Are You Interested in Trust?

Maybe you are or maybe you aren’t. One thing’s for sure every relationship is built on a solid foundation of trust. If trust doesn't exist, a relationship can't exist. But what are the constituents of trust? I believe there are 3 main principles for trust to develop in your relationships. I've called it the 'Triad of Trust'.

1. Give more than you receive.

The principle here is about giving of yourself and searching for ways you can give support without expecting anything in return.

Nobody can force you to do this, it has to be the life force within you that decides that you will step out of your ego and give of yourself. I have witnessed many example of folks who really don’t get this right. Giving without expecting anything in return is really a tough concept for most to grasp. 

For just a few seconds think about your current relationships, your relationship with your line manager, your spouse, your kids, your parents and even your clients. Do you give consistently without expecting anything? We’re usually looking for some sort of payback, something that will make us feel good instead of focussing on making the other person feel great.

Putting this in the context of Marketing means that we must avoid too much self-promotion and instead share stories (or information) that will assist others and inspire them. 

Whenever I have a new connection on LinkedIn, I ask each connection who they wish to get in front of, i.e. what leads they may be looking for. I record those details on their LinkedIn profile. You'd be surprised how many actually don't bother answering, because they may be suspicious and believe I might have a different motive for the question. I guess it's human nature to be suspicious. Basically they don't trust me yet.

2. Listen generously.

Listening is the hardest skill for us to master because as soon as we hear someone speak we begin to formulate a response. This also happens with all types of mobile digital communication.

Who doesn't struggle with listening? Be honest, you can't wait to say something when you are listening (and thinking) when someone is speaking to you. My challenge to you is to hold back until you believe the speaker has completely finished. You’ll know when they have finished, because they’ll ask you a question. 

For example, I'm sure you've experienced attending a networking meeting. Imagine you meet someone for the first time there and often the first question will be, ’So what do you do?’. Instead of reeling off your rehearsed response, pause and say, ’Actually why don't you go first?’. 

This puts you in a state of listening straight away. And instead of waiting for them to finish and then jump into your own blabber, ask them a few questions. Listen out to truly understand and ask even further questions to understand at an even deeper level. It actually doesn't matter if you don't get your chance to say what you do. Understanding someone else’s story is much more important and they will remember you for it. 

The term listening generously I learnt from a client in the USA, http://winningdynamics.com, who I produced a Whiteboard Animation for. Be well worth watching, as the message is brilliant.

 

3. Share your knowledge willingly.

Our knowledge is precious and worth something. However, sharing your knowledge willingly with others builds trust. After all, you too learnt your knowledge from someone else.

We arrived on this plant with no knowledge and relied on our family, our teachers and all the different people we met in our lives to teach us what we know today. Therefore we actually learnt most of what we know from others. Just think about it. It's only with this knowledge that we've been able to potentially shape it into new knowledge that we create ourselves and then sell or share with others. Just like I'm doing right here.

But you don't have to sell all your knowledge do you?

You must give most of it away. You don't own it and our job is to pass it on. After all, your knowledge is only temporary, you can't take it with you when you depart this planet. You might as well start sharing it now.

I would love to learn from you how you ’Give, Listen and Share’ in your world. Feel free to share your comments below, so everyone can benefit from your experience and advice.

@stayingaliveuk

 

Are Your Suffering from 'Social Deafness'?

How many social networks do you belong to? The average person has five social network accounts and spends around 1 hour and 40 minutes browsing these networks every day, accounting for 28pc of the total time spent on the internet.

Probably a combination of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube and substituting with LinkedIn, Tumblr and Google+ (other Social Networks are available). However, most will be struggling to stay on top of them all.

It’s just too time consuming these days.

’Social Deafness’ is a phenomena that I'm describing as the reduction in our ability to take in all the social messages and content being pushed out on your social networks.

Before social media came along, our lives were already quite busy and we didn't ask for these networks to occupy our lives, but as these networks have grown and expanded it has become common place in the modern digital world for us to belong to many of them. Furthermore with the expansion of mobile computing, it’s become super easy to engage with your preferred networks through apps and on the web whilst on the move.

Much has been said about our addiction to these networks, but the addiction is not necessarily with our connections but more about what we as individuals can get out of these networks. When our connections, like, share, retweet, comment and repost, we feel loved. That feeling of love releases dopamine in the brain, which is highly addictive. We're then looking for the next hit, the next bit of engagement. I'm sure you have seen this play out on Facebook when your friends post comments that have left you wondering what's wrong with them. Comments like ’I'm feeling very annoyed’. Having no clue what they're annoyed about it causes you to ask the question and giving them some desired attention (love). Whether you think it's appropriate or not, this is current reality with social networks.

We're all looking for attention (love).

As we become more used to all the social media noise that's going on across social networks, we actually start tuning-out and developing what I call ’Social-Deafness'. It's just an abbreviation I’ve coined for describing how you are starting to ignore social media (network) noise. Even those cries for help are starting to be ignored, as we intuitively know that folks are in fact seeking attention. We all know the saying:

‘The girl (or boy) who cried WOLF’.

By the way it's not their fault, they are just copying what others are doing in their networks, noticing the attention others are getting and hoping for the same. Plus of course the networks keep emailing us telling us that we're missing out and really should be going back to our networks. Just try for 5 days to avoid one of your favourite networks and they will be in touch with you for sure.

They play on our instinct and a condition called FOMO = ‘Fear of missing out’.

When this ’Social-Deafness’ spreads across global social networks, it makes the job of marketing to us so much tougher for big brands and even Micro Enterprises. It’s much harder to get noticed and develop sustainable engagement.

