Social Media Archives - Page 2 of 2 - Dr. Ivan Misner®

Five Steps for Getting the Most from LinkedIn

I’ve been following the development of online business networking for several years now; particularly at the inception of sites like Ecademy.com and LinkedIn.  That said,  I’d like to state for the record: If you’ve had any lingering thoughts that social media is just a fad, you may want to lose them.

Are you aware that LinkedIn’s IPO (Initial Public Offering) has a valuation of 4.3 billion (USD)?  That’s right, I said BILLION.  If you haven’t been taking social media seriously, perhaps it’s time to start.

While there are indeed many competitors to LinkedIn, it has certainly–for now–risen to the top when it comes to sites devoted primarily to business networking and social media.

In this short video, I offer five valuable tips that will guide you in the right direction when it comes to using LinkedIn and getting the most from the efforts you put into networking online through this particular site.

Do you have additional tips for using LinkedIn, or other networking sites, which you’ve found to be highly effective?  If so, please share them in the comments section so others can learn and benefit from your experience.

Online Networks Lag Behind Other Networking Efforts

As part of the survey for the book, Business Networking And Sex (not what you think), my co-authors and I asked several questions which weren’t used in the final manuscript.  The survey was open to the public and was conducted with over 12,000 business people from every populated continent in the world.  One of the questions we didn’t use in the book was “What types of organizations do you belong to?” (note that respondents were able to pick more than one).

We also asked a question that was used in the manuscript in various places: “Has networking played a role in your success?”  We got some interesting findings when we cross-tabulated these two questions with one another.  We expected casual contact and referral networks to do fairly well, and they did.  However, we were surprised by some of the other results in the survey.

Don’t shoot the messenger however – online networks did very poorly, with only 27% of the respondents saying that networking has played a role in their success!  Women’s business organizations did even worse, with 17.7%; and service clubs came in last, with only 17.2% of the respondents saying that networking played a role in their success.

What does this mean?  Overall, people who got the most results from their networking efforts seem to participate in “face-to-face” casual contact networks like a Chamber of Commerce, referral networks like BNI, and to a lesser extent professional associations (like any professional body or society representing a particular industry), while online networks, women’s business organizations, social/business groups, and service clubs rated very low in success results relating to their networking.

Even though they didn’t fare well in this survey, I’m actually quite an advocate of online networks, women’s business organizations, and service clubs – and I will continue to be so. I did some thinking about the results of the survey, and why these groups came in with such low percentages compared to the casual contact and referral networks.

I’m inclined to believe that the women’s organizations and service clubs didn’t do as well because they both have another important purpose that take precedence over networking.  Women’s business organizations often provide a place where members both support and educate each other. The mission of service clubs focus primarily on providing service to the community, with networking opportunities being more of a “by-product.”  Seeing tangible success in members’ networking efforts is much more subtle in groups like these, and that may be one of the main reasons why they didn’t do as well in the survey.

Because I was really surprised by the results, I spent a lot of time thinking about online networks and their disappointing standing in the respondents’ ranking of successful networking efforts. The results are indicative of a comment that I hear quite often by business owners who have begun to market their businesses via the growing number of online social and business networking sites: “I’ve got a profile page and a thousand connections…now what?”

Many entrepreneurs jumped on the “social media marketing” bandwagon and spent a lot of time and effort building their online social capital (through LinkedIn “connections”, Facebook “friends” and “likes”, and Twitter “followers”), but without an actual plan of how to turn this growing number of contacts into actual customers. This is one area many entrepreneurs struggle with as online networking continues to come into its own.

Another issue is that the addition of Internet marketing (including online networking) has exponentially increased the number of marketing messages the average person sees per day – to literally tens of thousands. While online – whether chatting on Google Talk, or looking at friends’ photos on Facebook, watching a celebrity’s Twitter feed, learning about a connection’s promotion on LinkedIn, reading a blog for business or pleasure, or doing an internet search – a person is inundated with entreaties.

Read this!

Buy this!

Try this!

