Posts tagged ‘communication’

January 15, 2011

Speed Networking: What It Is and How to Do It

Networking can be challenging enough— who to connect with, what to say, what not to say, when to follow up. The key to successful speed networking is cutting through the traditional small talk, and quickly determining how both parties can assist or benefit one another.

Below are six tips for being an effective speed networker:

Use your time wisely.
Your conversations with each new connection are kept short and sweet so you can meet a lot of different people. On Network Roulette, you only have THREE minutes to make your connection. Don’t spend your time with long introductions or niceties such as “Hello, how are you?”, “Nice to meet you,” etc. Get straight to business by asking “How can I help you?”

Know what you need and what you have to offer. Don’t be vague.
Go into each speed networking event that you attend with what you want to get out of it in mind. On Network Roulette, we provide you with ‘Looking/Providing’ fields that you should always fill out before the event. Fill these fields out every time. They’ll force you to stay focused and make sure that you and your random match know instantly if there is potential to help each other.

Don’t be afraid to pass.
Let’s be realistic. You’re not always going to be matched with the perfect person. If you are matched up with someone who does not seem like a good connection, don’t be afraid to move on. Your time is valuable, and so is theirs. Thank them for their time and move on to the next match.

Be a connector.
You may not be able to help everyone but you probably know someone else who can. If you think that a person you have been matched with would be valuable so someone else in your network, introduce them. People with love you for introducing quality people to them and being likable is an important trait for every networker to have.

Be authentic.
“Say what really interests you, not what you think should interest you,” says Sarah Peck, Brazen community leader.

Always follow up.
The biggest mistake that people make is not following up. It means you’ve wasted your time. Go into every speed networking event that you attend understanding that the quick conversations you are having are only the beginning. Building a strong, long-lasting relationship with another professional requires more than that.

If you’re speed networking on Network Roulette, follow up by becoming a Fan of the person you connected with. When they fan you back, exchange private messages. Or you can just exchange emails during your 3-minute chat.

Just don’t wait until there are 10 seconds left to do it!

So, my advice is to prepare to judge and be judged. Cutting out the  rapport-building may seem unnatural at first, but sometimes time just simply won’t allow. Be prepared to cut to the chase and communicate your message, while remaining an active listener.

December 14, 2010

Tory Johnson’s 50 Ways to Generate Social Media Content

Though graduate school has surely been challenging, one of its greatest rewards is allowing me to sleep in far later than I ever have in my life. I’m an early bird, functioning best early in the morning. Perhaps more impressive, I can probably count the number of mornings I’ve woken up on the wrong side of the bed on one hand. And with graduation closing in, I’ll surely miss staying in bed until lunchtime. That said, this morning I was abruptly awakened by the snow plows, just in time for Good Morning America, a guilty pleasure television show I haven’t seen in months.

Tory Johnson, a Good Morning America contributor, author, life coach and founder and CEO of Women for Hire—a recruiting and educational resource for connecting professional women with leading employers in the country— spoke about the challenge women face in breaking through the cliche glass ceiling.

I’ve followed Tory Johnson for quite some time, most recently connecting with her through LinkedIn. Her practical advice covers the gamut, from networking and career advice, to how to strengthen your resume and cover letter, to how to negotiate with employers or start a business.

She also poses 50 tips for generate web content, seen below. I’ve underlined a few tips I found most intriguing and thought-provoking, all of which I plan on implementing in my own use of social media:

