If I Were 22 – Advice to Women (From LinkedIn Post)

Note:  this post previously appeared on LinkedIn’s series, If I Were 22.

Like many, I have been asked to write for LinkedIn about my advice that I would give to the new college graduates.If I were 22 @MacleanHeather

Thinking back to when I was 22, which really was not “that” long ago. At least I like to think that is the case. I was full of excitement and ideals when I graduated with my first degree. So, I will share some thoughts/advice focused on women graduates.

1. Listen – learn to really listen. Women tend to be better listeners by nature, but never lose that skill. Being able to listen to people gives you the ability to hear many things. You learn a lot about people, how they communicate and what they communicate. But really, it is more than just listening, it is also observing.

When you can listen and observe with skill, you learn more about people than you would ever expect. This skill will become increasingly important as you mature and your career grows. Never forget to listen (and observe).

2. Fight your Doubts – I recently became more aware that women have more inner doubt than men. Reading The Confidence Code has been very interesting. Many thoughts I have had over my career, I thought I was alone and never really shared my inner doubts, out of fear. Turns out that I am like every other woman I know. Over the years, I have learned to squash those thoughts and move past them, thankfully. However, I am now having those conversations to help and mentor those coming behind me.

Women don’t need to doubt their experience or expertise. We should embrace it and each other.

3. Support your Female Colleagues – The more we support and nurture each other through our careers, the better it will be for all of us, and in particular new graduates. Prove the stereotype wrong. Women can work together AND we can and do make a difference.

4. Find your Voice – Along with fighting your inner doubts and supporting your female colleagues, find your own inner voice and learn to speak up and often. I am not saying to speak just for the sake of speaking, but rather share your ideas and question practices and ideas that don’t make sense. Provide your solutions and ideas. Don’t be afraid. The worse that can happen is that someone says “no”.

5. Embrace Change – This is a bit cliche, but the only constant is change. It is true. The more comfortable I became with change, the better my career was. I could bounce back quicker from setbacks, learn new skills quicker and generally be happier than those that could not. If things aren’t changing in your career I would question that. Embracing change will always help you advance.

6. Forgive – Crap happens to everyone. Sometimes things will happen that hurt you. Sometimes things will happen to you that hurt you. Learn to forgive and move on. Learn from the experience and use it as your mature.

7. Network – This is probably one of the biggest things that women need to learn to do well. It took me quite a while to learn this and to focus on doing it. I know a lot of people and don’t have trouble meeting people, but networking is an art all on its own. Many years later I still work to hone this skill. I wish I had started to learn this just out of school! Having a solid network has come in handy for my professional goals numerous times. I am both humbled and grateful that I have made the connections I have. I have learned a lot from some pretty amazing people over my career.

8. Have Fun – Always remember to have fun and enjoy what you are doing. Life is too short to not have fun. If you aren’t having fun, you need to either create your own fun, or move on to something that will make you happy. Chance are if you are not happy, you are not operating at the best you can and you might be making others unhappy.

So, if I were 22 again, these are the things that I wish someone would have sat me down and said: “Heather, here are 8 tips you need to know, understand and live by. They will serve you well.” If only a few new graduates take this advice, I will be happy. Of course the more the merrier.

If you like this post, feel free to connect on Twitter: @MacLeanHeather

How to Have the Perfect Professional Twitter Bio

Do you use your personal Twitter handle for professional purposes?  Of course you do!  I recently surveyed 150 people and 99% indicated that they do in fact use their own Twitter handle to communicate, network and conduct research in a professional capacity. As a part of that survey, I also asked questions about their bios, how they were set up and what information they added to their bios.  A staggering 85% indicated that they did not put much thought into their bios.  And, 100% of those respondents were concerned that their personal brand was less than stellar and that they were not as professional appearing as they could be.  So, you are not alone if you have had these concerns.  To remedy the situation, here are 8 Best Practices to use to have the perfect professional Twitter bio:Social Media, Twitter

1. A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Nothing could be more true.  When a Tweet appears, what is the first thing you notice? It is the avatar of course – good or bad.  So, if you want to have a professional appearance, the first place to start is your avatar.

Best Practice is to have the same professional photo that you would use for LinkedIn.  You want to look your part AND you want to be recognizable.  For occasions when you get to meet Twitter connections, it is great to actually recognize or be recognized!

