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5 Mistakes New Businesses Make on Linkedin

This week we continue our 4-week series in which we cover the top 5 mistakes business make on the most popular social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Instagram. We invite you to subscribe and follow along each Monday for quick and valuable tips on how you can avoid making these mistakes and immediately improve your business’s social media presence. Enjoy!


5 Mistakes New Businesses Make on Linkedin

Linkedin is a valuable, professional networking tool for building your personal brand, which is ultimately a reflection on your business. Because your profile represents you as a person, it’s all the more important to know what mistakes to avoid so that you don’t risk putting anything but your best face forward. Take a look at these five mistakes and learn how to avoid making them with your own profile on Linkedin!

Not reaching out and actively building your network

With any social networking site, actively reaching out to build connections with other people is an important part of successfully growing the value of your network. Don’t make the mistake of creating an account only to forget to reach out to contacts you know or have an interest in getting to know. Growing your network is as simple as this: send an invitation to connect with at least one new contact a day. Another great way to engage contacts and build your personal brand is to commit to participating in group discussions a couple times a week. Simply comment or ask a question, anything to start a conversation!

Reaching out TOO far and building your network with anyone and everyone
Now that we’ve talked about the value of building your network, it’s important to keep in mind that you can take this piece of advice too far. Trying to connect with everyone and anyone that Linkedin suggests will result in a ton of “false” connections that carry no value and merely clutter your contact list. Think about your goals and purpose for your personal brand. Aim to connect with contacts that you genuinely know or that align with the vision or your brand. When you go to search your contacts, you’ll have a meaningful list of professionals that can truly be of help to you.

Leaving outdated or incomplete content on your profile

In a world where change is constant, you want to remember to also regularly update your profile information to keep it accurate and relevant.  Whether your business moves to a new location or broadens its scope of service, it’s important to reflect these changes in your personal profile and on your business page on Linkedin.

Sharing your tweets or Facebook posts on Linkedin without formatting them specifically for this audience

Sharing the same content across all your social media accounts is problematic because each platform has its own features and limitations that call for a unique message. For example, Linkedin doesn’t limit you to 140 characters like Twitter, but it’s also not the best social media site for using hashtags. If you push your Twitter posts to Linkedin, it will be obvious you didn’t take the time to customize the content. Not only will this lose impact with your audience, it will also reflect that you’re not willing to put in the minimal extra time to customize your content in an effort to engage your contacts.

Not fully utilizing the power of long-form posts

The final, and possibly the biggest mistake people continue to make on Linkedin is not fully utilizing the power of long-form posts. You don’t have to have your own blog or be a skilled writer to publish meaningful content on Linkedin. In fact, this is a great way to get started! Rather than just sharing a link to your article or blog hosted on another website, you have the opportunity to increase the visibility of your content by publishing it directly to Linkedin. Your contacts can subscribe to your posts, comment on them and share with their network– all of which are powerful ways to increase your brand value, expertise and SEO.

What strategy have you used to build your Linkedin network and profile? Have you made any of these mistakes? Share your thoughts by commenting below!

 

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5 Mistakes New Businesses Make on Twitter

This week we continue our 4-week series in which we cover the top 5 mistakes business make on the most popular social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Instagram. We invite you to subscribe and follow along each Monday for quick and valuable tips on how you can avoid making these mistakes and immediately improve your business’s social media presence. Enjoy!


5 Mistakes New Businesses Make on Twitter

5 Mistakes New Businesses Make on Twitter

No matter your business’s industry or specialty, a solid social media marketing strategy involving Twitter can produce positive and powerful outcomes. But in order to get the most out of using Twitter to build your brand, you need to know not only what to do, but also what not to do. Take a look at these 5 mistakes new businesses often make when using Twitter as part of their marketing strategy. 

Not sticking with one hashtag

Hashtags are one of the most powerful and efficient ways to share your information on Twitter; however, many businesses make the mistake of using multiple hashtags interchangeably instead of focusing their efforts on branding one.  Do your research! Choose a hashtag that isn’t already being used by another business and then use it consistently in your posts on social media and your marketing materials everywhere else. (Learn more about hashtag faux pas that should be avoided!)

