Training

Do You Really Know How to Sell?

If you're in business or you're an ambitious sales professional, this post is for you. I know that we all want business but...

You need to read the signs before upsetting to your buyers. Read the email below and let me know what you think?

{I have removed sensitive information in order to protect the email sender}

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I was horrified, not because the email upset me, but because I couldn't believe the tone of the email.

Let me give you the background without giving away who or what it was that I was buying.

After some difficulty, I needed a quote from a third-party in order to fulfil a potential project that I was quoting for. It took me over a week to get a response and that was because my emails weren't getting through to the supplier. In the end it was an IT issue with servers, but still it took some considerable time to sort out. Probably not the supplier's fault, but it happened.

After finally agreeing a quote, which wasn't that easy either, I sent my proposal to my potential client. In the meantime, I'm assisting and sorting out email server issues with my potential supplier. They then send several emails chasing me to see if the project is on or not. That's fine I don't have an issue with chasers and I did warn my supplier that my client had a budget he needed to achieve, so he was probably searching elsewhere.

So after receiving another chaser email from my supplier, I advised them that I had already chased up my potential client and that it was entirely possible that they would be searching for a cheaper price in their local country.

At this stage I have never placed any business with my supplier, so you would have thought that they would hold back a bit. But then that email arrived and I was amazed.

The message here is a simple one. Respect your potential buyer's process and lead-time for getting things done. Do NOT chase too many times.

You have to know when it's appropriate to send a reminder and when it's appropriate to send a chaser. They are not the same! And certainly when you are waiting to get the order confirmed don't send chaser emails.

And then there is the 'UpSelling' tactic. NEVER 'UpSell' when you haven't even got onto first base yet. Why would anyone wish to buy other products when they haven't even experienced your service yet? Especially as the service so far hasn't been that great!

Wishing you massive success always!

uk.linkedin.com/in/stayingaliveuk/

@stayingaliveuk

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How Do You Test Competence?

The biggest challenge facing the UK economy is 'Skills Competence' and not 'Skills Shortage'. Everyone always looks at the glass as being half empty instead of half full. So focussing on 'Skills Competence' is better than focussing on 'Skills Shortage', don't you think? Competence is the holy grail, because assessing someone’s competence allows you to directly know whether they are equipped to do the job or not. We have a competence issue in organisations not a skills issue.

Competence: the ability to do something successfully or efficiently.

Appraisals, Annual reviews, Objective setting, 360 degree reviews or whatever your name is for reviewing someone’s performance doesn't assess competence. You can only test competence by asking the employee directly if they know the answer to a very specific set of questions that relate to ’what’ they need to know as an absolute minimum to do the job competently.

In every organisation things change. New products or services, new managers, changing procedures and processes, re-organisation which causes job changes, new sales and customer service processes, etc.

Job competency is always under pressure when change happens in an organisation and that's all the time.

To truly understand your employees’ competence you need to test them, regularly. Once you know their competence levels, you can do something about it.

Deploying learning materials in large silos (Learning Management Systems) or any other method of e-learning will allow you to teach skills but not competence. When you teach just skills, you have no idea if the learner has remembered the new skill and whether they've actually become competent in that skill. Indeed it takes time to become competent in any skill and usually it takes repetition of carrying out that skill before you become competent.

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We all know the following 4 phases of learning something new, like learning to drive a car:

1. Unconscious incompetence 2. Conscious incompetence 3. Conscious competence 4. Unconscious competence

The 4th phase is where we want our employees to get to as soon as possible, whether it's with Onboarding (Induction) or learning new skills/knowledge.

Every minute, hour, day, week or month that we take to get them as competent as possible, means the organisation is potentially losing money or not growing as fast.

The Psychology of Study goes as far back as 1932, when Mace wrote his book 'Psychology of Study' and the idea of ’spaced repetition’ was first muted. Earlier still we had Ebbinghaus who told us about the forgetting curve. It tells us that for centuries we've been debating how we can get humans to remember more than how to walk.

Let's take learning languages. If you've ever tried to learn a new language, then you'll know that only by repetition will you become competent in that language. Using flash cards are an even better way of learning to remember a new language. Put the English on one side and the translation on the other. Start with 50 cards on day one and when you know you have mastered a few, take those out of the pack and repeat the others. Keep going until you've mastered them all. It's fairly basic but it works.

It's the only way to become competent in that language. Of course you may decide to repeat it in 3 weeks, because unless you are using these sentences regularly, the chances are that you will forget them.

Take this concept into any skill in any organisation where you require it to become a competence in the person who is performing it and you will rapidly and successfully increase competence throughout the organisation.

