Want My Advice? Do This First.

Want-My-Advice

A lot of social media practitioners, consultants and “social media experts” complain about people constantly asking to “pick their brain”. Most of the posts complain about people asking for free advice and explain in great detail how and why this is offensive.

While I agree with these posts, many years ago I received some GREAT advice about how to handle these requests.

When someone asks you for help, give them something to do first. Some small first step that they have to complete before you spend your time helping them.

Here are some examples:

Request: Krista, I’m looking for a new position and I was wondering if you could introduce me to some people.

Response: I’d love to help you. Can you take a look at my LinkedIn network and identify a few people who I am connected to who could help you?


Request: I have a startup and I think we need to use social media. Can I pick your brain about what we should consider?

Response: Sure. I wrote a few blog posts about this topic already that I think would be helpful. Could you read them first, let me know your thoughts and then we can schedule a meeting.

Response: Social media is great for startups. Could you send me links to social media accounts of some of your biggest competitors? I’m curious to see what they are doing.


Why This Works

This strategy works for a number of reasons:

1) If I’m going to invest my time I want them to invest theirs.

    It is easy to ask for advice or for a favor. Asking the other person to do a small amount of work before you invest your time shows that they are really interested. It also shows that they really value and want your help since they are willing to do the follow-up step that you suggest before you dive in and help.

2) They are more likely to take action.

    I really don’t mind occasionally meeting with people to help them out. Lots of people helped me with advice to get to where I am. What annoys the heck out of me is when I spend my time giving someone free advice that they don’t follow.
    Asking them to do something upfront shows that they can follow-through on something.

3) It shows that you are thoughtful and value your time.

    It is so easy for people to ask for advice or opinions. A lot of the people who ask for advice don’t realize that they are asking you to basically do your job for free. I like to use this approach because it shows that I have considered what they asked me for and have given them a thoughtful and specific next step. This shows that I value my time, even though I will give it to them for free.

4) Most people don’t do it.

    The reality is that in my experience well over half of people don’t follow through with the simple next step. This weeds out requests that would be a waste of my time since the person doesn’t have great follow-up. It also lets me focus my time on helping people who are action oriented and willing to invest their time when they ask for mine.

5) You don’t have to say no and get all cranky.

    I don’t really like saying no to people – even when they ask for free advice. This helps me to not have to say no and feel like a jerk.
    I know some social media experts who are highly offended by requests for free advice and often respond with cranky rants along the lines of “How dare you ask for free advice?!?! Don’t you know this is how I earn a living?!?!?! Have you no common decency?!?!?!”

6) It is nice to help people sometimes. Even for free.

    I got into what I do because I actually love it. I love talking about social media. I love helping businesses and people. I got to where I am because a lot of people helped me along the way. I’m happy to give back.

This approach has helped me tremendously – I wish I could remember who suggested it to me initially. Giving the requestor a simple next steps shows if they are willing to do something prior to me investing my time. As a bonus I don’t have to say no 😉

Want to Grow Your Business? Focus on What Matters.

Want-to-grow-your-business

I read something yesterday (I’m tired today from 12+ hours of international travel so I can’t tell you where I read it or even who said it) that resonated with me about driving focus in your business.

  1. Make a list of 20 things that you could do to grow your business.
  2. Then cross off everything except the top 3-5 – the best ideas.
  3. If you find yourself working on something NOT on the LIST STOP IMMEDIATELY.

The idea is that we lose focus too quickly and don’t do the things that really matter most.

I read a book a few years back called The One Thing that suggests focusing on the one single thing that is most likely to impact your business and letting go of as much else as possible.

Success in business is just as much about the things that you don’t work on as the things you do.

This was a great reminder for me to stay focused and really be careful about how I spend my time and energy.

Relentless focus on what really matters wins.

Don’ t allow yourself to be sidetracked.

How to Say YES to Every Request

How-To-Say-Yes

I hate to say no. I really hate it when someone asks me for something and I have to say no to them. I try not to say no, but the reality is that I can’t do everything for everyone. I have limited time. I have to focus on things that pay the bills.

A number of years ago I read some great advice about how to avoid saying no and how to say yes to everything.

When someone asks you for something give them a next step. Simple. Ask them to do something first.

Want me to check out your Facebook Page? Read these 3 articles and let me know how you can use the advice. Then I’ll take a look.

Want to “pick my brain”? Awesome… Review this report on social media and start ups and let me know what you think are your top 3 opportunities.

Want help getting a job? Great! Review my LinkedIn contacts and let me know 5 – 10 that would be helpful for me to introduce you to.

Instead of saying no say YES. Every time.

But give them something to do first.

This allows you to never say no but to filter out requests that will waste your time.

Most people won’t complete the follow-up. If they aren’t willing to invest their time why should you invest yours? 

Do You Hate Monday? Do Something Different.

Do You Hate Mondays blog post

If you hate Mondays you have the wrong job.

When I worked for a big company I dreaded Monday. My coworkers and I would get together Sunday night and watch Grey’s Anatomy and commiserate about the coming week.

I had a pretty good job. It wasn’t awful. I didn’t love it though.

Now I love Mondays.

I look forward to the possibilities and potential of what I can accomplish.

If you hate Mondays, start working on your escape plan.

Most Marketing is Insane.

Most Marketing is Insane blog post

The definition of insanity = doing the same thing and expecting a different result.

I look at a lot of social media plans, and one of the things that constantly surprises me is how long businesses continue to do something that doesn’t get them results.

They know it isn’t working.

Maybe they don’t have the path to success, so they continue to push along… getting no results from something that doesn’t work.

