Procrastination the enemy of productivity – are you guilty?

Procrastination. Everyone is guilty of procrastinating once in a while.

You put off doing that one important task in favour of washing the dishes, doing the laundry, or playing a game. We all have some form of procrastination activity, but it’s the enemy of productivity and in business, there’s no time for it.

Encouraging Productivity

I’m a terrible procrastinator, and I hate it. So over time, I’ve tried to find ways to be productive and also to FEEL more productive.

There’s a plethora of books and articles that will tell you how to be more productive but a lot of the time those tips don’t work for me.

And even when I’m being productive I often don’t feel like I am.

Now I’m not saying what works for me will work for you but here’s what I’ve found helps:

Check Lists

When I have a checklist to mark off I’m able to tell if I’ve been productive and that in turn encourages me to be more productive.

It also works as a bit of a pseudo-reward, I love that feeling of accomplishment when I mark off a task.

There’s an App for that

And of course, in this technological age, there’s an array of apps for monitoring productivity and encouraging productivity.

Personal I’ve got two apps on my phone and a separate program on my laptop for this and I find them so helpful in avoiding procrastination.

My favourite is Habitica which a friend recommended as a way of tracking productivity.

It’s super helpful in that it’s designed to be a little like an RPG (Role Playing Game).  You get experience points and coins for completing tasks so you go up in levels and can purchase new equipment for your avatar.

For me, this format is really encouraging.  It feels familiar and even though the rewards are simply virtual I find them a great incentive for upping my productivity.

The other apps I use to keep myself productive are Anti-Social and Cold Turkey.

Forced time offline

Social Media and the Internet, in general, are some of the biggest tools for procrastination.

We’ve all had that moment where we go to check something on Facebook and then, one hour later, we haven’t gotten anything done. That’s why it’s so important to be able to take time off.

To unplug.

Although often times your work may require you to remain a little plugged in – emails need checking, research needs to be done etc.

For that reason, I’ve made blocking apps a part of my work habit. When I really need to buckle down and focus I turn on the apps and block off all access to social media.

Removing the temptation is a great way to push forward. If I slip up (and I do sometimes) I just get a pop-up that says the site is blocked – a great deterrent!

I’d love to hear about your productivity secrets, so leave me a comment.

Sasha Hanton

 

Facebook Groups – Time Management

Facebook groups and time management can often present a huge challenge.

Running your own group or being part of one can be extremely beneficial for your business.

BUT…

It’s really important to be able to understand what your objective is.

It only works to your advantage if you can control how much time you spend in the group…

AND… you are really clear on your purpose for being in the group.

Identifying your WHY

In order to successfully utilise and enjoy being part of a Facebook group, it’s vital to understand why you are there.

Is it to learn?

If this is the case, make sure that members are knowledgeable and generous with sharing.

Or maybe, you are just there to learn how other people run their groups. That’s fine too, but remember that each group reacts differently and it all hinges on the personalities involved, so what is working for one group may not always work for another.

Is it to teach and share your own knowledge?

Be sure that the admin of the group will welcome what you have to share. This can cause angst if the admin is not generous in spirit and sees you as “competition”.

To find potential clients?

This is definitely the most common reason most business people are in groups – although there is some exception (like our SMART Circle.)

If this is your reason, you need to be prepared to share your knowledge in a non-sales way.

Most importantly have a strategy going into the group.

After all, you want to share but you don’t want to give so much away that no one will need to pay for your services.

Size matters

The bigger the group the more there is to keep on top of.

It’s important not to make the mistake of thinking you have to comment on every post or read everything that goes up.

Big groups are not necessarily always super active. As a general rule, there tends to be a small core of active participants with the rest being “lurkers”.

When you first join a group take the time to look around. Then write a small introduction about yourself. Chances are you’ll get a few welcomes below your post – these are the people who are, likely as not, the most responsive members.

My personal observation is that smaller groups tend to be a lot more interactive than larger ones.

Spend your time wisely

Being active in groups can be a huge time drain. The first step is in recognising and acknowledging this.

Once you know the potential for time to gallop away it’s much easier to guard against it.

1 ) Be firm with yourself

Make a rule about when you will be in the groups.  Plan this into your diary.

What works for me is to pop into the groups I am a member of first thing in the morning and then again in the evening – not every day.

