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Optimizing Your Tweets for Search

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Daniel Page– Enjoy!

Optimizing Your Tweets for Search

photo credit: Flickr

Twitter’s among the most powerful social networks in the world for brand awareness – which is why it’s of the utmost importance that you know how to tap into it.

Twitter’s been around for several years now, and there still appears to be a distressing number of organizations who don’t quite know what to make of it. That’s  rather unfortunate, as those organizations don’t understand enough to know what they’re missing out on. In the right hands, Twitter may well be among the most powerful social networks in the world.

I suspect this is tied to the nature of the social network. Twitter is something people use when they’re in transit. It’s a site they browse when they’re waiting for the train, sitting in the bathroom, or stuck in traffic.  It’s a social network they go to in order to share and discover new content; in order to share their stream of thought with the world.

Connect with a user on here, and they’re bound to spread whatever message you’re putting forward like wildfire.

Make Sure Your Profile Is Optimized First

Before you even think of tweaking any of your tweets, you need to have a look at your profile. Do you have a decent profile picture? Does your tagline flow naturally while still incorporating a few keywords related to your brand? Is your profile named after your brand (or something people would associate with it?)

If you answered no to any of those questions, then you’ve some work to do before going forward.

Tailor Your Tweets To Grab Attention – And Make Sure You Have A Voice

While I don’t deny that each and every tweet should have a headline, and that most should include a link along with a hashtag or two, I nevertheless maintain that your ‘voice’ is the most important part of your Twitter presence. It’s how you present yourself to your peers and followers, after all; just like a sleazy used car salesman is likelier to drive people away from his lot than sell them a Prius, tweets that appear mechanical, spammy, or boring will cause nothing but harm.

Let your personality shine through – keep it professional, but demonstrate that you are a real human being.

Time Your Tweets

There are certain dates and times when a tweet is likeliest to receive attention, but it tends to vary by region and demographic. If you know anything about your target audience, try tracking a few of them down on Twitter. Watch their habits – when are they tweeting, and how often? Working out what time most of their tweets were sent could give you a good idea of when would be the best time to make yourself heard.

Create A Keyword List

Although I’ve always been a proponent of a more organic form of SEO, it could be worthwhile to put together a list of all the major keywords you intend to use on Twitter. Keep them close-by, and don’t be afraid to occasionally drop one or two into one of your tweets (either into the body or as a hashtag).

Use Hashtags Whenever Possible (And Appropriate)

Speaking of hashtags…learn about them. Learn how they work. Learn what makes them tick. The most important thing here is that you don’t overuse them. You should never have more than three in a single tweet, and even then three could be two too many. Never start a tweet with a hashtag.

In order to figure out what hashtags you should be using, simply do a search on terms related to your brand (or to the tweet you’re planning to send). Note the terms that seem to be the most popular; these are your hashtags.

Understand The Concepts of Favorites And Retweets

While you should go out of your way to avoid pestering your fellow users, it can’t hurt to occasionally ask for a retweet when you’re sharing something particularly vital. Don’t forget to retweet a few things yourself, as well, in order to augment your own content.

Tweet Frequently

Last but not least, tweet with some degree of frequency and consistency. You might want to consider using some sort of management tool or setting up a tweet scheduler of some kind. Personally, I use Twuffer, but it’s up to you what you ultimately want to go with.

daniel pageAbout Daniel Page — Daniel is the Director of Business Development for Ahosting, a leading provider in SEO hosting and multiple IP hosting. Follow Ahosting on Twitter at @ahostingdotnet,  Like them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ahostingdotnet, and check out all the services they offer on http://www.ahosting.net/

 

Why Content Creation Is Everyone’s Job

This post is one in a series of tips designed to guide small business owners through the challenges of today’s startup environment and is sponsored by Canon MAXIFY – the printer lineup designed to help small business owners increase productivity so that they can focus on everything else that matters. For more information about the Canon MAXIFY printer lineup visit here 

Content

photo credit: theledge80 via photopin cc

By now I’m guessing you’ve come to realize that every organization must produce valuable, education based content in order to compete in business today.

It’s what the market expects from you, it’s how you get found, how you build trust, and how you convert knowledge into business and, of course, it’s a lot of work too. Because content creation has become one of the most time consuming and demanding functions inside many organizations, I’m always look for ways to help organization get it done in the most beneficial way.

