over Palm Oil; or the potential disaster for Toys ‘r Us and the fact they ignore customer comments on their Facebook Page. The cost to these organizations in actual dollars, publicity, and public relations is huge; can you and your organization afford those problems?

LinkedIn Recommendations


Are You Giving and Receiving LinkedIn Recommendations?

Recommendations on LinkedIn are important additions to your profile and completing your story and the stories of your connections. We can say all kinds of great things about ourselves but when we have others giving a testimony about us and what we have accomplished; it is far more valuable.

Recommendations from former managers and supervisors, co-workers, and even subordinates add significantly to your story. Hiring managers and recruiters like to see recommendations because it adds to your credibility and increases the recruiter’s and hiring manager’s confidence in the choice they are making.

Where Some Go Wrong with Recommendations

There are three primary areas where people go wrong with recommendations.

  1. Inviting someone to LinkedIn, solely for the purpose of a recommendation.
  2. Giving and receiving a recommendation simultaneously.
  3. Giving and receiving gratuitous recommendations.

Inviting someone into LinkedIn for the purpose of a recommendation is easy to spot. The person giving the recommendation has only one connection: YOU! Obviously if the recommendation is important you want to get it, but help the person establish themselves on LinkedIn in the process. Provide them with suggestions as to with whom they should connect. Help them through the process and follow their progress.

Simultaneous recommendations look staged and in many cases they are. It is the old adage of you scratch my back and I will scratch yours. You give me a recommendation and I will give you a recommendation. Realize that when you do that it will show up as part of the current status with your connections and the connections of the other person.

I do not know how many times I have seen the so and so was recommended by this person and the next entry is this person was recommended by so and so. Do you get my drift? It looks staged from beginning to end. Yes, you may want each other’s recommendation, but at least separate the process a little bit.

You can even do the reciprocating process, but one of the two should hold off on approving the recommendation until a few days have lapsed.

The last issue is the recommendations that say “He is really a great guy and if I had the chance I would hire him again immediately.” That may be the case, but as a reader of the recommendation I want to know why he is a great guy and what he accomplished to earn my accolades.

Be like Julius Caesar; use the Veni, Vidi, Vici approach…

  1. He or she came.
  2. He or she saw.
  3. He or she conquered.

Tell the reader the situation the person encountered, the actions that were taken, and the results achieved.

Recommendations must have meat to them!

If you have written the meatless recommendations in the past, go back and do the person a favor by writing a meaningful recommendation. Show them that you care and they WILL reciprocate with a meat filled recommendation for you. (Just do not do it the same day.)

The Truth About LinkedIn Network Statistics


Your LinkedIn Statistics

Everyone that is on LinkedIn has statistics accumulating pertaining to their connections. The larger your first level connection list gets, the faster your overall statistics grow. There are questions as to the reliability or accuracy of the statistics and can you depend upon them.

Is the Accuracy Important?

The question I ask is do we really care? Are the statistics going to change the way you do things or the way you act? If you find out that when you add a LION to your network, but your statistics go down does that mean that you are going to quit LinkedIn? I seriously doubt that.

Neal Schaffer wrote a recent Blog article LinkedIn Network Statistics. Do You Believe Them? that was answering a question on this topic. Neal makes excellent points about the reality of these calculations and the processing demands that would be placed upon the servers to maintain and respond accurately to member requests.

Is Anything More Than an Estimate Necessary

The fact that LinkedIn even gives us an idea as to the total reach of our network or our sphere of influence provides us detail that we would have never had in the past; even if it is only an estimate. As I see it these numbers only matter to those that want to lay claim to being the “most connected”, the “most referred”, or the most anything else. Does it really matter? Whether I am the most connected or the second most connected; does anyone really care? I believe the only one that truly cares is the person making the claim and those that are attempting to refute that claim.

As Neal’s post discusses sometimes the numbers go up as expected and other times the numbers go down when you believe they should go up. I still say; Who Cares?

You Must Be Building a Quality Network for Long-term Success


You Too Can Add Thousands to Your Twitter Followers or Whatever Other Service

Have you seen this message or similar ones? I see them almost daily and if you examine the message further; it is probably true.

The question though is what have you added? Is there any quality or selectivity in the process? Have you added any recognizable or measurable value?