Spending 5 minutes skimming through the content is normally sufficient.

Do not be tempted to read every single comment unless the subject is something you really need to learn about or have expert knowledge on.

2) Build relationships

Commenting on a few key posts rather than hitting like on a whole bunch is much more effective.

A comment is way more valuable than simply liking. By taking the time to comment you are building relationships.

Typically members ask questions in groups. They are searching for answers. Answer the questions that relate to your area of expertise.

3) Know when it’s time to leave

After a few weeks in a group, if you are not getting valuable engagement that is either helping you or your business to grow, it’s time to pull the pin. There is no rule that says you need to stay.

Use the tools available

There are some very handy tools available on Facebook that help with managing what appears in your feeds and your time in the group.

Search

Use the search function to find questions/discussions on topics that you are interested in answering/learning more about. This way you don’t have to scroll through all the posts. It’s especially helpful in very active groups or if you’ve had a short break.

Notifications

When you like or comment on a post, if you don’t turn off the notifications you can end up with a whole stream of notifications pinging your way.

Similarly, if you want to follow a post, simply because you are interested, but you don’t necessarily want to comment, you can turn on the notifications.

Copy Link

Even better than turning on the notifications – if it’s something you want to refer back to – grab the link and paste it into an Excel spreadsheet.

You can then come back to visit it later when you have more time.

Turn Off Commenting

This one is great when you have a post that is getting heaps of engagement, but it’s now way past time the subject closed. You have the option to delete your post or better yet, just turn off commenting. That way nothing else can be added but everyone can still read it.

One final tip

Limit the number of groups you belong to.

Work out how much time you can afford to spend engaging. Then count up the groups you’re in to come up with a realistic figure of what time you can actually afford without it impacting on other areas of your business and personal life.

By limiting the number of groups you belong to you’ll end up being able to offer better value and create stronger relationships.

If found this helpful let me know in the comments.

Fly like a dragonFly like a dragon

Michelle

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The next big thing in marketing?

The next big thing in marketing may just be happening on LinkedIn.

In the digital age, everything happens super fast.

Why Video Marketing?

The demands on our time are excessive and often, immediate.

Which is understandable. In the digital age, everything happens super fast.

Could this be why video and live feeds rate so highly on social media
and are given preferential (at the moment) positioning by those platforms?

That means that e.g. the way Facebook sets its algorithms determines what you see on your newsfeed.

But we do our best to flag what’s going on to our networks.

Marketing via LinkedIn Video

For instance, did you know that LinkedIn is rolling out their video offering?

I got the heads up from a connection on that platform.

Another good example of how we can all help one another ?.

Different Ponds for different marketing

It immediately occurred to me that I know of at least two SMEs who have fabulously successful businesses with business to consumer markets, and who, are positioning themselves to sell their businesses.

There’s another business ready to move to the next level and needs investors.

Suddenly, they need to be in a different pond to attract the right buyer/investor.

The business to business pond.

They’re more likely to find good leverage for their new goal from the LinkedIn network, than from Facebook business pages.

A lot of us are saying that LinkedIn has been slow coming to the visual party. Way behind Facebook for instance.

We all know how phenomenal Facebook Live has been for reaching and engaging target markets. But, hey LinkedIn, better late than never, right?

So far as Michelle and I are concerned, we strongly recommend that no one dismisses such new offerings.

You may not need it now. But like the businesses I’ve referred to, neither did they 12 months ago.

Now, it’s a whole new ball game.

You never know what the next opportunity might be! Or where, or from which platform.

So, it’s a really good idea, to maintain a presence across two or so key ones, and keep an eye on the others.

Here’s a great piece that explains what the LinkedIn offering will mean for businesses and for marketing those businesses:

LinkedIn’s new feature has the potential to be a game changer in B2B.

Fly like a dragon!

Yvonne

Building Your Email List

Building your email list is vital to your business.

Why?

Because it helps to famine proof it. It allows you to connect directly with your audience.

Sure, you can use social media, but if that goes away, you have no way of connecting IF you don’t have their emails.

When you write an authentic and helpful email, you make strong connections. You are building relationships in a genuine way.  But, you can’t write to people unless you have an address.

One of the best ways to gather email addresses is with a lead magnet. No doubt you’ve heard that term several times. But perhaps you’re not entirely clear on WHAT a lead magnet is.

