• All about the humanity of communication.

    All about the humanity of communication.

The question is not whether you should engage in social media, but rather how to do it intelligently, effectively, and profitably by implementing our four-step plan

Engaging social media to promote your company is similar to taking a long trip in your car. You must take these four steps:

road-to-kansas1. The vehicle you are taking: one you know how to drive.

2. Where you are going: your destination or goal.

3. How you are going to get to your destination; what are the means or objectives, for attaining your goals: the roads to take.

4. Checkpoints along the way: to assess your trip and possibly to make adjustments.

One thing is certain: a long trip does not happen overnight. It simply takes time.

All of these factors about taking a long trip are true about engaging social media, except there are multiple vehicles, goals, objectives, and checkpoints. Let’s look at them individually.

1. Vehicles. When taking a long trip, it’s best to choose a reliable vehicle. In social media, there are many reliable vehicles. Chief among these are blogs (posted from your web site), microblogs (through Twitter), social networks (Facebook being the most popular), and professional networks (LinkedIn by far the largest). There are others, of course, but these vehicles represent a firm foundation for your social media efforts.

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Your character has much to do with your ability to listen and people’s willingness to talk to you

Would you like to know more about what is going on in your company; about your staff; about your prospects and clients? Then all you have to do is listen.

statue-of-libertyAh, but listening is not easy. If it were, more people would do it with verve. But it is just that difficulty that sets those who truly listen apart, and elevates them in the mind of others. People will seek you out because they know you will take the time to truly listen to them. Given that place of honor in their circle of colleagues means that you discover more information faster, are more of a confidant, and gain a deeper association with those around you.

Listening is good for business. How? People feel free to tell you what is really going on in the company, and do not feel they have to gloss over it. And it’s just this kind of in-depth truth that helps you solve problems when they are still small.

There are a number of characteristics to becoming an exceptional listener that are easily within your reach: humility, patience, respect, sincerity, and empathy. You have varying levels of these traits in your character; it just takes a bit of focus to bring them out.

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There are many reasons to use social media to promote your company, from which you gain just as many benefits. Here are my top five:3-taos-mountains

  • Build awareness of your brand.
  • Enhance your reputation.
  • Convert prospects into customers and clients.
  • Create loyalty in your customers.
  • Increase the morale of your employees.

So that’s what you get, the benefits. How do you get it?

  • Through a Facebook fan page for a celebrity, band, or business.
  • Through a Twitter account for your business.
  • Through LinkedIn pages for key employees (executives, managers, employees, whoever best represents your company).
  • Through a blog with one or more authors (or multiple blogs) on your web site.

Those are the tools. But they are only tools; you must know how to use them to enjoy the five benefits.

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Cultivate your community of customers, prospects, and advocates through blogging

Trust has shifted. Target markets shun official messages and the corporate leaders who make them, replacing these messages with conversations among peers. Marketing materials, advertisements, and press releases increasingly find fallow audiences. Target markets, instead, covet dialogues and multi-dimensional conversations among their chosen communities.

broken-green-shuttersRevising your communication strategy becomes vital — one that contributes to the conversation; one that collaborates and connects with a community you create and cultivate. One of the best methods for engaging your community is through blogging and microblogging.

Blogging (the macro kind). If you don’t already, write a blog. Post an entry at least once a week, aiming for the same day and time so that your readers get used to the expectation. Why? Two-thirds of people on the Internet have positive thoughts about companies with blogs. They trust what they read in blogs, even about your product and service because, surprisingly, they perceive blog writers as peers (not as the top-down corporate speak they’ve already turned off).

What to blog about. Start writing about what you sell, your product and service. Integrate customer resource management into your blog posts. For instance, blog about a particular aspect of what you offer and review the results you reap.

Continue reading Embrace Social Media: Blogging and Tweeting

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Listening well is a profitable and worthwhile activity

People who truly listen understand that effective listening provides solid, reliable benefits. Listening expands your knowledge, helps best solve problems, aids in negotiations, reduces mistakes and misunderstandings, and enables that nirvana of all business situations: enhanced relationships with prospects and clients. And where do all these benefits ultimately lead? More recognition, greater income, increased market share, and higher profitability.

solari-kidsExpand your knowledge. No one knows everything. You can certainly learn from reading, but when you listen to someone, you get consolidated information that goes to the heart of the matter. The talker has already discarded the useless and minimized the peripheral. You get the true nuggets of what’s most important. As you react, this talker can tailor what they are saying, explain something in greater detail. You can ask questions to gain more insight and depth. You can also learn things that have not yet been written down.

