It's all about the STORY!

Posts tagged ‘communications’

The Professional Introduction – 7 Tips (to not be creepy)

Here’s the scene: you want to meet someone—a very important someone who can do important things for your career—but you’re not sure how to get to them… to meet them, to contact them… Then, you come across an individual who can help. She knows that someone, and she can introduce you to that someone, and she is willing to make the introduction for you. SWEET!spock

Let’s be clear, though, she is not recommending you—you both just met for goodness sake. She is not going to coach you, mentor you or be your best friend. She is merely offering to help you make the first contact with someone who can benefit you.

Okay, so she gives you this important someone’s contact information, and while doing so, she tells you a little bit about the important someone: why she is making the introduction, why that someone is as important as she seems, ways that you can benefit that someone and thereby develop a mutually beneficial relationship…

Here are some tips for YOU as you go about the professional introduction process:

  1. Pay attention to details: before you meet the important someone, pay attention to the details you are being offered about that person
    • How do they like to be contacted: phone, email, short get-to-the-point messages or long flowery flattering prose, etc.
    • Why is the person making the introduction bothering: why do they think the very important someone is so important (this is key to earn brownie points with both people—mention this specifically), how will the important someone possibly benefit from the introduction, what can YOU expect from the introduction, etc.
  2. Always have the end and the important someone’s best interests in mind. In other words, know what YOU want and anticipate the needs of the important someone, and when introducing yourself, mention how you intend to meet their needs and go for the ask—what you are offering to do and why (by the way—don’t bother mentioning much about what you need or why—frankly, no one cares much beyond mere curiosity)
  3. Highlight your skills and what specifically you are offering: if it’s obvious that you’re just in it for what you can gain, expect to receive a polite brush-off
  4. Do not expect the person who made the introduction to care one way or another if you got what you needed out of the introduction—they have two concerns: a) did they make a mistake in introducing you to this important someone and b) will any of their needs be met because they made the introduction. YOU don’t matter.
  5. If the introduction goes well, you contacted the important someone properly: you were polite, kept your message short and simple, highlighting the benefits of your offer along with why you are the right person to provide whatever it is… were specific in what you wanted and how this will benefit the important someone, GREAT WORK! Even if you don’t get exactly what you want, you were successful in your introduction, and the important someone will very likely remember that
  6. If you screw up the introduction: get verbose, overly familiar, lack clarity in what you want and how it will benefit the important someone, and at worse come across as insulting and uninformed about the important someone… I have some good news for you: you can only improve form here! It’s not likely you’ll do worse the next time.
  7. The worst kind of introduction is not bothering. Go ahead and make the mistakes if you must, and if things don’t seem to go your way, seek out advice. You may have blown your chances with both the very important someone and the person who bothered to introduce you, but that doesn’t mean you’ve blown your chances with the world. Professionals are very often willing to give advice, coach and mentor—you can even hire a professional coach to help you fine-tune your skills. It does matter.

7 Tips for networking

7 tips for networking and building collaborative partners

1) Listen–spend less time pitching and more time asking meaningful questions and collecting answers
2) Remain open–even those whom may seem at first to be the most unlikely partners are the exact right person for your circle of influence. Try not to pre-judge.
3) Feel free to disagree–don’t shy away from people who may disagree with you…. While you don’t want to cultivate adversarial relationships, and manners and professionalism count for a lot, having opposing views in your circle can be brilliant to help challenge you and refine your practices
4) Come prepared with interesting questions–ask about mentors and role models, or who had the greatest influence on them as a child; ask about challenges overcome; ask about adventures they dream about or places they like to travel; ask if they have any great interest in arts, sciences or social causes…
5) Collect contact info–remember that your business card has one primary use, which is to serve as a conduit to collect the business cards of others. Take a moment to write a quick note on the backs of cards from people you find interesting to help you remember them and why you found them so interesting
6) Rod, reel and HOOK–if you’d like to cultivate a particular connection, have a reason to follow-up with them prepared so that they look forward to connecting with you in the future… information on an upcoming event, a project that may be of interest to them, an opportunity you are working to put together… anything
7) Smile–don’t forget that the most attractive thing about a person is confidence and personality. Of course showing up looking your best, well-groomed, polished and dressed appropriately helps considerably, too. However, even in an Armani suit, if you come across as being grumpy, shy or nervous… that behavior is loud and very, very difficult for others to overlook.
aliens

Daphne’s List of 7: Telling your company’s story

I have just spent hours researching the history of several Bay area nonprofits–learning about their stories. Specifically, their history.

