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6 ways online dating is just like social media marketing

If you’ve been single and ready to mingle at any time during this century, chances are you have either considered or tried out online dating.  Over the last 15 years or so, technology has drastically changed the way we communicate with each other, and this also applies to the dating scene.  The same principles that make the dating experience a rewarding one also can be applied to marketing your business through social media.

Your goals in both pursuits are the same:

  • brand yourself
  • get your message to as many interested parties as possible
  • connect with them in an engaging way
  • develop relationships that are beneficial to both parties involved

Who is your target audience?

If you are hoping to find your match romantically, you will figure out pretty early on that you want to be realistic in your search and just focus on finding someone who would be a potential partner.  This generally means focusing your search geographically and demographically.  For instance, if you are a 44 year old woman in Chicago, because you are in a very large metropolitan area, if you look for profiles of 25-45 year old men, within 100 miles, who have a bachelor’s degree, you’ll likely find thousands.  You’d probably do better to tighten your search to 41-48 year old men within 10 miles who have a Master’s degree.  You would still likely find hundreds of profiles to look at.  You’ve just raised your standards, while making your search quite a bit more manageable.  In searching for your perfect mate, most online dating sites let you further define your search by criteria such as religion, political views, and what sort of relationship is sought.

When using social media to market your business, the same principles apply.  If you are hoping to do business with local restaurants, you should focus your efforts on them.  Getting “likes” on your Facebook page from a construction worker in Lima, Peru probably isn’t going to help your business.  Focus on pursuing the people who matter to you.

Be thoughtful about your profile

You won’t get many dates if your online profile only says “I like baseball and dogs”, but if you went into more detail you might find you get better results.  Say instead “Nothing gives me a thrill quite like the excitement of being at a baseball game”, and “I am very commited to improving the lives of dogs, and have done volunteer work with a local shelter”.  You have just given a bit more insight into who you are, and at the same time maybe shown that you are somewhat articulate and thoughtful.

The same goes for your online profiles.  Don’t just put up a business page on Facebook and think that business will come to you as a result.  You need to be active with the page, providing your fans with engaging content.  It shows them that you have put some thought into the process and are committed to it.

Include a picture

With so many profiles to choose from, it’s highly unlikely you will find much success online dating if you do not have a profile picture.  Even if she says she likes ironing shirts, cooking for her man, and driving him home from the bar after a night out with his friends, if she doesn’t have a picture she will not get too many dates.  When it comes to social media marketing, a picture of yourself helps give the follower more of a personal connection to you or your business.  People will be more likely to want to do business with you if they feel this personal connection.

Researched is better than random

If you have made a connection with someone on an online dating site, maybe you’ll both decide that it’s time you should meet each other.  The advantage in this situation as opposed to say meeting someone at the laundromat is that you’ve both had time to find some things out about each other, through emails, messages, or phone conversations.  Going into the date you both have the sense that you already have some guage as to what kind of person it is that you’re meeting.  Social media can help you to do the same thing in a business situation.  For instance, after you’ve made an appointment to meet someone new, you could look at their LinkedIn profile to learn more about their professional experience and qualifications.  You can also see if you have some things in common, such as attending the same college, or shared connections.  These can often be a great ice-breaker when meeting someone for the first time.

Don’t talk.. listen!

Perhaps the best piece of advice anybody ever gave me about first dates is to talk less and listen more.  People tend to have good feelings about interactions with others when they get to talk about themselves.  That said, if you let your date do that it’s more likely that they will have a good feeling about possibly seeing you again.  Marketing experts agree that during a conversation with a potential client, you should let them do anywhere from 50-80% of the talking.  From a marketing perspective, this is also the best way to gain information about the person and their business.  If you do most of the talking, it’s quite possible all you will learn is what facial expressions the other person uses when they are bored, and want to run screaming away.  On your social media profiles, move the focus from you to your followers.  Instead of always talking about yourself and your business, do your best to solicit feedback and input from your fans.

Be yourself

You will likely have a lot of first dates and not many second dates if you misrepresent yourself online.  Don’t say you work in law enforcement if you are a security guard at the mall.  The same holds true about marketing your business.  Be honest and up-front not only about what you can do for your clients, but also what you cannot.  If you take on a client and then cannot deliver on what they are expecting from you, that business relationship will do more harm than good.

