Category: Word of Mouth

Keeping Your Personal Brand Professional in a Shark Fight

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The higher you climb, the more fans you get. Subsequently, the higher you climb, the more people are there to point out flaws in your arguments. Openly calling someone out for misinformation has always been a practice. Whether through poetry as was popular in the 1700s or through the internet as is popular today, you can’t amass an enormous following without amassing watchdogs there to make sure your ego doesn’t climb too high.

The Set Up

Such is how it recently happened in an exchange between businessman Mark Cuban and writer Amy Vernon. In a recently published article for Inc., Vernon targeted Cuban’s new bid for wealth, an app known as Cyber Dust, systematically pointing out all of the flaws in Cuban’s argument as presented in an exclusive Inc. video. In it, Cuban paints the picture of the privacy breach we’re all scared of. After all, everything we post online is accessible by everyone, can be screen captured by everyone and, according to Cuban, will be used by companies to profile potential hires. This means who you follow, who you retweet and everyone you come into contact with online is a potential threat. Immediately following this, he goes on to describe his new app and how it will protect your information when “30 seconds after they [the receiver] open it, the message disappears.”

While a great idea in theory, Vernon caught on to a few mistakes in the video and wrote her article breaking apart the weaknesses piece by piece. In it, she’s quick to point out that “Cyber Dust absolves itself of any responsibility if a message is not removed or deleted” in addition to the company not being responsible for screen captures. She also brings up the argument that Cuban’s advice to delete past tweets is a poor decision because “if you delete them and someone has a screenshot and doctors it, you have no way of proving it’s doctored.” All in all, it was not a slanderous post so much as a warning to those quickly jumping on to an app that purported to do things it cannot.

The Exchange

The ball was now in Cuban’s court. As much of a personality and figurehead as he is, it would be poor PR to simply ignore the holes poked in the argument he presented for his app project. What came next was a very simple personal branding lesson on maintaining professionalism during such socially broadcasted spats. The same day the article was posted, the response war began in earnest. Amongst truly interested parties and diehard fans of both names, the two engaged in a battle of words and facts. By the time the dust settled, it became clear that Vernon was the real winner.

While frustrating to both sides, Vernon maintained a calm, collected voice for the debate, never slipping into emotionally charged comments. She didn’t respond much on Twitter but did so when good questions came up. All in all, her main focus remained on the questions she had raised, nothing more. Her opponent, on the other hand, did his best to provide answers but ended up taking a childish route, insulting Vernon with, “Amy the next time you do any actual research on this topic will be your first time”.

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The Lesson for Your Personal Brand

Arguments will inevitably happen. Not everyone can agree on everything and that’s okay. The most important thing you can take away from this exchange is the fact that professionalism is the key to protecting your brand through anything. Though Vernon’s article was not inflammatory and merely brought inconsistencies in the presentation of the product, you may very well find yourself against far more slanderous opponents unopposed to writing articles that are derogatory in nature.

Keep Your Cool

The person who gets emotional about it loses the respect of those looking or listening in.

exchange-of-ideas-222789_1280In your business or work environment, keeping a calm demeanor will be beneficial to you.  Often, individuals try to rally the crowd especially when they feel the other person is wrong.  Yet, if you try to do that by being negative or insulting to the other person you will end up losing.  That negativity clings to you and ends up tainting what ever you are saying.  When you get personal with direct attacks, it reflects negatively on you, personally.

Utilize Your Resources

Using facts, statistics and quotes can help support your findings or “side” and if you’re not an expert on the topic then do bring in resources who are and can speak to it.

Bringing subject matter experts into the conversation, causes everyone to listen carefully.  Instead of listening to reply, they are truly listening to each of the points of information shared.

When you can use logic and known experts or expert resources to support you, then not only do you elevate the discussion, you elevate your personal brand.

Keep Communication Open

Communication and debates between two people lend themselves to keeping the lines of communication open since each person involved in the conversation is trying to convince the other person and share enough pertinent information that they may concede their point.

When the argument has an audience, on Twitter, or other social sites, then the theatrics of belittling your adversary can come into play.  Keep them out if you want your personal brand to be viewed as professional.

Ridiculing your adversary attracts the same reaction as name calling and in the court of public opinion can quickly categorize you as a “bully”.

Whatever it is you’re up against, always go back to Debate 101 rules. Stick to the facts, apologize when necessary and never, ever resort to emotions. When all eyes are on you and how you’ll react to a challenger, everyone, whether they support you or not, is waiting for you to slip up by getting emotional. Through denying this, you deny your opponent any leverage against you, making you the victor. Those watching will see the person offending you as being in the wrong, and you’ll be able to continue onward without having lost support. And, you’ll keep your personal brand professional.

