#FocusFriday – Foolish Friday Edition

It’s April Fool’s Day. I have written a few blogs on April Fool’s Day and here is my in the context of #FocusFriday.abraham-lincoln-quotes-it-is-better-to-remain-silent-3

There are plenty of quotes about being a fool or looking foolish. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • “A fool and his money are soon parted.” – Thomas Tusser an English poet and famer
  • “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” – Chinese Proverb
  • “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” – Abraham Lincoln

In a day and era when personal branding and personal marketing have become so important can we afford to look foolish? Will looking foolish hurt your brand or is being foolish sometimes worth the risk?

henry_ford_quoteNobody wants to look like a fool. If you do, people laugh, they call you out and they certainly remember it. A reputation as a fool is something that no one wants or strives for. However, to truly succeed we need to try, fail and learn.  Sometimes you may look or sound foolish. Can you recover?  In my view if the effort was well intended and if you had a goal in mind the answer is yes. Why can’t you recover? 2ae8593ca4e95aa4bb15be5b28a63382Trying and failing is essential; the recovery process may be long and it may come with pain and remorse. There is a road to redemption if the effort was well intended to begin with.

quote-i-didn-t-like-the-idea-of-being-foolish-but-i-learned-pretty-soon-that-it-was-essential-daniel-day-lewis-17-43-30Here is what some great business leaders of past and present have said about looking like a fool or being foolish:

  • “Too many men are afraid of being fools.” – Henry Ford
  • “Who’s the more foolish: the fool, or the fool who follows him?” – Alec Guiness (as Obi Wan Kenobi)
  • “Dare to wear the foolish clown face.” – Frank Sinatra
  • “I learned pretty soon that it was essential to fail and be foolish.” – Daniel Day-Lewis, only three-time winner of the Academy Award for Best Actor
  • “Stay hungry, stay foolish.” – Steve Jobs

To achieve significant success and to stand out there is a possibility or likelihood of looking foolish. However, without risk there may be no reward. If you believe in what you are doing and are willing to take the risk of looking foolish, you may be rewarded opportunity and success. For many the experience alone is worth the journey.

steve-jobs-quotes-wallpaper-stay-hungry-stay-foolish-3Today there is a greater risk if your endeavors become a fool’s errand. Videos and all sorts of images when posted are seen by people all over the world. If you post something foolish, remember it will remain online for years, reverberating and potentially damaging your personal brand or career indefinitely.

  • “A fool is the one who fails to think about the ramifications of their actions and how they will reverberate and echo throughout his or her career.” – Bill Corbett, Jr.

The intent of my #FocusFriday blogs is to have people thinking about their actions. It is important to plan and act deliberately. Focus on what you are doing and how you are doing it.

Take the time to focus on what actions you will take and how this will impact our success and your career. Consider how each deliberate act will impact our plan and how you approach goals. Will this action impact your brand or your reputation?

Certainly plans and action can go awry and be misinterpreted. This is to be expected, the likelihood of them happening will be reduced by taking a slower and thoughtful approach before the action is taken.

Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.

  • Napoleon Hill, author of “Think and Grow Rich” – “I believe that those who don’t think, practice and plan run the highest risk of looking foolish in the worst way possible.  Those who think, plan and execute, may fail or miss the mark, however they will not look like the fool or be the fool. They will learn, grow and advance. The fool is the one who does not learn from these lesson or mistakes. His is destiny for fail and continue to look foolish.”

For more quotes on foolishness check out this story in Entrepreneur by Bill Murphy.

Focus Friday is all about being more effective and successful in business and life activities. Focusing will allow you to save time and achieve goals in both your personal and in your professional life.

Have questions, need a resource? Contact me at wjcorbett@corbettpr.com.

Need to start creating a personal marketing plan?  Email the code PMP2016 to me at info@growyourpersonalbrand.com and I will send you a list of questions to ask yourself to get started.

