How Do You Share Content?

As part of your journey into ’Social Selling’ and becoming your own ’Personal Brand’, you will inevitably need to share content. You don't always need to write your own content, although it’s obviously better if you did. Not everyone likes writing, certainly it took me a few years before I started blogging.

So curating and sharing other’s content is OK, providing it adds value to your own authority on your subject matter.

So how do you do it? Or rather how do I do it?

First we have to answer a few questions. Why share content in the first place?

Well, it shows that you are interested in your subject matter and more importantly that you wish to share it with your network and maybe, just maybe they will get something from it. Don't be concerned about not receiving any comments, likes or shares, that should definitely NOT be the reason for sharing your content.

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However they might and it's that possibility that should encourage you to keep sharing. You just don't know where it could lead to.

I use just 3 apps for doing all my curating and sharing.

Firstly the best sharing app that I use is ’Buffer’.

I have written a separate blog on buffer, so go ahead and read more about it there.

The second app is Flipboard, where I follow different streams that are closely connected to my subject matter, plus all the posts from people I follow.

The third app is ’Pulse’, a LinkedIn app, which allows me to find more content, by LinkedIn Influencers and many other news streams.

Buffer allows me to email all content I find on the web, either via these apps or generally on the web.

I have set my buffer to share the content 3 times per day, meaning my content is posted automatically in the morning, lunchtime and evening. Times of the day that people are most likely to browse their mobile devices.

I will add additional content now and again on a more spontaneous basis. And I also add some personal comments now and again about any subject I wish. This will hopefully show people that it's not all about business and they will see my personality come through too.

So it's time to start writing, get searching, reading and finally sharing. Have fun and ensure that you have your audience in mind when sharing content.

Wishing you success always!

Are You a Social Ninja?

Social Media is not actually that old and the networks that dominate the Internet with our insatiable appetite for everything social are growing at an alarming rate. Thousands of small social media advisors have popped up all over the place, well actually all over the planet and everyone these days is an ’EXPERT’.

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But will we all be looking back in years to come and say to each other...what were we thinking?!

We spend all those hours on social media when just a few years ago it didn't even exist.

What will you do when it stops? Because knowing how fussy we are as humans, it will inevitably stop at some stage, plus when a younger generation have developed something more interesting and more engaging, 'like' video conferencing instead of typing.

With google hangout (have you tried it yet?) you can video conference with up to 9 people, share your desktop, share YouTube videos and SlideShare. And the quality is excellent!

But...there is still no substitute to meeting people face to face and discussing opportunities.

This is where my 'social selling' concept comes in. It's the perfect blend between social media interaction and face to face meetings.

There are just 3 key things involved with Social Selling.

1. The LinkedIn Connection 2. The Phone Call 3. The Meet Up

Connecting with prospects or connections who can introduce you to prospects has never been easier, providing you know how to behave. LinkedIn is the best vehicle in the world right now that allows you to do this. After all with 2 new professionals joining every second, that's 63 million 72 thousand per year, which means in 5 years time it will have an extra 315+ million on top of the current 259 million. Pretty impressive!

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Connecting on LinkedIn is not the final deal though, yes you can be lucky but the chances are that nobody will buy from you unless they know you. This is where the Phone call comes in. Schedule a call with your connection to explore how you can help them, note how you can help ’them’ and not the other way around!

The Phone call is not the final deal either, once you believe that you can help them an even better way to make the connection is meet up for a coffee or maybe even lunch.

Only a combination of all three will get you closer to making that next deal.

Hope that makes sense and if not, join me on my next #LinkedInstinct Masterclass.

Success!

Did You Take Part in My Survey?

Confident businesspeople Background

I've been a serial business networker for many years, but questioned the ROI only in the past 12 months. And the main reason was because I started using LinkedIn in a more effective and productive way to do my networking with existing and new connections.

So here are the results of my survey. I had actually estimated previously the amount of time business professionals spend doing networking and estimated the cost annually. But this estimate is now backed up by this survey result.

