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Ira Koretsky
(click for all of Ira's posts)
Duane Bailey
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Guest Bloggers
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Just posted this on Instagram. Thought I would share it. Something I am very passionate about-- the connecting, the bonding, the relationship building humans need and thrive on.

People tend to forget that we all started off as strangers... our spouses, our best friends, our relatives before they became our grandparents, our aunts and uncles, and so forth. Everyone was first a stranger. And only through physical communication was that relationship cemented.

As a communications professional, adjunct professor teaching undergrads about career strategies, and voracious reader, I/we are witnessing a relationship building chasm...

Here's what I posted on Instagram:

I truly believe we need to get back to building relationships in a physical way… in meetings, over food, by telephone, networking, and more. Social media is not a replacement or substitute. It’s just another way. You truly can’t get to know someone until you look them in the eye and judge their spirit. To hear their stories with their body language and tone of voice. Video can do this…text can not.

 branding, messaging, content marketing, marketing, positioning

You've been tasked with drafting a social media strategy for your brand. Initially, your goals are to build your company's reputation and raise brand awareness. As the brand takes hold in the market, your goals will include increases in customer engagement, conversions (a.k.a. sales) and loyalty.

Public relations? Marketing? Or both? Is there a difference?

Too often, these terms are used interchangeably – without a real understanding of the role each brings to your brand. One, public relations, is about building reputations and raising awareness among members of your target audience. The other, marketing, is about converting that audience into paying customers. As best-selling author and marketing consultant Al Ries sees it, public relations lights the fire and marketing fans the flames.

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The purpose of public relations is to educate and build relations with all stakeholders – investors, community members, lawmakers and regulators, industry thought leaders, current and potential customers, etc. Marketing's role is to educate and influence current and potential customers. Public relations supports marketing by creating a favorable climate in which to operate and, the reality is, you need both to accomplish your goals.

Public relations, while different from marketing, is an integral part of your brand's overall marketing strategy.

 

For other insights on social media and content marketing, see:
Absent Context, Your Content Is Meaningless
You Are What You Tweet
How Content Marketing Builds Stronger Relationships with Your Brand

Happy Lunar New Year or Happy Chinese New Year or Gong Xi Fa Cai. The Chief Storyteller® team wishes you a healthy and prosperous 2016.

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Everyone at The Chief Storyteller® wishes you a warm, safe, and relaxing holiday season. Here's a little storytelling humor.

secret-formula-for-great-storytelling

Monday, December 14, 2015

Tweet with the End Result in Mind

tweet with end result in mind

Think about the actions you are trying to inspire among your followers before you send your next tweet. Give potential followers convincing reasons to “follow” you.

Send Tweets to:
- Share information
- Challenge trends and conventional thinking
- Entertain and make them laugh
- Help them bond with others
- Connect them to other like-minded individuals (remember Twitter is a community of communities)

Match the type of tweet to the preferences of your audience and your goals. Are these actions consistent with the results you are expecting? Social media rewards those who share the right information with their audience.

If your event managers are spending the bulk of their time on event logistics – shipping, delivery, set-up, staffing and tear-down of your exhibit booth and promoting it on social media – you may be missing the bigger picture. In the world of event marketing, booths are table stakes. While exhibit booths play a role in promoting your brand and engaging customers, event management requires a more holistic approach.

Achieving business outcomes involves other stakeholders in your organization, and requires a commitment to measuring and reporting on quantifiable results beyond the softer metrics of brand awareness and engagement.

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Your customers want to know how your products and services speak to their needs and interests. Your sales managers want to know how your participation at an event is helping their teams turn qualified leads into closed sales. And your executive management team wants to know how your presence at a show or event is contributing to business outcomes, like revenue and return on investment (ROI) goals.

To ensure your event marketing program is meeting the needs of your stakeholders and achieving your desired business outcomes, develop and implement a scorecard for evaluating the success of each show or event. As a starting point, consider adding the following quantifiable metrics to your scorecard:
• Number of visitors
• Most and least popular discussion topics
• Number and type of social media mentions of your brand, key messages and event hashtag(s)
• Number of qualified leads
• Number of closed sales
• Average revenue per closed sale
• Cost of participating in the show or event

Follow each event with a post-event assessment, inviting candid feedback from the various stakeholders within your organization. Review and report on your results. Develop and implement corrective actions, when necessary, to improve performance. Use the output of each assessment to quantify your ROI and to inform your participation in future shows or events.

LinkedIn Tips

Here's a total revision to of one of our more popular posts published a few years back (67 Tips for Using LinkedIn to Help You Find the Job You Want). I categorized the tips, added several, and removed the outdated ones. Suggestions, feedback, your favorite tips?  Please let me know in the comments.

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If you were not aware, LinkedIn is the number one business social media site in the world. Today, there are over 380,000,000 members with an average of 5,000,000 joining every month. Some interesting statistics:

- Officially launched on May 5, 2003.
- 4,500 members as of May 2003
- Available in 24 languages
- > 8,700 full-time employees with offices in 30 cities
- Members come from > 200 countries and territories
- Top Countries: USA 118M+; India 31M+; UK 19M+; Canada 11M+; France 10M+; China 10M+; Italy 8M+; Australia 7M+; Mexico 7M+; Spain 7M+

The tips are designed to improve your profile and for you job seekers, to help you find a job. These are the top ones that colleagues, clients, and friends have found most helpful. There are a lot more!

