Technology

Are LinkedIn Missing Out?

LinkedIn - Communication - Vision!

LinkedIn - Communication - Vision!

Is LinkedIn missing out on communication? Yep BIG time!

About 3 years ago LinkedIn removed their event app with the usual statement saying that 'from time to time we review our services and adjust our offer to ensure the best experience for our customers' or something like this. Commendable I think?

It was quite a useful app I thought. I used it to invite customers to my external webinars or public training events. 

Now most of us use external apps like Eventbrite. 

Also at the time I was searching for a free webinar app and to my delight Google launched Google+ Hangout. 

The web conferencing web app is amazing and works like a dream. The only problem is that today still not that many business people are on Google+. This means I have to educate them on how to use G+ and then train them on how to use G+ Hangout. Time consuming and frustrating. It ways exactly the same when Skype came out many years ago. Nobody had heard of it and didn't know how to use it. Now potentially every business person has heard of Skype and uses it.

G+ Hangout also has a messaging facility, although not that great yet.

Within the last few weeks (April 2015), Facebook launched their dedicated messenger app for the browser. It was already well established as a separate app for mobile, despite some complaints from users in the early days when it moved away from the standard Facebook page. It works and it works well and looks great inside a browser.

I'm sure I don't have to mention all the array of other messenger apps on the market. Just have a look at the graphic below, where the number represents the number of active users in millions. Facebook with messenger and WhatsApp are pretty much dominating the space.

Graph from statista.com - April 2015

Graph from statista.com - April 2015

What happened to LinkedIn? All they've got is a very basic email service, which only in the past month (March 2015) allows you to attach a file. Fantastic! Not really, I was being sarcastic then in case you hadn't noticed!

Can you imagine how amazing it would be if you had the ability to instant message your connections? Alright, I appreciate that you'd be worried with spammy messages, but they could make it so that you have to invite people to your instant messenger list and request permission in exactly the same way as connection invites.

I guarantee you that the current younger generation when it grows up will demand such a service on LinkedIn otherwise they'll be doing it on Facebook instead. The younger generation believes that email is too slow, they don't use it. Instant responses are something they've got used to and want to experience this when they enter the world of work.

If we were able to instant message than surely the obvious extension of that would be video conference calls. The need for group web conferencing, being able to share and discuss in real-time all around the world and carry out training is absolutely essential nowadays.

It just leaves the facility for events. Like Google+ the event facility would give you the option to schedule online meetings with connections or audio/video conference calls. 

How cool would that be? This is one massive way to get more eyeballs on your site Jeff Weiner

Conclusion: LinkedIn is definitely missing out on the massive explosion of messaging and web meetings.

I look forward to the day when this will change, really looking forward to it!

@stayingaliveuk

Is Creating Content the Elephant on the Web?

IMG_1214 Recently I joined a twitter chat #sshour (social selling hour) and the subject of content curation was being discussed. I too have been busy organising my content stream, selecting the articles I enjoy reading and sharing them on my preferred platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter. And I love scheduling them using Buffer.

And my reason for doing this? Thought leadership? Just sharing ‘stuff’, which my connections might like to read? Wanting more followers, likes and comments?

Does anyone really give a damn?

And what's our outcome? Is it more engagement with our buyers, receiving more enquiries for our products and services? Or is it ’FOMO’,  fear of missing out? Or ’FOBLO’, fear of being left out?

Social Media has a lot to answer for. It’s changing human behaviour across the planet. We never shared so many intimate details of our lives, so publicly. And as we are so obsessed with sharing content surely we are trying to look interesting, relevant and impressive to our connections and followers?

No wonder there are 630 million search results on google to my question ‘how often should I blog?’

I asked the question last year: ‘Do Social Networks Sell Drugs?’

I know it’s a great feeling when your article/blog or your shared post gets noticed by your followers. Ever time this happens somewhere deep inside of us we say, ‘Wow she/he loves me’.

And by just pushing out more and more content and posting regularly, are we hoping that we’ll get noticed by some big shot CEO who will approach us to come and do some consultancy or maybe even work for them? There's news there too for us. They aren't reading them.

I believe there are two tribes who do all the blogging and posting. Folks that are self-employed and are making it part of their own personal marketing strategy or folks that work for big business and their job is in marketing anyway.

Everyone in between either don’t really care or are just too busy at work to bother.

I’d love to hear your opinion. Are we overdoing it and heading for blogging/posting burnout?

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Is your Social Media Policy liked?

I read with interest a recent newsletter with guidelines and policy on electronic communication and social media. Electronic communication has been around for a while and whilst it’s good to be reminded about what should and shouldn't be done, especially for new starters and young workers who may not be so used to email, in general it’s well established and most people know what is and isn't allowed. Social Media though is a different matter all together. The first question we have to ask ourselves is ’Why is Social Media so popular?’ Well because it releases dopamine in the brain, inside our pleasure/reward centre and that in turn makes it addictive. I wrote a paper on this last year, ’Do Social Networks Sell Drugs?’.

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As it’s addictive, it means for many it's almost impossible to leave it alone. Think about it, whenever someone, likes, shares, retweets, follows, invites, accepts, pokes or any other social network activity that has become part of daily behaviour, we feel good about ourselves. We feel like someone approves of us, in a world where mostly we receive criticism, it means we feel like we are getting praise. And of course that feels good and if it feels good, it becomes addictive. Especially young people, who get criticised by parents and teachers alike day in day out. Therefore when they are on social media they (mostly) will get positive messages. I know it has its down side too.

So now we need to think this through, because if it’s addictive and people can't leave it alone, will we still be as harsh on them when we catch them accessing their personal social media networks, whilst at work? Or do we accept, actually this is part of the modern world now and very little we can do to fight it.