2.  Don’t Be Cute with Your Twitter Handle

Not only are you a brand in and of yourself, you want people to be able to remember you. It is Best Practice to use your own name as your Twitter handle. Now, that can be difficult.  For example, there are a lot of Heather MacLeans out there.  I could have gotten my full name, but it seemed long and with a hyphen in there, that might complicate things.  So, I ended up using @MacLeanHeather.

As a point of reinforcement, there is a wonderfully talented person in the industry that I like to keep in touch with.  Unfortunately I always forget her Twitter handle as it is something obscure.  So, I inevitably have to resort to communicate with her via LinkedIn, even though I know that she is on Twitter more frequently.

3. Use Your Real Name

Again, searching, finding and connecting to people can be difficult if you don’t use your real name in your Twitter bio.  Best Practice states using your real name versus nicknames, or variations on your name.  Of course, if you don’t want to be found…

4. What to Include in Your Actual Bio

You are human and not a robot..right?  So, be sure to use a combination of key words that reflect your profession/industry, but also include some interesting personal information. I used to include that I was an airplane nerd, which I am, but I don’t tend to Tweet about airplanes.  Now  I include that I am a dog lover and wannabe chef.  That makes sense to me as I do Tweet, on occasion, about these things.

So, be professional, but have some fun too!

5. Use Links

The great thing about your Twitter profile is that you can include a link to your own website, LinkedIn profile, about.me profile, etc.  Take advantage of this to help people get to know you.

6.  Location

Be sure to include your location data.  People love to connect with people in their respective regions and/or in new areas.

7.  Use of Header

Be sure to select a header image that not only scales, but also reinforces who you are. Having a blurry out of scale image is not good. Neither of course is something totally inappropriate.  If in doubt, look to others that inspire you or that you admire. Get a feel for what they use. Don’t copy of course, but emulate.

8. Completeness of Information

It is Best Practice to complete the details above.  If you really want to connect with people, they will want to know who you are.  Remember, this is social media.  Many people, including me, tend to return follows of people that share no details about themselves.

So, in the end, these are easy tips and Best Practices to follow.  Still have questions, let me know.

Want to learn more?  Feel free to sign up for our newsletter at TaylorMade Solutions (insert “newsletter” into inquiry box)

The #1 Reason People Fail at Social Media

I have been working in social media now for more than a decade and I have pretty much seen it all – from really nasty trolls to people still trying to using old school tactics to misusing channels and on and on.  In reality though the #1 reason people fail at social media is basic and completely avoidable and here’s how:

The #1 Reason People Fail at Social Media, heatherannemaclean.wordpress.com, taylormadecanada.com

Not knowing your audience is actually quiet significant.  If you don’t know who you are speaking to, it is hard to speak their language.  For example, if you have kids you know that each child has his or her own personality.  The tone and words you use with one child may not work as well with another.  The same is true for your prospects and customers.  If you only speak in your industry lingo and/or use terms that they don’t use, you might as well be speaking klingon.

Also keeping with this theme is the fact that if you don’t know your audience, you don’t likely know where they are hanging out, what they are reading, what forums they belong to, what social networks, etc.  In the good ole days, if we had big budgets we could throw a bunch of money at newspaper and/or trade magazine ads and we were likely to catch the attention of many.  This is not as effective today.  Instead, we need to be better informed.  We need to know and understand all of these pieces of information about our customers.  So, how do you do this?  Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Develop Customer Personas

Customer personas are fictional representations of your prospects or customers that help you segment them, determine what role they play in the buying decision, what interests they have, how they make decisions and more.  When done well, they really make a difference for marketing your product and/or service.

2.  Don’t Jump into Social Media

Ideally, you will seek guidance on how best to approach using social. But, if you can’t do that, never jump right in.  First “listen.”  In the “business” this means sign up for some networks and learn how to use the tool – I mean actually use it, but without pushing or promoting your business.  First just listen and watch to see how are others are using it.  Here are some quick reads to help you:

3.  Hire for Expertise 

On more than a few occasions I have met and worked with people who, for whatever reason, didn’t want to hire a person with marketing expertise.  Instead they hired believing that the person could acquire experience over time.  It didn’t work out.  Most people I know don’t have that luxury of time in their business.