This is why more and more folks are spending more and even more time publishing content to these networks hoping that something will stick and develop some sort of engagement at ’scale’ (a fashionable and trendy term used by LinkedIn management a lot!).

The only way to develop a sustainable engagement strategy is by bringing people on board one person at a time. The execution of that in reality is more time consuming and not always guaranteed, but the potential results are easier and more predictable.

The challenge is to build trust in your network over a sustained period of time, which will potentially support a level of conditioning in your connections’ brain to believe that they already know you. A feeling of trust that makes them think you've already met and they know so much about you already. This potentially (note there's no guarantee) means that when you contact them by email or even by phone they believe they are communicating with a long standing acquaintance.

This method is actually no different to what advertisers use by repeating their adverts regularly to you. Even if you think you're not paying that much attention to adverts they all go into your brain and over time you brain has been conditioned with a product or service. Ever come home from the supermarket with a product you didn't need it, had never bought previously and then wondered why you bought it?  Now you know what I mean.

Do you believe that you are suffering from ’Social Deafness’?

Have you managed to build trust with your connections on social networks and how did you make that happen?

Would love to know your perspective and your experience.

@stayingaliveuk - ’Share Your Story’

 

Will Social Selling create a global economic revival?

You will probably get bored of hearing that people do business with people they know, like and trust! Actually I believe a better sequence would be trust, know and like, because by using social channels and especially LinkedIn we have the perfect opportunity to build trust first. I know it doesn’t roll of the tongue as well, but in my humble opinion it has to come first each and every time.

But how can you build that trust

By being active and by being interesting and interested. With 400 million (and counting) professionals on LinkedIn it really has become super easy to find the exact and relevant contact (buyer) for you to get in front of.

And most still get it completely wrong, because most of what I see and experience on social media and especially LinkedIn are promotional posts (adverts) and impersonal invitations to connect. 

Definitely not ’interesting’ and not ’interested’.

If we have a desire to see global economic revival on the planet then you need to start changing your behaviour on social media, especially LinkedIn and take a few minutes out of your busy day to think through and formulate a detailed strategy.

Here are just 3 quick things you can adopt to move in the right direction and set the right intention.

  1. Decide specifically and in incredible detail your ideal buyer (client). Identify the industry sector, the location, their seniority, their age, personal ambitions (assumed), interests, skills, sports team and anything else that will assist you to narrow down a shortlist of individuals. You have to become laser targeted. Being general is so from the previous century.
  2. Develop search and alert criteria on google, twitter and LinkedIn to explore and potentially uncover the individuals that match up with your ’ideal buyer’ profile. Keep looking daily, weekly, monthly until you become totally absorbed with who that person is, so much so that you can understand and predict their behaviour. LinkedIn is totally the best network to do much of this on, especially now with their Sales Navigator tool. It has never been a better time right now to access data for your research.
  3. Develop and curate appropriate and great content that will be super interesting to your ‘ideal buyer’. Over time you will develop a reputation for sharing great and ‘interesting’ content and your network will start to realise and appreciate that you are the person they are interested in learning from.

In addition LinkedIn have just released the ’Social Selling Index’ for every English speaking LinkedIn member. Have a look at my index below. You can see that this is a great measurement tool to help you and your teams drive forward and develop ’trust’ on LinkedIn. A better title would probably be the ’trust’ index.

Go ahead and grab your index via https://www.linkedin.com/sales/ssi

I have also shared below details of how the index is calculated, which confirms that by being active and developing the right strategy you will develop more trust. Trust leads to interest, interest leads to a conversation, a conversation leads to a meeting and a meeting leads to business.

"Taken from LinkedIn's Sales Navigator support section as at August 2015"

"Taken from LinkedIn's Sales Navigator support section as at August 2015"

Just imagine if LinkedIn professionals focussed on getting their index higher they automatically will be seen more, develop more trusting relationships on LinkedIn, gain greater exposure and develop more opportunities.

Now just think for a moment, if just 1% of the 400 million LinkedIn members adopted a great professional approach for developing their network, do you think this would make a difference to the economic prosperity of individuals around the world?

By you and I changing the way we behave on social channels, especially on LinkedIn, I believe we would collectively have a major impact on the global economy. Not just by developing better and closer relationships with our networks but also by growing our enterprises, whether we are micro, small, medium or a large enterprise. 

Now it's your turn.  Please share below what your views are on Social Selling, Trust and the Global Economy. I'd love to hear your stories.

In Social Selling, Building Trust Starts before You Connect

Learn how thorough research and honest communication can build trust with buyers, with these social selling tips from Staying Alive UK’s Michael de Groot.

image.jpg

This blogpost was first published by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on the 13th August 2015 and is part of a blogpost series to promote the eBook '33 Social Selling Success Tips', which was curated and published by Michael de Groot (that's me!) in 2014 and re-purposed by LinkedIn.

 http://sales.linkedin.com/blog/in-social-selling-building-trust-starts-before-you-connect/

The first person who said “patience is a virtue” probably wasn’t in sales. For salespeople, patience can be costly. Waiting to respond to a trigger event or failing to follow up to a prospect’s question can cost the sale. There’s an understandable desire for hustle, whether you’re a sales leader or a sales manager.

But we must be careful that a lack of patience doesn’t make us take shortcuts that lose potential buyers. One part of the sales process you should never rush is the research phase before you reach out to a prospect for the first time. Thorough research arms you with the information you need to make a connection request that builds trust.

People buy from people they know, like, and trust. Before they get to know you and come to like you, buyers will be evaluating whether they can trust you. Here are two steps you can take to build trust before you connect.