What’s a Lead Magnet

In a nutshell…

A lead magnet is something you offer in exchange for the recipients email address, so it needs to be something pretty useful and of value to the recipient.

How It Works

Basically it’s an information exchange. You have something they want, and they have something you need – their email address.

It’s an old fashioned trade except it’s happening in the digital space.

They give you their address and you provide access to the promised lead magnet.

You’ll need a system to collect email address and a way to deliver the promised magnet to their inbox. There are many different options at lots of different price points and what you choose will depend very much on your budget and the features you require.

What makes a good Lead Magnet?

That very much depends on your audience, but the bottom line is that it needs to be of value/helpful.

For instance, you could have a closed Facebook group, a refer a friend program, an ebook, a tip sheet, a contest with a fabulous prize …you get the idea?

There are lots of different options – limited only by your imagination, knowledge and budget. It’s important chose the right one for your audience.

Most businesses use a few different ones and play around to find the best one for their audience.

Remember that audiences are savvy. People are wise to the fact that if they give you their email they risk getting email overwhelm.

So you have to be very strategic in what you offer. It all comes down to value. You have to be able to tempt them with something they will find useful. Preferable with a few actionable tips that are of value and can be put into motion immediately.

If you’d like some help brainstorming what to offer your audience reach out and we’ll help you through the process.

Fly like a dragon!

Michelle

PS – to check out some of our most popular Lead Magnets – click this link. 

In Your Face Facebook

Not the fastest to take up Facebook, I finally folded when several overseas friends badgered me relentlessly.

Once I did though, I never regretted being able to trade banter, snippets of news and – my favourite – photos, with folk I hadn’t seen in aeons.

Best of all, I got to find, and be found by, friends I’d lost touch with decades ago.

The World Shrunk With Facebook

The world and time suddenly shrunk.

In an awesome way.

At any time of my choosing, I could reach out, connect, reconnect. Spend an hour or a minute touching base with friends, old and new.

And those friends hand-held me through my tentative steps into social media. They gave me great advice and tips. The do’s and don’ts of social media etiquette, security and other useful stuff.

Pretty soon, I’d lost my reticence and was Facebooking like a fiend.

And having a ball with it.

Once you’re confident with something, that’s when you really start to enjoy it, right?

Facebook & Your Business

6 years ago (March 2011) we started our Dragon Sisters Facebook page.

In the first place, we did it because we thought we should have a business presence on the platform.

But it quickly became evident that Facebook for business had enormous potential for Dragon Sisters, and for our connections and clients.

Our reach became exponential

It was a pebble in the pond ripple effect, bringing in other opportunities both on and offline. In other groups. We set up our own closed-member groups for different aspects of our business. We joined and supported others’ public and closed user groups.

We cross-fertilized and fostered relationships on other social media platforms. Used new Facebook offerings and features to get the best results for our business, like Facebook Live.

And it’s all become bigger than Ben Hur.

If you’re too young to know that movie, it’s about a Roman chariot race. Which is a good simile, since Facebook (and other social media platforms) can sometimes feel like a runaway chariot, careening out of control, with you wondering how soon the wheels are going to fly off.

A lot of the questions we get for Michelle’s weekly Q&A Smarketing Spot still revolve around how to handle your business presence on Facebook. How to stay in control. How to create and maximise the opportunities this medium offers.

How to do all that and not be an In Your Face Facebook Freak?

So, I’m re-sharing Michelle’s blog from March last year.

Which includes one of our  free tip sheets- 6 Steps to Strategic Social Media Posting that will save you heaps of time.

Are we Facebook aficionado know-it-alls?

Nope.

Truth is, the platform morphs and moves too fast for anyone to stake that claim.

But we know what’s worked for us. And it can work for you too ?.

Fly like a dragon!

Yvonne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friends, Facebook & Your Business

I have a very dear friend, let’s call her Fiona. Unlike her fictional name, Fiona is not a figment of my imagination. I gave up that friend (Betty) when I was about five years old. Largely because Mum would not give me extra cookies for my invisible friend, being in my view, discriminatingly suspicious in her attitude towards that persecuted minority: the cookie deprived invisible; despite the hard proof of Betty’s existence, evident by the avid consumption of any, and all extra cookies, as difficult as they were to procure. To this day, I take a very dim view of discrimination against minorities.