If you apply this dating advice to your social media marketing, you are likely to see fantastic results!  Either that, or turn it around and apply what you’ve learned in marketing your business to finding a great partner.  That’s how I met my girlfriend, and she’s pretty awesome.

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In Case I Get Hit By a Truck

If you are anything like most people, you probably wish you had more time.. time to concentrate on improving your business, time to spend with family and friends, time to lay on the couch and watch football.  The biggest obstacle to this for many business owners is giving up control of certain aspects of their business and letting someone else do it.  Sometimes we become so involved with and attached to our projects that we neglect to involve others in the process.  Before this happens, it’s important to ask ourselves one key question:  How would this get done if I were unable to do it?  The answer is by documenting it.  This is why it is important for companies to outline policies and procedures, and keep accurate business records.

In a previous position, the company I worked for did not have a lot of documentation in place regarding procedures, so the employees were asked to help with this.  The process of documenting the procedures was an ogoing one.  Before this was done though, things were very chaotic.  In our finance department, each person was so busy with their own duties, that effective communication between us was vital.  When explaining to each other what we were working on, the conversation often began with the phrase “In case I get hit by a truck”.  (Sometimes we’d say “In case I get hit by the beer truck”, but I think that was really more of a euphemism for needing to take a “mental health day”.)  By documenting the procedures of the job, we ensured that the business would operate smoothly in our absence.

You would want to keep good financial records for the same reasons.  If you maintain accurate bookkeeping records, you have a timely and correct picture of your financial situation.  If a tax auditor walked into your office tomorrow and asked you for detailed financial information, would you have it ready?  Would you need to get back to them, and in the meantime scramble to find a bookkeeper?  Don’t wait until the last minute.  Be prepared.

Making sure that your business can survive if you were to get hit by a truck will benefit everyone.  The process of getting your staff ready to make decisions and operate the business will give them a sense of involvement and make them feel like part of your business, as opposed to just being an employee.  When you leave the office are you consistently bombarded by texts and phone calls from your team, seeking direction or advice as to what to when unforseen situations arise?  The next time you leave for an extended time out of the office, instead of telling your staff “Call me if anything comes up”, instead train them to know what to do when something comes up.  By equiping them with the tools to be more of an asset to your business, you will create an atmosphere where your employees feel extremely invested in your company and will go to great lengths to ensure it is profitable.  You might also notice not being interrupted so often by your phone.  That would be nice, wouldn’t it?

By giving up some of that control, you will also find a better work-life balance.  Your time at home will be more relaxing.  You might even find yourself able to take some time off!  If you do go on vacation, please be careful crossing the street.  We really don’t want you getting hit by a truck… unless maybe it’s the beer truck, and it’s after 5pm.  In that case, give me a call. 😉

Guest Blog Post

I have a new guest blog post on Lori Thomas Social Media Manager’s blog.  Lori sets up, manages, and maintains business’ social media networks, blogs, and online reputations.  She helps establish trust in a business by building relationships which involves creating and managing engaging content.  The information she shares on her Facebook page has been very helpful to me, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to be involved with her business.  Lori also has her own home staging and redesign business.

Please read the post here.  Make sure to comment, say hello, and mention what a super-awesome rockin’ guy I am.

The Rules of Engagement

One of my favorite words lately is engagement.  The definition of ‘engage’ from dictionary.com is “to occupy the attention or efforts of a person or persons.”  I think we can all agree that in business, and in life in general, this is something we all aspire to do.  If you are trying to win new business, it’s not enough to just walk into someone’s office, hand them a business card, and expect they will start doing business with you.  Before the transactions happen, relationships need to be established.  We all like to do business with people we like, so get liked before you try to do business with someone.  If there is a restaurant owner in your town that you want to do business with for example, the first day you walk in, just introduce yourself and say hello.  Don’t even mention your business.  Talk to them about their business.  If you show interest in someone else’s life and the things that are important to them, they will remember you and have positive thoughts about you the next time you meet.  Attend special events they are hosting, and invite them to go to any others that might benefit them.  If you read an article that pertains to their business, share it with them.  Show them that you are thinking of them and their best interests.  Then when the opportunity arises for the two of you to do business, they will think of you.