Everyone has something to say… if you just listen long enough. My teenage daughter, Alita, once had a piano teacher, Mrs Regis (not her real name, of course). While brilliant on a piano, what Mrs Regis said during a conversation could be quite incomprehensible. Picking up Alita after practice often meant enduring more of Mrs Regis’s flighty thoughts. Alita and I tried listening, but we always seemed to come away wide-eyed and baffled. I often questioned the value of listening to her, until one enlightening moment that completely changed my perspective.

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Effective communication depends mainly on listening

A national panic ensued during the 1938 radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds. People didn’t listen to the many announcements made throughout the broadcast that the story was fictitious. Halfway through the program, Orson Welles looked up from his microphone to discover that the studio was filled with police. Radio stations, newspapers, hospitals, and police were flooded with phone calls regarding the “invasion”. People don’t listen any better today, to a great cost for them and everyone else involved.

listening-pointListening is at the forefront of communication. Just think about how often during the day you spend time listening: the radio during your commute, television in the evening, at the movie theatre, through ear buds attached to a portable music player, audio seminars and podcasts over the Web, office conversations, airport announcements. The listening ability of airplane pilots and control tower personnel is critical to a successful and safe flight. And those company meetings you attend: one person talking, everyone else listening. The written word, and its incumbent paperwork, is much slower than the spoken word — when business needs to move fast, the keyboard and pen are eschewed in favor of oral communication: talking and listening.

Continue reading Why Is Listening So Under-Appreciated?

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Our names are special to us. We truly enjoy to hear others utter them. Names create a connection that moves beyond the mundane, the everyday transactions of life.

around-the-fountainLast week, I went skiing with my teenage son. All the people working at the ski resort wore name tags: the ticket booth personnel, the instructors, the ski patrol, the lift operators. I decided to address each of them by their names which, not surprisingly, always engendered a small conversation, and many times, some unsolicited revelations about the ski resort.

Names elevate any conversation, any interaction: from your close friends to the tech support person; from the ski lift operator to the grocery store cashier.

two-italian-menNames are humanity. Abbie, Tyler, Alita, Torin, Kevin, Tommy, Gary, Tom, Jem, Anne, Ann, Martha, Suzanne, Bill, Bob, Chris, Jeff, Cathy, Michael, David, Rob, Steph, Patti, Sean, Matt, Cyndy, Alice, Bonnie, Becky, Becca, Katrina, Kristin, Peter, Karl, Jasmine, Ione, Gina, Evelina, Charlie, Henry, Eric, Molly, Chino, Paul, Carolyn, Jean, Gene, Geoff, Fred, Olga, Connie, Irene, Max, Sharon, Ted, Shelley, Rachel, Tony, Rose, Jenny, John, Rick, Wendy, Mark, Diane, Scott, Priscilla, Joe, Barbara, Pam, Sally, Marie, Jay, Mary, Pilar, Andrew, Kathy, Laura, Duane, Dan, Keith, Stephen, Maria, Dorothy.

Did you look to see if I included your name? Most likely you did. Sorry if I didn’t list it.

So I use names, as much as I can. Names are humanity.

–Rich Maggiani

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Deer slept in our backyard last night. They have been sleeping in the yard, on and off, for about two months now, since the beginning of the snow and cold. This has happened enough times that, in the morning, I have made it a habit to see if the deer forayed into the yard the previous evening.

deer-bedBy now you realize that I live in a rural setting with my small family, on about an acre of land surrounded by large tracts of wooded areas dotted sparsely with some homes.

The deer slip out from the surrounding woods and find the one place in the yard where there was a garden. They root around for whatever they can find to eat, then lie down to sleep. My wife — it being her garden — was the first to notice.

It’s unusual for deer to sleep in the open, so their making beds in the middle of our yard seems quite strange. And yet, the deer somehow have found refuge there, enough that they return now and again.

While contemplating this small bit of nature one morning, it struck me that the deer had found a bit of nourishment in that small garden and a piece of humanity in our yard. Which, naturally, spawned the idea for this blog.

I hope you find a bit of humanity in these posts, something you can bring to your everyday lives.

–Rich Maggiani

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