Deploying this method is now easier then ever, allowing employees to become more competent through the power of mobile. Not only can you test competence and teach new skills, you can report on the overall competence of a group, a department, a division or the overall organisation. It allows you to succession plan, recruit for competence gaps, evaluate competence levels for new projects. It even tests the individuals who took the course, at the point when they are deemed to be ready to be tested over the phone by a real person. A great motivator for the learner to get up to speed and learn properly.

What if such a tool was available today? What a difference it would make to UK "Skills Competence', to the UK economy, to UK competitiveness, to the Economy of Organisations and especially to the people that work in them.

If any of the concepts above touched a nerve with you and you can see an application inside your organisation, please get in touch with me in the first instance. We’ll get a proof of concept rolling out for you within hours and start your organisation’s journey towards 'Skills Competence' quickly.

Wishing you massive success always.

uk.linkedin.com/in/stayingaliveuk/

@stayingaliveuk

 

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.

Do You Have Suicidal Thoughts?

Most of you who are reading this are no longer teenagers. But do you remember having suicidal thoughts when you were? It’s being reported regularly that teenagers these days are very prone to having suicidal thoughts and there may be no logical explanation for it. However it appears to be contagious.

Research showed that 32 per cent of young Britons have had suicidal thoughts, while a similar proportion (29 per cent) of young adults deliberately harmed themselves as teenagers. And more than one in 10 (12 per cent) felt a failure almost every day when they were under 16. http://styin.me/1ewlGuB

- flickr | Ktoine

I read some teenagers twitter feeds (no I wasn't stalking) I was intrigued and yes I was spying on my stepson’s feed because he was saying stupid things and he thought it was private!

But one feed lead to another and I could see a pattern of comments for example; ’I wish I was dead’ and ’I'm so close to taking as much pills as I can right now’ and ’Guys, don't any of you ever kill yourselves. If you are ever feeling suicidal just dm me, you can trust me, and I will try to help you <3 xx’.

At home we even had to call the police, because someone said on twitter that they had actually swallowed a load of tablets. When we also reported this to the head teacher at the school of this youngster, she confirmed that the instances of these are on the rise.

So why are youngsters having these thoughts and why are they sharing these openly with not just their followers, but if they realised, with the whole world!

Is it just attention seeking or is something fundamentally wrong with society, education, parents, nutrition (sugar overdose), lack of exercise, social media, television, gaming, greed, government or something else?

I know teenage years are about self-expression and finding your place in the world around you and yet for some reason they appear to be obsessed with wanting to end it all?

How do parents and teachers deal with this heightened threat of suicidal thinking in kids? Surely this must be playing out in their minds all the time and putting them in a place of fear themselves?

Do teenagers even realise what they are doing with this behaviour? Do they realise this behaviour increases further stress on their parents, who are already under pressure having to deal with a world of expectation, financial worries and keeping their kids happy.

Does one tell them to stop behaving so stupidly or do we take them to counselling? Is it just a phase of hormone development or are there serious underlying issues?

I can't help thinking that when they finally want to find a job their social feeds will be explored by employers (it's not illegal yet), who will find all sorts of silly communication on there and thereby making up their mind about whether to give them that job or not. And unfortunately teenagers don't see that as a potential threat at all!

- flickr | ohmann alianne

If we want our kids to be successful no matter what their background, then we seriously need to tackle this epidemic of suicidal thoughts in young people.

Should this become part of the curriculum at schools, should teachers openly discuss this with students and get them to open up and discuss these feelings in group sessions? Should we encourage their friends to speak up about those that are openly declaring these thoughts?

I haven't got the answers but one thing’s for sure something needs to be done.

What are your thoughts? And if you have youngsters go and talk to them and find out what's going on in their heads, that is if they'll tell you!

Success

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!

What Stage are You at with LinkedIn?

The 4 stages of LinkedIn In all my dealings with clients, I have concluded that their are 4 stages of progress with LinkedIn.

Most members are stuck at stage 1, what I call the 'Profile' stage, where they are still getting to grips with developing a decent profile, that shows what they can do for people or employers instead of 'what' they do.

The objective of course is to get to stage 4, the 'Sell' stage and this is the same for members looking for business or for those looking for jobs or advancing their career.

You do need to commit time and effort to each stage and make sure you are comfortable and confident in applying or completing the stage before moving on.

Each stage prepares you for the next one and its a logical progression. There is no way you can dive in and start 'Social Selling' until you have a decent profile, a decent size network and you know how to behave.

