Are You Getting The Most Out Of Your Social Network?
I hear them all the time; I don’t get Social
Networking. I have a Facebook
account but what good is it? These
things just waste time. I don’t
have time to Tweet. Twitter,
Facebook, LinkedIn, how do you choose?
First an admission.
My name is Randy and I use social networks. What does that mean?
It means I am no longer just a casual Facebooker. It means I actually use social
networking tools as business tools.
This isn’t new. Business
professionals have been networking for generations. Formally and informally people have been using their
connections to benefit their business.
All the social networking tools have just moved this into the digital age. I no longer have to
physically interact with someone to make contact. I can be in front of my network multiple times a day while
still in my office, or sitting on a beach. This in no way replaces personal interaction. Face to face meetings are, and always
will be, the best way to build relationships. Social networking allows me to enhance these relationships
very efficiently. It allows me to
be in front of my networks and interacting, in at least a limited way, with
these people far more often than is possible in the physical realm.
I won’t get into a discussion here as to weather or not
social networking is a beneficial activity. I will assume if you are still reading that you have already
come to that conclusion on your own.
So now to the heart of the discussion. How does one “get the most out of your
social networking”? Like most
other things I have experienced in life I find the old saying to be true: "what you get out is directly proportionate to what you put in". This means I have to be proactive. If I want people to pay attention to me
I have to be relevant. I have to
post comments that are consistent with the image I want to portray. But one of the keys in this statement
is that I do have to post comments.
Just like in the physical realm, people are attracted to people who are
interesting to them. So if you
want to build a network of business professionals then post interesting comments
on business. Talk about your
The other key is that developing a good social network takes
work. If you are developing a social
network in the physical realm, you have to get out and meet people. You have to interact. It is the same in the digital realm. There are some things you have to
do. I have already discussed the
importance of posting regularly but that is just the obvious part. You also have to work at building your
network. You need to invest
time. LinkedIn has done a good job
of helping us do this. You will
notice they have 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree
connections. Look at the
connections of your connections (2nd degree). Invite people who interest you to
connect. The most obvious of these
are the people you already know but are not connected to already. You can of course also do this with Facebook and Twitter.
The bottom line is that being a great networker takes work
in both the real world and the digital word. So if you want the benefits of having a great network then
you have to put in the time and effort to build one. The other tricks and tools for building your network will be
another blog. Hopefully this one
just got you thinking.
Links to this post
Always Finish The Deal
I have been reminded lately of the importance of finishing
the deal. Any deal. In the eloquent words of Yogi Berra, “It
isn’t over until it’s over”. Or
put another way, the deals not done until it’s done.
Too often people get a deal agreed to without having it
formalized and then proceed as if the deal exists. Make no mistake; until you have the deal defined and agreed
to in writing it can, and will, change.
Time has a way of effecting people’s perspective. Views on what is fair, what is enough,
who should pay for what, what should be interest bearing, who should have
control, all change regularly. They
are based on perspective. It isn’t
that anyone is trying to cheat anyone or trying to squeeze out more money. Although these things do happen, it is
usually just that at least one persons perspective has changed.
When two parties are focused on getting a deal done, their
focus is different than it may be in conducting day-to-day business. There is an energy that contributes
goes in to working a deal that is gone once the dance is over. Just this week I have seen three
examples of people struggling with what feel like changes to a deal that was
supposedly agreed to some time ago.
The challenge in each case is that the deals were never actually
My point in all this is that whoever is driving the deal
needs to keep their foot on the gas until all the paperwork is in place. The best time to get agreement on paper
is while everyone involved is still in their “let’s make a deal” mind set.
Links to this post
Bell and Rogers have joined forces to purchase controlling interest in Maple
Leaf Sports and Entertainment.
Bell and Rogers are direct competitors in the telecommunications
business. They beat up on each
other every day for your cell phone business and your land lines. Bell owns TSN and Rogers own
Sportsnet. So they compete for
advertising dollars and viewers on sports television every day. Bell also owns an interest in the
first let me start with these two company’s core business. They are in the telecommunications
business. A business that in
Canada is protected by the CRTC.
Protected because to assure that all Canadians have access to
telephones, both land lines and cell service, our government feels it is
necessary to guarantee these company’s profits by not allowing outside
competition. As a result of this
protection, we pay some of the highest cell phone rates in the free world! That’s right. While these companies earn record profits from Canadian
consumers the government protects them from competition.
then reinvest these profits by going into the broadcasting business by buying
up Canada’s network broadcasters. Bell owns CTV and Rogers owns many television
and radio stations.
they set their sights on the Canadian sports world. Rogers already owned the Toronto Blue Jays.
all of these purchases are with dollars generated in a business where they are
suppose to be competitors but thanks to our government protecting them from any
real competition they generate uncontested record profits. I am about as right wing a free
enterprise, capitalist, Conservative as you could find. So I have nothing against profit. Profit makes the world go round. What I am against is government
intervention protecting profits at the expense of the tax payers. I am against companies that are
supposed to be competitors climbing in to bed together. These two companies are just a little
too close for my comfort level.
there is the whole NHL/Independent teams/Broadcaster/Ownership conspiracy that
this situation just begs for. This
will make a great movie some day because only in fiction could this really
Links to this post
Will There Be A Backlash In Alberta Politics?
Alberta has seen two big election surprises this year. First Naheed Nenshi is elected Mayor of
Calgary and then Alison Redford wins the election as leader of the Alberta PC party,
which automatically made her the provinces premier. Neither of these candidates were favored going in to the
election. So, what happened? How did these two long shots both
capture unexpected wins?
