I teach marketing strategies that create "raving fans who do your marketing for you", and what those fans do is refer you and your business to others. It's a vital foundation of any effective marketing strategy.
In the latest episode of The Global Networking Show four of the world's leading experts on getting referrals for business all come together in this broadcast. Excellent tips for business owners, and especially those fairly new to networking.
The keys to getting referrals for your business can be counter intuitive, so make sure you watch this to find out how to make sure you are getting the results from business networking that you need.
The Show's hosts, Dr. Ivan Misner, author of 'The World's Best Known Marketing Secret' and Andy Lopata, author of 'Recommended: How to Sell Through Networking and Referrals', are joined by Bob Burg, author of 'Endless Referrals.' and Thomas Albrecht, Director of The Referral Institute in Germany. You'll also spot me in there briefly as I helped out fielding the questions that were received online during the show.
Malcolm Levene shares his success & failures of 2013 in our series of guest blog posts, it's great to have others share the reality that successes don't appear in isolation!
As Albert Einstein once said: “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
And as Bram Stoker has said, "We learn from failure, not from success."
As Mr Stoker and Mr Einstein note, the most effective form of learning is derived from our failures and mistakes. So, by making friends with our misjudgements, failed ventures, mistakes and errors, we become more powerful. That's because adversary is our greatest teacher.
And like most teachers, particularly those I can recall at school, a reluctance to learn was my default. Yet in later life, I've found some of their lessons invaluable.
While beginning to write this blog I was reminded of one of my New Year resolutions, which is - to allow myself to be more vulnerable. Although easier said than done, this year, I am determined to make the effort.
When Claire Boyles invited me to guest blog about success and failure, initially, I thought: 'What am I going to write about?'
Then, it came to me, 'I'll allow myself to communicate how 2013 has been for me: the good, bad and the ugly', so to speak. And in the light of my desire to become more vulnerable, here goes...
An important lesson has been - to have more realistic expectations. In fact, I think it's best to lower one's expectations and to raise our emotional resilience. For me, this has meant, doing lots of research in the realm of how to overcome adversity. Or, more importantly, how to shift my thinking from 'Why me?' to 'Malcolm, it's not your problem, it's theirs.' Not that I want to cast any blame, far from it, I just want to dissolve any of my unhelpful thinking.
Looking at yesterday's mistakes can be helpful, only if we can learn from them. However, obsessing about times we've gotten it wrong is like reliving the experience. So, best to 'let go' of anything that reminds us of our errors. We can do this, by focusing on what we did/do that's right. In short, be fully aware about what you spend your time focusing on. Remember, we tend to get more of what we spend most of our time thinking about.
Learn to see the world through the eyes of others. If we only see life through our own prism, our view, our outlook will be limited. In addition, it deprives us of having empathy. I'm currently focusing on putting myself in the shoes of others. That way, I can be more open to how it might feel to be somebody else. And although as a coach I tend to do this all the time, it's far more challenging for me to do so in my personal life.
For me, it's about self discipline. For many years, I was in the fashion business, not a place where self discipline is a 'must have.' That is to say, if you said it loud enough, everyone would hear you. Having self discipline helps me to be a better version of me: not giving in to (imaginary) quick fixes, temporary pleasures, and also disallowing my ego to run the show. Fact is, when I'm able to employ self disciplinary measures I like who I'm becoming.
The last few years I have been on an upward spiral having personally transformed myself.
I have gone from someone with no true confidence, self-worth or direction, and a full-time employed person who enjoyed partying, to the owner of my own youth coaching business: Find Your Spark! And I'm also en route to becoming Masters qualified in Coaching Psychology.
I am no longer a wild, ‘crazy’ party girl (unless it’s my birthday!) and am now much more sensible and driven to empower others in my ‘old’ age.
This has meant there have been some seismic changes to my life which have on the whole been for the better and 2013 has seen a large majority of them.
Successes of 2013:
2013 was year 2 of my business, Find Your Spark and by the end of the year I had culminated 7 clients (new and pre-existing) and was coaching 20 young people from October onwards which was my highest number to date.
