Online Networking Archives - Page 6 of 6 - Dr. Ivan Misner®

Five Ideas for Writing Great Blogs

I’ve often talked about how blogging is a great way to get yourself known and establish a lot of credibility with your readership.  The thing is, however, that to really make the most of your blog, you need to be posting at least once or twice a week. If you don’t post enough, people will lose the incentive to come back time and time again.

People who are just starting out will often struggle to come up with enough ideas to allow them to blog this frequently. If you face this problem, check out my new TV episode on yourBusinessChannel where I describe nine different popular subjects for blogs. The show is available to watch for free by clicking here.

To give you something to think about, here are the first five ideas from the show:

1.  Write a “how to” blog (much like this one). Share your best tips about how to do something you know all about.

2.  Lists.  For some reason, people absolutely love to read lists. Think of a topic relevant to your field of expertise (“The Top Five Faux Pas of Networking,” for example) and start listing.

3.  The Straw Man argument. Set up a premise and then argue against it.  This always makes for interesting reading, and you get plenty of blog comments if you choose a controversial subject.

4.  Case studies. Discussing case studies from your professional work and the lessons you’ve learned from them makes for a great blog. Just watch the word length. Ideally, blog posts shouldn’t be much more than 500 words, so split the case study over two posts if you need to.

5.  Interviews.  Have you interviewed anyone knowledgeable or well-known recently?  What did they say?  Write about it.

I share the rest of my tips in the show–take a look.

Don’t Forget About VCP When Networking Online

I’ve always believed that it’s critical for businesspeople to participate in a range of networks, from fairly informal networks like chambers of commerce to dedicated networks like BNI, where people meet to pass referrals.  More recently, online business networks such as Linkedin and Ecademy have emerged, and these should now also be part of your networking activity.

The important thing to learn and remember when you’re first getting involved in online networks is that the same principles apply to online and offline networking.

This may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised–people behave differently online. Here’s what I mean. I recommend that people follow a VCP Process® in their networking, both online and offline.  That is, your networking efforts must begin by achieving Visibility. Next, you can build Credibility in the network. Then, and only then, should you seek Profitability through pursuing business relationships with your contacts.ybc.jpg

What happens in online networks, however, is that people try to skip “V” and “C” and jump straight to “P.” In other words, they start hunting for referrals before they have built up trust and relationships with the people they want to do business with.

I give my thoughts on how to approach online business networking in my latest show on online business TV network yourBusinessChannel.  You can watch it for free by clicking here.

Become a Motivational Speaker for Your Business

Have you ever listened to a motivational speaker such as Jack Canfield, Brian Tracy or Zig Ziglar?  When you listen to any of them, you can feel the passion flowing through the presentation’s words, actions and images.  The hidden element behind a motivational speaker is passion.  Think about that.  What does that tell you about your own message?

Your personal challenge in networking is to have an extraordinary message that not only captures but also highlights your unique selling proposition (USP).  Your USP is what sets you apart from your competition–you can’t afford to be ordinary, like your competition.  Your message needs to be filled with passion.  If you are not excited about what you do, no one else is, either.  In word-of-mouth marketing, that could be disastrous.

So how do you tap into your passion and tie it into your daily message about your business?  You can capitalize on your passion and spotlight your uniqueness by specifically answering the following questions from your heart and not your head:

1.  What can you say about yourself or your business that your competition cannot say?

2.  How does your work fulfill you?

3.  What element of your work do you most enjoy, and why?

Never forget that one of the top 10 traits of the master networker is enthusiasm/motivation.  You, your sales force and your word-of-mouth marketing team are the motivational speakers for your business, but the message begins with you.

‘Multi-Touch Marketing’ Helped Win The Presidential Election

OK, the economy was clearly the big factor in this presidential election.  However, that aside, I am in awe of the “multi-touch marketing campaign” by President-elect Obama that helped steamroll the election.  No matter what party you are with or which candidate you supported (I’m an Independent), you have to admire the technology strategy implemented by the Obama-Biden team.  It was, I believe, the first true 21st century presidential campaign.