Many firms have added content creation inside the marketing department and hired writers and journalists in an attempt to feed the content beast. While this is a logical step I believe it misses the real power of content that resides in most organizations.

The need for content has moved beyond a traditional marketing department’s ability to create because the content an organization must produce today represents the voice of an organizations strategic point of view. In other words, content creation must be part of everyone’s job.

You can’t simply hire a marketing specialist and put them in charge of the blog. Marketing, sales, service, even HR, must take part in content creation if a firm is to tap the awesome power this idea brings. In many cases people responsible for many of the customer facing functions have more insight into what customers want and need than the marketing departments often charged with sole creation of an organization’s content.

Content is culture

If content is the voice of an organization to the world then content creation is the voice of culture insider the organization. When everyone in the organization is asked to drive and create content the entire organization participates in the process of engaging customers and prospects.

This level of customer engagement from departments not generally heard from brings a greater sense of collaboration and quite often much more useful and valuable content.

Hold a content workshop

One of the best ways to get this notion started is to hold content workshops internally. This can be a simple quarterly all hands meeting where marketing and business strategy and near term objectives are presented and then every department brainstorms on relevant content they could contribute to support those objectives.

Few things bring departments together like this kind of engagement and participation. Not everyone will be enthused by the notion of being asked to create content, but many will be thankful for the opportunity and feel empowered by the invitation to contribute.

Drive an editorial calendar

The primary outcome of the content workshop is to help form a content calendar. Someone has to be in charge of the calendar and often that job will fall to marketing, but there’s no reason different departments can’t sponsor content based on monthly themes.

It’s also essential that marketing, or a task force charged with owning the editorial calendar, create training and guidelines for creating and posting content and participating in social networks.

With the low cost of high quality printers available these days, creating case studies, industry related pages and training materials has never been easier.

Canon will be spotlighting several small business owners on its social media channels throughout the next several months, so be sure to leave a comment and share your thoughts on this post using the hashtag #MAXIFY in order to qualify. If you are a U.S.-based small business owner (1-9 employees) and have faced a unique business challenge in your first year on the job, let us know! We’d love to hear what line of work your small business falls within and what you feel is the most important takeaway from this post. We’ll also be rewarding select small business owners with a prize pack including the Canon MAXIFY MB5320 printer as well as other essentials to help you run your business more efficiently. So don’t forget to leave a link to your website or social media pages that way we can see how well you’re marketing your business and get in touch!

Why You Need Social Media for Customer Support

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Abby Perkins– Enjoy!

ducttapemarketing.com_SocialSupport image

photo credit: shutterstock

There’s more to running a successful business than having an incredible product or service. Those things may generate revenue, but to attract – and retain – loyal customers, you need to provide impeccable customer support. Companies with reputations for taking care of their customers tend to fare much better than those who leave customers hanging.

These days, companies of all sizes are upping the customer service ante by being readily available on social media. And now that the practice has been around for a while, one thing is clear: Customers love being able to interact with brands on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Companies that extend their customer support to the social media realm tend to have better reputations than those that don’t.

The takeaway? Any business that wants to provide top-notch customer care has to be active on the most popular social media sites.

Think Before You Commit

Before you get too excited about providing customer service via social media, make sure you’re in it for the long haul and will actually follow through. The only thing worse than not having a social media presence is having one that’s been abandoned.

For instance, if a customer tries to interact with your brand on Twitter and is greeted by crickets – he’s not going to be too happy, and he’s not likely to keep coming back. Your earnest efforts can backfire dramatically without follow-through, so be prepared to give it your all before you start going social.

Why Should You Have Social Support?

Like many business owners, you may have been drawn to social media by the promise of enhancing and broadening your marketing efforts. Social is certainly a great way to promote a brand, but it requires a different strategy.

Traditional marketing efforts don’t fly as well on sites like Twitter and Facebook. People on social media don’t want to be preached to – they want to engage in conversations and interact with their favorite brands. That’s why social media is such an effective way to deliver top-quality customer service.