This was within schools and in charity organisations such as the Prince’s Trust delivering career coaching, life development coaching and speeches.
The Prince’s Trust is my biggest, regular client to date and I was kindly told by them that they did not want to lose me hence they have kept booking me to come back.
Hearing this was a highlight of my year as I could clearly see it was making a tangible difference to the lives of young people.
Personally I achieved success through selling my property (which was both a success and a failure but more of that later) and moving in with my lovely boyfriend to North London, which helped strengthen our relationship further.
It also allowed for us to go into ‘business’ together and set up a public mindfulness meditation eight week programme in Highgate, North London, which has been a huge success. Meditation has become a part of my life in 2013 and I do so twice a day every day for 20 minutes, which has helped calm me down in times of stress and has given me heightened mental clarity.
The move meant that I took a brave leap of faith and left Fight for Peace, a charity at which I had been working at part time self-employed for two years in order to ‘go it alone’ and market myself through Find your Spark.
This was a brave move on my part as at the time I only had one guaranteed client who had to cut my hours due to budgets. I did however make it work, so much so my earnings doubled from the start of the year! Sometimes taking risks pays off!
A lot of my business success can be credited to my wonderful mentor, Claire Boyles (Success Matters) who I started working with at the start of the year. This was through her listening to me speak at the Professional Speaking Association.
She helped rebrand me so that I now have professional business cards, leaflets and more exciting of all a fantastic website, which has been a goal of mine for years now. I am so pleased and grateful that 2013 was the year that launching my website was accomplished and will be eternally grateful to Claire for that J
Later in the year I was booked by The Challenge Network to train their young people on how to coach, as well as by a school in Highbury to deliver a group coaching programme starting in January.
What's the point of having a professionally taken headshot when you have a perfectly good camera you can use to take a perfectly good shot of yourself?
Well, quite simply, it'll look homemade. It'll look unprofessional, and it'll make you look cheap.
It won't capture you in the best light, at the best angle, and it certainly won't capture that perfect expression which exudes your personality.
These are the things that you should pay a professional photographer to do for you, because they are skilled at how do all of those things!
I have a perfectly fine digital SLR (A good camera), I have a tripod with a timer, all of which could mean I could take my own photographs to use in my marketing.
Heck, photography is a hobby of mine, so I'm well equipped to take my own headshot, surely?
These types of photos are fine to be shared with friends on Facebook, but not to be used as professional images for you or your business.
Yes, I could take a good photograph of myself, in fact I have, and you can see it here, but it's a natural shot.
I don't have the very expensive lighting which brings out the very best in skin tones, and even if I did, I can't evoke that spontaneous burst of laughter, or that glint in my eye.
Even if I could, the chances of me being able to capture that exact expression with the timer on my camera is, well, I'd guess at about a million to one shot.
You see, you don't just pay a photographer for their ability to use expensive equipment which creates quality images. You pay a photographer for their expertise in the way they position you, the things they can say to you in conversation to evoke those warm, spontaneous expressions which make you look approachable, friendly, yet professional.
A good professional photographer is worth their weight in gold, and even if you're not in business, if you're on the job market, it can make a massive difference to whether people pick up the phone to talk to you, or send you that email that could mean a very lucrative oportunity for you.
You don't get second chances to make a first impression, so make sure you show yourself in your best possible light, especially when you are likely to often be "meeting" people for the first time online these days. A professionally taken headshot is vital!
There is so much encouragement of businesses to give away products and services for free, talk about "Freemium" business models, it's hard to know as a business owner what to give for free, and what not, and where the limit needs to be drawn to protect your own resources.
In addition to this, with the popularity of social media, so many people assume that just because you're connected online, you're somehow boosom buddies, and there's nothing you'd rather do than help them out for free. This can create a serious problem.
A problem of giving away or doing too much for free, a problem of being drained of time and energy into activities which are not an investment into your business, no matter how you might justify them as "Building Your Network", or following the "Freemium" business model.
I know this trap, as I've been in it myself, and so does Sharon Hayes, successful entrepreneur and builder of many very successful online businesses. She's particularly popular with her social media presence, and has over 138,000 followers on twitter!