1.  Research

Do your research first on the individual and the company. Follow the company on LinkedIn and research any articles where your potential buyer could be mentioned or featured. Check industry news sites for mentions and of course LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator could do the heavy lifting for you in terms by finding relevant company news.

There are two very useful ways that you can keep track of your buyers without making it obvious to them. In Twitter, you can create a private list and add Twitter handles to your buyer list. You will be able to see what buyers are tweeting about to give you an insight to their interests and industry specific articles or opinions. In LinkedIn, you can save someone to your contacts without making a connection request. When you save them, add a tag that will let you filter your contacts for each account. This allows you to do more research on them and find commonalities in their profile, their tweets, or their shares.

image.jpg

2.  Be Direct

Once you have done your research and built a relevant, compelling case for making contact, then you can send a connection request.

For the best chance of a response, show your trustworthiness by being upfront about why you’re asking to connect. Let the prospect know what led you to reach out to them, and what you would like them to do next.

With a LinkedIn connection request, you will know 100% for sure whether or not your request is accepted. Your prospect will receive reminders from your invitation at least 3 times to either accept your connection request or click ignore. I would leave the request open for 3 weeks to see if they accept. If not, remove them from your connections database as a lost potential and focus your energy elsewhere.

In the fast-paced sales environment, it’s important to remind ourselves to slow down when we need to. Take the time to build trust with a prospect before you connect, and that time investment may pay off in a better sales relationship.

For more actionable social selling insights from experts in the profession, download 33 Social Selling Tips by Social Selling Thought Leaders.

Editor’s Note: In this series, we feature quick and tactical social selling tips from thought leaders in the profession. This installment features trust-building advice from social selling tips Michael de Groot, Social Selling Director for Staying Alive (UK) Ltd who collaborated with other social selling trainers and originally produced the social selling tips eBook.

Is Your Brand Loyal?

Whenever I hear ’business’ folks talk about ROI - (Return on Investment) in connection with Social Media, I laugh. Not because I don't respect their point or their need to see proof and sales results, but because we don't demand ROI on our relationships with our friends do we?

When you have a loyal buyer, they do become a loyal friend, you share knowledge and insights with them in order build that loyalty and after all it’s easier to keep a buyer rather than having to continually find new ones.

Therefore I believe that our opinion and execution of Social Media has to improve. 

Firstly we should rename it ‘Social Loyalty’.

‘Social’ has many meanings depending on whether you’re a Marxist or not.  Wikipedia definition, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social.

For me, very simply, it’s when individuals or groups of individuals co-exist together for their joint benefit. When we co-exist together with our buyers we are being ‘Social’. That co-existence can take place in person or nowadays to a large extend online, cue ‘Social Media’.

‘Loyalty’ has even more meanings, go and have a look, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loyalty.

And generally speaking most of us understand it to be that our buyers will repeat buy from us or at least give us the opportunity to bid first for a piece of work or consider buying from our website before looking at the competition. 

Usually loyal buyers will be prepared to wait for our products, e.g. Apple, or may even pay more for our products compared to cheaper alternatives, because their loyalty means more to them compared to price.

I call those folks ‘raving fans’. If you’re in business your objective should be to collect ‘raving fans’. 

In addition those loyal ‘Raving Fans' will shout about your products and services. They will tell their friends, business associates and connections. You better be amazing, because when things are not going so well, they will shout about it too.

Once we develop ‘Social Loyalty’ with our buyers, we will develop a predictable sales model. All of us have stats available somewhere that will indicate to us whether the sale was from a loyal buyer or a brand new one.

It’s possible therefore to create a ‘Loyal Buyer’ vs ‘New Buyer’ ratio to indicate the amount of sales we’re getting from those ‘Raving Fans’. I’m sure someone somewhere is already doing this and if you’re not, why not?

When we have this data only then we can understand ‘Social Media’ much better. Then there won’t be any need for ROI, just ‘ROL’ = ‘Return on Loyalty’.

Therefore when you witness your staff being active on ‘Social Media’ developing ‘Raving Fans’ you will realise that they are building loyalty amongst the ’Social’ community, which in turn will deliver repeat sales from the same buyers.

Now it’s your turn, share with us what you or your organisation is doing to create ‘Raving Fans’.

@stayingaliveuk - ‘Share Your Story’

Quick message from Staying Alive UK’s chief storyteller...




Is Your Buyer's Brain Overloaded?

Possibly, but it depends...

Recently I read that 90% of all the data that's been created on the planet was created in the past 2 years! That's an astounding statistic don't you think? The amount of data we’re consuming is growing exponentially every single second and I've just added to it by publishing this post.

Just think about the amount of social media content and blog posts you’re reading these days considering they didn't even exist just a few small years ago.

In fact YouTube didn't exist 10 years ago and now 300 hours of video are uploaded every minute. 300 hours! That's about 20 days worth in a minute, (based on let's say a 15 hour awake day). And I understand that Facebook is well on its way to by-passing YouTube’s activity. 

When you consider how many users there are on social media channels and the data they’re all creating, one just can't comprehend how big those data figures are. The size of data is so large that it’s now being described in the form of zettabytes. By 2019 Cisco predicts that the Internet will carry 2 zettabytes of data, that's three times more than last year (2014). Video sharing is expected to increase to 80% from 67% currently over the same period.

So what's a ’zettabyte’? I'm sure you want to know, so I looked it up on Wikipedia for you.

The zettabyte is a multiple of the unit byte for digital information. The prefix zetta indicates multiplication by the seventh power of 1000 or 1021 in the International System of Units (SI). Therefore one zettabyte is one sextillion (one long scale trilliard) bytes. The unit symbol is ZB.