Survey Results:

50% go to 1-4 networking events per month

50% spend on average 2.5 hours at networking events

50% spend 45 minutes travelling to networking events

50% always connect via LinkedIn afterwards

68% consider Linkedin as a networking tool

Here are my previous calculations of the cost of networking:

Cost of event, lets say £20 (non-membership events) Cost of travel to and from, lets say £10 Parking is free sometimes, I know, but City Centre events maybe £5

Time taken to travel on average lets say 20 minutes x 2 = 40 minutes Time at event on average 2 hours Lost productivity time, stopping and starting project work 30 minutes

Total monetary costs £35 Total approx 3 hours @ a modest £40 per hour lost time = £120 Total costs £155 Across the month for just 2 events £310

Total cost per year £3,720 (this is a conservative estimate)

Add to that any club membership if you have any or do the calculation for that instead.

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A LinkedIn premium account will cost you just £155 per annum allowing you to achieve so much more in terms of targeting the precise contacts you wish to get in front of.

Networking events are great to meet with local people, however it will always be a ’pot luck’ approach in terms of meeting the right kind of people for your business development.

And the amount of time (potentially 6 hours per month, a full working day) means that you could have found at least 30 new connections on LinkedIn that are on target for your business and start communicating with them. How many targeted connections would you have found at networking events.

Please don't get me wrong, face to face meetings are vital, but not with people who can't deliver you business. If you are just having a social, then that's perfect. But if you are looking for serious business then my suggestion is STOP hoping for 'Pot Luck'.

Wishing you Success Always!

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Will You be an E-MENTOR?

Student of economy Can you spare around an hour a week to be an E-MENTOR to help guide a 16-19 year old student on their path to a successful future?

I've been chatting with Diane Vernon,(http://www.linkedin.com/pub/diane-vernon/6/1a7/990), at Career Academies UK and she was telling me about their fantastic new programme called Career Ready. To work successfully they need to find willing volunteers to be E-MENTORS from the business world.

Mentoring is a crucial factor in helping a young person succeed in finding a job or place at University.

As an E-MENTOR you would communicate with a student via a new secure digital platform, as part of a structured programme. This eliminates the need to be located near your student or arrange meetings face-to-face. All E-MENTORS are DBS checked and trained by Career Academies UK.

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You know the stats on unemployed young people in the UK, I don't need to remind you of that and if you've always thought of wanting to make a difference, you can do this now by contacting Diane Vernon at diane.vernon@careeracademies.org.uk or speak to her direct on 07786 170588.

You can read/download the full E-MENTOR pack by going to

http://styin.me/e-mentoringpack

Thank you for your support, I really appreciate it. I know this will be very rewarding for some of you.

I will be joining the programme myself!

Warmest regards and wishing you success always!

Michael 07866 471596

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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

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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!

 

 

 

 

Are You a Milkman?

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I was awake at 4.30am the other day and heard our milkman drive up outside our house and deliver a pint of milk on the doorstep.

At that precise moment, I felt a lot of appreciation for our milkman and I am also very impressed for his dedicated customer service.

Clair, my wife, tells me that he has been her milkman for 11 years and when she moved house 7 years ago, he continued to deliver to her new house, because his depot wasn't far from where we now live.

That means we are the only customers in the street he delivers to. That is unbelievable customer service and I can't think of any business that would even consider doing that!

What a great example the British milkman sets for business leaders far and wide.

He has NEVER missed a day of delivery, he has never phoned to say that he was sick or he is going on holiday. He has never stayed away when the country has come to a standstill because of snow or flooding.

This guy, the trusted British milkman, ALWAYS delivers, without fail!

Can you imagine that?

What if, just what if every leader, every worker, every self-employed person, could behave and deliver like the British milkman.

What country would we be living in today? A successful one? A brilliant one!

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Are You Losing Growth on LinkedIn?

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Members are losing growth because they are using the mobile LinkedIn app.

Since I started using LinkedIn seriously, I made sure NEVER to invite new connections with the standard LinkedIn invite sentence, 'I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn'.

It made a massive difference to growing my network and reach and I'm pleased with my progress.

I teach others to always use a personal message and write something to make the invite personal. All of you know this right?

So why has the standard invite not been changed?

And why hasn't mobile given us the same opportunity for sending a personal message?

Now that LinkedIn is being opened up to a bigger and younger audience, guess how they will invite someone? Correct, via mobile! Guess how many rejections they will receive? Loads.

Why? Because business professionals are saying that they will not connect to someone they don't know and especially if they don't include a personal message.

Mobile will by far be the biggest opportunity for LinkedIn growth, most new members wish to grow their network fast, especially young people, as they are keen and excited with a new opportunity like LinkedIn.