Over the years she's been inundated with requests for help from business owners who wanted to "pick her brain", and these requests still continue, daily.
Initially, being the helpful generous, kind hearted person that she is, she did help many people, for free. What she found very quickly was that the people she was giving free help to, weren't implementing the wisdom she was sharing, and had more issues that they needed help with, and drained more of her time than her fee paying clients... Does that sound familiar to you?
She's certainly now mastered the skill of converting Free to Paid, having several monthly turnover figures exceeding $1million dollars in the last year alone, I'm honoured to have Sharon as a good personal friend, and when she told me about the free training she's doing to help people tackle the issue of "free to paid", I was excited about sharing it with others.
The free online training this is this Thursday (20th June) at 8pm (London time, noon PDT, and 3 pm EDT).
Now of course, learning to say no is a good way of getting out of this trap, but how do you say "no" politely, how do you explain, without causing offence that actually, you're busy running your own business, and as much as you'd like to help everyone, you just aren't able to.?
Only a few weeks ago I had a follower on twitter ask me to help a friend of theirs with a personal bank loan application!! When I politely declined the opportunity to get involved in someone else's personal finances (Who I'd never met, or even heard of) the response I received was less than polite, they let me know how disappointed in me they were, how they had believed I was a "good person"...!
I allocate more than enough of my time and expertise in helping others for free, I have one mentee who I invest a lot of my time into, and once they've flourished, I will take on another. I help my network, I provide my expertise to my own mastermind group members, I even provide a regular supply of free advice and tips through my social media accounts.
But at the end of the day, I'm a marketing/business consultant, I get paid for my expertise, that's how I earn my living. Asking me to work for free is like asking your bank to stop charging you for the service they provide, or walking into your local electronic store and asking for the free use of the latest flat screen Tv, you just wouldn't do it, would you?
Free products are also a challenge, how can you persuade customers to take that next step and purchase the products that you actually generate your profit from?
These are the areas that Sharon will cover on the Free To Paid online training, and as the last one was midnight our time, I'm looking forward to being able to listen in live to this one!
This blog post was written by , Start Up Marketing Consultant, Professional Speaker, and Social Media Strategist from Success Matters
I'm gobsmacked by what greeted me this morning on Facebook when I tried to send a message to a new "Facebook Friend"...
I'd connected with someone on yesterday who is doing similar things, and runs similar Facebook page to one of mine, so I sent a friend request this morning.
I always send a quick "Hello" message with it, so that people know why I want to connect with them, so they know I'm not just randomly adding people (which I don't do).
Facebook then kindly gave me two options; either I had my message sent into their "other" mail box (which most people don't even know exists, let alone check) or, I could pay £0.71 for the privilege of having it sent directly into their inbox!
It's now more expensive to send a Facebook message than sending an old fashioned letter via snail mail!
This reeks of desperation to me, and I'm really not sure Facebook will survive these tactics. It seems their approach is "We've got a captive audience now, we can do whatever we want". I'm not as confident as they are that this is a winning strategy...
This is yet another reason why I'll be spending even more time building a network using Google+.
While most of Facebook's "customers" probably won't leave, or search for a different platform to connect on, the innovators, the early adopters WILL.
And it's the early adopters, the leaders who influence where other people go.
I've been saying for about a year now that I see Facebook becoming the next MySpace, (A thriving social media platform that died) and I haven't yet seen them doing anything about it.
They don't seem to be respecting their customers, and I really doubt that is an effective long term strategy. Especially as people like to buy from people that they know, like, trust and respect. Businesses that don't make their customers feel good about doing business with them, usually have retention problems, and that's costly.
Right now Facebook may have a captive audience, but how much can they get away with before the avalanche? How long will it be before people leave by their droves, looking for platforms that do respect them, their information and aren't trying to take their money for basic functions?
I can think of many much more effective monetisation strategies, but it seems that Facebook is dancing to the tune of big brand marketers, who are using old style marketing strategies. And those old style strategies are the reason why social media used to be so effective, because social media is so very different.