Talking at their audience instead of listening and talking with them
When connecting with your audience through Twitter, you want to be sure your content comes across relatable and genuine. Don’t expect people to favorite, retweet or reply to a post if you don’t engage them. Remember the “What’s in it for me?” that people inherently want to find when reading content.  Post content that will spark a conversation rather than talking at them.  And when you do get a comment or share, be responsive! Aim to reply within the hour so that the conversation doesn’t go stale.

Letting their account sit stagnant

One of the biggest mistakes you can make on social media, especially with Twitter, is allowing your account to sit stagnant (i.e. going days or longer without posting fresh content). If you’re not interacting on a regular basis on Twitter, it sends the message that you’re not open for business or on top of your game. You wouldn’t open a new storefront and leave it sit vacant, right?  So when using your business Twitter account remember it’s a commitment to be present, reply, show interest, and interact!

Not formatting posts specifically for Twitter

What makes Twitter unique (and at times frustrating) is its limit of 140 characters per post. The intent is to encourage quick and concise sharing of information. For businesses using multiple social media platforms, this means you need to stop, think and format your posts specifically for Twitter as opposed to posting the same content you would on Facebook across every other social media site you use. Furthermore, you should be using hashtags and tagging fellow Twitter accounts, as appropriate, which is all the more reason to make your Twitter posts unique to this platform.

Being too “salesy” with Tweets

So often businesses think effective marketing is bombarding their audience with a hard sales pitch. While having a clear call to action is certainly a good thing, being too “salesy” will only turn off your customer base and cause your network to eventually tune you out completely. Instead, keep your brand top of mind and establish value by sharing helpful hints or information within your area of expertise. This will help you build both trust and a bigger following. The direct sales will result after you first put in the time to connect with your audience!

How have you navigated your small business strategy on Twitter? Have you made any of these mistakes? Share your thoughts by commenting below!

 

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5 Mistakes New Businesses Make on Facebook

This week we begin a 4-week series in which we cover the top 5 mistakes business make on the most popular social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Instagram. We invite you to subscribe and follow along each Monday for quick and valuable tips on how you can avoid making these mistakes and immediately improve your business’s social media presence. Enjoy!


5 Mistakes New Businesses Make on Facebook

5 Mistakes New Businesses Make on Facebook

Social media is a powerhouse of possibilities that offers businesses and brands unique and ever-changing ways to reach their target audience. It goes without saying that one of the most popular social media sites for businesses is Facebook. This platform is constantly updating its inner-workings to be more appealing, approachable and beneficial for businesses, but you still have to have a basic understanding of Facebook’s tools, and how they align with your marketing goals, to get the most out of your time and money.

As with any type of technology, there is a learning curve, especially for businesses who may not be “tech savvy.”  This is all the more reason to invest the time into learning the essential dos and don’ts businesses should follow when beginning to build a professional presence on Facebook. For example, when setting up your Facebook account, remember to make your page a business page and not a personal or group page.

And this just only scratches the surface. Here are 5 examples of mistakes you should avoid when using Facebook as a business marketing site!

Not staying consistent with the tone and style of your brand

When marketing your business, it is important to remember to stay consistent with the look and feel of your overall brand. This is especially true when creating the content you post on your Facebook business page – as this may be the first and only way new customers experience your brand.

The best way to ensure that you’re remaining consistent across all of your marketing efforts is to compare what you’re posting on social media with the look and feel of your website, email newsletters, print marketing materials as well as the personality, values, and mission you want your business to convey. Check for consistency just like you would proof read a letter before sending!

Getting way too long-winded with your content
We live in a society of content overload. That, combined with our tendency to merely skim content before moving on to the next thing is all the more reason to keep your Facebook posts short and sweet. Don’t confuse your Facebook business page with a blog, or worse, a novel. Give your audience the reader’s digest version and pique their interest to learn more.