They've been used to just invite hundreds of school friends on Facebook and follow like crazy on Twitter. It will be wrong for them to replicate their behaviour from those platforms, but we both know that they won't and will make a massive mistake but just sending out tons of invites, by clicking on ’connect’ against profiles showing up on their mobile devices.

Please Mr. LinkedIn, please change the way that you can invite members to connect on mobile and please, change the standard #LinkedIn invite sentence or at least add a flag that says, say something personal.

The ’only invite people you know’ message just doesn't work anymore.

Looking forward to some positive action from you Mr. LinkedIn.

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Have you used Buffer app yet?

Screen Shot 2013-09-21 at 08.59.03 You may not have used Buffer as yet, but I'm here to tell you that if you haven't then you MUST. Of course only if you are involved in posting on different social media platforms for your own business or you are doing it on behalf of the business you work for.

So let me summarise what in my opinion are the MAJOR benefits of Buffer.

It's a very simple app, that is focused on doing one thing really very well

It works elegantly on all mobile devices as well as your desktop or laptop browser

You can post direct from any browser by installing the plugin, which allows you to buffer anything that you come across on the web

You can install a sharing button on your own website for other buffers to use When you send your posts to buffer it does exactly what it says, it puts them in a buffer and releases the post based on your preferred time schedule, which you set-up in advance for each account

You can set up many different channels and after a recent update the following channels can be activated; Facebook (personal), Facebook (company page), LinkedIn (personal profile), LinkedIn (company page), LinkedIn (group), Twitter, Google+ (company page), Google+ (personal profile not yet available).

The ability to send an email to all your active accounts in one go and the post will be scheduled according to your time schedule

The app also provides analytics on the posts, which you are able to collate and monitor If you don't want to auto schedule your post based on your pre-determined time schedule, you can customise a specific date and time for specific posts

You are not distracted by other streams from your connections as with other scheduling apps

If you just want to share something instantly, you can do it in the moment and of course it will go to all your active channels

You can switch certain channels off to be included in the auto schedule and instead included as and when you wish

If you have your own URL shortener it will automatically convert it to your own URL. Needs a bit of organising but it works very well!

Buffer’s team are awesome and give fantastic customer service

They write brilliant blogs and not just about their service

Here's a blogpost sharing great tips for using buffer tog tether with a cheat sheet with shortcuts.

20130913-231249.jpghttp://blog.bufferapp.com/top-hidden-buffer-hacks-features-social-sharing

Enjoy it and if you need any help, let me know or just contact @bufferapp.

Success!

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!

Would You Buy Me a Hot Chocolate?

20130818-192017.jpg If we met up would you buy me a Hot Chocolate?

You may or may not have seen that I’m doing the London to Brighton bike ride on Sept. 8th for charity. I'm an ambassador for KEMP Hospice in Kidderminster and I’m actively involved with some fundraising events.

So now I’m promoting my own! I am fundraising specifically for ’KEMP for Kids’. ’KEMP for Kids’ provides essential support for young people who have lost a loved one in their family.

The difference KEMP are making to these Kids is just amazing. So I decided to ride 54 miles and navigate across a massive hill in order to raise some pennies for this great cause.

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So instead of buying me that Hot Chocolate you can donate the price of one! The average Hot Chocolate I reckon costs about £2.50.

I'm really grateful for your support! By the way as part of my training for this event I have already cycled about 600 miles and it will probably be closer to 900 by the Sept.8th. So it maybe 54 miles on the day, it's the preparation that has clocked up the miles, together with some sore legs along the way.

Donate £2.50 via http://styin.me/kempbrighton

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3 Must Do's to Win Business and Get More Leads

flickr | draken413o LinkedIn connection Mark Langston of Crystal Thought asked me to contribute to a blog he's writing. He wanted '3 Must Do's to Win Business and Get More Leads'.

Well that's a tough one, I can think of loads. Its easier to say what 3 things you must do when you get up in the morning then decide which are the '3 Must Do's to Win Business and Get More Leads'. Bathroom, Shower, Breakfast and sometimes in reverse order!

In my view the following 'Must Do's' are quite basic and of course as we know the basics are often forgotten.