Comment. The easiest form of content is to comment on other people’s content. Answer their questions, ask them something, chime in with feedback, or simply let them know you appreciated their post.
Congratulate. Offer kudos and praise when people in your social media circles share their own successes. Think of it as a virtual high- five.
Recommend. Let your fans, followers, friends and connections know why you recommend a particular product or service. Include a link to it.
Review. Offer your candid opinion on a current event, book, product or movie that’s closely connected to your field.
Reveal. Get personal. When I speak about small business success, I’m very candid that my interest in entrepreneurship started when I was coldly and unexpectedly fire from a job I loved. The scar from that pink slip forced me to never want one person or one organization to have the ability to strip me of my financial security or self-esteem, so I ventured out on my own.
Report. Conferences and events offer rich material to share through social media. You can post quotes, tips, takeaways and photos from the speakers and sessions. Allow others to participate vicariously through you.
Promote. Promote something you’re working on—a book, a product, an article, an event, you name it—and let people know where to learn more. This is also true for your blog posts and stuff on your website. Promote it through social media to bring people directly to your site.
Share. When you read an article in the morning paper, find a link to the piece online and share it with your networks. The same is true for any great content or phenomenal resource you find online. Anytime I read a magazine, I dog-ear pages to share tidbits online.
Give. Give a special offer to your fans and followers. For example, this document you’re reading is something I offered to give away—no strings attached. You can create something similar for your target market or even give a special discount or bonus offer for a limited- time on a product or service.
Tips. This is especially relevant for experts—coaches, consultants, trainers, authors, speakers—to share their expertise regularly by posting a tip of the day or tip of the week. Choose tips that are actionable and avoid being generic. For example, if you’re talking to jobseekers, “Join and participate in a discussion group in your field on LinkedIn” is a better tip than “Use social networks for your job search.” It also works for product manufacturers. For example, if you make brownies, share cooking tips. Someone who sells an organizer can offer tips on, you guessed it, staying organized.
Quotes. Please tell me you bought a copy of the incredible tips book from the Women’s Conference! It’s filled with nearly 400 quick tips from some of the most successful people in America. (If not, you can easily find quotes online.) Post one tip per day—or even two per day— and you’ll see that your audience responds and re-tweets.
Re-post. Re-tweet or re-post tips, thoughts, articles or other material other people post online. Be sure to acknowledge where you saw it first.
Highlight. Highlight a blog that you follow and tell your audience exactly why you believe they’d like it too.
Educate. Teach a smart lesson in a tidbit and then be sure to follow up with additional details if and when someone asks for more.
Inspire. Let everyone know how you’ve overcome a challenge and share how they can do it too.
Ask. Pose a question that relates to your field and is likely to generate strong reaction. This can be very wide-ranging. For example, on my Facebook.com/Tory wall, I posted this: A woman just told me she’s changing her hair color to “look smarter.” Do you think hair color impacts our perception of intelligence? (As you can imagine, that got a lot of reaction.) On Twitter I ask viewers to submit questions to use on JOB CLUB, a program I host on ABC News Now, a 24-hour digital news channel.
Invite. Create an event—a MeetUp, TwitterChat, teleclass, etc—and invite everyone to join in on the conversation.
Exploit. Have a pet peeve? Exploit it. One of mine is this notion of “business conference as usual,” which leads to a feeling of let down once you get home and realize that you paid for something that wasn’t delivered, wasn’t made actionable or didn’t help your bottom line. This is a reminder to me when I promote my own events that I need to be even bolder with acknowledging this “conference let down” scenario and explaining why my programs are different.
Showcase. If you have a great client success, feature it. When someone I work with gets a new job or has a big win in her business, I showcase those successes online. It also serves as a testimonial for your work and your expertise.
Solicit. Ask for feedback on a trend in your line of work or feedback on an element of something you’re working on. Everyone loves to offer an opinion.
Brag. Did you receive some media coverage? Did you hit a social media milestone? Did you win an award? Did you sign a new client? Share your good fortune with your audience.
Gratitude. Thank new clients or partners (when appropriate) and others who are part of your success or who have served you well.
Prove. Include a brief “case study” showing where a client started, what you did, how you did it, and the results that were experienced. You can also do the same as an employee or jobseeker based on the works you do.
Guests. Use your social media platform to invite others to guest post on your blog or website, if applicable. Be clear on what you’re looking for so potential respondents can self-select.