Here is the deal. If you are selling a product or service and you believe that the bigger your reach the greater your success; you are probably right. That is as long as you have quality products and services.

The problems that I see with this process are:

      What is the quality of this audience?
      Do you have any ability to measure the quality?
      Do you have any ability to measure the reach of your message?
      Do you have any ability to truly measure the quality of your message?

The answer to all of these is a resounding NO!

This audience is truly just a bunch of drones that have signed up for some service, details of which are relatively unknown, that creates connections. Not quality connections, mind you, just connections.

What Is the Quality of This Audience

That is a great question. The answer is that you really do not know. You may have the greatest product since sliced bread for a specific group of customers, but you do not know if those customers are in this audience. You may have super sales for your product based upon projections, but with the correct audience they would be far better.

A quality audience is comprised of people with similar interests and desires. It is extremely difficult to sell ear muffs to someone living in the tropics. Sure you may get a couple of sales as someone’s prank. But the reality is that this is not where your true customers would be found.

Building Your Network Requires a Strategy

If you want to successfully build a network that offers true potential to your business you must have a strategy. You must understand the dynamics of your prospective customer. What are their interests? How do they respond? What are their complimentary interests? How can you entice them to try and buy your product?

Just like anything else in business once you have a strategy, you must identify how you can measure your penetration and success. You must have a means for assessing the effectiveness of your campaign. A means for determining whether you continue on the current path, make minor adjustments, or start all over.

Plan your network strategy and then identify where you can find your target market. Make sure your results are measurable and can be extrapolated to your entire audience. Do not fall for the build your network fast sales pitch, unless you truly do not care about quality.

This is not an overnight success story, it takes work and commitment, to be successful.

Social Networks Are an Important Part of a Business’s Growth Strategy


It Is Either Grow or Die – Businesses Have a Choice

Growth is the reason that businesses are in business. It is either grow or die! There is not staying the same. As we learn in Alice in Wonderland; we must always be going faster. If businesses are not going faster and moving ahead, they are falling behind and will eventually die.

Growth happens through the addition of customers, clients, patients, or whatever term may be appropriate in your industry; regardless you need these people. The other way for a business to grow is through the addition of products and services to their customer offerings. Most businesses grow through a combination of the two methods.

Businesses that do not grow will eventually die. They die for any number of reasons including:

      Poor service.
      Outdated or obsolete products.
      Customers that move, die, or stop buying for various other reasons.
      Disinterest on the part of employees and even owners.

Growth Happens Where Customers and Prospects Congregate

For a business to grow they must have a presence and access to the places where customers and prospects congregate. Being a part of that environment provides the business with the opportunity to converse with the customers and learn what they are thinking.

Businesses learn from their customers and prospects about new services and products that the customer wants. Businesses can learn what customers like and do not like about their current products. There is also the opportunity to learn what the competition is doing and what customers and prospects like and dislike about the competitors.

Customers are a wealth of knowledge and businesses must be in those locations where that knowledge is shared.

Social Networking Grows By the Millions Every Day

Today customers and prospects congregate on the Internet through Social Networking sites and blogs. If that is where the customers are; then the business must be there as well. In the past businesses attempt to reach their customers through newspapers, television, radio, mailers, advertisements, billboards, etc. All of those still have their place, but the reach of these media is not nearly as great as the Internet.

Social Networking sites are growing in popularity on a daily basis and the functionality provided by these sites is growing as well. The ability to target a segment of the Internet audience for a business message is evolving daily. There are new and more effective ways to be doing this that are only limited by the vision of the business or Social Networking developer.

What would prevent or discourage a business from taking advantage of these tools and opportunities? If you want your business to grow and you want to be successful; Social Networking must become a part of your mix.

How To Get A Response From Your Network – Build Your Credibility


So You Want To Build Your Credibility With Your Network!

Are you a credible resource to your network? Do they look to you for information they know they can rely upon?

There are a lot of people on the Internet that feel that simply having a lot of connections, friends, and followers; means they should be able to get lots of action. The reality is that it just does not work that way.

Overwhelming action happens because of overwhelming:

      Honesty.
      Credibility.
      Trust.
      Compelling messages.

Credibility Does Not Just Happen

If your desire is to gain a following on the Internet for your Blog postings and the articles you write; you must have credibility. There are millions of places that your audience can choose to go for information; they have unlimited choices – so can you get their attention?