So here goes;

1. Stop talking about yourself and start listening!

You have two ears, two eyes and JUST one mouth. A common mistake I see all the time is over-promotion. STOP! When you engage with someone either face to face or online, listen, watch and learn. Its in the stories they tell you, they share the secrets of what they need. SHUT UP! Do not be tempted to jump in and solution sell at the first opportunity of hearing their need. It could well be a false direction they are trying to send you in and after all nobody will truly say what they are struggling with. That would be too obvious, too revealing, too embarrassing and definitely not English. All is actually OK, if the government just got their act together, we would be OK. DON'T! Get drawn into politics, focus on the job in hand and ask the most important question, which is; 'What Else?'

2. How can you assist in ways that are not profitable for you but profitable for your prospect?

Business is built on trust and the fastest way to build trust is to do something for someone without expecting anything back in return. When doing your listening whether face to face or online, listen out for clues as to who they wish to meet and who their ideal prospect is. In fact if they don't give you those clues, which actually most people don't, then you MUST ask the question. It is highly probable that you know someone, who knows someone and before you know you could make an introduction. With the power of LinkedIn this is now very easy to do. Its YOUR job to deliver the potential prospect to your prospect. Trust is built on what you DO for people, not what you COULD do for them.

3. Its a numbers game, but they don't add up until you get personal!

Yes indeed, you have to kiss a few frogs before you find the ideal prospect, however you also need to get to know your network better than you actually do. In my experience you have an intimate network of only 150 people. I call these the 'Power 150'. These are the ones you need to leverage more than you are actually doing. Can you tell me what these 150 people do, who they want to get in front of and what their personal aspirations are? Whether you meet them face to face or via a video call, it doesn't matter, but get intimate, get to know who they are and what their business is about. They are the ones who will help you find the business that you need. As humans we will remember those that make the most noise. I'm not saying be noisy, but definitely be there alongside them, so they notice you. So now go and make a list of your 'Power 150'!

To get more FREE tips on social selling you can visit; http://stayingaliveuk.com/linkedinstinct/

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!

My Cycle Challenge for Kemp Hospice

Screen Shot 2013-07-22 at 16.09.38I'm passionate about giving back and do my bit for my local community. So a few years ago I decided to investigate how I could help my local hospice, which is KEMP Hospice. I started out becoming a volunteer in the warehouse and supporting the team with sorting donated items.

I then became an ambassador for Kemp and help them get started with their digital social media efforts.

And I'm pleased to say that together with the wider ambassador team, we are now organising some new and exciting events for the charity starting in 2013.

And I've always wanted to do a personal challenge. I love cycling, well I'm a Dutchman so you would expect that! So when KEMP Hospice announced that there was an opportunity to do the London to Brighton cycle ride, I jumped at the opportunity.

Why? A personal challenge to support a charity is not only rewarding for the charity but hugely satisfying on a personal level too and something you will never forget.

KEMP Hospice do some amazing things for the local community and their efforts in their new 'children bereavement service' has been hugely successful. So my fundraising efforts are targeted towards this work, as I personally believe it is hugely important. I personally lost my own parents when they were very young. I was 25 when I lost my dad and although I was not a child any longer, it affected me deeply even at that age.

The London to Brighton bike ride is 54 miles (86.9km) long and takes place on the 8th September. One week later on the 15th September I will be 54. I didn't realise this coincidence until after I had booked on the ride, a nice surprise and a very appropriate time for me to do this ride!

So I've started my training, 330 miles so far after day 14, which will be interrupted by a holiday but I will have a further month of further training before the big day!

If you fancy sponsoring me you can do this via;

http://styin.me/kempbrighton

Follow my progress via @stayingaliveuk

Screen Shot 2013-07-22 at 19.47.35

 

What can The Workplace learn from Social Media?

culture map flickr - dgray_xplane For decades organisations across the globe, are searching for the holy grail, ’Employee Engagement’.

Engagement levels are on the rise globally but shifting across regions. Although the economic impact of the recession continues to rebound in some areas and recess further in others, engagement levels rose slightly to 60% in 2012, up 2 percentage points from 58% in 2011. We see the largest engagement increase in Europe (improving 5 percentage points) and Latin America (improving 3 percentage points). North America’s engagement decreased slightly by 1 percentage point—particularly in the U.S., where engagement dropped 3 percentage points—and Asia Pacific remained the same. [Source: AonHewitt: http://www.aon.com/attachments/human-capital-consulting/2013_Trends_in_Global_Employee_Engagement_Highlights.pdf]

So globally we've pretty much stayed about the same, which means 40% of employees are NOT engaged. But what does engagement actually mean?

