NOTES, INSPIRATIONS + MOTIVATION


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.

Maria Elena Duron is a connector, trainer and coach. Small Business Owners that work with Maria Elena develop a profitable relationship building system, appeal to their brand advocates, and increase sales. Take the uncertainty out of how your personal and business brand delivers business –Get Your Checklist.

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. 

3 Practices That Elevate You as a Leader in Intelligent Connections

This past week I participated in a Community Manager Hangout and enjoyed learning more from fellow community developers.  It was a learning moment along with lots of affirmation of practices that I myself actually do along with practices that I train/coach others on. As I listened to the other panelists, I kept wondering why the title they’ve been given for their profession is community “manager”. After all, a community is created of individual people.  And, for a long time, I’ve tried to live a life engaged with others with this thought in mind, “Manage Things; Lead People”. 

This amazing group of individuals don’t just “manage” their community – they lead, nurture, care, feed, encourage, inspire and motivate their community members.  Why chance managing people and leaving them to feel like numbers, unimportant and mere statistics to a business?  A beautiful practice that was mentioned on the Hangout to increase their own creativity in their own community development was to continually people watch.  In dealing with online relationships, it’s easy to forget some of the basics in human interaction.  After all, you’re dealing with a realm that interacts at the speed of thought, the anonymity of behind the screen conversations and first interactions that are often complaints and concerns.  When you engage in watching people interactions in the offline world, it helps remind you of some of the nuances in relationship building that are second nature for us in face-to-face interactions but not easily read or shared in keyboard interactions.

As you strive to make more intelligent connections, along with people watching, here are some great articles to help you focus on using your online and offline resources to strengthen and build relationships:

Here are three practices to implement immediately to strengthen your connections:

  1. Know Your S.O.A.R.

We often hear of the S.W.O.T. analysis in business.  SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.  While this is widely used as a way to assess many business situations, I prefer, when you’re making connections, to not give life to the negative.  Sometimes when you look for the threat you often find it or even inadvertently develop the circumstances that create it.

I, personally, focus on a S.O.A.R. analysis.  SOAR stands for Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations and Results.

It’s imperative that you know your Strengths. This is your unique promise of value that you alone deliver to each and every situation and interaction.  It doesn’t matter the environment – that’s your strength area and deliverable.

Then, it’s also your job to know and seek your Opportunities.  What’s available to you now? What current networks are you already involved in? What connections do you already have that might need to be developed?

Aspirations are your goals. They are what you want to accomplish coupled with the “why” you want to accomplish them.

And what Results do you want? What’s the end game? What’s the definition of success for you and how will you know you’ve achieved it?

I could go on but my colleague, Peter Sterlacci, does an excellent job covering the topic completely and here’s another article that also focuses on your S.O.A.R.

For you to make the best and strongest connections, ever, you will need to S.O.A.R. first.

  1.  Empower others and build community with them

When you empower and encourage others, their sense of belonging to a community and being a valued member increases.  I’m not asking you to be a community developer, but I am recommending that you act as a community developer.

If you are the hub of information, resources and support, you become a valuable resource and ally to others.  Understand that being that hub must come from a place of sincerity and if it doesn’t then it will be the opposite of empowering and actually demotivating to others.

How can you empower others?

  1. Let go of the reins and let them steer, provide input and feedback.
  2. Encourage opportunities for sharing thoughts and ideas.
  3. Listen actively. This means listening for feeling and not just the words.  The best advice I ever received from someone about communicating in text mode is to:

Read first for the words and the content; Read second for the feeling and the context. (tweet this!)

  1. Know when your own personal idiosyncrasies or frames of reference might be getting in the way of you fully providing credence to someone’s thoughts.
  2. Be coherent to your own values.  Consistency is often thrown around as something you want to be (I’ve used it myself).  Yet, I recently learned that being coherent allows you to adjust and grow while still utilizing your values as a guidepost and the very essence of who you are. They are still your non-negotiables but they are not stagnant.

Here’s where I heard about brand coherence and a few other great lessons:

  1.  Loyalty matters and goes both ways

It does. Stephen Covey said it well in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, when he said “retain the loyalty of those people in the room by not speaking ill of those people outside of the room.”

You solidify trust when someone has the opportunity to sample your character and competence and they see coherent behavior.  They develop an affinity for you when they see the sum of all your attributes is congruent with what you say.  Reputation is currency these days and it’s that currency that will finance third party endorsements and positive word of mouth.

If interactions do not feel personalized, then people will not take you personally to their personal circle of influence or provide their personal recommendations.

I extend this thought as you take online relationships and turn them to offline meetings. During the Hangout, I mentioned going to conferences for the sake of the “hallway conversations”.  Those hallway interactions are far more valuable than the content inside the meeting rooms. While I do value the training, if my purpose for going to an event/conference is to network.  Then, it’s my work to reach out to the people and relationships that I want to develop further.