Research from 2012 suggests that smart phone owners check their devices 150 times per day, about once every 6 minutes. But we're now in 2014, so we can safely assume it has gone up significantly? Americans aged 18-64 who use social networks say they spend an average of 3.2 hours per day doing so, according to research conducted in November 2012 by Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange (OTX). (http://styin.me/1b1O73t). I'm sure the UK is not far behind them and that figure will have gone up too.

flickr | rockerictic

One way to allow your employees to engage in social media activities is to supply them with an internal social media platform, which connects everyone inside the business, across geographical boundaries, allowing everyone to learn from each other and to collaborate on projects. Also allowing colleagues to like and comment on posts. This way you are distracting them from their personal networks, by allowing them to still engage in similar activities and satisfy their addiction. Actually personal Social Media, is allowing millions of workers to train themselves in order to assist their learning inside the workplace. Think about it, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have provided free online training. Make sense?

Of course there have to be some rules, but we have to recognise that there is a bigger picture and we need to be conscious of that too.

Wishing you success always.

Are you using the new LinkedIn Contacts App?

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Well you should!

Let me share with you what I discovered.

First I tidied up my address book on my iPhone/iPad/Mac (iCloud). It took a while but I did a few letters of the alphabet each day, which made the job less daunting, but still delivered a great result. I removed about 2000 contacts, phew! How ever did I manage to accumulate those? I have no idea! Also make sure you remove sensitive data. You don't want this going up onto a server do you? Instead move those somewhere else.

***DATA HEALTH WARNING***

You MUST do this task first, as otherwise you end up with all the rubbish inside your LinkedIn contacts and you really want to avoid this.

If you do this task first you will thank me for it and it is about time you did this and when I share with you below what you can achieve, you will be delighted...no ecstatic!

Step 1

Download the LinkedIn contacts app

(***DO NOT OPEN IT AFTER DOWNLOADING***).

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/linkedin-contacts/id635424128?mt=8

Step 2

I am assuming you have the standard LinkedIn iPhone app, but if you haven't please make sure that this is downloaded too.

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/linkedin/id288429040

You can open that one and ensure you are logged in. Providing you have set 'download connections' to ON inside this app, (if not click on the IN in top left corner to reveal the setting cog wheel top right. Click on the wheel>download connections and activate this. It will download all your LinkedIn connections on to your iPhone and keep them updated too. This is an important step to complete before going on.

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Step 3

On your iPhone, go to settings>privacy>contacts and make sure the contacts app button is switched to on/green. If you forget this step, no worries the app will remind you to do this.

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Step 4

Open the LinkedIn contacts app on your iPhone, it will import with lightening speed all your iPhone contacts, find them on LinkedIn, and pull in all the data, plus send all the data to LinkedIn too.

Pretty impressive actually how fast this goes.

NOTE: I don't have my Facebook connections in my address book any longer. I ended up with too many duplications and then had to link those together, which was a real pain. As I only want to have my LinkedIn connections in my address book, I don't want to disturb things. And I highly recommend excluding Facebook. Remember each contact on your iPhone will be uploaded to LinkedIn.

To switch Facebook off for your address book, go to settings>facbeook> and switch the contacts switch to off/white.

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Step 5

Check that everything has worked. Search inside the app for a contact, anyone will do. Make sure the data from your address book has been pulled across.

Check on the LinkedIn website and go to network>contacts and then filter by source>iPhone and check if the number of contacts agrees with your iPhone.

NOTE: Don't expect numbers to agree 100%. Mine are out by about 10, but I know that is because previously I had some contacts that were linked with Facebook and messed things up. If it is there or thereabouts, then happy days it has worked.

That's it job done!

But now for the magic, this is where you will be very grateful for using this app.

First let me share with you how people tend to work on LinkedIn. Most people will only share their personal emails address and no phone number.

So when you have someone's business card, look them up on LinkedIn, send an invite to connect and they accept, you will see that the email address that they have on LinkedIn is their personal one. Usually no phone number.

This means you need to add their business email and phone number details. Well firstly LinkedIn has a bug on phone number formats, which means it will not accept a European format, only USA formats. Which is a real shame and yes I have had a dialogue with their support and no fix is imminent either.

But have no fear here is the solution.

Now that you have the LinkedIn Contacts app, your problem is solved.

Step 1

After someone has accepted your invite to connect or you have accepted their invite, you need to go to the standard LinkedIn iPhone app and open it up from time to time, to make sure that LinkedIn downloads these contacts to your iPhone. This makes sure that you don't have to manually enter their details in your address book. i.e. LinkedIn does it for you. However you will more than likely only have their personal email address.

So once per week, I go into my address book iPhone/IPad or Mac (iCloud), with my business cards handy, I look up those people, that I know I have sent invites to and update their record with their business email and their mobile. I don't usually bother with their land line number. If they move in the future that will change and their mobile often stays the same. (unless they have give you their business mobile only).

Step 2

Once you've updated the address record on your device, go to the LinkedIn contacts app and open up the alphabetical view (doesn't matter which view you are on) and then pull down the page, which will then start an update process and a spinning circle appears. You have to see the spinning circle, so make sure of that.

***THIS IS WHERE THE MAGIC HAPPENS*** The LinkedIn contacts app drags the information from your address book, with your latest updates and pushes it to LinkedIn.

Now your contact record on LinkedIn, has updated the business email address, as well as the mobile phone number.

This is pretty amazing actually, because also the phone number format bug inside LinkedIn has been overcome by adding the phone details in this way.

Now you have the correct contact details sitting inside LinkedIn as well.

What this means in fact, that as well as downloading data from LinkedIn onto your iPhone, with the standard LinkedIn app, you can also push data to LinkedIn.

