Tag: word of mouth marketing

Personal Brand is Part of Customer Experience

personal brand is product

You are the product and your personal brand is at the center of your business especially if you are an entrepreneur, solopreneur or small business owner. Your personal brand can make or break your business.  You are the hub of every interaction you have. And, you are also the product. What you do and say either adds values or detracts from your business relationships, client relationships and even your personal interactions.

Working with small businesses and entrepreneurs, I often take them through nine elements to their brand. Since your brand is intertwined with your business brand (be it service or product), review the following:

1. Product differentiation.Organizations that understand their competition and take a unique position among them do better than those that understand only their customers.

Personal Brand: What makes you different? Extract and discover this so that you can communicate that to the world.

2. Coordinated communications materials. Your brand name, logo, and slogan should all be consistent in carrying out the brand development mission.

Personal brand: Do all of your communication tools send the same message, give the same impression of your brand?

3. Positive positioning. Distinguish yourself by emphasizing your brand’s most specific, coveted benefits. A good way to improve a brand’s perception is to win awards from the Chamber of Commerce, trade associations, and other reputable sources.

Personal brand: Take notice – what are you doing now to make this happen? What are the coveted benefits of working with you? If this is a difficult question for you to answer, how difficult will it be for others?

4. Brand stewardship. Brands perform well if they are championed by a friendly and authoritative figure, such as the company CEO, a celebrity spokesperson, or a mascot.

Personal brand: Confidence attracts. What do you need to do to become more confident with yourself? What do you need to be a better version of you?

5. Positive associations. Strong brands usually represent a single positive benefit. An individual or company must decide which strong attribute to hang their hat on, then deliver a cohesive message with positive associations.

Personal brand: Who and what are you associating with?

6. Quality reinforcement. Consumers aren’t always able to distinguish the quality of one product compared to another. However, for an individual or company to develop their brand, they must make sure that it is seen as being high quality.

Personal brand: You must know what you have or do that makes you the best at what you do. It is your job to be able to compile that in bit-sized pieces; your job to connect the dots; your job to communicate succinctly what you do best.

7. Brand extensions. Several successful individuals and companies develop spinoff brand extensions that generate revenue streams from a related product or service.

Personal brand: What can you do to become more known and more connected? Associations with good companies, volunteer groups and even networking clubs provide a “halo” effect where your credibility is elevated because of the good reputation of the organization (i.e. Rotary Clubs). The key to success is to be sure that you sincerely believe and support the mission or vision of the organization.

8. Perceived value reinforcement. How the marketplace perceives the value of a product or service may dictate a brand’s image more than the product or service itself. Reinforcing the value of a product or service, as customers interpret it, is key.

Personal brand: Do you have a gratitude program (such as writing thank you notes) to reinforce someone’s connection with you?

9. Memorable slogan. Every integrated identity initiative must have a slogan.

Personal brand: What’s in your word garden

Written Appreciation

Written appreciation, when sincere, is powerful.

Though great for quickly communicating with people anywhere in the world, emails and even texting sorely lack the in-person aspects of communication that have become so vital to how the human species shares ideas and opinions. This simple absence is enough to make even the most harmless email appear aggressive, even if it’s sent with the full intention of serving as a “thank you”. Because of this, it’s up to you, the sender, to make sure your texts always seem genuine and always get the message across correctly.  Written appreciation, as long as it’s sincere, is often the most valued and most memorable form of appreciation.

Grammatical Errors

Thank you’s mean more if you include the person’s name. It’s a quick, simple flourish that really sets the tone to be more intimate and personal than some generalized message not denoted to be for anyone specific. This is why it’s so important to triple check that the name is spelled correctly. A misspelled name, instead of promoting intimacy, puts the reader on the defensive since you clearly aren’t courteous enough to respect a name they’ve had since birth. This goes for all other words in the message. Correct spelling, grammar and punctuation are absolutely important for a message that you want an individual to take seriously. Let these mistake slip through, and they’ll take the thank you as callous and insincere.

Generalizations

Don’t write to the individual thanking them for the “lovely gift” or the “time spent” with them. Thank them for what they did for you specifically. Name the gift and expand on what they did with you during the time you had together. These specifics work to not only make the note more enjoyable but reminds the receiver of who you are and the good times you had together. In short, it inspires comradery should they not immediately remember what happened. This then translates into positive feelings that are now associated with both you and the note. It helps you set a tone without being able to do so physically, and that is your greatest hurdle with emails and texts.

