30-Second Commercial Part 7 of 8

An effective 30-second commercial is good, but having more than one is better. You have a lot to offer and it won’t all fit in one commercial.

No two people are the same and no two situations are the same. Thus, it only stands to reason that you have different messages to fit different situations and people.

Plus, if you consistently say the same thing, it eventually becomes “white noise.” Don’t fall into the “one size fits all” trap. Consider the following:

  1. Develop a variety of Message Bodies – some informative or educational, others flippant or amusing, still others something with a little shock value (where you really want to grab some attention quickly).
  2. Vary the reason WHY people should refer you. What information about you or your company will instill confidence and boost your credibility? What makes you uniquely qualified or sets you apart?
  3. Vary the request. In some setting you can outright ask for people to refer you clients. In others, ask for a connection to a strategic partner (an accountant or attorney, perhaps). Or maybe you need to ask for information (such as details on networking events, job transition groups or background on people).

To summarize, make your 30-second commercials effective by having different MESSAGE BODIES, relying on different things to establish CONFIDENCE, and altering the REQUEST.

The order in which you present this information can vary. The above framework is a suggested guide. It is not an ironclad rule of thumb. Lead with something to inspire CONFIDENCE or, perhaps, your strong definite REQUEST, or even an amusing MESSAGE BODY.

It does not matter how you slice or dice the framework. The key is conveying the message with all the bits and pieces in about 30 seconds.

Social Media as Compared to Traditional Networking

computerEveryone has been to a networking event … Business After-Hours, Open House or Tradeshow … A gathering of people with the ability to interact with each other. Do you know what? That is what social media is, nothing more than a networking event. It is just another networking event, EXCEPT for some important differences.

First, your average networking event might have a few hundred people all from a local area. Social media, however, boast having millions of people participating (and likely 100’s of thousands in your region) and they are scattered all over the world.

Second, most networking events operate on a particular day and time. If you happen to be busy during that day and time (say, Friday at 7:30 am), you are out of luck until the next event. With LinkedIn, however, this networking event is going 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. During the big game you can participate in the event while you watch TV. If you can’t sleep, you can come online to the event. Even on
Thanksgiving Day (or any other major holiday) you can be part of this continuously operating networking event.

Finally, when you walk into a networking event and see new faces, you cannot tell who is who. The guy in the suit could be a corporate executive or someone in transition. You just don’t know. If you are looking to network with attorneys, you generally find them via introduction or by trial and error. With social media (especially LinkedIn, in this instance), you can find the people you are looking for quickly and you can know a ton about them before you start to converse.

So approach social media as if it were just another networking event, but know that it also has the wonderful advantages of being worldwide and immense, continuously operating and rich with searchable information.

Warning for Social Media Networking

computerFar too often, people figuratively chain themselves to their computer and clank away in LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter hoping to create business for themselves. While they may stumble onto some, it seldom reaches the level they hope for.

Know this… Social media (and especially LinkedIn) is not a sales machine… it is not an order-taking system…it is not an ATM. It is merely a tool that you can use to better network yourself … It is not a replacement for networking.

Think of it in terms of this analogy … We networked before we had phones. People worldwide and people in this country built vast and complex civilizations long before they had any sort of electronic telecommunications. They were able to network themselves … Word-of-mouth, couriers and carrier pigeons did the trick. Back in the day, people did business and associated with those they knew, they liked and they trusted.

When the telephone came along, it did not change the underlying aspects of networking. It just made it easier. But they still did business with those they knew, they liked and they trusted. The telephone was just a tool.

The same is true of social media (such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter). It is just a tool. It is not networking. It is just a tool to make it easier to get to know people, determine if we like them, and then ultimately trust them.

Networking and Social Media

computerIn the early days of the Internet, companies built websites and then took on the responsibility of supplying all the content. They knew that it was critical to have fresh content as often as possible if they were to have people continue to view their site. And if people did not continue to view their site (known as hits), then they knew they would become far less attractive to potential advertisers.

We all know how this story ended. People invested millions in these websites. From that, stock was sold on Wall Street. And in the end, people lost billions and the economy was thrust into a recession of sorts.

While some proclaimed the World Wide Web as just being a fad, others began to re-tool and take a new approach to the Internet. There are still many sites that depend upon having fresh content to keep people coming back (a great example is Amazon or WebMD). Some developers, however, took a new approach. They created websites where the online content is created everyday by millions and millions of average people using highly accessible and scalable publishing technologies. These developers look to people like you and me to write about what is interesting to us and share things we deem to be important or entertaining. This development is known as Social Media, and it completely shifts how people discover and read, as well as share, news, information and other content.

Certainly, social media gets a bad rap. It can be viewed as an expansive online rumor mill or coffee club. If you approach it correctly, however, it can be a valuable networking tool.