1 ZB = 10007bytes = 1021bytes = 1000000000000000000000bytes = 1000exabytes = 1billionterabytes = 1trilliongigabytes.

Silicon Valley already has problems finding data scientists to cope with figuring out the ’data revolution’ that's upon us right now!

’Customer experience enhancement’ is expected to be the largest big data business category and the one with the most growth, with forecasts saying this sector will grow from $0.75 billion in 2015 to $3.57 billion in 2020.

The biggest challenge for all marketers is how to get noticed and deliver that expected ’customer experience enhancement’, whilst everyone is sharing multiple amounts of content (data). Your messages are literally drowning in all the noise, which in the main is content (data) we don’t really need anyway! Buyers are being bombarded by millions of bytes of information every single hour. And then there's the question of demographics. Who’s more active on which platform, do I target Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, LinkedIn or the others? Managing this social media soup is also becoming a major headache for many marketers? Micro Enterprises are totally confused by it all.

And then we are developing love-hate relationships with all these channels too.

Why? Because they keep changing the format, the user interface (UI) and what you expected from it one day, can be gone the next. And we are still loyal to them, well most of the time anyway. That's why when a new channel comes along everyone rushes to it to see if they will get a better experience.

Advertising is losing its credibility too with the buyer as more and more of us loath being sold to.  
So what's the answer for getting noticed?

It's a tough one and I'm not sure there's one single solution to the question. But what I’m 100% sure about is that buyers want to be WOWED, they want to feel SPECIAL, they want to believe they've had the BEST DEAL ever and know that the follow up customer service will make them feel like they're the ONLY customer.

Your buyer’s brain is literally maxed out with data and there's no reprieve anytime soon.

We all need new and innovative ideas and above all we need to examine our own brains to decide what will be the most memorable way for our buyers to absorb content (data). Put yourself in the driving seat and examine the buyer’s journey through her eyes or rather her brain.

As humans we've always been fantastically curious. Curious about other people in particular, after all that's what makes us human. We have a natural empathy for others.  The only way we can develop any kind of empathy is to learn something about the other person or situation first. Without that information we can't connect with our inner self (emotional part of our brain) and develop any kind of connection at all.

So how do we currently learn about others or situations?

Through stories...

Storytelling is ancient and it evokes an emotion inside of us that leaves meaningful footsteps inside of our brains that potentially stay there forever. Well in fact they do, it just depends on how good we are in being able to recall those stories. Definitely what's true is that if there’s more emotion and feeling about those stories, we will remember it for longer.

Why is it then that most marketers are still stuck in a pattern of ’This is my Product - Buy me’?

With the amount of zeta-data spinning around the planet there's no hope for any of the old style marketing to stick with anyone, it just isn't appropriate any longer.

If we know that stories do stick, why are marketers not using this formula more often? And yes, stories do need to be targeted to each demographic, because they need to feel like you're talking directly to them. There's no point telling a story to a 60-year old expecting it to be relevant to an 18-year old.

Now over to you.

I'd love to hear whether you’re a storyteller and what success you've had  or otherwise. How are you getting or expecting to be noticed by your current and future buyers?

@stayingaliveuk - ’Share Your Story’

Image: @gapingvoid

Why Did You Endorse Me?

By far the most frequent asked question I get from my LinkedIn students is around the Skills and Expertise section.

The question usually is around why connections endorse them for skills that they haven't actually experienced, i.e. someone endorses you for one of your skills but you have never demonstrated to them that you have that skill. 

So why are they endorsing you? There are 2 reasons for this.

  1. Because they can.
  2. LinkedIn prompts them to do so, regularly.

Let me explain further. The skills section is something LinkedIn developed out of something that was called ’specialities’, which sat at the end of your summary. When they upgraded this to the Skills and Expertise section it morphed into a brand new and clever system to develop LinkedIn’s objectives to a) get more traffic to their website and b) assist advertisers to target their adverts more accurately towards members who will be interested in those ads.

Every social media website is competing for views. When there’s more traffic to a website, it becomes a more attractive proposition for advertisers. LinkedIn’s advertising real estate is actually very small. See the images below. You can see that there are just 3 areas on their website for adverts.

  1. A sentence right at the very top of the page with a hyperlink.
  2. A banner ad usually a full colour image, which sometimes is animated.
  3. Small ads that appear bottom right, depending on what page you are browsing.

The advertiser has a number of different criteria they can choose from when constructing their advert. And as you are probably guessing by now, skills is one of those criteria, which they can select and is extremely powerful to narrow down your target audience. In the example below it took my target audience from 347 million, the full approximate membership number on LinkedIn down to just 12k, a select audience in Birmingham UK with some specific skills on their profile.

Pretty powerful stuff for the advertiser, which makes it very attractive to advertise on LinkedIn and of course at a lower cost too, because you're targeting a smaller audience. 

Then we have the ecosystem that LinkedIn has created whenever you visit your profile, a connection’s profile or browse the mobile app. Regularly you will see alerts for you to endorse your connections for certain skills. You have no idea whether these skills do actually exist on your connections’ profile. 

The only sure way of making sure that these skills are indeed on their profile is to go there and make sure they are. Sounds like a lot of work, perhaps. However if you don't, LinkedIn will continue to suggest new skills for your connections’ profiles because LinkedIn knows that their skill list is not yet up to maximum 50. It appears that LinkedIn’s primary goal is to make sure that as many of its members has a full list of skills on their profiles. More skills, more targeted advertising and more $$$ for LinkedIn’s shareholders. Got it?

I have a few tips for you to ensure that you are both maximising the skills section for your benefit and as such assist you to be found on LinkedIn.

I decided that making use of this nice infographic on your profile means that the viewers of your profile will get a quick overview of what you are all about.

