Online Lessons from My Offline Networking Group

Posted on July 14, 2011. Filed under: Blogs, Business Management, Communications, Inbound Marketing, Marketing, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

I belong to a networking group that I experience as exceptional. We’re all in service businesses. Some of us are business owners. Some of us work for companies. But we’re all entrepreneurial at heart.

Business Networking

Not! Networking Takes Time!!

We’re all competent at our businesses. We share high ethical standards and values. We found each other in the wider world through introductions, networking events introductions from other trusted connections. We identified each other as people that we want to ‘follow’ – to borrow the online concept.

Our group is not about trading leads. It’s a longer term play. It’s about getting to know one another. It’s about building confidence and trust. It’s about learning enough about each other that we can recognize good opportunities for other group members when confronted with them.

We span demographics of age and gender. We maintain decorum but are comfortable enough with one another that we can let down our guard and be human. We exist to help one another, understanding that the sharing will help our individual businesses.

When I build online communities for myself and for my clients, I think about the principles behind my offline network and try to approach online community building with the same sense of shared interest and generosity.

You can learn more about our group model at www.ctconnected.org. Feel free to borrow. It works.

Do you have an offline networking group? Tell us about it and how it helps you to build your business.

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Getting Started With Inbound Marketing: Take Small Bites of the Basics

Posted on July 8, 2011. Filed under: Blogging, Blogs, Business Management, Communications, Content, Facebook, Inbound Marketing, Jazz, Marketing, SEO, Small Business, Social Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

New Orleans Music - Inbound Marketing Basics

New Orleans Music - Inbound Marketing Basics

Today I’m blogging to music provided in the latest post of a very interesting person and ethnomusicologist (Google it. I did.) whose blog is called SocioSound. We ‘met’ through our blogs. Anyhow – SocioSound just shared five favorite New Orleans tunes. Two of them are also faves of mine by the Rebirth Brass Band.

I happen to have the album in my collection. So I’m going to share one of the tunes – Feel Like Funkin’ It Up — here and pass along an upbeat experience to boost you into the weekend. Of course, you control the play button so only listen if you want to.

All week I’ve been thinking that although social media and other online and inbound marketing techniques have been widely accepted and as they say, “…are here to stay,” there’s still a lot of learning to be done about the basics.

This morning I read a really interesting post about how people are using QR (Quick Response) codes in their marketing. I agree that the ability to help people connect with your website and various marketing offers by scanning QR codes with their mobile phones is very cool. But, for many, that would be running before walking.

Case in point: A bit later I had lunch with a newspaper editor friend of mine who scheduled a Twitter tutorial with me because she still hasn’t gotten up to speed. And Twitter is a particularly good tool for journalists. Plenty of people are still catching up with basic tools that have been around for awhile.

As I started to explore in yesterday’s post, there’s something new to learn virtually every day in online marketing and it’s truly difficult to keep up, even if it’s your profession. That’s why I’m recommending to many companies that they not worry about every new thing coming down the pike until they get the basics in place.

To me, the basics still begin with figuring out what you want to accomplish in your business. How many new customers to generate how much new revenue in what period of time? Once you know that, there’s existing technology to help you build and utilize a web presence to achieve at least some, if not all, of your objectives.

From what I can see, among smaller and mid-sized companies, very few are really using the web effectively for business development. Even though some studies show smaller businesses building Facebook pages at a pretty impressive clip, that’s only one small piece of a well-constructed online marketing program. And if you sell B2B, you may not want to be on Facebook at all.

It helps to take a look at the big picture first and then determine a logical plan for your company. If there’s a move afoot to update your website, you’ll get more bang for the buck if you take the opportunity to review your overall marketing.

Yes, your site is a central focus of online marketing. So explore what kind of site with what capabilities will contribute to success of the overall plan. Have the plan first. I still see lots of new sites with no SEO and people are till putting up sites built all in Flash, which search engines simply don’t see. So they can’t accomplish even the first step in inbound marketing – getting found.