Suggest you identify the best tips for you. Then prioritize what you will do in what time frame. I did include a 30 Day Must Do, To Do list. Also, based on several suggestions from folks, each tip is on a separate line to facilitate a check-list approach.

Whatever you need from LinkedIn, be deliberate with your time and how you interact with the LI network.

30 Day Must Do, To-Do List

  • Customize your professional headline (it is critical to have a compelling and engaging headline...this is what people who search see first adjacent to your picture)
  • Check and correct grammar (copy/paste into your favorite word processing software - I have never seen anyone's profile with no grammar errors)
  • Check and correct spelling (copy/paste into your favorite word processing software - you might be surprised at finding a spelling error)
  • Check and correct readability (use Microsoft Word's Readability Tools). Generally, you should write at or below the 10th grade level. Most USA magazines write between the 6th and 8th grade levels. For comparison, The New York Times writes to the 10th grade level. For Readability, your goal should be greater than 50.
  • Omit your personal information that may lead to identity theft (e.g., birthday, marital status, and address...While its fun to get happy birthday notes. Today's hyper fraud and attack world, I'd suggest you omit it)
  • Spend time (a lot) on your summary. After your professional headline, it is the important section. It is what people read first (unless you changed the order of the sections).
  • Spend time (a lot) on your Skills. This is an important section as people can search on your skills.
  • Put your value proposition/elevator speech in your summary
  • Use action verbs and active voice. If you live and work in the USA, suggest you use first person voice. If you work a lot with people in the USA, also recommend first person voice.

  • Use a professional looking photograph. No cut-outs/cut-offs, boats, children, spouses, etc. There are exceptions to this rule of course (only a few). LinkedIn statistics show that profiles with pictures perform substantially better than those profiles without pictures
  • Use your personal email address for your account. This ensures you will always have access to your account

New to LinkedIn

  • Complete your profile (LinkedIn research shows members with complete profiles are more successful in securing employment and complete profiles show up higher in search results
  • Invite people to join your network with a personalized/customized note…EVERY time
  • Expand your network by adding people you know (Consider allowing LinkedIn to access your Outlook, Gmail, etc.)
  • Consider including your maiden name (women) in your profile name. This ensures people who knew you before you got married can still find you
  • Fill out your educational history (many people skip this. And join your alumni group)
  • Fill out your employment history, from right after college to present (many people skip this. And join your alumni groups if your organizations have them
  • Take advantage of the New User Guide from LinkedIn

Advanced LinkedIn Content, Positioning, & Messaging

  • Change the website link for your blog from "My Blog" to a proper name such as "The Chief Storyteller Blog"
  • Change the website link for your company/personal site from "My Company" to a proper name such as "The Chief Storyteller® Website"
  • Change the website link for your LinkedIn public profile to a proper name/organization name such as "http://www.LinkedIn.com/in/TheChiefStoryteller"
  • Change the website link for your Twitter account to "Twitter" or your Twitter name such as "chiefstoryteller" 
  • Add into your profile articles and publications you wrote
  • Add into your profile presentations you gave via SlideShare.net
  • Ask for recommendations (helpful article Every Accomplishment Should Be Great: 5 Steps to Compelling Resume Accomplishments)
  • Consider including your LinkedIn address in your email signature
  • Consider upgrading your account to LI Premium
  • Expand your network by adding people that are like-minded (use groups, keywords, 2nd degree connections, and suggestions from LinkedIn)
  • Seek out advice from some of the smartest people in the world (any member can answer your questions - LinkedIn Inmail is a good way)
  • Help write your recommendations to ensure it is on-message - the message you want to communicate
  • Identify and include keywords relevant to audiences that will search for you
  • Join alumni groups to ensure you stay connected with high school, college, and graduate friends and colleagues
  • Join groups for personal development
  • Join professional groups important to your career success
  • Consider re-ordering your Skills. There are two approaches:  Listing your top rated skills and listing the skills you want more "clicks" on.
  • Track statistics for Who's viewed your profile. Identify trends

  • Look closely at Who's viewed your profile. Consider reaching out via LinkedIn InMail or connecting directly
  • Track statistics for Who's viewed your posts
  • For those that viewed your post, consider reaching out via LinkedIn InMail or connecting directly
  • Track statistics for your Actions Taken. Examine what activities you have completed and what ones you should be working on. Don't get caught up in the "gamification" aspect. Do what is right for you.
  • Visit the LinkedIn blog to gain insights and to learn more about changes coming
  • Use the "Follow Company" feature to stay current with organizations you have an interest in joining or learning more about
  • Use the "Saved searches" option to save your favorite search queries
  • Turn off your update notification in your settings when you are revising your profile for content changes, then turn it back on. Leave it on if you want people to know about job changes and other significant changes to your profile.
  • Consider turning your profile summary into one that is story-based 
  • Add the appropriate key words to your profile. Add the words your prospective audiences are searching for and the words you want to be known for - emphasize what your audience's point of view.