It is important to point out that there are lots of different types of social media. Certainly there are the big three … LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Beyond that there are dozens of others. YouTube is a form of social media just for sharing video. Instagram and Pinterest are for sharing images.

There are sites geared entirely for small business and some just for attorneys … Or writers. The point is that there are tons of different types of social media. Some have better business applications than others, but there are lots of ways to connect with people on the Internet now.

Creating A Referral Machine: 2 of 7

keep the gearsCreating a Referral Machine: 2 of 7

Just because you want this referral machine does not mean that you get it. You have to build it, and there is a process to it, a three-step process to doing so.

You start by establishing relationships. Then within those relationships (which is essentially a network of people), you empower them to not just understand what you do, but how to talk about it. Then finally, you remain in continual contact to appropriately guide and re-adjust the process. Yes, this takes work, but in the end the rewards far outpace the effort.

The foundation upon which you will create a referral machine is based upon the relationships you have with others. This is the most important point: people do business and refer business to those that they know, like and trust. Those who get the most and best referrals are simply those who have the best relationships. They are widely known, highly liked, and implicitly trusted.

We will cover this process in greater detail starting in Part 3.

Networking And Stone Soup

Networking And Stone Soup

In Marcia Brown’s old tale, entitled Stone Soup, plague-ridden villagers were stingy with their food and had no interest in sharing with anyone but their own.

This begins to change, however, when a peddler tells the villagers that he would like to share some stone soup with them (essentially throwing a few rocks in boilinV (Soup)g water). This action, along with some goading words, moved villagers to become generous — one by one sharing. A head of cabbage here, some salt beef there, and voilá, before long there was a large brew collectively made and fit to feed all of them.

Brown essentially suggests that generosity and altruism are contagious. Is this just a hopeful fable? Or is there any truth to this assertion? Nicholas A. Christakis, M.D., Ph.D. and James H. Fowler, Ph.D tested this assertion and shared their results in their book Connected.

These researchers took a set of 120 students who were put into groups of four. The groups’ individuals were given some money to be used to perform an exercise composed of a series of tasks. Participants both profited and lost via these tasks in a capitalistic exercise. After each exercise, however, the individuals had the option of giving some funds to others at the expense of their own.

After each exercise, the groups were mixed up so that no two groups were ever the same throughout the experiment. In the first few rounds of exercises, no money was gifted.

Amongst the participants, however, was a plant — someone in on the experiment. This person we will refer to as the “Stone Soup Peddler.” After certain exercises, the Stone Soup Peddler started to systematically give away some of the money to others.

In the exercises that followed this exhibition of generosity, the people who benefited from the gift, gave more. In addition, even the people who witnessed the gifting, but did not directly benefit began giving more. These altruistic gestures then began to spread through the group.

In business, no doubt, you are dependent upon others giving to you. You look for others to give you information. You look for people to share referrals with you. You need people to share insights and ideas with you.

Acts of generosity, however, are inspired somehow. That is people do not just give. Rather people are moved to give somehow, some way.

As the story of  or the Christakis-Fowler study illustrates, you have the power to inspire generosity through your own generosity. The substance of the act does not matter. What does matter, however, is that you act, as this simple gesture becomes contagious. You can literally inspire your entire network with one small act to literally anyone. A simple referral. An introduction. Sharing of insight or information.

Any or all of this will inspire your network to give to others. In so doing, not only will you have done something wonderful, but you will also be in close proximity when the generosity begins to materialize.

Network Pyramid Capstones

DiagramThere are many of these experiments and studies that offer wonderful insight as to how you can both become better at networking as well as have a better network. Here is one in particular.

In the 1960’s, Harvard social psychologist, Stanley Milgram studied what he termed the “small world” problem. He wanted to gain a better understanding of how people were connected to one another.

In one experiment, he sent to 160 randomly selected individuals in Omaha, Nebraska a packet with the name and address of a stockbroker who worked in Boston (and lived in Sharon, Massachusetts). Milgram instructed each individual to write their name on the roster in the packet and then mail the packet to a friend or acquaintance who they thought would get it closer to the stockbroker, and so on until it reached the Boston broker.

On average the packets reached the broker in six steps (thus the phrase “six degrees of separation”). While Milgram initially reasoned that if the packets started from 160 random points, the packets would arrive at their destination with similar randomness. Many of the chain packets, however, followed the same asymmetrical pattern to the Boston stockbroker.  In all, half of the responses that got to the stockbroker were delivered by three people.  Hence, the phrase “six degrees of separation” doesn’t mean that everyone is linked to everyone else in just six steps.  It does mean that a very small number of people are linked to everyone else in a few steps, and the rest of us are linked to the world through those few.