Recently, I was speaking to a marketing director for an area business about inbound marketing and how it could be used in his industry. He was interested and requested that I get back in touch in a month. They were redoing their website, he said, and couldn’t undertake any other marketing until that was complete.

I suggested that a great time to begin developing an effective online plan is during the website redesign process. It would be unfortunate to invest in a website and then learn a month later that you should have gone in a different direction.

If you have a small company, invest an hour or two with a consultant who can give you a clear overview of the inbound marketing process — from making sure you can be found online right through closed loop analytics to assess the ROI of your efforts and improve where necessary.

Then you can begin to identify effective steps that are realistic for your company to accomplish. You don’t have to have the whole meal at one swallow. It may go down easier with everyone in your company if you take it one bite, then one course at a time, finally enjoying the fruits of your labors for dessert.

It must be the New Orleans music that made me finish with food metaphors. Have a tasty weekend!

Poster image by dingler1109 under Creative Commons license. I chose this image because it’s about a fundraiser to help the reconstruction of New Orleans and it also supported childhood learning – a concept not at odds with our learning the basics of Inbound Marketing.

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Emily Post Online: About LinkedIn Etiquette

Posted on July 6, 2011. Filed under: Blogging, Blogs, Communications, Social Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

 

Etiquette

Should Be Called Netiquette

I’m probably dating myself unmercifully by referencing Emily Post (who I learned about in childhood) in the headline. According to Wikipedia, Emily Post (1872 – 1960) was an American author famous for writing on etiquette. She is survived by the Emily Post Institute, which she founded and which subsequent generations – now fourth – of her family continue. Visit emilypost.com for all things etiquette and manners – in both personal and business life.

Well…almost all things. Though the Emily Post site has a Social Media tab, it serves to take one to the various Post social media accounts. I was hoping to find some tips for proper Web 2.0 behavior but did not. So I’ll just have to take a stab at recommending better etiquette for an incident that happened yesterday.

Working at my desk, I saw an email come in announcing that I had an invitation to connect on LinkedIn. When I looked at the invitation, which was from a woman currently running her own online business – a mom blog — here’s what it said:

Hello Ms. Becker,
Terrific article in the Fairfield County Business Journal! I am reaching out to you to inquire if you are currently looking to bring additional marketing communications professionals into your organization. I’d welcome the opportunity to discuss my experience with you. Thank you.

The ‘invitation’ referenced the monthly column I write on Inbound Marketing. At the end of that column – both in the print edition and online — is the email address where I can be reached. Additionally, my email address is in my LinkedIn profile.

To be blunt, I was offended at the use of a LinkedIn invitation from a total stranger to pitch herself for a job. If she had emailed me at the address provided, I would have, at minimum, been happy to steer her in some positive directions to find a marcom position.

Even if I were looking to hire right now – which I’m not – this unsolicited applicant would not be at the top of my list to work in a business that requires client representation and concomitant good judgment. At minimum, it requires that anyone I engage understands social media best practices. Now, in every way, the inviter used perfect Emily Post etiquette – addressing me as Ms Becker and saying ‘Thank you’.

But in terms of social media etiquette, even though she commended my column, her invitation was more about her needs. Rather than showcasing her knowledge of social media, she demonstrated the opposite. For me, LinkedIn is about mutually beneficial networking, not overt selling. I’ve blogged about this before.

I decided to try to contact the woman to explain my reaction and why I did not want to connect with her on LinkedIn. I have a responsibility to those in my network and I won’t connect with someone who might subject them to a similar approach to the one I received.

So I went to her LI profile (which is quite impressive, by the way), did not find an email address, but did find a link to the website she operates, where I hoped to find her email. The only option for contacting her was to fill out a form on the contact page. No email address.

By that time my desire to communicate my concerns about her invitation and maybe help her avoid turning others off in her job search went out the window. Instead, I decided to turn the experience into a blog post and maybe get some discussion going on LinkedIn etiquette.