Stalk. Bet this one caught your attention. Stalk strategically. By that I mean pick one rockstar in your industry each week and give a shout out to that person about why he or she should want to know who you are. Since it’s fashionable to respond to everyone on Twitter, you may just get a response.
Contribute. Join relevant groups on LinkedIn and contribute your expertise to the discussion boards. Make a habit of it so you’ll build a profile for yourself as the go-to person on this topic.
Morning. Consider posting a morning greeting each day that is relevant, fun, interesting or challenging. It may be connected to current events—Did you watch X show last night? Are you going to the polls to vote today? Do you know what happened this day in history?— instead of directly related to your work.
Save. Share great practical resources or tips that make life better by saving someone time or money.
Forecast. Let everyone know about changes in your industry and what you believe it means for your target market.
Laugh. A clean (non-offensive) joke is always a welcome form of comic relief.
Announce. Announce changes in your company, product introductions, or new developments in your work.
Complain. Share a customer service complaint and how it was handled impeccably. Explain how that problem will be avoided in the future. Being candid and authentic is a welcome trait.
Personalize. While most of your content will be professional, give some personal details to share another side of you. I got an enormous reaction when I shared my husband’s foot injury that left him in pain— and me exhausted from being ordered around! I talk about my kids. I stressed over turning 40. All of that allows my audience to know me better—and hopefully feel a stronger connection to me.
Theme. Use daily, weekly or monthly themes to inspire regular content. A car mechanic might implement a 30-day “Make Your Friends Green With Envy” campaign with tips on keeping their car in enviable condition. Or maybe it’s Motivational Mondays to kick off the week. Or Wellness Wednesday, which can encompass a range of content. Having a theme allows you to build out the content in advance to fit the days.
Seasons. Similarly, use changing seasons to generate content and discussion. For example, a dating coach could do a FALLing in love campaign in September, while a marriage therapist may begin by asking if you’ve FALLen out of marital bliss, followed by tips on how to reheat your marriage as the temperature drops.
Controversy. Rather than polarizing your connections with your own personal rant, consider simply posting a question about a controversial hot topic. I recently did this on the Oklahoma governor’s race between two female 50-something candidates – one married with six kids, the other single and no kids. The married mom made a point to say she was more qualified because of her marital and parenting status, so I asked my followers to chime in.
Contest. Ask everyone to submit something. A staffing firm asked fans to submit the most challenging interview question they ever faced. A purse company asked women to submit photos of the inside of their bag. Combine and share the content in a clever way.
Spy. When all else fails, spy on your competition. What are they writing, tweeting, and blogging about? How can you use their best content to inspire your own?
Feedback. Ask for resources such as a great bookkeeper, fabulous virtual assistant, exceptional resume writer or wonderful web designer.
Challenge. Issue a challenge to your audience. I’ve challenged my followers to make cold calls to 5 people within 24 hours that they’ve held back on reaching out to—and I’ve encouraged them to share the feedback.
Gift. Send a book or promotional item to the first five people who respond to a specific call to action.
Health. Even if it has nothing to do with your field, remind women every so often about mammograms, heart health and other important life-saving matters.
Wish. Offer special wishes to fans and friends on their birthdays or anniversaries. Everyone loves to be remembered.
Photos. Poke around other people’s pages and profiles and study the ones that use many photos. Force yourself to capture moments with your cell phone or digital camera at work that others will enjoy. Once you get in the habit, it becomes easier to find stuff to share.
Video. Even more powerful that photos, create original videos for your outreach. The popularity of YouTube should be enough to convince you that video is an extraordinary way to get your message across. Many of the elements above can be recorded by you on video and shared, especially if you have a build in recorder on your computer or phone. (Hint: If you’re truly camera-shy and not too convincing in video, skip this.)
Wildcard. Sometimes you’ll just write about the most random stuff. And that’s ok—you don’t have to follow a standard script every day.
Teach. Teach your audience a tech trick that someone else taught you.
Like. Click the “like” button on Facebook to acknowledge your appreciation for someone else’s page or wall content. And don’t be shy about telling them why you liked it.
Holidays. Use holidays for blogging content, tweets, wall posts, discussion group comments and e-newsletter content. They represent a goldmine of opportunity if you’re clever.
YOU. Above all, be yourself. Use your authentic, true voice in all you write. Don’t wait for people to find you and your brilliant content—work the system to generate followers too. Have fun doing it while always keeping your strategic purpose in mind. (Spark & Hustle)