Not convinced? Consider these benefits, for both customers and companies:

Instant gratification

Consumers are used to wading through confusing telephone menus and waiting around for email replies. Through social media, you can surprise them by responding almost instantly to their questions, comments and concerns. And this doesn’t just satisfy the customer, either. It also shows that customer’s followers – and potentially many others – that your company actually cares and is committed to handling customer service issues quickly.

Personalized – and personal – service

Consumers vastly prefer dealing with living, breathing people than with nameless, faceless corporations. Some of today’s savviest companies allow customer service reps to let their personalities – and even photos – to shine through on social media. UPS, for instance, has photos of its customer service reps on its Facebook page, allowing customers to put faces to names.

Next-level interactions

By monitoring social media for mentions of your brand, you can reach out and surprise people in positive and memorable ways. CitiBike, for instance, responded to a customer tweet about a biking mishap by sending him a gift card for a new pair of jeans. The customer responded in kind by tweeting positively about the experience. CitiBike didn’t just make his day – they benefited from the transaction, too.

Positive feedback

It’s true that people are more likely to post negative online reviews than positive ones – most people aren’t prompted to take the effort to post a review if they were satisfied with the service. But social media is different. When a customer has a positive experience with a brand, it only takes a second to post about it on Facebook or Twitter. When you actively support your customers through social media, you’re more likely to experience this positive word-of-mouth.

Image control

People like complaining about companies, brands, products and services on social media because it feels good to have an outlet for your grievances. Brands can capitalize on this tendency by quickly responding to negative comments and working to quickly correct them. Because it all plays out in the public social media realm, it’s yet another way for a brand to market itself and promote its image.

Which Companies Do Social Support Right?

Still not convinced about the benefits of providing social customer support? Just take a look at some of today’s biggest companies to see where social support can take you.

  • Netflix is famous for offering highly responsive and effective customer service. The company trains its employees to use social media to react in real time.
  • JetBlue constantly monitors social media for customers who need help, and has earned a reputation for surprising people with its responsiveness.
  • To ensure people get the help they need as quickly as possible, Nike uses a separate Twitter handle for customer support.

If you’re looking for a way to outshine the competition, delivering top-notch customer service via social media is a great place to start. Just remember – don’t drop the ball. If you’re going to do it, do it consistently, effectively and correctly.

Do you use social media to provide customer support? Tell us about your experience in the comments.

AbbyPerkins_TalentTribune 150x150Abby Perkins is Managing Editor at Talent Tribune, a SoftwareProviders.com blog.  

 

How to Create an Effective Social Media System

This post is one in a series of tips designed to guide small business owners through the challenges of today’s startup environment and is sponsored by Canon MAXIFY – the printer lineup designed to help small business owners increase productivity so that they can focus on everything else that matters. For more information about the Canon MAXIFY printer lineup visit here 

social media system

photo credit: mkhmarketing via photopin cc

Many marketers and social media experts have made social media about many of the wrong things – it’s not a broadcast channel – it’s a tool for creating personal connections and sharing useful information. It’s not about building large and mostly hollow followings – it’s about finding the right group or the right handful of prospects that want very much to hear what you have to share.

When you view social media use in this light another long-standing assumption falls by the wayside – the fact that you can’t or shouldn’t sell using social media.

When you view social media tools and networks as a way to create and bolster personal relationships you build connections based on trust – when you earn trust, you can sell anything, anywhere.

The key to making social media work for your business is intention. You must make it your intention to do things that people find useful and pour all of your energy and planning into finding ways to do just that.

The word of day with regard to usefulness is context. When you put everything possible into making your updates, tweets, responses and queries as relevant as possible to smallest number of people as possible you’ve got a solid recipe for creating a social media plan that will deliver value to your business.

Below are five core activities that every useful social media system must contain and some of the tools I love to recommend to power your social media connection plan.

1) Collecting – This is the listening part and it’s the part the powers pretty much everything you do. By making it easier to spot real opportunities to connect you can be much more focused on adding value.

  • Hootsuite – Create columns for industry, topic or geographic based tweets and respond daily with useful replies
  • Twitter Lists – Create Twitter lists of customers, partners and prospects and monitor for retweeting, commenting and sharing opportunities
  • Talkwalker – Create alerts for key customers and journalists and respond to daily related emails
  • Quora – Subscribe to industry related RSS feeds and tune in to the most asked and answered questions

2) Curating – Finding and sharing the best of the web is a tremendous way to add value by delivering up just the right content.