Sure, sometimes it takes time & consistency to get results (especially in social media). But if you post 5 similar status updates that get no engagement, you probably need to find a different kind of status update to post. Posting the same thing will probably produce the same result.

Don’t be insane.

Figure out what works and what doesn’t. Use the information you have to adapt your strategy.

Social Media Not Working? It is Probably Your Fault.

Social Media Not Working blog post

I evaluate tons of social media executions a year… for clients, people in our trainings or just for fun. While I don’t have all of the answers, one thing has become clear: Most businesses that don’t get results from social media don’t to it right.

Blogs are great examples. I heard a stat years ago that most corporate blogs fail. Most of the corporate blogs that I look at suck. Why?

  • The content isn’t strategic.
  • They have no strategy.
  • The headlines are mediocre.
  • They don’t post consistently.
  • The posts don’t have great visuals.
  • The posts aren’t structured well.
  • The content isn’t very interesting.
  • The audience isn’t clearly defined.

These are just a handful of reasons – most blogs suffer from many of these.

It is easy to say “we invested in a blog, wrote on it for months, but blogging just doesn’t work for us”.

No. Mediocre blogging doesn’t work for you.

The bar is higher in social media than ever before. If you don’t write great stuff, people won’t pay attention.

Do it well or don’t waste your time.

In almost every industry there are companies using every social media tool and getting great results. If you aren’t one of them you are probably doing it wrong.

It isn’t that social media doesn’t work. You aren’t doing it right.

Spend the time and effort to build a solid strategy and learn best practices.

Mediocre won’t get results and won’t cut it. You can’t afford to not be great any more.

The Secret to AMAZING Marketing Results

The Secret Amazing Results

If you do the same things the same way as your  competitors, you’ll get the same results as them.

You don’t get ahead by doing the same thing, the same way as everyone else.

How do you get ahead?

How do you get amazing results?

Do things….

  • Better
  • Faster
  • Smarter
  • Bigger
  • Smaller
  • Cheaper
  • Cleverer
  • Interestinger
  • Surprisinger

…than your competition.

If you want to get ahead, out-think, out-smart, out-execute….

For many businesses status quo is good enough. That won’t get you ahead.

Can Disconnecting Increase Stress?

Disconnecting

I’ve read a lot about “disconnecting” and with summer in full swing, many people are taking breaks where they have little to no digital connectivity.

I recently had one of these – 5 days with no cell phone reception or wifi (confession: I cheated once and went into town for wifi).

Some of you may think “great – time to relax and recharge”.

I say absolutely not.

Not being connected was stressful and actually limited my ability to relax.

It was stressful knowing that IF something came up that there was no way for anyone to get in touch with me (and our sites went down for almost 24 hours while I was out of touch which could have been quickly fixed if I had been available).

Being in touch actually helps me to relax. Checking in for 30 minutes a day to handle any urgent or high-value emails helps me to relax, knowing that everything is running smoothly in my absence and I can quickly help with anything needed. Plus I actually like my job and knowing what is going on – work isn’t this big negative thing that I have to deal with.

I don’t need to enter a no-connectivity zone to disconnect, relax and ignore work either. On weekends I often go most of the weekend barely checking my phone. I’m not fully out of touch, but I’m not connected to the point of distraction.

My final verdict: Figure out how to relax and recharge during your life without fully disconnecting. Maybe some people find value in fully disconnecting electronically – for me, it added stress instead of reducing it.

 

I Hate you With the Fire of a Thousand Suns….

I hate you with the fire of a thousand suns

I was listening to NPR today (on a 10 hour car ride from Toronto to Cincinnati) and the guy on the radio was talking about a terrible experience he had with United Airlines. The experience made me laugh – as a frequent traveler, I’ve had far worse experience and remained much more calm many times.

As I was listening to his anger I realized something – it wasn’t so much that they screwed up (airlines screw up all the time), it was that they didn’t care.

Most big businesses – airlines, cable providers cell phone providers – bring out the worst in people – we hate them with the fire of a thousand suns.

I was on a Delta flight that was 4 hours late – when they announced the delay they offered free beverages and snacks and you could almost feel the frustration level decline. For less than $1 a passenger they made their customers happy.

By contrast, I had issues with American Airlines (where I have status) and have had my anger level escalate dramatically – not because of the actually issue but because of the rude and uncaring attitude of the employees.

When people get really mad at a company (mad enough to leave a bad review for example, it isn’t just because the bad experience. It is because they simply don’t seem to care.

As a company, apathy can be your worst nightmare.

Entrepreneur Tip: The Last 10% Matters Most

Entrepreneur 06262015 REV

I was recently at the Grand Canyon and we decided to go to a lookout point to watch the sunset. It was freezing and windy, and there were a lot of people there.

The sun went down and 95% of the people left.

Then the magic happened.

You see the beauty of sunsets is that the magic happens about 5 – 15 minutes after the sun sets when the clouds are lit up with stunning colors creating a surreal look.

The thing was that most people went all the way there, waited out in the cold for the sunset but then left before the best part.

Watching this reminded me of business. It is those who put in that little bit extra who are rewarded. It isn’t a huge effort, like scaling a cliff, it is just the small effort – that extra 10%.

I interviewed a number of successful entrepreneurs last year about their business and found that most of them didn’t do anything spectacular. They just stuck around when everyone else left. They put in that little bit more.

They were consistent.

They were disciplined.

They were dedicated.

They stuck around and did a little more when most people would have left.

Do you leave as soon as the sun goes down, or stay for the magic.