I often say that not having a decent profile with a decent photo is like greeting someone in person with your back turned to them. I still see too many holiday snaps, people posing in the far distance or with family members and mates. Its a disaster and it will NOT win you business or your next job. NO WAY!

When you invite members to connect with you, they will almost certainly look to see if you have over 500+ members. Why? It makes you an attractive connection. Adding another 500+ people to their 2nd level network means they will achieve more exposure on LinkedIn and allows them in turn to find potential prospects to connect to easier too.

If you have 500 connections, who in turn have 500 too, it means your network grows to 250,000 in a heart beat. Now this gives you options and social is a numbers game, sorry but it is. And for those who tell me they are very careful who they connect to and decline people they do not know, you need to wise up to the fact that your network will stay small, because of your small thinking.

Once those two stages are out of the way, you can focus on your behaviour inside LinkedIn and this includes groups, emailing, sharing, liking and commenting. A massive subject taken for granted by most. Oh and it's NOT a promotion campaign that's what the advertising channel is for.

Only after those 3 stages are completed can you think about how to develop leads on LinkedIn.

Hope that makes sense? If you wish to book on the '4 stages of LinkedIn', my price is £200 + vat ($350), for 4 hours of tuition, 13 weeks online support via my LinkedIn group, costed based on the size of your group. £35 ($49) for my 2-hour video course 'Mastering Your Profile on LinkedIn'.

My coaching is over a period of 8 weeks, with a 2-week interval between each stage allowing you to adopt your new learning and implement a new approach.

It's a small investment, if you consider how much potential ongoing annual turnover/profit you will make from just adding one new customer every month to your current business.

I look forward to working with you to make that a reality.

Success!

Have You Ever Studied Ants?

flickr | samantha henneke I was recently in Greece and with temperatures in the 30’s, it's best to take it easy lie by the pool and observe the world around you, OK maybe people watch sometimes!

However even people watching gets boring, so whilst resting on my sun bed in the shade, I started studying the floor beneath me and to my amazement saw this fast moving highway of very small ants. Now usually in hot countries ants are very big, but these weren't and that made them all the more interesting.

As I studied them, I noticed that although their movements appeared random, many were carrying food crumbs back to their colony, which had entrances along a short section of a raised plant border wall. One by one several of these very efficient creatures were collecting these crumbs from all around the pool and taking this very important food stuff back to their colony.

By the way none of them actually ate the food on their journey back, which if you saw how far they were travelling, you would not have blamed them if they had. Now if this was a human doing this, ’collecting free food’, the chances are that it would have been eaten by the time they had completed the journey back.

I also noticed to my amazement that with larger crumbs 2 or even 3 ants would work together to carry it, as it was too big for just one.

This gave me an idea, next time someone in my party came back with cake at tea-time, I would use one of the crumbs and give those hard working ants a challenge. A super large crumb to see how they would manage this.

Have a look and see what happened, I recorded it on video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChZGj9BEQRk

What did I learn?

Ants are ’Team Players’, one ant who passes the crumb and checks it out, decides to start moving it and immediately another ant starts assisting, and then another and another until I counted 12 ants moving a massive crumb. Nobody said, ’that’s not my job’ or ’I’m busy doing something else, or ’its not in my job spec’. They just did it because they know that one ant will never manage it on their own and therefore they just started helping out. The ants who joined in just happened to be passing by, they weren't called from the colony, didn't get an email and nobody checked their calendar to see if they were available.

For me it was just the best possible demonstration of excellent team-work. Wow if business could learn just one lesson from ants and if employees and HR teams could stop their compartment thinking, what a different world we would have around us.

Each morning a few scouts would be up early looking for anything that they might have missed and as the day moved on and more holiday makers sat around the pool, eating and drinking, more ants came out scouting the neighbourhood. Obviously they had developed their knowledge that more crumbs would be available later in the day.

Accordingly more troops were scouting in the afternoon.

So here are 3 takeaways from this story:

  1. Be open to helping out anyone in your wider community or organisation, without being asked for help, ’Just Do It’.
  2. If there is a big task or project happening, go and ask if you can help out. They probably will say ’no thanks’ but make sure you insist, even if it is to make the coffee!
  3. Teach your kids or colleagues the power of team work and share the story of ants. I found this great film on YouTube, which will explain and share the story of ants and their incredible behaviour. Watch it together with your kids or colleagues. Teach them how they can adopt the same approach in life.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-gIx7LXcQM

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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Would you like to help your LinkedIn connections?