Looking for some help setting up your LinkedIn plan? Visit www.growyourpersonalbrand.com

Join our groups on LinkedIn and Facebook.

wjcorbett@corbettpr.com

By Bill Corbett

Corbett Public Relations Long Island and the World 

@liprguy

@corbettpr

#FocusFriday – Focus on Your Message and Messaging

wesfryer-etechohio09-stageWith so many platforms, strategies and marketing approaches available to us, it is easy to become distracted. Many gravitate to new, exciting and technology-focused marketing tools and social media platforms. However, what is marketing without a message? Understanding what your message is, crafting it and using it are important elements of marketing and business development.

On this #FocusFriday, take time out of your busy marketing activities and programs and examine your message. Ask questions, the answers may require you to hit the reset button or at least reexamine you message and how you are projecting it to your target audiences. The language here may be new to someone unfamiliar, but no matter: take some time to walk through this process and it will strengthen your marketing foundation which is necessary for long term personal and business success.

two-woman-smiling-and-talking_16360724

Message and Messaging

What is your message?

The definition of message. In terms of marketing, message is the underlying idea or theme in a marketing piece or communication, or the central or primary content or information that passes from a communicator to a receiver. When I think of message I think of what my organization is about and committed to and the value we bring to clients. Understanding your message – and it may change over time – is important. A clear and articulate message conveys confidence, success and ability. A powerful message and how you convey it is a competitive advantage and a differentiator.

Messaging

In the marketing world we often discuss messaging. What exactly is it? This is the process of how you bring your key messages relating what your organization is, what its mission is and why you do what you do. Your messaging focuses on the key points you regularly make when you communicate with your target audiences. Remember, messaging always connects back to your brand.

Clarity

Can you write it, articulate it and explain it? What good is a message if you can’t convey it to the audience? You message must be clear in its intent and purpose.

Organizational Acceptance

Is your message embraced by your organization and is is a part of how team members communicate with customers or prospects? This is vitally important and all team members must be on board and learn how to communicate and share your message effectively.

Message Projection and Consistency

Can the members of your organization explain it and convey it to prospects and clients? This is where regular training and review of your overall message and marketing messages becomes important. Remember, it’s all about focus; if we wander away from what is important, messages get muddled and this creates brand confusion. Consistency in your message and messaging eliminates confusion and keeps attention focused.

Talking Points

Do you have talking points that support your message? For example, if you were at a networking event and somebody asked you questions about what you do or your business could you easily convey your message and key elements of what you do and the value you provide? Preparation is important any time you or a member of your team will be “on stage” or in the spotlight. We regularly train people for TV news interviews which are typically short and to the point. Having three well defined and practiced talking points makes for a much better interview. In a business interaction you can use these defined talking points in the same way.

Value Proposition

Do you know what your value proposition is? The definition of value proposition is an innovation, service or feature intended to make a company or product attractive to customers. Sounds technical – and it can be. However, the point here is can you explain in easy to understand terms what value you bring to a relationship and the value that your products or services bring? Being able to articulate value and back it up with examples will give you a competitive advantage when presenting or when speaking with prospects.

Competitive Advantages and Differentiators

Do you know your competitive advantages and differentiators? We know that having an edge or competitive advantage puts you in a superior position over those in your market space. How you describe these advantages and how you are different in your approaches will allow you to stand out and attract more attention. Being different is a competitive advantage. If you have not taken the time to write down your key differentiators, do so. Take the time and assess how you do what you do, why clients choose to work with you and examine how you are truly different. Write these down and commit them to memory.

Why are we going through this exercise?  All too often I have been in the presence of fantastic business people. Many have great ideas, offer quality services and are leaders in their respective industries. Unfortunately, based on the way many communicate, you would never have the foggiest idea. Communicating, whether it is in person, online, or though video or audio must be done effectively and with a message.

Keep Focusing on your brand and your business.

Sources:

http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/differentiators.html#ixzz42cn9qquW

Focus Friday is all about being more effective and successful in business and life activities. Focusing will allow you to save time and achieve goals in both your personal and in your professional life.