Connect with me!

Like my business!

It’s easy to get distracted by these messages, particularly because those who have the time, staff, or money to put out the most messages tend to drown out any messages from smaller businesses or single individuals also trying to get their messages to be “heard.”

As I’ve already mentioned, I like online networking.  I am active in online networking. We may someday figure out how to make it work even better; however, the results are the results and – still a surprise to me – they’re not very favorable for online networks. I certainly don’t think that entrepreneurs should stop finding ways to improve their success in the online networking arena. However, as we have learned in our recent multi-national study, online networks still have a way to go before they can begin to compete with the effectiveness of the more traditional, face-to-face networking opportunities available.

 

BizPer Social Media Marketing

I met Starr Hall at an Entrepreneur Magazine Conference that we both spoke at last year and she did a really impressive presentation on social media marketing.

One of the things she discussed was the concept of “BizPer” Social Media Marketing. She said that about half of your social media posts should be about business and about half should be personal.

I love the concept but, I’m not sure I’m comfortable with the percentage.  I definitely believe that people want to see a little of me as a person via my social media – but, I don’t think that half the posts I do should be fully personal.  Granted, I think that a business message about a personal experience is very good – but, that is still business – not personal.

So, here’s my question to you:  What do you think the best BizPer split  (business focus vs. personal focus) for someone in business to use as a gauge for their social media posts would be?  50/50? 60/40? 70/30? 80/20???

Something else?  How much of your social media (in the context of a business person) should be devoted to personal postings? I’d really like to hear your thoughts on this . . .

Using a Blog to Build Your Brand?–Top Tips for a Better Blog

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itXnDlr33mE&feature=player_embedded[/tube]

In this video, my good friend Jarret Gucci, who is also the web expert credited with building this BusinessNetworking.com blog site and helping me to “make it work,” explains the two most powerful ways to make your blog better.

If you’re one of the many businesspeople around the world who utilizes blogging to build your brand, don’t be shy . . . after you watch the video, leave a comment letting the rest of us know what you’ve done to make your blog work. I get really inspired when I hear creative new ways of improving things to get better results and I know the rest of the readers of this blog will be inspired by your ideas too!

50 Best Blogs for Young Entrepreneurs

I am excited to announce that this blog was listed as #26 in the list of “50 Best Blogs for Young Entrepreneurs”!

Here’s what they said:

“Networking Entrepreneur: Even if you think you’re a pro at networking, check this blog for new tips and strategies as your business grows. Recommended Posts: Make No Assumptions and Clueless When It Comes To Conversing? Four Tips

The list, published by OEDb (Online Education Database), was created as a resource for young entrepreneurs who are looking to learn some basic business principles and discover how to communicate and collaborate in the real world before finding success.  Divided into categories (“Tools & Resources,” “Inspiration & Testimonials,” “Tips & Education,” “Industry News,” and Insights “From Young Entrepreneurs”), the list presents the top blogs that will help you communicate, collaborate, master the science of SEO and social media marketing, shake hands like a professional, and more.

Young entrepreneur or not, this list contains a cornucopia of excellent links that will provide you with an endless amount of useful information.

I’m honored to be included in this list of the “50 Best Blogs for Young Entrepreneurs” and I encourage all of my blog readers to check out the list and explore the great (and FREE)  information that’s out there to help contribute to your success!

What Is Your Company’s Competitive Position?

To find out how you stack up against your competition, take a little time to analyze your competitive status. This exercise will help you understand and emphasize your unique selling position.  How do you differ, and how can you position yourself for the best competitive advantage?

There’s no single formula for conducting a competitive analysis; it’s mostly just good business sense.  Try to stay aware of what your competition is doing and how your business stacks up against it.  For example:

  • Are your prices and costs competitive? — Do customers who compare costs come back to you?
  • Do you compete effectively in terms of product or service quality?
  • Are you seen as the vendor of choice? — Why do people seek you out?
  • Are you growing, losing ground or just holding onto your market share? — Are you waiting to see what will happen and hoping to react in time?