But let’s not dwell on the noble traits of my formative years …

Fiona and I have been friends since our kids were babies. We’re as different as chalk and cheese. While I was suited and booted putting my stomp on the corporate world, Fiona was studying an environmental degree, juggling family, working with the underprivileged and volunteering her time to care of the environment. She’s so passionate about taking care of our earth that now, many years on, she’s created a business around it.

Fiona, is one of those people who walks the walk, not just talks the talk. You won’t find her lolling about with a latte bemoaning that state of the world. She’s out there, doing something about it. And when we get together we guzzle a cheeky little red, not lattes. Ah, so that’s what we have in common!

Recently, we caught up on each other’s news, well into the small hours and more than one red was had.

Fiona’s business is in bush regeneration. She’s been doing well, working on everything from private residences, community centres and kindies to government environmental contracts.

But like many SMEs, her business needs more clients. Naturally, I started banging on about Dragon Sisters, Smarketing and Fiona’s business Facebook page.

Fiona doesn’t do digital, social media or any of that stuff. Well, she does, a bit. She’s too busy with her digits digging in the earth to redirect them to a keyboard. Besides, she’s no fan of technology. Fiona frequently goes AWOL from her mobile, Facebook and Linked In accounts. I’m used to her being out of touch for tracts of time, then randomly popping up again. That never matters with good friends though, does it?

Just as the last of the red disappeared and I was thinking of doing the same, Fiona picked back up on the topic of Facebook and her business. Out came her laptop and up came her business page.

We put on some coffee and nattered into the even smaller hours. One thing I realized was that Fiona is a natural branding and word wizard. Who knew?! Yet her page wasn’t doing much for her.

She looked pretty crestfallen … ‘ ****! You mean all the followers I had are pretty much lost?’

Erm, yeah, sorry. This, on the subject of FB algorithms, Newsfeed, audience retention, blah blah blah. Suddenly the dry and the boring translated into the reality of nobody is seeing this great stuff ☹!

Fiona huffed about wasted effort and hard work. But she brightened when I pointed out some easy fixes and revitalization ideas. Fiona knows all about revitalization and regeneration, being in the business of exactly that. The parallel wasn’t lost on her.

Here’s to nurturing some new growth Fiona ? Cheers!

Fly like a dragon folks!

Yvonne

Yvonne Toering is a business development consultant who has worked with leading organisations and brands including Securicor Group, Vodafone Group, ASDA as well as most of the UK’s major high street retail chains including Marks and Spencer Plc, the National Health Service, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Mars UK, and the Grand Metropolitan Group, owners of Burger King, Smirnoff, Samuel Webster Brewers, Haagen Daas, Cinzano and other iconic brands.

 

HOW PERSONAL DO YOU NEED TO BE?

How personal does personalizing your brand need to be?

Answer: not that personal!

If you read our blog last week, you’ll know what this is flowing on from. By the way, yes, Claire the Client is still speaking to me …. I can put my Diplomatic Dragon hat on when I need to.

Credit to Claire, she hasn’t been scared off her Facebook page because of one blunder.

It’s not untypical to blur the lines between personal and personalization.

What’s the difference?

If it’s such a potentially blundersome burden, why bother?

Sure, it’s far simpler to just keep to safe, boring, banal business marketing messages, and if that worked, that’s all any of us would be doing.

The down-side of being an SME, solopreneur or boutique business is that you don’t have vast marketing collateral, budgets, and resources.

What you do have is access to the same digital and social media mediums that every business (and every consumer) around the globe has. Businesses as big as Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin brand.

Did you know … ?

The brand name “Virgin” arose when Richard Branson and Nik Powell formed a record shop. They considered themselves virgins in business. Branson has described the “V” in the logo as an expressive tick, representing the Virgin seal of approval.  Source – Wikipedia

Virgin has come a long way since those early days. But it’s always been synonymous with Richard Branson, who from the beginning personalized the brand as his own. And he still does. Anyone who follows him on social media will see a great deal of personalization still goes on. He mentions his family fairly frequently, alludes to his early years, shares his experiences, life and business lessons, his causes and his philosophies.

Small Operators & Personalization

The up-side to being a small operator is that it is far easier to personalize your brand than it is for a huge conglomerate unless they have a personality like Richard Branson heading it up with an inspiring story behind the brand and the man.