Does it mean they show up but nobody is at work? They do the basics but nothing extra? They prefer not to get involved in those famous ’let’s be a team’ activities?

Or...people are busy with life, work is just a part of it and they carry their worries with them wherever they go including into the workplace? After all we have just one brain and leaving your troubles at home, just doesn't work, because our brain goes with us wherever we go.

But Social Networks have exploded and people are very engaged there! So what happened there?

I've been fascinated by Social Networks for the past 5 years, not only have I actively engaged with them, I've wanted to understand why everyone loves them so much.

That's when I decided to write ’Do Social Networks Sell Drugs?’

So here's the bombshell, we are not loving our workforce enough it’s as simple as that. Many years ago I was involved in the Health and Wellness industry and tried to alert organisations of the need to improve their wellness efforts at work. One of the ways that I suggested they did this was through an online survey called the ’Wellness Inventory’.

I remember presenting this to a major building society in the UK to the HR Director. One of the items on the ’Wellness Inventory’ that people had to answer questions for was an item called ’Love’. He saw this and immediately said; ’actually we don't think that is appropriate here’.

I realised in that instant that I was pushing water uphill with this inventory and getting organisations to adopt it and sure enough I had to change direction after a few months of getting nowhere.

I hear stories every day now from employees who work for small, medium and large organisations. Those stories confirm to me that people at work are not loved enough.

It's time to examine the success of Social Networks and take on board the tactics that these Social Network giants adopt to gain more members, more engagement and share the love.

It's not a bad 4 letter word, you must just try it!

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

 

you-recently-viewedwvmu

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.

IMG_0330

 

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.

IMG_0331

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.

IMG_0332

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!

Do You Drive a Car?

Share_the_Road_Sign21552I do and I'm also a cyclist and a Dutchman. I grew up in a cycling nation, where the bicycle has priority over cars and cars respect the cyclist. In The Netherlands most cyclists don't even wear helmets, because they know that the risk of an accident is very low and the car driver would more than likely get prosecuted if they knocked someone off a bike. I've lived in the UK for 36 years and the cyclist is still treated like a bl..dy nuisance on the road. Car drivers treat us cyclists like we shouldn't even be on the road.

I won't generalise but most car drivers speed, yes indeed, most break the law and drive way over the speed limit. Do I? I did in the past, so I'm not one to judge, but I don't anymore, it saves fuel, it's safer and you don't get there any faster, FACT.

So if you take disrespect for cyclists add some speeding to the mix, you've got a recipe for death and disaster.

I like to cycle whenever the weather is fine and dry. I don't live in the middle of the countryside but I'm also not in the city. I live and cycle near a few towns and yes the traffic at times can be heavy, although actually most of the time it's fairly quiet, but that's part of the problem. Car drivers also believe they are invincible and that mostly there are no cars coming the other way...wrong!

And...car drivers see me as a massive nuisance on the road and for some bizarre reason decide to speed past me. Whether these are small cars, 4W drive cars, people carriers, taxis, trucks, vans, ambulance, fire brigade, police, basically everyone does it.

IMG_0257

I am convinced that those drivers have never been a cyclist as they would know what it felt like to be out in the elements, very often with strong winds in this country and to have vehicles speeding past you, you do feel very vulnerable and very much in danger. I know keen cyclists who have given up on cycling and sold their bike, because they are in fear of the British roads.

And when they pass at high speed they have no regard as to what might be coming the other way. I witnessed 5 near miss head-on collisions in just 3 cycle trips. And I see at least 1 on most trips. They are in such a hurry to get past me that they take risks and have no regard for oncoming traffic and pass even though there might be blind spots.

At least on every journey, people pull out in front of me, cut me up and speed past me so close that their wing mirrors nearly clip my handle bar.

These drivers may have their own children and I wonder how they would feel if they knew, when their kids were out on their bikes, that cars behave in this way?!

They would soon change their own attitude towards cyclists.

So if you are reading this and you can look in the mirror and identify with the fact that you are one of these drivers who has no patience for cyclists, now is the time to change your attitude.

I see many drivers who slow down to a snail’s pace for horse and rider, but I virtually witness nobody doing the same for a human cyclist.

I've just been to Amsterdam for a short holiday and OK it's my home city, so I will be biased. The inner city is almost completely void of cars now. It's a joy to be seeing how cyclists are given priority and are treated with respect, something I feel probably won't happen in the UK EVER!