Building and Nurturing Your Network  

Ensure what you do share is very interesting and very relevant. LinkedIn is still a "noisy" social media community with articles, updates, announcements, sales solicitations, LinkedIn InMails, Pulse, etc.

  • Send articles of interest you come across from your favorite websites
  • Send articles of interest you come across from your favorite bloggers
  • Answer interesting questions in your groups thoughtful, education-focused responses
  • Share content from your blogs in your updates
  • Share content from your blogs in your Company page
  • Share content from your blogs in your Showcase pages
  • Share content from your articles in your updates
  • Share content from your articles in your Company page
  • Share content from your articles in your Showcase pages
  • Share content from your newsletters in your updates
  • Share content from your newsletters in your Company page
  • Share content from your newsletters in your Showcase pages
  • Share content from your favorite groups (not private)
  • Connect strategically with selected LiONs (LinkedIn Open Networkers) matching your interests to expand your network
  • Leverage advanced search functionality to locate/connect with people with experiences and education like yours to see where they work and where they worked
  • Look through your connections’ connections for good-fit additions for your network
  • Send notes to people in your network when you see status updates or changes to his/her network
  • Share news with appropriate Groups
  • Write recommendations for people in your network. Suggest you ask the person first for keywords and preferred concepts/ideas to write about

Career - Job Seekers / Job Hunters 

There may be some duplicate tips here. I wanted to ensure the tips specific to career were in this list.

  • Download Box.Net and then include your cover letter and resume
  • Help write your recommendations to ensure it is on-message - the message you want to communicate
  • Join professional groups important to your career success
  • Perform competitive intelligence research on the target organizations before applying for a position
  • Perform competitive intelligence research on the target organization's competitors before applying for a position
  • Perform competitive intelligence research on people (e.g., hiring managers) before applying for a position
  • Perform competitive intelligence research on interviewers before your phone screen or in-person interview (e.g., read profiles, do Internet searches, read articles, and read blogs they wrote)
  • Perform competitive intelligence research using the LinkedIn reference check tool on interviewers before your phone screen or in-person interview 
  • Perform competitive intelligence research use advanced search to find current employees. Send a personalized request for a telephone call to discover more information about the prospective organization
  • Perform competitive intelligence research use advanced search to find former employees. Send a personalized request for a telephone call to discover more information about the prospective organization
  • Spend time (a lot) on your Skills. This is an important section as people can search on your skills
  • Search frequently the LinkedIn job opportunities
  • Use the "Follow Company" feature to stay current with organizations you have an interest in joining or learning more about
  • Turn off your update notification in your settings when you are revising your profile then turn it back on. 

The content we produce – spoken and written words, PowerPoint decks, images, videos, memes, charts, infographics, etc. – tells a story about the importance of establishing a relationship between us and our target audience. The story we tell should be a compelling one that accelerates our success at driving sales and revenue.

After all, we're all selling something and our goal is top-line growth.

An effective content marketing strategy, then, should be laser-focused on the needs of your target audience – identifying those needs, aligning with them and providing evidence that what you're selling can address those needs in a unique and measurable way.

Focusing on the needs of your target audience is especially important when developing marketing collateral for vertical markets. The companies who do this well instinctively tap into the knowledge and experiences of industry experts – people with a history of success in the field, industry analysts and consultants, influential academics and even students who are pursuing a college major or conducting research in the field.

Understanding the industry you're selling to, and how your customers (i.e., decision-makers) are measured and compensated, are the keys to developing content that is relevant to your target audience and providing them with a compelling call to action. In my experience, people tend to buy when one of three opportunities arise: they have a problem, they see a problem coming or they see a chance to shine.

A content marketer's job is to develop the story that shows potential buyers how you and your brand are best positioned to address these opportunities.

 

For more on the intersection of sales and marketing, please see:
Why Every Marketer Should Have Sales Experience
The Purpose of Marketing Collateral Is to Drive Sales
The Role of Marketing Is to Drive Sales

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Did you see the new change from LinkedIn on messaging group members?

While in a specific Groups, you'll see this subheading to the right of your screen, "Changes for messaging group members."  Underneath this subheading it reads, "We've updated the rules for messaging the Out of Network members in your Groups to prevent abuse. To read more about how we've improved Groups, visit our Help Center."

At a high-level, the new policy means you may only message a maximum of 15 people outside of your connected network per month across all of your groups.

Here's the text from the policy change:

Communicating with a Fellow Group Member
How do I send a message to a group member and allow them to contact me?
Last Reviewed: 06/18/2015

You can send a message to a group member without being connected, and adjust your Member Message settings from within the group. However, there are limits:

1.  You can send 15 free 1:1 group messages to fellow group members each month. This limit is set for all the groups you belong to and not for each group individually. If you go over the limit, you'll see an error message until the next month begins.

