31 May 2010

Introduce yourself to your grandmother

An essential part of networking is introducing yourself to others.
This is often described as the very first part of the networking process, "Know Me" (Read more about this in Penny Power's book "Know Me, Like Me, Follow Me")

Introducing yourself might sound simple and easy but often isn't that simple at all.
As professionals in our trade we are used to talk to peers, customers and suppliers in our own industry. Typical tech-talk or jargon for your industry automatically slips into most conversations.

It's very important that you train yourself to be able to introduce yourself without using tech-talk or jargon at all. To make this even more clear :
Try to imagine that you would introduce yourself to your grandmother and she really needs to understand every single word you say.

I have read some books stating you need to introduce yourself in under 30 seconds, but I think that's cutting it a bit short. A professional 2 minute introduction is still very polite and can contain all the necessary information. Two minutes is the maximum time it takes an elevator to travel from the ground floor up to the penthouse of the investor ... dixit the "Elevator Pitch".

These are the essential parts of your introduction :
- Who are you ?
- What's your professional activity ?
- What exactly is the problem that you can solve ?
- What is the value that you can bring to your clients ?

If you are introducing yourself at a networking event, you might want to add a few extras to include the 'now' :
- What are you working on right now ?
- What are you looking for right now ?
- How can people help you right now ?

Last but not least :
Always network as a person. If you network as a company you will loose your entire network whenever you leave that company !

2 May 2010

Integrate and automate your status updates

Since Social Media is time consuming, we need to search for ways to integrate and automate most of the daily processes we use for communicating with our network.

Recently I was interviewed by a journalist for Bizz Magazine, the leading business magazine in Belgium for startups and small businesses. The result of this interview you can find in this article (in dutch) : http://www.friends-with-benefits.eu/images/press/BIZZ105.pdf

I want to share a few essentials in this blogpost :

For each connection you make between networks, try to use the most simple way to connect. For example, LinkedIn and Twitter have integrated direct routes to each other's networks.
In Twitter you can use the hashtag #in to include a status-update on LinkedIn. On LinkedIn you only have to cross the box next to the blue Twitter 'T' to include a status-update on Twitter.

The most popular broadcast tools for status updates are Ping.fm, TweetDeck and HelloTXT

As a 'heavy' user of Ping.fm I still think the best feature is the ability to update all my networks with a simple email message ... a lot cheaper than updating through a webinterface when I'm abroad !

All three mentioned applications offer more or less the same features, only Tweetdeck delivers an application that can be installed on your pc and also gives you a dashboard view on your most popular networks.

When constructing the routes for your status messages to be send from one network to the next, always watch out not to create loops or multiple posting errors !
Each message should only appear ONCE on each network or otherwise this will annoy your visiters and followers !
Integrating and automating your status messages is also a part of the workshop 'Social Media for Business'.