Works Cited

Vernon, A. (2015, 11 June). What Mark Cuban Gets Wrong About Social Media. Retrieved from Inc.: http://www.inc.com/amy-vernon/mark-cuban-is-wrong.html

With Great Networking Comes Great Responsibility

Networking Strategy MeetingsIt’s easy to be the one at a networking event littering the place with your business cards, belting out a chorus of “me, me, me”, and treating people as if they were things instead of people.

I recently witnessed it at a networking event.

It was conference and it was the welcome mixer.  Everyone was mixing, mingling, and there were occasional heartfelt reunions where you would see genuine hugging and laughter.  I had my own as a saw a friend of mine and fellow BRANDido (term of endearment of those who participate in #branchat – a Twitter chat all about branding).

Then, there was that guy.  You know – the one who wants to meet all the “important people”.

I didn’t have speaker on my badge. And, he didn’t recognize the business so he said his hello, how are you, is this your first time at this conference and quickly disengaged.

But, before he left he asked for my Twitter handle so we can follow each other (which is code for so you can follow me).

Then, he stopped where he was walking to.  Our digital manager pegged it first.  He leaned over to me and said, “he just read your Twitter profile and now you’re someone worth knowing.”

And, he turned around and asked me – so you are the head of #brandchat?

Sorry mate! Those kind of networkers are a dime a dozen.  Sadly, I don’t even remember his name to try to disguise it for this post.

They are the card collectors and the people who work through and use people.  If you’ve ever seen the movie, The Internship, he’s the Grant.

Don’t be that guy.

Top 6 Things Bad Networkers Do (And How to Not Be Like Them)

Eight Signs You’re A Terrible Networker

What Good Networkers Do… and Don’t Do

4 Places Where You Should Not Be Networking

Look at the person not the name tag

I have always said that you never know who someone is, who they will become or who they influence.

Then, I come across those networkers that are reading name tags, or follower count, fans or even titles to gauge if someone is “worth” talking to.

In order to make good connections, people have to have the opportunity to sample your character and competence and you must also take the opportunity to sample someone else’s character and competence.  This means getting to know them.

It’s also good to burn useless bridges, according to Gregory Ciotti.

“This skill is an absolute must to learn.

Eventually, you’re going to come across “leeches,” people who you’ve connected with but don’t see the relationship as give-and-take, more like, “How much can I get out of you?”

Networking is supposed to help you grow your business by meeting genuinely awesome people, not create a network of vultures who only reach out to you when they need something.

Cut these people off, and fast, you don’t need anyone holding you back.”

8 Networking Skills that Every Professional Needs to Have

Networking the Right Way: People Remember How You Make Them Feel

The 5 Keys to Networking Online Successfully

Be in the now

How many times have we heard that grunt of “uh huh” or that “oh yeah” that didn’t really have any meaning behind it.

At a networking event, if you’re thinking who this person could connect you with or what you can get from them, it’s tough to focus on the “now”.

When your mind is in the future, it is busy strategizing and you cannot hear and be fully present to the person that you’re with.

7 Tips for Networking

13 Things Mindful People Do Differently Every Day

Focus on Your Connection and Conversation

How can you help?

Do you know how you help others?  And, how do you deliver value to their lives?

When you network, if you help people in any aspect of their lives they see you as someone who can be helpful – regardless of the area of their life they need help.

It is the authentic desire to help that makes all the difference.

It is why when you network that quality beats out quantity.  If you can have a quality conversation with someone (one where you learn what they need help with our how you can help), and if you leave your “sales focus” at the door and focus on the person, you can not only develop the “know, like and trust” factor faster, you can solidify a relationship and loyalty.

It’s not givers gain

I’ve never liked that phrase.  It sounds like the motive is to gain something and in order to do that you’ll give something in exchange.

It seems very transactional and not relational.

Any networking event I’ve gone to when that’s chanted has felt like a group of people swarming others to find out “what makes them tick” and then to descend upon that information with the goals of giving something and expecting reciprocation in return.

It just never felt right.

In fact, it often brought to mind a question and answer lesson a good friend of mine, Jose Zertuche, would always share with me. He would ask, “What’s the difference between a salesperson and a con man especially when both can be so charismatic?”  His response, “intent”.  What’s your intent?

In giver’s gain, the intent to me seems solely focused on the giver with the focus (from the get go) to get that other to reciprocate.

Do It Yourself Thinking is Wrong for Networking Effectively

Do you remember the book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”?   There’s a story in the book about a team that was making tremendous progress in their efforts of cutting down a forest.  When the leader of the group alarmingly shouts out “wrong forest”, someone instantly hollers back “be quiet – we’re making progress.”