Readers Are Fickle

Your readers are a fickle lot. They may be with you one day and gone the next. It is like the old sales adage of “It is easier to keep a customer; than get a new one”. The Internet reader is no different.

Give Readers Value If You Want Them Coming Back

To keep your reader’s interest you must give them value. You must make it worth their time to read what you have written. Your articles must drip with quality information. You must have your readers on the edge of their seats waiting for your next post or article.

The information you provide must be credible. Your readers must have confidence that what you write is correct and if you do make a mistake you will admit it and correct it.

Your readers want to know that you are consistent and that you care about them and care about their time. Again, there is a lot of competition for their time and you must respect their time and convey your message clearly and concisely. If you can do that you will become a credible source.

Credibility Does Not Mean One, Two, Five, Ten, or Even One Hundred Great Posts

Your readers are looking for and expecting posts with a consistent quality. Your readers will not tolerate a here today, gone tomorrow, and oh by the way; I am back again. They will lose interest, move on, and never look back. Once you have them reading, you cannot afford to make mistakes and lose them.

Two Primary Goals For Writing Blog Postings and Publishing Articles

Your goal with your writings should be two fold. First, you want to keep your readers coming back. Second, you want to get your readers referring your information to others.

Quality Writing Is Key to Credibility and Growing Your Audience

The truth is that your articles are no different than a weekly television series. What content do you have that makes them want to keep watching the story unravel? This is how a soap opera does it. The other option is to have your audience wondering how can they keep coming up with new situations for the characters to resolve? Much like the half-hour comedy – remember how you always wondered what stupid thing Tim Allen was going to say next on Home Improvement. He was always saying something that got him into trouble with his wife. But that was exactly what kept you coming back.

Can you make your audience keep coming back?

The Networking Conundrum – Forwarding a Resume


Risky Business – Asking a Connection to Submit a Resume on a Job Seeker’s Behalf

Is it risky to submit a resume to someone you know from someone that you do not know. Duh! Of course that is risky, but it does not mean that the candidate is not viable. No, it just means that the person asked to submit is not sure. However, there are things the job seeker can do to overcome the hesitancy.

LinkedIn is not the best for what is essentially a blind response to a job posting. You talk about having someone present your resume and you do not know the person. Another perspective is asking someone you do not know to present your resume; how do you know what the relationship is between that person and your target. It can be just as risky.

In fact you should read my ezine article on Networking Referrals and Recommendations for more insights on questions to ask if you are requesting a referral, asked to give a referral, or are the target of a referral.

LinkedIn offers many tools for the job seeker beyond the process of getting a referral.

Here are things the job seeker should be doing to establish credibility, reliability, and trust.

  1. Get referrals from previous supervisors and managers, co-workers, and subordinates. You want these coming from all of your previous experiences so that they tell a story of accomplishment.
  2. Referrals and recommendations should have meat to them. Do not get the “Tom is a great guy and I would not hesitate to hire him or work with him in the future.” This is balderdash! What did Tom do and how did Tom contribute; that is what you need in a good recommendation and you want those comments throughout your work experience. If you cannot get it, forget it!
  3. Complete your profile, let it tell your story. Do not hide things, do not leave things out, make it talk and work for you. This is a sales piece, one of your brochures.
  4. Use keywords and make sure that you use them consistently. If you are looking for a Sales Manager position and you were a sales manager; incorporate Sales Manager into your current and previous position titles. Put it into your summary as well. When a recruiter goes searching for a Sales Manager you want to show up at the top of the list. Do not put sales manager for one entry, manager of sales for another, and something else for the third; BE CONSISTENT!
  5. Recruiters and hiring managers are searching LinkedIn daily. You want to be FOUND! You also want to tell your story such that those recruiters and hiring managers are pursuing you. Put yourself in the driver’s seat.
  6. Get lots of connections. If someone invites you to connect; DO IT! It is not that you are going to necessarily create some great relationship with these individuals, but it expands your sphere of influence for the searches. The more people you connect with the more second level connections you will have. The larger the network, the bigger your net to become one of the search results. You never know from which connection your next opportunity will develop.
  7. Join groups that are relevant to where the people that will hire you, hang out. Do not spend your time where the people are all your peers or subordinates. Be predatory in the process. If you know someone who hires for your position find out what groups that individual is in and go there; immediately!

