Friday, 18 December 2015

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year! (For Growing Your Business Network)

Ahhh… the holiday season…parties, giving, high spiritedness and goodwill toward men. Can you think of a better time of year to network? And grow your business or move forward with your career? Think parties, greeting cards, holiday emails and holiday social media posts. All wonderful ways for you to connect, re-connect and develop your business network.

So, get into the holiday spirit!

Thinking of skipping your holiday office party? That would be a mistake - a missed opportunity to become more intimately acquainted with the people in your company who could make a positive impact on your career. Use the time to bend the ears of your superiors – to make an impression so that the next time you pass them on your way to the lunch room, they notice you, remember you, and address you by name. And do I need to spell out that when I say, “make an impression,” I’m not talking about you getting so plastered on the free alcohol that you try to pull the CEO out onto the dance floor to partake in your drunken version of the Macarena. Use common sense where the open bar is concerned. You know what you can handle – don’t overdo it. One or two drinks are plenty.   

If it’s an industry party, all the better. Bring plenty of business cards - and your A-game social skills. This isn’t the time to be shy – let your inner social butterfly take over and take advantage of the abounding good spirits! Introduce yourself or request introductions from your current contacts and acquaintances.

And do you know what the most important part of networking is? The follow up. If you get thirty business cards, put them in your contact lists and then do nothing with them, what’s the point? A follow up phone call or email within a few days is all it takes to connect. Don’t be lazy about it… I know you’re busy over the holidays, but this is important.

And while we’re on the subject of emails, a nice “Wishing you a Happy Holiday…” greeting email that includes a festive image is all it takes to remind people that you’re still around and that you’re ready, willing and able to be of service. Or, you can send a card via regular snail mail… that works as well. The point is that you just reach out with a light touch periodically, and the holidays provide you a perfect opportunity to do that.

Last but not least, the holiday season is the time to create a joyously themed social media campaign that will make people stand up and notice your brand. Social media platforms are there. Use them! Decorate your profile and cover photos so that they’re Merry and Bright! Create a holiday themed offer for your clients and prospects – perhaps a limited time Christmas offer/discount on your products or services. Organize a holiday-themed game or contest and offer a prize to the winner(s). Or a give-away is always a popular thing. Maybe something like a “12 Days of Christmas” give-away where a prize is awarded on twelve consecutive days.

The point is, no matter what, the holidays are the perfect time to network. Leverage that and take advantage of all the Holiday Cheer! And of course, spread a lot of it around!

Have a happy and safe holiday, Everyone! And enjoy!

Friday, 13 November 2015

Feeling Lucky Today–Or Not? Origins of the Friday the 13th Superstition

From Wikipedia: The fear of the number 13 has been given a scientific name: "triskaidekaphobia"; and on analogy to this the fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskevidekatriaphobia, from the Greek words Paraskeví (Παρασκευή, meaning "Friday"), and dekatreís (δεκατρείς, meaning "thirteen").

Did you know that over half of all Canadians are superstitious and believe that the date Friday the 13th brings bad luck? People actually cancel flight reservations, doctor appointments and the like – and some of us take it to the extreme and refuse to leave home on Friday the 13th. Hell, there are even articles published in medical journals illustrating the fear surrounding the dreaded date.  

So, what is it about Friday the 13th that people are so afraid of? How did it become a thing? How did it become a date so shrouded in superstition? I mean, there are a ton of things that we’re superstitious about: crossing the paths of black cats, breaking mirrors, walking under ladders – I could go on… But there’s something about Friday the 13th (beyond the whole homicidal-maniac-in-a-hockey-mask-whom-we’ve-come-to-know-as Jason thing – although where do you think the idea for the film franchise came from??).

I have of course been aware, for as long as I can remember, of Friday the 13th and its alleged curse, but I’ve never really paid much attention - not being all that superstitious myself. So this morning, after overhearing some kids talking about their considerable fears of what the day might bring, I thought, rather than scoff at their silliness, why not  conduct a little research and find out the origin of this particular superstition. Here’s what I found out:

Unfortunately, there’s no evidenced historical background on which to base the Friday the 13th phobia. First of all, the number 13 in and of itself is considered unlucky. I know people who avoid that number at all costs; I’ve been in numerous buildings where a 13th floor is non-existent, etc.. Most accounts of the origin of Friday the 13th are based in theological history. Have you ever heard that having 13 people to a dinner party is bad luck? There’s a legend which states that if 13 people sit down to dine together, one of them will die within a year. Well, here’s where the biblical references come into play. The Bible recounts that there were 13 people present at the Last Supper – and that one of them betrayed Jesus, which precipitated His crucifixion. And we all know what day the crucifixion took place on. It’s also been recorded that it was on a Friday that Eve tempted Adam with the apple – and that the Great Flood began on a Friday.

According to Wikipedia’s page (and please check it out to see all references) on the subject, other possible origins of the superstition are as follows:

An early documented reference in English occurs in Henry Sutherland Edwards' 1869 biography of Gioachino Rossini, who died on a Friday 13th:
He [Rossini] was surrounded to the last by admiring friends; and if it be true that, like so many Italians, he regarded Fridays as an unlucky day and thirteen as an unlucky number, it is remarkable that on Friday 13th of November he passed away.

