Which View Is For You?

There are those of us who run our businesses always looking through the lens of prospective customers. We are diligent in ensuring that what we say we do and what we offer are expectations we can deliver on. Because we consider the customer’s point of view to be the reference point surrounding our work, it can be easy to overlook alternate realities that color individual experiences.

WHAT?
What I’m talking about when telling you to look at yourself while you’re looking at your customers is akin to “observing the observer” . It’s a way of watching your own responses and reactions while recording the experiences and behavior of others.

WHY?
So, why would I ask you to do this? Easy. I’m asking you to observe your own responses while chasing down the responses of others because that’s the view you need to have if you are intent on creating a life rather than just running a business. 

When you stop obsessing about delivering the perfect product at the perfect price, when you take the time to notice your own “response rate” to your latest program, you create room for new views. You go from the pressure of delivering to the possibility of contemplating delight.

If what you’re doing isn’t delighting you, I’m pretty sure down the road, it won’t delight your customers, either. It’s the individual view that can create a whole new world.

Can You Connect?

I spent the better part of my morning talking to a complete stranger on Instagram. Commenting on a series of photographs we had posted, we each shared our thoughts and reactions; often, delving into deeper introspection and reflection. Doing so, having a real-time give and take made for one of the better online conversations I’ve had in a long time.

Why?

Because we each revealed just enough about ourselves to encourage a closer connection without things becoming creepy. We each had enough information posted about ourselves to encourage exploration without fear of privacy concerns or doubts as to authenticity and we each had taken the time over the course of a few weeks to be who we are on this social/sharing platform. And, before you question the plausibility of this, let me tell you that what made the interaction so rewarding was that we both had high levels of what I like to call, “Digital Emotional Awareness” (I just made that term up).

What is Digital Emotional Awareness (DEA)?

I’m glad you asked because it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. DEA is that unique blend of awareness of self and others, social savvy, and intellectual ability, all wrapped up and placed like a cherry on top of any social media or digital platform where others can be found.

Think of it as “working the room” but without the slimy insincerity. It’s knowing when and how to behave and knowing what approach is right for whatever platform you’re using. As Susan RoAne shares in her book, How To Work A Room:

The technical skills of working a room are not enough; interest, warmth, and the desire to connect with others must be genuine and sincere.”

For those who work or interact online, the “room” may be digital, but the same principles apply.

Not everyone has built-in DEA but chances are, most everyone can develop it. Regardless of what you call it, paying attention to who has DEA and who doesn’t is pretty important. The reason I say this is because as we spend an increased amount of our working life interacting with others across social and/or digital platforms, the potential for communication breakdowns rise. These breakdowns can occur between co-workers, customers, or even with yourself (another post for another time). For those whose primary activities take place online? Well, if they don’t  have DEA and they’re not open to developing it, then you might want to think about reassigning them to less people-centered interactions.

Identifying who has DEA and who doesn’t is easier than you might think. 

It simply involves looking at how people engage with others. And, before you assume that I’m going to talk about “engagement” as it’s currently being discussed or “listening tools” (both, good things), think again. When I tell you to look at how people engage with others as a determinant of their DEA, what I’m talking about is looking at how people with very little information about others are able to create connections from scratch.  If you can spot those people, you can learn from them. Do what they do and your business is ahead of the curve.

Still unsure?

Let’s go back to the Instagram conversation that started this post, shall we?  Someone posted a picture. I “liked” it. I posted a picture. They “liked” it. This lead to other pictures being viewed and other “likes” exchanged. As more than the cursory “like” was given (meaning, both of us had been intrigued enough to learn more) comments were exchanged. Comments led to more pictures which led to more exploration of past content which led to more “likes” which led to more engagement.Think of it as a dance.

Did I mention it was one of the better moments I’ve had in a long time?  Did I also mention that this conversation took place across continents, time zones and native languages?

What made it so special? It was knowing how to dance. It was taking the time to listen and observe. It was our ability to learn about the other over the course of a few weeks through the sharing of images. It was the disclosure of real names and enough personal information on profile pages to allow for cursory Google searches of each other (you can’t be too careful!) and ensure neither of us became the subject of a Dateline TV Crime Special. It was finding out that each of us had been active and “online” for years and years (which is a great way to learn DEA) and had profiles on similar social sites.

Using our respective DEA’s, we were able to get to know a little more about the other because our desire to connect with others was “genuine and sincere”. Our initial interactions were enough to make each of us want to think about the other just a little bit more (but not in a creepy, stalkerish way). There are plenty of people who have awesome DEA and there are also those who don’t (because they don’t value it or because no one has ever told them the hard truth about how they come across online). That’s perfectly fine and part of what makes the internet such a great place. Not everyone will click with everyone else and that’s not the point of this post.

What is the point is that if you’ve made the decision to have a social presence, make sure you have the DEA to give people something to think about.

The Right Fit

Finding that missing piece to your puzzle is one of the best feelings in the world (if you’re wired in such a way as to need to complete things #ME) but just because you’ve found it doesn’t mean it’s the right time to put both pieces together.

Sometimes it all comes down to timing. 

That’s what I want to throw out there today. When you meet people or discover opportunities that you know are highly likely to be a great business fit, make sure you don’t rush things. When pieces come together before they’re ready, the fit might not be as strong as it could have been if you had waited until the time was right for all involved.

Why “Thank You” Matters

A few months ago I created a Facebook page for my business. Not wanting to treat it the same way I had seen others do (where they receive “likes” by sending out requests to all of their friends from their personal profiles via the Facebook auto invite tool), instead, I added content I thought was interesting and tried following other businesses who seemed to have similar interests. I had limited success.

I also tested the efficacy of Facebook ads to promote my business page (but that’s another story).