I felt this was such an amazing discovery, I just had to share it.

I hope it works for you and if you have any questions, just let me know.

***DATA HEALTH WARNING***

When dealing with contact information in the cloud, it is possible to create duplicate records. This has happened to me in the past, so please take each step carefully and check your records regularly.

The steps above worked for me without any issues, but I can't take any responsibility for your records and the way that you upload/download from the cloud.

Wishing you success always!

Just 3 Apps for busy Executives?

Just 3 apps for busy executives...really? If you are a baby boomer or even if you're not and you're not sure which apps to download on your shiny new Apple iPhone 5S or iPad Air.

How about just having 3 in addition to all the ones you get free from Apple of course.

The idea is for you to achieve a super fast review of what's going on what is being said about your company, so you can scan it (read), write it or find it.

Number 1 is Flipboard

flipboard-banner-logo-640

Flipboard is still for me THE best social integration magazine app around. There are others but as Flipboard was first and they made the biggest impression, for me they have stayed ahead of the crowd.

What do you need to do?

  • You need your company social feeds as priority 1. This means you can view and keep up to date with what your marketing teams are sending out.
  • You need your own social feeds if you have time to be engaged with them. You can have feeds from all the major ones, plus you can post and engage from within Flipboard too, so there's no need to download the individual apps. Its basically your single dashboard for everything.

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Second is LinkedIn

If you're no making use of LinkedIn, then you are missing out on some key intel. LinkedIn is now THE biggest and MOST important professional database in the world.

Fortune 500 employees are there for sure and most Executives have a profile, even if some of them are hiding them.

Time to get out of the shadows and be seen!

The LinkedIn iPad app has received a major overall and now its fast and accurate. You have to meet someone, call them or even research them. Using LinkedIn is the best tool for doing that.

Your company profile should be there too. With all the detail of your latest marketing posts.

Remember of course you can pull a lot of the feeds into your Flipboard too! Primarily though this iPad app is for research and engagement.

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Third is iA Writer

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Not much to be said, its a simple writing app, no distractions, no formatting, no fluff, just think and write. A draft email, a report, meeting notes, just anything that needs recording simply easily and safely. Done!

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Go and get those and STOP playing games, use your mobile devices to do some business and stay focussed!

Success!

 

 

Where Is Your Video Advert?

I still see many businesses, who are not making use of video to educate their customers, prospects and leads about who they are and what they do. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGog-0UY7NA

Think about it, do you have time to read websites, read emails, read tweets, read LinkedIn updates, read your children's Facebook updates (no time to post your own of course!), carry out your own work, delivery fantastic customer service to your customers and colleagues and also pay attention to your family?

Of course the answer is a big fat NO!

You don't have time and neither has anyone else.

But...

Could you watch a video which is less than 90 seconds to understand what someone is saying about their business or present your own explainer video about one of your products or services to a new customer or prospect?

Of course you could!

So what's stopping you?

Time? Money? Commitment? Procrastination?

Oh yes indeed, read the stats...

- More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month - Over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube - That's almost an hour for every person on Earth, and 50% more than last year - 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute - 70% of YouTube traffic comes from outside the US - YouTube is localised in 56 countries and across 61 languages - Millions of subscriptions happen each day, and the number of people subscribing has more than doubled since last year

Time for you to get creative. Talk to me for a no-obligation review of what can be achieved using a videographic to tell your story!

Success!

 

 

 

 

Have you understood the new LinkedIn updates?

LinkedIn have been busy. Their have been 6 significant updates in the past few months and I'm sure there will be more on their way. I have created this one page MindMap to help you view what the different updates mean.

You can download the PDF by clicking on the link below or just click on the image below to view it online.

In summary the new features are:

  1. New all encompassing search bar
  2. Rich media updates on your home page or company page, upload files or images
  3. Mentions, you can now mention anyone or a company when you post an update
  4. Contacts, completely revamped and improved
  5. 'You recently visited' graphic to interrogate and review what you've been up to
  6. 'Whose viewed your updates', a great measurement tool to see what posts are receiving engagement

Success!

New LinkedIn Features

New LinkedIn Features

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qE4gRccorCk

 

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Is 'LinkedIn Contacts' a sign of a full blown CRM?

20130306-192245.jpg Since the middle of 2012, LinkedIn have been rolling out new features, re-designed its user interface, upgraded the ability to include media on your profile and added more features to paid products for recruiters and sales organisations.

And now they are releasing ’Contacts’. The normal slow roll-out applies.

I predicted 4 months ago, without any prior knowledge that the natural extension of LinkedIn would be CRM (Customer Relationship Management).

I believe this is the start of it. It's a logical and sensible extension of LinkedIn, it makes complete sense. The hardest thing for sales people and marketers alike, is keeping up to date records of prospects inside customer databases, spreadsheets and address books.

Often people are employed or huge money is spent on cleaning data. There are organisations who sell directories to the most sought after professionals, like buying and HR professionals.

With LinkedIn, most business professionals will keep their details up to date. This means you have a database of contacts and prospects that will NEVER get out of date.

This is a sales professional’s and marketer’s dream. Link with this, all email communication, contact details and records of calls and interaction and you've got your dream CRM.

So now sales organisations have the triad of contact information directly inside LinkedIn, a ’social profile’, ’sales navigator’ and ’contacts’.

I can well imagine how this will develop further and do I think it would be worth upgrading to a premium account for this? Oh yes indeed I would. I am already a premium member anyway and was doubting some of the benefits, but now I can see how a premium member will receive some additional benefits in this integrated LinkedIn world.

By the way I don't think contacts is a charged product, but there are some features that are only available for premium members, what exactly I won't know for sure until I see the release.