  1. Have a maximum of 12 skills, you will find that most won't bother to endorse you for more than 3 anyway.
  2. Decide that the key skills you've identified become your keywords for your profile.
  3. Ensure you intelligently spread those keywords (skills) throughout your profile to assist you being found on LinkedIn whenever someone is searching for people who have certain skills. 
  4. Whenever someone endorses you for a skill that does indeed exist on your profile and it’s one you've decided to display there, then the best way to thank them is to endorse them back. You will know from an email sent by LinkedIn, what someone has endorsed you for. (See image below).
  5. If someone has endorsed you for a skill that doesn't appear on your profile, again you will receive an email but this time LinkedIn will prompt you to add it to your profile. If you're not happy to accept this skill, then delete it from the top of your profile, where it will appear as an outstanding action.
  6. If at any time you wish to remove a skill, go into edit profile mode and move to the skills section where you can edit skills by clicking on ’add skill’. Delete and move a skill when you're in edit mode.
You will receive this email, when your connections have endorsed you for skills that are already on your profile. You can return the favour by visiting their profiles and endorsing them for their skills. There is no further action required.

You will receive this email, when your connections have endorsed you for skills that are already on your profile. You can return the favour by visiting their profiles and endorsing them for their skills. There is no further action required.

When you receive this email, LinkedIn has prompted one of your connections either when they visited your profile or when they were browsing on their mobile app to endorse you. It's very rare that they have decided to endorse you for that skill, LinkedIn prompts them to do so. When it says 'add to profile', you will know it's a skill that you don't have listed. If you click through that skills will be added. Watch the video below to learn how to dismiss any new skills.

When you receive this email, LinkedIn has prompted one of your connections either when they visited your profile or when they were browsing on their mobile app to endorse you. It's very rare that they have decided to endorse you for that skill, LinkedIn prompts them to do so. When it says 'add to profile', you will know it's a skill that you don't have listed. If you click through that skills will be added. Watch the video below to learn how to dismiss any new skills.

If you are unhappy with the Skills & Expertise section on LinkedIn, I recommend you give LinkedIn some feedback, either via a ’feedback’ link on the site or send a support ticket to LinkedIn help.

Now you know how the Skills & Expertise section works, you may decide to review the skills listed, decide on just a dozen or so and include them throughout your LinkedIn copy.

Feel free to share any questions you may still have about this section on LinkedIn.

@stayingaliveuk


Are LinkedIn Missing Out?

LinkedIn - Communication - Vision!

LinkedIn - Communication - Vision!

Is LinkedIn missing out on communication? Yep BIG time!

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

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

Now most of us use external apps like Eventbrite. 

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

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

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

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

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

Graph from statista.com - April 2015

Graph from statista.com - April 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@stayingaliveuk

Have you experienced The Interview?

‘The Interview’, is something most of us worry about. The trouble is 'The Interview' is an established part of recruitment the world over and it doesn't work. I've been a manager for decades and I worked in organisations for over 28 years. I've witnessed first hand how my peers and my managers made some really, really bad recruitment decisions that cost the organisation thousands. And yes I've made some poor recruitment decisions in my career too.

'The Interview' is old-fashioned, false and both the interviewer and interviewee say things they would never normally say during a normal and relaxed conversation.

It's time for 'The Interview' to change. Let's examine how the current process works and what's wrong with it, well in my opinion anyway.

  1. An organisation who’s looking to recruit someone usually starts with a job specification, a person specification and an essential list of qualities that an organisation is looking for. There's nothing wrong with this part of the process, except that it develops in the applicant an opportunity to shape their application and CV closer to the organisation’s requirements and manipulate the truth of their real experience. This is failure number one for the organisation and for the applicant. Organisations can spot these manipulations in CV’s a mile off and a good interviewer can expose the falsehood in the interviewee usually quite quickly. We all know that having a job and person specification is an essential part of the process and yet it sets ’The Interview’ up for failure.
  2. The second part of the process usually is the CV screening process, where someone is appointed, maybe a recruitment consultant, a recruitment manager, HR officer, who examine a few essential criteria by which to screen out as many CV’s as they can to end up with a shortlist of likely candidates. The trouble with this part of the process is that often this task is carried out by someone who is removed by some distance from the actual job role, department, the objective and purpose of the role. Are we happy with someone else doing this process? Of course we are because we decided that we as managers are just too busy to do that screening ourselves. We decide for some unknown reason that someone else is qualified to do that screening. I don't blame us, because just imagine if you had a few hundred applicants!
  3. Step number three is calling people for an interview. At this stage the applicant receives a nice surprise, usually a phone call by the individual responsible for managing the process. An initial phone interview might take place either by a recruitment consultant or maybe even the company officer in charge of the project. This potentially is another opportunity to be screened out by someone too far removed from the real recruiter. Everyone has a different view of the world. If I asked you to draw a picture of a car, each one of you would draw something totally different because your brain sees something different to everyone else. Interviewing someone is no different. If I asked an applicant a few questions over the phone, I would hear different answers compared to what you would hear, because we all use different filters to create a view of the world around us.
  4. ‘The Interview’ number one. If you're lucky enough to be called for an interview, you’ll usually get very excited and the adrenaline inside of you causes your blood to be pumped to your muscles and your senses to prepare you for flight and fight. A whole host of thoughts flood your brain’s fear centre, the amygdala. All bad experiences you've ever had with interviews are present in this tiny area in your brain and you're an expert in bringing these into your frontal lobe and then you start doubting yourself. When you fill your brain with all these thoughts, you actually stop yourself from thinking through ’The Interview’ and are heading for failure. You’ll starting making things up and then it will just go from bad to worse.
  5. 'The Interview' number two. If you managed to get your brain into gear or the interviewer was actually dumb enough to believe all your lies, you may be delighted to get through to this stage in the process. Either you're going to be set up for a task like doing a presentation to an interview panel and other staff members will be seeing you for the first time. These are all great ideas if they weren't doomed for failure. It's such an unnatural situation. Firstly the task has been dreamt up by someone in the department and usually has no relation whatsoever to the job that you will be doing. Secondly being interviewed by other staff members means they’re going to judge your appearance and decide whether you're going to be a threat to their position inside the company or not.