Here are 7 tips on storytelling that would be helpful for all businesses, particularly nonprofits. These are 7 important points, what I have learned along the way as a professional writer for nonprofits and as a member of the media as I am currently…

  1. Make your audience “feel” your story. DO NOT give us facts and figures. We truly don’t care–we glaze over them, mostly. Tell us about the tears. Tell us about the victories. Tell us about the struggle. Tell us how your organization CHANGED things. Give me something to feel, to care about, to go out and tell my friends and family about. Here in Pinellas County PARC does a GREAT job of telling their story HERE.
  2. Get your FACTS straight and make sure your information is up-to-date. I will not mention the site, but it is one I know all too well–they have the date the company was founded, which is good, but then they also include how long the company has been operating. Not only is this information redundant, but the number of year operating is an evolving number that needs to be changed each year. If you insist on including it, you’d better be committed to updating it every single year. As it stands, you’ve been dormant for about 5 years. Okay, that’s just an example, but in a historical statement, STAY AWAY from figures that change. Also, if you include a blurb about where you are today, which is good–update that at least annually. Do it the same time you do your annual report–that’s a good reminder that all your company’s content should be reviewed, including your website
  3. Make sure your website looks good. Honestly, this is not an expensive or difficult thing to do. If you have a website, and you certainly should, make sure it’s attractive. Certainly, if it’s easy to navigate, lots of content, etc.–even better. But, first, make it visually pleasing. If your web page is hard to look at, no one will want to bother, and it reflects poorly on your company’s image.
  4. Less is more when it comes to text. WOW! So much verbose copy, laden with industry jargon–I’ve been working in the helping fields for over 20 friggin years, and if I wonder what you mean by what you’re trying to say, and I’m getting tired of reading wordy copy, I can’t begin to imagine what the public at large thinks when they see it. Tighten it up, and keep it simple. If that’s too hard for you pros in the field to do, get some clients and community members together to focus group your marketing copy for you. If you don’t believe me, listen to what they have to say…
  5. Include a link for media on your website. Please, think of us and throw us a little bone. Include your press releases there as a link. Include contact info. and brief bios of subject experts that we can contact for quotes and insight into issues–we are always looking for expert opinions. Make it easy for us to find. Give us your logo and other graphics that we have total permission to use as stock art for articles. And, tell us who your media contact is so that we can contact them directly. When a story is breaking, and we want to use your organization as an expert, we don’t have time to wait around or hunt to find “maybe” the right person. Get us linked to them straight away, and we’ll get you into print faster and more often as the experts in the field that you are.
  6. Be responsive to media. We matter. In a time when funding is tighter than ever, getting and keeping your company’s name in the community dialogue is critical when you are cultivating donors. If a development director has to spend too much time explaining to a potential donor what the organization is and why they care about it, it’s probably already too late to bother. Keeping your name in the media as noted experts in what you do is key to raising the value of your organization in the mind of your public. There’s no short cut. There are many creative ways to do this, and traditional media isn’t the only one… but it’s important to do in some fashion.
  7. Reach out to media. Don’t just send us a press release. Trust me, we often don’t “get” why your story is important. Talk to us. Get to know us. Take us to lunch (we really like that!). But, develop a relationship with us. And this is critical–don’t bother telling us why your story is important to you. Tell me why I, the media professional cares, and why it’s cool, interesting or important to the public. THAT’s the story. Don’t count on the fact that the media professional will be able to see why your story matters. Spoon feed THAT to them, because why your story matters IS the story.

New Media vs. Traditional Media — new take on “the medium is the message”

While sitting on the sidelines of today’s Suncoast Tiger Bay Club meeting, listening to local panelists discuss “Traditional Media vs. New Media,” it became crystal clear that Marshall McLuhan’s prophetic phrase, “The medium is the message” first published in 1964 had become a reality far beyond anything McLuhan could have possibly imagined.