It’s easy to be distracted by the celebrity hype at some of these events.  A huge name makes an appearance, a star/guru imparts amazing wisdom on us and there’s a book signing to boot! Remember, that the true value is in the relationships that you form and strengthen during the event.  The value is not in those one off selfies of you and the “star”.  It’s the selfies of you and the person who’s been your online supporter for the last three years (Gary J. Nix); or the person who created a loyalty program for your chat that’s become a foundation of your twitterchat (Gerald Moczynski, I’m In Stitches LLC); or the person that selflessly connects you with others and is a bright morning smile each and every day you jump online (Brandie McCallum).

Quick Tip: When going to a conference or face to face event, don’t just go “hoping” to meet people.  Go with a plan and be strategic.

  1. Invite people that are already in your online circle who may be going or be from the area to meet AFK (away from the keyboard).
  2. Look to see who the speakers, authors, presenters are and make a “hit list” of who you would like to meet and develop a relationship with further.  These people can be great allies along with provide cutting edge information since they are keeping a finger on the pulse of your industry.
  3. Look for the conference organizing staff’s names and other industry leaders and make it a point to be in those sessions, lunches, meetings, break times with them to develop at first awareness of who you are and then listen intently as you learn and develop relationship.

I made this video for a specific online networking group, but the practice I outline in it can apply to any face-to-face event.  Alignable Members Tutorial:  An Easy Way to Make the Most of Your Alignable Membership

I would appreciate hearing your own stories of how you take the lead in your own relationship and connection development. Please share them in the comments section!

4 Easy Steps to Crafting Your Vital Connection Story

The cornerstone of connections is the relationships we develop that compel others to connect us with their circle of influence and speak positively on our behalf.

The cadence of relationship building is tempered by the opportunities that someone has to get to know you and to sample your character and competence.  One of the ways to accelerate this is being able to tell a story in a succinct way that elicits emotions, creates a stronger connection with others and even inspires them.

Here are some solid posts about the importance and scarcity (and value) of those with great relationship building skills.

Brevity is key

It’s easy (and annoying) to be a lengthy story teller.  When you’re consistently singing out “me, me, me, me, me” you’ll quickly find people disconnecting from and even avoiding you.

Getting to the point or the interesting aspects is important in your story telling, your profiles and your social networks.

I coach and train on creating a solid core network strategy, developing next relationship steps. While many can make friends, many waste time or create as they go and don’t know how to develop a solid social portfolio.

Here are the four key components to crafting a powerful connection story:

Step One:  Give the Background (in short form)

This is your “once upon a time”.  It gives the listener a frame of reference and literally brings them to the same page where your story starts.

Imagine your best customer and be able to describe them demographically along with their wants, interests and networks and put that at the beginning of your story.

It sets the stage for your connections to understand the main character (what your best client looks like and sounds like) and aligns that character with their own hopes, anxieties and dreams.

Step Two:  Share the Conflict

The conflict in a story is the struggle.  It’s what suddenly happens that challenges your main character.  Picture your best customer or something that you recently accomplished, what is the problem you solved or it solved.  Communicate what that problem is in this section of your storytelling.

Be very detailed in this section (yet still brief!)  You want your listener to see themselves and their struggle in this character and conflict.

Step Three:  Describe the Turning Point

This point in the story is when things finally start to move in a different direction and it may not always be a positive direction. But, in your case and your vital connection story – more than likely it will be a positive turn for the better that you were involved in creating.

From here, things start to work themselves out in the story.

Step Four:  The Resolution

This is the solution.  It’s the “happily ever after”.  Describe what happened, how you helped and how this benefited your client.  Connect the dots for your listener.

Here’s an example:

Step One – The Background:  There was this entrepreneur who felt she was continually “making it up as she goes along” as she built and developed relationships.

Step Two – The Conflict:   Then, she started to get a few more clients.  Not enough to make a huge impact on revenue but enough to keep her too busy to market. When those customers left, she had no more customers and no more prospective potential customers to call on.

Step Three – The Turning Point:  I helped train her to create a strategy so that she was making the necessary connections of people who consistently refer business to her and coached her on developing those relationships.

Step Four – The Resolution:  Her business, for the last two years, has hit a consistent level of revenue growth making marketing simpler for her, easily do-able, more effectively and profitably producing results.

Your turn!

Please share your four step story below.  I look forward to reading them!

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

Are You Missing Important Steps in Making Connections?

You’ve done the proper research on your business, set up the appropriate social media networks to reach out to your audience, and even attended a few networking events in person, probably to get your name out there. Problem is, making connections seems harder than you thought, and so far your results are not something you want to talk about. Could you be missing something in your interactions, both on social media and in person?

Turns out, you actually could be doing some things wrong, or not doing them at all. Let’s see how we can remedy that:

On Social Media

A lot of entrepreneurs forget that social media was built for that same purpose: a place for social interactions. The more “marketing-minded” you are on social media, the less returns (sales, connections) you get from it.

The real value of social media, especially in terms of making connections, comes after you’ve posted a blog, article, video, or presentation for the audience to dig into. How you follow up after this determines the level of trust you build with others, which ultimately lead to better, valuable connections.