- Unsent messages don't carry over to the next month. This limit includes messages sent directly from a group, to your 1st degree connections.
- Only the original message is counted towards the limit. Any back-and-forth replies from either party won’t count towards the 15 message allotment.
- If you need to send more messages for recruiting, promoting, or connecting with members outside your network, we offer many alternatives. Please check out our Premium accounts or Recruiter product options which include InMail messages and recruiting tools to make the most of LinkedIn.

2.  You have to be a member of a group for at least 4 days.

3.  You have to be a member of LinkedIn for at least 30 days in order to send messages to fellow group members.

 

To send a free message directly to a group member:

* From the member list
- Move your cursor over Interests at the top of your homepage and select Groups.
- Click the group's name.
- Click the number of members in the group near the top right.
- Click the Send message link under the member's name. This link will appear only if the member's settings allow them to be contacted by other group members.
- Your inbox will appear.
- Create your message and click Send Message.

* Privately reply to a discussion someone posted
- Click the Dropdown icon next to the discussion.
- Click Reply privately.
- Your inbox will appear.
- Create your message and click Send Message.

 

If you're an owner, manager or moderator of a group, you can also message members from the Manage tab under Participants.

Managers have the same limits as members, but owners/managers also have access to templated/automated messages under the Manage tab to explain why a member was declined from joining a group.

Owners can use these templates to control automated messages that are triggered by a 'Request to join' or 'Decline' action. Learn more about managing message templates for your group. Learn about adjusting your Group Member Messages settings.

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Here is a helpful info graphic with a variety of interesting and highly relevant data/statistics.

The "Psychology of Influencer Marketing" infographic, by way of Fractl and BuzzStream, includes in the description, "Take your content promotion tactics to the next level by incorporating a few insights from psychology..."

How has been your success with these tactics? Or your own?

 

 

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About a week ago I was on LinkedIn.  In the “Whose Viewed Your Profile,” LinkedIn is always making suggestions for groups. This time the Harvard Business Review group was displayed.  I clicked on the [Join] button and was promptly "rejected." Just kidding. The group already had a million members and was full. LinkedIn was sorry, the screen message said.

Not to be deterred, for the next several days, when I would remember, I would click on the [Join] button. I would just sigh and resign myself to be rejected. It now was a matter of "when" I told myself.

After a few days of trying, I was accepted. I didn’t think anything of it.

About an hour later, my friend and colleague Dave (his LinkedIn Profile) sent me a screen shot of the LinkedIn update of me being the 1,000,000 member of the HBR group. His email was “1 in a 1,000,000.” I laughed out loud…quite loudly.

What are you doing to connect with your LinkedIn networks?

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Yesterday while meeting with a client and reviewing his LinkedIn profile, we were talking about how he can demonstrate his skills and, past performance. And how to do so with recommendations, which he only had two. While we were strategizing on a plan to request tailored recommendations, he asked, "Do you know how to send these recommendations easily?" I smiled and said, "yes I do."

I thought to share how as this week's tip.

One of the best reasons to use this LinkedIn hack is for job seekers, recruiters, and HR teams to easily view a candidate's recommendations for his/her ENTIRE profile with one click rather than having to search a person's profile, job-by-job.

A not-so-obvious reason is for organizations to demonstrate excellent customer service, past performance, etc. to prospective customers, partners, etc. Organizations should link to team member profiles with the representative recommendations.

Here's how:

1) Log-in to your LinkedIn profile
2) Click on the [Profile] menu option, top left of your screen, close to the blue LinkedIn logo
3) Scroll down to your summary information. This is the box with your picture, name, professional headline, etc.
4) Look at the bottom left of your summary box for a gray LinkedIn logo and a URL (see orange arrow below). This is your public profile URL.

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5) Copy your public profile URL, paste it into your browswer, then add #recommendations at the very end. Press and you'll see just your recommendations for all of your employement history. This is how the URL would look to view my recommendations.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/thechiefstoryteller#recommendations


Note:  If your LinkedIn profile is outside the United States, delete the country letters from your profile URL.

If you have any trouble email me.

 

Source:  I found the original article here (Showcase Imagery) and simplified it above for you.

 

I receive more cold calls each week than I can count. Phone calls, voice messages, emails, Twitter DMs, LinkedIn messages and sponsored Facebook posts.

I've witnessed no shortage of creative approaches. Early morning or late afternoon phone calls, intriguing email subject lines and targeted social media messages are among the many tactics eager salespeople have used to lure me into a conversation. And, yet, I return very few of the cold calls I receive.

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If you want me to answer, inspire me.

Give me a reason to return the call. Show me you've done your homework and you truly understand my or my organization's needs. Offer me a solution to a problem or challenge I may be facing. You might even inspire me enough to answer your cold call.

 

For more on effective selling techniques, please see:
Selling Beyond Price
If You're Selling, Are You Showing or Telling?
• If You're in Sales, Tell Me Something I Don't Know

A 2014 U.S. Harris Poll conducted on behalf of CareerBuilder found that 43% of hiring managers use social media to screen potential hires.

