WebAfternoon: Why I Love The Web

I was blessed with the opportunity to share a five minute lightning talk at this past Saturday’s A Web Afternoon mini-conference. The goal of the event? A conversation by people who love the web and all it’s possibilities. A special hat-tip to J Cornelius for the generous invitation. I had a wonderful time.

Video may be available down the road, but I thought I’d share a rough recollection of what I said to the attendees. Enjoy.

My one slide...

Best-selling author, cartoonist and general all-round agitator and instigator Hugh MacLeod published this cartoon several years ago. “The web has made kicking ass easier to achieve, and mediocrity harder to sustain. Mediocrity now howls in protest.”

I love this cartoon. I look at it every day. It inspires me, it makes me think about what is possible on the web. You see, the web changed my life. It gave me a voice.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was the quintessential introvert. Quiet. Shy. Reserved. I hated, detested, social interactions. I doubt that I said a total of 200 words during high school.

Today, childhood friends, family, and high school and college buddies are stunned that I make my living doing internet radio…

The web made that possible…

You see, my first gig out of school was in politics, thus, I became a political operative for the next several years. It wasn’t until I transitioned from political operative to marketing strategist that I began to come out of my shell.

Why?

The web made that possible. I experimented with the web. Tried things. Learned things. Succeeded. Failed. Failed again. And then, I stumbled onto podcasting. And that changed how I do business.

Nowadays, I do internet radio for a living. I have a studio in north Atlanta, conduct dozens of interviews a week, reach thousands, and travel coast to coast broadcasting from trade shows.

It is a fun way to earn a living, helping people and organizations tell their story. The web made that possible…

Why? The web unleashes your true potential. It unleashes your true power. And like me, it can help you find your voice. There is an artist…there is a creative…in all of us. If you let it, the web will draw that out.

You can reach millions. You can inspire millions. You can educate millions. And yes, you can even instigate millions [pointing to image of cartoon].

yesterday at GTRI, the venue...

Now, I am about to finish my second book, a collection of essays entitled Kicking Fear’s Ass, the title inspired by that cartoon [pointing again].

It is a collection of essays from people about how they are combating, and battling fear. The project is eye opening. And it reminds me that still far too many people are NOT taking advantage of what the web has to offer. And it is up to us to help them see what is possible.

And sadly, the three things that I believe hold most people back, are the three things that I think makes the web so wide open to possibility.

They say, “Oh Todd, the web is just too big. My message will be lost.” Perhaps, but there is a niche out there for you. A niche that only you can reach, that only you can touch, that only you can motivate. It is hard work finding that niche, glorious work, but hard. But when you find it, your world changes.

Two, people are scared of the transparency of the web. They think they don’t like people getting into their business. I say bunk. Transparency is what makes the web great.

I can spend an hour on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn, and see what inspires you, see what motivates you, see what moves you, and see what pisses you off. This is how I learn about you. And this makes for powerful connections between us. In my view, Twitter is a window into your soul.

Transparency makes the web great.

Three, people are too damn afraid of negative reactions, negative feedback. It is the reason still too many organizations do NOT engage on the social web. Heck, not a podcast goes by that I don’t trip on a word, stumble on a phrase, or mispronounce someone’s name. And sure as heck, someone calls me on it.

But that makes me human…and that’s how I connect with my guests.

You will get negative feedback on the web. But don’t worry, that never ending flow of information will keep flowing, and people will be talking about something else soon enough.

And the great thing is, when you get negative feedback, there will be people in your community who will lift you up, help you, support you, advise you, counsel you, collaborate with you and love you…

And that’s what makes us ALL better.

The web changed my life. It gave me a voice. The web made that happen.

Now I need you to help others see what’s possible, to find their own voice on the web, to help others kick ass on the web [pointing to cartoon again].

Now let’s get to work. Thank you.

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Google+ Will Grow Your Business, If You Believe

Do You Believe?

As you might have heard, Google+ has launched over the past week. You can find me here.

Clients are beginning to ask me is it worth it? My answer is yes. If you believe.

If you believe that the social web moves the needle for your business. If you believe that conversation and relationships are what drive sales. If you believe that interacting with human beings – using social platforms – move people to action.

Most don’t believe.

In fact, a majority of small business people still need to be convinced of the value of blogging. Of Twitter. Of using Facebook for business. Of podcasting. Heck, some still need to believe that LinkedIn can drive business opportunity.