Have questions, need a resource? Contact me at wjcorbett@corbettpr.com.

Need to start creating a personal marketing plan?  Email the code PMP2016 to me at info@growyourpersonalbrand.com and I will send you a list of questions to ask yourself to get started.

Looking for some help setting up your LinkedIn plan? Visit www.growyourpersonalbrand.com

Join our groups on LinkedIn and Facebook.

wjcorbett@corbettpr.com

By Bill Corbett

Corbett Public Relations Long Island and the World 

@liprguy

@corbettpr

#Focus Friday: Focus on Learning and Understanding Marketing

Do you know how to market? Do you know what marketing actually is? Do you have a plan for marketing yourself or your business or do you simply take periodic actions or coast along? It is not surprising for people to learn that many individuals admit that they are not following a plan in terms of their marketing. Most people have limited or no knowledge of marketing basics and fall short in terms of experience. It is clear however, and I have been told this many times, that people know marketing is important but the dont have the time to learn or they are not sure where to go to start learning.

No matter where you stand today in terms of your personal marketing, understanding marketing and learning how to use it is critical for your success tomorow.

The questions I listed above are all important. The fact is that if you are involved in business development in any way or you are seeking career success you need to have a marketing plan. You need knowledge, tactics and strategies to succeed so it is time to start studying and learning about what’s out there and what you should be doing.

I was recently asked by a member of the media writing a story on networking where people should go to learn about personal marketing and where they should start. The first step in this process is relevant to this blog series – focus on learning and understanding marketing. Make the commitment today to continually learn about marketing, marketing trends and marketing technology. It is vital you stay up-to-date on the latest trends and strategies. I would like to provide you with a complete outline and strategies, however let’s stick with the basics.

What do you need to know?

Newbies to marketing or those who need a refresher need to start with the basics. Read and learn about the core elements of marketing. These include:

Goals – An observable and measurable end result having one or more objectives to be achieved within a more or less fixed timeframe. In more simple terms, where do you want your marketing efforts to take you?  Define your goals. Goals can be: How many leads do you want, how many closed deals do you need, or how much customer engagement do you require?

Message and Messaging – Underlying idea or theme in an ad or campaign. You message is the central or primary content or information that passes from a communicator (you) to a receiver (your audience/customers).

Position – An effort to influence consumer perception of a brand or product relative to the perception of competing brands or products. Your position’s objective is to occupy a clear, unique, and advantageous position in the consumer’s mind. What do you want customers to think of when they hear your name, your product’s name or your company’s name.

Value proposition – An analysis or statement of the combination of goods and services offered by a company to its customers in exchange for payment. What value do you offer that makes you or your product preferable to those of your competitors?

Differentiators – Unique features and/or benefits of a product, or aspects of a brand, that set it apart from competing products or brands. Being different is incredibly important; highlight what you do differently and this will attract attention.

Competitive advantages – A superiority gained by an organization when it can provide the same value as its competitors but at a lower price, or can charge higher prices by providing greater value through differentiation. A competitive advantage results from matching core competencies to the opportunities. We are all competing against each other for time and attention. What do you do that your competitors don’t or can’t?

Marketing assets – Customized content such as presentations, brochures, email campaigns, and other promotional items used to promote products or services. Your website, your social media sites, PR coverage and videos are all assets that should be used to market your brand and company.

Marketing vehicles – A marketing vehicle is a specific tool for delivering your messages to a target audience. They are particular channels within a medium that you use to get your message across. Marketing vehicles are contained within marketing mediums. Like your assets, these tools give you the ability to communicate with your audience.

Audience – People or market segment at whom a message or campaign is aimed. Your audience includes your customers, referral sources, individuals from your industry and all those who interact with your company/brand, staff, products and services.

Ideal client or customer – A subset of your potential clients. Ideal clients are those prospects who will provide you with the maximum return on your marketing investment. These are the individuals who will hire you or buy from you. Recognize the fact that every customer or client may not fit the “ideal” client category.