I come across a lot of DIYers (do it yourselfers).  When you’re dealing with budding entrepreneurs, they are often doing many things themselves.

Do if yourself is the wrong way of thinking for networking

Imagine you were setting out to network with people today.  Let’s do the math. If you allot 30 minutes to connect with someone (imagine ordering a coffee or making it through a parking lot, building and a receptionist – none of these activities all in all can be done in less than 30 minutes each).  Then factor in travel time.  How many people would you be able to connect with today?

No. I’m not oblivious to social media.  Even then, imagine you’re attending a twitter chat, connecting with people afterwards on Twitter or another social network.  How many people can you meet, connect with and really converse with in one day?

And, even though each person on Facebook is said to have, on average, 229 friends, there are less people that we actually influence even when we are well connected online.

When you make networking with others a “do it yourself endeavor” we lose the exponential benefits of other people’s influence and other people’s credibility.

When we can borrow from another’s credibility (which is essentially what happens when someone edifies you as they introduce you to a connection of theirs), we meet at an elevated level of know, like and trust which shortens the time necessary for them to sample our character and competence.

Review these tips and insights to help you shorten the connection process and make friends and influence people:

Be the expert at what you’re an expert at

If you try to do everything yourself, you’ll be mediocre at everything.

That was an early lesson for me in my business.  Like any small business owner, I started as butcher, baker and candlestick maker in my business.  I admit. Some moments – I’m still that.

Effective networking is through and with people. In order to do that, it’s imperative that you give them the room to be the expert that they’re an expert of – which is their connections and contacts. After all, they’ve developed a relationship with them and they know what matters most to their contacts (more than you do.)

You, on the other hand, know what you know best. You’re the expert of your business.

Instead of developing the connections yourself, spend your time in creating a curriculum for your contacts on:

  1. What you’re best at,
  2. How you serve people,
  3. What you deliver and
  4. How they can best refer connections to you.

Too often, do it yourselfers, focus on driving the relationship.  To succeed at and maximize the return on your networking efforts focus on your expertise which is your business and the best ways to refer you.

Synergy creates serendipity

When you’ve taught your connections the best way to connect, describe and refer you, you develop a synergy that creates powerful introductions and referrals.

Here’s how to do this – develop a one page document and in it outline:

  1. Your goals and objectives for the year
  2. Who you serve best (your target market/client)
  3. Where to find this “best client” in large numbers (associations, conferences, events)
  4. What are some of the key phrases or comments someone will say that identify them as a great connection for you.
  5. Describe the best way to introduce you
  6. Make sure to have all your contact information starting with the first (and best) way to reach you.

For example, this is what my Networking Document would look like:

Goals and Objectives:  To develop a solid base of email newsletter clients (10 new clients each month)

Target Client:  Realtors, Restaurants and Renegades (Definition of renegade: solopreneur, independent professional, inventor, author, entrepreneur)

Where to Find them:

Realtors:  Board of Realtor functions, Chamber of Commerce events

Restaurants: Chamber of Commerce special events, charity gourmet galas

Renegades: Chambers of Commerce, SBA or SBDC events, blogs and Twitter chats

Key Phrases and Comments:  I can’t get any results from social media; What are you using to send out emails?; I don’t know if anyone’s opening or really reading our newsletter

Best Way to Introduce:  A virtual introduction via email sent to both of us; Or, provide their email address and please call ahead to them about me and to expect an email from me.

Do it yourself means less control

Know that when you are working with people who are making the connections for you, that you will not be able to control the speed or the flow of the connection.

Remember, the best way to incentivize someone to assist you is to:

  1. Do the same for them
  2. Appreciate their efforts

Others have done a great job articulating this:

It is average

I liken you doing everything in relationship building and developing connections to a person who is putting out an ad about themselves and calling everyone telling them how wonderful they are.  It just doesn’t work. And, it’s was the average beginner does.

Yet, if you can work closely with a team of people who are already advocates for you and teach them the best way and who to best refer to them – the opportunities are endless.

That third party endorsement from someone that they know, like and trust could be just the thing that someone needs to know before they would ever consider even speaking with you.

Focus on networking effectively.  It will expedite your connection and even develop your relationships at a stronger more meaningful level.

5 Things You Need to Stop Doing Now to Create Strong Connections in 2015

I know, I know – the year’s just barely halfway through and now I’m writing about next year’s activities.  You can start now to put the foundation and resources in place so that you’re one step ahead of everyone.

Making Connections Work for Your Brand (and more importantly for you, it’s important to create strong connections)

You probably have heard the expression “people do business with those they know and trust.” It’s true. In a world where we are constantly bombarded with sales pitches, sales offers and an endless stream of online updates and messages, it’s the people you trust and have personal connections with that are likely to come through for you.

