Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Don't be anti-social

Any business who does not have social media as a part of their marketing plan today is quite possibly committing professional suicide. 
I know it is a strong statement.  But think about it for a minute.  Social media is not the next big thing, it is the here and now.  Face it, we live in a social media world.  It is not the future, it is today.  
Social media provides entrepreneurs and businesses with an opportunity to communicate and engage with existing customers like we have never had before.  It also provides us with a way to meet and attract new customers all at the same time. 
Statistics don't lie, according to www.mashable.com  online users spend 22.7% of their time on social networking sites.  That’s twice as much time as we spend on any other online activity.  Consider where people are getting their news today.  More and more, it’s not through direct sources like USA TodayThe New York Times, or TV broadcasts, but through social networks.  True for me, I learned about the BP Oil Spill, the death of Steinbrenner and Michael Jackson all from Facebook first.
Face it, we live in a social media world.   So why shouldn't social media and a strategic plan to use it be a part of everyone's marketing plan today?   Industry is social.  In the future, every company, no matter how small or how big, will be influenced and impacted by social media internally or externally.  
The Internet represents one of the biggest shifts in how we do business and social media provided an additional movement.   An entrepreneur or business should be working to create and develop a personal brand regardless of how you deliver it.  It can be done through various ways - online, blogging, tweeting, posting ... but one thing to keep in mind is consistency.  Show up the same way in all ways.
Another thing to consider when developing your online brand especially on social networking sites like Facebook is to show up as a person first and sell second.  If you want to sell wine, teach people how to select it, buy it, and serve it first.  Provide value and you will build customer loyalty. 
Success in social media is about how you build relationships.   Same rules apply online as they do in "real life" .  The way you "show up" on Facebook for example should be the same way you would act in the office or at that mixer you go to once a month. 
For a business to gain credibility in social media - it requires a degree of sweat equity.  You need to put the time in to interact with others online.  Build rapport that leads to relationships.  Be dedicated to the process.  The interesting thing about social media especially Facebook is that it provides a valuable marketing opportunity.  It is a tool in your kit to continue conversations on line with the people you meet in the real world who with time can become valued customers.  It allows you to be where the people are.   In this case, there is something to be said for the statement, "Everybody's doing it".   Facebook alone has over 540 million registered users, chances are the people you want to do business with are there too, right?
During the workshops I teach regarding social media sites like Facebook, I talk about the importance of using these sites to deepen professional relationships.  However, I caution you to maintain a balance of time when networking online.  You want to use social media to support your marketing efforts not sabotage your productivity.  And it should never replace the importance of face to face marketing and networking.  A business can not be developed and grown by never leaving your office.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Time - Friend or Foe?

Time … the word & the concept of it gets more attention in our daily life than most world news.  It seems we can’t stop talking about it, almost obsessing over it.  How many “times” a day do you find yourself looking for more time, scheduling time, taking time, managing time, wanting time, blocking time …
Our relationship with time  is somewhat tumultuous.  We seem to always want to control time and why not?   Time itself is a man-made concept dating back to the Mayans.  They created the calendar by calculating the length of the Earth’s orbit around the sun.  And ever since then society has been measuring time in years, months, weeks, days, hours, and even seconds.  We have spent centuries trying to control time in order to save time and have more of it all at once.
What’s your relationship with time?  How balanced is it?  Do you have enough of it?  Do you want more of it?  Do you work together in harmony or is time working against you, one minute it’s a friend and the next a foe?
Well all relationships are based on our ability to give and take.  There must be mutual respect.  Don’t expect to have time on your side if you are always abusing it and using it as a scapegoat.  You know what I mean.  How many times have you used time as an excuse to get out of something?    “Oh, I would love to but I really don’t have time for that right now.”
You can improve your relationship with time and in turn make more room for your dreams to become a reality.  Now don’t get nervous, I understand your concern.  You’re thinking, “Yes, I have lots of ideas and dreams, but I don’t have the time ….”  Wait a minute, didn’t I say that you can improve your relationship with time AND have your dreams be a reality?
The first thing we do is run to our calendar or blackberry and search for the time slot we need to work on our new projects or dreams.  We begin blocking and planning and listing.  We are diligent in our efforts for as long as our “time” allows.  Then other things come up and once again we are cursing and chasing time.
Perhaps there is something else.  Maybe something was missing.  Perhaps it’s you.  Do you have time for you first?   I am going to ask you to consider turning your life upside down.  I want to show you how to live a little more from your passion and a little less from your calendar.  Practice using passion as your barometer.
If you have a passion – an intense, driving desire, feeling or conviction for something you WILL make the time for it.  So if you are asked to do something and your first response is “I don’t have time for that.”  take a step back and think about whether that is true or not or is it because you just don’t want it bad enough?  Isn’t it true, that when you are doing what you love, who really cares about the time?
Passion is an important element of success.  It is also a time saver!  When you are doing what you love doesn’t it get done faster than doing the things you need or must do?
You can be in control of your time and your life but it does require a few things:
1.  Clarity – It is important to have a clear picture of what you want and need and what you are trying to accomplish.
2.  Prioritize Each Day – Having a daily to-do list is something important to do first before you start scheduling on your calendar.  But the to-do list alone is not enough and sometimes the list can become very long and very overwhelming which may eat away at our passion.  So once you have the to-do list, prioritize the top 5 things that must get done today to move you closer to your goals based on your clarity or clear vision of what you want to accomplish.
3.  Develop a Sense of Time – In other words know when to get things done.  Having a good understanding of this means recognizing both internal and external circumstances.  Internal meaning you, for example when are you most productive?  Morning?  Afternoon?  Try to schedule as many of your top priorities during your high energy times.  External meaning your environment.  Are there people and places you need to work with or within in order to accomplish your goals?  Then take time to understand their peak times as well.  Part of your effective use of time and creating ease in your life includes deciding when would be the best time to get things done.
4.  Just say No – When you don’t have to do something and you don’t want to do something, why are you doing it?  Practice saying no with grace and ease.  Pain and discomfort come from the resistance to something , not the release of it.  Do you resist saying no?  Take the pressure off yourself.  If it makes you feel better, say “no, thank you”!
5.  Using resources – This is a powerful time saver.  If you don’t know something or where to find it – ask someone who does.  Don’t try to reinvent the wheel.
Time to live!  Time IS on your side.  Be a friend to it!  Use it wisely.  The way you spend your time is what really matters because the way you spend your time is how you live your life.  In order to feel truly abundant, to feel the richness of your own life you need to be able to do some of the things you want to do when you want to do them.    The clock is always ticking so be sure your time is quality time spent.  The better you are at this the better your life will be.