These days, because of all the manipulative, less than straight activities of businesses using social media it's lost its "trust" factor. And I see Facebook as a platform losing more trust than any other.
What do you think? Is charging more than a price of a stamp & envelope to send an email a strategy which is going to benefit Facebook in the long term?
Is the revenue they generate from these types of things going to outweigh the negativity it creates with their existing customers?
This blog post was written by , Start Up Business Consultant, Professional Speaker, and Social Media Strategist from Success Matters
Payment for messaging people who are not yet Facebook friends is something that Facebook are testing, and has not yet rolled out to all Facebook users. Costs are up to £15, and varies according to the person's "celebrity" status.
Firstly you set up a Facebook page and name it after a major brand, let's say Apple for example.
Then you post a picture saying you've got some opened product (which of course no one would buy) and so you're going to give it away to someone who likes your page and shares it (notably breaking Facebook's competition rules).
"To win a brand new ipad, like and share! Winners will be informed by PM" you could say.
(That will allay any suspicions of why there aren't any previous winners being announced on the page).
Or how about
"Which colour do you want? White or Black? Comment below"
That'll really boost the number of interactions on a page, and give it a rocket boost on its way to going viral!
Once lots of 'sheep' have done your marketing for you, then you can rename the page and remove the posts. What do you have then?
A saleable marketing tool, followed by lots of gullible people.
But why would you want to do something like this?
Less scrupulous marketing companies are doing this as routine, and selling ready-made Facebook pages to their customers... And less reputable businesses are buying them, not caring who the likes are from, they want "instant" success, and aren't prepared to invest time, effort and energy into creating an effective social media strategy from scratch.
They want to show people coming to their page that they're already popular, this is known as "social proof", and helps people trust the page. The problem is that they're trusting the page based on false likes.
With a little extra investment in Facebook marketing the scam page will then show up on newsfeeds as 'so and so likes
So who knows what these pages you've liked will end up as...?
For all you know it could end up as a page for kinky underwear, a shop full of copied brand merchandise, or worse... ! (We'll leave the "worse" to your imagination!)
So please don't be a sheep!
Following on from the social media big six blog post wrote recently which outlines the key distinctions between the big 6 social media platforms we received requests for more information on Google+
who runs courses on getting the best from Google+ was kind enough to write a guest blog post to provide you more information. If this doesn't answer all your questions, please ask them in the comments section at the bottom.
In December following the announcement of “Communities” within the Google+ framework Google had created the final component I was looking for to enable me to deploy GPlus in the project I am working on...
But this raises an interesting question... why GPlus? Aren’t there enough social media tools out there already? … well... in both the workshops I recently delivered on G+ the overwhelming state of mind of those attending (at the start) was...
Look... Why should I switch to G+ or waste (spend) more time on yet another social media platform? Everyone I know is on Facebook... G+ has hardly anyone on it I know... and to be quite frank no one has given me a big enough ‘Why’ to do it... I would just spend more time on Social media and to be really honest I am questioning the value from a business perspective of the time I am already spending on the existing platforms... so thanks, but no thanks.
Sound familiar? Well... In viewing the philosophy and personas of the the top three social networks they are all taking and staking different positions online.
Facebook positions its social network platform as being about people’s identity. The “Timeline” update further reinforces this position as it allows you to update your life history and place it with the appropriate date stamp in your timeline stream.
Twitter sees itself as about “Events”. Breaking news and events globally in real time but keeping its charm and interface simple.
Google+ is positioned as a platform to enable us to bring all the different online tools that we use, and our interactions with others, into one integrated tool.
In a very simple analogy... If we took a street with bars and nightclubs in it... Facebook and Twitter own some pretty fancy clubs... but Google owns the street they are on (and a few clubs too)... Google is creating a platform that by the time we get to 2018, will deliver to us the information and tools that we, as yet, do not even know we need... and in order to collect the knowledge about us and learn all about us as individuals to do that the platform must be comprehensive enough for us to supply that information in a myriad of ways...