Maybe the person in question will see this on LinkedIn where it appears in my profile, recognize her invitation and comment.

Do we have to build our networks thoughtfully on LinkedIn? Or, am I being too curmudgeonly about this?

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College of Online Marketing: A Never-ending Curriculum

Posted on June 29, 2011. Filed under: Blogging, Blogs, Content, Human Business, Inbound Marketing, Marketing, Media, News, Public Relations Marketing, SEO, Small Business, Social Media, Twitter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

No Graduation at College of Online

No Graduation at College of Online

I just spent 30 minutes getting up to speed on the Google+ Project announced yesterday – Google’s new social media network, currently in a limited field trial. It’s quite interesting and I’ll explore it further with you as it rolls out to everyone.

The point of this post, though, is that when it comes to keeping up with online/inbound marketing, we need to commit to constant and continuous education. Not a day goes by that I don’t learn about a new tool, app, initiative, issue or trend related to marketing and interacting on the Internet.

It’s exhilarating and sometimes exhausting to be part of such a rapidly evolving profession. But the benefits that Web-based technology can bring my clients – especially small businesses – make it worth burning the midnight oil or rising at summer dawn to read the latest information.

If you’re a business trying to figure out how to market your company online, it’s a good idea to get some background information – even if you are or will be working with an agency or consultant. Here’s a 101 class, a few best-selling books to read and blogs to follow – in addition to this one — that will help you understand how to best use the Web for your marketing.

  • “The New Rules of Marketing & PR,” by David Meerman Scott. Clients of mine are currently reading this and it’s fun to see the lights going on for them as they learn why we’re better off putting resources into blogging than newspaper advertising.
  •  “Real-Time Marketing & PR,” the latest from David Meerman Scott.
  • “Inbound Marketing,” by HubSpot founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, the guys who defined and automated the inbound marketing process.
  • “Trust Agents,” by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, the bible for understanding how and why the Web can help you build influence, improve your reputation and earn trust.

All of the above are published by John Wiley and Sons. Even if you’ve read them before, they bear perusing again from time to time.

In the blog/online media department, I regularly read:

Another important source of information for me is my online marketing community on Twitter. Follow me, see some of the people I follow, and check out my lists. You can take advantage of the news links they tweet every day.

So welcome to the College of Online Marketing, Class of Forever. Graduation day is not in the picture – unless the Big Power Outage comes. As long as it doesn’t, let’s consider ourselves online marketing lifelong learners.

What are your favorite sources for keeping up with the evolution of the Internet? Thanks for sharing!

Photo by J.o.h.n.Walker under Creative Commons License

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Writing as Conversation: 7 Do’s and 7 Don’ts to Find Your Voice

Posted on June 27, 2011. Filed under: Blogging, Blogs, Communications, Content, Human Business, Inbound Marketing, Reputation Management, Small Business, Social Media, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

In previous posts I’ve mentioned my daily email vocabulary builder, A Word A Day (www.wordsmith.org). It’s free and if you’re blogging and trying to spiff up your writing, I recommend you sign up. A Word A Day also includes a Thought for Today, a wise quote from a variety of sources. This morning’s quote inspired this post.

“Writing, when properly managed, (as you may be sure I think mine is) is but a different name for conversation.” -Laurence Sterne, novelist and clergyman (1713-1768) 

Age of Conversation

Writing as Conversation

I love the idea of writing as conversation. Straight from the 18th century comes a concept as fresh as though it were communicated for the first time in 2011. Contrary to the sales-y communications of traditional advertising, or the corporate-speak of the last generation (and in some cases the current generation) of company websites, or the overly-nuanced language of press releases, writing in a social, Web 2.0 world calls for a different – and conversational — style.

As I’m writing this, I’m thinking about you and wondering what you might have to contribute on this topic. Also, I’m hoping that you will add to it. We’re all learning new tools and new tactics everyday. So conversing to pool our knowledge, experience and wisdom is a very good thing.