One of the major benefits of Social Media, is that you have a real opportunity to 'give' instead of 'take'. Don't get me wrong in the world of business there is a lot of evidence of 'take'. So when I see the largest professional network, LinkedIn, providing us the opportunity to get closer to our connections and help them out, I am pleased and thankful that someone understands the need to 'give' more.

They already gave us 'Skills & Expertise' on your profile allowing your connections to endorse you. However it does come with a health warning from me, because LinkedIn serves up suggestions that are derived from your profile through a clever algorithm hidden in the secret code. They aren't always the ones you want or need for your profile key word optimisation.

Then a new graphic appeared out of nowhere on my profile and although it hasn't got an official name, I will call it 'The comparison graphic'. See below. Thank you to my wife @hippyclair for allowing me to use her profile for example purposes.

 

As you can see the overall graphic compares your skills, interactions and connections on LinkedIn.

On its own it may feel quite dis-heartening if your own graphic is smaller then theirs, but you have to go deeper and you do that by clicking on each individual graphic.

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Skills: If you have more skills then your connection has, it prompts you to do something about it and give them some more endorsements. A great prompt to help them out.

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Interactions: This one is a little bit confusing to me. So it tells me that compared to Clair I've had more likes, comments and shares in the past 30 days. And then prompts me to share an article. I guess to continue with my good work.

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Connections: This one makes more sense. I have more connections then Clair, so it is asking me to suggest some connections for her. Again a good prompt to help out.

They might be small things, but this can really help out your connections and they will appreciate your efforts in supporting their journey on LinkedIn.

"Give a little bit"

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.

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!

Re-Igniting my 'Juicy' Lifestyle!

I discovered the benefits of juicing back in 2004, when I attended Anthony Robbins Health Mastery event in Vieques, which is off the coast of Puerto Rico, it changed my life completely and I started juicing as soon as I got back home. This is 8 years ago. Following that I lost 44 pounds and I felt amazing. My weight has been an issue for me since I was 7 years old. My eldest brother Steven used to make fun of me and told me I looked like a 'Biafran'. These were the kids in Nigeria that were dying from famine in the mid 1960's, during the Nigerian Civil War and we saw photographs regularly on TV and in the press of starving children with huge distended stomachs from protein deficiency, which horrified people around the world.

Here's a photo of me when I was that younger skinny child!  I thought I looked healthy, what do you think?

Now, I am not blaming my brother, because I am the only one responsible for my decisions and what followed was, what I can now regard, as an 'eating disorder' and my addiction with sugar.

I slowly gathered extra kilos and didn't feel good about this, which made me eat more sugary sweets, to compensate for the feeling I had recognising that I was getting heavier and heavier (The Dutch are masters in liquorice and sweets and my Grandfather worked for the Dutch Sugar Company too!).

My Mum told me it was just 'Puppy-Fat' and that I shouldn't worry so much. I believed her although deep inside of me I realised that it wasn't going away.

Cut a long story short, I have struggled with my weight for decades and when I finally shifted the weight in 2004, I vowed that it would never ever happen again, but of course it did…

When I shared with people that I didn't 'do sugar' any longer and that I never wanted chocolate again, they told me not to be so silly and convinced me that I was taking too hard a stance with sugar and should relax a bit. So I did and that was a mistake!

You never tell an alcoholic that they should relax it a bit when they have stopped drinking, in fact we call them a recovering alcoholic and that's what they become for the rest of their lives. Well it's no different with sugar. In fact the issues that alcohol cause in the body, are virtually identical with sugar, see the image below.

Sugar (in the form of chocolate and sugary foods) entered my diet again and it slowly increased week on week, month on month, year on year. And in the past 3 years I have ensured I had my fair share of sugary foods on daily and regular basis.  Besides that most 'label foods' have added sugar to make you want to eat them even more!

I even stopped juicing, which had become part of my lifestyle for years and I was getting major regrets, which made it even worse.

And what's even more ridiculous, I studied this stuff. I am a trained Kinesiologist and I should know better! I also trained to be an exercise trainer in Psychocalisthenics, but gave it up, because I felt a fraud teaching people to exercise, when I was overweight myself.

So I started a new journey back in September 2011 to increase the amount of exercise and upped my cycling regime and I had great success, because I steadily increased my routes and kept adding mileage every week, accumulating 260 miles in a month and even more in October 2011.

But I hadn't changed my diet, so although I was getting fitter and my average heart rate was dropping, the weight wasn't shifting.