That’s where I came in.  As a Marketing Practitioner with a great deal of experience, I and people like me can at the very least, guide you through the process and help you make SMART hiring decisions.  I have helped more than a few business owners through this process by developing their strategy with them, including policies, processes, etc.  Then I helped them hire people who while not having all the experience and expertise, have the potential.  As a result, the new hires have a higher probability of success.  They have the road map, policies and processes to guide them through the initial days.  I also prepare a learning plan and act as mentor during a set and agreed upon period.

There is of course more to marketing that what I am eluding to above, but it is a starting point.  And, if you have additional points or insight to add, please chime in. Comments are of course welcome.

Want to learn more?  Feel free to sign up for our newsletter at TaylorMade Solutions (insert “newsletter” into inquiry box)

The Sunday Brief (May 25, 2014)

Welcome to this week’s Sunday Brief.  The Sunday Brief is intended to share with you a few of my top picks from the previous week.  As I always say, sit back and relax with your favourite cup of Joe and enjoy! (If you have a fav that is not on the list, be sure to let me know).The Sunday Brief heatherannemaclean.wordpress.com

(I am a bit tardy this week…so it is really a Monday Brief, but I won’t tell if you won’t.  Too much gardening this weekend took all of my attention.)

1.  How Like-Gating Facebook Campaigns Can Hurt Your Business, by Jim Belosic

Like Jim, I think that Facebook “Likes” are overrated.  Sure, you need your minimum to get your stats when you are first starting out, but you need to look at the bigger picture.  Likes do NOT translate to converted sales or even leads for that matter.  It is an illusion that people are trying to create.

The real value comes from engagement and actual shares of content that is consumed.  Lack of consumption is also a failure.

2.  7 Crazy Good Examples of Branded Content

This is a great blog post that shows some very concrete examples of seven different types of content that brands can and should be using.  It doesn’t have to be complicated and this post demonstrates that very well.

3.  Two Reasons Why “How Can I Help You?” Is The Wrong Question To Ask, by Amber Naslund 

Amber is certainly no stranger to anyone in social media, and now I dare say, dog rescue!  The post I chose of hers, is actually not from this past week, but earlier this year. However, I came across it again early last week and it just resonated with me.  I was helping a client and something just seemed off. This helped me refocus.  A good read at any time.

If you have suggestions for next week’s The Sunday Brief, feel free to reach out to me and send me your picks!

5 Essential Tips to Ensure Survey Completion

Yesterday I received an email from a local company that wanted me to take a quick 2-minute survey to help them improve.  The idea itself is a good one; however, the execution of the survey was not so great.  If you want to leverage the power of surveys, here are 5 essential tips to ensure people complete your surveys.  

5 Essential Tips to Ensure People Complete Your Surveys, heatherannemaclean.wordpress.com

Richard Dawson of Family Feud

1.  Proof Read

While normally I am all about the survey design and developing questions that produce unbiased results, I have to say that after reading this survey, someone should have proofread it.  In some cases, there were missing words.  In one specific question, I really didn’t know what they were looking for.  That is not good for a survey.

In at least one other case, the grammar was just a wee bit off, which meant that I read the sentence several times. Not that it didn’t makes sense, it did, but it was just odd.

Key Take-away:  We all make mistakes.  If possible we should always try to have another set of eyes cross our surveys.  

2.  Have a Clearly Defined Purpose

This may sound like common sense, but when designing a survey first think about its purpose.  What information do you want to learn or confirm?  Are there themes?  How many themes?  Do any of these themes have a correlation?

If you have more than three themes, it might be prudent to break your survey into different surveys.  For example, the survey that I referenced above had a number of different things that they were looking for.  It appeared to be a hodgepodge of questions.  As a Marketing Practitioner, I couldn’t help but “try” to determine what it was “exactly” the organization wanted or needed.  As a customer, I found the questions to be random and lacking clarity.  I don’t believe that this survey was tested for clarity or usability.

Key Take-away:  If you feel that you can’t afford an experienced marketing professional (but really can you afford to not have one?), really think about your purpose and the logical sequence. Seek a couple of people whose opinion you trust and ask them to take the survey and give feedback.  This can save a lot of time and frustration, not to mention money.

3.  Use Proper Question Techniques

To get good responses, there are a few techniques to use.