So my recommendation is this: if you are still futzin’ around with and learning the value of blogging, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc…it probably isn’t worth your time diving into Google+. Yet.

How will I use Google+? I will use it as a better way to keep in touch with close friends. I will use it as a way to deepen relationships with people I want to get to know better. And of course, I will use it for prospecting…both for new business and to recruit guests for all my radio shows.

Google+ does two things that change the game, in my opinion. One, they have a feature called Hangouts, where you can have a group video chat with up to ten people. Think of the collaborative opportunities with that… Two-way skyping is so 2010. Ten-way collaboration, learning, sharing…now that’s social, and that’s powerful…

And two, you can very easily group your connections into small, organized groups, called Circles.

Why does Circles matter? On Twitter, for instance, when I share a news article, my entire following of 5,100+ sees it. On Circles, if I only want my close friends to see something, I can opt for that. If I build a circle for prospects, which I’ve done, then I can choose to only share content with my prospects.

Circles makes it very easy to target specific content with a specific audience. You can do this on Facebook, but it isn’t easy and it is very cumbersome. And you can’t do it on Twitter.

For me, I will be very strict in who I let into my Google+ world. I am only connecting with people I know, and very specific people that I want to get to know. I am NOT blindly following anyone who wants to connect. My Twitter and Facebook worlds are too big. With Google+, I will closely monitor who I let into my little world.

So, Google+ is a game changer, in my opinion. But don’t join in just to half-ass it. If you believe that social connection matters, if building and cultivating human relationships matter, Google+ might be the best social network yet.

But don’t engage anywhere on the social web until you believe…

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[Todd Schnick is a marketing strategist, helping entrepreneurs become intrepid marketers...]
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I Survived Making A Cold Call, And 7 Reasons Why I Will Never Do It Again

Are you building connection with your prospects first?

So, I actually performed a cold call the other day.

It sucked.

To fill you in, I made a few cold calls on behalf of a client. I am producing a radio show on their behalf, and am doing a little recruiting to help secure specific guests for their show.

Let me say again, it sucked.

And, I am not surprised to report, and you aren’t surprised to learn, I haven’t heard a damn thing from the individual. And honestly, I assume that I never will.

And I don’t blame them.

Cold calling is hard. The target doesn’t know you exist. Doesn’t care that you exist. Doesn’t want you to exist. Doesn’t want to give you time. Doesn’t want to make time for you…

…unless you build a relationship with them. And therein lies the secret to cold calling.

What I should have done for my client was accept their list of show targets, and then done the following:

1. See if they are active on Twitter, and follow them. Because then I can look for opportunities to engage with them when they tweet something.

1.5. And if they are active on Twitter, set up a Twitter Search query to keep an eye on their activity, so I can learn what they are interested in talking about in real time.

2. See if they blog. Because then I can look for new posts that I can comment and engage my target.

3. Do a Google search for them individually. See what pops up in the query. Are they active on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc?

4. Do a Google search around their organization, to learn about their latest news, new product announcements, quarterly earnings, etc. Here, you are identifying opportunities to reach out and engage your prospect.

5. Search their name (and their organization) on LinkedIn. See what comes up. See what groups they are active in. Perhaps join those groups yourself to engage your prospect there.

6. Now you can connect with them on Google+, and place them in your “prospect” circle, and look for opportunities to connect there.

7. You are probably not friends with them on Facebook, but if you scan their profile, some people still allow you to view their profile. From this, you can see the things they are interested in (“likes”), and this could potentially give you some things in common, which make connection easier to achieve.

So, that’s what it takes. And yeah, it takes a little time. But when you finally connect with your target individual, it is NO LONGER a cold call.

It reminds me of the film Hoosiers, starring Gene Hackman. If you’ve seen it, you remember the coach’s instruction that the team had to pass the ball five times before taking a shot at the hoop. This was meant to encourage better shot selection and to break down the defense.

Same principle with destroying cold calls forever:

You shouldn’t make a contact to your target individuals until you’ve engaged in at least five meaningful non-sales conversations with your prospect.

This encourages more meaningful conversation to actually get to know someone, and breaks down their defenses to a cold sales call from a complete stranger.

The seven tactics above help with that. What do you think? And what else would you suggest?

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[Todd Schnick is a marketing strategist, helping entrepreneurs become intrepid marketers...]
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[pic from IMDB]

A Twenty-Four Year Old Sales Cycle: A Facebook Case Study

What I am about to report, is nothing you haven’t heard before. But the story bears repeating again. Because you just never know where business opportunities will come from.