LinkedIn only works for those who work at it! You must be comprehensive and proactive.

Connecting on LinkedIn with Someone You Do Not Know


So You Want to Invite Someone You Do Not Know To Join You on LinkedIn

The first thing you must do is verify that they are on LinkedIn. This may sound easy, but there are a lot of people with the same name, so you must investigate further than a simple name search.

Now that you have confirmed that this is in fact a LinkedIn member and you have the correct person; how do you proceed?

Option 1

The first option is to click on the individuals profile and see if you have any connections in common. If you do, then you might consider asking that person for an introduction. I say consider, because you never know how well someone actually knows a connection or if the relationship is a good one.

You can find my article on this part of your question Networking Referrals and Recommendations: by reviewing my list of articles on Ezine. The article goes into more detail on questions to ask of the person about their relationship and familiarity with your target and how to vet the contact.

Option 2

The second option is to review the individual’s profile for where they currently work or have worked in the past. Do a company search and see if there is anyone in your network that comes up as a current or former employee of these companies and ask them if they know the person and would facilitate an introduction.

Option 3

Third, from the individuals profile find out if they are members of any groups and consider joining the group. Once you are in the group you could send an invite saying that you belong to the same group and that you have heard great things about the individual and that you would like to connect.

Option 4

Fourth, if you have their email address you can simply send an invite, but this one is a little tougher and I don’t recommend it as a great option. If you do this you run the risk of receiving an IDK (I Don’t Know) and it can cause invite issues with LinkedIn. They don’t black list you, but anytime you try to go with a simple friend request you must provide an email address.

On that note if someone invites you to connect and you do not want to connect; be polite and archive the message; do not send an IDK!

Copyright Tom Staskiewicz

Effective Networking Is More Than Sending and Receiving Invites!


Your Network Is An Important Asset

We hear constantly about the importance of networking and even about the value of our network. We also hear that we need to nurture and care for our network. Although, the above statements are true, there is one critically important part of your network that has not been discussed.

Your network should be a reflection of who you want to be and what you want to do. If you are spending your time simply adding people that are just like you, then you will continue to get the same thing out of your network. This is a frequently overlooked piece of the networking puzzle. You need to be adding value to your network; not just names.

Have you ever heard the old adage that we are the average of our five closest friends? Basically this means that if three or more of your friends drive a Ford Taurus; you probably drive a Ford Taurus. The tendency is to live within the expectations of your Social Groups. Your network can operate on that same premise.

Before getting into your network goals and your growth strategy for your network it is important to understand the functions of a network.

What Are the Benefits That You Can Provide Your Network?

Before you can receive from your network; you must first be willing to give to your network. Some of the big questions are:

What can I give?

What effort will it take?

Is this going to take a lot of my time?

The first thing that needs to be done is for you to remove those questions from your mind. Concerning yourself with what is in it for you, is the wrong way to network. Your first concern must be your network, when you give your network the priority it deserves your rewards will come.

What Are the Benefits That You Can Provide To Your Network?

There are many things that one can give to their network including:

Time

Talents

Advice

Connections

Answers

Referrals

Recommendations

Appreciation

Introductions

Adulation

Recognition

Why is giving to your network important and what does it do for you?

These are some of the benefits you derive by giving to your network, listed in the order I perceive as being the most important.

Trust

Credibility

Reliability

Respectability

A brand

Demonstrate your willingness to share your knowledge

Demonstrate your interest in their wellbeing

Shows a caring mentality

Shows a sharing mindset

The list is not meant to be all inclusive, but it is meant to provide you with an idea as to what you can accomplish.

What Are Your Goals For Your Network?

To communicate effectively you should have an underlying purpose or goal for your network. Without a goal your communication will be unfocused and, therefore, ineffective. Because one of your goals should be to establish a brand it is important that your networking activities support that goal.

Your goals must include reaching most, if not all, of the objectives listed above. Those qualities elicit recommendations and referrals from your network which is your objective.

If you have defined your goals properly it should result in your building a network of people with whom you want to connect and, more importantly, who want to connect with you. A group that you want to be in contact with on a regular basis and a group that will be interested in your message. Once again, and I cannot stress it enough, it is critically important that you have a value to add to your network and that you have a reputation that encourages people to want to connect with you.

