Social Media – Can We Learn from Restaurants

We Can Learn from Restaurants

I believe there are social media lessons to be learned from restaurants. The other day, after finishing a meal at the Olive Garden, I started thinking about what does my business and the businesses of my customers have in common with a restaurant. What can we learn?

I started thinking about the entire sequence of a meal and how that affects the customer.

The first thing that the restaurant owners decide is what type of restaurant do they want. Will they be fast food or full service? Will they be inexpensive, moderate priced, or expensive? What type of food will they offer: a wide variety of foods, a particular specialty, or a specific ethnicity.

Where will they locate the restaurant? Who will be their target market or customer?

Once you move beyond fast food, most restaurants understand that they need to get the food moving to the patron. There is nothing worse, than a table full of people just sitting and waiting. Restaurant owners have learned that you need to get the customer or patron involved immediately.

In the past they would immediately serve you water, but today they start by taking your drink order. Why? Because it is quick and easy. People decide quickly on what they will have to drink. The next question is whether you want an appetizer; again these are food choices that are quick to assemble and get to the table. After the appetizers are ordered and before they are served your main course order is taken. This takes longer to prepare, but you have your drinks and your appetizers to keep you occupied.

So What Does This Have To Do With Social Media?

How are you doing at deciding the questions to be asked for your business? What are the parameters for your choices and decisions? Why are you doing what you are doing? What are your goals and objectives?

10 -15 years ago businesses began creating web sites. The question I ask is why? The answer for many was that they were told if they did not have a web site; then they were not serious about their business. A few years later the question was whether they were using SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and keywords; because, if they were not, then they were not serious about their business. Today the question is whether the business is using Social Media; because if they are not then they are not serious about their business.

The problem I see with all of these options is that the reasons were often incorrect. Instead of doing the methodical process that a restaurant or any business, for that matter, follows; businesses rushed into web sites, SEO, and now they are rushing into Social Media.

Choosing to Participate in Social Media

A business’s participation in Social Media should be thought out.

  • What is the goal?
  • What is the expectation?
  • What is the expected benefit?
  • What is expected of the visitor?
  • Who is the expected visitor?
  • How do you want the visitor to respond?
  • Are you going to capture visitor information?
  • What information do you want to capture?
  • How are you going to capture the information?
  • What do you have to offer in exchange for this information?

If you are not asking and answering these questions; it will be like driving without a destination. You will not:

  1. Know where you are going.
  2. You will not know whether you are heading in the correct direction.
  3. You will not know when you get there or if you get there.
  4. You will never be able to correct your course.

Social Media is not something you put on auto-pilot and then leave it alone. The great thing is that it is easy to change course, but only if you know the course you are taking.

The Power of Facebook – Part II – Content Is King

Tapping the Power of Facebook

Just as important as those that “Like” your Fan Page are your Friends.

  1. Build your fan base.
  2. Build your friends list.
  3. Create great content.
  4. Get your fans to click that they “Like” your content.
  5. Get your fans to comment on your posts.
  6. Investigate and adopt new Facebook functionality as appropriate for your goals.

In my previous post on this topic I discussed items 1 and 2. In this post I will talk about items 3 through 5.

Facebook Success Requires Great Content

Great content is key to getting your message to spread or get legs of its own. When people see great comment they are more likely to comment and spread the word. If they do not like what you said it will die with them.

Content is not a given, it is something your must work on; if you are to perfect the process. Be persistent and when you get your formula working stick with it. There is nothing worse than getting a following started and then punking out on it.

One thing is that if you write something and it does not get legs of its own; you do not, necessarily, have to give up on the topic; maybe it was the format or the way it was said. The great thing is that because the topic did not grow legs, you can come back to it six months, three months, a month, or even a week later and try it again with a little different spin.

If You Friends and Fans Do Not “Like” Your Content; Your Content Will Die With Them

Anything that you write should be written with the idea that it will elicit responses. Responses are key to the accelerated spread of your identity and brand. Your goal is to expand your sphere of influence and the comments of your connections will cause that to happen.

Ergo, the more connections you have the greater the chance that your message will have a life of its own. If your content is not eliciting a response, then you MUST change your content. This is a trial and error process as you attempt to get it right. You must write and write and write; then you must monitor and monitor and monitor. Find out what works and what does not work. Build on what works and assess what does not work to see if it can be changed.

If Your fans Comment, Their Friends Will Care About What THEY Said

Social Networking is about spreading your sphere of influence. As such there is a lot of talk about getting a following, a bunch of fans, or lots of connections. While these are all important; it is even more important to get people talking.

You need to have the recipients of your initial message make comments to you or to others. Regardless of the direction of the content all of their Fans will receive the entire discussion thread, but if you pay attention to the thread only the most recent four or five comments are displayed. Have you ever wondered about that?

Here is the reason; the most recent comment will be from someone that you know; because that is YOUR primary point of interest. If you like what they said you may look at the original post and even look at other posts. The important thing is to know that the Social Networks want you to see things from your connections in the hope that you will comment on your connection’s comment and keep the thread alive.

Summer Jobs – Ready, Set, Go

A Little Ground Work Is Important

Are you hoping to get a summer job? What steps are you taking to make that happen?

Getting a summer, job in today’s job market, is not as simple as walking up, getting an application, filling it out, and getting hired. You must be prepared by doing the groundwork and your homework.