DSC01220

Some great comments and discussions started as a result of this article, please read them below in a special storify slideshow.

Do Social Networks Sell Drugs?

As published in The Non-Significant Journal of Business & Consumer Psychology Issue 2.1 - Spring 2013

Background

In recent years, an increasing number of scholars have sought to study and measure the impact of social networks (social media).

Social media network connection concept
Social media network connection concept
  • A 2010 study by the University of Maryland suggested that social networks may be addictive, and that using social networks may lead to a "fear of missing out", also known by the acronym "FOMO" by many students.
  • It has been observed that Facebook is now the primary method for communication by college students in the U.S.
  • According to Nielsen, global consumers spend more than six hours on social networking sites.
  • Consumers continue to spend more time on social networks than on any other category of sites—roughly 20% of their total time online via personal computer (PC), and 30% of total time online via mobile.
  • Tim Berners-Lee contends that the danger of social networking sites is that most are silos and do not allow users to port data from one site to another. He also cautions against social networks that grow too big and become a monopoly as this tends to limit innovation.
  • According to several clinics in the UK, social media addiction is a certifiable medical condition. One psychiatric consultant claims he treats as many as one hundred cases a year.

Introduction

Networks are not new; they have existed since the very first existence of cells on planet earth. It's quite amazing to know that our cells work together in networks to achieve tasks together. One such example is wound healing. For wound healing to occur, white blood cells and cells that ingest bacteria move to the wound site to kill the microorganisms that cause infection. At the same time fibroblasts (connective tissue cells) move there to remodel damaged structures. This is a wonderful example of how cells behave together in networks.

Even our brain neurons wire together in associative networks to create our memories and skills. Cell division even mirrors the way that networks grow.

We humans are no exception in nature. We exist and flourish as part of networks. We seem to have some inborn instinct to behave in this way, actively involving ourselves in many different systems of connections.

Thumbs up like button on white background.
Thumbs up like button on white background.

The first network we experience in our lives is the immediate family, where we learn how to be social by watching our parents and siblings. Beyond that, we soon learn how to ‘network’ with other groups of adults and children. We then start our social journey by joining many different networks, the nursery, primary and secondary school, the college and university and then our work and leisure networks.

The size, membership and complexity of these networks may grow or contract during our lifetime, but they always remain an important part of our experience. There are several theories put forward to explain this networking phenomenon, from Social Comparison Theory,Role Theory,Homogeneous Theory and the Social Identity approach. The evidence seems to point to the conclusion that networking is in part driven by our genetic make-up.

Tribes

These networks have a major impact on our lives. They determine how we see the world and how we see ourselves; we constantly monitor how we are accepted in our various networks.

Perhaps another word for these networks could be 'tribes'.

Belonging to a 'tribe', gives us the feeling that we are part of ‘something bigger’ then we are. It helps to give our lives more meaning and significance. The belief that you belong to a ’tribe’ is reinforcing, as it encourages you to relate more strongly with the other individuals in that ’tribe’. It helps with the identity that you have given yourself as you became an adult.

When your ’tribe’ behaves in the same way that you do, you will consider them the same as ’you’ and somehow feel a connection. It triggers an automatic approval, telling yourself that they are OK as they behave in a similar way to you.

The way that this translates in social networks is that individuals will follow people on twitter, send each other friends’ requests on Facebook or ask to be connected inside professional networks, like LinkedIn. We may have never met the person but for some reason we want to share intimate details of our lives with them.

Facebook
Facebook

Never in the world have we seen this kind of behaviour before. It did not exist before social networks appeared on the worldwide web. You could not have imagined walking up to strangers, people you have never met and suddenly start sharing your personal life with them. It just didn’t happen. We as humans need to trust someone first before we will share personal details. In social networks personal details are being shared all the time without any apparent shyness or reservation.

And the only reason this happens is because we have connected at some level with this stranger in a social network where their behaviour mirrors our own. In social networks we behave for around 80% of the time exactly the same way as everybody else. Just the act of being in a social network together, posting updates, sharing content means you are doing the same as everyone else and that makes you part of that tribe.

Significance

Social networks give us a platform for significance. According to Anthony Robbins, significance is one of the 6 human needs as per his Human Needs Psychology model.  We all have a need to be significant in our lives and when family and friends, like, comment or respond to our activity inside social networks, we feel good, we feel loved, we feel significant.