  • First and foremost is language.  Be clear, concise and use words that have fewer interpretations.
  • Avoid leading questions.
  • Consider alternative ways to ask the question.

If using a scale, make sure it is meaningful.  For example, “Please rate your satisfaction with the speed of the application. On a scale where 5 means ‘Very Satisfied’ and 1 means ‘Very Dissatisfied.” 

Key Take-away:  Using best practices for question development will help you get better intelligence AND make it easier for your respondents.

4. Don’t Spam People

As a Marketing Practitioner I truly value customer insight and I love…love..love data.  As an individual, I am inundated with email.  Some email are completely my doing as a result of signing up for various news services.  Other email however, are completely unsolicited and unwanted.  As a customer of this organization that sent the survey, I don’t recall signing up for email.  Not saying that I didn’t agree to it at some point, but I sincerely do not recall.

I was a little surprised to receive the email asking me to do the survey.  As I follow this company on Twitter, it would have been nice to see a pre-notice there. Or, the link in a Tweet inviting customers to participate.  They did not do this. I think that this is a miss on two fronts.  First, they are not offering the feedback process to all of their customers.  While sample surveys are important, there are also times when you want great customer feedback. In this case they were looking for market development information.  The second miss is on the missed opportunity to give a heads up to people about the survey.

Key Take-away:  Think about how you will give advance notice of the survey along with how you will minimize spam. Your customers will love you!

5.  Be Up Front about the Time Commitment

People are busy.  So, being up front with the time commitment will increase your chances of completion versus abandonment.  Of course it is always best to keep surveys as short as possible, but when that is not possible, being up front will be truly appreciated.

Key Take-away:  Acknowledging time commitments increases the probability that people will compete the survey once started.  Surveys that consume a lot of time without an upfront warning increase the probability of abandonment.

 Want to learn more?  Feel free to sign up for our newsletter at TaylorMade Solutions (insert “newsletter” into inquiry box)

5 Ways Sales Experts Use LinkedIn to Generate Leads

While my background is predominately marketing and PR, I have done my share of business development. I have also worked with some of the best business development professionals in the world.  While at CARIS and salesforce.com, I got to work with the best of the best.  And, the best part, I am going to share what I learned from working with the best with you.   Here are 5 ways that sales experts use LinkedIn to Generate Leads.  (Disclosure: while at CARIS, LinkedIn didn’t exist, but the sales practices did.)5 Ways Sales Experts Use LinkedIn to Generate Leads, heatherannemaclean.wordpress.com

1.  Don’t be there just for the sale

This is the first and most important action that a person must plan for.  When doing business development, regardless of what tool, forum or event you are leveraging, don’t just be there for the sale.  While the terms relationship selling or relationship management has been very overused in the last few years, this is one that you can’t mess up.

When using LinkedIn, this becomes even more important as your activity is much more visible.  For example, joining Groups is a great way to not only expand your knowledge of a topic or industry, but also to prospect.  That being said, if you join a group and your only activity is clearly to sell “something” and then you disappear until the next time you want to sell “something”, you risk being called out and damaging not only your own creditability, but that of the organization that you represent.

Key Take-Away:  LinkedIn is not a short-term “thing”. It is a structured approach to building your network and developing a give and take relationship.  Successful sales people don’t just take, they find ways to give.  They also don’t pitch before the relationship is formed.

2.  Share, Share and Share

As a follow-up to #1, building networks and connections is about giving.  Sharing is a great way to do this.

The key for LinkedIn however, is utilizing it correctly.  It is not like Twitter or your personal Facebook or Google+ page.  You should not be sharing continually.  Instead, select one or two pieces of content to share with your network.  Be sure to share no more than twice per day and some days, only once.  Any more than that, and people will turn off your notifications.  You can also target certain groups and/or people to make things even more specific.

If your organization has its own blog, it is great to share content that will be helpful to contacts.  This can be a great source.  Another great source is to share content created by your prospects.  Pick really great information to share with your network.

Key Take-Away:  Be sure to share, but maintain a proper balance. Understanding how to use LinkedIn is key to this.