Among the top three reasons causing employers to eliminate candidates from consideration were the following types of posts by job candidates:
  • Provocative or inappropriate photographs or information – 46%
  • Information about them drinking or using drugs – 41%
  • Bad-mouthing their previous company or fellow employees – 36%

If these kinds of posts can derail a career, imagine the impact they can have on a client relationship. Social networking sites can also help to establish whether a salesperson is a good fit with a client's organizational culture, is professional and can be trusted. Inappropriate posts like the ones mentioned above can create the opposite impression and quickly sabotage an otherwise healthy business relationship. Salespeople should avoid posting comments on their social networks that portray themselves or their customers in an unprofessional or less than positive light.

When it comes to social media, including an "opinions are mine" disclaimer on your profile may not be enough to keep hiring managers and clients from forming negative impressions about a potential candidate or salesperson.

Over the past five years or so, I've become a prolific online communicator – on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, the ChiefStoryteller® blog, etc. I don't have a formal editorial calendar and never saw the need for one.

Until now.

I recently began producing a weekly newsletter. Unlike my previous experience with social and other forms of online communication, I now rely on others for content, review and publication. There are workloads, vacation schedules, software updates, systems outages, family emergencies and unplanned absences to consider. The people I depend on require advanced notice and consideration of their time.

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For me, an editorial calendar has become a necessity. Consider these benefits, which I'll refer to as the three C's:

• Cadence – Without one, it would be difficult to maintain a consistent cadence. Once you commit to publishing a weekly newsletter or blog, skipping a week is no longer an option. The same goes for social. Your audience expects to hear from you on a regular basis.

• Content – Planning your content updates helps to ensure the information you share is relevant to your target audience and consistent with your brand's identity and purpose. Followers of a brand committed to health and sustainability, for example, would not find stories of overindulgent nightclub experiences particularly relevant.

• Coordination – An editorial calendar is first and foremost a plan. It affords you the ability to coordinate your communications among the various channels you are using – online newsletters, blogs and social channels. It also ensures the people who are responsible for your brand's communications are coordinating their efforts around a singular purpose and strategy.

While developing an editorial calendar may seem like more work in the short run, the benefits I've identified will ultimately lead to a more efficient and rewarding process for everyone involved.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day

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Happy St. Patrick's Day to all my Irish friends around the world...And to everyone, as today you are Irish (smile).

I look forward to St. Paddy's Day as it is always festive. You look for your best green to wear (today I wore my green tie and shamrock lapel pin). And people seem to be friendlier.

It also is a day that starts with an always grand breakfast event hosted by the Northern Ireland Bureau.  Having done some workshop programs in Belfast, Northern Ireland, NI holds a special place in my experiences. 

I included a few pictures from today's breakfast as well as a few from my trip to Belfast.

Norman Houston, Director of the Northern Ireland Bureau, welcomes everyone. Every year the Northern Ireland Bureau sponsors a St. Patrick's Day breakfast. Invest NI and Visit Ireland help celebrate St Patrick's Day in style. I had the honor and pleasure of conducting several workshop sessions in Belfast, Northern Ireland. John from Invest NI was kind enough to invite me a few years back and I've been enjoying it every since. The entire NI team of Norman, Stewart, Lorraine, Tracy, Bronagh, and Christopher deserve a big round of applause. @ni_bureau #StPatricksDay

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Dr. Malcolm McKibbin, Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service shares important information on economic, cultural, tourism, and political activities and issues in Northern Ireland.

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This is my third breakfast with the NI Bureau. Here I am with Norman Houston, Director of the Northern Ireland Bureau. (great storyteller by the way)

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In front of the big welcome sign...

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Here's a little "Throwback Tuesday." I had the honor and pleasure of speaking in Northern Ireland several years ago. Here I am on my first night drinking a fantastic pint of Guinness. My program was with CO3, Chief Officers Third Sector (http://www.co3.bz/). Majella, Jackie, Tracey, Rachel, Tony from CO3 and Liz and Nick all made my experience one I will treasure for my lifetime.

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Here's another "Throwback Tuesday" picture from my trip to Belfast, Northern Ireland with the team at CO3, Chief Officers Third Sector (http://www.co3.bz/). 

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I was at a neighborhood social function recently when one of my friends, a C-level executive at his firm, asked me if I placed any stock in LinkedIn recommendations when making a hiring decision.

What prompted his question was a recent experience, where he had discovered glaring inconsistencies between a candidate's track record and the glowing recommendations that had been posted on behalf of the candidate in her LinkedIn profile.

While I'm a fan of LinkedIn recommendations, I've always believed it's important to consider them in the context of "doveryai no proveryai" (or "trust, but verify"), the old adage and Russian proverb made famous by President Ronald Reagan in the 1980's.

Without exception, every LinkedIn recommendation I've ever seen is a glowing one (mine included). The LinkedIn user has sole discretion regarding the content of the recommendations that get posted to his or her profile. So, yes, I suppose it's reasonable to think of them more in terms of owned media and less as earned media.

If you're wondering why this distinction is important, consider the results of Nielsen's 2012 Global Trust in Advertising Survey. Of more than 28,000 Internet respondents in 56 countries, 92% said they trusted earned media (e.g., word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family) vs. 58% who trusted owned media (e.g., messages on company websites). If I have that much control over the recommendations my friends and colleagues post on my online profile, are they really not just another form of messages on my "company website"?