So the winter was upon us, my cycling slowed down, because of the weather and the food still hadn't changed. I did 'try' a couple of times to cut out sugary foods, but found it tough with two stepsons, who love sugary food and it's in the house. OK so I could have been disciplined and stop myself from eating it, but I just couldn't resist. Sugar has been an issue for me for over 45 years and the sugar terrorist within me demanded it!

Come January when everyone goes on a detox, weight loss and exercise regime of some kind, I did manage to get back on the bike again and managed 156 miles in the month. Not bad going I thought.  But the weight was still there!

I receive emails from Jason Vale 'The Juicemaster' and I saw that he was organising a worldwide juicefast in January. I didn't join it then and was disappointed that I hadn't. I know juicing works, because I have done it before in 2004/5. When I lost a massive 44 pounds, had a 32" waist, which I can't remember ever having in my adult life!  So why didn't I join in??

So I continued doing nothing about it.  No, it wasn't working, so when Jason Vale sent another email in April suggesting another worldwide event, this time it was called '14-day spring clean', I decided to join it.

I started on the 16th April and within a week lost 6.5 pounds, which I am delighted about. The most brilliant thing of juicing and following Jason's routine is that it stops all the cravings for sugary foods. Once you cut them out for 7 days (and as Jason says, we can all do something for 7 days), you just don't want them anymore. I can truly say that although the snacks, chocolate, donuts, crisps are everywhere around the kitchen for me to see, I just don't fancy them now and in fact, I know that I won't be going back there either, which is the best thing.

Furthermore the fact that this is a 14-day plan, means you are staying off these foods for even longer, reducing the cravings further, literally re-wiring your brain to say, I don't need those any longer in my life.

Here's my testimonial video for the 14-day spring clean.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrtJeL5wEAI

I did it with alcohol back in 2004 and also with meat and I have never needed them again.

Now they say after 30 days whatever it is that you are doing, you will form a habit. So my decision was to continue on Jason Vale's 'Juice Yourself Slim' plan for an extra 16 days, which consists of juices during the day and soup in the evening.

I love the juices and soup has always been a favourite of mine, so I can't see that I will have an issue with it, in fact to be more positive, I will be very successful in doing it.

Of course I will be flexible, as I know I will have some business meetings to attend, which may include lunch, in which case I will just ensure I eat a salad or rice and vegetables. It's not rocket science is it, I just need to be sensible.

After an extra week after the 14-day plan, I was still on target, the weight loss continued and the soups were getting more varied and tastier. I have even begun making my own soup recipes. Making fresh soups is so delicious and healthy too. Jason talks about 'no label' foods and it makes so much sense.

I even found that I have more energy with my cycling, well I suppose you would have when you are roughly a stone lighter. I set myself a target to lose 10kgs or 22 pounds by the end of June. And I am already 60% there after just 3 weeks in early May, so I guess I need to revise my target to the end of May! At time of writing this, I have lost so far 16 pounds in just 3 weeks.  It really is amazing what you can achieve when your mind has decided to change forever!

Weight reduction chart in kgs.

Whilst doing this I also found some great videos to motivate me.

There is one by Robert Lustig, it's over and hour long but well worth it. Then the University of California also released a short series of videos by Robert Lustig. So I am sharing both of these with you here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

Some fascinating new research on the effects of sugar on the brain and how in the past 30 years we have managed to switch off the hormone leptin, which tells the brain that we are full. This phenomena has been caused by the amount of insulin that gets secreted when we over eat sugar. But watch the videos and that will explain all.

My clothes are getting looser on me and I can already visualise the fact that I will be wearing those smaller clothes which are in storage. Thankfully I held on to them knowing that one day again I would fit in them again. And I know I will very soon.

Jason talks about 'Freedom from the Diet Trap' and he's absolutely right. I know in myself that I haven't been free for years and that now I know that I am free.

Watch Jason's video here;

It's taken me decades to get to this point and then again I am a classical case of going through the 6 stages of change, where I managed to change back in 2004, but relapsed and went back to the start of the 6 stages of change and my sugar addiction. This has been well researched and below is the link to the article to give you more insight about it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transtheoretical_model

Note: as with all these things, there are some criticisms on this, but you have to see if it makes sense and relates to you and certainly it relates to me perfectly.

I am pleased to say that I feel and know in myself that I have reached the final stage, which is described as;

'Individuals have zero temptation and they are sure they will not return to their old unhealthy habit as a way of coping'.

If you want to learn more on how to do this, please go to www.juicemaster.com and join the thousands of us that have become free from the 'diet trap'!

Success!

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!

 

Do you really make assumptions all the time?