3.  Leverage SMART Methods to Prospect

Specific:  Check who has viewed your profile, Group Updates, review Announcements of Companies that you are following, view Alumni Groups and conduct searches using boolean operators. An example of the latter is:  CFO or Chief Financial Officer and Life Sciences. (use title variations and industry)

Measurable:  One of the best ways to get measurable results is through introductions.  If you have a connection, that you have built a solid relationship with that is connected to the person you want to meet, ask.  Be sure to explain how you want to be introduced and why.  Remember though to keep #1 in mind.  Build the relationship first.

Achievable:  When prospecting using a tool like LinkedIn, set realistic and achievable targets. If you are using LinkedIn properly, you won’t be able to connect with dozens of people in one day.  So, it is important that you and your management team understand what is realistic and what is not.

Relevant:  When reaching out to a prospect, but sure to use relevant information.  For example, if you noticed that they have recently connected with someone else you know, or changed jobs, cross check their profiles.  For the latter, LinkedIn will sometimes send out an update saying “congratulate” so and so, but they have really been in the job for sometime.  While it might be an “in” it might also appear that you are trying to hard to find a reason to connect.

Time:  Like relevancy, timing is everything.  Commenting or sharing a post from weeks or months ago, can demonstrate that you are a little behind the times. Of course, should something have occurred to make it timely again, like an update or some other advice that you can add, that is a good thing.

Key Take-Away:  Be prepared to understand how to use LinkedIn and leverage existing contacts when possible.

4.  Leverage Other Sources

Be sure to follow relevant conversations in other channels. For example, most industries have “lists” of top performers.  By following organizations/individuals on Twitter that put out these lists, you can always leverage this information to congratulate the person.

Key Take-Away:  Don’t rely on one source and one source only.  By judiciously following key industry people and developing Twitter Lists, you can keep up-to-date without getting bogged down in hundreds, if not thousands of Tweets or conversations.  However, remember the points above, particularly the point about when to pitch.

5.  Making a Pitch Matter

Of course we all want out pitches to matter and be acted upon, but that is not always the case, as we know.  Far too many people make pitches using LinkedIn using only the generic “let’s connect” message and then once you accept, they begin to inundate you with sales pitches.  Alternatively, they send you a long message about how they will change your world, without even understanding if you need to have your world changed.

When making that first connection, always use a custom message and offer something that is of value to your prospect.  This of course suggests that you have spent the time necessary to understand who they are and what it is that they need.  For example, if you see them asking a question in a Group and you know someone that can help them with their question, offer to make the introduction.  When you send a personal note to someone that shows that you put effort into the message, it makes a difference.

Key Take-Away:  As human beings we naturally gravitate towards individuals who show an interest in us.  Putting some effort into a pitch can make a difference between getting a meeting and not.

 Want to learn more?  Feel free to sign up for our newsletter at TaylorMade Solutions (insert “newsletter” into inquiry box)

5 Ways Content Marketing is Essential for Top of the Funnel Sales Process

Content marketing continues to be one of the most important tools in the marketing tool box, and it should be.  After all, when done properly, content marketing helps drive leads.  Known as top of the funnel content, or TOFU as we affectionately call it in the business, why not take advantage of good content marketing?  Here are 5 ways content marketing is essential to your top of the funnel sales process:

3 Reasons Why Content Marketing is Important to Top of Funnel Sales, heatherannemaclean.wordpress.com

Image courtesy of alanblume.wordpress.com

1. Buyers Want Content

Think about what you do when you want to learn about something.  Chances are that you hit the Web to research products, services, locations, etc.  The better the information that you find, the more informed you feel.  This is essential in terms of beginning of the buying/selling process.  When a prospect is in the beginning stages, that person wants/needs information.  Give them what they want and what they need.

And, chances are the prospect will develop a level of trust and/or connection to the source that provided excellent and educational content.

2.  Balance the Selling versus Informing

Again, think back to your own experience.  When you research something new as you begin your buying cycle how do you feel when you start reading an article or blog that appears to answer all your burning questions only to find out that it was a cleverly disguised sales pitch?  Well, if you are like me, you are probably annoyed and click out of the site.  The only time that I don’t feel that way is “if” someone has already won me over with great content AND they did so without being all salesy and pitchy.

The lesson here, is don’t make your content all about you, how wonderful you are and how much you can help someone or some organization.  Top of the Funnel Content that works best is content that is helpful, but generic in nature.  People get turned off by this.  TOFU is intended to move prospects from the top of the funnel down to the middle of the funnel, or again as we like to say to MOFU.