Ask any senior level executive, industry leader or even politician which skill plays a big part of their success – and a large majority will say making connections/networking. If you want to grow your brand, making the right connections is crucial.

As you embark on making meaningful connections, you realize that not everyone in or associated with your brand might have the same networking skills as you do. People are different, and where you might excel in communicating with others, some of your team members might not do so well. As a brand, you want to portray a unified front, so identifying members who may need a little work on their networking skills is important.

Do you need to develop your connection skillset? Here are some helpful articles for you to develop a foundation for online and offline connections:

The Importance of Connections

Why is making connections so important?

For starters, no man is an island. You need people around you to help you grow, learn and to share information with. But further from the team that helps your brand grow, you need people that will buy into the strategy and vision you have set out. For this to happen, a connection has to happen first.

Meaningful connections will share the vision that you have, and through word of mouth communicate it with others they interact with. A positive word dropped here and there works wonders for your brand. Also, it is through such connections that you start establishing your business contacts.

Through connections, you are able to understand the best practices and trends in your industry or area of expertise. Attending conferences and meetings allows you to interact with thought leaders and experts, and by making connections you learn the best methods and resources to use to deliver results effectively and efficiently.

The importance of developing relationships around your brand:

1.  Stop trying to look big

Be real, be human

Let your brand portray a human side. Be real and genuine in your messaging and approach. Know the target audience you cater. You are a good starting point of the ideal audience, so think what would appeal to you. How would you like to be approached?

It’s all about engaging with people and making meaningful, genuine connections. Listen and learn, and you’ll be on your way to creating the kind of connections you want.

Small business owners, this is where you excel.  Keep from wasting that by trying to look big and putting large business practices in place that encumber your responsiveness.

To Do Item:  Remain agile, responsive and human in your interaction. 

2.  Stop acquiring more connections than you can cultivate

Earlier I wrote that you need Stop Meeting People to Be Known and Get Referred and that’s a practice that you need to put into place before 2015.

Superficial connections, huge lists of contacts, and putting everyone that we meet into our database only becomes problematic, unmanageable and stressful to us.  It also takes away from the great connections that we could possibly make with others since all of our energy is often squandered away in trying to manage everyone we have contact with.

To Do Item:  When it comes to relationship building, less is more.

3.  Stop thinking it’s a numbers game.

It’s important to be strategic in our connections and in order to do that we have to know what it is we uniquely deliver to a connection.  When we know what it is we know or uniquely bring to any connection, then we can begin to develop relationships with others who can be a part of our support network, referral or information network.  Variety trumps quantity.   Developing stellar connections, means looking for others who have additional information or perspective that can lend itself to our growth and understanding.  It’s not about seeking others who speak from the same beliefs or even same knowledge background.

To Do Item:  Know your unique skills and perspective to strategically seek others who can complement us.

4.  Stop developing boundaries around your roles

When you have a variety of connections that can be helpful to others, you are in a perfect position to be a “hub” of resources to your connections.  Stop separating your resources by roles.  A great event planner at your church could be a stellar connection for customer in need of some ideas or connections on planning an “open house” event for their business.  A great volunteer you connect with at a non-profit who knows all the ins and outs of a word processing software, could be a great resources or even trainer to your team members (or connections) on knowing all the shortcuts in using this software.

To Do Item: Reach across the many roles you play in your life from PTA parent to member of the board of directors – bringing people together across a variety of roles is a valuable skillset.  

5.  Stop guarding your resources

In a minute you can Google most anything that you want to know more about so the days of keeping a resources or piece of information “top secret” are fleeting. When you can recognize problems or opportunities, and provide solutions you elevate your value in someone’s mind.  I’m not saying to “give the farm away”. What I’m recommending is when you find a great tool to help someone solve a problem, then share the information with them.

In positioning people who are experts in their field, you often here this statement, “identify the problem before they even know about that problem and you’ll be seen as an expert.”  The same belief applies here. Identify a solution or resource before they even know where to begin seeking assistance and you’ll be seen as a valuable connection.

To Do Item:  What resources have you been using, that you could inform someone about that would assist them? Start getting into a habit of reviewing your resources and sharing how people can acquire the resource for themselves. 

Stop Meeting People to Be Known and Get Referred

How often have you heard this – it’s a numbers game?  Or, it’s not what you know it’s who you know?  Follow this advice and you’ll be working harder not smarter.

If you want to be known and to be referred, you need to stop meeting people and trim down those numbers.

Listen to the whole truth – it’s not what you know or who you know, it’s who knows you well.

Too often, we’re racing for more connections, business cards, filling buckets of people that we need to get to know, counting likes and rejoicing at the thousands of twitter followers we have when none of that really matters.