Ideal referral sources – A person or company that interacts with your ideal client prospects and is willing to actively recommend them to you. For example accountants are considered by many as ideal referral sources because they work closely with business and individuals. They know their clients needs and they are trusted advisors, when they make a recommendation it is often acted upon.

*definitions include information gathered from online resources including businessdictionary.com, activedemand.com, trackmaven.com, eyeswideopen.com.au, and lisacherney.com.

Where can you go to learn?

We are living in the age of online learning and the internet. You can use books, blogs, podcasts, online courses, seminars, training programs and event individual training and coaching. As a trainer and personal branding coach I find those individuals that make the investment in some one-on-one or small group training get the greatest value. This personal interaction allows the student to ask questions at and get answers at their own pace.

What should be in my marketing plan?

Your marketing plan should start with your goals and build from there. Check out this blog where I discuss your personal marketing plan. You plan should include a timeline as well as time and financial budget. How much time and effort you will spend are important especially for small business owners and solopreneurs. A timeline of activities is also critical. Map out when actions will be taken, identify themes and schedule activities that will take place during each month. This includes the preparation work that needs to be done the month or two months before a campaign is launched.

An important part of a marketing plan is assessing success. You must examine what works and what did not work. Learn from this process and move forward. Don’t give up on campaigns and strategies right away, some may take months or even longer to show results.

How much should you spend?

Typically 5 to 10 percent of annual revenues is the standard that most in marketing consider to be appropriate. However this varies depending on the industry, business and how aggressive you wish to be.

Where can I go to stay up to date?

As mentioned earlier, there are tremendous online resources that are free or not very expensive. They will give you the ability to stay up-to-date and see what competitors or others with similar businesses are doing or are planning to do. You can create google alerts on topics of interest, subscribe to magazines like Fast Company, Inc., Entrepreneur and others that provide quality content about marketing and business growth.

Learn by reading constantly and listening to podcasts. I find podcasts, while many have an underlying sales message, provide quality information and success stories. These are educational and motivational. Look to thought leaders, follow them.

Gary Vaynerchuck – #AskGaryVee podcast

Pat Flynn – Smart Passive Income podcast

Chalene Johnson – Build Your Tribe

John Lee Dumas – Entrepreneur on Fire

Tim Ferris – The Tim Ferris Experiment

All offer great content in terms of books, videos, podcasts, examples, tools, resources and more.

Finally, consider attending local or national marketing, small business or personal development conferences and events. These programs come with a cost, sometimes significant. The value of this focused time and effort can be immeasurable. The quality learning, inspiration and ideas can make a profound impact on your business. These are some events that you might want to consider:

Entrepreneur Magazine Events

The 16 Best Digital Marketing Conferences of 2016

14 Conferences Every Small-Business Owner Should Attend

Focus Friday is all about being more effective and successful in business and life activities. Focusing will allow you to save time and achieve goals in both your personal and in your professional life.

Have questions, need a resource? Contact me at wjcorbett@corbettpr.com.

Need to start creating a personal marketing plan?  Email the code PMP2016 to me at info@growyourpersonalbrand.com and I will send you a list of questions to ask yourself to get started.

Looking for some help setting up your LinkedIn plan? Visit www.growyourpersonalbrand.com

Join our groups on LinkedIn and Facebook.

wjcorbett@corbettpr.com

By Bill Corbett

Corbett Public Relations Long Island and the World 

@liprguy

@corbettpr

 

#FocusFriday – Focus on Networking

IMG_1698Many people spend an enormous amount of energy on business networking and the fact is that many are just not great or even good at it. Why? The lack of focus, planning and practice, of course. For those who want to make the most out of business networking time, efforts and energy, here are some of my recommendations. These steps will allow you to focus on what really matters when it comes to networking for business growth, personal branding and relationship building:

  1. Take time to actually focus on planning out what you are going to do at a networking event or as part of a networking group. Set your goals for what you want to achieve by attending the event and spending your valuable time.  Planning must be done in advance to optimize the time where you are physically at the meeting or event in order for it to be productive for you. Investing the time upfront will aid in overall success. Spend at least a half hour planning before each event and more if it is a target rich environment or a critical event for your business success like a trade show.
  2. Research – Part of preparation is studying the group. This is important even if you are already a member. Identify who you want to speak with, follow up with or even avoid. Get to know who the leaders and influencers are and speak with them ahead of time. They will play a critical role in meeting people, facilitating introductions and understanding the group’s dynamics. Get to know the leaders first; this will pay off in the long run.
  3. Focus on the people you need to meet. Create an ideal client profile and ideal referral source profile. Take this even a step further. Identify the “perfect” client and define them. Practice explaining to those in your networking groups who this ideal client is and what you can do for them. The second part of this process is educating those who are in your networking groups about how to accurately explain who you are and what you do. This will require personal meetings and constant reinforcement of your value message. Don’t assume anyone knows all that you do and all the value that you provide. Ask them to tell you what you do and see what happens. This may be awkward and eye opening but it must be done.
  4. Focus on the person you are with. Give the people you meet and speak with at networking events all of your attention. Listen, ask questions (these are questions that you know and have practiced) and get all the information that you can. Look people in the eyes, face them directly, use their names and use open body language.
  5. Focus on the little things. Make sure you know exactly where you are physically going for the meeting and double check. Nothing is worse than getting lost, showing up late or going to the wrong location. This is all a waste of valuable time that you will never get back. Plan to arrive early and make the personal commitment to never arrive late. Make sure you are dressed appropriately. Stop in the bathroom to check your hair and attire before entering the networking environment. A few seconds of preparation can make a vital difference when making a first impression.
  6. Make sure you practice and perfect your elevator speech. Much has been written about elevator speeches. The fact is that most people are not sure what to say. Keep it brief and let people know what you do and how you can be a valuable ally. Think about relationships and not selling. Elevator speeches are more than just explanations they are your way of demonstrating your personality, your ability to communicate and what you care about. Consider your tone, how you project, how you use your hands, think about the specific words you use and don’t forget the body language. Even seated, you must project confidence and command of your subject matter. The process of creating an effective elevator speech may take a person many hours of practice. It’s well worth the effort and practicing may seem silly, but you have to do it. Use a mirror, video or ask friends for feedback.

Focusing attention on planning and executing networking is vital to success. Networking in a lackadaisical fashion is a considerable waste of time and both you and the people that are in your networking circles will suffer.

Make the commitment to spend at least and hour a week on planning and preparing for your networking activities. Block off part of the time where you will not be interrupted and examine lists or practicing your elevator speech. Spend the other time calling or connecting with influences so that you can be as prepared as possible at your next meeting or event.

Focus Friday is all about being more effective and successful in business and life activities. Focusing will allow you to save time and achieve goals in both your personal and in your professional life.

Have questions, need a resource? Contact me at wjcorbett@corbettpr.com.

Need to start creating a personal marketing plan?  Email the code PMP2016 to me at info@growyourpersonalbrand.com and I will send you a list of questions to ask yourself to get started.

Looking for some help setting up your LinkedIn plan? Visit www.growyourpersonalbrand.com

Join our groups on LinkedIn and Facebook.

wjcorbett@corbettpr.com

By Bill Corbett

Corbett Public Relations Long Island and the World 

@liprguy

@corbettpr

Focus Friday: The Snow Day Edition

I am continuingSnow Day my Focus Friday efforts. It is snowing in the Long Island New York area, so I am at home with the kids. I got the message that school was closed while on the rowing machine at 5:20 a.m. My plans for the day have gotten completely turned upside down.  Sound familiar? Snow days and changes in a schedule should not stop anyone’s efforts to grow and market their business or plan for the future. I look at quiet days like this one as an opportunity to focus on certain important tasks and to catch up on others and also to stay mindful of the future and my goals.