3.  Promote Your Content

So, you have figured out what content to create and you have balanced the salesy tone with useful information that prospects will and can use, but now what?  How do you get people to find and read your content.

You have to share your content of course.  You need to determine the right channels to use for your business.  Most businesses tend to focus on Twitter and LinkedIn Company Groups as the place to promote content.  However, don’t forget about Facebook Google+ and LinkedIn Groups.  Be sure to understand how each channel is used.  For example, if you use all of these channels, be sure that you are posting at the right intervals, using images and the right language.  Also, remember not to spam people.  For LinkedIn Groups for example, don’t just join a group to post your content.  Be sure to join appropriate groups and comment and like posts of others.

The goal of course is to bring your prospects back to your website and to ultimately move them down the funnel.  Finding the right channels and sharing will help you do this, provided you aren’t just pushing your own content only.  Remember to build relationships and contribute to the Group.

4.  Bring in the Experts

In addition to your own team of experts, reach out and create a Thought-Leadership Program.  Build relationships with the Thought-Leaders of your industry and share their content and ultimately determine ways that you can have them participate in your content.  A great way to leverage experts is through interviews.  They are very busy and agreeing to do a quick interview is often the path of least resistance.  The caveat of course, is building the relationship first.

5. Practice Consistency Patience

As mentioned in #3, the goal is to bring your prospects back to your website and to ultimately move them down the funnel.  It would be great if this happened immediately and with every post.  In reality however, this is not quite how it works. It does take time, consistency and patience.  Posting good content on a regular schedule is critical to your success.

When you combine these four practices, content marketing will make a difference in your top of the funnel sales process.  Want to learn more?  Feel free to sign up for our newsletter at TaylorMade Solutions (insert “newsletter” into inquiry box)

The Sunday Brief (May 18, 2014)

Welcome to this week’s Sunday Brief.  The Sunday Brief is intended to share with you a few of my top picks from the previous week.  As I always say, sit back and relax with your favourite cup of Joe and enjoy! (If you have a fav that is not on the list, be sure to let me know).The Sunday Brief heatherannemaclean.wordpress.com

This week my picks are a little different.  I hope that you find them interesting and useful.

1.  Gavin O’Mally (@mp_gavin)’s Pinterest Raises Additional $200M To Turn Site Into Discovery Platform

Pinterest is still struggling to stand out from the rest and to expand its appeal beyond women.  There have been some advances, but based on this post, it would appear that they want to take additional steps to really stand out.  A good and quick read.

2.   The Definitive Guide to Using Content Marketing for B2B

@markfidelman shared this post of Pratik Dholakiya.  Content marketing remains one of the great unkowns for people.  In some cases it is warranted. I have unfortunately seen many people who know nothing about marketing or content marketing selling their services to trusting people.  In other cases, it comes down to fear or thinking that you have nothing to offer. This article helps you get past the latter.  A good and interesting piece.

3.  Agile Selling by @jillkonrath

This isn’t a blog post, but rather a book that will be released early next month.  Jill is one of the best known in the business for her sales knowledge and expertise.  In her latest book, Agile Selling, she doesn’t disappoint.  If you are in sales, this is a must-read.  Heck, even if you are not, but want to understand the importance of agility in our work environment today, this is an excellent read.

So, there you have it.  This weeks picks!  Let me know what you think, or if you would add anything to the list.

Want more information?  Feel free to sign up for our newsletter at TaylorMade Solutions (insert “newsletter” into inquiry box)




3 Reasons Why Celebrating is Important to Your Bottom Line

As I get ready to celebrate the 16th Annual Knowledge Industry Awards – the KIRAs tonight, I couldn’t help but think about how important is to really celebrate.  As individuals, it seems easier to celebrate milestones and the people in our personal lives, but how often do we really celebrate in business? Not enough in my opinion!  In fact celebrating is important to your bottom line. 