The panelists for today’s Suncoast Tiger Bay meeting included Eric Deggans of the Tampa Bay Times, Jeff Houck of the TBO.com, Mitch Perry of Creative Loafing, Noah Pransky of WTSP 10 News, John Romano of the Tampa Bay Times and Peter Schorsch of Saint PetersBlog.

Our experienced panelists discussed issue such as predicting whether newspapers will still be politically relevant in ten years, with most of the panel agreeing that yes, though it might look different. Schorsch was a striking voice of dissent on this issues, stating flatly, “absolutely not.” Schorsch pointed out that newspapers are not economically sound and that the on-line publications The Huffington Post and Politico were Pulitzer Prize winners this year.

Largo Mayor Pat Gerard asked the panel a pertinent question in the wake of local newspaper layoffs and marked circulation decline, “Will the decline of local newspapers lead to the decline of keeping an eye on local politicians? […] How do we know who to trust?”

Deggans responds, “Trust yourself.” He continues saying that while “there is downsizing in newsrooms, you have the tools to determine how valid, how real and how important a story is.” Deggans explains that this isn’t determined entirely by the source.

St. Petersburg City Councilmember Karl Nurse posed the question as to whether media is making people more educated or more opinionated. Schorsch stated firmly, “More educated” He said, “There has been a 400 percent increase in talking about politics since 9/11,” where Schorsch credits social media as a significant reason why. Schorsch also contends that through the use of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, the volume of national dialogue about all issues has increased. Yet, Pransky was less enthusiastic stating that he believes overall people are more opinionated based on blog postings yet more educated from traditional media.

Willi Rudowski of the Poynter Institute asked, “What is the benefit of speed over accuracy for democracy?” Deggans first spouted off saying, “None.” Then, he follows-up with a more complete answer, “Imapct.” When you are first, he explains, it gets you noticed, and being noticed affects your bottom line, and that’s important if you want to stay in the game.

Yet, I suspect that Deggans meant what he said the first time, “None.”

Romano expanded on this saying that while this is true, he believes that “speed is often destroying good journalism. Good journalism is comprehensive, nuanced and thorough.”

Schrosch had more to add to this, however, and this point was my biggest take-away from this panel discussion where “The medium is the message” became the true topic of conversation. And I’m not saying that because Schorsch pays me, which he does, but because I believe it to be true. I’ve seen it in action.

Schorsch replied to the question of the benefit of speed over accuracy for democracy citing Twitter feeds to help organize protesters in Tunisia and other similar stories to help gather, organize and inform the public via social media tools. “It’s about getting people organized versus the ‘right people’ organized.”

At this point someone interjected, “The news is different from social media.”

But is it?

Schorsch said that the power of new media isn’t just to inform. “You can use it to overthrow a totalitarianism regime. I want to be able to help overthrow a totalitarianism regime.”

And here, the medium surely is the message.

What does that mean? “The medium is the message” refers to the reality that not only does the content the medium carries affect society, but the medium itself plays a significant role in the story and in shaping society.

Media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are as much a part of the story as the stories they tell just as much as the newspaper, television show or cable news station is. Moreover, whether we are discussing traditional media or new media, the storyteller his- or herself also is the message.

Via Daphne Taylor Street. You may reach Daphne at dts.streetmedia@gmail.com.

Published first on Saint PetersBlog: http://saintpetersblog.com/2012/05/at-tiger-bay-panel-traditional-journalists-and-new-media-debate-if-the-medium-is-in-fact-the-message/

Thought of the day: Competition means partnership (AKA: The world is flat, and competition looks different)

Are you in charge of keeping your business afloat? Relevant? competitive? Sustainable? Yes? Then, my friend, you have much to worry about.

You have much to worry about unless words such as diversification, collaborations, change-management, resource-sharing and partnership are central to your business philosophy. Beyond incorporating these key words in meaningful ways, perhaps the most important part of this newly-needed philosophy is redefining your concept of competition.

Today’s competitive edge is far from the 80s version–kill or be killed and destroy your adversaries; wipe out the competition so that

Samurai Competition

you’re the only one left standing.

Why doesn’t this philosophy work any longer? Because the world is flat. The world is flat due to advanced communications and globalization. The world is flat because customers and clients can reach all corners of the globe to get the goods and services they want and need. The customers and clients–your target population–in your community no longer need you. You need them. Redefining your concept of competition is a powerful method of cultivating them.