And now for some alternative ideas.

  1. Advertise the job vacancy and do it as innovatively as possible. Create a video, use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other channels to spread that video. I rarely see videos advertising job vacancies do you? In that video I would say the following. Your Mission should you choose to accept it, is to research our company and discover 3 things that really stand out for you and why. It could be anything the products, the people, our mission etc. Then communicate what you’ve found in a creative and innovative way that really stands out and gets our attention. At the same time communicate to us why you are qualified to get this job.'  Then wait and see what arrives. Obviously set a deadline and make it clear that if anyone who misses the deadline won’t be reviewed no matter what. Deadlines are important and if you can’t achieve those what else can’t you achieve?
  2. Scrap the interview, instead get the applicant to go around the company, meet some regular employees (not staged) and allow them to ask questions, like ‘Tell me about the boss, does he value you?’ - ’Do they pay well here?’ - ‘Do you get on with your co-workers?’ - ‘What are the biggest challenges here?’  Let the staff ask questions of the applicant. The applicant will be more relaxed and share stuff the interviewer would never hear about. Of course you have to meet the boss too, but they never ask an interview question. The only thing they ask is, ‘What did you see and notice around the organisation, share the good and the bad and do you have some initial thoughts on how things could be greater here?’ Based on those answers and the feedback from the people they met, will determine if they’re a good fit or not. Interview process done.
  3. Second interview if needed. Ask them to meet you and their direct team for lunch in the regular place where people have their lunch, staff restaurant, favourite outside deli or coffee shop it doesn’t matter and ask the applicant to share something about themselves that they would otherwise never find out. Get them to talk about family, their private life and what challenges they’ve overcome in their lives so far. Everyone has had them.

This is all about rapport building and finding what you actually have in common with each other. Discover each other’s values and see if they match. Learn whether the applicant is creative and not afraid of giving feedback. There’s a saying in business, ‘People do business with people they like, know and trust’. It’s no different when recruiting people, the exact same rules apply.

Now watch Chandler of Friends how an interview should really be conducted from the applicant’s point of view! 

It’s my favourite friends clip and makes me laugh hysterically every time and it illustrates so clearly how easy it is to create a 'massive' misunderstanding during the interview process.

If you’re a recruiter or applicant I would love to hear how you have looked at making the process as enjoyable and creative as possible. Share your comments below.

@stayingaliveuk

Image credit: @gapingvoid

Are You Being Spammed on LinkedIn?

Inevitably you will be at some stage. There are over 347 million profiles on LinkedIn and with 2 new people joining every second, there are going to be individuals who are breaking the rules.

I know it will be annoying to you, maybe a severe nuisance and some of you will get disheartened and feel that LinkedIn should be doing more.

I know exactly how you feel, I have been there too, but now I just take my own appropriate action, which I have learnt isn’t that clear to inexperienced users on LinkedIn.

Usually these spammers use invitations to get themselves in front of you. In fairness I haven’t had many, maybe a total of 20 in the 11 years that I have been on LinkedIn.

When you receive an offending email, like the one shown below. A real-live example, which one of my connections received.

Here are a few steps in order to deal with these spammers: (Below are images to show you what it looks like)

  1. Go to their profile and you will find a drop down arrow visible on the blue button that says ‘send jamie an InMail’.
  2. Select ‘Block or report’.
  3. A new window will open where you can select ‘block’ and ‘report’.
  4. Add some detail to give LinkedIn some of your reasons why you are reporting this individual and click continue.
  5. A warning message will be displayed to confirm that you wish to report and block this person. Confirm this step and the deed is done.

You can also do this at any time for any of your connections that may cause you any unnecessary stress for whatever reason.

Sometimes, and I have experienced this, the spammer may create another profile and send another invite. If this abusive behaviour does continue, I would advice that you contact LinkedIn support directly. Make sure that you copy the LinkedIn url of that member, as they need this to locate the individual concerned.

I sincerely hope you don’t get many of these.

@stayingaliveuk

Image Credit: @gapingvoid

 

What Does Your Logo Say About You?

I was massively obsessed in 2005 with having a logo for my new business. I didn't have a single client, not even the promise of one, but for some reason my priority was to create a logo. By the way there was no sign of Social Media yet, I didn’t even have a website and broadband hadn't been invented, I was still on dial-up or ISDN, I can't even remember!

For some odd reason I was totally consumed with needing a great logo, as this would get me noticed or so I thought. The fact was, I was only going to be using the logo on printed material, brochures, leaflets, handouts, which in the end cost me a fortune to print and the majority of those eventually ended up in recycling because I had overprinted so many to save on printing costs! As a consequence I am now very suspicious of printers.

I have also become a bit of a cynic when I see Micro-Businesses obsessed with their logos. Especially when I see individuals who are a one-person business use their logo as their Twitter profile image. I have seen thousands of examples. Just go and have a look inside the very popular #socialhours on Twitter every evening, where you can waste an hour of your time reading everyone’s adverts.

Are you a Micro-Business? A SoHo (Single office-home office)?