The way I see it at the moment is that LinkedIn are the ’Apple’ of social media/networks. Facebook is the ’Microsoft’ and Twitter is just a ’News Ticker’ feed.

LinkedIn has developed a higher quality user interface compared to the others and its continuing to enhance this on their website as well as mobile.

They don't suffer from the volume of events and games invites either and now I know why they switched-off events last year. It's all making sense to me.

Their vision is right and they are doing the right things.

I am quite impressed as you can tell and I don't even work for the company!

If you want to learn how to create a great LinkedIn profile for FREE join me on my weekly surgery on google hangout.

http://stayingaliveuk.com/linkedinstinct/

If you want to swipe through hundreds of FREE insights and tips follow this link.

http://storify.com/stayingaliveuk/linkedinstinct/slideshow

Success with your LinkedIn journey, it will be worth it.

Are You Wasting Your Time on Social Media?

More than likely you are. Be honest with yourself, how much time are you now spending on social media compared to say 2 years ago? It's addictive right? Don't worry I am not judging you, and it's not your fault. All the social networks know that we as humans are curious by nature and very very interested in other people's lives. Yes you are, whether you wish to admit it or not. It's not an issue, really it's not. And...you just need to be aware of it.

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Peer pressure exists too, how many times have you heard someone say, you're not on twitter really?? Or...well I use Facebook to spy on my kids that's all I use it for. Liar!!

The majority of 16 - 24 year olds will be massively engaged with social media. Wind forward 10 - 15 years, what will the world look like?

OK so you're a baby boomer and don't think much of this social media lark and will not get drawn into to it. Wrong!

flickr | meijergardens

You are already part of it whether you like it or not. Whatever you say or do in business or in your private life, people (and family) around you may be tweeting, facebooking, linkedinning you (for real Michael??).

Yep, before you speak and if you don't wish to be quoted, tell your gathering that they haven't got permission to share what you say via their social media channels.

So whether you're part of it or not, resisting or engaging, annoyed or happy, you do have to get your time spent on it back in check. Become more targeted and laser focussed on what you wish to achieve. Random doesn't work any longer and you'll get found out. Just this morning I saw someone on LinkedIn (no names) who had posted 18 articles from their website in a matter of 2 hours. Wondering who's in charge of their marketing efforts?

I've been studying social media for 5 years now and after several years of intermittent study with the thought leaders in the USA, I've recognised where this is going. No I'm not unique in my thinking.

Firstly social media is no longer a new phenomena it's now part of the marketing mix, except that it should in most organisations expand into customer service, sales and the executive floor as well.

flickr | smi23le

Social media has expanded into social learning, social selling, social marketing. But in a few years the word social will start to disappear. You will be left with the originals, learning, selling and marketing.

The only difference will be that the major platforms that support these activities will become synonymous with them.

For example LinkedIn will be known exclusively for selling. Indeed what was once a recruiters website with employees CV’s is becoming THE most powerful lead generation platform in the world.

FB will become the product marketing platform in the world. Just imagine all those people on FB that could be watching your product advert on their 4G mobile.

FB has enabled message voice recording already and its just a matter of time that they will introduce video message recording technology. Your written messages will be video email instead. We are already tired of reading, but will we be happy to watch a short video?

Camera shy?? You'll get over it!

flickr | Rego - d4u.hu

I was involved with video email even before YouTube, the only problem was that most people were on dial-up then (2005). Now with 4G becoming standard and super fast fibre broadband, it will open possibilities we've not even imagined yet.

flickr | Gavin St. Ours

Video cameras in your smart phone or tablet are common now, but you've heard about google glasses right?

So just imagine a world where your glasses are connected to your smart phone and whatever the camera (in your glasses) sees it can find on your smart phone, of course no need to tap on your phone, you just do it via speech if at all. The mind boggles!

flickr | Stuck in Customs

I'd love to hear your views, good, bad or indifferent about social media, technology and where this is taking us. I'm excited, are you?

Success!

The PC is dead, long live the iPad

I've had a life long ambition to operate in a paperless office. And my ambition has finally become a reality. My career using computers covers a short 30 years. But they were never able to deliver a truly paperless office for me. I still had to sort through mountains of paperwork in addition to using computers.

But as this decade can now officially be named the ’decade of mobile computing’, it means that I am able to declare my office ’virtually’ paperless.

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The only paper I still receive are a few bills and of course receipts from shopping.

And now that every large tech company is moving towards tablet computing, it's probably highly likely that they will increasingly dominate our personal and business lives.

For me it's the one tech product I've been waiting for all my career.

And you will probably gasp now when I say that I can't remember the last time I wrote down notes with my pen!

I just don't need to anymore. I do remember the days when I had to take written notes to only transfer these to my computer.

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Now I use mind map software on my iPad and take brief notes to jog my memory of the meeting, which can be typed up if needed, in my writer software. But very often I will send a mind map of the meeting and most people are delighted because its on one piece of paper and a fast summary, nobody has time these days to read even one page of notes, let alone 2 or 3.

If you haven't tried it yet or are sitting on the fence, I highly recommend that you explore what it can do for your personal and business lives.

Typing this article on my iPad, whilst Clair is watching ’strictly come dancing’, would have been unthinkable a few years ago. I don't have a laptop, but even if I did, it would have drawn so much attention to what I was doing by bringing out the laptop. The typing would have been noisy and having the screen open a distraction to anyone else in the room too.

And if I do need to watch some training videos on youtube or watch another TV channel, I can just open up the catch-up channels apps and stick my headphones on!

Try it out!

Success!

Are You Killing the Sale?