Here are some basic steps:

  1. Clean up your Social Networking sites.
  2. Identify your target work location.
  3. Will they be hiring this summer?
  4. When will they be hiring?
  5. How many do they plan to hire?
  6. What Is the Projected Start Date?
  7. What Is the Projected End Date?
  8. When will they be accepting applications?
  9. What is the application process?
  10. Do you need a resume?
  11. After the application process what comes next?
  12. Who is the hiring manager?
  13. What do they look for in an employee?
  14. Have them describe their ideal employee.
  15. What can you do to ensure that you are the one to be hired?

Clean Up Your Social Networking Sites.

If you have questionable content on your Facebook, MySpace, or other Social Networking sites clean it up. Over 60% of employers will check and with high school and college students, the percentage increases dramatically. Employers do not wan employees that will potentially bring negative attention to their organization.

Google yourself and see what comes up. If it is negative see what you can do to get positive information to come up at the top of the search. Joining Facebook, LinkedIn, creating a Google profile, and posting to your blog; are all ways that you can add information to a Google search that will rise to the top. Get people to click on your blog and these other materials to increase the visits and again raise the ranking.

Identify Your Target Work Location.

What is your short list of places where you would like to work this summer? Make a list and start working the list; contact anyone of interest.

Will They Be Hiring This Summer?

Find out the summer hiring plans. If they will not be hiring move on. If it is a maybe mark it as such.

When Will They Be Hiring?

What is their hiring timetable? How does that fit with your availability? If that does not fit your schedule what alternative arrangements might be available?

How Many Do They Plan To Hire?

How many will they be hiring? Will they hire everyone at the same time?

What Is the Projected Start Date?

How does the schedule fit with your schedule? If the schedules do not match, can you work something out? Is there any flexibility?

What Is the Projected End Date?

When do they see the summer jobs ending? Is there a set date or does it depend upon availability?

When Will They Be Accepting Applications?

Find out the date when they will start accepting applications and plan accordingly. Make sure you are timely. Check out the process ahead of time to ensure that you will have all the answers to the questions.

What Is the Application Process?

Is the application process a kiosk at the employer’s location (i.e. Target, WalMart, Albertsons, etc.), is it on-line (CostCo, Home Depot, etc.), or is it a paper process (McDonalds, Burger King, mom and pop, etc.). Know ahead of time and be prepared. If it is a kiosk or on-line one of the first questions will be if you have filled out the application. A “no” answer will be their first reason to dismiss you. You must be prepared.

Do You Need a Resume?

Some places may want a resume in addition to the application, be prepared and have one available. List previous employment, organizations (especially leadership roles), and do not put references. They will ask for those.

After the Application Process What Comes Next?

Know what to expect after completing the application. If the next step is to meet with a hiring manager, when are they available? If there are certain days and times, know as much up-front as possible. This saves you the inconvenience, but even more it shows commitment, determination, and most of all interest!

Ask when you can check back. But do not simply say that say “When I follow up do you prefer I call or come in?” This approach gives them no option on whether you will follow up; only on how you will follow up.

What Do They Look For in An Employee?

Employers do not discriminate, they just know what they want and prefer. Visit the location and look around. If the employees look like skaters (that is the desired image at some businesses) and you are clean cut that will tell you something. It tells you what they look for and hire, but it also begs the question is this what you want?

Have Them Describe Their Ideal Employee.

Have them describe their ideal employee. You should get this as early as possible and ideally before completing the application. If they are looking for people that are sports oriented, you want that on your application. If they are academically oriented you want that on your application.

What Can You Do To Ensure That You Are the One To Be Hired?

Express your profound interest in working for them and the reasons for that interest and then ask: What can I do so you will hire me? How can I prove to you that I am the one you want?

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

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.

Do You Receive the Latest Information on Your Industry and Target Companies?

To maintain our competitive advantage over others within our organization or other job seekers we need current information. We are all accustomed to seeing information in the newspaper and on TV, hearing news reports on the radio, or monitoring corporate websites. We may even subscribe to Internet news services for an even more current perspective, but we can do more!

Although reasonably effective we are typically learning those things that the World wants us to learn. We can be more proactive, however, and learn those things that may not be so well distributed through Internet alerts. You can set up Google alerts to report on:

  1. Individuals and their activities.
  2. Companies and what they are doing currently.
  3. Industries to get the latest information on the happenings across all participants.
  4. Technologies to hear the latest developments.
  5. Anything else that may be of interest to you.

Here’s an example. I have a friend that is in Network Marketing and has even written books on the subject. I hadn’t heard from him in a while, when I received an email a couple weeks ago. He told me about this new “secret project” that he was working on for a new Network Marketing Company and he would send the details later.

Last week he sent out email announcing a pre-launch announcement that was coming soon. I responded by telling him that I already knew the name of his new company, had heard about his legal battles with his last Network Marketing Company, knew the key players in the new business, etc. I also told him how I had learned all the information: a Google Search that delivered updated information every time his name was mentioned on the Internet.

His response was “Cool”. I thought it was awesome. Through the search I had inside information that could be pieced together to tell me a story ahead of the story. I have a Google Search that runs daily looking for information on myself or anyone with the same name, so that I know what is being said and am prepared in the event questions are asked.

I recommend using Google search for job seekers, business people, and anyone else that cares about their reputation. Google Alerts allow you to be proactive about your career and enables you to protect your brand. Go to the, select more and then select even more. A screen of features will appear and in the upper left hand corner are the alerts. Click on alerts and you can configure your specific alert.