This “new millennium” approach to politics involved a mixed-media plan that began with an online video announcing Obama’s candidacy.  The campaign then used Facebook and YouTube extensively.  A social network for the Obama-Biden ticket was also utilized throughout the process.  Supporters created their own websites and linked back to the campaign website.  E-mails and text messaging were used extensively, and donations came in droves through this process.

Technology flattens the communications hierarchy.  In this campaign, technology was implemented with such an effective multi-touch methodology that the results were amazing to behold.  The campaign used multiple points of influence to pull people through to the election.  It is a case study that we entrepreneurs can draw from to market and promote our own businesses.

If President-elect Obama and his team run the country as well as they ran this campaign, some amazing things may take place.

Face to Face: How to Reclaim the Personal Touch in a Digital World

Earlier this month Susan RoAne’s latest book, Face to Face: How to Reclaim the Personal Touch in a Digital World, was released. I think it is an essential read for everyone interested in becoming a better networker.

Susan has been a good friend of mine for years, and she is one of the few people I know whom I can confidently say is the epitome of a born networker.  In her new book, she uses her innate charm, grace, humor and rare networking know-how to teach people everywhere how to communicate like an expert and stand out positively in both business and personal situations.

The world is becoming more and more reliant on technology as a way of connecting, and Susan’s techniques and strategies for making and maintaining genuine connections show people how to let technology enhance life instead of dominating it.  Her advice is extremely effective, and the skills she teaches are important for networkers and everyday people alike to remember.

To find out more about Susan RoAne and Face to Face, click here.

Should You Network on the Net?

Over the past few months, I’ve been doing quite a bit of research about online networking. And the more I read (and work on the net), the more I realize that if you’re in business today, you definitely need to be on the net (in addition to good, old-fashioned, face-to-face networking)! The problem is, an entire technology, vocabulary, culture and marketplace have been born in only a few short years. This has left many business owners at a loss about what to do and how to do it when it relates to the internet and their business.

If you’re finding it hard to grasp ways to utilize the net to network your business, spend some time checking out social networking sites (particularly business-related ones such as Ecademy.com and LinkedIn), along with various bulletin board and chat room communities. These sites and communities allow people to connect on a regular basis, exchange information and ideas, and get to know one another a little better. By browsing through some of these sites, you’ll get an idea of how others are using the net to build social capital and promote their businesses, and you’ll no doubt come up with some ideas of how to do the same for yourself.

The internet flattens the communication hierarchy while broadening people’s access to ideas, information, products and services. Understanding how to network on the net is quickly becoming a must. I’d recommend starting out by Googling “social networking sites”–and then start clicking!

Networking Group Basics

I’m aware that it’s not just the networking die-hards who may be reading my blog, and I wanted to post something that I think is very important for networking newbies. (Don’t worry, it’s a good refresher for you die-hards as well.) When you’re just starting out in the networking world, finding a networking group can sometimes be intimidating and confusing, but it really doesn’t have to be. For those of you looking to join a networking group, here are some networking group basics.

There are at least seven types of business networking organizations to consider joining to develop your business through networking. Depending on your time constraints, you should select at least two or three groups to participate in. There are:

  • Casual contact networks. These allow many people from overlapping professions and meet monthly.
  • Strong contact networks. Their primary purpose is exchanging referrals. They meet weekly.
  • Community service clubs. They provide an opportunity to give back to the community you do business in while making contacts and getting PR.
  • Professional associations. They tend to focus on one specific industry. The primary purpose is to exchange information and ideas)
  • Social/business organizations. They combine social activities with business or networking.
  • Online networks. Includes groups such as Ecademy, LinkedIn and Ryze, which are social networks for businesses.
  • Women’s business organizations. They are non-threatening groups for women to increase business. Many also allow men.

Don’t let chance decide where you’re going to spend your time and effort. Diversify your activities and consciously select a well-rounded mix of organizations. If you have associates, partners or employees, consider their participation when deciding which groups each of you will target.