5 Ways to Communicate Appreciation in Networking

How to truly show appreciation to colleagues and clients

Appreciation in business when you’re a solopreneur

Length

No, longer thank you’s messages are not inherently better than shorter thank you’s. In fact, the longer versions are often skimmed over and ignored immediately after.  When it comes to written appreciation, brief and sincere is most valued.

Remember, this is not a day and age where letter writing is a way to pass the time. This is a time period where time is everything. The longer something is, the less engaging it tends to be. In addition, you are not a trained writer. Your long notes will not be beautifully crafted diatribes that evoke tears. They’ll be awkward and end up repeating the same idea ten times over but with slightly different language.

Stick to what you know. Be concise. Thank them for exactly what you want to thank them for. Throw in a hope for the future. Wish them success. Be on your way. They’ll feel much more special that you both took the time to send such a message while still respecting their time.

Timing

As a rule of thumb, send your thank you text or email within 24 hours to 48 hours after an event, the gift or the meeting.  Yet, do know that a sincere thank you is appreciated anytime it’s received regardless if it’s even a month later.

Customer appreciation gives business owners the advantage

The burden of timely thank you

The human side of your brand is the most costly

Personal

People do business with people. The more personal a note is the more genuine and valued it is.  That doesn’t mean getting into personal or inappropriate stories – remember, the note (or email) is about them (what they did, specifically and what it meant to you).  A thank you note is not an additional sales piece or a chance for you to promote yourself.  The only kind of promotion that you might put in a thank you note is business card and this is really more from a standpoint of reminding them who you are or how they know you.  This is not a time to ask for referrals or even to ask for their business.  This is about sincere appreciation and not about any ulterior motives.

Appreciation and Discouragement

unnamed

Do you ever get discouraged?

I do.  You work hard, try your best, and still, things don’t work out as you hoped.  You plan, prepare, think ahead — and yet, something unforeseen comes out of nowhere and creates another obstacle you have to overcome.  Life (both at work and outside of work) is difficult (at times, at least.)

So what do you do?

It depends — on you and on the circumstances.  Sometimes you “put your head down” and just keep at it — persevering.

Other times you get frustrated and maybe even downright mad, and you let others around you know it.

Maybe you withdraw, which can take different forms:  you go to a movie, or you sit at home and binge on Netflix.  Some people drink to “get away from it for a while”.  Others smoke pot.  Some of us go and eat a boat-load of ice cream.  All efforts to ease the pain and try to feel better.

Sometimes we may take the “healthy” route — and go exercise at the gym, or go for a run.

What is discouragement, really? 

Discouragement, literally means, “without courage”. We lose that fighting edge to “go get ’em” and attack the challenges of the day.  We lose heart.  We are worn out.  We wonder if “it” (our goals / our vision) is worth all of the time and effort we are putting into trying to make things happen.

Anyone who has goals they are trying to reach (if they are honest about it) becomes discouraged.  The obstacles to overcome loom large and seem to be multiplying (versus going away as we deal with them).  We don’t seem to be making progress and wonder if all that we are doing makes any difference at all.

The Relationship between Discouragement and Appreciation

Appreciation is the act of communicating the fact that you value something about another person, or what they have done. (And hopefully, you communicate the appreciation in the way that is meaningful to the other person.)

Encouragement is closely related to appreciation.  Encouragement is coming along side of someone and trying to support and “give them courage” to keep going — that their efforts aren’t in vain.  The focus of encouragement is the present and future, while the emphasis of appreciation is for actions demonstrated in the past.

The Point?

When you see someone who is discouraged, you can use the same actions from their preferred language of appreciation to encourage them.

Give them a word of encouragement (“You are doing, great, Jeanne! I am impressed with how much progress you’ve made on this project this week.”)  Stop by their workspace, check in and see how they are doing.  See if there is a little something you could do that would help them move forward on the task.  Bring them their favorite Starbucks unannounced.Yes, we all get discouraged.  But that is partly what colleagues are for — to be there when we are losing hope, and let us know, if we keep going, we can (and WILL) get the task done!