One of the things these two candidates had in common was that
Stephen Carter was their strategic advisor. The tactics he employed were brilliant. For years pundants have been talking
about social media playing a larger part in politics. The belief was that if
you could engage voters through social media you could energize a segment of
voters who had never before become involved in the process. The thought was that the reason these
voters had not been involved to date was that conventional politics didn’t
resonate with either their needs or their interests. So they tuned out.
The challenge was how do you get them to listen to your messages. Many analysts have credited the Obama
campaign with employing tactics that successfully engaged this group of voters. In Alberta however this social
networking engagement theory was just that, a theory. We had never seen it actually make a measurable difference
in a campaign. That all changed with the Nenshi win in Calgary.
Although the Redford campaign employed the same effective
use of social media they also employed another successful tactic that no one
saw coming. They believed they
couldn’t win the party election within the conventional party members so they
aimed their campaign messages at non-party members. They engaged people who had never been members of the PC
party and probably never will be again.
The campaign message was so good these people actually joined a party
they would not normally support just to get Redford elected as the party leader
and thereby the provincial Premier.
What was the same in both of these campaigns is that engaging
voters who were not being addressed by any of the other candidates won the
elections. In both cases the
strategy worked brilliantly.
What isn’t known is what the final result of this strategy
may be. I am sure a large group of
people woke up in Calgary the morning after the election and asked; “We elected
who?” Similarly many members of
the PC party of Alberta are asking themselves the same question.
So we know how these campaigns were successful in getting
their candidates elected. The
challenge now becomes how do they hold power. The single biggest voting block in all areas is still the
Baby Boomers. These Boomers are
not the social media generation and in the case of the Alberta PC party are the
group who to a large extend just stayed home rather than voting in this recent
leadership campaign. But if these
Boomers aren’t happy with the results there could be a backlash the size of a tsunami. You can engage whatever groups you want
but these boomers still make up a huge majority if they decide to take action.
Links to this post
I spent this past weekend at Kananaskis golfing with the
Edmonton management team of one of my clients. There were 16 of us in the group. The experience brought back many memories of the great times
spent on get-aways with the Creative Door management team.
These experiences are invaluable team building times. The small talk and jokes on and off the
golf course bond the participants and build comfort as well as trust
levels. It is also amazing how
much business talk takes place in a non business setting. From a cost justification perspective
the business issues resolved by putting this group together for two and a half
days would easily pay any expense incurred by the company. The dividends paid in the future will
The experience was new for this company but they are already
talking about doing it again. They
also have a high level national management team that will no doubt benefit from
similar experiences. This trip was
purely recreationally focused. My
experience is that when you add focused business meetings to the agenda the
benefits to both the company and the individuals grow exponentially.
I want to congratulate Bee Clean on their first successful
business retreat and thank them for honoring me by including me in the group.
Links to this post
KPMG hosted a meeting in Edmonton last week with Brett Wilson
of CBC’s The Dragon’s Den
fame. A group of about twenty business leaders were invited to meet Brett over lunch at the Royal Mayfair Golf Club. I would like to thank Tony Bencivenga for my invitation.
I am a fan of The Dragon’s Den and have particularly liked Brett since his first appearance on the show. He appears to be a down to earth businessman who mixes an astute mind with common sense. I’ve respected the reason’s he has used to fund certain projects on the show as well as his willingness to stand alone amongst the other Dragon’s when his principles dictated he was doing the right thing.
Having met him I was even more impressed. He really is the epitome of “what you see is what you get”. Brett is a bright, energetic, charismatic businessman who really believes that being successful in business and being a good steward of the world can not only co-exist but that they may actually be symbiotic. He talked about Marketing, Entrepreneurialism and Philanthropy as going hand in hand. It is his personal mission to see these three subjects as core courses in all post-secondary education programs.
A shining example of Brett’s actions matching what he talks about is his investment in The 7 Virtues
. Barb Stresemann
, the founder of The 7 Virtues, accompanied Brett at the lunch and told the story of the company. Barb is a fantastic woman. Her company is truly an amazing story of what can happen when you combine a bright energetic entrepreneur with a passionate cause.
Brett is an engaging speaker, a principled entrepreneur and a great man. I enjoyed our time together and hope to spend some more time with him in the future.
Links to this post
Anyone close to me knows that at this stage of my business life, I don’t solicit business. Indeed my much debated retirement label means that I am actually not supposed to be “working” at all. I have talked often, and written about, my love of the game of business and how I couldn’t know the game was being played without me having a seat at the table. I find myself at an unexpected place in the business world. I am serving on three corporate boards. These are all paid board positions and I must say, I am really enjoying board work. I learned that being on an effective board can be a very rewarding experience. I get to be “cause in the matter” without being on the front lines. Ok the value of an effective board is a topic worthy of it’s own blog so I’ll refocus on the topic at hand. Aside from the boards, I also do some executive or corporate coaching.
I’ve talked about my client selection criteria in previous blogs. Suffice to say, I am very selective in who I will work with. In the past week I have been approached by two company presidents asking if I would help them. I have known each of these people for years. What I really appreciate is how they came to approach me. They have a mutual friend who happens to be a client of mine. From the things the client had told them of what we were doing with his company they each decide they needed me involved in their companies. My client wasn’t soliciting business for me or even thinking they could or should use my services. He was just talking about his experiences.
I haven’t decided yet whether I am going to work with either of these companies but the strength of the accidental referrals has been really gratifying. I’ve always believed that if you have to ask for referrals you probably don’t deserve them. I feel these unsolicited referrals are a great compliment and I am truly flattered. It’s both gratifying and humbling to know I am making that much of a difference in someone’s business life. Making a difference is why I do what I do. It is a great compliment. Thank you Jason.
Links to this post