Rossini by Henri Grevedon
It is possible that the publication in 1907 of Thomas W. Lawson's popular novel Friday, the Thirteenth,[9] contributed to disseminating the superstition. In the novel, an unscrupulous broker takes advantage of the superstition to create a Wall Street panic on a Friday the 13th.[5]
A suggested origin of the superstition—Friday, 13 October 1307, the date Philip IV of France arrested hundreds of theKnights Templar—may not have been put together until the 20th century. It is mentioned in the 1955 Maurice Druon historical novel The Iron King (Le Roi de fer), John J. Robinson's 1989 work Born in Blood: The Lost Secrets of Freemasonry, Dan Brown's 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code and Steve Berry's The Templar Legacy (2006)

So, historically, Friday is just a bad luck day – and put it together with the number 13, as in Friday the 13th, and, well, you’ve got yourself a double whammy of the bad luck!

I personally don’t put too much stock in it, but clearly there’s something to it. What about you? Are you afraid of Friday the 13th?

Thursday, 22 October 2015

4 Ways Brands Are Still Getting Social Networking Wrong (And What to Do About It)

By now everybody (unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 10 years) is aware of how relevant social media is to brand-building and brand awareness. Not everyone has yet embraced its usefulness, but each day, more and more people get onboard. Facebook alone now has 1.5 billion users. Just think about the potential reach! If you’re not using social media to generate brand awareness, you’re not doing yourself any favors.

That being said, if you are using social media, but not using it effectively, you’re wasting your time. Here are 4 ways that brands are doing it wrong – and how they/you can get it right…   

1.      Boasting & Hard-Selling Rather Than Engaging
Stop being so narcissistic! People don’t care about how wonderful your products or services are nearly as much as you think they do. At least not if you’re shoving it down their throats at every given opportunity. Take it down a notch. Engage with your social networking audience. Post things that are relevant, interesting, fun, engaging and most of all, useful. Not just things that tout your brand as being the best thing since sliced bread. You know the old expression, “If you build it, they will come”? Well, build your brand by engaging your audience and making them want to engage with you – and customers will start rollin’ in. Remember, people don’t like to be sold to – they like to be intrigued and informed and entertained.

2.      Trying to Make Use of Every Social Platform Known to Mankind
There’s such a thing as overkill. Are you aware of just how many social platforms are in existence today? It’s not just Facebook and Twitter anymore. Not by a long shot. Here’s a list of just 21 of the most popular – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. No matter how large your staff is, you couldn’t possibly have the resources to keep an engaging social media campaign going on each and every platform. Sure, your brand would be represented on all of em’, but not well and not effectively. So, focus on the sites where your most of your customers are – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are good bets, but do your research – and limit your social networking endeavors to the sites that will bring you the most traffic.

3.      Not Responding to Customer Comments – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Ah – now this is a biggie! What’s the good of being on social media if you’re not going to be social?? When a customer or prospective customer comments on one of your posts, whether it be on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or your blog, whatever you do, RESPOND! And not just to the positive and happy comments. And none of that automated bull that so many brands like to make use of. Social networking is for being human – not for being a brand stuck somewhere in the vast cyberspace. Remember the part about engaging? Well, it’s a two-way street. If someone says something glowing about your product or service, or even just makes a nice comment on one of your posts, thank them and tell them that you appreciate their input/insight. And if someone posts a comment that’s not quite so complimentary or that voices a complaint or opposing view, thank them and tell them that you appreciate their input/insight – and then (if it’s a complaint), let them know that you’re sorry that their interaction with your brand wasn’t as positive as it could have been and offer them something that will hopefully rectify the situation. But whatever you do, don’t ignore people on social media. And double whatever you do, don’t engage negatively on social media. Telling someone to take a flying leap because they were less than satisfied with a service you provided isn’t the way to make social media work for you.

4.      Creating Boring, Useless Content Rather than Helpful and Fresh Content On Facebook, you know the guy who constantly posts what he had for breakfast or that his new baby just learned her fifth word? Well, don’t be that guy. No one wants to engage with that guy. No one, other than his mother, cares! What you want to post is useful content - helpful content that’s relevant to your brand and to your industry. Can you post the odd joke or general interest story? Of course. No one’s saying that you have to be all business all the time, but for goodness sake, don’t start boring the stuffing out of people, or you’re not only going to lose your social networking audience, you’re going to lose your customers due to lack of credibility – and boring people to death. Keep it fresh and upbeat and engaging and useful. Answer questions, offer solutions and keep people coming back to read your posts because they’re acquiring information there that they’re not going to get elsewhere. If you’re not already blogging, consider starting a blog – it’s one of the best ways there are of imparting relevant information to an audience who’s going to appreciate it. Don’t know what to blog about? Well, what questions are you asked by your customers? Most of those will make for wonderful blog posts that will be read and enjoyed.

Social networking isn’t rocket science, but it’s certainly something that requires attention, research, time, thought and strategy. And when done right, the rewards to your brand can be exponential.