Dopamine is closely associated with reward-seeking behaviours, such as approach, consumption, and addiction. Recent research suggests that the firing of dopaminergic neurons is motivational as a consequence of reward-anticipation. This hypothesis is based on the evidence that, when a reward is greater than expected, the firing of certain dopaminergic neurons increases, which consequently increases desire or motivation towards the reward. This is why social networks are so addictive and why games inside social networks (e.g. Farmville) are so popular. Equally though, aggression is also evident in social networks and recent studies indicate that aggression may also stimulate the release of dopamine.

Why do humans enjoy social networks?

Humans are social beings, they thrive around other humans and other humans make them thrive. Without human interaction we have no reason to exist. Compassion and love is a ready built-in operating system, which we are born with. Without the love we experience on the day of our birth we would probably die. Throughout our lives we crave that love and connection with other humans. Especially as those humans are the same as us or expressed in another way, exist in the same tribe as us.

Anthony Robbins’ Human Need Psychology says that one of our 6 human needs is love and connection15 .

Physical social networks, whether it’s the family unit, our workplace unit or other tribal social networks, which we belong to for our sport, hobbies and political activities, all exist because there is some love and connection that takes place.

Virtual social networks via the web also exist for the same reason. The creators of these networks have been able to create certain activities to allow us to feel love and connection with a connection or a tribe that exists inside these networks. Whether it is ’liking’, ’commenting’, ’sharing’, ’re-tweeting’, ’favouriting’, ’re-posting’, the user feels good when this takes place or in other words they do feel loved. This is very addictive and when dopamine is released in the brain, we want to experience more of this feeling16 .

As human beings we also want to give out love and this is another one of the human needs and is called ’contribution’. And therefore in social networks we also like to contribute to our fellow human beings.

The way that this translates inside of virtual social networks is no different. For example by actively ’liking’, ’sharing’, ’commenting’, it makes us feel good and drives us to do more of it, whenever the recipient rewards us in some way for taking this selfless action. And guess what happens more dopamine is released and the more addictive it becomes.

Put on top of that Ivan Pavlov’s dog experiment

and ’ding, ding, woof, woof’, every time our mobile device makes that familiar notification noise, we know that this could mean more dopamine and more love, so we’ll react instantly to the need of that possibility.

How social learning grows networks

In 1961 Albert Bandura conducted a controversial experiment known as the ‘Bobo-Doll ‘experiment, to study patterns of behaviour associated with aggression. Bandura hoped that the experiment would prove that aggression can be explained, at least in part, by social learning theory, and that similar behaviours were learned by individuals modelling their own behaviour after the actions of others. The experiment was criticised by some on ethical grounds, for training children towards aggression.

Bandura’s results from the Bobo Doll Experiment changed the course of modern psychology, and were widely credited for helping shift the focus in academic psychology from pure behaviourism to cognitive psychology. The experiment is among the most lauded and celebrated of psychological experiments.

Penguin points
Penguin points

This study can be viewed as quite significant and why social networks grow so fast. When we see the activities of others in social networks, we start to wonder if we're missing out on something and whether we need to start involving ourselves. When we then discover that our tribe, (whether family, work, hobby or other tribe), is doing the same, we will stay and investigate it further. And that is when we start enjoying shots of dopamine in our brain and when the addiction of this social network interaction starts working.

CAUTION: NOT SUITABLE FOR MINORS

Conclusion

Social networks are here to stay, they've always existed and whether they are physical or virtual they are an important piece of our human make-up. My personal view too is that back in the times when humans went through war and terror they would draw closer to each other and grow closer socially. For example, during World War II, it was easier to connect with our fellow humans as we were all going through the same terror and strife. We would look out for one and other and support each other.

Basically we were giving each other a lot of love.

Bird Doodles
Bird Doodles

As the human population has grown and spread across the globe, some of the physical connections may have been lost. Virtual social networks have allowed us to make that re-connection with each other and in fact get in touch with people who we may not have seen for many years.

Of course this makes us feel loved and appreciated too.

And now, because these virtual networks show us how many fans, followers, and friends we have, this is proof to the world and ourselves how popular we are.  We take this metric as an important measure of how many people approve of us or rather love us, a kind of ‘love-o-meter’!

...or in Bryan Ferry’s - Roxy Music words...”Love is the drug I’m thinking of...”