Google+ already provides us with a lot... the ability to create a profile of who we are and why we are worth getting to know... attach pictures, videos (you tube) to embellish this and through business pages give people the chance to find out what we ‘love’ doing and the problems we can solve for others... Google+ allows us easily to find ‘like minded’ people through communities and circles, share and curate content for people that we know raising our profile... and communicate with these people easily through email, chat, messaging and Hangouts (video conferencing)... Google plus provides tools for creating, storing and sharing documents meeting the increasing need for us to collaborate with others, and this extends out to calendars and events too...
All of this of course is indexed and provides authentic proof to Google that you are a specialist in your field and the new SEO from Google... ‘Author Rank’ is fed not by using strategically placed keywords, but via Blogs, conversations and participation in communities / interest groups to demonstrate your expert status... i.e. it is derived from the content you produce day in day out about your niche.
In short Google+ is not a social media platform... it is a new way to operate... they have been busy (under the direction of Larry Page) bringing together all their separate products under the umbrella of Google Plus... this is now a new game entirely... and the best news of all is that everything that I have described is free... Google doesn’t need to monetise G+ … it already makes close to $40 billion from its advertising streams... so G+ can be kept clean and relevant for all of us using it.
With the resources available within Google to deliver... what we have already is just the beginning... the time to get on board is now... the future looks incredible exciting indeed!
I am a moderator of Social Media Strategy Community on Google+ and this morning a question was posted there:
What's the difference between Facebook, Twitter etc, do you use them the same, is one platform different to another or is it just a matter of personal preference?
So I typed a very quick response outlining the major differences.
And following the positive response it received, then promptly turned it into a blog post:
This is my old battered watch that I love and I wear every day.
As we count down the hours and minutes to the end of one year and the start of a new one, we don't have to get rid of things that work, just because they're old.
But creating something new that benefits us, gets us closer to achieving our goals (of which happiness ought to be one) is certainly a worthy investment of time.
Have you thought about marking the New Year?
It's not a magical time that is automatically special, it's another day passing just like yesterday and the day before, but if you use it to reflect, pause, learn from your experiences of the year just gone, and what you'd like more of or less of in the next year, then it can be truly powerful...
Rather than making a new year's resolution, how about just asking yourself 2 simple questions:
What have you invested your time into in 2012?
What are you going to invest your time into in 2013?
Feel free to share your answers below, or write them into a journal, or keep them in your head, but please do ask yourself the questions, you might be surprised what the answers are :)
My Monday morning started by my receiving spam email to one of my email addresses that is not publicly known. Being annoyed I immediately looked for an "unsubscribe" button, which did not exist.
I emailed them with a simple "Please remove my email address immediately from your database, you do NOT have permission to send me marketing material. "
I investigated further, I wanted to know where they'd got my email address from, on finding their facebook page I posted on their page:
"I would advise you to STOP spamming people, it is a very bad business practice and you will be reported if you continue to do so. I have no idea where you got my email address from, but you certainly do not have permission from me to send me marketing material."
I looked in "about" which showed a mobile number, so I rang them to find out where they got my email address.
They think they may have met me because they have my business card.
PLEASE people, just because someone gives you their business card to connect with them does NOT give you permission to add them to any of your marketing lists, this is a sure fire way to ANNOY people.
If someone gives you their business card they probably do want to hear from you, but not to be spammed!
If I've met someone at a business networking event, being sent an email with "you’ve been single for a while now and things aren’t happening as fast as you want, then I’d like to help you create a MAJOR relationship BREAKTHROUGH. Here’s the scoop..."
is really inappropriate, and just leaves me feeling "Ugghhh". (Pretty much how I feel about Spam the meat product, and slightly nauseous)
Is this really how you want your potential customers to feel?
The woman I spoke to was polite, and apologised straight away, which is something, but please please please people don't do this!
It all started with an innocent tweet, no not a tweet from innocent, a tweet from Viv Craske of Digital Marketing Blueprint, he wanted to know "What's your favourite Facebook business page?"
I replied, RTing his orginal tweet saying Marks and Spencers was my favourite, closely followed by Innocent, and that's when it all kicked off!!
You can read the tweets below..