Guest blog by John Rees, sales and marketing consultant, mentor and creator of the Holistic Sale model of business development. You’ve read the book, seen the video and maybe even have the T-shirt so you know how the story goes … “This is Sales 2.0. and we will build momentum by using Social Media, Sales Automation and CRM to reduce the cost of sale and improve sales productivity.” This sounds great in theory and some businesses think the technology can and should take over. I don’t.

This approach may work well when selling to consumers, but selling in the business (or B2B) space is different, because trust and credibility are even more important. The strength of a story and the way you tell it, plus an ability to build a relationship can best be achieved by direct human contact. This can, of course use technology called a telephone or a video conference call. Face to face is not always possible, but it is still the best way to connect with others.

We all know that automation is excellent at making mundane tasks more efficient, but some businesses have taken this to extremes. They have lost that human touch. And it’s getting more complicated as Sales Automation and CRM systems connect with Social Media platforms to build automatic sales engagement models. Maybe the aspiration is to do business without having to make a sales call, give a presentation or even shake someone’s hand!

Many businesses use systems to ‘process’ potential buyers. They send predetermined emails at certain stages based on the actions people take. They only actually make contact with those who jump over enough hurdles at the right time to warrant a call from a human being.

The real danger in all this is that while you wait for the buyer to reach a certain stage of ‘sales readiness’ the opportunity may have passed. Either they are fed up with receiving obviously system generated emails, or a competitor beats you to the punch and has already engaged them in conversation.

Evidence shows that this automated approach is becoming less effective. According to recent findings, trust in online content including blogs and tweets is plummeting fast. Marketing-speak is widely used and most platforms have now become bloated advertising channels. It’s easier than ever to build a following of thousands on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, but what does this prove? Is this an endorsement of the quality of your brand, or evidence that you know how to use Social Media to maximise your exposure?

I’m not a Luddite though because I’ve spent all my working life in the technology space, so I know how it helps people become more efficient. The problem arises when it’s used as a replacement for human interaction and this is happening more and more.

During my career, I’ve used various sales processes that were far too complicated and convoluted. The emphasis was on ‘strategic selling’ by building power maps, identifying buying personas and preference grids and looking for blind spots and red flags. Many processes have now been automated and systems tell salespeople when they should actually call someone. It sounds crazy and it would be funny if it wasn’t true.

I’m not saying you don’t need a sales strategy because you do, but it should be as simple as possible. While some businesses spend far too much time strategising and waiting for the system to tell them the time is right, others are seizing the initiative and actually talking with people.

Let’s be very clear here, the ability to build trust, inspire confidence and develop deep and meaningful relationships can never be achieved by a sales process or a piece of software. People will always make the difference.

Social Media and automation definitely does have a place in business because it enables us to connect with many people at the same time. It’s excellent at building a profile and sharing ideas, but don’t rely on it as your primary means of sales communication. Don’t allow it to dictate how and when you engage with people. Use it to share your big ideas and attract attention and when someone shows interest, call them and start a conversation. That’s where you make a connection and that’s where the selling starts.

John Rees is a sales and marketing consultant and mentor, who specialises in helping businesses who either want to bring a new idea to market or build momentum with an existing one. 

During his career he had sales and marketing roles in the Information Technology sector across Europe, India and North America. He worked with global technology leaders and start-ups who defined new market sectors.

He sold mainframes and minicomputers and witnessed the explosion of new markets created by the development of software application packages.

During recent years he worked with fast growth companies, start-ups and spin-outs and established businesses in many industry sectors. He learned a lot about how to succeed in business, and that’s why he created the Holistic Sale model of business development. This defines world-class ideas that can be used to simplify processes, create a compelling sales story, build a vibrant network of sales opportunities and improve sales performance.

Have you noticed the LinkedIn changes yet?

LinkedIn are gradually changing their look and feel and its not just the way the website will look, see Barack Obama's new profile below, which showcases what all our profiles will move to hopefully very soon!  To request an invite for the new profile go to http://www.linkedin.com/profile/about

Today, I also noticed that they've changed the email layout, which confirms a new connection with the same look and feel.

And furthermore a notification email, showing posts that people have liked and commented on, in a neat summary format.

And the notification email letting you know who endorsed your skills on your profile.

No doubt there will be more changes on the way, like group discussion notifications via email.  LinkedIn's changes in look and feel are very welcome and will significantly differentiate them from other competing social business networks.

Are You Interested in Cost Saving Tips?

Are you a Consumer and also in Business? Then you will be interested in knowing how I have found some excellent suppliers, delivering some excellent savings.

Whenever I research a supplier I evaluate not just the cost but also the customer service ethos, including how they have dealt with my complaints. I am not really convinced that UK suppliers know how to deal properly with complaints, so I will just say that all of them have been satisfactory on that front, apart from one who has been truly outstanding. And yes I do have very high standards when it comes to dealing with customer complaints. I think it comes from my many years in the Textiles Industry and my training within it, which means I am very critical when it comes to receiving customer service, especially when you are connected to foreign call centres, and are given the runaround.

Anyway let's get on with it;

Supplier no.1 is Plusnet

They are a telecoms and broadband company, supplying landline rental, calls and broadband. For the purpose of this article, I am only going to discuss the broadband.

BT have recently upgraded broadband services in the area where I live (Wyre Forest, Worcestershire) and have installed fibre to the green boxes on street corners. It's still copper from there to the house, so it's not cable like Virgin. I have kept looking out for fibre for a while and when I got confirmation that I could get it, I went for it.

So I have fibre broadband for the home/business at £19.99 per month, delivering 55mb download and 18mb upload with an allowance of a massive 250gb per month. This doesn't only satisfy my personal and business requirements, it copes with everyone in the household as well, including accessing internet with iPlayer through the TV, all my video education and my business requirement to upload a lot of videos quickly.