Don’t Put it Off

Beating Procrastination
If you’ve found yourself putting off important tasks over and over again, you’re not alone. In fact, many people procrastinate to some degree – but some are so chronically affected by procrastination that it stops them fulfilling their potential & disrupts their careers.
The key to controlling this habit is to recognize when you start procrastinating, understand why it happens and take active steps to manage your time and outcomes better.
What is Procrastination?  In a nutshell, you procrastinate when you put off things that you should be focusing on right now, usually in favor of doing something that is more enjoyable or that you’re more comfortable doing.
How to Overcome Procrastination
Step 1: Recognize That You Are Procrastinating – If you’re honest with yourself, you probably know when you’re procrastinating. Here are some useful indicators that will help you know when you’re procrastinating:
  • Filling your day with low priority tasks from your To Do List.
  • Reading e-mails several times without starting work on them or deciding what you’re going to do with them.
  • Sitting down to start a high-priority task, and almost immediately going off to make a cup of coffee or do something else.
  • Leaving an item on your To Do list for a long time, even though you know it’s important.
  • Regularly saying “Yes” to unimportant tasks that others ask you to do, and filling your time with these instead of getting on with the important tasks already on your list.
  • Waiting for the “right mood” or the “right time” to tackle the important task at hand.
Step 2: Work Out WHY You’re Procrastinating
Why you procrastinate can depend on both you and the task. But it’s important to understand which of the two is relevant in a given situation, so that you can select the best approach for overcoming your reluctance to get going.
One reason for procrastination is that people find a particular job unpleasant, and try to avoid it because of that. In reality, the best way of dealing with these is to get them over and done with quickly, so that you can focus on the more enjoyable aspects of the job.
Another reason might be disorganization.  Organized people tend to procrastinate much less,  because they will have things like prioritized to-do lists & schedules which emphasize how important the work is, and their due dates. They will also plan how long a task will take to do and when they need to get started in order to avoid it being late. Organized people also know how to break the work down into manageable “next steps”.
Even if you’re organized, you can feel overwhelmed by the task. You may doubt that you have the skills or resources you think you need, so you seek comfort in doing tasks you know you’re capable of completing. You may also fear success as much as failure. For example, you may think that success will lead to you being swamped with more requests to do this type of task, or that you’ll be pushed to take on things that you feel are beyond you.
Perfectionists are sometimes guilty of procrastinating.  They might think “I don’t have the right skills or resources to do this perfectly now, so I won’t do it at all.”
One final major cause of procrastination is not being able to decide what to do, so you’re likely to put off taking action in case you do the wrong thing.
Step 3: Adopt Anti-Procrastination Strategies
Procrastination is a habit – a deeply ingrained pattern of behavior. That means that you won’t just break it overnight. Habits only stop being habits when you have persistently stopped practicing them, so use as many approaches as possible to maximize your chances of beating procrastination. Some tips will work better for some people than for others, and for some tasks than others. And, sometimes, you may simply need to try a fresh approach to beat the “procrastination peril”!