Graphic Designers Love a ‘Logo-Ectomy’

I am absolutely convinced that some people believe a logo can be changed on a whim! I was reading another blog recently and came across some interesting comments about my company, BNI. The graphic designer said on her blog (referring to BNI), “…the organization is wonderful, they do great work, but their logo is SO ’80s… really needs to be punched up and brought into the new world!”Of course, since the company started in 1985, she made an assumption that the logo was done in the ’80s. It wasn’t.  It was designed in the mid ’90s, with a minor revision around 2002 [and a major revision to the “overall” branded look again in 2011 by an international graphic design company].  Her comments really got me thinking about some other major brands and their logos, some of which haven’t changed very much or at all for almost 100 years!

Take a look at some of these logos: Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Disney and IBM. These babies haven’t changed for many, many, years. Talk about “so ’80s“…what about ’60s? Anybody for ’50s, ’40s… or turn of the century.

Coca-Cola

You see, the secret to branding is not about being pretty, sexy or modern; it’s about credibility and identity. Within my company, BNI, we have been building a brand for more than two decades. When I started the company in the early ’80s, we had an entirely different logo. I made changes every couple of years until I learned about the need to be consistent, to establish a brand and leave the logo alone!

McDonalds

We adopted what we use now in the mid-’90s with that minor revision in 2002 and a major revision in 2011.  It is currently a registered trademark in almost three dozen countries! To change the logo and branded look “again” would be a major undertaking, not to mention a great way to dilute my brand recognition in all those countries. That is exactly what you do when you mess with your logo…Coca-Cola knows this, McDonald’s knows this, IBM and Disney know this. Changing a logo for an international company is not just changing brochures and signs. It involves major trademark issues with international repercussions.  Most graphic designers don’t fully understand what a monumental undertaking it is to change or alter trademarks globally.  It is very, very complex, time consuming and expensive.

Disney

You see, there is a difference between being up-to-date with your marketing materials and changing your main identity in the marketplace. Most people have their own opinions about what looks good and what doesn’t look good. All I know is that when people see a company’s logo, they are going to immediately identify with that company. That is the goal of branding with a logo. I’m not talking about an unprofessional logo; there are some logos that NEED to be changed for many reasons. But when you are talking about a company with a logo that has worked in dozens of countries around the world–well, the logo might not be a real problem. Making changes just to “update” the look is not good business unless there is an important reason to let people know that it is a new and improved company–new management, new focus or new mission. Barring that, it’s a bad idea, and experienced graphic designers (especially those with global brands as a client) know that.

IBM

Oh, sorry, I’ve got to take a call…a web designer thinks I need to revise this website!

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All brands, product names, company names, trademarks and service marks are the properties of their respective owners.

Fast Pitch Networking

In my monthly column on Entrepreneur.com, I wrote about the 5 Ways To Break Into Online Networking. One of the things I recommended was to “join one or more online networking communities.”

There are a lot out there to choose from today. However, there’s a new one on the web that I’m impressed with. It’s called FastPitchNetworking.com. It has many of the same features most online networks have, such as the ability to create a profile, and promote your website, blog and professional services, as well as the ability to connect with other people in the program. However, it has some new features, and one in particular that I really like.

The feature that I haven’t seen on any other online network is the press release program. Becoming a Premium Member for as little as $9 a month allows you to post unlimited press releases to 20 media outlets (including Google and Yahoo) that will promote your press release across the internet. Most PR services charge much more than that (believe me, I know).

In addition, members of the service have the ability to send their release to 50,000 members at a time and can choose which 50,000 to send to by industry, type and/or geography. FastPitch is the only social network that allows its members to leverage the network in this way.

I tried the service out just prior to International Networking Week to promote networking events around the world. Within a couple of days, I saw my press release promoted on Google and Yahoo!

I recommend my readers take a look. Click here for information on the press release program. For general information, click here.

I’d love to hear about your experiences on this online network and others.

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