Plusnet are actually owned by BT and only use the BT network. Therefore any upgrades that BT make Plusnet will immediately benefit from this.

If I introduce customers, I can get discounts, so if you are interested, please follow this link.

Click here for information on Plusnet products.

Supplier no.2 is GiffGaff

GiffGaff are a mobile network and run by it's customers, an interesting concept, so as far as I know there are no call centres, but an excellent forum to post questions and interaction via the web with agents.

Freedom from the contract lock-in, when you buy a sim only agreement with a monthly top-up. Your phone does need to be unlocked. So this is what I went through.

I was with T-Mobile, who I haven't had major issues with, but I have just found them too expensive an not very forthcoming with deals. I have been with them for many years and loyalty counts really for nothing when you are in a lock-in contract with a mobile phone company.

  1. I requested T-Mobile to unlock my phone.
  2. I ordered a sim from GiffGaff.
  3. Phone was unlocked, which did take far too long with T-Mobile (30 days and it should only take 10-28 days and costs £15)
  4. I gave T-Mobile also 30 days notice and requested a PAC code, which they gave me straight away.
  5. I activated the SIM online with GiffGaff.
  6. I synched my iPhone with iTunes, plus changed some other settings, which GiffGaff sent via text, which was for MMS settings, although you can do those manually very easily.
  7. I gave GiffGaff via their website the PAC code and when I wanted my number ported across.
  8. They moved my number across on the day I requested and job done.

GiffGaff runs on the O2 network and I know you'll all be thinking, well that went down, but as you will agree that doesn't happen very often, well part from blackberry that is, oops!

Anyway the package I have got with them is just £10 per month, with 250 minutes, unlimited data and unlimited texts, which is a bargain!

If I introduce customers, they get some discount upfront and I can earn points too for discount.

Click here for information on GiffGaff.

Supplier no.3 is 1&1 Internet

1&1 are a hosting company, who provides hosting for my wordpress website, plus domains.

There is not a huge amount to say really apart from the fact that it's easy to use, great support and I mean great support and very good prices.

I also use them for my email against my own domain name and because I use and iPhone, iPad and Mac and they support IMAP for my emails (Internet Message Access Protocol), which means wherever I read my email or delete, its instantly updated on all my devices, which is brilliant.

Same with them, if I introduce customers, I can earn some discount on what I pay.

Click here for more information on 1&1 Internet.

It's really interesting how these companies are very clever in suggesting introductions to others and thereby getting some discounts.  With the advent of Social Media, this is really easy to do, as people like to investigate personal recommendations, as supposed to having to investigate from scratch.

I hope you check them all out and receive the same support and savings I have been able to achieve with these companies. Let me know how you get on!

Success!

Are you spending enough time on LinkedIn?

LinkedIn, is getting more exposure, more prominence for business, headhunters and jobseekers. It's been the dark horse in the race for popularity and it's not there yet and has its issues. Company profiles, are still quite basic, but that will change in the future for sure. Network statistics appears not to be working and hasn't been for quite some months or maybe even years when you see the posts on google.

But they are catching up on all other aspects. Their Facebook style newsfeed, is looking better, the fact that they stopped you from posting via twitter into LinkedIn, means they are driving you to post in LinkedIn first and allowing those to go to Twitter instead.

Initially I balked at this change, but now I can see the potential of it being one way only.

For most business people having a business type relationship, means they prefer to stay away from Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and other such personal consumer type sites.

By posting your updates via LinkedIn, means they can still go to your twitter account if you wish. The great thing is all your personal comments won't now pollute your LinkedIn account.

The trick now is to plan what you wish to post on LinkedIn. The best marketeers have an editorial calendar, planning what they are going to post and when. Allowing for seasonal effects, major events and company announcements, blogs and testimonials.

The recommendation is to post at least once per day, and these posts can be via your business page on LinkedIn or your personal profile. Oh yes the morning is the best time, as you will catch the commuters who are looking at content on their mobile devices.

The beauty of the business page, means you can assign admin rights to colleagues, which means you're not the only one posting content.

Content remains 'King', so be careful on choosing what you post. some guidelines on content type: Your own unique content; blogs, video, interviews, webinars, events, white papers 3rd Party content; industry news, expert third party research, news coverage of your company Sourced; customers, strategic partners, guest posts, linkedin polls, cross posts from linkedin groups, product tests, testimonials

Success with your LinkedIn journey and oh yes, please, please, please put a decent photograph of you on your profile!

What is stopping YOU?

I probably speak to people daily about the power of video and how this is such an important area for businesses to invest in. In fact I have been on about this since 2004, even before the birth and rise of YouTube and yes I was way ahead of my time, even if I say that myself. How right I was, if only I had invested more time and effort, I could have been an Internet billionaire by now. Oh well there's still time! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRC16SEJMmc

And whenever I mention it, they agree, they wax lyrical about YouTube and how they have found stuff on there, which was really useful and how they learned so much from it. Or how they saw this really funny video about a cat and a dog!!

So why is it then that YOU aren't doing it yourself?? I even remember (ok so I am getting on a bit) when websites first started emerging, those horrible American sites with the textured backgrounds, companies were saying that it wouldn't take off and that people wanted to be able to feel something tangible, a brochure or a leaflet, is what they needed. The same people who said that email would never take off, because people wanted a physical letter, and I bet they also said that photography was wrong online and that there was nothing better than having a printed photo, to put into a physical album. You have heard it all before I know you have...

Could these dinosaurs also be the ones who said that social media was for kids and for sharing what you had for breakfast and how they didn't get it? Actually a lot of them are still saying that even now. Yep they certainly are! Ah I nearly forgot of course they also said that music could only be listened to via a physical product like a record or CD, yes even a CD was hard to swallow but they had to give in on that one, because the quality was better.