Here are my ideas for how to spend a snowy Focus Friday:

  • Snow Day University – The kids may be off from school, but a snow day for you means an opportunity to learn. Do you have a book, magazine articles or blogs that you want to read but haven’t had time? Get them together and spend the day learning more about marketing, business building, sales strategies, catch up on trends in your industry or simply focus on motivation. I like to listen or watch business and personal development related podcasts and TED talks so I can learn about new topics and marketing strategies. Block off the time and commit to learning and self-improvement. Why not spend half your day snow day learning and gaining a competitive advantage. Remember, when you are not learning you’re falling behind.  Take advantage of your free time and attend Snow Day University.
  • Create a Schedule – Even though you are at home, schedule your day’s activities. Set a time for work, set a time for dreaming and set a time for shoveling snow (if you must).
  • snow blowCapitalize on the Quiet – It is hard to concentrate and focus when there are distractions. On this nice quiet snow day, set yourself up and get to work on reexamining your business goals. Review the action steps you have already taken this year and be proud of your accomplishments. If you haven’t completed a task or two, get back on track.
  • Get Organized – Quiet snow days are perfect for re-organizing files, cleaning up your home office or getting tasks done that you have put off. I am cleaning up my office, shredding papers and organizing family photos today.
  • Make Phone Calls – Get in touch with friends, business contacts and others. Most of us are pressed for time and often put off those casual business hellos or “How are you doing?” calls. Snow days are ideal for this. Get your list and make your calls.
  • Relax and Recharge – If the pressure is off to get work done, spend this down time relaxing and recovering from work overload. Do you have a novel you would like to read? Do you like to cook, but don’t have time during the week? Do you need to catch up on sleep? Take advantage of this day to focus on these activities. You will be more productive tomorrow.

It’s easy to sit back and watch TV or do nothing on a snow day. Look at this day as an opportunity to use a quiet environment and unexpected free time to catch up and focus on your goals. Time is one of your most valuable assets use the time you have been gifted to reinvigorate your efforts to achieve your goals and get better organized.

What will you do on your next snow day?

Need to create a personal marketing plan?  Email the code PMP2016 to me at info@growyourpersonalbrand.com and I will send you a list of questions to ask yourself to get started.

Looking for some help setting up your LinkedIn profile to drive market and drive business? Visitwww.growyourpersonalbrand.com

wjcorbett@corbettpr.com

By Bill Corbett

Corbett Public Relations Long Island and the World 

@liprguy

@corbettpr

Beware of the Groundhog: Groundhog Day Lessons

Punxatawny PhilAs public relations officials, we are constantly on the lookout for media opportunities for clients; some even call them “PR stunts.”   February 2, aka “Groundhog Day,” is one that is often used by politicians.  Everyone wants an end to winter so why not?  The politician will get the photo op and even if the hog sees his shadow, it’s still a win right?  Well, ask New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio. In 2014, when doing the Groundhog Day event, he dropped Staten Island Chuck. Not a good move. Instead of seeing a shadow, Chuck saw stars. And unfortunately, did not recover. (See links below)

What do we take away from this? First, make sure when you do a special event or media event you are well prepared. Walk through what you have to do. Talk about contingencies and if you are not comfortable with picking up a groundhog, don’t do it. The negative press that will be short term and long term can be problematic.

From a marketing perspective, Groundhog Day is cute and there are certainly campaigns and social media comments that can be used to attract some attention.  Groundhog Day is Feb. 2. This year it falls on the first Tuesday of February. Groundhog Day can be a day to actually get your marketing on track. If you have stumbled and have failed with your marketing New Years resolutions, get started again and set your goals for February. You have six weeks till spring (despite what Punxsutawney Phil, Staten Island Chuck and Malverne Mel say).Groundhog