My old high school...

I got a lead on a new consulting gig yesterday…

…from a guy I haven’t seen in 24 years.

Yes, from a guy in my senior class in high school. He and I connected on Facebook a few years back. And just yesterday, he connected with me on LinkedIn when he reached out to see if I was interested in exploring the gig.

Now, I don’t know if this will go anywhere. It might not.

But isn’t that just exciting? He and I weren’t the closest of friends in high school. We didn’t hang out on weekends and such. But we sat together often. And had fun messin’ around in class from time to time.

So, as I said, nothing profound to report here with this post.

This is just a story, happening in real time, for all the people who tell me that social media isn’t a place to market your business, especially Facebook.

And to be honest, I don’t really “market” my business on Facebook, I just promote my content when I publish something.

So over time, this guy just happened to learn enough about what I do for a living to inquire.

In fact, the real lesson here is to spend more time on Facebook cultivating relationships with people such as my old friend. Imagine if we all used the tools the way they are designed, and actually dialog with people.

That’s the lesson for me. I engage with people more than the average fellow, but not enough. And trust me, I will adjust my strategy a bit…

You should too.

And you should also remember, there is value in every friend, connection, and follower. Even one you haven’t seen in 24 years.

If you just engage…

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[pic found here]

Another Reason To Utilize Your RSS Reader

An Example...

Personally, I didn’t need another reason to utilize my RSS reader. It is a very important tool in how I manage my reading, education, and maintain my listening posts.

But the latest reason you should be using an RSS reader?

You can now subscribe to the RSS feed on Facebook Fan pages. So, yeah, all those pages you’ve liked? You can now more easily keep an eye on the actual pages you care about.

All you have to do is click on the Subscribe Via RSS button on the left sidebar on a Facebook Fan page. You then will be prompted to put the feed into the RSS reader of your choice.

Probably like you, I “like” too many pages, and it is virtually impossible to follow any of them. But now? I can go to the few pages I want to monitor, subscribe to the feed, and see what content they are publishing on those pages, such as for my client’s pages, or that of a prospect…

This action just made Facebook more important to me…

Here is a quick reminder of a few other important uses of your RSS reader:

1. An obvious way to manage all the blogs you follow. Your RSS reader aggregates all that blog content into one place. You can now much more easily follow hundreds of blogs at any given time. You can quickly glance at post content to determine if it worth a deeper read, and you are notified when a blog publishes new content. Secret: this is how you monitor hundreds of blogs. Most don’t update but a few times a month…

2. Twitter Search. Monitoring key word searches on Twitter, such as your name, your company, your target market is the best way to keep an eye on what people are saying about you. When you set up a Twitter Search query, you can have the results fed into your RSS reader. Having all this content go to one place makes it easier to monitor.

3. LinkedIn Status. You can have the status updates of all your LinkedIn connections fed into your RSS reader. This is a great way to view a daily snapshot of what your friends and business connections on LinkedIn are doing, saying, and connecting with, again, all in one place.

4. Google Alerts. Most of us are familiar with using Google Alerts to send web mentions of you and your company. But most people have those results sent to them via email. I did too at one point, until it clogged up my inbox. You can have those query results fed into your RSS reader.

5. News. Honestly, this is how I get my news. I subscribe to the RSS feed of the news sources I want, and have those results fed into my RSS reader. Thus, all my news is gathered in one place. My RSS reader enables me to quickly scan the headlines, and select a specific news article if it interests me…

What others ways do you use your RSS reader?

And yes, using those six methods as I do, I get a TON of content fed into my reader every day. But, I promise, you will get the hang of how to move and sort quickly through all that content and find those valuable nuggets of information that are worth your time. Having all that content sent to my RSS reader is an amazing time saver for me, yet keeps me easily plugged in to all the content my network produces on a daily basis.

Let me know what you think.

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9 Step Plan To Use Social Media To Hack Your Cold-Calling Nightmare

I just don’t know why cold calling is necessary. I don’t understand why you would make a phone call to someone you don’t know, who isn’t expecting your call, and expect to advance a sale as a result.

I know it works…if you believe a response rate of one percent “works.”

First, my definition of cold calling: When you call through a phone list of (unqualified) leads, and they don’t know you, and have no idea who you are or why you are calling (other than to harass them and try to potentially sell them something).