Back to Video then, let me share an infographic with you. Whether you believe it or not there are a few things I am sure you will accept.

Watching video is fast, you probably watch an average of 5 hours each day, whether through the TV, DVD's and online.

You get what's said in a video very fast, much faster then via the written word.

Most of your senses are engaged with Video, eyes, ears, feeling or VAK as the experts call it Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic. Yes indeed these senses make you remember so much more from watching video. That's why 'the movies' are still so successful because they know how to get you to get a full sensory experience, which makes you want to come back for more and no I am not talking about the popcorn and coke!

Broadband speeds are getting faster and the roll out of fibre across the UK means soon everyone will enjoy over 30mb download speeds and even more over the next few years.

This means the likes of Netflix, Apple, Amazon and many more will see their video download services explode, in the same way music downloads did. And yes there will be the dinosaurs that say that copyright, piracy will be an issue and since when has that stopped anyone?

My appeal to you then is to get engaged with video, whether it's to promote your business, educate your colleagues or communicate to your staff.

JUST DO IT!!

Have you Embraced 'Social Learning'?

The term 'Social Learning' in current days, doesn't mean the same as it did when Bandura did his experiments in the 60's. It encompasses a theory that individuals enjoy learning in a social context, when our learning is discussed and debated.

After all 'everyone has an opinion', and this means that we actually learn more about a topic, news story, event, training intervention, when we can reflect on it and interact with it.

Learning & Development (or training) at school and at work has and will continue to be the holy grail for all education professionals. We're always looking for better ways to engage students and drive a change in human behaviour.

Trouble is millions of $'s & £'s are spent every year to achieve these objectives. And it's so painful to see when the results don't match the spend.

Think about it. The world is at War somewhere in the world and always has been. Consider the economic conditions in most countries currently. If education, training and development works, we would not be in this state of flux. But really think about it. We as humans haven't evolved as much as we like to think. Our nature is closer to animal instinct then we give ourselves credit for.

If we are truly sophisticated and used more of our frontal lobe, which is the part that separates us from animals, then surely we wouldn't be carrying out wars, we wouldn't have an issue with CO2 emissions and global warming, the economies would be running smoothly.

Surely it would? Am I mad? I don't think so, I believe I am quite a rational kind of person, who can usually see both sides of the argument and yes I do see the best in most humans, because after all they should be educated, rational, intelligent and loving beings. And you also know that this isn't always true, but we have to start somewhere and I start with everyone's good until proven otherwise.

Anyway where is this leading us towards?

Oh yes, 'Social Learning'.

Consider the success of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and the latest kid on the block Pinterest.

What do they all have in common? Any idea?

Humans connecting with humans, that's the common thread through all of it. So why is this so important at this time in the world? It has allowed millions of us to have a voice, to discuss, comment and debate on news stories on major world events and on individual stories and their life events.

My theory and its only my theory and it makes perfect sense to me is as follows.

Remember the war? Which one you will say, because there have been so many.

Well let's just talk about World War II.

The War brought people closer, they looked out for each other and they knew more about each other's lives compared to any time in history. Well it's nearly 70 years since the ending of that major war and ever since then we as humans have drifted apart and have become more unconnected.

Social Networking is not an accident or a happy coincidence, it isn't either the creation of a Harvard University graduate or silicon valley's entrepreneurs. Their invention would never have worked if there wasn't the appetite for it.

The old saying ’people buy people first’ applies in social networks too, not just in business. We like to connect to like minded individuals or people that interest us and maybe we can learn something from them!

And yes we do like to learn, we are always learning, the brain collects millions of impressions every day, without us even realising it. If we don't learn we will die. As humans we have an inherent need to grow. But when we think about learning we think about, classrooms, teachers, exams, pressure, stress and recall many unpleasant memories.

We don't perceive consciously that reading tweets, Facebook posts, articles, blogs, watching YouTube videos as learning and of course it is, you are learning all the time.

The learning methodology of 70-20-10, is showing us that actually we learn 70% on the job or in our daily lives, 20% from our colleagues or family members or friends and 10% formally, so that's when we sit in a classroom, either at school or in the workplace.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtdHZQ2VXhE

The development of social networks, will and is changing the world of learning forever. Millions of teachers and trainers are having to adopt these new technologies as part of their delivery methods.

This requires the teacher / trainer to become proficient in these new tools and get their own knowledge of these networks up to scratch. After all their students are using these to learn, so now we better embrace these too and make use of it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2H4RkudFzlc#!

Those that do, will succeed in helping to change the landscape of learning for themselves and students alike. A more engaged student will mean a more connected world and a more connected world will mean a world with more compassion and understanding for our fellow human.

Success!

 

Is your speed reading working?

I am finding the volume of tweets, links, posts, articles a touch overwhelming at times, so this short article explains how I manage this in today's super digital age. Ideally the following tools are needed:

  1. iPad or iPhone
  2. iBooks
  3. Safari or equivalent browser that allows you to save a web page as a PDF
  4. Or a PDF converter
  5. Dropbox

Basically I leverage my iBooks app as much as I can, by saving PDF documents to it for reading later.

Articles and the like come at you like a formula 1 car at top speed sometimes and this is how you can stop it in its tracks.

Apple's Safari web browser is a major plus but not essential.  Whenever you find a link that provides you with an interesting article, but you don't have time to read it, immediately convert or save it as a PDF into Dropbox.

Then retrieve it from your Dropbox on your iPad or iPhone and open it into iBooks.

Now you can decide to read them when convenient to you and not when the article catches your eye via a tweet, email or something else.  Plus you've got the article for future reference in a meeting, discussion with your colleagues or clients.  I've found it very handy.