  • Using a tool like Scoop.it or Storify pull together specific topic or industry pages or even create collections of curated content for specifics clients or prospects.
  • Use Newsle to keep tabs on trending stories and collections of content from industry influencers.

3) Creating – One of the best ways to get your content shared is to make it visual.

  • Word Swag – Use this nice little iPhone app to capture and title quick photos of clients and events
  • Canva – This free online graphic design editor makes it easy to create impactful social profile headers as well as great blog post graphics
  • Listly – This tool makes it easy to create or even collaborate on lists of things like great books or any other online resources
  • Visua.ly – Turn even the most mundane data into visual content. Media outlets love data so think about ways to mine yours!

4) Collaborating – Every social media system needs an emphasis on customer or community engagement. Finding ways to get your customers involved in social interaction is key.

  • BuzzSumo – This tool helps you find the most shared content on any topic and is my favorite for discovering guest bloggers and gaining insight into what gets shared
  • Quora – Use this question and answer site to find and answer great questions and conversation starters.
  • Alltop – Alltop is a great place to find potential guest post opportunities and contributors
  • Facebook Groups – Create private Facebook Groups to help your customers network with each other

5) Connecting – Finally, don’t forget to program ways to connect directly with customers in social settings.

  • Nimble – This CRM easily adds social data from every contact making it easy to keep tabs on what your contacts are up to
  • Rapporative – This browser plug in adds rich social data to every email you receive giving you a snapshot view in a handy place
  • Contactually – This tool allows you to group your contacts into various buckets and then set up relationship building touchpoints automatically

The best way to make social media pay is to think very seriously about the value you deliver on a one to one basis.

Canon will be spotlighting several small business owners on its social media channels throughout the next several months, so be sure to leave a comment and share your thoughts on this post using the hashtag #MAXIFY in order to qualify. If you are a U.S.-based small business owner (1-9 employees) and have faced a unique business challenge in your first year on the job, let us know! We’d love to hear what line of work your small business falls within and what you feel is the most important takeaway from this post. We’ll also be rewarding select small business owners with a prize pack including the Canon MAXIFY MB5320 printer as well as other essentials to help you run your business more efficiently. So don’t forget to leave a link to your website or social media pages that way we can see how well you’re marketing your business and get in touch!

Why Ello Really Matters

By now you’ve probably started to hear rumblings about a new social network called Ello.

ello logoI’ve been getting invite requests and questions about it over the last few weeks so I thought it might be time to weigh in.

Ello is a simple, ad-free, social network created in part as a response to the current business model of most networks like Facebook, which rely on users to sell advertising. Start by reading the Ello Manifesto.

Users are rushing to join Ello in droves and some are even claiming that Ello will eventually topple Facebook.

Claims of toppling Facebook come and go and are mostly rooted in the fact that Facebook stumbles all over it’s billion plus users on a regular basis. One of the main rallying cries for Ello is the lack of ads, but frankly, no matter what people claim, well targeted ads are often quite welcome and the source of revenue that allows the business of Facebook to outflank most any upstart.

I do think the frontier feel of Ello, like many other startup networks, has great appeal for pioneers, but in order to make it you’ve eventually got to appeal to the people of Iowa. (This is not a slam to my Iowa readers, it’s a nod to your ability to pick presidents!)

Whether Ello is the next big thing remains to be seen, but talk of brining Facebook down misses the real point.

Social behavior continues to evolve and the rise of viral networks like WhatsApp, Diaspora and Ello simply signal the need for marketers to evolve as well. But, that doesn’t mean jumping on the next wave, it means understanding why the next wave even comes about.

Personally I doubt that Ello will ever become a mainstream network for the very reasons it touts as chief benefits – privacy, no ads and unfiltered content. Watch how fast the porn industry takes to Ello.

No, the real message in the growth of Ello is that people are tired of being treated like products and want something much richer from their social experiences.

But, this message goes to heart of social media use for business in general. As long as there are billions of people posting their daily happenings on Facebook, there will always be a market for something, but true community building has to be much more personal and tight knit than that.

I’ve said it here numerous times over the last few years – social networks don’t matter, social behavior is what you must understand.