You might think, yeah, great, but who’s going to be interested in me – I’m a solopreneur, not a corporate giant. I sell pool pumps not rock star record labels. Which is exactly what is in your favour.

You are small, independent, agile!

It’s far more attainable to create brand personalization for you than it is for ABC Inc. – Absolutely Boring Corporation Incorporated has a marketing department and advertising agencies trying to create a point of difference between them and their close competitor Marginally Less Boring Inc.

One of the biggest challenges marketers face is how to create customer engagement with their ABC or MLB brand. Thousands and millions are spent on trying to humanize and personalize their brand to create some sort of connection with their prospects and customers.

That connection you have available at your finger-tips. Literally, with meaningful, personalized, creative content, you are a click away from growing your brand and your business. The faint-hearted can be heard heckling, you’re also literally one click away from crashing and burning with one wrong post or one adverse comment.

Faint-hearted never won fair mother lode. The mother lode is an engaged target market that likes your brand enough to buy into it. They like You!

Here’s a comment from one of our blogs last year, which demonstrates the point perfectly:

Kyleigh McCollam says:
September 17, 2016 at 5:01 pm
It’s so true! People don’t buy the products, they buy into the people or brand selling them!!

Thanks Kyleigh of C’est le Style for your feed-back 

So back to personalization – people like to know who they are dealing with digitally – the same way they would in a person to person interaction.

Why Personalize

Personalization is about giving people enough information about yourself and your brand to help them to feel comfortable that you and your brand are authentically aligned to their expectations, interests and values.

Being Personal is what you do on your personal Facebook page, and even there, there can be an element of getting too personal. Who hasn’t read posts popping up on their newsfeed and cringed? Thinking, too much information (gak!), or somebody hasn’t taken their med’s today before hurriedly scrolling on.

Facebook is a publicly, globally accessible platform. Besides, there’s a big data revolution going on and a lot of changes; who knows what might ultimately end up where. Microsoft just bought out LinkedIn. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

How to stay safe

It’s really pretty easy to stay safe, though. Just post or publish authentic representations of Brand You with one question front of mind:

Am I happy to own this no matter who sees it?

Warm Wishes

Yvonne

Yvonne Toering is a business development consultant who has worked with leading organisations and brands including Securicor Group, Vodafone Group, ASDA as well as most of the UK’s major high street retail chains including Marks and Spencer Plc, the National Health Service, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Mars UK, and the Grand Metropolitan Group, owners of Burger King, Smirnoff, Samuel Webster Brewers, Haagen Daas, Cinzano and other iconic brands.

When you want to head-butt your client….

This blog should maybe have been titled Confessions of a Dragon due to the bit of truth-telling I’m about to ‘fess up to. I’m not sure that this will get past editorial censorship. After all, it’s probably not a good thing to admit that you’ve wanted to leap across your desk and head-butt a client.

Yesterday, I could have been mistaken for a real-live dragon. A dragon with steam coming out of my ears, breathing fire, fang-snapping, snarling ….the whole bit.

But hey, I’m only human.

Except when I’m being a dragon.

And not the noble nerves of steel kind. More of the oh-boy-you’re-getting-on-my-last-nerve, cranky kind – being a real old dragon – the sort that school kids and parents run and hide from at Parent Teacher meetings.

Is the client in question still a client of Dragon Sisters after yesterday?

Let’s see, shall we …?

Here’s the back-story

This client, let’s call her Claire the Client, is one of our Smarketing clients. What she’s interested in is connecting with her target audience, converting them to serious business prospects, to sell them her product.

Claire’s progress has been great in nailing down her target market and connecting with them – mostly digitally and largely through Facebook. Her FB following has increased, her database and her subscriber list have grown enormously.

Fantastic!

Claire’s now ready to really move into converting. She knows there’s plenty of interest in her product. All she has to do is keep doing what she’s doing.

Why?

Because you never let up on keeping and growing connections; that’s your sales funnel, and she’s just started implementing her conversion strategy.

I spend a lot of time on Facebook. Checking up on client pages, especially when they’ve just started flying solo, i.e. been let loose on managing their own page. At Dragon Sisters we aren’t fond of managing FB pages, so most of the time we’re teaching folk how to implement Smarketing on that platform for themselves. And as I mentioned, Claire has been going great guns.