And if you have found other ways of capturing your links, please do share.

The other way where I can interact with them is on Flipboard, the best iPad and iPhone app in my opinion.

Let me know how you get on.

Success!

 

 

Are you making enough use of Video?

With the majestic rise of YouTube, there really is no excuse for any of us not to be making more use of video in our communications with clients, training of our employees and using it to get our marketing message out.

The images are from an infographic commissioned with research data from the following 3 companies; smallbiztrends.com | getresponse.com | emailmarketingreports.com and gives us an idea about how important video is in email marketing.

It reports that around 80% of small businesses see videos as a vital medium through which to communicate to their audience.  With around 88% of companies considering video most effective in training courses (29%), product demos (22%), product promotions (19%) and customer testimonials (18%).

I have certainly started focussing more on video, whether it is to explain a concept in social media or assist people in getting their marketing message out to prospects.

I have also learned from Fusion Universal, that presentations never need to be dull any longer. Instead of the usual death by PowerPoint it's more effective to create a 2-3 minute video, which you play at the presentation, and gives the client the essence of your proposal.  Then you can spend most of the meeting discussing it, rather then taking up most of the meeting discussing your presentation or demo.

You can literally see the delight on people's faces, when they have just watch a short video and "get it". It solves a massive problem and that is "attention-span". Most of us struggle to concentrate for more than 5 minutes sitting through a presentation.  Our mind is always thinking and even when someone is talking to you, you are thinking.  Even when you are reading this you are thinking and our thinking wanders from thinking about the subject being discussed or presented to our personal thoughts, back and forth.

What we do a lot is deciding whether we agree with something or not and we get ready with our critical questions and objections in the first place.  This I believe comes from our primeval survival response to believing that this may be threatening to us in some way. Therefore I have to ask some challenging questions, to make sure that I will be safe.  Does that make sense?

Anyway enough of the "Philosophy".

My recommendation to you is to investigate the use of video more in your endeavours on the web and with your marketing activities.  It will continue to grow and it's time to become more active with it.

Success!

How effective is your "SoMe" Marketing?

Most of us are now involved with Social Media, whether it's Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube or something else.  And if you're not, well you can't be having as much fun as most of us!

But...how do you know whether you are making progress, there are plenty of "SoMe" gurus, (me included), who will charge you for education and may even do all the hard work for your business with an even heavier fee.

So when I found SplashCube, I was delighted to find something that would help me, guide me, direct me and most of all track me on how well I was doing with my "SoMe" marketing.

They use a clever method, which is now known as gamification, basically a clever algorithm that calculates what you are doing and then produces the results in a clever graphical representation, allowing you to adjust your performance.  Thinks of it as a game that you are playing and every time you need to get better at the game you are told where you need to improve.

After you have connected your accounts to SplashCube, it will analyse what you need to be doing in order to maximise your "SoMe" marketing.

I have not seen anything better as yet, but let me know if you have found something better.

See the example below for my Twitter account.  To be honest (and I always am), you don't need to get an account with them to understand what you required to do, basically just adopt what I am showing you in these images.

In the image at the top of this post, there are some great suggestions on what you need to do for your various  "SoMe" accounts as well, and just to expand on one of them;

Facebook Fan Page |  Ask 2 questions in 6 days | Means that you need to post a question on your Facebook fan page every 6 days as minimum in order to get better exposure and engagement with your fans and grow your fan base.  Get the general idea?

Have a look at the image with Twitter suggestions, just copy these down somewhere and start acting upon them.

What SplashCube does, you can do for yourself, as long as you are disciplined and if you are not, then go ahead and open account with them. (By the way I am not affiliated to them in anyway, I just thought it was a "cool tool", which I felt I should share with you).

Success!

Blogs that wear Clogs...

I have done it, I have resisted doing it for months, but finally I have opened a hosting account with the brilliant 1and1.co.uk and transferred from a ".com" Wordpress account to a ".org", wordpress.org.  And I am delighted with it. Because now I am in charge of my own destiny, and able to make use of the thousands of plugins for Wordpress, develop true social integration and if need be mess with HTML and embed code, when I fancy.

It's quite incredible to think that only a few years ago, creating a website or blog was the domain of web developers, graphic designers, charging "an arm and a leg" to create a website for you.  But now the website is free and the hosting is a just a few pounds per month.  This makes it incredibly cost effective for anyone to have their own website and more importantly be in charge of their own updating as well.

Their is a huge amount of training available either through Wordpress and many others who have created hours of video or tutorials to help you develop your own learning of Wordpress.  And it's all free!  All you need is a bit of courage and a friendly help desk in 1and1.co.uk who give all their telephone support for free to get your hosting up and running.

The other thing I have learnt as part of my Social Media journey, is that blogs are more important then having a standard brochure website.  It means you can be more engaging with your audience, it allows them to understand better what the company is about and what they are up to, through reading or subscribing to their blogs.  Obviously if you are selling via the web then that is different.

Therefore my suggestion is to ditch the website, create an engaging series of videos (we can help with that), which talk about your business and create a "weblog" instead of a "website".

Most of the information you can include on a weblog is the same, it is just displayed differently, no difficult navigation buttons, just a simple clean layout is what is required and I hope that this is what I have managed to achieve here.

I have noticed that a lot of the latest websites have gone for this very clean, white and open design.  And I do like it, because it means my eyes are not distracted from lots of stuff on the site.  Hopefully it means that the viewer will stay on the site longer and will be more interested in making an enquiry.

Anyway I hope you like it and please feel free to leave me some feedback and share the site by using the social media toolbar wibiya.com at the bottom of this weblog.

And if you need any assistance in doing the same, you know where I am!

Success!