In my business dealings lately I’ve been doing a lot of networking.  I have joined the Chamber of Southern Saratoga County and the Ballston Spa Business and Professional Association.  My main intention is to do just this.. to engage people and establish relationships that will benefit all parties involved.  I have made some great connections, and more importantly, have met some great people.  A succesful business’ part in a succesful community comes only through succesful relationships.  I can truly say that there is not one business owner or entrepreneur I’ve met in the last two months that does not have a great deal to offer the community they live in and those who work with them.  Unfortunately, what happens to many who join these professional networking associations is that they expect it will benefit their business without putting any effort into it.  If your involvement in your local chamber of commerce doesn’t go beyond sending in your membership dues, true.. you will likely see no positive results from your membership.  Become engaged.  Go to the mixers and meet others who are working just as hard as you are in making their business a success.  Figure out what your strengths are and lend them to a committee in hopes of improving the business climate in your community.  Then you will start to see the benefits.

Now, I have a busy day.  People to see, places to go.  Have a fantastic day.

Lead the Pack: What Dogs Can Teach Us About Running a Business

It’s not just by chance that dogs have earned the nickname “Man’s Best Friend”.  We have bred them to be our companions, helpers, and servants for millennia.  If you are lucky enough to own one, at times you probably wish that many of the traits we see in them were more prevalent in the people that we interact with.  Instead of just watching dogs and marveling at what well adapted creatures they are, let us take some of what makes them so special and apply it to running a successful business.  There are five traits that dogs exhibit that would also make us all more successful entrepreneurs.

Have a short memory

If you own a dog, there is no doubt that on at least one occasion you’ve returned home to find a horrible mess, something chewed to bits, and a dog with a very guilty look on its face.  The dog will often hang its head, drop its tail between its legs, and cower away from you as you tell it what a naughty dog it’s been.  Then by the time you take your shoes and jacket off, their tail is wagging and they are giving you that “Is it time to play now?” look.  This trait of having a short memory where a negative act is concerned allows the dog to move on quickly to whatever comes next without letting it affect their drive or determination.   You can use this same mindset when dealing with rejection or failure.  Say for instance that there is a coworker you need to collaborate with on a project, and they somehow have failed or not held up their end.  The next time the two of you need to work together, do not presume the same results, but rather approach them with a fresh, positive attitude, implying that you are confident things will go better the second time.  Do not let past failures get in the way of future success.

Be eager to meet strangers

More often than not, when someone is walking towards you with a dog, the dog is eager to say hello, to get that pat on the head or just hear a kind word.  Too often in the hustle and bustle of the world we live in, we feel we don’t have the time for a stranger who might want a word with us.  Put those feelings aside for a second and remind yourself that everyone in our lives was a stranger when we first met them.  Maybe they have interesting ideas about your work, or know some people who would be a great asset to your network.  Greet strangers with enthusiasm and great things are possible!

Address every threat

A relaxing evening at my house is often interrupted by the baying of my coonhound named Jack.  He’s a laid back fellow who is pretty happy snoozing on the floor or his bed while I’m doing just about anything.  Sometimes though he’ll hear or smell something outside, and when he does he lets everyone know it.  He darts from window to window, baying and growling, looking for the potential intruder and making sure they move quietly on their way.  I’m quite convinced that most of the time he’s making much ado about nothing, but Jack is diligent and defensive.  In our professional lives we are presented with threats probably every day.   Some of them likely go unaddressed or even undetected, but maybe we should be more like Jack.  When a threat arises, ask yourself “What’s the worst-case-scenario for this situation?”  With every threat we are presented with, the worst-case-scenario is that something terrible will happen and we did nothing about it.  If we assess and attack every business threat that comes our way, success is inevitable!

Be a calm, assertive pack leader

You have probably worked with or for someone who might be referred to as a “hot head”.  They are the ones who might bury their face in their hands or bang their fists on their desk when given some bad news.  If a subordinate does something wrong, they are the one who screams and yells.  Nobody wants to work with that person, much less for them.  There is no emotion in a dog’s world.  Dogs are social animals who work in packs.  The pack leader leads with a calm and assertive energy.  Dog expert Cesar Milan (aka “The Dog Whisperer”) maintains that dogs look for that same sort of leadership from us.  When it comes to leading a dog, an emotional reaction from us is seen by them as a sign of weakness.  Apply this same principle to the workplace.  Set emotions aside and show your team that you are a calm and assertive leader.  This will give them confidence that you are a competent leader, and will help you in earning their respect.