Until yesterday, when she shot herself in the foot.

BANG!

Social media suicide.

Claire should have been hopping around toeless, yelling her head off for a doctor.

Preferably a spin doctor.

Yet she wasn’t.

Because she was blissfully oblivious to the impact of the post she’d put up. A post which over 11,000 of her target market followers would see – and not be impressed with.

The first rule of social media marketing for business is you are your brand.

One of the things we stress about Smarketing is that social media success, in terms of branding for audience engagement, is that personalization is key.

Professional personalization

This means that carping is the equivalent to committing hara-kiri, not death by disembowelment, but rather, death by disengagement. The post Claire had put up was a personal rant which put a severe dent in her brand credibility.

Seeing this I wondered if Claire’s brain had been anaesthetised. The joke post I’ve seen on Facebook “that wasn’t me texting last night, it was the wine” sprang to mind.

How do you ask a client if they’ve been drinking on the job?

It was very tempting to ask Claire that question the minute I got hold of her. Since no sane or sober person spends months building a seriously engaged following, only to shoot it out of the sky just when it’s really beginning to fly.

I also couldn’t ask a client have you lost your mind? No matter how crazy they were making me!

The moral of the story is this: you can’t get cocky, careless, or complacent, no matter how great you think you’re doing.

That applies to me too. So, I didn’t leap across the desk and head-butt Claire.

Probably because you can’t do that on Skype.

Warm Wishes,

Yvonne

Yvonne Toering is a business development consultant who has worked with leading organisations and brands including Securicor Group, Vodafone Group, ASDA as well as most of the UK’s major high street retail chains including Marks and Spencer Plc, the National Health Service, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Mars UK, and the Grand Metropolitan Group, owners of Burger King, Smirnoff, Samuel Webster Brewers, Haagen Daas, Cinzano and other iconic brands.

How trust builds business and why the obvious isn’t so obvious!

It’s obvious that to build any relationship we need a bedrock of trust. Trust builds business.

Who doesn’t know that?!

We all know it and that it makes perfect sense.

No one is going to build a lasting and meaningful relationship with someone they trust about as far as they can throw them. That would be like cosying up to a mamba and expecting nothing more harmful than a hug – just a teeny bit unrealistic – said the mistress of understatement.

Yet that is exactly what some of us do and then we wonder why we got bitten.

That was pretty much the premise of last week’s blog about poor old Bob coming unstuck with a new LinkedIn connection.

The big question is – who can you trust and how do you know you can trust them?

More importantly, if you’re interested in networking to advance your business ethically, how do new contacts and connections know they can trust you?

With digital networking and global reach, it’s not uncommon to have people in your network that you have never actually met. Nor will you, except with the acquisition of a Lear Jet.

I don’t know about you, but at Dragon Sisters we run to the cost of a couple of company cars and that’s about it. Except for a bunch of air miles. Cattle class. Not that I’m whinging.

One of the fail-safe ways to start out on a platform of reasonable mutual trust, is to do a lot of business through referrals. Michelle and I do the majority of our Dragon Sisters’ business through word-of-mouth referrals.

Our approach

As a couple of old dragons we pre-date social media and had to rely on strong in-person networking and referrals back in the day. As a sales person, I hated cold calling and being a pest, so I learnt fast that there was a far easier and more pleasant way to meet new prospects and great like-minded people, who were immediately interested in talking to me, because they knew someone who trusted me enough to refer a friend or an associate to me.

We use exactly the same approach now that we have access to all the marvellous one-click-away contact of social media. And it is marvellous making instant connections provided you don’t lose sight of the fact that any new connection is just going to be one more digit on your vanity metric, until, or unless, you’ve forged an initial element of trust.

That’s what doesn’t seem so obvious now to many digital networkers and marketers.

Michelle wrote a while back explaining how networking and referrals can drive any business’ growth far faster and far smoother once you get the hang of it. Like driving a Ferrari! Yes, I have hankerings for speedy, expensive, transportation toys.

Right, I’m off to polish my Nissan now.