Cutting edge social experts will always focus on the next white hot trend, but all you have to do in order to make social behavior pay is focus on the next interaction with one person.

We have to stop obsessing over fans and followers and the next new, new thing and get back to using the powerful set of tools we now possess to create meaningful interactions with some of the real people we already have in our lives.

Today, Ello is an escape for people wanting to express themselves on a less soiled canvas, but if history serves as a guide, that canvas too will become messy and there will be new avenues created by those looking to recapture what is right in front of them.

To me the message of Ello is pick up the phone and call three people today, comb through your customer list and reach out to five people you should know more about, create a Twitter list of no more than thirty and try to pay attention to what they say this week.

Better yet, start bringing your customers and community into product development discussions, marketing discussions and peer-to-peer networking opportunities.

It’s time to realize the promise of social behavior by using your interactions to build trust.

How to Turn a New Fan into a Lifelong Follower

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Matthew Yeoman– Enjoy! 

photo credit: Anna L. Schiller via photopin cc

photo credit: Anna L. Schiller via photopin cc

Taking those curious new social media followers and turning them into lifelong fans that are engaged with your brand takes work. The journey from “My pal RT’d one of your tweets,” to “I now follow everything you post!” does not happen instantly.

Read on to learn how to turn that first like, share, or retweet, into a lifelong follower. The key takeaway will be around creating a strong community – and I’m not talking about one built on group hugs – these a real social media community building tactics.

Make sure that the content is platform appropriate

Every social media platform offers something different to users. You have to use the unique features of each one to truly engage with your community and new followers:

  • Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram are visual content starved. Social Bakers found that Facebook posts with images get 93-96% more attention. New followers are going to look through your social profiles – make sure you have lots of images for them.
  • LinkedIn is mostly set up for B2B. This formal atmosphere requires in-depth professional content. Cracking jokes doesn’t work: I’ve tried!
  • Twitter is free form, provided you stay within the 140 character limit. It will work best if you comment on events in the moment they are happening.
  • YouTube is the King of Video Content – we all know that. In a business context, that video content is best presented with a familiar and regular host that your fans will connect with – no one wants to be friends with a faceless company.

Take the time to read and view what your competition has done. You can use their most successful content on each platform as a template for your efforts to get new fans following you.

Have regular giveaways and special promotions on your social media accounts

Regular giveaways, promotions and contests are the type of things that old fans love, and love to share. They are also what can really get new followers interested. A majority of the business social profiles I follow came my way from a friend sharing it with me.

For proof, a Nielsen study on Twitter users found that those who follow business accounts on the platform are doing so 52% of the time to be notified of giveaways, promotions, and contests.

Post consistently and have a schedule

Nothing builds a community like a social profile where users know when to show up. Having long and irregular delays between updates leads to more chances that followers, especially those new followers, will forget you.

Remember that a consistent schedule is not a CONSTANT schedule. I’ve used the term “tweet flooding” to describe a Twitter user who posts new tweets nearly non-stop, or in sudden bursts of four or more. This activity destroys a social profile and community.

Tools like Hootsuite are popular for help with consistency. You can sit down one day and plan out the content you’ll send out for a week or longer, schedule it, and never forget to post again.

Find them before they find you with your scheduling tool’s search function

A bonus aspect of a tool like Hootsuite is that it can be a community building tool for those who haven’t found you yet – you find them. Hootsuite has a search function which automatically finds certain keywords. That keyword can easily be your:

  • Brand name for those who mention you but don’t use your account profile.
  • Competitors name so you can monitor opportunities to engage with these fans.
  • Industry specific keywords and phrases.

Your scheduling tool can do more than just schedule – it can help you reach out to new people to include in your community who haven’t met you yet!

Talk to your new fans

You can not forget the ‘social’ part of ‘social media.’ Having one on one conversations with your new fans help to build a community. Even a simple “Hello to @newfollowers” can help welcome them and build that relationship as it builds your community.

newprofileNot only will these small acts increase brand loyalty, but they also show that you’re open to really talking – not just broadcasting a socially masked marketing message.
Matthew is the writer over on the Devumi.com Social Media Blog. You can find him there every Friday posting about increasing your Twitter followers, getting more YouTube subscribers, and commenting on other social media related news. He focuses on Twitter, YouTube, Google, Vimeo, SoundCloud, and Pinterest.