Just as there will be people that invite you where they will be the primary benefactor, this same thing can hold true with the people that you want to invite into your network. Be aware of that reality and approach your desired connection accordingly. That does not mean that you should not invite people where you appear to have nothing to offer, it just means you must approach it realistically.

What Is Your Growth Strategy for Your Network?

Now that we have addressed those issues; what is your growth strategy for your network? Who do you want to include and why? You must be looking at this from both giving and receiving perspectives.

Most networks include people where you will be able to provide to them, but the chances of their giving to you are limited. This may impact your decisions to invite, but should never impact your decision to accept an invite.

You may choose to decline an invite based upon other factors such as the invitee’s reputation, the types of people on the invitee’s connections, and there may be other factors. Just do not deny based upon what the individual can do for you.

Sometimes the only thing you might add to an invitee is your admiration for their accomplishments. Do not discount this factor; people like to hear that they are respected and admired for their accomplishments – just be sincere in the praise.

Conclusion

If you care for your network properly and continually add value; it will be your most valuable asset and road to your continued success.

Copyright Tom Staskiewicz

Networking Referrals and Recommendations


Networking Referrals and Recommendations

Referrals and recommendations can be a slippery slope for the person being referred, the person doing the referral, and the person to who the first person was referred.

Is the Person Doing the Referring Reliable?

For the person being referred is the person doing the referring trustworthy and does that person have a good reputation with the target person? You never know; the person referring may be over estimating the relationship or could even be totally in the dark on the relationship. Having this reference may even cost you the opportunity. You never know for sure, so before getting the referral you need to do your research. Find out:

      How long has the person doing the referral known the target person or company?
      When was the last time they had contact and what type of contact?
      What is the frequency of communication between the person referring and the target individual or company?
      Has the person doing the referring done any referring previously to the target individual or company?
      If so, what was the purpose of that referral?
      What was the result of that referral?

You cannot be too careful; it is your career or your business that is at stake.

Is the Person Being Referred Reliable? Is the Target Person or Company Reliable?

If you are going out on a limb and referring someone to a target individual or company you are truly in the middle of the situation. You must be concerned about both sides of the referral. Are both sides reliable? If you refer a reliable connection to an unreliable target individual or company; you may lose a friend or at least your credibility. The same goes if the individual you are referring is not reliable.

As the person doing the referring you must know both sides well to truly feel comfortable with making the referral in either direction. Here are the questions for the referrer:

      What is your relationship with the person you are referring and the target individual or company?
      How long have you known each party?
      What and when is your recent experience with each party?
      With the target individual or company; what recent changes have taken place that may change your knowledge or attitude?
      What was your last exchange with each of the parties?
      Have you made any previous referrals for either of the parties?
      What were the results of those referrals?
      Is there anything in either of those referrals that would make you hesitant to refer again?
      How risky is this referral from either the referring or target sides for you?
      Are you willing to put your reputation on the line for both the person you are referring and the target company?
      What caveats or warnings do you feel you should provide to either side?

As in the last situation your career and business are at stake; be sure that the situation is worth the risk to your reputation.

Is the Person Making the Referral Reliable?

If you are the target individual or company and someone is being referred to you; what must you consider:

      How well do you know the person making the referral?
      How do you know the person making the referral?
      Has the referrer ever made a referral to you in the past?
      If so, what was the result of that referral?
      Have you ever hired someone off a referral in the past?
      What has been your experience with past referrals from any source?
      What is the risk if the referral does not work as expected?
      What is your exit strategy if the referral does not work as expected?
      Are you willing to put your relationship at risk over the referral?
      Do you know others where this individual has made a referral?
      What was the outcome of that referral?
      Are all parties happy with the outcome?

These are some of the considerations that should be made so you go into the decision with your eyes open. Even though all parties may check out properly; there is still the matter of personal chemistry to be considered. Just because it all looks okay from the outside; does not mean it is okay. Referrals help with the decision process, but they should not make the decision.

I am a huge proponent of the “Who Knows You” concept. When you are truly known by the people that are involved in the referral process the confidence of all that the right things are being done will rise proportionally.

All parties in the process have their brand involved and it can either be strengthened or weakened by the choice.