Warm Wishes,

Yvonne

Yvonne Toering is a business development consultant who has worked with leading organisations and brands including Securicor Group, Vodafone Group, ASDA as well as most of the UK’s major high street retail chains including Marks and Spencer Plc, the National Health Service, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Mars UK, and the Grand Metropolitan Group, owners of Burger King, Smirnoff, Samuel Webster Brewers, Haagen Daas, Cinzano and other iconic brands.

ARE YOU TRULY CONNECTED?

Being connected is vital for your business success. Connections and networks are the life blood of business and community.

You don’t need to have a zillion friends on social media. It doesn’t involve lots of contacts on LinkedIn either.

It means having authentic connections.

To be authentic relationships need to be nurtured, yet so often they are neglected. Worst still ignored until someone finds themselves in a time of need.

So, how do we maintain connections?

Let me ask you this question….

Do you like to receive mail?

I’m talking about letters, postcards, invitations etc. Not the kind that brings bills and other boring stuff.

Real, good old fashioned snail mail.

The kind of stuff that comes addressed to you personally. Handwritten, rather than typed or printed.  Something to hold in your hand. To feel the texture of the paper between your fingers, and even, sometimes, to smell the paper.

I love proper mail! But these days, it’s all too rare. My post box hardly ever yields very much of interest – apart from boring bills and even most of those come electronically.

I vividly remember, as a child, staying with my Grandma in Green Hammerton and waiting to hear the thud of the mail landing on the mat. That was back in the days when the postman pushed it through the slot in the door. Letters would tumble onto the carpet, we’d rush into the hallway to eagerly see what had been delivered.

Similarly, at boarding school, I’d anxiously await the mail distribution. Grabbing my letters I’d dash off to read them in a private space – voraciously reading the news from dear friends and family so far away.

Those letters, complete with exotic stamps from a country far away, used to sustain me through the often lonely moments of boarding school life. The best stamps on my mail came from Kenya and Liberia. Stamps from Spain meant a letter from my best friend.

Mail connected me to those I valued, loved and cared about.

Responding to each letter, postcard or note was a delight.  Choosing the stationary for my replies. Walking to the post office always with a spring in my step. Licking the stamps (even if the glue did taste horrid!) that would carry my letter to a far flung corner of the globe. It was a ritual that kept me connected.

Fast forward many years………

Online communications

Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, blogs etc have replaced the personal relationships of letters, cards and even phone calls.

Today we tend to see and share more of what’s happening in our worlds – there’s also lots of over sharing!

The flip side of this coin is, although there is a lot of sharing going on how much do we actually take in? I mean do you pay the same attention flicking through the digital space as you would to a letter, or to a phone call?

Of course you don’t. There’s so much to look through and hey, yesterday’s posts are now outdated.

So are we really more connected?

Umm, I don’t think so. In fact, I’d say definitely not.

We are only connected in the sense that we are voyeurs. We’re looking in and observing.

Kind of like a Peeping Tom, except we’ve invited this voyeurism by allowing the connection request.

These are not real, authentic connections because there is no real response.

Most are too busy scrolling down the newsfeeds to give stuff more than a cursory glance.

5 reasons why responding in the digital space makes good sense

  1. It is only when you respond that you’re truly connected. By responding you are demonstrating that you’ve taken the time to read what has been written.
  2. A written word of response is far more valuable that just a LIKE. It’s showing the person on the other end, that you value them. That you have made the time to read what they have shared and to frame a response.
  3. It’s an effective and inexpensive way to nurture your connections. We always remember people who make time for us.
  4. For people who live in isolation and have very little real-time interaction, often for reasons beyond their control, a response can mean the world. It lifts their spirits and helps them feel connected.
  5. LIKES are easy.  It’s a simple matter of clicking a button. So even if you are time poor a quick like does not go astray – not as good as a comment, but better than just scrolling past.

connected-love-writing-letterOn a personal level, I also regularly use good old fashioned handwritten cards to personalise messages.

They’re becoming rarer these days, and (I never have to lick the stamp!), but I know all who received them truly  appreciate the time taken to scribbling the note. Same as I love to receive them too!

Do you still write handwritten notes? I’d love to know if you do.

Now, don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with digital communications and social media. I used it every day. It’s a vital part of my business.

Cheap and effective.  It’s also a wonderful way to keep in touch with friends and family far away.

The key is this – treat your connections with respect and courtesy – that means responding regularly and with authenticity.

Your business grows when you make genuine connections with your target market.

Michelle

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