Social Selling and Content Marketing: A White-Hot Combination

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Robert Rosenthal & Natasha Sekkat – Enjoy!

Social Selling

photo credit: canva

“Social selling” and “content marketing” sound like trendy terms you’d hear at a cool conference. But we’ve never cared much about what’s fashionable in marketing and sales. It comes down to what works. And the combination we’re about to describe has the potential to change almost everything.

First, a couple of quick definitions: Social selling is about building your personal and business brand through social media. Content marketing is the use of educational and even entertaining content in marketing.

Traditional Sales and Marketing No Longer Cut It

You may have noticed buyers don’t behave the way they did a generation ago. One reason: the explosion in easily accessible information. By the time you walk into a dealer to buy a car, you’ve most likely done research online. Car buyers are no longer at the dealer’s mercy.

When your parents needed a new refrigerator, they probably headed to a local appliance store. But these days, you might jump on Facebook, ask for recommendations, and receive five suggestions from friends in as many minutes.

Power has indeed shifted from seller to buyer. They want less of a pitch and more value from you. They have an ocean of information at their fingertips, so you’d better know your stuff. And with the opportunity to quickly research prospects online, there’s no excuse to pump out generalized messages.

Traditional marketing may be summed up in three words: sell, sell, sell. But product pitches often perform far worse than presentations that contribute more value. Great marketing is less self-centered and more buyer-centric.

Not Your Father’s Sales and Marketing Approach

When 20th century sales reps called new prospects, buyers generally knew nothing about the reps. Today prospects look them up on LinkedIn in seconds. Buyers ask themselves, “Is this someone I want to do business with?” It’s a whole new level of transparency.

Traditional sales reps were known for aggressiveness – and a willingness to repeat a pitch. Constantly. But that won’t work (and may even backfire) in social selling. If you keep posting comments like, “This (product name) is the best thing ever,” you’ll be ignored – or worse.

It’s better to proactively share advice or respond to a prospect’s post with a mention of a white paper on how others have addressed a similar issue. Or even provide a link to your company’s position on a particular topic. Your response should feel like community service and be adapted to your personal brand.

Content quality and quantity is key. Excellent content is super-relevant and informative. Even fascinating. Reps doing social selling regularly work the top and bottom of the funnel – and points in between. Marketing content needs to help prospects at every funnel point. It should never be, “Here’s our latest propaganda,” posted in the same manner to every prospect by every sales rep.

Of course, you can’t keep offering the same stuff. That’s why the best content marketers figure out how to regularly produce lots of high-quality content that fulfills prospect needs and business objectives. Your content should be strategic.

And remember, the best marketers tend to be the best testers, so be prepared to experiment in your content marketing and social selling. Think trial and error.

Listening for Opportunities

Here’s a potential game-changer. On LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and countless other sites, prospects tap into their networks by posting comments on what they’re researching and buying. They often use predictable words and phrases: triggers that could indicate a potential purchase. Naturally, you want to optimize your site accordingly for search engines, But if you efficiently sift through the noise on other sites to identify fresh prospects, you may have more opportunities than you’re able to handle. You may want to use Google Alerts or another tool to have these posts appear in your in-box as soon as they’re available, or focus on a small number of message boards or other sites.

Whatever you do, don’t get overly aggressive. Be consultative. And don’t overload prospects with information. Content that gets consumed most often tends to be concise: short videos, infographics, or other quick but useful presentations.

This is your chance to position yourselves as thought leaders. Or as an excellent content curator. Social selling is also about building your personal brand. It’s important to add your own touch to what you publish. Sometimes that simply means playing matchmaker and connecting people who may be useful to each other.

By all means, bring your personal life into your posts. That’s right – mix industry, product, and personal information. Show your kid’s artwork if you’re in the mood. Give prospects a chance to really know you and build a connection.

Commitment Is Key

The hip and highly profitable stuff we’ve described – social selling and content marketing – require commitment from the top. You can’t drop it into a dial-for-dollars or batch-and-blast culture and expect it to take hold. New technology is often needed, and if the team won’t use it, you may be unable to move forward. So get commitment for all this – along with the budget and time to make it work – from the top of your organization.