 When we communicate verbally, though, it’s easier to have our personalities come through. In addition to the visual cues in-person talk provides, it’s somehow more spontaneous when words spill from our lips and don’t require fingers on keyboards lagging behind a thought process.

Nonetheless, we’re all communicating in writing all the time these days – especially in emails, on blogs and on social media sites. So please allow me to offer a few thoughts about finding an authentic voice for written conversation.

  • Do write as though you were speaking.
  • Don’t over think the first draft. You can – and should – always go back and edit.
  • Do share occasional personal thoughts, perceptions and experiences when they serve to illustrate a point.
  • Don’t go overboard with personal info. Learn to walk a line that offers an authentic peek at who you are, while retaining a business-like decorum.
  • Do use interesting words and turns of phrase.
  • Don’t use industry jargon — and no off-color language.
  • Do try for humor at moments that can benefit from a bit of lightening up or to poke fun at yourself for some human foible that anyone can relate to.
  • Don’t make jokes at someone’s expense – including your own. Leave sarcasm and snark out of the equation. It’s not attractive.
  • Do be polite. Welcome your readers, acknowledge them and thank them.
  • Don’t be overly-solicitous; it’s not credible. Invite disagreement.
  • Do be a cheerleader for others. Use your content to include their ideas and praise their achievements.
  • Don’t promote your own stuff exclusively
  • Do listen for what’s important to your audience/s.
  • Don’t assume you know what’s important to others. Asking questions is divine.

And so I’ll conclude with this question…

How have you found your conversational writing voice?

 

Photo by Kris Hoet Under Creative Commons License

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Blogging Lessons from Dumas: More Words = More Money

Posted on May 31, 2011. Filed under: Blogging, Blogs, Content, Inbound Marketing, Internet Traffic | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Yikes! It’s the last day of May and to my horror I recognize that I haven’t yet posted to my blog this month. Yesterday something I read really got me focused on this.
Under CC by clicsouris
For years I’ve subscribed to a great free vocabulary builder called A Word a Day. (It also includes an often-inspiring Thought for the Day.) Monday’s word usage example was from an article in the Christian Science Monitor by Erik Spanberg about Alexandre Dumas’ the Count of Monte Cristo. Spanberg explained that Dumas’ tendency to be wordy – even overly wordy – was “induced by the simple formula that the more he wrote, the more money he made.”

Fast forward to our online world and the formula holds true in spades. Hubspot — which put the oomph in Inbound Marketing — has done research that shows that businesses that blog get 55% more website traffic. And the more you blog the more traffic you get and the more opportunities to convert visitors to leads who will become customers by and by with proper nurturing.

Indeed I teach this to my clients and spend chunks of my billable time helping them to post regularly. All of a sudden I find myself suffering from Shoemaker’s Child Syndrome. I know for a fact that my business will grow faster if I blog more, yet here I am scrambling to not have a goose egg next to my May archives.

It’s not that I don’t write. I co-author an article every month for WestFair Online and its Fairfield and Westchester County Business Journals. I began writing for Technorati this month and provided a guest post to Network Solutions. These kinds of efforts definitely contribute to a broader web presence which is good for getting found. But more consistent blogging will get me more traffic faster and – more important – provide better value to you the subscriber.

So, how did I get into this non-posting mode? In all honesty, the way I positioned my blog – as a music as well as information/experience-sharing venue – has made it difficult to be as spontaneous as I need to be to post more. As much as I love selecting just the right tune from my jazz collection to share with you as you read, it’s very time consuming and I don’t often have the time anymore.

With this post I’m changing the model. The blog is still called New PR Words and Music, and I’ll still share music with you whenever I have the leisure. But when I’m pressed for time – which is most days – you’ll get words and images. I vow to do my best to make them helpful for you and your business.

Many entrepreneurs have proved that trial and error — and flexibility – pave the path to success. What have you changed about your business or your life in general that’s helped you to do better?

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It’s Awesome When Your Content Connects!