I read a fascinating article in Wired magazine by Jonathan Lehrer, where he discusses the phenomena of our brains making assumptions on how things work, based on a set of data that we have collected.  In fact we collect data in our brains all the time.  And when we analyse data we start making all sorts of assumptions and conclusions based on that data.

And of course we can never have enough data to make our decisions on and at some stage we have to decide that we have enough of it to base our decisions on.

And this happens all the time in the most dangerous industry in the world, pharmaceuticals.  This article highlights some lessons for us all on how we make assumptions all the time in our private, business and social lives.

I have extracted what I believe to be the important constituents from his article:

On November 30, 2006 executives at Pfizer - the largest pharmaceutical company in the world held a meeting with investors at the firm's research centre in Groton, Connecticut.  Jeff Kindler, the then CEO began the presentation with an upbeat assessment of the company's efforts to bring new drugs to market.   He cited "exciting approaches" to the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, fibromyalgia and arthritis.  But Kindler was most excited about a new drug called torcetrapib, which had recently entered Phase III clinical trials, the last step before filing for approval.  He confidently declared that it would be "one of the most important compounds of our generation".  Kindler told investors that, by the second half of 2008, Pfizer would begin applying for approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  The success of the drug seemed a sure thing.  And then, just two days later, on December 2, 2006, Pfizer issued a stunning announcement: the torcetrapib Phase III clinical trial was being terminated.  Although the compound was supposed to prevent heart disease, it was actually triggering higher rates of chest pain and heart failure and a 60% increase in overall mortality.  The drug appeared to be killing people.  That week, Pfizer's value plummeted by $21 billion (£14 billion).

The story of torcetrapib is one of mistaken causation.  Pfizer was operating on the assumption that raising levels of HDL cholesterol and lowering LDL would lead to predictable outcome: improved cardiovascular health.  Less arterial plaque.  Cleaner pipes.  But that didn't happen. (According to a recent analysis, more that 40% of drugs fail Phase III clinical trials).

The problem was, it's this assumption that causes a strange kind of knowledge.  This was first pointed out by David Hume, a Scottish 18th-century philosopher.  

He realised that, although people talk about causes as if they are real facts - tangible things that can be discovered - they're actually not at all factual.  Instead, Hume said, every cause is just a slippery story, a catchy conjecture, a "lively conception produced by habit".  When an apple falls from a tree, the cause is obvious: gravity.  Hume's sceptical insight was that we don't see gravity - we see only an object tugged towards earth.  We look at X and then at Y, and invent a story about what happened in between.  We can measure facts, but a cause is not a fact - it's fiction that helps us make sense of facts.

The truth is, our stories about causation are shadowed by all sorts of mental short cuts.  Most of the time, these work well enough.  They allow us to discover the law of gravity, and design wondrous technologies.  However when it comes to reasoning about highly complex systems - say the human body - these short cuts go from being slickly efficient to outright misleading.

Consider a set of classic experiments designed by Belgian psychologist Albert Michotte, first conducted in the 40's.

His research featured a series of short films about a blue ball and a red ball.  In the first  film, the red ball races across the screen, touches the blue ball and then stops.  The blue ball, meanwhile, begins moving in the shame basic direction as the red ball.  When Michotte asked people to describe the film, they automatically lapsed in the language of causation.  The red ball hit the blue ball, which caused it to move.  This is known as the launching effect, and it's a universal property of visual perception.  Although there was nothing in the two-second film - it was just a montage of animated images - people couldn't help but tell a story about what had happened.  They had translated their perceptions into causal beliefs.  Michotte would go on to conduct more than 100 of these studies manipulating the films.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_jKNlC2YKo

There are two lessons learned from these experiments.  The first is that our theories about a particular cause and effect are inherently perceptual, infected by all the sensory cheats of vision.  Hume was right that causes are never seen, only inferred, but the truth is we can't tell the difference.  And so we look at moving balls and see causes, melodrama of taps and collisions, chasing and fleeing.  The second lesson is that causal explanations are oversimplifications.  This is what makes them useful - they help us grasp the world at a glance.  

The article is far too long for me to include everything in it and I have not been able to find it online either.  However I think I have got the main message from it.

And the question I pose to you, is:  What assumptions are you making today, that are based on incorrect date or not enough data or just that you have perceived the information  in a certain way?  Is the red ball chasing the blue ball instead of them just moving independently of each other?

And then there is the other old saying: "Perception is Reality"

Success!

Interested in the Secret Garden of LinkedIn?

There is a manual, but nobody reads it, which means most of you just dive in, try and get away with the minimum and then feel overwhelmed because you haven't taken a few minutes to do some studying. I am of course talking about myself (own up if you thought it was you) and even though I have done my studying, I still find nuggets of short cuts in social media platforms, that nobody has ever told me about.