What matters most are the people you connect with and having a solid and trusted relationship with them.  Relationships take time. It takes valuing the other person so much so that you’re not checking your phone for the text that came in nor are you half listening to someone as you scroll through your newsfeed.

The secret to getting referred and being known is to stop playing the numbers game and focus on the quality of your connection.

Here are some best practices in developing those solid relationships:

How Well Do You Know Who You Already Know

You’re already connected with people.  How well do you know them?

Are they merely warm bodies in your database that you know barely anything about? Do you have lots of fun together yet have no idea what each other even does for a living, cares about or even what you’re working towards?  Or, are they someone who knows you well but you don’t know them very well.  Do you know their hopes, dreams, desires or definition of success?

The quality of your relationships to the people you call “connections” on your list will determine the quality of your business.

And, yes, make every day, every connection and moment count.  In order to do that, you have to identify and know who you’re connected with, how to connect with them, and what matters most to your connections.

Identify Who You Need to Know Better

A big obstacle to making meaningful connections with those you know is that you don’t know who you know.  Or, you don’t know how to contact the people you know.

A clean and up-to-date database of your connection’s contact info is vital.  How can you reach out to someone or share a good piece of information (or even send a referral to them) if you have an outdated email address or mobile number?

Even though CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools are often seen just for “customers” they are not limited to that.  Staying in close contact with our connections is vital to our success whether we’re a professional, job seeker or a small business owner.

Create a Strategic Getting to Know You Plan

Maintaining relationships is key to your personal success.  How often have we made a connection and developed it and then failed to nurture it?

Often in my work as the Editor-in-Chief of the Personal Branding Blog (and it is a strictly volunteer gig), I come across authors who are really amazing individuals.  And, no matter the number of books they’ve written or how “famous” they may be, they take the time to personally care and get to know people they work with.

Recently, I personally chatted on the phone with Debra Benton and Beth Kuhel, both outstanding authors in their own right and wonderful contributors to the blog.  They each cared enough to call me and get to know who I am, what I do exactly and how they can assist me in making what I do easier so that we all experience success with the blog.

The late Maya Angelou said it best, “people will not remember what you did, they may not remember what you said but they will always remember the way you made them feel.”

Do you have a plan for connecting with others? Do you know their goals, activities, interests and networks they are already involved in?  Do you know what the next steps are in creating a deeper relationship with them?

Are they a warm body, a mere acquaintance, a good associate or a great referral and connection?  And, more importantly, do you know where they’re at in the relationship building scale?

If you’re interested in learning more about the Relationship Building Scale or Relationship Building System, let me know.  I’ll have a free webinar coming up soon that I can definitely share with you!

How to Accelerate the Referral Process in Personal Meetings

It’s often said that social media is word of mouth on steroids.  It gives quick opportunities for people to get to know you, your interests and your specialties.  And, it gives them a window into your character and competence.

Instead of viewing social media as a platform that can take the place of personal meetings, start looking at social media as a way to connect with people prior to meeting them in person. It’s a way to interact and engage with them and to help you overcome that first hurdle when you finally meet them face to face (or via Google Hangout, Skype, or even phone).

Focus on making sure your initial impression and connection are ones that encourage someone to connect with you more.

Make a Good First Digital Impression

If a person you’re scheduled to meet visits your social profiles prior to your meeting, would they feel informed and encouraged to meet or would they feel concerned and apprehensive?

Imagine the scenario in which a professional contact sees your Facebook account and you’re ranting about a stupid advertisement campaign you saw online and you’re throwing around absolutes about disliking people or your exhibiting solid closed minded behavior.

Here are other tips to help you make that first digital impression that’s worth a second look:

LinkedIn Helps You Connect Better

There’s a reason that the articles listed previously often mentioned LinkedIn.   LinkedIn is still considered the most professional and business focused social network.  If the person you’re meeting face-to-face for the first time is a second or third degree connection on LinkedIn, this knowledge can really help you engage better with that person. Because of the connection, you can ask the person to whom you’re mutually connected to make an introduction, or you can easily introduce yourself beforehand and mention the name of the person you’re both connected to. Once you are able to meet and chat with each other on LinkedIn, it could easily pave the way for a better and more interesting meeting in person.

Think about it: Who would you trust more? A person whom you have a mutual connection with on LinkedIn, or a person who shares a mutual friend with you on Facebook?

Give Yourself Authority

Through answering questions and participating in discussions and groups, social platforms provide opportunity for you to become known as an expert in your field. As more and more people get to know what you’re about, it really fosters the potential for deeper relationships to be formed when you finally meet face-to-face. You become an authoritative figure in your career or industry, and people you meet in person are more likely to carefully consider what it is that you have to say.