Need some inspiration and a laugh? Watch Groundhog Day with Bill Murray and directed by the late Harold Ramis.  The marketing and life lesson here? Just ask Einstein and his famous quote on the definition of insanity: continuing to do the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.  Bill Murray’s character in the movie – Phil Conners – is stuck in a day that he is forced to relive over and over and over again.  Unbeknownst to him, he is changing what he is doing every day. He may not know why at first, but eventually figures out that he has to change who he is to get the girl. After potentially living the same day over and over for years, he makes the changes and he wakes up on February 3. In marketing we have to adapt and change our messages until they resonate with target audiences. Look at what works and what does not. Make the changes and keep track.  Learn from Phil Conners and take Einstein’s advice.

http://nypost.com/2014/09/25/groundhog-dropped-by-de-blasio-died-of-internal-injuries/

http://blogs.wsj.com/metropolis/2014/09/25/staten-island-zoo-may-stop-allowing-mayors-to-handle-groundhogs/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107048/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-phil/post-football-depression-_b_1251109.html

No More Excuses, Sales People Must Leverage LinkedIn

Why is it that many salespeople don’t understand LinkedIn? In my personal branding and LinkedIn seminars I have had many people who are in sales offer answers to this question. The top answers: “I am not getting any leads.” “No ROI.” “Too much time is needed.” “I don’t have time” and finally, “I can’t find or reach prospects.”  There are many excuses; too many to list here.

Let’s consider some important factors before moving forward: competition exists in every industry and business is lost or gained based on opportunities and relationships. Salespeople must do everything that they can to beat or at least keep up with their competition. LinkedIn research has shown that half of all businesses will not work with vendors’ salespeople who have an incomplete LinkedIn profile. This point alone should be enough to motivate a salesperson to immediately work on completing their profile (with a professional photo headshot, of course.) Finally, in respect to competition, a salesperson who thinks that LinkedIn is not important should be aware that in most cases their competitors are active on LinkedIn and so are their prospects.

As a business owner and salesperson myself, I understand the frustration. We live in a time where we want immediate gratification and success. For highly focused and driven salespeople, a long lead time strategy that requires investment in time, energy, creativity and effort is a real challenge. However, any form of marketing success takes a plan, an investment of time and consistency.

In terms of consistency, Tony Robbins sums it up perfectly:

“It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently.”

To succeed with LinkedIn you can’t just “dabble in it” or create a profile and “set it and forget it” as Ronco’s Ron Popeil would say. A well written and complete LinkedIn profile has many competitive advantages which certainly should not be overlooked. However, expecting a tidal wave of leads to come simply by having a complete profile is a dream.

Bill linkedin sales 1Click here for Part 1 of my video of secrets for LinkedIn Salespeople that nobody is telling you. Click here for Part 2.

So let’s examine each of the excuses salespeople (and many others) have given to me.

I am not getting leads or a limited number or no ROI. As mentioned above, the “set it and forget it” strategy will not work on LinkedIn. You must transform your LinkedIn profile into a living entity and use it as a marketing tool to communicate with prospects. Start by visiting your profile to see who has viewed it, respond to messages and answer connection requests and endorsements. As part of your plan you should have a system for how you will respond to each of these relationship development triggers. Yes, each of these interactions allows you to interact and start conversations with people who are the most likely to become your clients or referral sources. Investing the time to build relationships will lead to success, but this success will take time and regular effort.

Too much time is needed/I don’t have time. Time is money. We all know this, especially people who work on commission. They have to spend their time as efficiently as possible. Studies of salespeople indicate repeatedly that their greatest frustration is wasting time or spending time educating prospects just to have them go someplace else. What’s the solution?  It starts with a LinkedIn marketing plan. Your plan must outline how you will use LinkedIn, what you will do, when you will do it and how much time you will invest. Your marketing schedule is critical for success and consistency. Put on your schedule the specific times you will spend using LinkedIn. However, before you actually do this you should create a “time budget.” A time budget is a clearly defined amount of time you will spend on LinkedIn each day, week or month.  Keep track of your time; you want to invest time but you don’t want to get sucked into a time-wasting vortex. Adjust your schedule but stay within the time parameters you have set. When you start seeing success, invest more time; if you see limited success keep to your schedule but try to work more efficiently.