What's a hiring manager to do? How can you be assured of the veracity of LinkedIn recommendations?

Let me offer a few suggestions:

• Look for evidence of impact elsewhere on a candidate's LinkedIn profile.

If a candidate's recommendations tout his or her ability to deliver results, the candidate's profile should list specific results, achievements and timeframes.

• Ask the candidate for more information and examples during the interview.

If a recommendation speaks to a candidate's history of fostering positive working environments, ask the candidate for two or three short stories attesting to his or her experience in creating and sustaining those kinds of organizational cultures.

• Insist on a commensurate number of recommendations from people with similar working relationships who have not provided reviews on LinkedIn.

No brand is without its detractors... and its share of less than flattering reviews. Insist on telephone references from others among the recommendation peer group, who have not provided them on LinkedIn, for a complete picture.

LinkedIn recommendations can be excellent and credible indicators of a candidate's qualifications as long as you take the time to "trust, but verify."

 

For more on personal brand authenticity on LinkedIn, please see:
If Everyone Else on LinkedIn Is Motivated, What Makes You Different?
Marketers: What Evidence of Impact Can You Provide?
Make Your Personal Brand Stand Out in LinkedIn
Truth in Advertising: Did They Really Do That?

For Your Information:  Not sure if you have to be an active user of Microsoft Outlook Social Connector to have seen this...LinkedIn is no longer supporting the connector plugin to Microsoft. The email below is really quite vague.

I thought it was a great tool...

Here's the text of the email:

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Hi Ira,

As an active user of LinkedIn for Microsoft Outlook Social Connector, we wanted to make sure we let you know that on March 9, we will no longer support LinkedIn for Microsoft Outlook Social Connector in Outlook 2003, 2007, and 2010.

This means that LinkedIn information about your email contacts will not be visible in those Outlook versions. Our team is working with Microsoft to build even more powerful tools to help you stay connected with your professional world.

Until then you can get similar capabilities with the “LinkedIn for Outlook” app for Outlook 2013 from the Office Store.

Have questions? Visit our Help Center for more information..

Thanks, The LinkedIn Team 

 

I've yet to take my first ride in an Uber car. I've heard so many great things about the crowd-sourced car company from my high schooler and the interactive agency I work with, I feel like I'm missing out on something special.

I wasn't surprised when I recently read in a customer loyalty news publication that Uber had recently partnered with Starwood Hotels and Resorts in an effort to improve the hotel brand's guest experience and customer loyalty program. Through the new partnership, members of Starwood Preference Guest (SPG), the hotel's popular loyalty program, will now be able to earn extra points by booking an Uber ride to any destination.

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At their most basic level, partnerships like these are a form of cross-selling, where customers are offered related items to enhance their experience with a brand. Cross-selling offers companies like Uber and Starwood a number of benefits, including increased customer exposure to higher margin services and increased loyalty through the suggestion of complementary items of perceived value. This partnership is a brilliant example.

A truly innovative idea rooted in a basic marketing principle – now that's worth tweeting... and blogging about.

Does your brand have a social media policy? If so, does it include guidance for how employees should respond to unplanned tweets?

A social media policy provides employees with a set of guidelines for communicating online about your brand. While many social media policies include pre-approved responses to anticipated tweets and require employees to submit their posts for review prior to posting, there are times when a little spontaneity is appropriate.

Unplanned tweets – positive or negative – present brands with an unexpected opportunity to interact and engage with customers in a personal way. Conversations between two people are difficult to predict and even harder to script in advance. Designating someone in advance who communicates well and trusting him or her to use good judgment when responding to unplanned tweets are ways to encourage genuine conversations and deeper relationships with your customers.alt

 

In my experience, one brand that does an exceptional job of responding to unplanned tweets is Lifetime Fitness. I visit my Lifetime club on a regular basis and frequently tweet about my experiences while I am there. Almost always, as in the example above, I'll hear back from the brand (@lifetimefitness) within minutes of posting my tweet. In some instances, they'll even share my post with others by retweeting it.

While social media can be an opportunity for your employees to help build your brand, there is also an inherent risk that an inappropriate post or comment could inadvertently damage your brand's reputation. An effective social media policy can help achieve an acceptable balance between the opportunity social media presents and the risk that accompanies it, with the right mix of guidance, planning and trust.

altTwitter recently announced the addition of a feature that allows users to send group direct messages (DMs) to up to 20 people. Direct messages are private messages sent from one Twitter user to other Twitter users who follow you. Direct messages can now be used for one-on-one private conversations or between groups of users.

While you can only invite users who follow you to a group, the followers you add to your group DM don't need to be following each other to be in on the conversation. Within a group DM, users can share text, tweets, pics and emojis. The current release does not include video sharing capability.

Twitter users like you and me now have the ability to hold ongoing private conversations with a select group of people. I've had situations where a group of my followers retweeted one of my tweets and a subsequent conversation about its content ensued among us. Brands and other savvy Twitter users might now use the group DM feature to target specific groups of followers or advocates with content tailored to their interests.