Then, provide a call to action so they can indeed learn more! Don’t miss out on the opportunity to share a link back to your website or provide more information on how they can order a product. Your followers are flooded with endless content in their newsfeed. In order to grab their attention before they keep scrolling, you have to catch them with compelling, and easy to absorb content, otherwise they’re on to the next thing.

Not responding to comments or complaints

As true for any business, quality customer service should be your number one priority. Just as it is important to respond in a timely manner to phone or in-person complaints, you definitely want to frequently monitor the comments and messages that come in through your Facebook business page for issues that may arise. No matter how they choose to contact you, your customers deserve timely and truthful responses.

Furthermore, a complaint is not always a bad thing! When addressed properly, you have the opportunity to show your entire audience that you’re a caring and proactive company that puts its customers first. Also with using Facebook as a networking platform, you should be prepared to respond to all comments to your posts, including people who have questions or merely want to offer feedback, as these are just as important as complaints.

Posting only content without any images or visuals

A common mistake businesses make when marketing their brand on Facebook is posting only readable content. One of the best ways to grab attention quickly when people are scrolling through their feed is by adding visual content. Accompanying your text with relevant and catchy graphics is an easy and fool-proof way to engage your followers to actually pause and read your content.

Not fully filling out your “about” information on your business page

One of the most simple, yet easy to make mistakes when creating your Facebook business page is not being thorough when completing the “about” information section. It is crucial to be as detailed as possible in your explanation of your business for several reasons. First, your Facebook page may be many new customers first impression of your business. You should have all the essential information here to greet them, just as you would on your website. Additionally, the more content you provide, the better search results you’ll achieve. Don’t miss out on showing up in someone’s search when they’re potentially looking for a business that offers what you provide! The bottom line is that you want to make it easy for your followers to understand what your business offers and what your niche is.

How have you navigated your small business strategy on Facebook? Have you made any of these mistakes? Share your thoughts by commenting below!

 

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The Power of Picking Your Focus

The Power of Picking Your Focus

After nearly five years and more than 250 blog posts, I’ve learned enough to know that inspiration can will strike in the most unexpected places. The inspiration for this week’s particular post came from a stranger in front of me in line at Panera Bread, who likely has no idea her wardrobe choice that day provided quite the colorful thought process over lunch. Her shirt simply read, “What you focus on expands.”

I can’t recall what cause or organization this t-shirt was designed to support; my mind was already wandering off in countless directions as to how this simple statement has proven true in my own life – even just recently.

I have always had an intensely focused mind. I have no trouble immersing myself into a project and blocking out all other distractions. Though very useful for my particular career path, these mental “blinders” I put up can also cause me to misguide my focus toward negative thoughts that are counterproductive…and at times, paralyzing.

I know I can’t be alone; I think most people can relate to the notion of “What you focus on expands.”

The Positive

The good news is that because what we focus on expands, this means that choosing to focus on positive and productive thoughts will lead to more positivity and productivity in our lives.

Have you ever experienced a stretch of a few days, maybe even longer, when things really felt like they were coming together in your life? The good news kept rolling in and you felt like you had a little extra luck leading your way? I know I have. Now reflecting upon these “charmed” moments, I can see that what I considered good luck was actually the result of having my focus in the right place.

Because I was focused on things that were going right, I was more inclined to find and appreciate even the littlest of things that were blessings in my day. I was focused on the positive and the positive continued to expand.

The Negative

Unfortunately there is also a negative side to these words of wisdom. In contrast to those positive moments in life, I know I can also recall moments (even weeks or months) when I felt down on my luck.

What likely began as some bad news, like losing a client, then spiraled into what felt like the opposite of the Midas touch. Everything I encountered seemed to go the opposite way of what I had hoped. It’s no wonder that since I was expecting a negative response, that is what I received. Even little things, like clumsiness or forgetfulness, seemed amplified.

The Power of Picking Your Focus

The reality is that in both the positive and negative scenarios I just shared, my luck was pretty much the same. The major thing that shifted was my focus. When I was focused on positivity, I was more inclined to see all the little positive moments throughout my day and overlook the negative. The opposite applies for when I am feeling overly negative. In a given day, I likely encountered just as many highs and lows, but how I choose to frame them is what determines my mood.