Staying competitive also implies being aware of trends and reacting to changes faster than your competitors. How will changes in technology and society affect the competition? Are your products or services more advanced than those of your competition? Do your competitors have the jump on you with online marketing/social media?

Understanding the driving forces in your industry — growth rates, shifts in buyer demographics, product and marketing innovations, the entry or exit of other competitors, changes in cost or efficiency and so forth — will make you a top competitor.

I highly encourage you to take some time this week to sit down and ask yourself the questions listed above. Once you’ve done this, come back and leave a comment explaining what you learned about your company’s competitive position.

Success Is Not an Entitlement

Yesterday, I received a rather disturbing email message from someone berating me for sharing what he felt were some aspects of my success via my FaceBook Fan page (mostly relating to discussions about my business travel and corporate meetings I did from my lake home over the summer).   I have to say it brought me down a bit so I went to my library and picked up a book I wrote about 7 years ago called Masters of Success.  I read a piece in it that I wrote called “Success is Not an Entitlement” which I hoped would re-focus my mindset after receiving this vitriolic piece of email.

I’d like to share an excerpt from it with you here today in my blog.  I’ve updated some of the material in brackets.  The excerpt at the end about “being lucky” goes out to my email critic.  I hope everyone (including my critic) can see some value in this message.

Everyone wants some degree of success. We might want it in different forms, but I’ve never met anyone who didn’t want to be successful at something important. This is good. I believe everyone is entitled to pursue success.

But success itself is not an entitlement.

Not long ago I was talking to someone I’ve known for years about my personal success, the growth of my business, and some other personal goals I’ve recently met. He said, “Man, you’re lucky! It must be nice.”

 “Yeah, I’m lucky,” I responded. “Let me tell you the secret of my luck.  First, I went to college for ten years. During that time, I started several businesses, and for the next [twenty five years] I worked really, really long hours.  Along the way, I mortgaged my house a couple of times for one of the business and I wrote [twelve] books.  If you apply that kind of effort to whatever you do, you too, can be just as lucky.”

 He laughed and said, “Okay! Okay! I get it!”

 Did he really get it? I don’t think so, because he hasn’t changed his behavior or started making different choices.

 For about twenty of my twenty five years of hard work, I didn’t feel very lucky or incredibly successful. It took time, effort, hard work, and decent choices before I felt a modicum of success. The problem is that many people want to go from point A to point Z and bypass all the challenges in between. They work hard, so they “deserve” the success they want.  And they tend to resent the success that other people have!!!

 Success is not an entitlement. It’s not a right or a claim that we should have. Yes, people have the right to pursue success, but that’s it. Success is most often earned, not handed over because you are entitled. If being successful were that easy, everyone would have the success he thinks he deserves. I think I was in my thirties before I truly understood and internalized that idea.

I’ve been trying to instill this wisdom in my nine-year-old son [now 17] by teaching him my “mantra of success.” [Years ago] I asked him, “Trey, what’s the secret to success?” He said, in a young boy’s slightly bored singsong tone: “The secret to success without hard work and good choices is still a secret, Dad. Can I go out and play now?”

OK, maybe nine was a little young to start the training. But maybe not.

————————–

True success is the result of hard work, period.  I love my business, I love helping people, and I’ve achieved a level of success doing both.  I am very grateful for my success and proud to have achieved it in a way that benefits others and helps them grow their businesses as well.  I am also very blessed to be able to open my home and a large part of my life to the people from my companies, and to give back to the world through the BNI-Misner Foundation

From time to time, I share comments about these things on my social media sites and true friends are most welcome to share in the positive conversation about these things.  If it troubles anyone to read about these things, however, I certainly won’t be offended if they unfriend me.

The First Phase of the VCP Process–Visibility

Last week I wrote a blog explaining the VCP Process, which is a huge part of the foundation of networking. Because this process is so crucial to effective networking, I promised to write a blog entry for each of the three phases (visibility, credibility and profitability), and today I’m going to talk about why it all starts with visibility.