Numero Uno.  If you are using the LinkedIn app on your phone, I am discussing the iPhone app as I don't know about Android, then you are able to view your contacts, search for new connections make new connections.  Very useful.

Secret no. 1. You can invite anyone via this app, unless they have set some privacy settings, which most people do not know how to do, or haven't bothered with.  I believe in openness which is how social media works best.  For example if you want to connect to Barack Obama, do it inside the app.  Normally If you searched for Barack via the LinkedIn website and click connect you get the box below to complete.  I don't know about you but I don't have Barack's email address, so this where the journey normally ends.

But if you search for him via the app, you get this.

Click invite to connect and providing he hasn't activated his privacy settings you should get the following message.  Note the blue confirmation at the bottom, saying invite sent.

Secret no. 2.  You can also achieve this through the LinkedIn website, however you need to have someone connected to you, who has Barack Obama as their 1st connection.

First you need to go Barack Obama's profile and confirm that he is in your 2nd level down, As shown below. If it says 3rd or higher, then it's a much tougher task.

Then you can view who of your connections is directly connected to them.

Then check each of your connections to see if their contacts are openly shared or not.  I was able to find one of them who had their connections open.  Then click on them and via their profile click on their connections.  It takes a while to find him, because there is no search facility as such, but all contacts are sorted alphabetically, so it doesn't take that long.

Once you have found him, you will see a small + sign plus the word 'connect', as shown below.

Click on it and you will get the following popup box.

You can now add a personal message and click send invitation.  No need to have his email address as shown earlier.

Note:  Of course I am using Barack Obama as an example here, this will work for anyone that you are trying to connect to.  This is where having more connections to people who also have large connections allows you to find the right people you wish to be connected to.  And by the way this is free of charge as well!

Note of caution:  Only us this method if you know the person.  People can mark your invites as 'unknown' and you could be banned from LinkedIn after collecting too many 'unknowns'.

Numero Twoo.  I love business networking, but the biggest challenge always is those business cards.  What do you do with them?  I bet you have them in a neat pile on your desk or shelves, close by.  But guess what you never go back to them.  That's why LinkedIn is brilliant.

Here is my routine.  As soon as I get back to the office from networking and I might have a stack of business cards, I find them on LinkedIn, send a nice message out to them and hopefully they will connect.  For those that are not on Linkedin, unfortunately, you will be forgotten forever, because I don't stand a chance to remember you, sorry.  Better get yourself on there.

But how do I get these contacts into my address book?  I have tried typing them in manually, takes forever.  I have used scanners, they work but too much editing.  I have now got an app on my iPhone to scan them, so they go direct into my phone address book and sync with my computer, that worked really well also.

However now here comes the gift for you!

You can download them all direct from LinkedIn directly into your address book on your iPhone, (sorry don't know about Android) and it pulls in all their details, email, phone if they have listed and their picture (providing they have a picture on LinkedIn!).  So now when you look at your address book, you can link the name with the picture and no more embarrassing moments when you meet them next.  It's very easy to do and it does work very well.

Go to your profile inside the app, click on connections, you will see a small icon top right above your connections as below.

Click on it and then you will get the next page, where you can download your contacts directly to your iPhone.

And if you have iCloud enabled those contacts will sync on all your devices.

This is the best discovery I have made for ages and will save me loads of time!

Happy gardening!

Are you afraid of LinkedIn?

(135 million+ LinkedIn professionals around the world as of November 3, 2011)

I attended a recent networking event and chatted with business people, who were there because like me they would like more business.  I was taken aback a little when 2 people that I spoke to out of the 5 that I met, who shared with me that they were "afraid" of LinkedIn.

I use the term "afraid" on purpose because, when I asked them whether they were on LinkedIn, which is a standard question I ask every business person I meet, their faces filled with horror and then they shared with me the reasons why they either weren't there or why they were very very careful who they connected to.

Maybe I am the naive one, but my philosophy with Social Media is to either be active in it and play full out or stay out of the game, you can't be half in and choose when to come out and play and when to stay at home.

But it got me thinking, maybe there are more of you out there, who are "afraid" also, so I wanted to write this article to appeal to your more liberal side, the part of you that has courage and is willing to take a few risks, because you know you've got that part inside of yourself, don't you?