What I challenge you with today is to stop and really examine your focus. Are you feeling positive or negative? You have the power to pick your focus. Regardless of how your morning started or any residual stress left over from the week prior, you can choose to start anew. There will be days when finding the silver lining feels impossible, but really try to avoid taking the easy way out by choosing to be negative. Remember, what you focus on expands.

I’ll leave you with this thought from Regina Brett that has always cheered up even the most dismal of days…

“If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.”

Are you intentional about your focus? Share your tips or struggles and let’s start a conversation!

 

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The Necessary Slow Burn of Business Growth

The first Monday of each month, I dust off a favorite post from the Bennis Inc Blog archives and give you another chance to enjoy the wit and wisdom that’s been shared. Enjoy this month’s treasure – and if it inspires you – be sure to share it with family and friends!


The Necessary Slow Burn of Business GrowthConsider this. Each spring it’s common practice to burn the tall grasses of the prairie. The reasons for this man made fire are those to benefit the prairie and it’s natural habitat – to remove old growth, put nutrients back into the soil and promote new growth and abundance. The prairie needs this fire to exist. As reckless and destructive as this once seemed to me as a child, I’ve come to understand and appreciate the prairie’s need for this slow, controlled burn. But now as an adult, reexamining this yearly ritual made me question another aspect of these prairie fires.

Why not just use gasoline, light a quick blaze and take care of the whole field at once? Why does it need to be a slow and smoldering fire – a process that seems to be so needlessly drawn out?

The answer to this question is actually quite strategic and far from needless. The slow, controlled burn of these tall prairie grasses is necessary for achieving all the ecological benefits that it does. Gasoline would absolutely ruin the soil and prevent these tall grasses from ever growing again. And a large wildfire would wreak havoc on other parts of the ecosystem (not to mention holds the potential to easily burn out of control). So why am I choosing to tell you so much about these prairie fires? It’s because I see an important lesson on life and business building within these flames – a lesson that speaks to both patience and strategy.

Letting it burn (slowly)

For anyone who has ever attempted to build a business, the process of growth is unpredictable and unstable at best. We want to believe, that like any model growth chart illustrates, our business will grow with dramatic spikes until we blast off the chart. But this is neither common nor sustainable for 99% of businesses out there. Instead, like a prairie fire, the healthiest and most lasting business growth is a steady smoldering that inches onward day by day. I define this as healthy growth because it’s growth that blazes a new trail while giving us enough time to stay right in tow. We control it; it does not control us. This is also the type of growth that strengthens a business as oppose to a wildfire which could burn it all down. Most importantly and much like the prairie fires, this slow, controlled burn weeds out the old while laying the rich foundation for future growth. It’s a change that moves at the pace of evolution, and it should be our goal to evolve patiently and strategically as such.

Avoiding the temptation to rush

With technology at our fingertips and our society of ever-connectedness, our accessibility to “gasoline” is endless. This causes a great temptation to rush the process of the slow burn just because we have the means to do so. But as ecologists have proven and stressed, this quick and fast method is not always beneficial, and sometimes harmful, depending upon what you’re trying to achieve. For the slow burn of business growth, you’re trying to achieve much more than a burnt and barren field. You want to preserve the ground and burn only what is necessary. Gasoline won’t allow you to do this. We have to avoid the temptation and let things progress on their own. Instead, we often want to ignite the fire with things like an overkill of paid advertising (this is often a waste of precious capital in the beginning) or gimmicky deals (this often pulls in the wrong client base). Such “shoot-from-the-hip” strategies may produce big flames for display, but at some point these flames will cause destruction or someone will get burned. As I’ve mentioned before, such growth is neither sustainable nor beneficial in the long run.