For more insights on Twitter conversations, please see:
You Are What You Tweet
#ICYMI: Now There's an App for Understanding Hashtags on Twitter
My #FirstTweet

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Did you know LinkedIn has a plug-in for Outlook 2003, 2007, and 2010?

It seamlessly blends into Outlook. While in email, a person’s profile picture is automatically displayed in your People Pane View, whether they are one of your connections or not. Want to add the person, simply click on the green + adjacent to the picture, and the person will be invited to join your network.

Keep in mind, you can NOT personalize the invitation. The person will receive the plain vanilla invite.

LinkedIn Benefits include (from the site):
- Access Your Connections in Your Inbox:  See the latest LinkedIn activity and profile photo from any connection that sends you an e-mail.
- E-mail Your Connections Directly:  Just start typing a name and let the LinkedIn Outlook Connector fill in the rest.
- Keep Building Your Network:  Instantly send an invitation to connect from any Outlook e-mail.

Download it here
http://www.linkedin.com/static?key=microsoft_outlook

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Having traveled around the world both on vacation and speaking, I have come across a variety of interesting food names:

- Chicken with wilted spinach
- Stinky tofu
- Vegetarian meatballs

You may have heard, even tried some of these. By themselves, do the titles immediately make you think “yummy?” or do you mentally cringe? Personally, I cringed at "wilted spinach." Why would I order something out of date or not fresh? Because this was served at a very nice restaurant, I laughed out loud. It sparked quite an interesting conversation with my dining partners.

Quite unintended, I ended up liking the phrase wilted spinach quite a lot as a metaphor for bad messaging. As a result, I titled our approach to testing messages, “The Wilted Spinach Test.” At its core, the test looks to evaluate whether your words/messages resonate with your target audiences. At a detailed level, do your words/messages mean what you want them to mean? Words matter. A lot. To some, one word could be positive and to others, the very same word could be negative.

Do your written, spoken, and social media communications cause audiences to ask good questions, contact you, or skip right past you?

LinkedIn has released its annual list of the top ten "most overused, underwhelming buzzwords and phrases in LinkedIn profiles of 2014." Open your profile now and check to see if any of these words and phrases are appearing in yours:

   1. Motivated
   2. Passionate
   3. Creative
   4. Driven
   5. Extensive Experience
   6. Responsible
   7. Strategic
   8. Track Record
   9. Organizational
 10. Expert

Are you a highly motivated professional? Passionate about your work? Proud of your track record? Well, then, so is everyone else with a LinkedIn profile.

Your LinkedIn profile is your personal brand. The most successful brands stand out. It's time to stop describing your brand with these overused and meaningless buzzwords and phrases. After all, who among us is not motivated? Is each one of us not passionate about something? And what does it mean when someone says he or she has a proven "track record" of success, anyway?

Instead, replace these buzzwords and phrases with concrete examples of the business results you've achieved. Show potential employers how your contributions have impacted top- and bottom-line performance. Make yourself stand out. Brand yourself as the answer to the challenges your next employer is facing.

For more insights on LinkedIn and your personal brand, please see:
Is Your Personal Brand In Need of a Makeover?
Personal Branding: Stay Relevant with a Current LinkedIn Profile
Make Your Personal Brand Stand Out in LinkedIn

Monday, January 26, 2015

Words to Avoid - “Anxious”

altFor business communications, you should avoid using the word “anxious.” Anxious is a word all too often misused. You’ll hear people saying, “I’m anxious to meet Julie.” Or “I’m really anxious about xyz.”

By definition, anxious means: “characterized by extreme uneasiness of mind or brooding fear about some contingency” (Merriam-Webster Online).

For business communications, always use “eager.” By definition, eager means: “marked by enthusiastic or impatient desire or interest” (Merriam-Webster Online).

If there is a cause to use “anxious” to convey worry, we suggest using “concern” or “concerned.”

Since all of your business communications to your target audiences are related to your relationship and what you offer to them, choose your words carefully.

The New Year is a great time to look ahead and think about the things you're going to do differently in the year ahead, especially if you're a sales professional. Change is a constant in sales – the result of evolving market conditions, increasing competition and sales quotas with year-over-year growth targets.

You can embrace this change with these ten sales resolutions:
   1. Spend four more hours in front of your customers each week
   2. Learn one new fact about your industry each week
   3. Establish yourself as an industry expert on one social media channel
   4. Give your prospects one big reason to engage with you, outside of price
   5. Give your customers one big reason to expand their relationship with you and your brand, outside of price
   6. Make every customer interaction about them, instead of you
   7. Include five reasons to buy in every proposal, with a focus on value
   8. Sell high and wide within your customer organizations, with a goal of meeting one new decision-maker or influencer on every call
   9. Obtain one new customer testimonial each month
 10. Empower your customers through conversations that include words like: "and" (instead of "but"), "do" (instead of "try") and "yes" (instead of "no")

You can do this. Make 2015 the year of the customer, and your best year ever, with these resolutions.

  

For more insights on selling, please see:
Achieving Market Share Growth in a Weak Market 
If You're Selling, Are You Showing or Telling? 
The Power of the Human Touch in Sales 
If You're in Sales, Tell Me Something I Don't Know 
Are Your Customers Looking for a Better Deal?