Creating a group is also a great way to connect with people who have similar interests and passions. By being a group’s administrator, you establish yourself as an authoritative figure, and the more popular your group is, the farther your reach. When people come to know you as the leader of the group, this will make it easier to establish better relationships in personal meetings.

It’s easy to develop groups in Facebook, LinkedIn and even through Twitter Chats.

Research Your Connection (and Know They Will Research You)

Before meeting someone, find out how you know each other or some common frames of reference.  Communication and connection happen much easier when you do have some common interests and helps in quickly building rapport.

In today’s highly digitalized world, many people are forgoing personal meetings; they are instead focusing on connecting with others through social media and other forms of digital communication. But you should always keep in mind that strong personal connections are best formed in person (again, let me qualify that this can happen via phone, Google Hangout or Skype).

Meaningful Mentions for Meaningful Attention

Twitter has kept true to its 140 character feature, which places the burden of creativity on the user. Hashtags and tweet chats have only brought more appeal to the social site, and now more than ever, business entrepreneurs, executives, and organizations are taking note and utilizing Twitter.

Twitter used correctly is a creative way for you to personally connect with people that you wouldn’t otherwise have a direct connection with. It’s also a great tool to build relationships with acquaintances.
You can reach company presidents, organization leaders and influencers in your industry in a way that establishes rapport and a chance for them to get to know you. People do business with people they know, like and trust. Enter into true conversations with people on Twitter, and you can develop know, like and trust with them.

Create Conversation

When commenting on valuable content that has been tweeted, posted, or otherwise written, be sure that your comment is thorough and self-explanatory. What made it valuable to your specific area of expertise? Don’t just recommend it; provide a reason why it is your recommendation.

When re-tweeting, expand your material by adding in valuable commentary that can be linked back to you. Re-tweets are often limited to simply saying “what they said,” yet if your strategy on Twitter is to deepen relationships then it’s important to include why that tweet or information mattered to you. It gives the thousands of people eavesdropping on the conversation the opportunity to sample your character and competence. It also gives a start to a meaningful conversation with the person you retweeted.

Think of what you would do away from the keyboard? Would you just say “ditto” or “what s/he said” every single time you quoted someone or found someone’s information or insights interesting?

As a helpful hint, when acknowledging an article, mention the author as well (using their twitter account). This is far more likely to get the author’s attention than simply mentioning or linking to their article.

Communication is the Foundation of all Relationships

With Twitter, you have the ability to engage in real time, quality conversation with existing and potential customers, referral sources and employers. It’s a great place to showcase that you’re a great listener and that you’re attentive.

Twitter is the perfect way to provide information that is mutually beneficial to both you and those you want to connect with. Deviating from the usual “self-promoting” material, an individual that gives its followers links, resources, and information that helps them in their every day journey is more likely to be viewed as a reliable and credible source of information than someone that doesn’t do the same.

What about Hashtags and Twitter Chats?

Hashtags are great tools to focus your conversation to a particular subject, industry or even group of people. Let’s be clear that this needs to be done purposefully. Merely hashtagging for attention can be detrimental to building relationships. Now that we can “mute” people on Twitter, those merely blabbering for attention as opposed to sharing something meaningful (to them or to their connection) will be the first ones silenced.
Remember, before you jump in, what is your message and what’s the specific group (or people) that you would like to reach/connect with.

Twitter chats are a great place to make connections. Research ongoing and upcoming chats to see which topics and which chat participants make sense for you spend time in. When you’ve done that homework up front, it makes your Twitter chat experience more productive and can build relationships, friendships, referral sources and even partners.

My Personal Twitter Story

In 2008, I jumped into Twitter to learn more about the platform. I quickly found #journchat (a chat of journalists and editors from around the world). My purpose, at that time, was to get to know these journalists so that I could submit press releases to them for my clients. It was in #journchat that I met Sarah Evans and Peter Shankman. I learned from their public relationships tips, found great value in learning of and signing up for Peter’s HARO (Help a Report Out) daily email blast of story and interview opportunities. The great value in the conversations, connections and resources (plus, the heads-up on who to avoid) were priceless knowledge that I, alone, would never have had access to.

It was 11 months later that I decided to create my own Twitter chat, #brandchat. The focus of #journchat was great but it did not fulfill my interest and focus on brands, marketing and my passion for learning and working with entrepreneurs who started a business on their personal brand and then evolved it into a company brand. It was shaky at first and there were more than a couple of times I wondered “am I just talking to myself?” We waffled between conversing about personal brands and company brands. It wasn’t until I became dedicated to the fact that #brandchat would focus on the company brands and the people who make up those brands that the chat started to grow.