In life or in business, have you ever personally experienced the temptation to rush a critical process? Maybe this is a process of growth, a process of healing or a process of change. While it’s tempting to want to overcome these uncomfortable and even painful moments in life quickly, rushing the process can prevent us from receiving all of the benefits they’re meant to bring. Learn to appreciate the slow fires we have lit and know that they are with the purpose and intent to make us stronger and more abundant.

 

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Declutter Your Life by Asking These 5 Questions

Declutter Your Life by Asking These 5 Questions

I have shared the numerous differences between my husband and me. Though we are both passionate entrepreneurs and collaborate on many different levels, one area of our lives where we often run into conflict is over clutter.

I am the antithesis of clutter. It makes me anxious and unsettled when I am in a disorganized environment. Because I work from home, it’s imperative that we keep our house tidy so I can function at my peak level of efficiency. Even with small children in the house, organization is a daily routine that works for us. However, as my husband recently came into quite a few boxes of “storage” from his childhood home, we both struggled to find common ground as to what should be kept and what should be let go.

Though it required a couple tough conversations and some stress, particularly on my husband’s emotions, we ultimately came to an agreement. What we both learned from the experience is that there are a clear set of questions you have to ask yourself when addressing clutter. Also, everyone involved has to stick to the same standards.

Whether you’re the clutter bug in your family or the exterminator, consider these five questions the next time you’re faced with the dilemma of save or scrap.

Is it serving an immediate purpose?
We live in a culture that urges us to buy in bulk and store things away for a future time when we just might need it. Having excess is a security blanket that can also smother us if we are not careful. If something has no immediate purpose to us (i.e. will be likely used in the next 12 months – which is generous), why should it take up space in our home and in our lives?

If we can’t reasonably say we will use something within the next year, there’s simply no need to have it. There will be plenty of opportunities to find another one, should we need it. But I’m willing to bet that in 12 months you will have forgotten about this object altogether.

How does its current use bring you satisfaction?

This next question is important because it will likely address your concern about the first question. “What if it’s a collectible or irreplaceable?” First, rarely is something in life both irreplaceable and truly needed. Next, even the most valuable collectibles are merely dust collectors if they’re stowed away in storage, never to be seen or enjoyed.

Challenge yourself by asking “How is this object, as currently used, bringing me satisfaction?” Clutter in an attic does not constitute satisfaction. If it’s in storage because you don’t have a place for it in your home, you may want to carefully consider this next question…

Could someone else benefit more from having it?

If you struggle to get rid of something because you believe it has value, remember that selling or donating the item is a great way to pass its value on to someone else. Really, it’s pretty greedy to keep a collection of books packed away in storage because you enjoyed reading them once. Why not share the joy by passing them on to a friend?

Letting go of clutter gets a whole lot easier – and enjoyable – when you feel like you’re doing a good deed. Whether it’s clothes, a piece of furniture or a baseball card collection, think about how someone else might enjoy the use of this item far more than the “joy” it’s bringing you sitting in your basement.

Is the cost to replace it cheaper than the “cost” to keep it?

If there’s one area where even I struggle with clutter, it’s over the effort to save money. We tend to hold onto something because we believe we might one day need it. My husband and I both came to the agreement that if the cost to replace an item is cheaper than the “cost” (meaning the stress, clutter and risk of it getting damaged or going bad) to replace it in the future, then it’s got to go! I can’t tell you how many times this question has helped me to let go of something I never needed again – mostly because I can’t even remember what these items were!

Are you holding onto it for someone or something else?

Finally, this question hones in on the deep, emotional aspect of clutter. We tend to hold onto something not just for ourselves, but for someone or something else. In my husband’s case, many of his items from his childhood were emotionally connected to his father, who passed away. I don’t discount how hard it would be to let go of items that brought back good memories or someone who is no longer with you.

However, after an open and honest conversation about some of these items, my husband found closure with passing them on to family and friends who would appreciate and use them. Items that represent the past can hold you back from fully enjoying your present. Ask yourself why you really want to hang on to an object. If it’s in an effort to directly or indirectly keep a person “alive” in your life, remember that objects don’t accomplish that – but memories do. Getting rid of clutter doesn’t mean giving up the memories. In fact, with less physical clutter, you’re freeing up space for memories, both old and new, to fill its place.