At the end of the day, it’s all about value. Some things have never and will never change about business, and central to these constants in a free market is value. Customers and clients will seek it out and build their loyalty around it. So, the question is, are you as valuable as you can be?

A key way to raising the value of your business is through partnerships and resource-sharing. This doesn’t necessarily mean bringing partners into your business to run things and work with you and your team to make things happen. What it does mean is looking around for your competitors, getting to know them and the services they provide, looking for the unique–looking for value. Then, see how you can leverage your difference to share referrals and team up on projects, utilizing one anothers’ expertise. Very few pros are equally good at everything, so look for ways to share resources in niche markets. This will increase your value in the eyes of your public and demonstrate that you and your partner(s) are innovators in your field working together to provide the absolute best for your customers and clients.

Look at your competition differently–they are your greatest potential allies, and working together, you can each raise the value of offerings to your customers and clients. By viewing competition as partners, everyone wins.

This is all about game theory for business. Wiping out your competitors could concel you out, too. Better to collaborate than lose everything.

Here is an example–a florist delivery cooperative shares resources on delivery services so that flower deliveries going to the same zip code end up on one truck from a variety of florists’ orders: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/small-business/2007/08/the_sweet_smell_of_rising_gas.html

Thought of the day: Remember to rest… (AKA: Siesta = Power)

It’s foolishly overlooked as a critical strategy. Resting allows the mind to stop spinning in circles over the obsessive conscious, which tends to result in an anxiety-ridden, explosive, reactionary and thoughtless state of being. No, seriously, it’s that bad. Do you think you are immune? Think again–you’re just in denial. Resting, ample amounts of rest in various forms, are required for the brain to act creatively and thoughtfully and to learn.

Sleeping, napping, meditating, dreaming, visualizing… these are all crucial activities that help give your mind needed rest.

So, if you’re having trouble coming up with that pressing solution, if that new concept or artistic idea just isn’t gelling, if you simply can’t learn that lesson or program you’ve been studying, if that issue is just beating you down: rest. Sleep, nap, hike, meditate, dream, visualize… anything to get your mind in a peaceful state. Rest, and you will find it gets better.

Dog at Rest

McGhee the Dog Resting

What Poker, WoW and Chess mean to marketing… (AKA: Game theory and cultivating market research)

Games–the word brings different meanings to different people, from cards and gambling to board games on rainy days or smart phone apps  with angry birds attacking defenseless pigs to massively multiplayer online games (MMOG) such as World of Warcraft. Games capture the attention of people across the globe, hooking them into an experience that requires skill, attention to detail, concentration and often strategy and high levels of thinking. People young and old and everything in between love games, and savvy marketers have learned how to apply game theory to gathering intelligence about target markets.

There are specific traits of games that entice people to play them:

  1. It’s interactive–players do something and engage in a game.
  2. There is often an imaginary element to a game–players can transport themselves into another world, environment, character, space and time.
  3. It’s competitive–even if players only compete with themselves to get to another level or to receive a response that they want, there’s an element of achievement.
  4. Visual–using pictures, graphics and even animation to tell a story or further engage players–games are often highly visual.
  5. Rewards–games have an element of reward, and this can include anything from unveiling more information a player may want to receive to just attaining high scores and potentially comparing scores with friends and other players.
  6. Brain power–games require thought, whether they engage strategy, skill, knowledge or a complex combination of these elements, the brain is activated, and players get hooked.

What does this have to do with marketing? I’m glad you asked. Innovative marketers have learned that they can develop games, including all of the elements above, to collect valuable information about players–otherwise known as respondents in marketing lingo. In other words, market research in the form of a game, versus a bland survey, can be used to collect complex, valuable information about target markets. Research has demonstrated that players are far more likely to engage higher levels of thought and consider more complex elements to provide information collected if they are engaged in a game versus answering questions in traditional market research surveys. They are also more likely to return to the game and spending far longer periods of time providing enhanced information depending on the game’s structure and interactivity between multiple players.

Think about it. How can you use game theory to amplify your communications and marketing strategies? Hint: It can go far beyond market research and include customer service, e-commerce and multiple other systems in business. Get creative, and the applications are nearly limitless. It’s all bout engaging your target market more completely and collecting valuable information. Collective intelligence is the real name of the game.

 

 

 

 

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