Each of the tips offered by Johnson range in applicability, but it’s likely every blogger can benefit from implementing even a handful of her suggestions. This week, I’ll specifically be challenging myself to congratulate and recommend.

What Do You Think: What tips will you challenge yourself to adopt in your own use of social media?

Sources: Spark & Hustle, Social Networking Content Creation- Getting Started; Good Morning America, “What Women Need to Know to Get Ahead“, (December 13, 2010); Women For Hire

December 1, 2010

A Quick Check-In

Bear with me for the next few days. With the holiday behind us, and the end of my last semester just around the corner, my blog must take the brunt of my neglect.

November 22, 2010

Marie Claire Magazine: Damage Control Mode

Photo Credit: Derek K. Miller, Flickr

Blogging allows organizations to engage in active, informal, two-way communication with key publics. Print media, especially, benefit from this communication channel, since their industry operates around deadlines that prevents them from producing content as rapidly as other media (like television and radio). An effective blog can further an organization’s mission and reach new publics, or, in the case of Marie Claire after a recent public relations faux pas, can put the organization in some deep water.

Maura Kelly, a Marie Claire blogger, recently revealed her personal feelings about the overweight and obese population, in response to a television show she recently viewed. In her article, “Should ‘Fatties’ Get a Room? (Even on TV?)” Kelly writes:

So anyway, yes, I think I’d be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other … because I’d be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything. To be brutally honest, even in real life, I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room — just like I’d find it distressing if I saw a very drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroine addict slumping in a chair.

She goes on to write:

But … I think obesity is something that most people have a ton of control over. It’s something they can change, if only they put their minds to it.

(I’m happy to give you some nutrition and fitness suggestions if you need them — but long story short, eat more fresh and unprocessed foods, read labels and avoid foods with any kind of processed sweetener in them whether it’s cane sugar or high fructose corn syrup, increase the amount of fiber you’re getting, get some kind of exercise for 30 minutes at least five times a week, and do everything you can to stand up more — even while using your computer — and walk more. I admit that there’s plenty that makes slimming down tough, but YOU CAN DO IT! Trust me. It will take some time, but you’ll also feel so good, physically and emotionally. A nutritionist or personal trainer will help — and if you can’t afford one, visit your local YMCA for some advice.)

You’re waiting for the context for these comments, and unfortunately, I can’t offer much in the way of a defense. Obviously, this article offended Marie Claire readers. In fact, the article received 3,860 comments, varying in severity and disapproval (with some offering support).

As a result of the backlash, Kelly posted an “update” (my interpretation: presumably-forced apology) that reads:

I would really like to apologize for the insensitive things I’ve said in this post. Believe it or not, I never wanted anyone to feel bullied or ashamed after reading this, and I sorely regret that it upset people so much. A lot of what I said was unnecessary. It wasn’t productive, either.

I know a lot of people truly struggle to lose weight — for medical and psychological reasons — and that many people have an incredibly difficult time getting to a healthy size. I feel for those people and I’m truly sorry I added to the unhappiness and pain they feel with my post.

I would like to reiterate that I think it’s great to have people of all shapes and healthy sizes represented in magazines (as, it bears mentioning here, they are in Marie Claire) and on TV shows — and that in my post, I was talking about a TV show that features people who are not simply a little overweight, but appear to be morbidly obese. (Morbid obesity is defined as 100 percent more than their ideal weight.)  And for whatever it’s worth, I feel just as uncomfortable when I see an anorexic person as I do when I see someone who is morbidly obese, because I assume people suffering from eating disorders on either end of the spectrum are doing damage to their bodies, and that they are unhappy. But perhaps I shouldn’t be so quick to judge based on superficial observations.