Do you struggle with decluttering your life? What are your biggest hang ups? Share your obstacles and how you plan to overcome them in 2016 by commenting below!

 
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Posted by on February 29, 2016 in Business & Success, Life

 

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What My Toddler Has Taught Me About Motivating People to Say Yes

What My Toddler Has Taught Me About Motivating People to Say Yes

It’s our inherent nature to want people to do things our way – to say yes to our every request. There’s no better living example of this than a toddler. My son, going on 3, has learned there are few things in life he can control. Thus, he makes it his daily mission to find out exactly what those things are by answering nearly all of my requests with his own request to do the opposite.

What this experience has given me, in addition to an incredible amount of patience, is a crash course in human psychology. Though I don’t win every battle with my son (there are days we forgo a bath and allow him to leave the house wearing a crazy mismatched outfit), I have learned that the tactics that have proven successful can also be carried over into my adult relationships.

Here are five pieces of advice I have learned from my toddler about motivating people to say “yes.”

Start small

It’s easy to overwhelm someone (thus turning them off to your request), by approaching them with too large of an ask. You have to start small to earn their trust and to ease them into the idea of a bigger “yes” in the future.

When my toddler first wakes up, asking him to immediately go to the bathroom, brush his teeth and get dressed will surely induce a meltdown. Rather, I start by asking for something small to “warm him up” like having him find his favorite toy or helping me pick out a shirt. With a series of small asks, we achieve the same goal but with far less resistance.

Be specific and direct with your ask

If someone is unsure as to what you’re asking or if you leave anything to interpretation, you are far more likely to get a negative response. Be clear and direct! Not only does this show that you are confident with your request, it establishes you as a trusted leader that people want to follow.

My (almost) three-year-old son is still working to grasp the English language. Being specific and direct is the only way I can really get my point across, so I have learned the value of keeping things simple. My requests can be no more than a few words and I have to clearly align them with their consequences, should he not comply.

Clearly outline the unfavorable outcomes

Speaking of consequences, another important lesson I have learned is that you have to clearly outline any and all unfavorable outcomes if you want to increase your chances of receiving a “yes” answer. This is not to say you should employ scare tactics or stretch the truth, but rather you have to help people visualize the cons of not following your direction. They often won’t do it on their own.

With my toddler, he simply doesn’t realize that life has consequences (I suppose the same could be said of some adults). So it’s important I emphasize that should he continue to jump on the couch, for example, he will likely fall and get hurt. All he can process is that jumping on furniture is fun. It takes me reminding him of the unfavorable outcomes to help him see my reasoning for stopping this behavior.

Anticipate why there might be resistance

Anyone who has spent even the smallest amount of time around a toddler will know that they are quick to resist anything – often merely for the sake of resisting. One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned to help encourage a “yes” response is to anticipate what resistance may occur and address it before it begins.

The same is true for how we handle our adult relationships. If we ask someone to do something, we also need to be aware of all of the reasons they may not be fully convinced to comply. This may have to do with money, time, motivation, fear, uncertainty. Then, we need to work to alleviate this resistance by providing adequate information to support your case for saying “yes.”

Offer reassurance

Finally, we can motivate people toward a positive response by offering reassurance throughout every step of the process. With my son, it’s important I maintain his trust and respect if I wish to get him to continue to do as I request. Though a parent-child relationship is more of a dictatorship than a democracy, you don’t need to rule with an iron fist. I have found that kindness, patience and small rewards (when deserved) go a long way toward keeping a peaceful home – and helping me move through the day with far less battles.

This advice proves true in adult relationships as well. People are more willing to do something for (or buy something from) someone they like. Put effort into building and maintaining positive relationships and you will be in a far better position to motive someone to say “yes” than you would if they didn’t like or respect you.

Do you have other wisdom to share about motivating people to say yes more often? Share your thoughts and insights by commenting below!

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2016 in Business & Success, Life

 

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