3 Reasons Why Celebrating is Important to Your Bottom Line, heatherannemaclean.wordpress.com

Image courtesy of 350 × 300Search by image

Celebrating successes, small or large, and the people you work with is definite must.  It has so many ramifications for your bottom line.  If you look at successful companies, I mean really look at successful companies, there is more to their success than just what is shown in their financial statements. And, if you add what it means for an industry, the results are amazing. So, let’s look at the top 3 reasons to celebrate and why it is important to your bottom line:

1. Improved Health

When you celebrate, you are put in a state of mind that is positive and conducive to your health results. Imagine working in an environment where people have a healthy state of mind. Productivity increases, relationships flourish and overall it is a better atmosphere.  

This is not just lip service, studies actually prove this! Even if you are just about the numbers, think about what this means to your bottom line to have happy, healthy employees.  

2.  More Camaraderie

When employees have closer relationships and more camaraderie, there is less friction and less  human resources issues to deal with. Not only does this make for an environment and culture that produces results it means driving results together.

Again, if you only care about the numbers, think about how much time your managers spend on addressing human resource issues – conflict, performance, missed time, etc. Having the right culture with camaraderie helps reduce all of these issues in the workplace, which then results in dollars shaved off of your overhead costs.

3. Banishing Failure Fear

Everyone fails at some time in your career. What sets you a part from others is how you handle. it!  You can learn a lot from failure – a lot of really great things.  (And if you have never failed, you are missing something..seriously…it build character and teaches you so much.) Additionally, what really creates a true culture of creativity is celebrating it and showing people that they can survive and you all learn from it.

For those number crunchers, again it is all about creating an environment where people produce, feel comfortable producing and therefore in a state of enhanced productivity.

So, with this in mind, stop and take the time to celebrate your small and big wins, your failures and what you have learned and most importantly – your people!  

I look forward to celebrating with New Brunswick’s IT industry tonight at the KIRA Awards.

An Interview with C.C. Chapman – The Influencer Series

Influencer Series, heatherannemaclean.wordpress.com

C.C. Chapman

I recently had a chance to check in with C.C. Chapman, Storyteller, Explorer & Humanitarian to talk about some of the changes that we are seeing in marketing industry.  Specifically we discussed influence and trust – two areas of great interest to many of us.  So, grab a cup of coffee and take some time to check out what C.C. shares with us in the Influencer Series.

MacLean:  The industry has certainly changed over the last five years. In the last two years in particular however, the changes have been pretty prolific in terms of the numbers of people using social networks, changing platforms and businesses trying to leverage social to their advantage.  Despite all of this change, what do you consider the most important changes and why?

C.C.:  “I don’t believe there is one single thing, but since you asked I’d have to say it is the smart phone.

Just a few years ago you’d still find many users with a phone that couldn’t take advantage of everything we take for granted now. But, the days of a flip phone are long gone and now everyone is carrying around a full production studio in their pockets.

They assume that they can pull it out of their pocket and interact with any brand they want to. They share great and horrible experiences immediately and rightfully assume that the brand is listening.

This is causing shifts in every corner of business and will continue to evolve.”

MacLean:  How important do you think trust is for both personal and professional brands?   And, do you think that people are putting enough focus on building trust?

C.C.: “I think it is crucial. I grew up in small town New Hampshire and we did business with people we trusted.

Today, I don’t care how big a business is, customers want to feel like they can trust them.

Businesses are not focusing enough on this. Sure, you must have a good product or service first, but after that even if a product is a bit more expensive, customers will buy from the one they have some form of relationship with and trust is very important here.

There are businesses that I’ll never buy from again based on things they’ve done or said. Doesn’t matter how good or cheap their product is.”

MacLean:  With your new book, 101 Steps to Making Videos Like a Pro, where do you think video is going and are there limitations as to how brands should be using video?

C.C.: “Zero limitations on how a brand should be using any technology if it makes sense to them and their customers.

Video is a great medium because humans love to consume it. As bandwidth gets better and better, we can now watch videos on our phones wherever we are.

Blows my mind that every company doesn’t have a video demo of their product. Eagle Creek is one of my favorite brands and they have simple, but informative videos of each of their products. Being able to see their luggage beyond images is important in my buying decision. 

When a customer is buying products online, video will help them get a better feel for the product. it is vital.