Here are the "fears" that were raised with me today:

  • People who I have never met or spoken to, ask to be connected to me on LinkedIn, why?
  • They tell me that they are wishing to grow their networks; well they are pulling me into the same mindset and I do not wish to be part of it!
  • I am very choosey who I connect to, because I only wish to be connected to people, who I have met and I have got to know them and what they are about
  • What if they start calling my contacts and telling them that they know me, when really they do not?

And I am sure there could have been more.  The real reason for the "fear" is actually ignorance and I don't mean that in a negative way, I actually believe it is really positive, because there is a fantastic opportunity to educate people.

I consider LinkedIn as my virtual business networking database.  LinkedIn is actually very ethical, it is run with the same principles as face to face networking and yes of course it is ideally best to have met that person or at least to have spoken to them.  However business is a numbers game and in order to have some influence in your business community you do need to connect with people who can be in your circle of influence.

It is good to build a relationship with people who you have not yet met face to face and yes try and do that even if you are only connected virtually.  Actually LinkedIn is so transparent, they can learn about you, your history, your experience, your business goals and learn so much more, which you would never be able to share at a face to face networking event.

We all need to do more with less, so LinkedIn is the perfect vehicle to network, without the expense of attending networking events, breakfasts, lunches etc.  It is becoming more acceptable to do things virtually and of course I appreciate it's not everyone's "cup of tea".

We need you all to start getting into the game and changing your mindset, because this is only going to continue to grow and we would like you to be there with us and be part of the journey.

There is a huge amount to know about LinkedIn and I have witnessed the massive changes it has undergone in the past few years, which I promise you will continue, especially as they have gone public now.

Below I have shared my own network stats on LinkedIn and you can see the reach you can have with only a few connections.  They say that the level below your direct contacts are where your real business opportunities lie.  You can see that I have 365,000 connections that are 2 degrees away from me.  That's just unbelievable and I could never imagine that I would be connected to so many people.  However if you notice carefully Linkedin, presents a small box to you every time you log in, which says "people you may know".  And when you click through you will see a list of page after page with people that are 2 degrees away from you.  Well the same is presented to everyone that goes on LinkedIn and is active on there and that's how you get noticed, that's when people view your profile.

I hope you take on board what I am trying to convey, but just in case you don't, I would be happy to explain some other finer points to you at any time, just post a comment or question on here.

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).

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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!

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Lord Digby Jones | Fix Britain and Standing for Mayor

John Duckers reports on a speech by Lord Digby Jones on whether he intends to stand for Birmingham mayor. LORD Jones of Birmingham says an elected mayor for the city is not enough – we need an elected mayor for the West Midlands.

Speaking to Birmingham Business Breakfast Club at the Botanical Gardens, he insisted he had not yet decided whether he would stand because of the lack of clarity over the powers available.

"I am not too sure an elected mayor for Birmingham is what we should be campaigning about," he told the 120-strong gathering.

"We should be campaigning about an elected mayor for the West Midlands. The issues are about the region; not just Birmingham."

An elected mayor should govern for Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Coventry, with each of the constituent cities able to elect a representative to the mayor's cabinet.

What would the powers of an elected mayor be, he asked?

Would a mayor be able to go into schools and say 'This is how it is going to be' in a bid to address poor literacy and numeracy standards?

Controversially, Lord Jones would stop the benefits of parents whose children failed to reach basic levels, offering them only food coupons so they wouldn't go hungry.

Would an elected mayor be able to implement an integrated transport system to reflect expansion of the airport, HS2 and possibly a Crossrail for Birmingham? Or would elected mayors be mere "glorified council leaders"?

"They should have the same powers as Boris Johnson in London and Alex Salmond in Scotland. There are 5.3 million people in the West Midlands, the same size as Scotland.

"I want these questions answered before I make a decision on whether to stand. I genuinely don't know. I have not made up my mind."

But he quipped: "I would make a lousy politician.....because I tell the truth."

He said he was in favour of HS2 but only if the route was changed to go through the existing "pollution corridor" along the M40 and Chiltern rail line.

And if that meant spending a bit more to sort out bends and inclines, then it should be done.

But he was cautious on how many jobs would come to the region as a result.

"It will create jobs here but it won't create long term sustainable jobs. Birmingham, and particularly south Birmingham, will become the northernmost suburb of London. A lot of work will go down south."

Lord Jones was one of the four founders of the BBBC in 1983 and was quickly bantering with old legal mate John James.

To get the club running, it was decided the four would all bring a chum to the next get-together and Digby invited John.

"It was a case of either JJ got up and came to the breakfast or he got up and went home."

To read John Duckers blog follow this link: http://www.duckersanddiving.co.uk

To hear the full speech, please listen to the recording below.