Posted on December 5, 2010. Filed under: Blogging, Blogs, Communications, Content, Human Business, Inbound Marketing, Jazz, Marketing, Public Relations Marketing, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

This post is dedicated to the thousands of bloggers around the globe who read my last post when it was featured on the WordPress homepage showcase, ‘Freshly Pressed’. First of all, it was amazing to have one of my posts selected from almost half a million posted that day. Second of all, the response was humbling and heart warming. A special thanks to those who commented or hit the ‘Like’ button to share it and welcome to those of you who subscribed.

Although our blogs provide a doorway to the entire world, when people comment on a post it reminds me how much a one-to-one connection it is. So today’s musical post is “Just You, Just Me”, played on several overdubbed tracks by one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time, Bill Evans. Bloggers, it’s from an album ironically titled, “Conversations with Myself” — how our writing often feels.

For businesses, I believe in blogging as a way to share one’s expertise and create thought leadership. Because of its search-ability online, the content we create helps people who are looking for not only our products and services, but also our knowledge and experience, to find us. The knack is to share that info in an authentic and human way that connects.

At the moment we hit the keyboard, it’s hard to know whether what we write will resonate. We can write with our “Buyer Personae” in mind as David Meerman Scott explains in his book, “World Wide Rave”. But when we launch our content into cyber space, we can only hope it reaches its intended destination. Connect With content

The gift of the Internet is that when we connect, it lets us know! Whether it’s your WordPress blog stats, Google Analytics, Hubspot analytics or any of the robust tools out there, the value of our efforts is knowable.

When I wrote the post “10 Reasons Why I ‘Heart’ My Blog,” I didn’t say to myself, “OK, I’m going to sit down now and write some remarkable content.” I was thinking about people I speak to who are not convinced that they can or should blog. In my head I was talking to them and at the same time reminding myself that I want to dedicate more effort to my own blog.

What happened was a post that ended up connecting in a far bigger way than I ever intended. There have been other posts I’ve written that I thought shared meatier information. No one could have been more surprised than I was to receive a flood of response to this post that I wrote on a whim when I had a spare hour to think about blogging as an enjoyable path to success for my clients and myself.

The result reinforced for me in a very personal way that what I’m advocating for others works! When your content really connects it is the most awesome thing!!

Please share some of your stories about how your content has connected.

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10 Reasons Why I “Heart” My Blog

Posted on December 2, 2010. Filed under: Blogging, Blogs, Communications, Content, Human Business, Inbound Marketing, Jazz, Marketing, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , |

I do love my blog! I’m happy it’s there when inspiration strikes. Over time, I’ve come to appreciate the many benefits it provides to me personally and to my business. Clients and prospects often ask me if they HAVE to have a blog. Well no one has to. But I thought I’d share a few reasons why they may want to. I look forward to hearing why you love your blog!

To reflect how I’ve come to feel about blogging, here’s the beautiful song, “Love and Passion” sung by its composer Milton Nascimento (also heard a few posts ago) in duet with the wonderful Sarah Vaughan from her album “Brazilian Romance”. Please enjoy listening!

I love my blog because:

It’s a creative outlet. For someone whose career is based on providing creativity for others, it’s strangely pleasurable to be creative on my own behalf.

It’s a chance to get ideas out of my head and into the air where others can help either confirm or deny their validity.

It’s a place to share my passions for language, marketing and music.

It helps me educate my clients and prospects so that they can better understand how what I provide can benefit them.

It’s an opportunity to reveal a more playful side of myself than in a traditional business setting.

It does wonders for my SERP visibility. For some search terms my blog helps me dominate page one, two and three results!

It helps me think about past experiences – business and personal — and put them to work in a present or future context.

It brings people into my life who I might never have met otherwise.

It imposes a certain discipline on my own marketing.

It constantly surprises me and makes me smile!!

At the risk of this sounding like a premature New Year’s resolution, think I’ll give my blog even more love in the coming year.

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