If you are then I want to see your face on social media not your logo. Your logo means nothing to me, it only means something to you! I know because I had the same disease. A logo makes you feel like you’re competing with the major brands. Absolutely not, you're not, you're competing with other Micro-Businesses who are after the same clients, but make themselves stand-out because they have their profile photo as themselves. A personal picture shows potential buyers that you are human and approachable. When there's just a logo they’ll feel you’re hiding something and are unapproachable.

It's not difficult, really it isn't.

If you're not convinced and still addicted to seeing your logo plastered everywhere, I suggest you ask your clients. What would they prefer to see on your Twitter, you or your logo?
Once you have changed your Twitter, go and consider where else are you overdosing on your logo?

Once you change this, I guarantee you that you will get more followers and more connections.
I've even stopped following anyone who has just a logo on their Twitter. That means I don't follow back many companies, as I'm only interested in people, not companies. Companies just advertise their stuff and I'm more interested in people and what they’re about. After all business is about people not about logos.

Should you have a logo? Sure you should, because in some places you will need one, but make sure it fits inside an icon square. Ideally the shape of an app icon. Like the one below. Yes that’s mine, newly designed a couple of years ago for the social network world. It only appears in just a few places, as overwhelmingly I have displayed my profile photo.

Now it's your turn

Let me know in the comments below what you think and whether you are now also recovering from your addiction to your logo?
 

@stayingaliveuk

Image credit: @gapingvoid

 

Did You Add Me to Your Mailing List?

One dysfunctional side-effect of the Internet are email lists and newsletters. I've already questioned whether the newsletter is on the way out in my ’Are You a Modern Seller’ blogpost. 

For over 2 years now I’ve been unsubscribing from newsletters and for the majority of those (95%), I’ve never ever asked to be added to their list. I'm not talking about spam mail. I'm talking about genuine newsletters and announcements, ranging from contacts I know or have met in the past to vaguely familiar people or companies and completely unknown companies.

How did they get my email address?

I know most lift it from my LinkedIn profile and that means they are a first level connection. From my website? Sure it's on there, so they can lift it from there too. From sign-up forms when I’ve downloaded research, white papers, interesting reports? Yep I'm guilty of that. Usually though I remember the ones where I've downloaded stuff and then I quickly unsubscribe from those when I receive the first promotional email.

How then should I get people on to my email list legitimately?

Using double opt-in or better still opt-out! It's the only way. You could have something that folks will be interested in downloading and on that web page you let them know that it will add them to an email list and state for what purpose. If you use the correct process, they will receive an opt-out email after completing the form. This means they can download the content and unsubscribe instantly, without ever receiving another email from you. Now this is real choice for the reader of your content. 

Will they remember you for this? Of course they will!

I highly recommend that you investigate what process you have in place for emailing folks and whether your process is filled with integrity.

  1. Are you scraping email addresses from LinkedIn?
  2. Are you collecting from websites?
  3. Are you using something like Nimble to transfer addresses to Mailchimp?
  4. Are you using external apps to transfer from your contact records to email clients?
  5. Are you adding addresses from business cards?

Please think carefully about these and maybe other processes and practices in operation inside your business. How would you feel if you knew that your contacts or connections were doing this?

Any recipient of your newsletters or email announcements must have had the opportunity to choose whether they wanted to receive your email. And more importantly, at any time they should have the opportunity to unsubscribe.

I'm astounded that some people still use the bcc: method to send their email out to their contact list from Microsoft outlook or Apple mail.

Once you change your approach, you will feel better about your process and know that you are treating your contacts, connections and acquaintances with integrity and respect. 

I know for a fact that this is how you would like to be treated. 

@stayingaliveuk

Image credit: @gapingvoid

 

Are You Sharing Stories?

 

With the explosive growth in Social Media, there's a massive need by brands, businesses and individuals to acquire your attention, likes, comments and shares.

Almost everyone is wanting to be noticed and apart from brands and celebrities there's really no chance of any of us as individuals in business or in employment acquiring millions of followers (fans).

The only thing we can possibly hope for is some thought leader influence for a small group of connections via a few social channels.

So how do we get noticed when there are literally billions of social media posts being shot into cyberspace every single day.

Share Your Story...

Since we were small children we’ve enjoyed stories. Whether they were the stories our parents told us, the films we watch, the books we read, the TV programmes we enjoy or even the adverts we absorb.

It makes sense therefore that we spend more time sharing our story.

Let me explain further. 

We all have a tendency to over-promote what we do instead of thinking about how we can share our story with our audiences. 

As we all love stories, it means our audiences will be more interested in reading or watching them. And because stories are more memorable, they will live longer in our audiences brains. 

To prove the point, can you think, right now, about your favourite book, film, TV programme, advert and how many years back can you remember some of those? I am sure you were able to recall several. Maybe Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Star Trek, Only Fools and Horses, Fawlty Towers, Cadbury Flake advert, The Meerkat Advert and many more I’m sure.

How do you create interesting stories?

In simplistic terms?

  1. Problem statement
  2. Infusion of ongoing pain if problem not resolved
  3. What could a possible solution be
  4. The solution you offer for the problem
  5. What life would be like without the problem

Where to share your stories?

  1. LinkedIn - on your summary, plus extra media
  2. YouTube - with video stories
  3. Twitter - with a #hashtag
  4. Pinterest and Instagram - with photos
  5. Google+ with all of the above
  6. Facebook - well if you have to.

Maybe you can use a specific #hashtag like #problemsolved or #problemsolver. Take your pick.

Share stories and get noticed. I still see too many adverts on social media. By all means do a few now and again, but keep it at a minimum. Instead share stories.

Feel free to add your own ‘client problem solved’ story in the comments. You never know who might read it!