I thank my lucky Gods that I have never had to cold call in my work. Because I wouldn’t do it. I’d prefer inserting toothpicks into my eyes.

But there is opportunity in those lists of leads. Here is how I would hack the cold-calling process:

1. Get the list of leads. Whatever the list. Whether you are responsible for procurring the list, or whether your sales manager gives you a list, perhaps marketing provides them, or maybe you have to bribe the boss to get the Glengarry leads. I don’t care. Get your hands on your list.

2. Google them. Find out what you can. In my mind, you are looking for a few things. Find their LinkedIn profile. See if they are on Facebook. Are they on Twitter? And most importantly, see if they have a website and/or blog. And keep an eye open for anything else interesting, such as your lead being quoted in an article somewhere.

3. Set up a Google Alert. This is especially true for any leads that look promising. This way, you can capture any online mention of these people, and from this, you might find a bit of information that you can use to your advantage, as well as simply getting to learn more about them. Finding an excuse to contact someone is much easier than the traditional cold call, such as reaching out to comment on their mention in a news article.

4. If they are active on Twitter, set up a Twitter Search query. Here is how to do this. Monitor the Twitter stream of the people on your list. What are they tweeting? What films are they seeing? Where are they going to dinner? Where are they going on vacation? Here are 14 ways to strike up a conversation on Twitter.

5. Find common interests on Facebook. Facebook is trickier, since the person must give you permission to formally connect. And it also depends on your security settings. But when I search a lot of people that are not my “friends” on Facebook, their profiles still provide me with a lot of information about who this person is by providing the list of people and organizations they are fans of. You can very likely find some sort of common interest by reviewing these lists. File this away, it will be helpful later.

6. See where they engage on LinkedIn. LinkedIn, like Facebook, requires this person to formally agree to connect with you. But most likely, you are able to review their profile and can look for bits on their resume that can be helpful, or more importantly, show you what LinkedIn groups they are active in. Here, you can also join those groups and look for a way to connect.

7. Yes, you can even use Foursquare to your advantage. What? Really? Yes really. See if any of the names on your list have Foursquare profiles. If they do, they are probably also active on Twitter, and you can likely see where they check-in on either their Foursquare profile or on Twitter. Why does this matter? Because if you monitor their stream, you can strike up a conversation. How? Well, if they check into a bookstore on Foursquare, in addition to now knowing they like to read, you can also reach out and ask what book they got, and did they like it. You have just started conversation, and also a new relationship.

8. Do they have a blog? If they do, this is the best news yet. You can get a peek into their mind, their thought process, their interests. And you can read their posts, and comment on them! This is the best way to connect with someone. They will appreciate you taking the time to comment on their blog, and this will do more to advance your relationship that virtually anything else.

9. ENGAGE! This is obviously the most important step. After the preliminary work you have done with steps one through eight, you now have knowledge. You have details. You have data. You can now make strategic moves to connect with this once unknown name on a list. They are no longer a name. They are now a person with a history. You have things in common (most likely). The GREAT thing about the social web is that it is accepted to reach out to people and connect and dialog.

No, people don’t like to be cold called. But they don’t mind you reaching out on Twitter. Take advantage of this phenomenon.

You see, in the film clip from Glengarry Glen Ross above, the lead sales guy talks about AIDA (Attention, Interest, Decision, Action). Think how much easier this process would be if you could do a little advance work using social media to connect with those leads? Using the internet to get to know these people a bit more, see what they are interested in, seeing what they write, seeing how they work.

Can you now see how much easier it would be to gain attention and interest, using the tactics described above? You have the beginnings of a relationship now.

With your new friendship, you can suggest a quiet cup of coffee. Or make arrangements to chat by phone to discuss common interests. And the miserable existence that is cold-calling will soon become a distant memory…

What do you think? What are some other ways to hack cold-calling that I missed?

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Your 2011 Marketing Plan: What Is Your Networking Strategy?

Day Eleven (of Thirty-One):

Question To Ask Yourself: What is your networking strategy?

How significant a role does networking play in your prospecting efforts? Attend too many events? Attend too few events? Attend all the wrong events? Go to the same groups week after week, seeing the same people?

Are you going to events that are populated with your actual target market? And how effective is your follow-up strategy?

And how do you see social media playing a role in your online networking? Are you employing the same “networking” tactics on Twitter? Facebook? LinkedIn?

What I am doing: Admittedly, I built my business starting in 2007 attending dozens and dozens of networking events. But in these last years, I have hardly gotten out of the office.