To that point (and on a more personal level), a few commenters and one of my friends mentioned that my extreme reaction might have grown out of my own body issues, my history as an anorexic, and my life-long obsession with being thin. As I mentioned in the ongoing dialogue we’ve been carrying on in the comments section, I think that’s an accurate insight.

People have accused me of being a bully in my post. I never intended to be that — it’s actually the very last thing I want to be, as a writer or a person. But I know that I came off that way, and I really cannot apologize enough to the people whom I upset.

Now, do I understand freedom of expression? Sure I do. Could these remarks made by Kelly simply be a sincere example of wrong word choice? It’s possible, though appears not to be the case. Regardless of the motive or intent behind the article, the damage has been done, I’m afraid. Kelly’s comments failed to align with the the Marie Claire mission, which is:

Marie Claire is more than a pretty face. It is the fashion magazine with character, substance, and depth, for women with a point of view, an opinion, and a sense of humor.

The Marie Claire reader is interested in seeking out fashion, beauty, and shopping ideas from a magazine that brings her both inspiration and access—a magazine that challenges her mind as well as her sense of style. Each issue is edited for a sexy, stylish, confident woman who is never afraid to make intelligence a part of her wardrobe.

Marie Claire is a culturally relevant experience that touches women beyond the newsstand. We understand that our readers are more than any label or stereotype could place on them, and we celebrate that every reader is more than a pretty face.

Hmm. Well, these words are certainly hard to misinterpret. It appears to me, and more importantly to the readers of the magazine, that Kelly’s opinion undercuts every letter of the organization’s mission. And while I have no personal investment in the matter (I openly admit the only time I’ve read Marie Claire was in the check-out line at the grocery store), I can see how this flub would jeopardize relationships with readers.

What Do You Think: How should readers of Marie Claire feel about the situation? How would you respond? And what, if anything, should be done to remedy and repair the relationship with key publics who were offended by Kelly’s piece?

November 4, 2010

It’s a news release, not a novel.

We’re in the business of communication, but we could stand to do a little less of it. According to Mark McClennan, Senior Vice President and Research & Measurement Lead at Schwartz Communications, public relations professionals are simply being too wordy.

He speaks in length about the billions of dollars spent on search engine marketing and optimization in 2010, and the actions taken by practitioners that undercut these efforts.

News releases will always play an integral role in communications. McClennan added, “an optimized news release can vault to the top of search results and attract the attention of key influencers.”

The Schwartz Communications Research Group/Business Wire researched how well professionals are doing with release optimization. The group analyzed the headlines of more than 16,000 news releases issued over Business Wire in a 31 day period.

Findings revealed “only 18.4% of all releases have headlines with 65 characters or fewer (which will fully display them in Google).” This does align with a common SEO suggestion to keep all headlines under 70 characters. McClennan also stated:

The majority of releases are under 150 characters, but 2% of releases had headlines in excess of 300 characters, with one headline that was over 1,000 characters. The shortest headline was 18 characters, which is also probably not ideal for SEO as it’s unlikely that enough of their keywords were included. Overall, the analysis found the average headline length to be 123 characters.

Other surprising findings from the study found:

  • Companies located in the tech hubs – Boston, San Francisco, San Jose, Austin, etc- often do the worst job of optimizing headline length. The releases from New York, Philadelphia and Chicago were the best at keeping headlines short.
  • We love buzzwords – but not in headlines: While PR people overuse buzzwords at least we don’t use them in headlines. Only 14% of releases have the most common buzzwords in the headline.

Moral of the story? Keep it simple, Stupid. Effective communication can and should be done with brevity. In order for more individuals to see our messages, we must condense.

McClennan sums it up best by suggesting:

1. Keep the release headline under 66 characters so the whole thing can be displayed in Google Search.

2. Keep the headline under 23 words so that it can be displayed fully in Google News.

3. Favor keywords over buzzwords whenever possible.

What do you think: In six words or less (ha, I’m kidding), are PR professionals being ineffective communicators by simply saying too much?

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Source: PR Pros: Stop Cramming Everything Into the News Release Headline