Not having enough time is a little tricky to address. We are all faced with time constraints and pressure. This is a function of the fast-paced and high pressure society we live in today. The fact is that “not enough time” can no longer be an excuse. Salespeople need to make time to use LinkedIn and, in a more general sense, create a personal marketing plan. Fewer than 5 percent of salespeople, while they have sales goals and plans, lack a personal marketing plan. Time is needed to focus on marketing activities and actions in order to succeed. Start by creating a “time budget,” make a commitment to invest the time you need in the same way you allot a certain amount of time at the gym, making cold calls or networking. Investing time is not easy – nobody said it would be – an extra hour at night, getting up at 6 a.m. or focusing on LinkedIn on the train commute to work may be what works for you.

Still challenged? Here’s a secret: you don’t have to post on LinkedIn during the week and you don’t even have to do live posts. Your prospects and contacts will be using LinkedIn on weekends and there are programs such as Hootsuite that allow you to schedule posts on LinkedIn any time. This means that you may not need to spend as much valuable work week time marketing and building your brand on LinkedIn.

I can’t find or reach prospects. Nobody wants to spin their wheels and get frustrated. This is why consistency and a plan matters when using LinkedIn. A key part of any marketing plan is identifying who your targets are, your ideal clients/customers, referral sources and brand ambassadors.

To effectively reach these individuals or groups you must explore LinkedIn communities (groups) and learn how LinkedIn’s advanced search functionality works. Searching has become easier and more refined, with over 100 million Americans on LinkedIn, the likelihood of prospects being on the site is high. The key is finding them, connecting with them, communicating with them and presenting to them a value proposition or building a relationship with them. Create your ideal client profile and start searching. I recommend using as many filters as possible and geographic boundaries. Create your lists and get into the process of connecting. Connecting with people you don’t know is a challenge and certainly a hard selling approach is not the right method. Start by examining a person’s profile for commonalities, see what and how often they are posting and seek who they are connected with and what groups they belong to. Groups give you the best access to connecting with somebody you don’t know or don’t know well. However, your chances of connecting and doing business with somebody are greatly increased when you share a group affiliation.

Still struggling to reach the right decision makers? Here are two additional approaches that you can take. Remember, your competitors are also doing this. First, InMail. InMail is part of LinkedIn’s premium services. InMail allows you to communicate with anyone you are not connected with on LinkedIn. This type of communication has proven to be effective especially for people impossible to reach in other ways.

You’re standing out because your message is received in their personal email inboxes, and you’re standing out because receiving an InMail is still somewhat novel. It’s also very unlikely that your prospect is getting bombarded with LinkedIn mails from spammers and others trying to “sell” something.

Prospects will get messages, and you will enter their stream of thought. You have your shot at making an impression, so make the most of it. Craft a well thought out message and make sure that your profile is complete and ready for viewing.

Second, a recent paper issued by Sandler Sales Training in partnership with LinkedIn found that prospects are 100 percent more likely to positively respond to a call or message if they are called or communicated with within 5 minutes of posting on LinkedIn. If you are having trouble getting to speak with a prospect, by simply monitoring them and communicating with them right after they have posted will give you a much better opportunity to reach them on the phone.

There are no real excuses for not leveraging the power of LinkedIn. The process of making the sale using LinkedIn marketing is likely to take time, energy and effort. This investment is worth it to you, particularly when you have a plan and a commitment to consistency and understand that competitors are on LinkedIn may be using some of the same approaches. There are plenty of other secrets, strategies and marketing approaches for using LinkedIn to effectively grow your personal brand and business even more.

Have questions, need a resource? Contact me at wjcorbett@corbettpr.com.

Need to start creating a personal marketing plan?  Email the code PMP2016 to me at info@growyourpersonalbrand.com and I will send you a list of questions to ask yourself to get started.

Looking for some help setting up your LinkedIn plan? Visit www.growyourpersonalbrand.com

wjcorbett@corbettpr.com

By Bill Corbett

Corbett Public Relations Long Island and the World 

@liprguy

@corbettpr

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