On my personal profile page, I did post a request to my friends asking them to “like” Ideations on Facebook, which many were happy to do, but in terms of sending out an automated request, I just felt like if people really liked my business, then they would  “like” it when the time was right.

Two days ago, I decided to try something else.

Going through my friends list, I actually “invited” a select number of people (not all of my “friends), to “like” my page through auto invite. And you know what? So far, over 20 people have gone there and “liked” it!

But, here’s the thing.

If I were to just stop there, then who I say I am and what I say I do when it comes to helping businesses improve their online engagement would be completely inauthentic. If I didn’t take the time to personally thank each person for taking the time to help me, then why would you believe me when I told you I knew how to help you better connect with your customers and your community?

So, as each “like” rolled in, I would think about who that person was to me, what our relationship was like and how much I appreciated them. Leaving a comment on their profiles written in the exact same way it would sound if we were face-to-face in real life was what I did.

It may not seem like a big deal to most people and I’m sure many will say they don’t have time to do this with their own social media plaftorms because they’re too busy or they don’t know what to say to people when it comes to communicating online. For me, though, there really is ZERO difference.

What you see from me (or read) is almost 100% what you’ll get in real life. I say “almost” because real life lacks the “backspace” key I kind find so very useful when my heart or head aren’t always in sync. 😉
And the reason I mention this is because the most important part of being helpful to others is acknowledging them when they’ve been helpful to you.

So, take a few minutes and think about the people who have helped you. Send them a quick, “thank you!” and let them know you appreciate them. I can’t promise it will immediately add to your bottom line (that’s not the reason to be thanking them), but I can guarantee it won’t hurt it, either.

Slow Down

Things move fast in social business. There always seems to be a new tool, trending topic or task that we’re told will be the thing to take our work to the next level. Opportunity is everywhere and the pressure to seize it can be hard to withstand.

The thing is, if you are constantly looking outward so as not to miss anything, you might actually be leaving your team to deal with the chaos of each new endeavor you embrace. Before you create something new, make sure you’ve got things planned out not only in your head but also on paper.

Take the time to slow down long enough and review your current projects. Are you hitting your goals? Have you been able to track progress? Is everyone involved on the same page? If you can’t answer “yes” to those questions, it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

Career Development, Personal Branding, Thought Leadership

Social Selling

Can you be “social” and “sell” what you do at the same time?

That’s a question I’ve thought long and hard about the last ten years. I’m not going to go into the merits of social media as a tool to promote business (it’s really effective) and I’m not going to discuss the pros and cons of “selling” to people under the guise of online relationships (which are so important to create).

Instead, I’m going to ask if being active on social media, if being purposeful in my communications about who I am, what I do and how that helps others, is something that can lead to direct sales.

So far, the answer is, “no”.

My biggest client contract (and my first six figure paycheck) came from not focusing on selling what I do and only because of who I am and how my client thought that could help others.

Two years later, I can still say that I have not realized any direct sales from being social.

Maybe that’s because it’s hard to package “better ideas for better results” into a downloadable opt-in that’s tied to a lead generating plan. Or maybe it’s because when people work with me and I work with them, we’re not focusing on selling or being social.

We’re just working together to solve the problem at hand.

That our connection came about because we discovered each other online has more to do with serendipity and like minds than it does about effective use of social platforms and selling strategies.

Which, if you ask me, is exactly the way I like it.

Content Marketing, Content Strategy, Print Media, Publishing

Journey or Destination?

team building, leadership

Content Marketing. We’ve been bombarded with information on what this is, why we need to do it and how best to create content that works.

What we haven’t done, though, is talk about how content marketing – when done right – takes us back to a time when the world wasn’t moving at the speed of light. When people did business based upon relationship and when relationships were built over a period of time.

Adam Franklin, partner with Toby Jenkins in the Australian web marketing agency, Bluewire Media, thinks a bit differently and has the success stories to back it up. He says when it comes to content marketing the key point to remember is to, “help people solve their problems and gradually take them on a journey to doing business with you if they’re the right fit.”

As you do this, you take people with you on the path towards creating trust. Trust eventually leads to people becoming customers. The “gradually” is what stands out to me. Time and again, when Adam speaks about marketing in the information age, he refers to what I would consider old-fashioned values.

When thinking about Adam’s description of “journey”, I like the idea of it being something that takes time.

In today’s world, marketing has changed. The entire speed of life is such that as Adam says, “the goalposts” are constantly moving. As marketers, it can be hard to keep focused on the journey a customer takes to find, and then decide, to interact with you. With a focus on always moving forward or finding ways to capture attention, we can make the mistake of focusing on the destination we want our customers to take and not their journey toward relationship with our business.

If looking at content marketing as part of a journey instead of a new gimmick is something that appeals to you, you can listen to the rest of Adam’s thoughts here.

In the meantime, what do you think? Have you found a way to create content that takes people on a journey rather than focuses solely on the destination you want them to arrive at? Are the two mutually exclusive or do you think, if you shift your approach a bit, they can actually compliment each other? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

It Takes Two

The email came in last night. It was another, “Can you help me decide what to do?” conversation. For those of you who like problem-solving in business, I’m sure you know where this is going. Asking more questions to understand what we were dealing with, it occurred to me that this person already knew the answer to their question.

My client wasn’t looking for help in making a decision about next steps in their business as much as they were looking for confirmation that their initial instincts about an opportunity were correct. Only, they didn’t trust themselves enough to make the choices necessary for success. Rather than having me “fix” things for them, what was really needed was an injection of confidence.

Instead of wondering how to solve a problem, maybe what you really need to ask yourself is if there’s someone outside of your situation who can help you look at things with a fresh perspective? Often, when that happens, you’ll find, like my client did, that you had the right idea all along.