Mark Yoshimoto Nemcoff and I wrote the book because we wanted a concise guide that could help anyone get started with video. We saw too many people thinking they could just whip out their phone and shoot something. We both know that you can do this, but we also know that planning and production are important too.” 

heatherannemaclean.wordpress.comMacLean: You are clearly recognized as an Industry Influencer.  Where do you think that we are headed with Influencers? (Influencer is a term that is being thrown about in a lot of different capacities today.  Many people use “influencer” to describe people that blog, have a good following and they pay to write about their brand.  I however, am referring to the more traditional definition of a person who has industry expertise, lives, speaks and writes about their industry.

C.C.:  Influencers have always been around. The difference is that today the social nature of the web empowers more people to be influential to a wider audience. 

I hope brands and agencies will begin to realize that while a large audience is definitely helpful, that true influence can’t be measured by a number or score.

Stop and think about the people who are influential in your life. I know that you’ll have people who influence your technology decisions, career moves and something as simple as what to cook for dinner. That is real influence, not some Klout score or other measurement number.”

MacLean: Do you think that there will be a new role emerge with respect to Influencers? There are many companies now that target “influential bloggers” for pay in order to get them to write positive blogs, whereas I position you and others like you in a different class.  To me I see you more as the real thought-leaders and people who actually can influence others.  I would go somewhere to hear you speak versus some of the bloggers being targeted.

C.C.: “Brands have always wanted to get their products in the hands of people that they think would influence others to buy their products. While the tactics may have changed, this certainly never will and it makes sense.

I get sent a lot of products to review and invited to press trips and influencer events. I always make it clear that I can’t promise a good review or a review at all because sometimes what shows up in my mailbox has no interest to me at all.

The most influential people know this. They are busy. They have a lot on their plate. They write and create around things that get their attention. 

All that being said, I have been part of several long term influencer/advocate programs and in the best ones they do compensate the members in some form. This isn’t in exchange for positive reviews, but for honest use, mentions and sharing around the products. They are also long term because while I may write a blog post about a great weekend with a brand, over time and the more I use something they more I’m going to naturally talk about it.

Also, my advice for brands looking to work with influencers is to insure that experiences are part of the equation as well. Giving me a camera to try out is cool, but giving me that camera and bringing me to a beautiful location to shoot with it is even better. It instantly puts an influencer in a situation where they couldn’t imagine creating and sharing their thought about the product right there.”

MacLean:  How do you think that being an influencer impacts your brand and positions you as a thought-leader and a person who is trust-worthy?

C.C.:  “You certainly have some interesting questions.

Me being trust worthy is in my DNA and who I am. I’m a person and not a brand.

Ever word I write, photo I share and company I work with shares something about me to the world. Over the years people have looked to me for my knowledge and experience and I’ve worked hard to make sure that I’m constantly helping others. Does that give me influence? It certainly does, but I never wake up and think, “ok lets make me more influential today.” I know there are people who create with that motivation, but it has never appealed to me.”

MacLean:  Have you ever declined an invitation to speak at, or participate in an event because the values of the event/organization/person didn’t align with yours?  If so, without giving up names/details that would reveal who it was, can you give some context of the why?

C.C.: “I have done both. In most cases it is because how they’ve treated other people I care about.

In the speakers world, we share when an event screws us over or doesn’t treat us very well. It is amazing how many events out there have no respect for their speakers and that gets around very quickly.

Same goes for brands. I can think of several opportunities that I’ve politely declined based on their actions in the past. It doesn’t happen often, but I can think of a few examples. There is also definitely a list of brands that I’d never work with because of what they do and say.” 

MacLean:  Based on your knowledge, experience and expertise, what else can brands be doing to build trust?  Are there other forms of digital media that should help with this?

C.C.: “It really boils down to treating every customer with respect. Listen to their complaints and help in every way possible. You can’t always fix the issue, but making sure they know that they are valued and heard goes a long way.

Make sure that no matter what channel it is, that if you are there, that you are really there and active. You don’t get to choose what channels your customers are going to reach out on. You can direct them to the best ones for you, but in the end it is up to them.

Work every day to keep your current customers happy and to make new ones feel welcomed. This isn’t a technology issue, but a human one.”

Well, there you have it.  C.C.as always brings great perspective and down-to-earth commentary.  As I embark on another significant research area – focusing on influence and trust, C.C.’s insights really resonate with me. I am sure that you will feel the same.

I want to thank C.C. for taking the time to answer my questions.  I am always amazed by the kindness and willingness of our industry’s greatest contributors who are so willing to share  and help others.