So, shift your mind from being “always about selling,” and instead look to build a community of loyal followers. Here’s how you do it.

1. Reply personally to every comment, update, or tweet

When you take the time to personally respond to clients’ (potential and existing) posts, they feel valued and are more likely to connect with you. Mention them by name when replying, and basically anyone else reading the post will leave with the impression that you value all your followers.

2. Gauge their interest

Sometimes, in your bid to sell your brand to potential customers, you go overboard and end up ruining your chances of making a connection. You have to be smart and gauge interest before deciding to open the floodgates and bombard customers with information. Just like in real life when you approach someone, don’t overplay your hand. Slowly learn the basics, like names and likes/preferences, before moving on to the deeper stuff, like if they would want to try out your product or service.

Conversely, know when to stop. If a potential connection tells you they need time before getting back to you, respect their decision.

3. Numbers are deceiving

Getting a huge following on Facebook or Twitter is nice, if you are a teenager hell bent on winning the daily popularity contests. When it comes to personal brands, quality and not quantity, matters. It is better to have a hundred loyal followers who would gladly show up to your next product presentation whilst shouting your brand from the rooftops, than a few thousand whose only contribution is clicking the “thumbs up” icon next to your every Facebook post, with no comment to boot.

Look to cultivate meaningful relationships, and not just grow numbers.

Be selective in who you go after, because not everyone is a great connection. [tweet this]

This also applies when you are looking to make a connection with industry leaders and influencers. Carefully do your homework about them, and start off slow by casually commenting on their posts. Keep the comments to a minimum at first, as you gradually build your profile as a knowledgeable person who would like to get one-on-one advice from the personality.

In Person

Basically, much of the tips mentioned above work when it comes to making personal connections. Research on your potential connections, and slowly look to make a connection with them. Because people will actually get to see the person behind the brand, make sure that you really convey what you say your brand is. For entrepreneurs, you are your business’s prime spokesperson, and people will judge you and the business at face value, especially when they don’t know you.

Know what you want out of making a connection. It helps if you have a clear goal in mind before you set out to meet someone. In business situations especially, you don’t want to appear aimless. Your goals let your potential connections who you are and why they should take the time to know you.

Categorize all the new connections you make. Some people you meet will be influencers and industry leaders, while others are bridges (they connect you with others who you wouldn’t otherwise meet) and links (mutual people between you and potential connections that can vouch for your credibility). When you have a clear idea as to how each connection can help, then your efforts are likely to be more targeted.

Making connections is not hard, both on social media and in person, you just have to know which pitfalls to avoid. Not having a clear goal when meeting new people will almost always doom your efforts, just as is being too “salesy” and pushy will scare potential connections away. Take the time to know people, and you’ll be rewarded with valuable, loyal connections that will be instrumental to your growth and reach.

The Secret to Making Networking Work

Some people love it while others hate it, but it can’t be denied that networking is an essential part of business and socialization. This is how you form meaningful relationships with other people, whether they’re your clients, business partners, colleagues or even your bosses.

But there is such a thing as networking the right way. You want to make sure that you network effectively, which means connecting with the other person in a good way. You don’t want to leave anyone feeling used and abused in your attempts to make that person a part of your network.

As you know, people remember how you make them feel. The interaction between the two of you becomes the basis for your relationship. Here are some tips to help you effectively network and connect with other people.

1. Be yourself

Don’t attempt to be someone you’re not. People are a lot smarter these days, and no one likes talking to someone who appears artificial or fake. In networking situations, remember that people typically enjoy being informal and relaxed. So you don’t have to have a script ready whenever people talk to you. What’s better is to be spontaneous and genuine – show off the real you.
Most people don’t really do business with just anybody – they would only do so with people whom they really know and genuinely like. So be authentic; show off who you really are, and you may be surprised that you are able to connect more with people.

2. Be friendly and approachable

The key to networking effectively is to be friendly. You don’t have to be the life of the party, but you should look approachable, introduce yourself to people, and listen attentively when someone speaks to you. When you make people feel good around you, then they will flock to you more.

3. Be interested in what other people are saying

Though you may be networking to increase your business contacts or clients, it shouldn’t always be about you. You should also listen and appear interested in what the other person is saying – don’t be one-dimensional.
The great thing about networking is engaging in two-way conversations with other people, so it becomes a win-win situation. So even if you’re promoting yourself, your business or product, make sure that you do this sparingly and within the context of the conversation.

4. Think quality, not quantity

Though the more people you know, the merrier you may be, when it comes to networking, quality is more important than quantity. Knowing and connecting with the few right people is a lot more important than creating less meaningful relationships with dozens of people.

When you network, whether for personal and professional reasons, it’s important that you be yourself, be approachable, be interested in what other people are saying, and think quality, not quantity. Sometimes, it’s not even about what you tell other people – more people will remember you by how they felt interacting with you, so make sure that you make them feel good and not used or abused.