Guest post: Dr. Paul White, AppreciationAtWork
Maria Elena Duron is a Premier Partner and Certified Trainer/Coach with Appreciation At Work

Appreciation in Business Cannot Overcome Toxicity

Everyone seems to really like you. You’re always supportive, never negative and never stop expressing your appreciation for the work that goes on around you. Whether your role is boss or employee, you understand that making your coworkers feel great is a necessary component of a healthy business. Yet, things aren’t great in the office. People talk behind others’ backs, apparent cliques now exist, HR seems on edge, and favoritism is running rampant. Though you try your hardest to promote a happy, healthy environment, no one can respond because of the severe level of toxicity wiping away your attempt at appreciation.  Toxicity kills any opportunity for appreciation in business.

Toxicity is a fear of every work environment. It’s something that can be sparked by an action as simple as a bad hire, leading to a snowball effect where resentment and frustration slowly build up into a boiling point, making productivity decline and good workers quit. Possibly the worst part about it is the fact that it drowns out any positivity that tries to steer things back on course. You could be the most appreciative employee to have ever existed, but without a healthy environment to express that in, your actions won’t be realized. In the end, sometimes the best form of thanks is to stop toxicity before it starts rather than focus on appreciation.

Identify
If it seems pressure is rising in the office, the first step is to identify where it’s coming from. Is it one person? Was it sparked by an event that resulted in unresolved feelings? Finding the source is an integral part of diffusing the situation. It alerts everyone to the problem, giving the entire office a cause to rally behind, once again unifying the culture. Just be sure this unification doesn’t go too far and result in a witch hunt. Over aggression when trying to find an answer tends to be just as harmful to the people involved as ignoring the situation at hand.

Help
Assuming the problem is emanating from an employee or group of employees, it’s time to practice empathy. Sit them down in a private setting and discuss the situation at hand. Much like identifying where the toxicity was coming from in the office, steer conversation toward figuring out why the employee was acting so negatively in the first place. While it would be a wonderful world where people could immediately identify and deal with their emotions, many individuals simply don’t understand how to analyze what they feel in such a way that results in determining why they’re feeling the way they do.

In addition, be patient through this process. Many times, toxic behavior stems from a personal place, and the employee needs time to trust you enough to open up honestly about what is going on. Sometimes, the problem isn’t even work-related but they haven’t had anywhere else to go about their life stressors. If it isn’t emotional and the employee simply lacks the maturity to properly handle various situations at work, it could very well mean some sort of disciplinary action is required.

Purge
It’s not fair to your other employees if one person refuses to change their toxic attitude. Though acceptable to give the person a chance to change the problems discussed with them, it’s not acceptable to keep them on when they’ve clearly proven their unwillingness to change. After you’ve spoken with them and highlighted exactly what they’re doing and why it needs to stop, give them time to adjust. If they don’t, it’s time to let them go.

I’m not a human resource expert so I’ll leave the next step to those that do have that expertise.

Kerri Pollard, past president of Commission Junction, stated at a recent Affiliate Summit keynote, “Don’t tolerate the brilliant jerk. It will cost you too much in teamwork.”

She is so right.

Manage
Occasionally, the source of the negativity doesn’t stem from an employee but upper management. It’s in this situation where controlling and stopping the bad habits is essential for company survival. Everything done by upper management trickles down, affecting every single employee no matter their position on the ladder. Do your best to manage upward. Ask good managers with influence to help stave off the toxic behavior. This can even be as simple as keeping them removed from any and all meetings and filtering their messages to the staff.

The flip side of this situation is that senior staff usually doesn’t face any kind of threat even when told about their behavior. This then leads to a system lacking accountability where those in power can abuse their position. If they won’t change, the answer then may be to move on to a company that prides itself in a healthy culture and respects those that show appreciation.
Improve

Other times the source of frustration comes for poor internal processes. If, for instance, the process for ordering a new part for a machine in a manufacturing company is long and complicated resulting in a decrease of production the part orderer gets yelled at for, it’s understandable that a level of resentment would build up over time.

This is arguably the easiest form of toxicity to deal with as it’s not a person causing the issue. All it takes to fix is a reform of how requests are processed, something that can be implemented in days.

No matter how kind you are to others and no matter your rung on the corporate ladder, your appreciation cannot break through an office muddied by toxicity. This is why it is of the utmost importance to keep the culture happy by knowing how to deal with the different types of negativity that can arise. Keep this under control, and your employees will finally feel the full weight of the admiration you hold for each and every one of them.

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.

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!

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.