The first phase of growing a relationship is visibility: You and another individual become aware of each other.  In business terms, a potential source of referrals or a potential customer becomes aware of the nature of your business–perhaps because of your public relations and advertising efforts, because of your social media presence or perhaps through someone you both know. This person may observe you in the act of conducting business or relating with the people around you. The two of you begin to communicate and establish links–perhaps a question or two over the phone or via e-mail messages about product availability. You may become personally acquainted and work on a first-name basis, but you know little about each other. A combination of many such relationships forms a casual-contact network, a sort of de facto association based on one or more shared interests.

The visibility phase is important because it creates recognition and awareness.  The greater your visibility, the more widely known you will be, the more information you will obtain about others, the more opportunities you will be exposed to, and the greater will be your chances of being accepted by other individuals or groups as someone to whom they can or should refer business.  Visibility must be actively maintained and developed; without it, you cannot move on to the next level, credibility.

I’ll talk more about credibility next week, but it’s important to understand that visibility brings the opportunity to build credibility, and credibility is what will get you to profitability, where you’ll actually benefit from your efforts. So many times people try to jump straight from visibility to profitability, and that’s not real networking; it’s just an obvious ploy to get something from your new contacts. That’s nothing more than a bad attempt at direct selling and a big waste of time.

So, how do you go about creating more visibility for your business? What are some strategies that have really worked out well for you?  I’d love to hear your comments.

Looking Beyond the Hype to Get Started with Social Media

My friend, social media expert Mirna Bard, recently wrote a really great blog about getting started with social media, and I’ve pasted a portion of it below.  If you’re confused and overwhelmed when it comes to networking your business online, this is a must-read.

Looking Beyond the Hype to Get Started with Social Media

If you want to succeed with social media, as many brands have, there are some action steps you must take before you dive into the world of social media.  So, let’s strip away all the hype and go through the right steps that must be taken to help you determine if social media is appropriate for your business.

If you go through the following 10 steps in the order I list them, you will gain clarity, save time and reduce social media overwhelm.

1.    Be open-minded and change the traditional way you communicate with customers, employees, investors, partners, the media, etc.  As an entrepreneur, it is important to create a social mind-set for relationship marketing, networking, engaging and collaborating.

2.    Educate yourself and become familiar with all the categories of social media and how they can be integrated together as well as the entire marketing mix in order to leverage and maximize your efforts (see diagram below for all 15 social media categories).

3.    Pinpoint existing resources that may be needed for social media (employees, time, budget, tools, etc.).

4.    Determine if you have weaknesses in your business that may potentially hurt you online (i.e., poorly designed website or no website, bad customer service, weak content, negative comments from customers, etc.)

5.    Determine if you have strengths in your business that you can leverage online (i.e., available content such as videos, e-Books, or brand lovers who are already talking about you, etc.)

6.    See what your competitors are doing with social media.  Just observe and takes notes; do not be a copy-cat.

7.    Identify your target audience, and determine when and where they hang out online.

8.    Set clear goals and objectives.  Goals are general statements (i.e., “We want to leverage social media to improve customer service”). Objectives are more specific and measurable (i.e., “By December 2010, we want to triple traffic to our website and increase sales by 20 percent”).

9.    Decide what you want to use social media for (i.e., prospecting, recruiting, customer service, etc.) and how you want to engage your online audience.  Do you want to use social media for communication, collaboration, education, entertainment or all of them?

10.  Based on what you came up with in the last nine steps, select the social media categories and tools you want to use.  You can take a look at the diagram below for just some example of tools.  You will have to do some research online for all the tools that exist for each social media category.

There are many more factors to consider before putting together a strategy; however, if done properly, these steps will give you a clear picture of the social media landscape and help you determine whether social media is right for your business or not.

If you have already taken these steps, please share your success in the comments below.

*Mirna Bard is a social media consultant, an instructor of social media at University of California, Irvine, and a keynote speaker.  She also gives social media tips and advice on her blog http://www.mirnabard.com/blog.

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