Fast forward to now, we’ve been chatting weekly for five years strong! If it wasn’t for Twitter chats, I would not have met (away from the keyboard)  Sarah Evans at the PubCon conference (she gave me a book and addressed it to a fellow Twitter chat queen!); or Gary Nix (brandchat’s moderator and chief brandarchist); or Brandie McCallum (the connection queen) or Sam Fiorella (an amazing brand sensei), or Emily Crume (Social Media Examiner) or Debbie Miller (Social Hospitality) at the NMX Conference; or Monica Wright (MarketingLand), Amy Vernon (#SMEtiquette)  and Kevin Mullett (Cirrus ABS) at the SMX Conference.

Being able to meet and chat with people you want to know or aspire to connect with, and to know that they will respond to a tweet or email that I send, is exactly what Twitter as a launchpad could mean to your connectability.

One of my favorite quotes – “It’s not who you know or what you know – it’s who knows you, well.”

If you’re thinking about launching a Twitter chat, I can help.

I’ve added some of my best tips on my YouTube Channel. 

twitterchats

Your Brand is Built By Association

Smart Money magazine’s September issue shared a fantastic fact published by Careerbuilder.com.  It stated that 63% of hiring managers did not hire a candidate because of what appeared on a social website.  They were not referring to a blog the candidate wrote, not even a You Tube video or a publicized chat gone badly.  They were referring to pictures and comments posted about the candidate from someone they knew – like a son or daughter, friend, cousin, mom, sister or brother.

Comments like: “she always lies”; “I can’t believe he got the whole meal paid by his company”; “she drinks too much”; “he cheats at everything”; “my mom was wasted last night and drove home”; and “he just brings supplies home” have deterred hiring professionals from ever contacting the candidate.  The study also included negative feedback from fraternity or sorority parties found on the web, to fishing trip photos and personal videos online.

Believe it or not people are “searching” you on-line when they first meet you.  They’re seeing what comes up whether it’s you or not and whether you posted it or not.  It’s online “identity theft” of a different sort and the time to start managing it is now.

Personal Brand Association

It was almost ten years ago when Tom Peters wrote the article, A Brand Called You.

Before then and still, even in some circles, branding is seen as something only for large corporations, companies and products.  And, that’s a myth.  Organizations and professionals understand the importance of reputation management and the ability to differentiate themselves from others.  I’m sure you’re familiar with the saying, “it’s not what you know, it is who you know”.  Let me take that one further, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know and who knows you WELL.”  Whether it’s companies, organizations or for profits, people become involved because of other people.

Being built by association happens online and offline.  Managing your own brand means managing, how people describe you when they introduce you face to face and monitoring what’s being said about you in cyberspace.

So, first let’s start with your online brand management.  Take the time to “Google” yourself right now.  Put your name in quotes, (i.e. “John Smith”) in the Google search bar.  Check out what comes up.  Is it you?  Other forms of you?  Or, someone totally different?  Look not only at website – checkout images, too.

Next, sign up for “Google Alerts”.  It’s a free on-line service that will email you every time your name is used on the web.  You want to know when your name appears anywhere on the web immediately.  You can then actively deal with it and lower its ranking on the Google search.

Most of the time, the first three pages of a Google search are the ones most often read.  After the first three pages, interest wanes in searching the person further.  Your job is to make sure that the first three pages are the real you and that you “push further down the list” anyone or anything else listed about you.

There are several ways to do that.  You can hire a service to clean up or restore your on-line reputation such as reputationdefender.com or defendmyname.com yet if you set up a time, for example once a week, you can do it yourself.

Here’s how to do that.  First, create a blog.  There are many blog sites that are free to nominal cost to use.  The one I highly recommend is wordpress.  It’s easy to navigate and there’s no software to download.  Each blog post is seen as a page on the web.  The more pages that appear with your name on it the more the search engines pick up your name and the higher you list on Google.

What would you blog about?  What is of most interest to you that you value and are passionate about?  If your seeking place in the world of work, then write about what you’re good at, ask questions online and post information and answers shared from others, even posting conversations and interviews that you have with mentors or potential employers will get you far in both the digital and analog world.

Post comments on other blogs, too.  Find some that are of interest to you and your area of expertise and subscribe to the RSS feed so that you’ll stay in the know of what are the most up to date conversations.  Cocomment.com is a useful tool that automatically tracks your on-line footsteps and provided reciprocal links between your blog, those you like to comment on and those who like to comment on your blog.  Make sure you respond with your real name so that when you name is searched these are the type of comments that will appear.  If you’ll set aside a certain time to do this, you’ll see that you’ll start doing this consistently and make a significant impact to your online identity.  For example, I post on one blog every night.  I know that I will read something online every night so it’s a part of my routine to post a comment on one when I’m reading.