There is an easy way to explore this idea.  Write down the names of 40 friends and trace them backwards to how they were introduced to you.  This exercise will reveal that what people term as their “social circles” are really inverted pyramids. In other words, a large percentage of your contacts likely originated from a relatively few number of individuals. Those at the tops of these pyramids are your Network Pyramid Capstones.

Here is the consideration for you. If you are working to “jump start” your network or determine where your time is best spent, first, find your Network Pyramid Capstones. Then take one or all of your Network Pyramid Capstones to lunch, breakfast, for coffee or beer or whatever.

That is, really make an effort to develop a great relationship with these people – find ways to help them and be sure they understand how they can help you. These individuals have been instrumental in building your network to this point.  It is likely they will do more of the same in the future.

Networking is Nothing New

S (Old Book)Networking is simply human interaction and it has been with us since the beginning of time. These human interactions are really just the relationships we have with one another. How we connect. Some connections are passing. Some connections are more lasting. Some connections are seemingly lifelong.

Given this, networking is, more or less, really just human behavior. Talking. Listening. Understanding. Being empathetic, encouraging, inspiring, smiling, laughing, and being a friend. Thus, all human behaviors involving other people are relationship-based and is networking.

The wonderful thing about human behavior is that there are patterns to it. While the patterns may not be perfectly predictable – as you might find with a chemical reaction or a physics experiment – there are patterns generally there.

Whenever there are patterns, however, there is curiosity. And whenever there is curiosity, you will find people of science trying to explain the patterns through studying, observing, and examining them.

Human behavior involving our relationships is no different. The social sciences – sociology, psychology, and economics, just to name a few – for years have examined how humans relate to one another, both personally and professionally.

30-Second Commercial – Part 8 of 8

Silver modern StopwatchIf you think about it, considering all these different options and orders, there are literally dozens (if not hundreds) of different 30-second commercials for you. So do not stop at just one. Rather select a handful of the ones that you feel are the most powerful for you and where you are the most comfortable saying them. Go with these.

Like anything, however, you will not get good at delivering your 30-second commercials without preparation, planning and practice.

Write Them: Using something as basic as a small note pad or 3×5 cards, neatly write or type your commercials for future reference.

Review Them: Once you have them written out, keep them handy so that you can practice or review them from time to time (just a few minutes each week is plenty).

Use Them: When someone then asks, “Who are you?”, do not hesitate. Have the courage to launch into one of your 30-second commercials (picking the appropriate one for the time and place).

Refine Them: Your 30-second commercials are always a work in process. You should look for ways to update them, make them more clear or better represent you.

30-Second Commercial – Part 7 of 8

Silver modern StopwatchIt is good to have an effective 30-second commercial, but it is even better to have more than just one. Think about it. There’s a lot to what you do and there is no way you can convey it all in 30 seconds.

So, have different commercials to convey various things. Also, consider that no two people are the same and no two situations are the same. Thus, it only stands to reason that you have different messages to fit different situations and people.

Plus, if you consistently say the same thing, eventually what you have to say becomes “white noise.” So do not fall into the trap of having a “one size fits all” commercial. Here are some considerations for developing some variety in what you have to say.

First, as I indicated earlier, develop a variety of Message Bodies … In some settings be informative or educational (at a stodgy business afterhours) … In some be flippant or amusing (say, at a holiday party) … In others, you might consider something with a little shock value (where you really want to grab some attention quickly).

Next, there is more than one reason WHY people should refer (or use) you, so share a different piece of confidence or credibility building information from time to time. Think about it.

What are the things that uniquely qualify you to be their best option? Perhaps there are things the set your company apart and those things attribute to you by association. Maybe it is the process you use.

Each of these can lend credibility to you in a particular situation … It is important to know how and appropriately insert that one in your 30-second commercial. (Whether it’s you, your company or the process you use).

In addition to using different ways to establish credibility, you can ask for different things in your 30-second commercials.

Depending on the setting you can outright ask for people to refer you clients … Or you might find in a situation that you are best served to ask for connections to strategic partners (accountants, attorneys, etc.)… Or you might determine that it is most appropriate to ask for information (such as details on networking events, job transition groups or background on people).

The point is that this is another way in which you can create some diversity within your 30-second commercials.

Finally, in addition to changing the MESSAGE BODIES, relying on different things to establish CONFIDENCE, and altering the REQUEST, you can also switch up the order in which you execute the framework.

The above framework is a suggested guide. It is not an ironclad rule of thumb, however. Lead with something to inspire CONFIDENCE or, perhaps, your strong definite REQUEST, or even an amusing MESSAGE BODY.

It does not matter how you slice or dice the framework. The key is conveying the message with all the bits and pieces in about 30 seconds.