 

The holidays are upon us.

It's time for all of us to take a well-deserved break: spend some time with family and friends, enjoy the festivities, and reflect on your experiences of the past year.

If you're like me, you started 2014 with a list of goals in mind. The current year is coming to a close and the New Year is approaching. It's time to look back. Celebrate your successes. Learn from your mistakes. Recognize and thank the people who helped you along the way. Set new goals for 2015.

Most of all, take some time to enjoy the spirit of the season.

While content may be king in the digital age, it needs to be delivered to the right audience at the right time and at the right place to make it meaningful and relevant.

This shouldn't come as a big surprise to marketers. After all, the central premise behind every successful sales presentation is knowing your audience – what their pain points are, what they're doing about them and how failing to resolve those pain points will impact your prospects both personally and professionally. It's also helpful to know where your audience is going for answers to those pain points – your competitors, trade associations, industry consultants, scholarly journals, white papers, social media, etc.

I was reminded of this recently during a visit to one of the big-box home improvement stores. I was looking for a rust-inhibiting spray paint for use on a bathtub when an associate started telling me about the store's promotion on kitchen cabinet re-facings. His knowledge level of cabinet re-facings was impressive. What he failed to realize was, at that moment, I could care less about re-facing my kitchen cabinets.

Great content, for sure. The same cannot be said for the context in which it was delivered. My pain point was a rusting tub, I wanted to repair the tub with a rust-inhibiting paint and the impact of my failing to find an answer to my pain point might be a potential water leak (which, incidentally, could cause extensive damage to the kitchen below the bathroom where the rusting tub is located). I also had previous experience with a rust-inhibiting spray paint and just needed to know where I could find another can in a different color.

Think about your digital content. I'm guessing it's awesome stuff. Now think about the context in which you are delivering it. Are you targeting the right audience? Are you delivering it at the right time and place? Are you present in the places where your target audience is going for answers to their questions? Or, are you trying to sell kitchen cabinet re-facings to a guy who simply wants to repair a rusty bath tub?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

You Are What You Tweet

Do you remember when you first signed up for Twitter? It might have been for personal use. Or perhaps it was on behalf of a corporate or professional brand. You started with a blank slate, building from the ground up. You could be anything you wanted to be.

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You crafted a brief bio. You added a profile and background photo. You chose your words and images carefully because you wanted the world to know you in a certain way.

Then you started tweeting about topics that interested you, your friendships with other people, activities you enjoy and happy moments in your life. You built a small following of like-minded followers. People formed impressions of you and your brand.

Then one day, you lost your composure. A frustrating experience with another person or a brand prompted a torrent of angry tweets. Your tweeps spread the word through RTs and marked them as "favorites". Eventually, you got the attention you wanted and your issue was resolved. Your followers, and others outside your follower base, began to see you in a different way.

Or maybe you decided to include something edgy in your tweets, like an NSFW image or some RTs laced with profanity. Once again, your tweeps spread the word through RTs and marked them as "favorites". You even picked up a few more tweeps along the way. Your followers, and others outside your follower base, began to see you in a different way.

Before long, prospective followers, customers or employers began looking you up online. They wanted to know more about you and the kind of person you were. What they found on Twitter told them everything they needed to know about you and your brand.

You are what you tweet.

 

For more on branding with Twitter, please see:
Why Social Media Marketing Is Right for Your Brand
Make It Personal: How to Communicate with Greater Impact
Reputations of Non-Social Brands Are Fair Game On Social Media, Too

One of the easiest ways to monitor your online reputation is to Google your name and see what comes up. This is particularly important for job seekers, consultants and others who are marketing their personal brands online.

You can refine your search by adding your skills, experiences or specialties after your name. By doing this, you're essentially using a long tail keyword and it's a more specific way for recruiters and other searchers to find more specific and relevant content about you. Long tail keywords can help boost your visibility in search results, add credibility to your brand and increase conversion rates (e.g., LinkedIn connections, requests for interviews, invitations to meet, etc.).

I'll use myself as an example. A recent search for my name on Google returned a total of 3,290,000 listings. Among the ten highest ranked listings (i.e., the ones that appeared on page one), three included links to me. There was one to my blog profile at The Chief Storyteller (#2), one to my Twitter account (#6) and another  to my LinkedIn profile (#8). By scanning the brief descriptions that appear with these listings, you might get the sense I'm a regular contributor to The Chief Storyteller blog and my work experience includes marketing, sales and social media.

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Now take a look at what happened when the search was narrowed by adding the keywords, "marketing and sales," to my name. This search returned 82,100 results. Marketing and sales-related content from my social media profiles, blog posts and SlideShare account appeared in nine of the top ten listings. The content associated with these listings was deeper and more relevant to anyone who might be considering me for a specific marketing and sales opportunity or engagement. While the number of overall results returned was far lower than those from the general search, their quality was much higher.

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Take a moment to Google your own name and see what comes up. Once you've done that, try narrowing the search by adding keywords that describe skills or experiences you have. Are the results consistent with the way you would want others to perceive you and your brand?

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