When the pack wins, you win

Dogs are social carnivores.  This means they are meat-eaters who hunt in packs.  On their own, a dog will have a tough time surviving.  They need each other in order to survive, and your business success is no different.  We all know that anyone who is successful has a team behind them.  Yes, we are all the holders of our own destiny, but behind each of us there is a team, a network, and a support system.  It is important to nurture all of these relationships.  Surround yourself with successful people.  Do everything you can to be one of the stars in their network too!  Successful people feed off each other.  Each positive interaction brings exceptional results down the road.  Feed the pack and watch everyone thrive!

Jimmy Page 14 years old 1957 – YouTube

Before he founded one of the most important groups in rock history, and before the Yardbirds, at the age of 14, Jimmy Page was already a good enough guitar player to be on television, and wanted to find the cure for cancer.  This tells you something about the drive and hard work that someone who is successful puts into their work, no matter what the profession.

10,000 hours.  In his book, Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell maintains that with every success, there is something close to 10,000 hours of practice or work that has been invested in it.  It’s been the case with everyone from Bill Gates to The Beatles.  I think Mr. Page put his 10,000 hours in.

Jimmy Page 14 years old 1957 – YouTube.

The Power of the Network, or How I Break Stuff

I bought a new house in January, several months after getting a divorce, selling a house, and selling everything in it.  As such, I have had to buy a lot of stuff.. all the things that one needs when owning a home, that they didn’t need as a renter.  Since I needed quite a few items, I was probably a bit too frugal.  I leaned more towards being thrifty than buying quality.  I am now wishing I went more with quality.  I bought a push-broom, and it broke.  I bought a rake, and it broke as well.  I have purchased two can openers, and they both have broken!  I know I’m unnaturally strong and all that, but I’m starting to get pissed off.  I vented about it this morning on Facebook.  Without being asked, my high school friend Walter recommended the Oxo Good Grips Smooth Edge Can Opener.  Now, I’m generally not inclined to spend $22 on a hand-held kitchen utensil, but I realize that I’ve likely already spent that on two crappy can openers and the gas involved in the trip to the store after the first one broke.  I probably swore too much also, but I digress.

So.. I’m going to buy one.  My first option is I could go to a store that has plenty of can opener options, like say Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  I could stare at an endcap display full of can openers, look them over, squeeze them in my magnificently strong right hand, try to turn and twist them in ways they aren’t supposed to turn or twist, all in an effort to determine which will hold up best.  I’ve done this twice now and I’m 0 for 2.  My second option is take Walter’s advice, click the link he sent, and order it.  Probably much like yourself, I have many Facebook friends from high school.  The only time I’ve seen Walter in person since high school was at our 25th reunion three years ago.  While I value the face-to-face time, I feel that through our exchanges online over the past three years that Walter is someone whose opinion I value.  He shares a lot with others online, and this has enabled me to get a guage as to Walter’s core values, beliefs, and interests.  That puts his word ahead of… well, most of the rest of the world.  If all Walter did on Facebook was cheer for his favorite sports team, post dog pictures, and complain about lousy drivers, I wouldn’t really pay too much attention to any sort of recommendation he gave me.  Because he shares himself with others and actively engages people in conversations, I’m inclined to listen to what he has to say, and better yet, do something nice for him if I get a chance.  This is the essence of how social media networking can help each of us.  Be involved.  Be interested.  If you show interest in others, they’ll return the favor.  Just watch.

The cool part of this is that Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Dell, or some combination of the above noticed that I mentioned can openers in my status update, and then probably that Walter provided a link to one.  I say this because later in the morning I noticed an ad on a website advertising the same can opener at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.. with free shipping!  That sealed the deal.

Now it’s your turn.  Go out and engage your friends and associates online.  Don’t just mention them, but link to them!  If you send traffic to their website, blog, or social media profile, they’ll probably dig that.  I’ve done it here.  Now you all know how fiercly strong I am, how awesome Walter is, as well as the Oxo Good Grips Smooth Edge Can Opener.

I promise I’ll never use the words “can opener” again for the life of this blog.

Further reading: “Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust” by Chris Brogan,Julien Smith.  (Another link – awesome!)

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