@stayingaliveuk

Image Credit: @gapingvoid

Are You a Modern Seller?

2015, I hope, will be the year that Social Selling goes mainstream. With that I mean that no longer should we be calling it ’Social Selling’. I prefer us all to be talking about it as ’Modern Selling’. The fact is Sales has always been a Social activity and in some ways Sales Professionals can be confused by the term ’Social Selling’.

In some cases I have witnessed some really awful practices on Social Media, where bombarding folks with constant promotional material and ads are thought of as Social Selling.

Let's examine ’Modern Selling’ in a bit more detail. 

First of all what are some current practices that look like they are going to be killed off by ’Modern Selling’.

  1. The Cold Call. Although this can be at times a useful method, it is definitely starting to drag everyone down. Who actually enjoys receiving a Cold Call these days? This most definitely will be dead and buried in B2B selling by the end of 2015, if not sooner.

  2. The Cold Email. This is a tough one actually. Email is still such a fantastic tool to get in front of folks. It's on people’s phones and therefore it's quite tough to avoid, unless you have set up a super duper filtering system and who has time to figure those out? However I know that more and more people are hitting the delete button for email.

  3. The Email Newsletter. This has been an annoying and nagging interruption for many years now. Who really wants to know about all your great achievements in the past week, month, plus reports on how great you are in the eyes of your latest customers? Nobody cares, really nobody does. I have been unsubscribing from newsletters for about 2 years now and still they continue to add me without asking my permission. I'm guilty too, because I have tried it and well failed, because I haven't felt comfortable about it and you do run out of ideas of what to say. I stopped. I do have downloadable content on my website and it’s completely optional if folks wish to be added to an email list and I state completely upfront that I don't send regular emails. Only now and again will I share some content that is in line with the content they've downloaded. Often that content has nothing to do with me, it's someone else’s content who are able to convey and support my own thoughts much better.

  4. Brochures. Yes some folks are still keeping the printers employed by cutting down trees and distributing brochures to prospects and well anyone who will have them. It's time that these are thrashed, because your prospect will anyway. 

  5. Features and Benefits. This is the biggest one to crack. I would love to see this one dead and buried. Sales professionals spend most of their time practicing these in order to memorise them when in front of prospects and clients. Marketing professionals also spend countless hours presenting these in many different formats, to convince buyers to make decisions based on how their products compare with others. It doesn't make any difference to your buyer. She wants to buy your product to solve a problem. You would be better off listing problems and solutions, so she can see her problem listed. 

What are the alternatives I hear you cry!

  1. Personal Brand. You, whether employed, self-employed, freelance, consulting or any other process you identify yourself with and if you reading this, are already a ’Personal Brand’. This wasn't necessarily possible without Social Networks. Social Networks and by being on them, have allowed you to become a ’Personal Brand’. You HAVE to take this responsibility seriously and if you don't, the consequences can be very harsh. This is the starting point, without this recognition you will struggle to get recognition. You have to craft a great story about yourself and make this consistent across all the Social Networks you exist on. Whether these are personal or business networks. Social is Social, keep the story the same across all. Folks will check you out across all of them and if they aren't in synch you will come across as random.

  2. Conversation. The ultimate aim for anyone in Sales or in Business is to have a conversation with a prospective buyer. Therefore your ideas, approach, strategy and intention should be about how you can have a conversation with your buyer. Your buyer won't be interested in you, the only thing on her mind is juggling and solving her problems. You are most likely an interruption to her day and as such you need to be able to convince her that time spent with you will be well spent! All your actions, communication, social posts, will be to support why a conversation with you will be interesting and more importantly a very worthwhile interruption to her day.

  3. Engagement. This is the holy grail. We all would love to have our connections become potential prospects and at some stage they will have either liked, commented, shared and loved what we posted or have written. Instead of focussing on what you can ’get out’ of your connections, instead focus on what you can ’give’ to your connections. What free content can you share with them that will help them. Share their stories and updates with your network and help them to get more exposure. The route to engagement is trust. This is all you can shoot for to start to develop a relationship. Folks will do business with people they know, like and trust. Once you build trust, which can potentially be developed online, they can start to know you through a conversation, which can be done over the phone. The ’likeness’ can only happen when they start comparing your profile with theirs and get to know you a little better. Folks are always searching for ’likeness’ when meeting new people and if there are some areas of commonality, likeness can develop quite quickly.

  4. Personality. Let your personality shine through at every opportunity. Avoid writing in the third person and reduce the amount of ’I’ statements. It actually isn't all about you. Share ’Why’ you do what you do, as this resonates so much better compared to only making statements about ’What’ you do. If you're able to share passionate insights about how you are helping folks this will also help viewers reach a better understanding about you.

  5. Gratitude. Showing gratitude to new connections for accepting your invite or in response to their invitations is an essential part of the ’Modern Selling’ recipe. Furthermore when it comes to invites, I experience too many invites on LinkedIn that have the standard default text. Asking people to give up their time to look at your profile, read it and decide whether to accept your invitation is actually a big deal. Sending a basic and standard invite therefore is actually saying that you don't respect their time, but you do want them to accept your invitation. I also liken it to talking to someone with your back turned when you meet them for the first time. Something you would never do. You can also show gratitude by engaging with your connections’ posts by liking, commenting, re-sharing, retweeting and favouriting (Twitter). 

We are all learning how to do all of this much better. I still have masses to learn and all of our journeys on Social Media are still very very new.

Take it step by step and think about all your actions and interactions carefully and thoughtfully. When you take your ’Personal Brand’ seriously and you have respect for your connections, you can achieve great things.

@stayingaliveuk