With three companies, a radio show and word of mouth, I rely a lot less on attending events than I did at first. And, I now do a lot of my networking online. I identify people I want to get to know (either as a prospect OR as a parter) online, then set a face-to-face meeting.

What about you?

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Todd is planning his 2011 marketing attack. He is asking himself a series of hard questions, questions that will fine tune his go-to-market strategy. This December, Todd will share one question per day, hoping these questions help you too…

Click HERE to follow the entire series on what questions to ask as you draft your 2011 marketing plan!

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Your 2011 Marketing Plan: Is Social Media Right For You?

Day Seven (of Thirty-One):

Question To Ask Yourself: Is Social Media Right For You?

The answer is yes.

Problem is, most people don’t do it right.

They blast messaging one-way. They don’t engage. They don’t build relationships. They don’t educate. And most importantly, most don’t give the process time to take root, and give up before the time investment bears fruit.

Have you identified where your prospects/referral sources are spending time (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter)? Have you grasped the concept of using the tools to make meaningful connections? Are you helping others?

What I am doing: Social media continues to be an integral piece of my marketing strategy, and is working well for me. Of course, I will continue to seek improvements, and work harder at setting up more effective “listening posts” to better identify and capture more business opportunities.

My more difficult challenge is to continue learning how to better educate and equip my clients and partners on the power of the medium.

I believe in this. My bigger challenge is more effectively inspiring others to believe too.

What about you?

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Todd is planning his 2011 marketing attack. He is asking himself a series of hard questions, questions that will fine tune his go-to-market strategy. This December, Todd will share one question per day, hoping these questions help you too…

Click HERE to follow the entire series on what questions to ask as you draft your 2011 marketing plan!

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49 Random Observations On How To Be A Player In Social Media

1. Use your head shot as your avatar, not a logo..or a Mad Men cartoon likeness (even though Don Draper is hot)…

2. Comment on at least five blogs a day. And don’t you dare only say “Great post! Thanks for sharing!”

3. If you automate anything, you deserve a slow and painful death.

4. If you ever say “Nice to meet you, let’s be friends on Facebook too!” – I will kick your shins when I actually meet you…

5. Don’t say you are a “social media guru.” Just don’t.

6. In fact, the word “expert” ought not appear anywhere in your profiles.

7. I could give a damn if you are the “Mayor” of your own home…

8. Don’t retweet yourself.

9. Don’t stream your Twitter feed into LinkedIn.

10. #thereallylonghashtagsontwitteraresomewhatannoying.

11. Adding #fail to any tweet, is just, well, a total #fail.

12. Just because your DM message begins with “This is an automated message, but I really care about knowing you!” doesn’t mean I am going to like you.

13. I don’t take you seriously when your Twitter location is “Earth.” Although I kinda dig it when people put their flight’s seat number…

14. How in the bloody hell do you have time for Farmville and Mafia Wars?

15. I. Don’t. Have. A. Problem. Using. Periods. For. Exclamation. But. Others. Do.

16. When you share the work of others, be sure you cite the author. It’s kinda skuzzy to tweet a link to an article, only to find it belongs to someone else…

17. I really want to stab my eyes with pencils every damn time I see another quote from Einstein or Mark Twain…

17.5. …Instead, come up with your own words of wisdom to promote.

18. I am cool with mentioning political stuff…but don’t get all fussy when someone from the other side gives you lip and fights back.

19. It is nails on a chalkboard when you put “PLS RT” at the end of a tweet. At least it is for me. And maybe a couple of million other people…

19.5. And certainly don’t ask me to retweet a 137-character tweet… [this is why I don't own a weapon]

20. And don’t DM me and ask me to comment on your post. If I find it worthy, I will comment, RT, and sing your praises…

21. I’ve said this before, but any Tweet mentioning “Trump” is probably going to elicit a negative reaction…

22. Transparency is what makes this stuff great folks. Get with the program…

23. U don’t need 2 abbrv8 ur entire twt.

24, If I don’t “like” your Facebook page on Monday…it probably means I won’t “like” your damn page on Tuesday… Stop asking me…

25. I appreciate every #FollowFriday I get, but stacking a tweet with eight twitter handles doesn’t really move people to follow… #justsaying

26. I think #justsaying is overused…

27. I mean, really. Don’t ask me to recommend you on LinkedIn when we’ve never actually worked together…

28. Don’t broadcast your latest blog post over 39 different LinkedIn groups. This action may result in gunfire…

29. Hey, it is way cool to mention your latest post on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn…but if that’s ALL you do? You are doing it wrong.