Now get out there and rock the world.

Robert Rosenthal Head Shot Arms Folded Igor Pic 5-2-14Robert Rosenthal is President of Contenteurs, a content marketing agency that has developed dozens of record-breaking marketing campaigns. Robert is author of Optimarketing: Marketing Optimization to Electrify Your Business – recently the #2 marketing book in Amazon’s Kindle Store. Robert holds a B.S. degree in marketing from California State University, Northridge.

 

 

Natasha Sekkat 150-150Natasha Sekkat is Global Director, Inside Sales Centers of Excellence at EMC, with 15 years’ experience in technology sales and sales management. She’s a graduate of UPenn and Wharton, with an MBA from Boston College. Natasha lives in Sudbury, MA with her two young children.

 

Systemize Your Networking with a Relationship Plan

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from John Corcoran– Enjoy!

DTM1

photo credit: deposit photos

Does the word “networking” give you an icky feeling?

If so, you’re not alone. A lot of people hear “networking” and it immediately conjures up images of bad networkers passing out business cards and trying to sell you on their product or service as soon as you’ve met them.

But really savvy business people know there’s no such thing as bad networking – only bad networkers. And if you want to succeed in business, you need to get good at developing relationships, no matter what word you use to describe that process.

Throughout my career, I’ve worked in many different industries – from politics to Hollywood to Silicon Valley – and I’ve found the one universal truth no matter what industry you work in is that if you want to succeed, you need to cultivate relationships with others.

There’s an old African proverb that I think speaks volumes about this: if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

In other words, if you really want to go the distance with your business or career, you need to bring others with you. So how do you do that?

How to Create Your Relationship Plan

If you want to build a business, you put together a business plan. If you build relationships, you need to put together a relationship plan. And it starts with putting together a list of people you want to have an ongoing conversation with over time.

Most people don’t create a list of people they want to proactively build a relationship with, so their networking ends up being random and haphazard. That’s not a good strategy for any career or business.

Here are the five basic steps for how to put together your plan:

Step 1. Put Together Your Conversations List

The first step is to brainstorm a list of the people who you see value in getting to know better.

I call this your “Conversations List” and it is simply a list of the 50+ people who you want to develop a relationship with over the next 12 months.

They are people who you admire and who you would like to know better, whose values you share and who you’d like to help out — not out of selfishness, but of a sincere desire to see them succeed.

This simple step might take you 20 minutes, but it could save you 20 years of wasted effort.

Step 2: Ditch the “Me First” Attitude and Make Some Friends

The second step is to forget about trying to get something from others and to start thinking about how you can start helping others, just like you would help a friend. Develop genuine relationships — but do it with people who can be helpful to your career or business, of course.

As Zig Ziglar famously said, “you can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

Step 3: Follow Up Over Time

One of the biggest mistakes I see people making in business is they let relationships go stale.

They will let months or years go by without contacting people in their network. Or, worse yet, they only reach out when they need something.

Be sure to keep in touch with people in your network so your relationships remain fresh and you remain if not “top of mind” then at least not forgotten.

Step 4: Deepen Relationships

Your goal should be to continually deepen relationships with people on your Conversations List.

You can do this by continuing to provide deepening value over time. Start by sharing articles and resources with them, and move up the ladder into helping to promote the things people are doing or interviewing them when they have a new business, book, or other thing to promote.

Step 5: Increase ROI from your Relationships

We’re talking about business here, so there needs to be some financial payoff. Without a financial benefit, then we’re just talking about charity. So you have to make the transition from relationships to revenue.

I know a lot of people who are good at networking because they have a charming personality, but they are bad at making the final step — turning those relationships into something that is financially beneficial to them.

So don’t be afraid to draw the line with people in your network and let them know that you would love to work together, but you deserve compensation for your time.

Put Together Your List

Now, let’s end this with a specific step you can take to get started. Begin with creating your own Conversations List of 50+ people who you would like to get to know better.  You’ll develop better relationships, and your career will go farther because of it.

Finally, what tips do you have for building relationships in business?  Let us know in the comments.

DTM2John Corcoran is an attorney and former Clinton White House Writer. He has a free, 52+ page ebook you can download, How to Increase Your Income in Today by Building Relationships with Influencers, Even if you Hate Networking.