Review books on amazon.com.  Again, utilize your real name. Review only books that are of interest to you such as self improvement, cooking, design or comedy.  Those associations with books that are consider providing expertise in a field that your interested will associate you with the good reputation of those publications.

From Online to Offline Connections

Offline is a little bit different because you have to show up and can’t just post to develop your brand face to face.

First, I recommend that you look at who you know already.  Most people think that in order to develop and get their brand known by others that they need to immediately begin “gripping, grinning and grazing”.  When I’m coaching a client, my first response is to not go meet new people until we take care of who we already know.

I call this the database cull.  It’s looking through and making sure all the information that you possess on someone is accurate and up to date. From email to phone number and addresses, spend the time gathering information on who you are already “in the know” with.

Secondly, look at what you know about each of them.  Do you know where they spend their free time?  Do you know where they work?  Who they know? Where they spend their free time?  Wayne Baker, in his pivotal book, Achieving Success Through Social Capital, found that each person knows about 250 other people.  Knowing this, when you know more information about someone you know who they know and who they influence.  When you’re out there looking for assistance on a project or seeking employment, doesn’t it make sense to be introduced by someone that person you want to meet already knows, someone they trust?

Borrowing From Another’s Credibility

I like to start my connection with people much higher up by borrowing from the credibility and the reputation of the other person.  It saves time and yields better return.

The only caveat is that people will not introduce you to people who know, like and trust them unless they have “know, like and trust with you”.  In order for them to have that with you, they must sample your character and competence.  And, in order for them to do that you must know what makes you so unique.  You must know what your vision is?  What you value?  What your purpose is? And, what you’re passionate about.

In order, to move a relationship from merely visibility to credibility and then eventually to profitability you must know what makes you stand out and is your unique talent.  That is where the branding process is extremely key because extracting what is authentically you will help you know what makes you unique.

Have you ever seen those long and lavish mission statements on a plaque of the corporate wall?  Or, inscribed on a company’s stationery?  Other popular places are on the back of business cards, on websites, brochures, and annual reports.  Yet, it’s the person who is “belly to belly” with the customer that is that company.  It’s not the corporate crafted mission statement that defines that company’s image.  It is the stock clerk, the teller, the barista, the ticket taker and the sales representative who has direct contact with their clients.  Even in the non-profit world, many will become involved for the cause, yet the majority become involved because of a person – either someone they know, someone affected or a special someone who asked for their help.

And, as organizations are built by association, so are you.  I believe that having great command of the “rules of engagement” and a good understanding your core value will help you put together a brand communication plan that engages others.

No Fail : Own Your Connections

Your connections begin in your own database.  When I’m asked about how to “own your game”, or dominate your niche, the first place I begin asking about is what do you know about your database?

Even those born within this last minute, already have a handful of people in their personal database.  From the mother that carried them, to the physician that delivered them, to the nurses in the delivery room, the pediatrician and the nurses in the nursery – the newborn even know somebody!

How can you make the most of who you are already connected to?

First, clean your list.  Start going through to see whose email, phone number, cell phone, address, and employment information is up-to-date and who is not.  Your first focus is to make sure you have the most current, effective information for those people who already know you.

Second, grade your list.  No, I’m not talking about judging people yet I am talking about categorizing them in a way that makes sense for you.  Who really knows you well?  I mean they have spoken positively on your behalf, they know your hopes, dreams and aspirations.  They may even know the good, the bad and the ugly!  They know you.  They know what you do for a living.  How many close contacts can actually say that?  Often we’re connected with those who “kind of, sort of” know what we do so they could never repeat it to anyone or effectively explain it or even speak to a prospective employer or prospect about how you can help them.

Start first with those who really know you well.  And, then work through your list seeing who you really know.  Again, use the same criteria.- do you know their hopes, dreams and aspirations?  Do you know their strengths?  Do you know what they really do for a living (not just their title)?

Third, of those who really know you – what gaps do you see in the information you have on them?  Maybe you don’t even know if they’re currently married, divorced or single.  Maybe you don’t know where they graduated from?  Or, you might have their work number yet you don’t have their email address or cell phone number.  Focus on where you have gaps and make a plan on garnering some of that information.  It might be that you’ll find out at the next ball game or happy hour get together.  Whenever it is, make sure that you flow your information gathering into the conversation and not sound like you’re going through a checklist.  To do so, would surely shut down conversation.

Lastly, who on that list really supports you?  They have been “your brand advocate” all along.  They cheer you on and sing your praises!  Do any of them fall in the following categories?

  • People who have mentored you?
  • People you have mentored or taught?
  • Former managers, supervisors or instructors?
  • And, yes, even co-workers?

These are the foundation of your brand advocates and you must identify them first to own your connections.