30. Stop bitching about Facebook security protocols. When they start charging for access, then it is allowed.

31. Twitter Search, if done right, can change your life. Or at least your business.

32. I love how some A-listers are approachable, friendly, and helpful. And how some people, with 47 followers, act like prima donnas.

33. You don’t need to have a presence on EVERY social network. Engage where you have impact. Engage where your market is.

34. Friending you on Facebook is NOT permission to be added to your email database…

35. Don’t automate tweet distribution. When you tweet something, and I respond, and you get back to me three days later? That’s uncool.

36. When you send me a tweet, and I don’t know you, and you have 2 followers, and you ask me to click on a link? I will ignore you, with malice.

37. When people say they don’t care what you had for breakfast? They are lying. Secretly, they love knowing what their friends are up to…but they will NEVER admit it.

38. If you don’t know how to use Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn to strike up conversations, you need to begin again.

39. If you invite me to be your connection on LinkedIn with the standard “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” — you are missing a huge opportunity…

40. If you are whining that you don’t have enough time to read blogs, you aren’t using your RSS feed correctly…

41. If you have a blog, and have turned off commenting? What’s the point? [this applies to everyone, except Seth...]

42. If you allow commenting, but aren’t responding to the comments you are getting? What’s the point?

43. Make it easy to share your content. If it is hard to share, I won’t share it.

44. Just because a celebrity friends you on Facebook, doesn’t mean they are your BFF…

45. If your PR agency has an intern doing your tweeting, disclose that.

46. A large number of Twitter followers, Facebook friends, or LinkedIn connections doesn’t make you better. It does allow you to shine a brighter light on others, but sadly, most don’t do that…

47. But yet, most people still battle “follower envy” and devote their time to building numbers instead of building connection.

48. Spend your time connecting with real people, get to know them. And spend time sharing the work of others. That’s what makes you a player in social media. #thatisall

49. …and I think #thatisall is overused too.

[with regards to the bad stuff here? i am guilty of some of them. this post is as much for me as it is for you. i promise to work on it!]

Any other observations to share? What did I miss?

[cartoon by @gapingvoid]

Does Your “YES TO ALL” Social Media Mentality Really Serve You Well?

I feed the status stream of all my LinkedIn connections into my RSS reader. It is a great way to monitor what’s going on with the people I care about on LinkedIn.

Scanning it this morning, I noticed one of my connections was newly connected to about 25 people. As in, there was a repeated batch of “[insert name] is now connected to [insert name].”

I have to assume that my connection got into LinkedIn last night, saw that he had a bunch of connection invites, and accepted the invitations all at once…

Let me preface this by saying that the social web, and all that that implies, is utilized differently by EACH PERSON. What works for one, may not be comfortable, or effective, for another… And that’s ok.

But I don’t think the example I cited above is the most effective way. Did my connection really even know who he was accepting into his LinkedIn network? Or was he just trying to drive up his numbers and/or not be rude to those who invited him? How many of you [I know I have] have accepted invitations to large batches of invites, and then immediately looked at your follower count to see what the new number was?

[whatever. you know you have...]

This is the mentality that I think gets people in trouble. And by trouble I mean, they invest time and work into the social web, but don’t ever really see any meaningful value from it…other than driving up raw numbers of connections on various networks that at the end of the day doesn’t mean anything.

See, I think you should think through every one of those invites. Who is this person? Why are they trying to connect to me? What do they want/need from me? What can I benefit from connecting to them? Who do they know? How are THEIR connections relevant to me? How can I serve these people today? How can I bring value into their world?

The social web and all its various tools are simply means to collect information. Information that you can then use to take a meaningful action. That action could be simply to say “hello” and “how can I help you today?” But that’s a meaningful and important action…

Now, combine these deliberate actions, and apply them steadily over time! [and I don't mean 30 days, I mean years] That’s when you begin to see where this can have meaning in forging deeper connections with real people, increasing prospects to your business, strengthening your personal brand, etc…

So, the next time you log into LinkedIn or Facebook or Foursquare and see a pile of invites waiting for action, don’t just blindly click yes to all. Go through them slowly, carefully, deliberately, and think about what the connection means, and how you can take an immediate action that benefits the both of you…

What do you think?

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[cartoon by @gapingvoid]